The Big Think

June 29, 2014

Strange Bedfellows

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 2:59 pm

Heh:

EFF, Greenpeace Fly Blimp Over NSA’s Utah Datacenter; Launch Campaign To Stop Illegal Internet Spying | Techdirt: “Earlier this week, EFF’s Parker Higgins noted that he was about to head on a secretive ‘adventure to Utah’ — and now it’s come out that he was actually there to fly a blimp over the NSA’s infamous datacenter in Bluffdale, Utah. You know the one. It’s received plenty of attention over the past few years, as it was designed to store a ton of electronic data that the NSA previously didn’t have room for. Either way, EFF and Greenpeace teamed up to launch a new campaign called Stand Against Spying, and took to the skies in the blimp to get it some attention.”

June 26, 2014

Media Loves Big Government

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:58 pm

Media Loves Big Government: “When I began consumer reporting, I assumed advertisers would censor me, since sponsors who paid my bosses wouldn’t want criticism. But never in 30 years was a story killed because of advertiser pressure. Not once. (I hear that’s changed since, and big advertisers, such as car dealers, do persuade news directors to kill stories.)

‘I do a lot of reporting on corporate interests and so on, so there’s pressure from that end,’ says Attkisson, but ‘there’s a competing pressure on the ideological end.’ Right. Ideology affects more stories than ‘corporate interests.’

My ABC bosses leaned left. They liked stories about weird external threats from which government can swoop in to rescue you. 

They are much less fond of complex stories in which problems are solved subtly by the dynamism of the free market. The invisible hand, after all, is invisible. It works its magic in a million places and makes adjustments every minute. That’s hard for reporters to see—especially when they’re not looking for it.

Often, when it comes to news that happens slowly, the media get it utterly wrong. I suspect we get it wrong now about things like global warming, genetically modified foods, almost any story related to science or statistics, or, heck, basic math. Math threatens many reporters.”

A peak behind the media curtain.

June 12, 2014

All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 1:58 pm

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Way to go, Elon Musk. Wow.

All Our Patent Are Belong To You | Blog | Tesla Motors: “Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

June 10, 2014

Lyrical Thermostat

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:45 am

Pretty neat idea, though letting your thermostat know when you’re gone seems like a good avenue to hackers (of course, they could always, I dunno.. look at your driveway to see if the cars are there).

Honeywell’s Lyric brings geolocation to smart thermostats:

“The Lyric thermostat assumes that if your smartphone is at your house, so are you. You can register your family’s phones with the app, and it’ll use the geofencing features in iOS and Android to tell when everybody’s left for the day. Once you get within a few miles of your house, the thermostat springs back to life, heating or cooling your house so it’s at your preferred temperature (or at least getting there) as you stroll through the door.

The Fine Tune feature is pretty smart too. You know how sometimes the weather forecast has two temperatures: the real air temperature, and whatever it actually ‘feels’ like, adjusted for the wind chill or the heat index? The Lyric is programmed to make those same adjustments inside your house. Fine Tune factors not just the indoor temperature, but also what it’s like outside, and the humidity (the Lyric houses its own humidity sensor), so it can make adjustments like running your system’s fans more or bumping the temperature up or down a degree.”

June 9, 2014

Turing, Complete

Filed under: Computing,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 2:41 pm

Eugene—the supercomputer, not 13-year-old—first to beat the Turing Test: “”

Pretty cool milestone, actually. I, for one, welcome our computer overlords.

June 6, 2014

Color Me Shocked

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 4:52 pm

Report: Freed Taliban Commander Vows To Return To War Against US:

“The deepest concerns of critics of President Obama’s decision to release five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may be coming to fruition.

One of the commanders, Noorullah Noori, has plans to return to Afghanistan to resume fighting against the U.S., according to NBC News which spoke to another Taliban commander.

‘After arriving in Qatar, Noorullah Noori kept insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces there,’ the commander told NBC News.”

Who could have seen this coming?

June 5, 2014

More Media

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:14 pm

A potential candidate putting pressure on a media outlet.

Washington Free Beacon: “Some of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides blasted the New York Times for what they said was unfair coverage of the former first lady during a recent secret meeting with the paper’s Washington bureau, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Sources said the meeting included Clinton advisers Philippe Reines and Huma Abedin, as well as Times Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan and national political reporter Amy Chozick, who has been on the Clinton beat for the paper.

During the closed-door gathering, Clinton aides reportedly griped about the paper’s coverage of the potential 2016 candidate, arguing that Clinton has left public office and not be subjected to harsh scrutiny, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Neither the Times nor the Clinton camp would discuss on the record specifics. However, sources familiar with the meeting describe it as an attempt to brush back and even intimidate the staff of the Times. The sometimes fraught relationship between Clinton and the press has been well documented.”

Hypothetical reverse: the presumptive 2016 Republican candidate held a closed-door meeting with the New York Times to complain that the paper had treated him/her too harshly.

What would the proper response be?

Fix the media and you fix the country.

June 4, 2014

When You’ve Lost The Atlantic, You’ve Lost Middle America

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:30 am

President Obama’s Prisoner Swap Weakened the Rule of Law:

“‘If the president truly believed that the bill was unconstitutional, he had a duty to veto the bill pursuant to his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. President Obama didn’t veto the bill, and instead made it the law of the land. Having done so, he cannot now complain that the law he is ultimately responsible for is unconstitutional and doesn’t need to be followed… A country where the laws apply to the people but not to the president, even when the laws are specifically directed towards the executive branch, is not governed by the rule of law.’ “

June 3, 2014

A Modest Proposal

Filed under: Politics,Technology — jasony @ 12:59 pm

Let’s Charge Politicians for Wasting Our Time – Bloomberg View: “You should be able to set a charge for calling you. Every number that isn’t on your ‘free’ list would automatically be assessed a fee. The phone company would get a percentage of the revenue, and you’d be able to adjust the fee to different levels at different times of the day or for different seasons. (The nearer the election, the higher I’d make my charge.) If candidates really think it’s valuable to call me, they should be willing to pay. Otherwise, they’re just forcing me to subsidize their political efforts with my time and attention.”

Our home phone is going crazy, to the point that we pretty much just ignore it and use it for outgoing calls only.

June 1, 2014

From the I-can’t-believe-they-said-it department

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:23 pm

Property tax appraisals here in Austin came through a few weeks ago and the increases were intense. We personally know people who had annual property tax increases of $8000. On top of what they were already paying.

The front page of the Austin American Statesman’s above-the-fold article contains the following quote:

“Its not because I don’t like paying taxes”, said Gardner, who attended both [tax complaint] meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here any more.”

Apparently said without the slightest awareness of irony.

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