The Big Think

October 31, 2015

Japanese Researchers Make Glass That’s Nearly Unbreakable

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:18 am

Japanese Researchers Make Glass That’s Nearly Unbreakable:

“the Tokyo team brewed up a method of making glass that required no container at all: they used gas to push the chemical components into the air, where they synthesized together. The result? A transparent ultra glass that’s 50% alumina and rivals the Young’s modulus of steel and iron, which measures rigidity and elasticity in solids.”

Guess What? You’re Not Actually A Hero

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:00 am

Guess What? You’re Not Actually A Hero: “Stop confusing bravery with actions that merely confirm your worldview”

Good article. The author comes at it from a conservative leaning bent but also has some negative things to say about his own side.

October 30, 2015


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:56 pm


The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist groups, suggested in an article last week that the arsons [of six black churches in St. Louis] were carried out by white supremacists.

The group quoted a journalist who covers African-American issues who said that the fires were “both alarming and not surprising.”

“This is alarming because domestic terrorism is alive and well,” David A. Love told the SPLC. “It is such a problem that the U.S. Department of Justice recently predicted increases in violent acts by white extremists who are responding to a new reality in which people of color will become a majority in America.”

The SPLC also quoted Love blaming “a vicious cycle created by rightwing politicians, the NRA and hate groups who stir up anger, fear and resentment over changing demographics and want their country back.”

So people who were looking for news were presented with a pre-framed narrative and interpretation of events.

Today, police announced that they arrested the arsonist and it was quietly reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Although the locations of the fires in predominantly African American neighborhoods gave rise to speculation that the motive might be race-related, Jackson is black.

But hey, You can trust the media.

October 15, 2015

End of Sanding

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 7:55 pm

Finally finished sanding the frame pieces! I took the four curved front pieces and sanded them up to 3000 grit (wet-sanded). It took almost three hours. Ugh. I’m so glad to be done with that.

I still have about six to ten hours of polishing with the industrial buffer (and four more grits of rouge followed by aluminum polish and then billet polish) but the really nasty job is done. When I finished I took off my N95 mask and it was covered in powdered aluminum. So glad I wore that thing.

Anodizing is getting closer. I’ll hopefully be able to take it to the anodizer in a few weeks.

October 12, 2015

R2 Update

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 8:32 pm

Tonight I spent four hours at TechShop drilling eight holes. Not even full holes. I had to set up the manual mill, clamp in the four curved front utility arm pieces, centerfind each hole and then drill a .045″ countersink on each one with a .50″ bit. Each hole took about 20 minutes. With setup, cleanup, and a few side trips to help other members with the WJ (as well as answer questions about the laser and software) it took me four hours.

It’s fun being an instructor at TechShop, and fun being a well-known one. But sometimes it can be distracting! It took me a full 30 minutes to get to the mill and put my headphones on (the universal T.S. “leave-me-alone-I’m-working” signal that most people seem to understand).

So now all of the frame pieces are cut, drilled, and tapped. I have a little bit of wet sanding to do (about an hour) and then I can start in on the high-gloss polishing. I bought two different polishing wheels and a whole slew of compounds to use. I’m hoping to have the frame ready to go to the anodizers in a few weeks. Then assembly and I’ll then move on to the legs.

Pics will follow soon! I try not to touch my iPhone too much when I’m in the machine shop since there are so many tiny aluminum shards flying around.

Confessions of a Private Space Rocket Engineer

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 12:41 pm

Confessions of a Private Space Rocket Engineer:

“I have the resources to move quickly from spitballing an idea with other engineers to drawing up a design, fabricating, and testing without friction from management or bureaucracy. This creative freedom is possible because every engineer is aware of the responsibility they have to their coworkers, that at the end of the day their work will be right. A lazy moment could result in the delay of a program, the loss of a vehicle during testing, or an injury, the consequences of which may be devastating. The engineering managers come from this culture of rapid innovation so they are able give significant control to the engineers allowing the organic development process to flow, adding in structure where it is needed. 

Nyberg: In a small scrappy company like Masten, the engineers are given both the pleasure—and frustration—of fabricating their designs with their own hands, which is very uncommon. We’re a company of tinkerers, and a core philosophy is that an engineer who physically builds, repairs, and maintains their own designs becomes tattooed in a way—either by the satisfaction of a well-built design, or just as frequently, by the frustration and revelation of how you’ll improve it ‘next time.’ When a teammate cursing an inaccessible bolt is the same teammate who designed the part in the first place, something very interesting happens: their designs mature at an absurdly fast rate”

In my much more modest projects I’ve definitely noticed that. It quickly gives you the ability to look ahead.

October 7, 2015

Alea iacta est

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:08 pm


“Occasionally a member of the chattering classes writes something that is not just wrong, that is not just irritating, but that is genuinely dangerous. Matthew Yglesias’s latest essay at Vox is just such a piece. Writes Yglesias:

From her adventures in cattle trading to chairing a policymaking committee in her husband’s White House to running for Senate in a state she’d never lived in to her effort to use superdelegates to overturn 2008 primary results to her email servers, [Hillary] Clinton is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas.

This is, for him, a point in her favor:

Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority, and Clinton is almost uniquely suited to deliver the goods. More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned.


She truly is the perfect leader for America’s moment of permanent constitutional crisis: a person who cares more about results than process, who cares more about winning the battle than being well-liked, and a person who believes in asking what she can get away with rather than what would look best.”

Or “we’re okay with someone breaking the law, as long as it’s our person doing it.”

October 4, 2015

Daily Cuteness

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 1:47 pm

15 photos that prove dogs can fall asleep anywhere.

October 3, 2015

The Modern Milquetoast

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 7:07 am

A rebuttal to the ridiculous and laughable NYT article about the “Modern Man” that made so many people giggle.

The Modern Man does not hunger for the approval of the New York Times.

October 1, 2015

The Mob Is Coming For You

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:05 pm

VDH: “All consensual governments are prone to scary wild swings of mob-like emotion—and to demagogues who can almost rein in or goad the dêmos. But the Founders sought to make American government immune to Athenian-style craziness through a system of checks and balances that vented popular frenzies without a great deal of damage. If an idea proved illogical or illegal, then legislators, judges, and executives could dissipate, delay, or nullify it, before it swept away years of sober custom and time-honored practices—at least as long as the Constitution and its subsidiary laws were not dismantled as impediments to ‘fairness’ and ‘equality.’

In the twenty-first century, novel developments have increasingly turned us from sober Roman republicans into mercurial Athenian democrats, as we can see especially in this election year.

First, the rise of social media suddenly destroyed most hierarchies of popular expression. Anyone can put up a YouTube video on the Internet and either delight or enrage millions of Americans within seconds—without any journalistic standards, fact-checking, or editorial oversight. The ensuing fury recalls the frenzied rumor-mongering of ancient Athens, when bearers of unpleasant news were often murdered or beaten by mobs at the port of the Piraeus, before their reports could be verified.

Presidential candidates crash or burn in fantastic spurts of public adulation or abject repulsion—predicated not on their policy positions or their past record, but instead on their  television appearances and the degree to which they are ‘trending’ on social media in any given 24-hour period.

Second, we are an increasingly urban people who have lost the sense of self-reliance and autonomy so needed for survival in the countryside and rural communities. Jefferson, more than two centuries ago, warned us that he did not think democracy would work when ‘we get piled upon one another in large cities.’ Fad and frenzy are the wages of centrally controlled, dense populations that look to an omnipotent ‘You Didn’t Build That’ government for their sustenance, safety, and guidance, losing contact with nature and confidence in themselves that accrues from self-reliant achievement.

Third, globalization has expanded America’s supposed responsibility for equality and fairness to all the peoples of the world. Suddenly, it is not enough for the government to provide jobs and opportunities to Americans alone; we must now extend those privileges to illegal immigrants. The Internet and cable TV show us hordes of people scrambling to enter the West—as if we have within our means the instant fixes for such maladies that are the fault of distant others. The plight of gays in the Congo, Christians in Syria, the transgendered in Russia, and the poor in Sudan have become referenda on our morality—and our government must expand and grow, the argument goes, to serve the global disadvantaged.

Finally, the law is seen as an impediment to such sweeping notions of social justice. It is certainly deemed counter-revolutionary and an impediment to the Obama administration’s idea of an equality of result. As a result, the President at one time or another has ignored enforcement of federal laws, from not prosecuting the rogue behavior of federal bureaucrats at the IRS or EPA to suspending elements of his own Affordable Care Act.

Over 300 cities—in antebellum, neo-Confederate fashion—have declared themselves immune from the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Often detained and deported illegal aliens have been freed by our modern bureaucratic versions of Jefferson Davis nullificationists. Consequently, many released illegal aliens have killed and maimed Americans.

Yet not all of the laws are ignored in quite the same blanket fashion. If San Francisco claims that it does not have to turn over an illegal alien caught in violation of federal immigration law, then can Salt Lake City arbitrarily decide that a particular protected newt or salt-water fish is no longer sacrosanct under the federal Endangered Species Act? Will Fresno be allowed to cancel federal laws that forbid instant purchases of handguns?

What now constitutes actionable criminal behavior in the scandals at the IRS, EPA, ICE, and a host of other alphabet agencies are not treated as per se violations of the law. Rather, they are judged according to whether the offender and his crime were deemed progressive and well-intended—or reactionary and thus prosecutable. CEOs who cannot cap a leaky oil well or who sell noxious peanut products go to jail; EPA functionaries who turn white-water rivers into toxic yellow mush melt back into the coils of the bureaucracy.”

The whole article is worth reading.

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