July 13, 2015
July 11, 2015
Published on 9 Jul 2015
Traveling this summer? Avoid these officially terrorist-y behaviors—or you might get detained.
June 13, 2015
June 1, 2015
At Real Clear Science, Alex B. Berezow issues a clarion call to stop the US government’s (hidden) subsidy to pornography producers:
You might be asking, What federal porn subsidy? Fair question. Technically, there isn’t a federal porn subsidy. However, if we borrow some of the logic commonly used by politically driven economists, we can redefine the word subsidy to mean whatever we want.
Pornography is enjoyed by many people, but it comes with a very real social cost: it can break up families and perhaps even become an addiction, which are profound losses of productivity. Economists refer to these as negative externalities — i.e., bad side effects that affect people other than the person making the decision. One way to deal with such decisions is to tax them. This should, in theory, reduce the negative side effects, while simultaneously forcing the decisionmaker to bear the “true cost” of his actions. Clearly, if anyone should have to pay for this societal cost, it should be porn watchers, in the form of a porn tax. If they don’t pay such a tax, they are getting an indirect subsidy.
As it turns out, we don’t have a federal porn tax. Thus, we could say that the American government has issued a federal porn subsidy.
Obviously, that reasoning is absurd. Not only does it dubiously redefine the word subsidy, but it unconvincingly claims to be able to accurately place a price tag on every conceivable externality created by watching porn. Accepting that argument would require a nearly complete suspension of disbelief.
Yet, that is essentially the argument that a group of economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just made about fossil fuel subsidies. (See PDF.)
The Guardian, which penned the most influential coverage, began its article with an eye-popping statistic:
“Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day…”
Wow. $5.3 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies? That sounds insane. But, how do they arrive at that number? The Guardian goes on to explain:
“The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.”
Ah, okay. The subsidy isn’t a direct financial calculation, but is instead based on a bunch of externalities whose costs are nearly impossible to derive with any sense of believability. To give you an idea of just how much fudging exists in these kinds of calculations, a similar report issued in 2013 (PDF) concluded that the fossil fuel subsidy was $1.9 trillion. A discrepancy of $3.4 trillion should raise red flags in regard to methodology.
May 17, 2015
This report says that one of the richest men in the world is opening new frontiers in philanthropy:
Perennial contender for World’s Richest Man Carlos Slim announced Friday that he had reconsidered selling his Upper East Side home for $80 million, and instead was opening the Beaux Arts mansion to undocumented roomers. “Ever since I became the second largest shareholder in New York Times Inc., I’ve started reading the editorials,” explained the telecom monopolist. “And they’ve convinced me! What’s all this obsession with documents anyway?”
The Mexican oligarch continued, “If you can fool my doorman into letting you in once, or if you have the moxie to throw a brick through my window and crawl in over the broken glass, well, it would be inhumane to evict you. And if you have kids or parents, then they can come too because I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of family reunification. If I find you inside my house, then mi casa es su casa!”
This is clearly too good to check (but I did verify that the story isn’t dated April 1st, so it must be true, right?
May 11, 2015
April 23, 2015
Published on 3 Apr 2015
Wednesday interviews at a cutthroat Hollywood agency.
April 22, 2015
Published on 15 Apr 2015
THIS VIDEO IS A PARODY OF THE ORIGINAL “UPTOWN FUNK” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars and does not infringe on the copyright of Sony Music Entertainment (SME).
This video was created by fans of SpaceX and does not reflect the views of SpaceX or its partners.
You Elon MUST share this SpaceX music video, and help promote the future of science and space exploration! #GoBold (Lyrics at the bottom!)
H/T to Boing Boing for the link.
April 1, 2015
Published on 1 Apr 2015
Watch this behind-the-scenes video on the making of our Custom Bench Planes.
March 24, 2015
Frank J. Fleming thinks he’s found the magic formula for writing science fiction books that will appeal to today’s more sensitive, enlightened readers:
What makes good science fiction? Is it a fast-paced story? Interesting characters? Unpredictable twists and turns?
Unfortunately, I had those outdated ideas in mind when I wrote my first novel, Superego. But as we all know, the true purpose of science fiction now is inclusiveness. Entertainment is okay, I guess, but what we really need to focus on is making sure everyone feels cared for and included and that no one feels weird, no matter how weird they are.
This is difficult for me as a white, heterosexual, cisgender male. I’m basically committing a hate crime just by existing. I’m not even sure that in this day and age I should be allowed to write science fiction. Still, I decided to examine my novel to determine how inclusive it is.
I first used the Bechdel Test, as that’s a nice objective measure. I ran into a problem right away, though, because Superego is written in the first-person perspective of a male character. It’s like I didn’t even try. Still, there are a number of named female characters in the story, and a few times they do speak to each other. Most of the time, they’re talking about the main (male) character, but I did locate a short conversation between two women about one getting the other a chair.
Boom! Passed the Bechdel Test. It’s a very feminist novel.
March 7, 2015
Published on 3 Mar 2015
The capital of Nova Scotia attempts to attract tourism by embracing winter’s reality.
February 16, 2015
In The Federalist, Neal Dewing explains how he uses woodworking as a helpful method of getting through certain marital disputes:
There comes a time in every marriage when a man finds himself banished from his lady’s bedchamber for some perceived offense. A trifle, nonsense in most cases, but God help you if you argue with her until she realizes you’re right (which, of course, you usually are). If you successfully dispute her irrational arguments, the trap is sprung and she’ll proceed to catalogue every single one of your past lapses. At this point, my friend, you’ve entered what we in the marriage game like to refer to as
the normal state of thingsa dry spell.
The most important thing to remember about dry spells is that they happen to everyone. This is the case even if you have married an infinitely patient woman who doesn’t find fault in every piddling thing you do and certainly never expects you to tidy up the bathroom counter every day, because she knows fully well you’re just going to use all that stuff again so it just doesn’t make sense.
Any man who sticks to his guns will experience a dry spell sooner or later, but there are ways to cope. In fact, it can be a tremendous opportunity for self-improvement.
What better activity for a man with some unanticipated free time than carpentry? There are few better ways to relieve stress than taking a length of wood into your hands and manipulating it until you’ve achieved the desired result. It can really clear your head. With a few practical guidelines you’ll be up to speed and navigating dry spells with practiced ease.
The first order of business is to identify a project. For this exercise, we’ll go with something fairly easy that will take up some time. You like to sit around, as your wife never fails to tell people loudly enough for you to overhear. So how about a bench? I’ll run you through the steps of this basic woodworking project, which should be enough to carry you through until she works up the nerve to apologize.
Step 1: Materials
It’s important to have all your materials in place before beginning. You can obtain these from a lumberyard or one of the big home improvement stores.
- (1) 2×10
- (2) 8’ of 2×2
- (2) 8’ of 1×4
- (2) 2×4
- Wooden dowels
- Wood screws (1.5” & 3” length)
- Paint or oil-based stain
You’ll also need some tools. If you are missing a few of these, go borrow one from an older neighbor. He’ll have them. He’s been there. Plus, at this point you should take advantage of any excuse to get out of the house.
- Measuring tape
- Circular saw or compound miter saw
- Swanson® Speed® square
- 2 sawhorses
- Safety goggles
- Dust mask
Depending on how much time you spent
hidingplanning, visiting the lumberyard, and jawing with the neighbor, you may well have eaten up most of a day. Don’t feel like you need to finish this up in an afternoon. She probably hasn’t let it go yet, knowing her, even though this is obviously a ridiculous thing for her to be mad about.
You can pick this up tomorrow. Have a beer. Stay strong.
February 15, 2015
H/T to Think Defence for the image.
Let’s make no mistake, Great Britain is great, the clue is in the name after all.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously uneducated, or French.
And not only that …
Without Great Britain the world would be a poorer place in every regard.
Lets just remind ourselves why…
We gave the world democracy, common law, the Bailey Bridge, tanks, gravity, the worlds most common second language, Led Zeppelin, fair play, queuing, the backhoe loader, metal bridges, modern economics, the industrial revolution and Hollywood villains.
The Beatles, Morris Dancing, penicillin, HP sauce, Top Gear, the World Wide Web (your welcome), One Direction, Carry On and Simon Cowell.
Tea drinking, chicken tikka masala, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, battered Mars Bars, the BBC, the mini (car, roundabout and skirt), the Spice Girls, Darwin, football, Marmite, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis, ping pong, pubs, tea, sharp suits, Spitfires and the fact there are homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals in the armed forces and no one gives two shits.
With our friends and allies stood against the Nazis, invented the railway, sarcasm, MRI scanners, the screw propellor and a proper breakfast, been on the right side of the Napoleonic, First, Second and Cold War and gave the world steam power, the Mexeflote, Wallace and Gromit, roast beef dinners, the Dyson, Doctor Who, television, telephones, text messaging, GMT, electric motors, lawn movers, spotted dick, sewage systems, the thermos flask, the jet engine, carbon fibre, the flushing toilet and polyester (just for the RAF), pencils, radar and the Bank of France (ha ha ha).
January 27, 2015
January 18, 2015
From Open Culture, the original clip that got the Spinal Tap movie greenlighted:
When This is Spinal Tap came out over 30 years ago, it went over a lot of people’s heads. “Everybody thought it was a real band,” recalled director Rob Reiner. “Everyone said, ‘Why would you make a movie about a band that no one has heard of?’”
It’s hard to believe that lines like “You can’t dust for vomit” failed to come off as anything but a joke. But, to be fair, Hollywood comedies were generally straight-forward affairs in the ‘80s. Think Blues Brothers or Fletch. Fake documentaries weren’t a thing. And This is Spinal Tap looks and feels exactly like a rock documentary – the hagiographic voiceover, the shaky camera, the awkward interviews. The movie was just as unscripted as rock docs like Don’t Look Back, The Song Remains the Same and The Kids Are All Right. The film is not only a parody of the generally overblown silliness of rock and roll, it is also, as Newsweek’s David Ansen notes, “a satire of the documentary form itself, complete with perfectly faded clips from old TV shows of the band in its mod and flower-child incarnations.”