The Big Think

May 31, 2014

Up, Up, and Away

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 10:34 pm

Virgin Galactic Is Getting Cleared For Takeoff From Spaceport America – Forbes:

“This week, Virgin Galactic announced that it has signed an agreement with the FAA that begins the process of getting its commercial space flights cleared for takeoff.

Specifically, the deal will lay out how the FAA will coordinate with Spaceport America, the commercial spaceport in New Mexico where Virgin will launch its suborbital flights. The spaceport will work in conjunction with the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center to ensure clear airspace for the flights.

‘Our team is working hard to begin routine and affordable space launches from Spaceport America and this agreement brings us another step closer to that goal,’ Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in a statement. ‘We are grateful to the FAA and New Mexico for their partnership to achieve this milestone.’

The company hopes to launch its first flight by the end of 2014, and the company’s founder Richard Branson plans to be on that flight. But there are still quite a few steps it needs to take to get there. For one, the company still needs to obtain a license from the FAA to operate commercial flights.”

What’s The Best Grocery Store Coffee?

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:06 am

Wherein pretentious baristas look down their noses at people who can’t afford a $6 cup of flavored water:

What’s The Best Grocery Store Coffee?:

“Aromas: Wet dog, burning
Flavors: Fish oil, despair
‘What death tastes like.'”

the staff remarked that the roastery smelled like a sewer lit on fire

You had me at “wet dog”.

(I will admit to actually liking an occasional $6 cup of flavored water, though)


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:54 am

A blast from the past, for accountability’s sake:

Ezra Klein – Does The Government Run Health Care Better?:

“If you crudely ordered America’s different health-care systems from least government control to most, it would look something like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration (Medicare is single-payer, but VA is actually socialized medicine, where the government owns the hospitals and employs the doctors).

If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

That symmetry should get more attention in the health-care discussion than it does.”

Yes, and this quote should get more attention that it does, especially in light of recent VA events.

May 29, 2014

Should You Follow Your Passion?

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 4:50 pm

An alternative view.

Should You Follow Your Passion? Points and Figures: “My boss, who had been a commercial lender for over 30 years, said that the best loan customer is someone who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. Maybe the loan customer wants to start a dry-cleaning store or invest in a fast-food franchise—boring stuff. That’s the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.”

Fourth Estate

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:46 pm

Jorge Ramos: Reporters ‘Cozy with Power,’ Act Like They’re in a Club | Mediaite:

“‘You turn on the TV, and you see very bland interviews. Journalists in the United States are very cozy with power, very close to those in power. They laugh with them. They go to the [White House] correspondents’ dinner with them. They have lunch together. They marry each other. They’re way too close to each other. I think as journalists we have to keep our distance from power.’
‘I’m not seeing tough questions asked on American television,’ he added later. ‘I’m not seeing those correspondents that would question those in power. It’s like a club. We are not asking the tough questions.’

Ramos has been critical of Republicans who haven’t prioritized immigration reform and Democrats like President Obama who have yet to deliver on their promises. And Ramos’ hard-hitting interview with Rahm Emanuel earned him praise from Matt Drudge as ‘the last journalist standing.’”

Well good. It’s refreshing to see someone on the inside who is finally speaking up to the fact that all the pressure seems to be rather, er. uniderectional.

The issue of administration officials being married to those who need to hold them accountable seems like a legitimate complaint that isn’t getting enough airtime. Hard to hold someone’s feet to the fire in a confrontational way if you have to go home to the same person at night. That just seems like common sense.

May 27, 2014

There Safe and Then There’s Straightjacket-Safe

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 2:21 pm

Safety First? It’s Time for a Fresh Look at the Risks of Spaceflight – NBC

“‘The exploration and development of space is a national priority. Therefore, NASA’s first priority must be mission success in the critical steps toward reaching this goal. Consistent with this priority NASA shall strive at all times to achieve a level of safety comparable to that enjoyed by other critical national programs in extreme environments, such as deep-ocean and polar activities.'”

May 23, 2014

Don’t Look Down

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:32 pm

Photos That Will Make Your Stomach Drop: “”

Suspended Animation Goes Primetime

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 4:55 pm

Suspended Animation Goes Primetime: Say Goodbye To Death As We Know It – Forbes:

“As of March 29, 2014, a team of surgeons trained in this saline-cooling procedure is on emergency call at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In this field trial of the technique, patients who arrive at the hospital after having suffered cardiac arrest after traumatic injury (i.e. gunshots) and do not respond to attempts to restart their heart will be cooled with saline  to about 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit). Their cellular activity will stop. They will be ‘clinically dead.’ But—if doctors can repair the trauma in roughly two hours—they are still capable of being revived.

In itself, this is amazing. This is two hours of suspended animation—which  has been the stuff of sci-fi for almost a century. Today it’s scientific fact.

But where things get really interesting is what happens tomorrow. As the technology progresses, it is not too much of a stretch to say those two hours of suspended animation will give way to four hours and eight hours and sooner or later whole days and weeks and months—in other words, we’ll have mastered artificial hibernation.”

Hit Me

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Science — jasony @ 3:25 pm

The Science of Bruce Lee’s One-Inch Punch:

“By the time the one-inch punch has made contact with its target, Lee has combined the power of some of the biggest muscles in his body into a tiny area of force. But while the one-inch punch is built upon the explosive power of multiple muscles, Rose insists that Bruce Lee’s muscles are actually not the most important engine behind the blow.

‘Muscle fibers do not dictate coordination,’ Rose says, ‘and coordination and timing are essential factors behind movements like this one-inch punch.’

Because the punch happens over such a short amount of time, Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab—his twisting hip, extending knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist—with incredible accuracy. Furthermore, each joint in Lee’s body has a single moment of peak acceleration, and to get maximum juice out of the move, Lee must layer his movements so that each period of peak acceleration follows the last one instantly.

So coordination is key. And that’s where the neuroscience comes in.”

A Trophy for Tee Ball

Filed under: Education,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:06 am

Congratulations, graduates: you’ve done exactly what you’re expected and legally required to do!:

“We raise our children amidst constant preening, fawning, coddling, pampering, and congratulating, and then scratch our heads and wonder why they eventually enter adulthood so entirely unprepared for the rigors and challenges of the real world.

‘What?! I showed up to my job on time for a whole year, completed the minimum amount of work required, and performed at an overall standard, to slightly substandard, level — yet nobody’s handing me a ribbon or giving a lengthy speech heralding my many achievement?! Unacceptable! I’ve been bullied! I quit!’

We get them hooked on recognition and flattery at the age of three, and by the time they’re 23 they’ve become full-blown addicts. They develop a dependency on attention and affirmation, and can’t handle living in a universe that doesn’t stop to give them a cookie every time they complete some minor, routine task. This attention-seeking, ‘hey, notice me!’ mentality can lead them down a dark path towards resentment, jealousy, depression, and Snapchat accounts.”

May 21, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:59 pm

“The real difference between men is energy. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible determination, can accomplish almost anything; and in this lies the distinction between great men and little men.”

— Thomas Fuller

May 20, 2014

The Greatest Digital Photo Ever?

Filed under: Science,Space/Astronomy,Technology — jasony @ 9:47 pm



“The tiny white speck you see is Beta Pictoris b, a planet some 63 light-years away from Earth (that’s 3.70345488 × 1014 miles for those calculating at home). It is being hailed as the ‘best ever’ direct photo of a planet outside of our solar system (the giant mass next to it is a star). It was snapped during a 60-second exposure with the Gemini Planet Imager, a camera 10 years in the making that should bring distant planets to light for the first time.”


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:40 am

“Never discount punctuality. We have a limited amount of time on earth and it is profoundly selfish to take someone’s irreplaceable asset.”

May 16, 2014

Well, Good

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:16 am

Poll Shows Everyone Wants Investigation into Benghazi Except Reporters: ”

‘A majority (55 percent) of self-identified Democrats agree with the 67 percent of respondents who approve of the creation of a select committee to investigate the attacks. 66 percent of independent voters share interest in a thorough Benghazi investigation.

While Democratic voters disagree with the majorities who believe that both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been dishonest with the public in regards to the attack, they clearly want answers to the many outstanding questions surrounding Benghazi. Even if they only seek those answers to exonerate the administration, this implies that even Democrats believe there are more details about the attack that have not yet been revealed to the public. That comes as a surprise only to those who refuse to acknowledge that there are outstanding questions relating to that attack.’ Which is to say, reporters.”

Good news. And even if the investigations show no sign of malfeasance on the part of the administration, it’s refreshing to hear that people are no longer just blindly buying the medias nothing-to-see-here approach.

May 15, 2014

Nothing To See Here

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:22 am

Judicial Watch Obtains New Documents Showing IRS Targeting Came Directly From Washington D.C.: “Emails released by Judicial Watch last month show former head of taxpayer groups Lois Lerner was in contact with the Department of Justice about the potential criminal prosecution of conservative groups. In her emails about DOJ, Lerner noted that putting one person from a conservative organization in jail would create and example and ‘shut the whole thing down.'”

Her words. Her email. Hers.

They insisted the IRS scandal was initially the work of just a few “rogue agents” in Cincinnati and they were as shocked as the rest of us, then they said that it wasn’t anything to worry about, then got all indignant and said they would bring the perpetrators to justice, and then they promptly forgot about it.

Regardless of your political party: is this acceptable behavior in our government?

This appears to be the real thing, with real ramifications and a very clear paper trail to some people who told us blatant lies.

I Think Judicious Use of Both Is In Order

Filed under: Foodie,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:12 am

Your brain on BEER vs. COFFEE

May 14, 2014

First and Blah

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 3:03 pm

Hike: “How Football Sounds To People That Don’t Care.”

May 13, 2014

The Last Communist City

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:08 am

The Last Communist City by Michael J. Totten, City Journal Spring 2014: “Cuba is short of everything but air and sunshine. In her book, Sánchez describes an astonishing appearance by Raúl Castro on television, during which he boasted that the economy was doing so well now that everyone could drink milk. ‘To me,’ Sánchez wrote, ‘someone who grew up on a gulp of orange-peel tea, the news seemed incredible.’ She never thought she’d see the day. ‘I believed we would put a man on the moon, take first place among all nations in the upcoming Olympics, or discover a vaccine for AIDS before we would put the forgotten morning café con leche, coffee with milk, within reach of every person on this island.’ And yet Raúl’s promise of milk for all was deleted from the transcription of the speech in Granma, the Communist Party newspaper. He went too far: there was not enough milk to ensure that everyone got some.”

(Via .)

May 12, 2014


Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:51 pm


Too true. I’ve discovered that the best solution to this is to simply let go of those people in your life who would rather argue and speak than listen and understand. I’m sure the self-appointed Irony Police would love to have a field day with the idea that you sometimes have to just stop engaging with those who won’t listen but there it is. There are many people who would rather listen and have a good back-and-forth and those are the people it’s better to spend time and limited life on.

Related: here’s a good breakdown on the levels of listening. Saw another essay a few weeks ago that was really good that I’ll have to look up.

May 7, 2014

If You Can Keep It

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:30 pm


Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim:

“There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That’s the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.”

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