The Big Think

July 29, 2015

Sometimes it’s easier to care about dead lions than dead people

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:46 pm

Natural Law holds that all people possess a conscience, therefore all people innately recognize the distinction between good and evil. We are naturally repulsed by evil and attracted to goodness. This is why every civilization has outlawed sins like murder and theft, and hailed virtues like charity and mercy. Of course, many civilizations have redefined murder so as to permit a convenient form of it, but still no society has ever come out and defended murder in principle.

No society can ever be explicitly nihilist. As in, no society can outwardly live by the philosophy that everything is meaningless and nothing matters. Individuals can try it, but like Nietzsche they’ll end up in a mental institution, babbling to themselves while eating their own excrement. Societies, though, have to at least pretend they believe in doing the right thing. A society must convince itself it hates evil and loves goodness. Even the Nazis rationalized that they were serving the greater good of mankind.

So when our culture decides to sit back and tolerate, or even revere and commend, perverse evils like abortion, pornography, the breakdown of the family, the persecution of Christians, etc., it begins to accumulate a kind of Outrage Reservoir. Deep down, we must feel like we oppose evil. We can’t laud the most insidious atrocities of our time, and then look in the mirror and face ourselves honestly. The righteous anger that should be poured out in response to these true horrors is bottled and contained, clogging up our souls like constipated bowels.

We search desperately for an acceptable target for our surplus of withheld scorn, and when we locate it, we unload like we just chugged a gallon of laxative. Suddenly, some guy who killed a lion in Zimbabwe receives all of the compiled disdain that should have been discharged on the abortionists and the pornographers and the persecutors. Our pent up rage and anger mixes with guilt and self-loathing, and together it creates this concentrated bile that drowns and destroys whatever tragic chump they throw before us to be devoured. It’s nothing personal against him, really. Walter Palmer is a sacrificial lamb. A punching bag, strung up and dangled in front of progressive America as a way for them to release their moral frustrations. He’s an object. A receptacle for their misdirected vengeance. It’s like self-flagellation, only minus the self. And next week they’ll be flagellating some other patsy, and nobody will even remember or care about poor old Walter Palmer.

Read the whole thing:

Sometimes it’s easier to care about dead lions than dead people

July 28, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 5:10 pm

“If Man were merely an intelligent animal, something derived by blind natural selection, and bred only for our ability to continue breeding, then we would not tell stories. It is a useless habit…

Some might say that it is a side effect of language using ability, a defect of the brain, so that we humans misuse that faculty of imagination nature evolved in us solely for planning military campaigns against rival tribes of mastodon hunters, and the linguistic skills to coordinate hunting and fishing and slaying rivals. Some might say language was evolved to be precise and scientific, merely a tool for remembering facts of the past we have seen and constructing speculations of the future we shall see, and that this tool of language is misused if we play make believe about things not of the past or future, and attempting to peer into the unseen realm. I say those who say story telling is an abuse of the faculty of language are abusing their own faculty of language, and telling us a story, and bad one.

I propose we want to give tongues to animals and woods and waves and we want to command the mountains and the clouds to speak to us because we yearn to be creators ourselves. What greater gift can any father give his child than to teach him the gift of speech? If we had the power to grant this gift to our pets and livestock, surely we would, and indeed, to exchange defiance and threats and terrifying boasts with the lions and wolves who are the enemies of man would also be a delight. Beyond this, to speak to the river and ask it why it runs, or to the sunshine and inquire of its cheer, or to command the raging storm be silent, this is a delight that saints and angels know which man, exiled from Eden, has lost. We are dumb and deaf in a world given to our dominion.

I propose that there is something of the creator in the poet, and that this is because we are created by a Creator in His own likeness and image, and so naturally must reflect the nature of creation in us. We want to bring things to life, to create worlds, to grant speech to animals and to command nature, because that is the joy of creation.

We cannot, in this life, create world, except in fiction. We cannot possibly have this desire from anything in nature. It is supernatural in origin.

It is like a young man in love daydreaming about the words and sighs and kissed he means to exchange with his beloved. The daydream raptures him, and draws his thoughts away from the dirt and toil of his daily life, and for an hour, in his heart, he dwell in the bliss of the honeymoon cottage. But there is an element of sorrow and longing and sadness in his daydream, or in him, because it is not real. It does not truly satisfy him.

…Should we ever find a world like Perelandra, whose happy natives resisted the temptations that toppled the Adam and Eve of Earth, or should we ever reach in a next life the cosmic realms inhabited by archangels and dominions and potentates and powers, it is possible that they might not tell stories of the imaginative kind discussed here. Psalms and hymns, to be sure, or epics of praise for glorious deeds, or love songs, or all the other kinds of tales the other muses inspire, all might be present in the unfallen world.

But stories of fairytale and fantasy and science fiction I speculate may indeed be absent in those happier and higher realms. The saints in heaven will have realized the immense longing we here in exile on Earth cannot fulfill on Earth. They will do as their Father does and sings the songs of creation.”

From Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright

July 23, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:38 am

“What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how democracy (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them tyrants then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of grain, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, democracy. But now democracy can do the same work without any tyranny other than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks.’

C.S. Lewis – Screwtape Proposes a Toast”

July 20, 2015

Sleight of Hand

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:26 am

The Corker Bill Isn’t a Victory — It’s a Constitutional Perversion | National Review Online:

“To summarize, the Constitution puts the onus on the president to find 67 Senate votes to approve an international agreement, making it virtually impossible to ratify an ill-advised deal. The Corker bill puts the onus on Congress to muster 67 votes to block an agreement.

Under the Constitution, Obama’s Iran deal would not have a prayer. Under the Corker bill, it would sail through. And once again, it would be Republicans first ensuring that self-destruction is imposed on us, then striking the pose of dogged opponents by casting futile nay votes.

This is not how our system works. Congress is supposed to make the laws we live under. It is the first branch of government, not a rubber-stamping Supreme Soviet.

We seem to have forgotten that the point of the Constitution is not to accomplish great things; it is to prevent government from doing overbearing or destructive things. The achievement of great things was left to the genius and ambition of free people confronting challenges without stifling constraints.”

July 16, 2015

The Bad, Worse, & Ugly

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:37 pm

Media Coverage of Planned Parenthood’s Organ Harvesting Scandal:

“It’s only been two years since the media struggled to even cover the story of Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor and serial murderer. After being shamed into covering the ‘local crime story’ by readers and viewers who had requested coverage for years, the media offered a few mea culpas, and promised to improve coverage of the abortion topic and present the issue more fairly.

They have repeatedly failed, whether the story was cheerleading for late-term abortion supporter Wendy Davis, or accurately covering religious Americans opposition to paying for abortifacients.

This story, however, is so big that it is proceeding even against the wishes of the media and their brethren at Planned Parenthood. As the federal government and state governments prepare to truly investigate Planned Parenthood’s chop shops, let’s hope coverage improves mightily.”

But they’re still insisting that it’s a Choice, not a Calvarium.

July 14, 2015

Behind Closed Doors

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:03 am

I actually feel kind of sick postint this:

“A shocking new expose’ video has caught Planned Parenthood’s top doctor describing how the abortion business sells the body parts of aborted babies.

New undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted unborn children and admitting she uses partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts.

In the video, Nucatola is at a business lunch with actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company. As head of PPFA’s Medical Services department, Nucatola has overseen medical practice at all Planned Parenthood locations since 2009. She also trains new Planned Parenthood abortion doctors and performs abortions herself at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles up to 24 weeks…

The footage shockingly depicts the top medical official at the Planned Parenthood corporation munching on her salad while she discusses the sale of body parts of unborn children victimized by abortions. She brazenly describes how the heads of unborn babies killed in abortions command top dollar.

‘I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is calvarium. Calvarium—the head—is basically the biggest part.’

Nucatola explains, ‘We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.’

‘And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex,’ she continues. ‘So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.’

…Nucatola also reveals that Planned Parenthood’s national office is concerned about their liability for the sale of fetal parts.

‘At the national office, we have a Litigation and Law Department which just really doesn’t want us to be the middle people for this issue right now,’ she says. ‘But I will tell you that behind closed doors these conversations are happening with the affiliates.’

…‘Abortionists use ultrasound like a butcher uses scales to sell meat by the pound for profit,’ said Newman in an email to LifeNews. ‘Evidence further shows that Planned Parenthood has gone to great lengths to keep the public from ever knowing about their illicit human body-parts trade, understanding that if news were to leak, it could spell doom for the abortion giant.’”

You don’t say.

It’ll be interesting to hear what clever protests or reasoning the pro-abortion side has for this practice and how it’ll play out in the press. The only defense is brazenness… oh, who am I kidding. Think this’ll get any traction? Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.

July 9, 2015

Helicopter Parents and the Kids Who Just Can’t

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:39 am

Helicopter Parents and the Kids Who Just Can’t – Bloomberg View:

“People have been worrying about The Kids These Days since time immemorial. And yet, older people I talk to — ones old enough to remember seeing the low-speed, low-stakes train wreck that was my own generation hurtling through college and into the workforce — confirm my impression that This Time Really Is Different. The upper stratum of the Trophy Kids really are going into college expecting to live in a sort of Nerf universe where nothing ever really hurts, and there’s always an adult to pick them up and put them back on track. And they’re coming out into the workforce expecting the same sort of personal concierge service from a world that, as I was myself dismayed to find 20 years ago, really doesn’t have time to care how they feel.”

From the comments:

Here’s the secret to human history:
Prosperity breeds the conditions for its own failure. Societies NEED to get smacked around periodically, or they become unhinged from reality. The coming storm that we fear IS the cure.


July 8, 2015

Put Up or Shut Up

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:35 am

A Modest Proposal for the New York Times:

“Everyone knows Margaret Thatcher’s quip about socialism: sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. Sooner or later, and it is looking more and more like it might be sooner, the Germans are going to run out of money to pay for the Greeks’ lavish pension plans and retirement schemes.

But all is not lost. The sums Greece wants are quite large, it is true, but every little bit can make a difference.  And, as Mr. Krugman & Co. would be the first to insist, this a moral imperative. There’s bleeding going on. It must be stopped. People have to take a stand. So here’s my modest proposal. When the markets open today, The New York Times should shift their entire pension portfolio into Greek bonds, beginning with whatever holdings Messrs. Cohen, Krugman, and members of the editorial board may have.  It may be an adventurous investment, but, hey, were talking about medicines and imported food on the supermarket shelves in Athens. What an edifying spectacle: rancid lefties at a once-important paper put their money—their own money, for once—where their loud mouths are.

By itself, the Times won’t make a big difference. But what an example! And perhaps—we can only hope!—other left-wing organizations will follow suit and, instead of trying to spend your money or the Germans’ money, they will invest their own money in Greek bonds, thus showing the world that they are really serious about economic redistribution.  What started as a trickle from the office of The New York Times may become a raging current of altruistic investment in a real-life socialist utopia. ‘The important thing now,’ Mr. Krugman says, ‘is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.’ Let’s start with his own savings and pension as the first bandaid.”

Hey, it’s only fair. What’s that you say, Dr. Krugman? You don’t want to risk your personal portfolio of retirement funds on a no-win financial situation? Then why are you telling governments to risk their taxpayer’s money?

July 6, 2015

Skirt Gap

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 10:55 am

I got rid of the gap! I spent a couple of hours on the manual mill and lathe last night (I’ve gotten pretty good at setting those machines up and have fun working on them). I was able to create pockets on the backside of the thick piece that accept the short rods. I also shortened the rods slightly to tighten up the gap. There was a small problem with insetting the screws (the non-threaded part of the screw punches too far through the hole and keeps the rod from tightening down all the way). I’ll go back in today and taper the threaded screw hole in the short rods to get rid of that problem.

What this means is that I can now JB Weld the thick part onto the skirt surround. I’m one step closer to finishing the skirt. After the JB Weld dries I’ll apply LabMetal and let that cure (it should be here today). Then I can start making the little vertical details (this pic grabbed from online):


I have to cut the bar so that the top slope is 53 degrees and the bottom is 36 degrees, then I’ll drill 2 holes and tap them, then temporarily fasten them in the exact location onto the surround, use a center punch to mark the holes, and then drill those holes out. Then it’s a simple matter to screw the pieces to the surround from the inside. I’ll have to smear Lab Metal on the screw holes to cover them up and then sand everything to make it look good.

It’s a lot of work but each step is straightforward. I have to hand tap 24 holes with #4/40 1/4″ machine screws (hmm… have to buy some of those). By this point tapping screws scares me not a bit. I’m really good at it. I just put on a good podcast and get into a nice Zen state and a few hours later they’re done.

I’m shooting to have the skirt done within the next 2 weeks…. hopefully.

I need to start some research into what I’ll need to buy to get the finishing done on the frame. I’m going to sand and polish every piece until it sparkles and then get it all anodized. Then the lasering.

Hopefully it’ll be done by Sept 1st but I’m not going to rush it. It has to be right, not just fast.

July 4, 2015


Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 10:34 pm

INSIDE OUT Movie Review: Pixar’s Latest Masterpiece Is An Emotional Rollercoaster:

Saw it tonight. It takes the throne of Best Pixar Movie in my lineup away from The Incredibles (with a close second of Finding Nemo). Inside Out was unbelievably good. By which I mean that many times throughout the movie I found myself thinking how? How are they able to do this? Weave so many different threads so beautifully and seamlessly together? Storytelling, lighting, detail, emotional punch. I left the theater feeling that if I worked at Pixar I would be profoundly proud of what we’d created. It really is a beautiful (and gut-wrenching) film. So glad I saw it in the theater.

July 3, 2015

Generation Hugbox

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:18 pm

Trigger Warning – Generation Hugbox: “Once upon a time classical liberalism was known for advocating free speech, free thinking, open discourse, and challenging dogmas. In the modern use, liberals are associated with the sexual revolution and freedom of alternative lifestyle. These days, liberalism has become something altogether different. It has become the very thing it once hated, and it is not even aware of this change.”

(Via .)

July 2, 2015

More Skirt

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 5:57 pm

Went back to TechShop today for about four hours and recut the skirt parts. Fortunately the design work was done and I already had the free metal so all it took was about 30 minutes to set up the machine and cut (the cutting time itself was exactly 5 minutes). So at a cost of $15 I remade the surround parts.

Next, I turned to the slip roller and carefully rolled them out so that they’d match the curve of the thick piece (in the photo below). It took figuring out a little jig but I’d already done that, so even that part went fast. Unfortunately, the machine grabbed one of the curved pieces and chewed it up pretty badly. Sure, I could have made it work, but did I mention I’m redoing the skirt? I was going to just use it but didn’t want a rehash of the first time through when I kept plowing forward despite errors, only to have to start again so… more waterjet! I got the key, set up the blank, zeroed the machine, and had the part cut inside of five minutes. It took 1:18. Such a short cut, in fact, that the desk staff just let me have it free! Between the free metal and this free waterjet part, all it cost me to redo that specific part was my time: about ten minues.

I… very carefully… slipped rolled this part until it was perfect. And I mean perfect. It’s by far the best made part on the skirt surround. In fact, I was so happy with it that I grabbed the other curved part (the one that was almost perfect) and decided to run it through the machine so that it would match. I’d have two perfect pieces!

Big mistake.

Did you know that aluminum, when subjected to multiple rolling forces, slowly gets harder? Yes it does. And now I know it, too. Because when I sent the formerly-almost-perfect piece through the slip roller it got stalled and bent out of shape. Not a lot out of shape, but just enough to throw the alignment of the entire surround off. AARGH!! In a panic, I tried to correct the mistake by slip rolling it again but only made the problem worse (and the aluminum even harder). So… I stopped, took a breath, and manually re-bent the piece. I got it back to aaaalmost as good as it was before and then called it done. It’s close enough that I will (hopefully) be able to put some pressure/clamps on it when it JB Welds and then repair any small gaps with Lab Metal. If not, there’s always Skirt 3.0!

The surrounds are drying at TechShop right now. I’ll go back in at 10 or so tonight and move them to my locker after the JB sets. Then tomorrow I’ll go and spend some quality time on the mill fixing the gap issues. Here’s a pic:


Overall it took about 30 hours to design, cut, and assemble my horrible looking first version of the skirt. The second version took about 4 hours (though it’s not quite done yet). I’m glad I redid it but I’m sure ready to have this part behind me. Lots to do on it, though. Stay tuned.

R2 Skirt Redux, Redux

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 8:46 am

I used the wrong plans. The skirt is wrong. Yes, after all that work – 30 hours of work over a month or so of days – it turns out that R2’s skirt just isn’t going to work. There are clearance issues when I put the skirt on the frame that I just can’t kludge together and make work. Here’s a pic:


There shouldn’t be that gap between the skirt and the frame (keep in mind the whole assembly is upside down in this photo).

It turns out that I was using a slightly modified version of the skirt made to fit a different frame. The external dimensions are correct but the thick piece on the top of that photo above causes alignment issues. I should have used bent sheet metal that would have created a pocket where the posts rest on the skirt, thereby getting rid of that clearance.

So I’m going to have to start completely over on the skirt and remake it. Fortunately I have the waterjet files and the side pieces are correct. I also scored a free piece of metal from Metals4You that was the right size and shape from their cutoff bin. They told me to just take it (guess they appreciate all the metal I’ve already bought from them). The waterjet time will cost about $12 so that’s not a huge loss. More JB Weld cost less than ten bucks.

I will have to go back in and spend some time milling up the thick bottom plate to create pockets for the posts to remove that gap. I’ll also have to shorten the posts slightly (about .2″) to tighten the gap up. Those posts aren’t Canonical since they’re inside supports so I still have a screen-accurate droid. The important part is the shape and size of the visible parts of the skirt.

To be honest I’ve suspected I was going to have to remake the thing for a couple of weeks now. The old skirt was progressively looking worse and worse as I made mistakes and kludged together fixes that caused more errors. Now that I’ve been through the process once I’m confident that I can quickly cut, bend, and assemble the new skirt with minimal fuss. And I still have the old skirt to practice powder coating on so that’s good.

I keep telling myself that I have plenty of time and no real deadline on this (though I would like R2 to be mostly finished by my 50th birthday in Sept. 2019). This is supposed to be fun and a learning experience. I guess that means that I’ll occasionally have to go remake something as I learn my way around mistakes the first time through.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:05 am

Investigators find proof IRS destroyed evidence in targeting scandal:

“‘We’ve confirmed the backup tapes no longer exist,’ Koskinen said. He maintained Lerner destroyed the hard drive on the computer and no additional information could be retrieved.

Despite a subpoena order to provide documents, IRS employees working night shifts demagnetized the contents of Lerner’s’ computers, according to the inspectors general.”

The Justice Department has refused to press charges. This will be minimally covered by the media, and nobody will go to prison.

Nixon was a schmuck.

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