“I learned how to think by reading the great books, boldly. It has led to financial success for me. And I’m not alone.
In a videotaped interview in 2012, billionaire inventor Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, said a passion for original ideas was a secret to his success. Musk argued that it is essential to base one’s thoughts not on what he called ‘analogy’ — trying to invent something new by borrowing somebody else’s ideas — but rather on ‘first principles.’ ‘Boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘OK, what are we sure is true?’’ he explained. Doing so, he said, provides far greater opportunity for true innovation, even if it ‘takes a lot more mental energy.’”
February 9, 2016
Penalties for politicians: Column: “We entrust an inordinate amount of power to people who don’t feel any pain when we fall down. The best solution of all is to take a lot of that power back. When the power is in your hands, it’s in the hands of someone who feels it when you fall down. When it’s in their hands, it’s your pain, their gain. That’s no way to run a country.”
I like this idea, along with the idea of sunsets on legislation. If a politician says “let us enact this legislation! We promise that it’ll do X, Y, and Z!” and then it fails miserably, why not have an automatic rollback to the previous situation? If you’re headed down a road and see a dead end sign, it’s common sense to go back to the turnoff and try again. Congress routinely jams through partisan legislation under the assurances of extreme promises only for us to find out later that the promises were empty or the legislation was never structured or intended to do what was promised. So why not hold them accountable? It would make for more transparent, considered, and effective laws. Regardless of your political leanings, that can only be good for the country.
And while we’re at it, why not impose penalties on politicians if their promises do not come to pass? How about some accountability? The citizens have it. It’s time for our leaders to have it as well.
“The evidence continues to mount that minimum wage hikes have economic costs: A Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco review paper recently found that minimum wages had ‘directly reduced the number of jobs nationally by about 100,000 to 200,000.’ And now a new survey of recent data by Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily (h/t RCP) found that minimum wage hikes seem to have taken a toll on hiring in some of America’s major metropolitan areas:
Hiring at restaurants, hotels and other leisure and hospitality sector venues slowed markedly last year in metro areas that saw big minimum-wage hikes, new Labor Department data show [. . .]
The big shortcoming in the available data for 5 of the 6 cities is that they cover broad metro areas, far beyond the city limits where wage hikes took effect. Still, the uniform result of much slower job growth in the low-wage leisure and hospitality sector, even as the pace of job gains held steady in surrounding areas, sends a pretty powerful signal.
It’s important to remember that most of these hikes are much more modest than the $15 dollar minimum that is now officially part of the Democratic Party platform. A hike of that level is unprecedented in American history, so the real impact on job creation is anyone’s guess.”
February 3, 2016
Pretty much says it all, I think. One good thing about having Sanders get the nomination is that the choice will be very stark and clear. With his record voters won’t be able to say they weren’t warned. America will haven actively chosen the form of its’ destruction.
January 28, 2016
Partisanship aside, the article quoted below is seriously damning. Patreus got retroactively stripped of his rank and retirement benefits, was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine, and put on a 2 year probation for doing something admittedly stupid that was far, far less damaging than this. In light of Patreus’ trial, the fact that literally half of the electorate is willing to excuse these repeated and deliberate violations of top secret information speaks volumes about how much we value “our side” winning over the actual health and well-being of the country.
If I were in the intelligence community and at risk from these leaks, I would quickly reevaluate my career. If I were in our enemies’ shoes I would be positively giddy over the current state of American politics. We’ve quickly gone from mighty superpower to weak and ineffectual laughing stock. Change indeed.
“To take just the Russians: their plus-sized embassy in Washington, D.C. is conveniently located on a hill overlooking the city, with an impressive antenna field on its roof aimed downtown. That is where Ms. Clinton’s ‘unclassified’ emails went. The Russians care so much about State Department information they’ve been caught planting bugs inside a conference room just down the hall from the Secretary of State’s office. ‘Of course the SVR got it all,’ explained a high-ranking former KGB officer to me about EmailGate (the SVR is the post-Soviet successor to the KGB’s foreign intelligence arm). ‘I don’t know if we’re as good as we were in my time,’ he added, ‘but even half-drunk the SVR could get those emails, they probably couldn’t believe how easy Hillary made it for them.’
Any foreign intelligence service reading Ms. Clinton’s emails would know a great deal they’re not supposed to about American diplomacy, including classified information: readouts from sensitive meetings, secret U.S. positions on high-stakes negotiations, details of interaction between the State Department and other U.S. agencies including the White House. This would be a veritable intelligence goldmine to our enemies. Worse, access to Ms. Clinton’s personal email likely gave foreign spy agencies hints on how to crack into more sensitive information systems. Not to mention that if Clinton Inc. was engaged in any sort of illegal pay-for-play schemes, our adversaries know all about that, as well as anything else shady that Ms. Clinton and her staff were putting in those unencrypted emails….
…All this angers Americans with experience in our military and intelligence services who understand what Ms. Clinton and her staff did—and that they would be held to far harsher standards for attempting anything similar. They know that brave Americans have given their lives protecting Top Secret Codeword information. They know that in every American embassy around the world, our diplomatic outposts that worked for Hillary Clinton, Marine guards have standing orders to fight to the death to protect the classified information that’s inside those embassies. That Hillary Clinton gave similar information away, by choice, is something she needs to explain if she expects to be our next Commander-in-Chief.”
Read the whole thing.
January 27, 2016
A 17-year-old girl who was physically and sexually attacked in Sønderborg will herself face charges for using pepper spray to fend off her assailant.
The teenager told police that she was attacked in central Sønderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by a dark-skinned English-speaking man. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her.
The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble.
‘It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,’ local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd.
The case has sparked a backlash among some Danes who point to increasing reports of sexual harassment in Sønderborg and other Danish cities at the same time that police say they are stretched too thin to properly carry out their duties.
Numerous readers wrote in the comments section on TV Syd’s story about the incident that they would be willing to pay the girl’s fine, which will most likely be 500 kroner.
The man who attacked the 17-year-old fled from the scene and has not been charged.
Nice knowing you, Europe.
January 26, 2016
One of the curses of being a good teacher (in all humility) is that bad teaching drives me absolutely bonkers. It’s especially bad when it’s a subject that I’m struggling with and I know I could learn easily if I could just find someone who teaches well.
Just barfing up information or racing through facts is not teaching. Teaching involves breaking down concepts and slowly building a scaffolding of knowledge in the mind of your student, then using that scaffolding to (along with the student), hang new information on the scaffolding until they gain understanding, confidence, and self-actualization. The best teachers get the students up to escape velocity so that they can in turn teach others. Repetition and restatement are critical, as is knowing how to teach to different learning styles. If the teacher simply describes the final building in disjointed detail, he or she hasn’t actually taught anything, and often the student feels like they’ll never learn anything at all.
A lot of it comes down to teaching style as well. I’m a great hands-on and visual learner. Lecture courses are about the worst way to disseminate information to visual/kinesthetic learners but some topics don’t really lend themselves to that style, unfortunately.
Anyway, bad teachers bug me.
January 10, 2016
“All education is self-education. Period. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop. We don’t learn anything we don’t want to learn.
Those people who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own are the only ones who earn a real education in this world. Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur or historical figure you can think of. Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education.
If you’re interested in learning something new, this article is for you. Broken down by subject and/or category, here are several top-notch self-education resources I have bookmarked online over the past few years.”
December 31, 2015
“When feeding the homeless becomes an act of civil disobedience, Americans have been asleep for far too long.
Luckily, however, there are still good people who are willing to defy such arbitrary and ill-conceived laws and ordinances.
The folks over at the aptly named organization Don’t Comply, took to the streets just outside the Austin Street Shelter in Dallas this weekend to perform, what has now become a revolutionary act – feeding the homeless.
‘We are not complying with a bad law today,’ Matthew Short, PR director of Don’t Comply said. ‘Evidently the city of Dallas believes that it’s wrong, or bad, or unlawful for us to feed more than a certain number of people at a time. But, during Christmas, we want to show love to our community and give these people a chance to survive the winter, whether it be with blankets or coats, or just giving them a holiday party like today with all kinds of cookies, and goodies, turkey and dressing, and the whole nine yards.’”
Laws preventing Americans from taking care of people are stupid and should be abruptly, pointedly defied. Just because some bureaucrat (or hyper-partisan) can come up with a justification for a law does not make the law legitimate. Or moral. I wish the participants would have printed up giant posters with the names and faces of the city council members who voted in favor of this giant overreach, and posted videos of people laughing at them.
Much laughing. And pointing. With laughing. And not complying.
Our country was founded on the idea of individual liberty and it’s accompanying responsibility. I hope we see more of this.
Last December, the Dallas city council enacted Ordinance No. 29595, which makes it illegal to serve food to the homeless without jumping through a statist myriad of bureaucratic hoops, including a fee, training classes, and written notices.
Every single Dallas City Council member who voted in favor of this- regardless of party- should be loudly and embarrassingly booted from office. The citizens of Dallas should make the point that they’re tired of this level of meddling and control coming from Our Betters.
You can’t feed the homeless without a permit.
Oh yeah? Watch me.
December 30, 2015
The 35 Best New Board Games of the Year: “Order a pizza, invite over one to three friends, and try out the best new board games.”
I love playing board games. Some of these look awesome. Oh, who am I kidding… they all do.
Faculty Focus: How Three Professors Banded Together to Beat Back a Free Speech Threat at Clemson – FIRE: “‘In the very same issue in which [the other faculty’s] full-page ad appeared, our full-page ad appeared as well, unbeknownst to them. So they opened the student newspaper and on the inside cover page, they very proudly saw their full-page ad, supporting the notion that the university should prosecute criminally defamatory speech. They turned the page, and there was our full-page ad defending Clemson students and their right to freedom of thought, conscience, inquiry, speech, et cetera, et cetera.’”
December 29, 2015
“‘At Brown, there is an underground group whose purpose is to allow kids to say what they ought to be free to say above ground.’
So begins Jay Nordlinger’s National Review profile of Reason@Brown. Christopher Robotham, 21, is the group’s founder. He tells FIRE that the by-invitation-only club is a forum where Brown students can engage in free expression in an atmosphere where open and vigorous debate is welcome and valued.”
This goes for both parties, by the way. And no, it’s not okay to support this behavior in your guy but oppose it when the other guy is in office. I’d say that we should make a law but there are already plenty on the books.
“And if Hamburger is wrong, and the Constitution’s silence on subdelegation should be taken to imply permission? Well, we should still be concerned. Seductive as it may sound, the claim that the administrative state is subject to meaningful democratic oversight is in practice rather weak. By its nature, the modern bureaucracy is a quasi-permanent force, vast swathes of which remain in operation regardless of who holds elective office and with what brief. For the administrators’ apologists to contend that our contemporary rule-makers are legitimate because they were empowered by those who were at one point elected will simply not cut the mustard. Now, as in Washington’s time, we write our laws down so that those who are bound by them know what they are bound by. There is no advantage to our doing so if the men tasked with enforcing them are permitted to suspend them or to fill out their meaning as their political desires demand.
Which is all to say that, pace Woodrow Wilson & Co., the recipe for political liberty is as it ever was. For men to be free, the law must be difficult to change, and it must be changed only by those whom we send to represent us; it must be universal and comprehensible in its application; it must be limited in its scope (by both hard rules and soft conventions); and it must be contrived, executed, and overseen by parties whose specialized functions are clearly set apart from one another. These conventions took a long time to develop, and they will take a long time to forget. But if they are circumvented often and egregiously enough, forgotten they will eventually be. There is always a crown beyond the horizon.”
December 24, 2015
Nathan Myhrvold, myth buster | Intelligent Life magazine: “‘I was totally aware of being poor…But I only wanted one thing when I was young, wealth-wise. I wanted to be able to buy any book I wanted. We lived two doors from the library in Santa Monica and I read every book, long before I went to school. Many years transpire and I’m at Microsoft and I’m buying books whenever I want [he has estimated his Amazon book habit at nearly $200,000 a year]. I realise that this is like wishing for eternal life and forgetting to ask for eternal youth, because I had tons of money but absolutely no time to read all the books.’ The books now fill two warehouses.”
December 23, 2015
‘Stars Wars’ and the End of Culture | Acculturated: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been greeted as a realty-shifting cultural phenomenon. At heart it is simply a mediocre movie. Harrison Ford looks tired and silly reprising the role of Han Solo. There is no exposition or backstory to explain the characters’ motivations. The action is relentless yet somehow boring. The destruction of yet another Death Star is particularly lazy. Our cultural muscles have atrophied, allowing works of marginal value to be praised as high art; it’s all become one big pop culture Death Star, sucking everything into its mindless orbit.
But we can resist. We can say no. We can learn to flex highbrow cultural muscles again and to take on challenging works of art. We can say: Nicki Minaj is junk, James Patterson is a hack, and Lady Gaga produces lazy provocations, not art. We can even say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is cotton candy that is forgotten seconds after you leave the theater.
Perhaps then we can get back to what Llosa sees as the truest, noblest calling of culture—nourishing our souls while examining the big questions. Despite our vast scientific and technical knowledge, Llosa argues, ‘We have never been so confused about certain basic questions such as what are we doing on this lightless planet of ours, if mere survival is the sole aim that justifies life, if concepts such as spirit, ideals, pleasure, love, solidarity, art, creation, beauty, soul, transcendence still have meaning and, if so, what these meanings might be?’”
Read the whole thing
December 21, 2015
More work on the R2 front. A lot more since my last update. The frame is pretty much finished except for the laser etching (which I’m still contemplating and, actually, reconsidering). So I’ve moved on to R2’s leg assemblies I have put a total of 43.5 hours of work into them so far (not counting stare-at-the-wall-and-think time).
Here’s what I’m trying to make this year.
and is comprised of these sub-assemblies (including the feet and battery boxes as well as some other details). I’ll need to make two of these and a shorter center leg.
The entire leg assembly has 30+ individual parts. I have to make a left leg and a mirrored right leg (as well as a less complex center leg). The part I’m working on right now is the “inside” main frame assembly of the leg that supports everything else. It’s made up of a top plate, bottom plate, four side “walls”, a curved top piece, and couple of bottom pockets that hold the side details (which I also have to make). Here is the basic structure
I designed the files in Fusion 360 and exported them as .ord files to set up on the water jet.
I took one of the two plates of 1/4″ aluminum I got for free from the anodizers (yes, they gave me about $150 in aluminum after I paid them the extremely low rate of $70 to anodize the frame (should have been $500 but they were jazzed about it being R2) and carefully positioned it on the water jet. I had to be really careful since all of the holes in the plate made it difficult to work around. In the end it took me almost an hour to get things lined up correctly.
Then I discovered that the water jet is misaligned. Whoops.
It’s actually a pretty big discovery at the shop and solves several mysteries around there. Turns out the underwater bed of the machine is off in the Y axis about 1/2″ over the 6′ front-to-back span. Seeing how the water jet has to be focussed about 1/8″ above the bed with a tolerance of around 1/16″, this was obviously not going to work. So I tore down my assembly and rotated everything 90 degrees, thus minimizing the error. I also had to regenerate a brand new water jet file. All told, I took about 2.5 hours on what should have been a 30 minute setup.
After doing a dry run to make absolutely sure everything worked, I held my breath, started up the machine, and hit “execute”.
Here are a few videos of the machine in operation. It may be a costly beast, but what it can do in a very short period of time is just amazing. I really couldn’t do this without spending weeks in the machine shop, and even then I might get it wrong with my level of skill. The water jet is truly amazing.
23 minutes later I had one of the legs! Success!
Here’s a shot of the final plate with the legs cut out (after I washed it off with some water):
Or… so I thought at the time.
Since everything was already set up and looked correct I went ahead and plopped the other plate down on the machine, calibrated and clamped it down, and cut a second set of leg plates. The pump mysteriously shut down halfway through (we think that the switch has a short in it) but a quick restart and I was back in business. Total cut time was just over 47 minutes. *whew*!
Unfortunately, upon my test assembly I realized that I had used the *wrong file* and my ‘side-wall’ rectangular pieces were cut .25″ too wide! This was a much better mistake than cutting them too short however, since I needed to mill off the taper that is introduced by the water jet anyway. Well, I thought it wasn’t going to be too big of a deal. I went back into Techshop early this morning and ended up spending about 8 hours in the shop slowly milling off that extra .25″ of width. So yeah…. lots of labor to correct a silly mistake, but ultimately I got some good manual mill practice as well as some really nicely made parts. I’m very happy with the way things are shaping up.
The next step is to decide how I’m going to make the top curved piece of the legs. I’m probably going to water jet that as well (to a man that has only a hammer, every problem….). I’ll have to come up with a 1.25″ thick piece of aluminum that’s big enough for the 6″ wide piece. It’ll be a chunk of change but I might be able to find it in the drop bin at the metal place (sold by the pound). Cutting something that will be a beast, too, but it’s the only way I can figure now.
Speaking of which, I spoke to the machining instructor, Jack Withers, at Techshop about the leg “horseshoes”:
I’ve been through three or four ideas about how to make these but the best idea I’ve come up with is to make the 1/8″ slices on the water jet (yeah, yeah) due to the fact that the inside of the hub has those offset gear pieces. My concern is that the outside of the horseshoe will show those “bread slices” through the paint. But I think that if I lay down a coat of lab metal and then wet sand (and sand, and sand) then I should be able to cover up the slices.
Of course, doing it this way means that I have to drill and tap holes so that I can screw the slices together from the backside. But…. of course… the vice in the machine shop is 1/8″ too narrow for the horseshoes. So. I’ll have to disassemble the vice and figure out some way to make it slightly bigger in order to accommodate the wider stock. Always an adventure.
But that’s for later. Now I need to spend several weeks thinking about the leg assembly. There’s an interesting inside piece that you can just barely see that looks like this:
How in the world am I going to make this? No idea yet…
December 14, 2015
Ad Blockers Will Force Reforms in Online Marketing | MIT Technology Review: “It’s telling that when the authors of the PageFair-Adobe report asked 400 Americans why they started using an ad blocker, the primary reason they gave was to avoid ‘misuse of personal information.’ Twelve months ago, the research firm Ipsos surveyed people on behalf of the marketing services company TRUSTe and found that concern about online privacy was rising. The top cause for worry: ‘Companies collecting and sharing my personal information with other companies.’ People feared that more than government surveillance. So it’s no wonder that ad blocking hockey-sticked in popularity after it became clear that other mechanisms for protecting personal privacy—such as ‘Do Not Track’ (a function you can activate in your Web browser to request that sites not compile information on you)—were mostly ignored by the online advertising business. When Do Not Track proved toothless, millions of people got their own fangs.
At this point if you’re not using an Adblocker online you’re exposing yourself to way too much intrusive tracking and risk. Glad to see the adblock tech pushing change.
December 4, 2015
Theodicy attempts to defend God’s goodness and omnipotence in light of the existence of evil. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ the question goes. (To which a Lutheran might reply, ‘Trick question! There are no good people!’) There are various schools of thought and debate, rekindled with every hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, act of terror, and mass shooting. Progressives seem to begin their response to tragedy with the question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good governments?’
The god of good government would have been able to take care of us if only we’d given it sufficient power.
The theodicy of federal government seeks to defend the goodness of government in the face of tragedy. So just as some religious groups might blame a weather event on insufficient fealty to the relevant god, some progressives blame — before we actually know what is even going on in a given tragedy — insufficient fealty, sacrifice, and offerings to the relevant god of federal government. And so they explain that the god of good government would have been able to take care of us if only we’d given it sufficient power to do so. In this case, that power is gun control. Progressives tend to believe that government — if made to have sufficient size, scope, and proper management over the affairs of man — will fix or at least seriously mitigate the problem of evil in the world. Conservatives tend to believe that human nature is flawed and inclined toward bad things. Conservatives believe that government, being made up of humans, will also be inclined toward bad things, and therefore it must be restrained and not given a dangerous amount of power. They tend to see greater success for fixing problems in society with voluntary associations and institutions, such as families and community and organizations. Progressives tend to believe that man can be perfected, and perfected through government action. These almost cartoonish denunciations of prayer we saw yesterday, combined with the implicit praises of government action, are best understood as a sort of primitive religious reaction to the problem that growth of the state still hasn’t fixed the problem of evil in the world.
‘Something must be done!’ is a prayer.
Scott Shackford (@SShackford) December 3, 2015
@MZHemingway @NYDailyNews ‘Bad things happen to Good people b/c we don’t have the right set of regulations’ – Leftist theodicy
CJ ن (@CJHerod) December 3, 2015
‘We need some legislation for whatever it is that’s happening.’ — our dogmatically, religiously socialist friends on the left
The Scandalous DJT (@AceofSpadesHQ) December 3, 2015
And these calls for the big government god to shine upon them with mercy are frequently more ritual than anything else. The people who find hope in big government don’t seem to be terribly interested in more than the ritual of proclaiming their piety, announcing how happy they are to not be like the ‘other men,’ and half-hearted proposals of unworkable legislation that (surprise!) never solves the problem of man’s fallen condition.“
November 19, 2015
Why is English so weirdly different from other langu…: “Even in English, native roots do more than we always recognise. We will only ever know so much about the richness of even Old English’s vocabulary because the amount of writing that has survived is very limited. It’s easy to say that comprehend in French gave us a new formal way to say understand – but then, in Old English itself, there were words that, when rendered in Modern English, would look something like ‘forstand’, ‘underget’, and ‘undergrasp’. They all appear to mean ‘understand’, but surely they had different connotations, and it is likely that those distinctions involved different degrees of formality.”
The company said 10 days for the anodizing but the employees were so excited about having an R2 frame to work on that they put me at the front of the line. The big boss at the shop told me that they all took special care walking the parts through the 20 (!) tanks required for the whole anodizing process.
So today, after less than 48 hours in the shop, they called and told me that R2 was done! I was thrilled to go pick it up (and took them some pizza as a lunchtime thank you as well). Then I spent some time doing a tolerance check (that is: I assembled it!). The glossy finish I gave the parts was totally worth all the work. It looks amazing.
Here are some pics of the frame with all of my current pieces in place. I still have to design and laser etch the circuitry patterns but I’m thrilled that this part is done. Also, much relieved.
I had to get the dome out of its box and do a test fit, of course. It drew all kinds of attention at Techshop. People love R2.
Long, long way to go but this was a major milestone. Great to see it coming together.
Proud R2 papa