Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Dark Side of Mindfulness

So, I've had a lot of friends recommend meditation and/or mindfulness as something that I should consider. I have, and I'm checking it out. But this article on Atlantic.com shows that meditation is not the unalloyed good that it's claimed to be. That doesn't surprise me, really...if you think about it, any program that has the real prospect of spiritual growth would also include risk and danger, just as any drug that's strong enough to be effective is also strong enough to have side effects. Something to think about.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sometimes, I Weep for My Country

The Wyoming State Legislature has voted to kill the Next Generation Science Standards for kids...because it might harm the state's coal and oil interests. In other words, no teaching climate change as fact.

From Sword Fighters to Jet Fighters

We're about all things nerdy here, and there's nothing more nerdy than engineering...unless we're talking military engineering! Here's a video clip of Pierre Sprey, one of the engineers of the classic F-16 fighter, talking about why the F-35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) is such a mess, a dog's breakfast, a clusterf***...a kludge. On a personal note, more than 40 years ago, my dad worked at the Pentagon as a math/engineering nerd, helping to evaluate weapons systems. He told me the generals enthused about an assault rifle that could throw a slug the length of a football field and offered multiple fire modes and attachments. These came at the design cost of complexity, lack of user-friendliness, and lack of reliability. The generals didn't consider that the US was fighting in jungles with limited sight
lines, humid environments that were tough on delicate machinery, and a draftee army with limited training opportunities. The Viet Cong used the AK-47 - it lacked options and accuracy, but it was rugged, easy to make, easy to use, and cheap.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Bright Spot in the Eco-Catastrophe

It seems that more than a dozen "developing" countries - including Brazil, which is enormous - have been making successful efforts to reverse deforestation. They may be having more an impact on climate change than richer nations. Think about it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bill Murray is the New Chuck Norris Meme

Reasons why Billy Murray is awesome.... http://www.dumpaday.com/random-pictures/reasons-bill-murray-is-awesome-16-pics/
See, this is EXACTLY how a comedy legend should spend his time post-blockbuster. Woody Allen spends his time making tiny little movies that people pretend to like. Bill Murray takes the funny to the people and has an amazing time. (Although if this is what he's doing, it's kind of hard to understand how he feuded with Harold Ramis all that time. It seems right in his wheelhouse.) As I take a second look at these photos and captions, I realize- Bill Murray is the New Chuck Norris Meme.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Have a New Favorite Actor [SPOILER]

Pedro Pascal, the gent who played Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones - and this video is why. Here he is, describing his concept of the Red Viper's funeral. I would kill to see them actually shoot this on GoT.

GoT Spoiler

So...as soon as I saw Oberyn do his fancy spins and flips before the trial by combat, I knew he would die. It's to the the show's credit that I actually suspended disbelief for a few moments during the fight, and entertained the notion that he might live. But alas, no.

 Here's the thing - I've heard a lot of people complain that they knew Oberyn was going to die because virtue never triumphs on Game of Thrones. The good always die young: Ned Stark, Rob Stark, Catelyn Stark, etc. But they're missing the point, of course. The bad die, too - Joffrey, Viserys - and the good survive (for a while anyway): Tyrion, Jon Snow, Sam Tarley.

The point isn't that the innocent die, or that evil triumphs: The point is that living or dying has nothing to do with good or evil. Instead, it depends entirely on whether or not you're paying attention. Oberyn took his eye off the ball, so no amount of training in the fighting pits of Dorne was going to save him. Joffrey is more interested in sadism than power. He thinks he's invulnerable. He's wrong. Ned Stark is more interested in justice than power. He dies. Rob Stark is more interested in honor and love than power. He dies. Jaime Lannister only cares about himself. He does okay, until he starts to care about Brienne. Then he loses a hand. You'd think he's learned his lesson...but probably not. Tywin Lannister is really interested in power...but he can't let go of those delusions, like "Tyrion killed my wife" or "Jaime is fit to lead." He's alive for now - but you just know those delusions will come back to bite him in the ass. A truly smart clan leader would never both abuse an underling (Tyrion) and give him power, and then indulge the spite of one of his other children.

 The characters with a single-minded purpose get farther than the ones who are distracted by fancy notions. Which should mean that the Hound lives forever. But maybe not.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Five-Hour Energy, Eat Your Heart Out

Over at io9.com, they've got a photo collection of 19th Century patent medicines that remind us exactly why we have "government interference" like the FDA.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Silicon Valley

Not the place, the show. Mike Judge is behind it, and it seems pretty good so far. You have to love a show where a character is shanghaied by the computer glitch in a driverless car.