The Big Think

February 18, 2015

Externalities

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:54 am

A great summation of positive and negative externalities as they pertain to the ACA. Yes, it’s actually rather more interesting than that stunning sentence would indicate.

February 12, 2015

The Destroyer Goeth

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:40 pm

The Destroyer Goeth:

“Jon Stewart’s genius — ‘and for once that overused word is appropriate,’ Aucoin of the Globe insists — is that he provides intellectually lazy people with an excuse for forgoing the hard work of informing themselves at anything but the most superficial level about political events. Human beings being what they are, there will always be an acute need for humor in our political discourse; Stewart’s contribution has been to substitute humor — and an easy, vapid, shallow species of humor at that — for the discourse itself, through what Jim Treacher deftly described as his ‘clown nose on, clown nose off’ approach to commentary: When it comes to Obamacare, the minimum wage, or the national debt, you don’t have to get the economics as long as you get the joke.”

Stewart has always had an uncanny behavioral resemblance to a certain class clown during my high school days. Able to be sincere and intelligent when the circumstances called for it, he nonetheless opted to play the buffoon and go for the easy laugh. Smart guy who ended up looking pathetic and adolescent at my 10th reunion. He was still reliving the high school glory days while the rest of us had moved on.

If Stewart truly represents the Genius that his admirers are lauding, if his leaving the daily show is “akin to the Beatles breaking up”, then that says quite a bit about his average viewer, and what it says shouldn’t make them feel too comfortable.

February 6, 2015

Quoth

Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 2:04 pm

“I may not speak for many other upper-middle-class types, but I’ll tell you what: I’m happy to have the government spend less on me if I know it’s spending less altogether and is directing what money it does spend to people who need it more than I do. But if you’re simply talking about raising taxes in order to maintain the bloated status quo plus a bunch of new programs, count me out. That’s not because I’m selfish. It’s because I’m not stupid.”

Nick Gillespie

Exactly. Let’s take care of those who need it. Let’s not waste money on programs designed to harvest votes and perpetuate bureaucracies. But for some reason stating it just that clearly still gets you labeled as a Poor Hater.

February 5, 2015

Check Pants Status Re: Fire

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:31 am

Brian Williams: Big, Fat Liar | Ricochet: “NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years…

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

‘I would not have chosen to make this mistake,’ Williams said. ‘I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.’”

(Via .)

No sir. It’s not a “mistake”. A mistake is getting the tail number of the aircraft wrong. A lie is saying you were onboard it an hour earlier when it crashed as a restult of rocket fire, then repeating that same statement for over a decade.

Kind of makes you wonder what else he’s “mistaking” about.

February 4, 2015

Whitelist

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:45 pm

Over 300 businesses now whitelisted on AdBlock Plus, 10% pay to play | Ars Technica: “Since 2011, AdBlock Plus, a popular browser plugin that blocks online ads, has kept a ‘whitelist’ of websites that are allowed to serve ads despite the presence of the AdBlock Plus plugin. In an e-mail to Ars, AdBlock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wrote that currently, the browser extension has granted a pass to ‘over 300 sites/entities’ out of ‘over 1,500 applicants’ to the company’s whitelist. That’s up from October 2013, when AdBlock Plus allowed the ads of 78 sites or entities out of 777 applicants.”

If I had the resource I would introduce a $5/year “real” adblock that nuked ALL ads. Then retire a rich man.

Students with autism learn social skills with R2-D2

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 9:36 pm

Students with autism learn social skills with R2-D2: “AUSTIN — Fifth-grade students at Blazier Elementary School in Southeast Austin are learning social skills through technology.

The students are part of the school’s SCORES program, which stands for Social Communication and Resource services, for children with autism. Over the past few months, they created a fully operational R2-D2 replica robot thanks to their teacher, Caleb Zammit.

‘The main focus was just learning to work as a group, and how to get along and use their manners when working on a big project all together,’ said Zammit.

They are also learning about motors, batteries, measurements, power tools and metal.

‘The best part of my day is having fun with my friends and building R2-D2,’ said Mathew Fan, a student at Blazier Elementary.”

That’s pretty fantastic. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most about finishing R2 is being able to take him to a local children’s hospital (or the like). That’ll be really rewarding.

The Police No Longer Work For You

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:40 am

The Police No Longer Work For You:

“To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that ‘at times, illegal weapons are present’ at such poker games, and that ‘Asian gangs’ have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

It is a mystery why we put up with this obscene police behavior. Gambling itself is not illegal in Virginia; it is simply controlled by the state. So the Fairfax police department did not bust these hapless poker players with guns drawn for doing something truly immoral and fully outlawed, merely for doing something in a way not approved by the state legislature. Were gambling actually forbidden in Virginia, then a crackdown could at least be understood, if not condoned in so paramilitary a fashion. Yet Virginia’s stance on the matter is not to treat gambling as malum in se, but rather as an instrumentum regni: our government prefers to funnel gambling money into its own coffers for its own ends, outlaw the same thing when it’s done outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and then steal the money of the poor fellows who happen to get caught….

…Governments control gambling not to legitimize and sanitize the practice, but to extract as much money from the citizenry as they possibly can. In the state’s eyes, the fault of the poker players in Fairfax lay not in betting money on a card game, but in not pouring money into the state’s bank account while they were doing so.”

Because Public Safety.

Tweet of the week: Tweet of the week: Tweet of the Week

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:37 am

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Burn!

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