Why Washington Can’t Cut Spending

May 11, 2011


Great straightforward explanation of the entitlement trap from the folks at LearnLiberty.

Not Getting it : AC/DC

May 11, 2011

AC/DC says their songs will never be available for download online.

Of course they already are, and always will be. What AC/DC is really doing is electing not to make any money from it.


May 5, 2011

“Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any
pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but
three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.”

- John Adams

Minority Report : The Photographs

May 4, 2011

I think the photographs of the body of Osama bin Laden should be released.

I want those pictures to come to the mind of those who will follow after him, when they consider organizing the slaughter of my neighbors. I want them to know, not fear, or suspect, but know with certainty that if they do so, sooner or later, angry men with guns will knock down their doors and shoot at them until they look like that picture. I want it to give them a moment of pause. For some of them that may be a price worth paying, but I suspect it would discourage some as well.

Certainly, despite all his fearless talk about martyrdom and rewards in the next life, Osama himself went to great pains to stay out of the crosshairs for as long as he could. Are there jihadis who don’t care if we find them and exact revenge? Certainly. Are there many more who are more likely to become jihadis if they think they can get away with it? I don’t think we can discount that possibility.

Make them remember the image of the consequences when they decide.

The Awfulwater Chronicles : Part 1

May 4, 2011

Now that I’m building up an exercise regimen, I thought I should explore some hydration alternatives to water. Both because something which is vitamin-infused and has electrolytes is probably more effective during exercise, and because if it’s tastier than water I’ll likely drink more of it.

An old friend of mine used to call sports drinks and related “hydration systems” awfulwater.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tab Safari : May 4

May 4, 2011

6 Premature predictions of tech failure.

51% of American households pay no federal income tax.

Lexus built a CNC circular loom for weaving complex carbon fiber layups.

Olafur Eliasson made a 3D laser cut book which is also an architectural model.


Book of Days : May 3

May 3, 2011

Today it’s an 100% organic edition of my Book of Days series! That’s right, both of these entries have to do with pipe organs!

Today is the birthday of Organist/Composer Marcel Dupré, born in 1886. Dupré was a musical prodigy from childhood, and was born into something of a perfect storm for a French organ genius. When Marcel was 14 years old, his father Albert commissioned Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (The still undisputed master of French Symphonic organ building) to furnish the Dupré house with an organ. Within four years of that instrument being installed, Dupré was enrolled at the Conservatoir de Paris where he would study under a panoply of the finest organists, composers, improvisors and theorists France had ever produced. Among Dupré’s mentors were such leading lights as Louis Vierne, Alexandre Guilmant and Charles-Marie Widor, who he would succeed as the organist at the famed Cavaillé-Coll organ at Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris. Dupré was as prolific as he was brilliant, producing a substantial body of composition and volumes of written works on topics including organ building, counterpoint, fugue theory, accoustics, and improvisation (twice). As one examines the rich tapestry of French organ genius, one cannot escape feeling that all threads are connected to Dupré, those of the upper echelons who were not his mentors were invariably his students.

One of those students shared his birthday; Virgil Fox born today in 1912 in Princeton Illinois, would become perhaps the best known and most controversial organist of the 20th century. Known for his extravagant and highly romanticized performances of the works of J.S. Bach, Fox toured the world in a flashy cape putting on concerts under the banner of “HEAVY ORGAN” which were meant to appeal to a general public more comfortable with rock and roll, for whom the organ had distinctly churchly connotations. Fox’s concerts featured light shows, audience participation, and frequent colorful commentary from Fox himself, who rarely missed an opportunity to tweak the organ orthodoxy by the nose. His palpable contempt for traditional and historical performance practice riled the organ community, while his obvious technical mastery and near-instant recall of a catalog of hundreds of organ works from memory made him difficult to dismiss as a mere entertainer. Arguments over Fox’s legacy continue to this day but it can be truthfully said that there are many fans of organ music today who would never have become so without him.

The most fun you can have (with clothes on)

April 29, 2011

So after a ludicrously long car trip to scenic Bell Buckle TN and back, the toy serious piece of exercise equipment has arrived.

Not wanting to take it out for a test ride without checking it for potentially unsafe poor assembly, I loaded it right into the truck and took off back home. Five hours later when I arrived home, I was too impatient and curious so I took it out on a test ride without checking it anyway. The good news is that I marauded around for nearly two hours, having a great time. This thing is an absolute blast, it rides like a sports car.

The bad news is that this particular trike was apparently assembled by a blind, epileptic emu. I’m pretty convinced that not a single bolt was actually tight anyplace on the trike. This is only a minor quibble next to the bolts which were missing altogether. The seat was put in a position specifically proscribed by the owners manual, which is alright because only one of the screws for the rear stays for said seat was even present. The deraileurs are both totally out of whack, leaving only the middle gears available, and the brake pad on the right side is worn down twice as far as that on the left, as is the rubber grip itself. I can only surmise the previous owner used the right brake preferentially and steered left to compensate for the brake steer?  Another small detail; the rear wheel wasn’t actually tightened into the dropouts. At all.

So after exhausting myself climbing hills in middle gears for a while I took the trike inside for some serious overhaul work.

Tab Safari : April 29

April 29, 2011

Another hopefully-regular feature premieres today – “Tab Safari” where I dump on you, my loyal reader(s?) weird and interesting things I found clogging up the series of tubes, causing other, more useful information to have to get in line.

First up today They don’t make Pyrex like they used to, which is bad news for cocaine.

They don’t make microscopes like they used to either.
Don’t believe me? Look at this Beautiful Gallery of historic examples.

The Best Headstone Ever.

Chris Lawson has a very useful sign for those of us with laser equipment.

Here is a wonderful and beautiful ongoing street art project involving Little People


Book of Days : April 28

April 28, 2011

Today I’m starting what I expect to be a regular feature on The Daily Cypher, which is posting excerpts from my various Books of Days, where I collect chronologically sorted oddities.

Today is the birthday of author Sir Terry Pratchett, who requires no biographical sketch. If you do not know who Sir Pratchett is, go and read his books immediately. Sir Pratchett is widely quoted as having said “I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.” – This quotation is so delicious that I shall be heartbroken if I ever find out it is not genuine. It is difficult to find any geek anywhere in the world who has not been influenced by Pratchett’s eloquence and wit.

This day in 1940 saw the first recording of  “PEnnsylvania 6-5000″ by The Glenn Miller Orchestra. A classic tune of the era, its title was a reference to the phone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania, a big-band hot spot frequented by Miller and other bands of the era. The phone number PE6-5000 or (212) 736-5000 is still in service today.

On the same day as the Miller recording, Rudolf Hoess took command of the Auschwitz concentration camp. His three and a half year supervision of the facility was to be characterized by the massive expansion required in order to accommodate the vast throughput of victims necessary to enact the Shoah. His formidable ingenuity, when coupled to a total absence of empathy resulted in perhaps the most efficient human extermination process in recorded history. At the trial which would ultimately result in his execution, Hoess boasted that at peak operation the facilities could murder 10,000 victims in a 24-hour period, a number limited only by the speed at which the bodies of the dead could be incinerated.

This day in 1937 the Theiler Yellow Fever Vaccine was announced to the public. This would mark the beginning of the near eradication of a disease which had claimed untold numbers of lives, and would earn Max Theiler a Nobel Prize for Medicine. The progress made against Yellow Fever has begun to backslide in recent years, with the number of cases increasing due in some part to anti-vaccination sentiments in the affected regions.