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Topics - Ageless the Drifter

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Was kinda disappointed in the article after reading the headline--I don't think the smarm is quite warranted beyond the fact that it's kinda nice to see people who think there shouldn't be child labor laws get suckered. It's not like this instance really gives any evidence against the legitimacy of their ideology, though, since the community never had a chance to get going due to external government interference.

Still thought it was comment-worthy, though.

A community made up of American ex-pats deep in the South American hills of Chile – far away from America’s annoying taxes, healthcare mandate, and legal abortions — was supposed to be a libertarian paradise of rugged individualism. Instead it cost many of the people who bought into it almost everything, and now is buried under lawsuits — a reminder that everything that glitters is not inflation-proof, Ron Paul-backed gold.

It seems pretty obvious that basing one’s society on a single work of (poorly written) fiction is folly, but for many adherents of Ayn Rand and her seminal book of Objectivist allegorical grandstanding, Atlas Shrugged isn’t just any book. It’s about as close to the Bible that many libertarians have — apart from the Bible, of course. It’s influenced an astounding number of conservative public figures — from Ron Paul to Rand Paul to Ronald Reagan. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s Rand-loving running mate and probable 2016 presidential contender, said it was his favorite book growing up.

    “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are,” the congressman told a convention of Rand followers in 2005. Rand was “the reason I got involved in public service.” (source)

In many ways, the entire Republican ethos — hard-working job creators having their vitality leeched by lazy “takers” — stems from Rand and her rigidly anti-socialism ideology. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand explores the fantasy of leaving those poor, lazy, uneducated leeches behind, creating a new society of self-sufficient ubermenschs, living free from governmental or social tyranny. That is where the mysterious John Galt comes in. A man set on freeing these enslaved freedom-lovers from the shackles of the moochers. He creates a mountain home for his followers: Galt’s Gulch.

Let’s call it what it is: Libertarian fan fiction. An artificial world where hard work is all you need, and poor people are responsible for their own misery. In fact, Rand goes a bit further than what many — even fervent “Rand-heads” — find comfortable. Such was Ayn Rand’s fury over socialism that even hallowed institutions that Americans find important were excised under the Objectivism razor. Ryan might not admit it, but that book he loves advocates for getting rid of everything from public education, to farming subsidies, to any form of welfare. If that seems a bit drastic, well hey, Rand never claimed to be sentimental.

Unfortunately, the real world is a bit more complicated — socioeconomics, cycles of poverty, economic disparity, lack of education, racism and sexism; a myriad of factors contribute to an individual’s lot in life. But for some, the dream didn’t die with the close of the book. For some, Galt’s Gulch could be real if only someone would create it.

In the book, Galt’s Gulch is based in the Western United States. Unfortunately for today’s Libertarians, “out west” isn’t far enough from America’s socialized oppression. Convinced that America is on the verge of economic collapse, they fled the country and headed south.

Billed as Galt’s Gulch Chile, the South American would-be community is 11,000 acres of pure, unregulated freedom.

According to, Jeff Berwick, one of the project’s early promoters:

    With the oppression of the over regulated, over taxed, war riddled and welfare riddled society consuming the world, Ayn Rand’s famous protagonist character, John Galt, came to conclude that he would not use his talents to support such a society any longer…driving him to create a community where scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and many others would come together to escape from the confines of their daily lives to not only be free…but to thrive.

    In today’s world, it is becoming more and more difficult to find true freedom from very much the same oppressive forces Ayn Rand wrote of…which drove John Galt and others to a place where they found their freedom, success and peace of mind.

    Welcome to Galt’s Gulch Chile!

The community is the brainchild of Ken Johnson and a collection of investors. In 2013, when the project was just shaping up, Mother Jones went down to Chile to see how things were coming along.

    Welcome to Galt’s Gulch Chile, a libertarian refuge from the coming economic, social, and political collapse of the United States. The would-be free-market utopia, named after the mountain redoubt of the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, is taking advance payments (Bitcoins gladly accepted) for parcels on its 11,000 acres.

    Joining Johnson, the project’s managing partner, are three prospective buyers: a retiree from Oregon, a California-based expert in moving assets offshore, and another retiree who doesn’t want to give much in the way of personal data. “Oh, the NSA’s here too?” he says the first time he sees my audio recorder. The men talk of a coming financial meltdown caused by the Federal Reserve, followed by a Homeland Security police state. They’re ready to get out with their silver, guns, and organic honey—but not quite ready to sacrifice fast internet, access to an international airport, and a time zone convenient for Skyping with the doomed sheeple back home. Throw in low taxes, privatized social security, and a Mediterranean climate, and you have Chile.

For the price of $48,500 you too could own a piece of Galt’s Gulch (specifically, one-and-a-half acres of it). Amazingly, people cashed in their retirements and did just that.

A year later and things have completely unraveled. According to one person who spent a great deal of her savings on this grand experiment, the thing was doomed from the start. Based on her description, what you are left with is the growing sense that this isn’t just a case of arrogant stupidity, this is a downright scam.

Writing out of The Dollar Vigilante, a website devoted to the libertarian movement, the investor, Wendy McElroy, who describes herself as an individualist anarchist, documents the nightmare of Galt’s Gulch Chile:

    Many have wondered about the status of Galt’s Gulch Chile (GGC), the libertarian community that was planned and sold in lots as a liberty oasis for those who wished to live freedom before they died. My husband and I purchased an option on 1.25 acres in July 2013. Others bought 10- or 25-acre lots and some invested in the agricultural side of the venture; extremely savvy investors committed small fortunes. GGC has been an unexpectedly wild ride since then.

After throwing in considerable money, McElroy received an email from a concerned friend, essentially calling the entire operation into question. At first McElroy dismisses the email, at the harried assurance of Ken Johnson. Later, it begins to be apparent that the concerned friend was disturbingly on the money (emphasis added).

    There will be no zoning for the 1.25-acre lots or other arrangements of less than 10 acres.  GGC is an environmentally protected area and it would take the political movement of heaven and earth to allow a community based on small lots to be officially approved. I had the opportunity to ask a question of the salesman who showed my husband and me “our property.” I claimed it because I fell head over heels for the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen. I felt an instant connection as though the two of us were old souls who had found each other. I could believe it, I could see it… waking up each morning and having coffee under that tree, telling it about my plans for the day. Months later, in a Skype conference, I asked the then-GGC-alienated salesman, “When you ‘sold’ us the property, when you printed out a photo from your phone that read ‘Wendy’s tree,’ did you know you could not legally sell us the lot you were offering?” He said, “That is correct.”

Since writing that, the Galt’s Gulch Chile founders have been engaged in a series of increasingly dramatic legal and personal squabbles. Litigation is being thrown around, as are ad hominem attacks. Nearly all of the anger is directed at Ken Johnson.  One former co-owner, Jeff Berwick, who happens to run The Dollar Vigilante website, has called Johnson a sociopath and a fraud. A Facebook community has been established calling itself “Galt’s Gulch Chile Rehab and The Exposing of Ken Johnson” to serve as a support group for other investors who felt they were ripped off.

Meanwhile, Galt’s Gulch owes “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to hardware stores [and] service providers” in Chile for work done in preparation for the community. As the pyramid scheme of investors collapses, it seems likely that those workers – many of them poor laborers from small Chilean towns — will go unpaid. The workers being ripped off by the moochers? How very Randian.

The Grim Reaper lingers nearby. By the end of August, the entire online existence of Galt’s Gulch Chile had been scrubbed from the web. Every promotional YouTube video made to entice suckers freedom-lovers has been taken down. The GGC website comes back with an error message. Ken Johnson is in the wind.

It’s almost as if basing a community around people who hate other people and don’t want to have to pay for any services that don’t directly and concretely benefit themselves is inherently unstable. Who would have thought?

Not really that surprising in hindsight, but interesting, anyway.

New research shows that schizophrenia is not a single disease, but a group of eight distinct disorders, each caused by changes in clusters of genes that lead to different sets of symptoms.

The finding sets the stage for scientists to develop better ways to diagnose and treat schizophrenia, a mental illness that can be devastating when not adequately managed, says C. Robert Cloninger, co-author of the study published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"We are really opening a new era of psychiatric diagnosis," says Cloninger, professor of psychiatry and genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Cloninger says he hopes his work will "allow for the development of a personalized diagnosis, opening the door to treating the cause, rather than just the symptoms, of schizophrenia."

Clonginger and colleagues found that certain genetic profiles matched particular symptoms. While people with one genetic cluster have odd and disorganized speech – what is sometimes called "word salad" – people with another genetic profile hear voices, according to the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. C. Robert Cloninger, Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues found that certain genetic profiles matched particular symptoms of schizophrenia.(Photo: Robert Boston, Washington University)

Some genetic clusters gave people higher risks of the disease than others, according to the study, which compared the DNA of 4,200 people with schizophrenia to that of 3,800 healthy people.

One set of genetic changes, for example, confers a 95% chance of developing schizophrenia. In the new study, researchers describe a woman with this genetic profile who developed signs of the disorder by age 5, when she taped over the mouths of her dolls to make them stop whispering to her and calling her name. Another patient – whose genetic profile gave her a 71% risk of schizophrenia – experienced a more typical disease course and began hearing voices at age 17.

The average person has less than a 1% risk of developing schizophrenia, Cloninger says.

Psychiatrists such as Stephen Marder describe the the study as a step forward. Today, doctors diagnose patients with mental illness with a process akin to a survey, asking about the person's family history and symptoms, says Marder, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles.

"It underlines that the way we diagnose schizophrenia is relatively primitive," Marder says.

Patients may wait years for an accurate diagnosis, and even longer to find treatments that help them without causing intolerable side effects.

Doctors have long known that schizophrenia can run in families, says Robert Freedman, editor in chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry and chair of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. If one identical twin has schizophrenia, for example, there is an 80% chance that the other twin has the disease, as well.

In the past, doctors looked for single genes that might cause schizophrenia, without real success, Freedman says.

The new paper suggests that genes work together like a winning or losing combination of cards in poker, Freedman says. "This shows us that there are some very bad hands out there," Freedman says.

Doctors have known for years that breast cancer is not one disease, but at least half a dozen diseases driven by different genes, says study co-author Igor Zwir, research associate in psychiatry at Washington University.(Photo: Robert Boston, Washington University)

In some cases – in which a genetic profile conveys close to a 100% risk of schizophrenia – people may not be able to escape the disease, Cloninger says. But if doctors could predict who is at high risk, they might also be able to tailor an early intervention to help a patient better manage their condition, such as by managing stress.

Doctors don't yet know why one person with a 70% risk of schizophrenia develops the disease and others don't, Clonginger says. It's possible that environment plays a key role, so that child with a supportive family and good nutrition might escape the diagnosis, while someone who experiences great trauma or deprivation might become very ill.

The study also reflects how much has changed in the way that scientists think about the genetic causes of common diseases, Marder says. He notes that diseases caused by a single gene – such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis – affect very few people. Most common diseases, such as cancer, are caused by combinations of genes. Even something as apparently simple as height is caused by combinations of genes, he says.

Doctors have known for years that breast cancer is not one disease, for example, but at least half a dozen diseases driven by different genes, says study co-author Igor Zwir, research associate in psychiatry at Washington University. Doctors today have tests to predict a woman's risk of some types of breast cancer, and other tests that help them select the most effective drugs.

Those sorts of tests could be extremely helpful for people with schizophrenia, who often try two or three drugs before finding one that's effective, Cloninger says.

"Most treatment today is trial and error," Cloninger says.

If doctors could pinpoint which drugs could be the most effective, they might be able to use lower doses, producing fewer of the bothersome side effects that lead many patients to stop taking their medication, Cloninger says.

Homeless Millennial Survives By Picking Up Women Every Night [Insights] | Elite Daily



Dude I know is making a new NES game--like in-cartridge, playable-in-console NES game. I don't think this is the first time it's ever been done since Nintendo stopped selling NESs but I still think it's a pretty cool project. The cartridge will also contain a second game that's playable on the PC and interacts with the NES game in various ways, which I thought was a neat idea.

The guy running it is a pretty cool fellow and is super passionate about the projects he does. Mostly he makes documentaries, and he's going to be making one about the making of the game. He already got backed by the guy who made King of Kong.

The team is pretty solid. The pixel art guy does some killer work.

I'm not on the team but I got my foot in the door a little late. I'll be doing little things here and there along the way (first task is to draw up a world-map for the instruction manual, for instance) and hoping to get a more substantial spot if the kickstarter really takes off.

Anyway ya'll should check it out.

lies terribly to cover their ass

In a strident display of bad taste, Urban Outfitters was selling a $130 "vintage" Kent State sweatshirt with fake blood splatter this weekend as an apparent homage to the 1970 shooting that left four dead. The sweatshirt is now listed as "sold out" in Urban Outfitter's online store. The shirt appears to have been a one-off sale, the site imploring customers, "We only have one, so get it or regret it!"

As People discovered, the shirt appears to have gone up for sale on eBay for $550—the auction ended earlier this morning with zero bids.

Urban Outfitters Sells "Vintage" Blood-Spattered Kent State Sweatshirt

Update, 10:21 a.m.: Urban Outfitters has issued the following statement, via their Twitter account:

    Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

Update, 11:00 a.m.: Kent State has issued their own statement in response to the shirt:

    May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.

    We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.

    We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.

Not the most outrageously tasteless thing I've ever heard of being sold by a major retailer, it's just surprising to see this being sold by UO to hipsters rather than by Hot Topic to angsty mall goths or something. And also hilarious that they're claiming it was unintentional and the sweater is "unaltered"

Spamalot / Unofficial garage box thread
« on: September 12, 2014, 12:32:33 PM »

General Disconation / Shadow of the Collosus movie
« on: September 04, 2014, 05:21:22 PM »

Sony Pictures has tapped Andrés Muschietti to direct the highly-anticipated adaptation of the video game “Shadow of the Colossus.”

Barbara Muschietti will come on board the project to produce alongside Kevin Misher, who produces through his Misher Films banner.

Set in an epic-scale world filled with mythic giants and disembodied spirits, the story will follow a young man attempting to save his lost love by accomplishing a seemingly impossible task… the destruction of the colossi who roam the forbidden land.

Seth Lochhead is penning the script. Michael De Luca and Andrea Giannetti will oversee the project for the studio.

“We knew we had our director once we heard Andy’s take on the material – it was genius,” De Luca said. “The themes, characters and supernatural elements of the story have incredible international appeal with fans of the game in the millions.”

“Shadow of the Colossus,” published by Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studio for PlayStation 2, was directed and designed by Japanese video game developer Fumito Ueda. It was named Best Game at the 6th Annual Game Developer’s Choice Awards. The game has sold over 2.7 million copies worldwide to date.

Muschietti, who is repped by WME, most recently directed the Universal pic “Mama” starring Jessica Chastain.

Director's the guy who directed Mama, which I remember hearing was incredibly scary but have not seen and do not know anything about. I'm gonna go ahead and bet this movie winds up being a let-down, though--them's some hard shoes to fill.


Four years ago, the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa dropped a bomb on American higher education. Their groundbreaking book, “Academically Adrift,” found that many students experience “limited or no learning” in college. Today, they released a follow-up study, tracking the same students for two years after graduation, into the workplace, adult relationships and civic life. The results suggest that recent college graduates who are struggling to start careers are being hamstrung by their lack of learning.

“Academically Adrift” studied a sample of students who enrolled at four-year colleges and universities in 2005. As freshmen, they took a test of critical thinking, analytic reasoning and communications skills called the Collegiate Learning Assessment (C.L.A.). Colleges promise to teach these broad intellectual skills to all students, regardless of major. The students took the C.L.A. again at the end of their senior year. On average, they improved less than half of one standard deviation. For many, the results were much worse. One-third improved by less than a single point on a 100-point scale during four years of college.

This wasn’t because some colleges simply enrolled smarter students. The nature of the collegiate academic experience mattered, too. Students who spent more time studying alone learned more, even after controlling for their sociodemographic background, high school grades and entrance exam scores. So did students whose teachers enforced high academic expectations. People who studied the traditional liberal arts and sciences learned more than business, education and communications majors.

Yet despite working little and learning less — a third of students reported studying less than five hours a week and half were assigned no long papers to write — most continued to receive good grades. Students did what colleges asked of them, and for many, that wasn’t very much.

“Academically Adrift” called into question what college students were actually getting for their increasingly expensive educations. But some critics questioned whether collegiate learning could really be measured by a single test. Critical thinking skills are, moreover, only a means to an end. The end itself is making a successful transition to adulthood: getting a good job, finding a partner, engaging with society. The follow-up study, “Aspiring Adults Adrift,” found that, in fact, the skills measured by the C.L.A. make a significant difference when it comes to finding and keeping that crucial first job.

The students in the study graduated in the teeth of the post-Great Recession labor market, in mid-2009. Two years later, 7 percent were unemployed, consistent with national studies finding that recession-era college graduates were more likely to be unemployed than recent college grads in better economic times, but much less likely to be jobless than young adults with no college degree. An additional 16 percent were underemployed, working less than 20 hours a week or in an unskilled job such as grocery store cashier.

Even after statistically controlling for students’ sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn’t. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Remarkably, the students had almost no awareness of this dynamic. When asked during their senior year in 2009, three-quarters reported gaining high levels of critical thinking skills in college, despite strong C.L.A. evidence to the contrary. When asked again two years later, nearly half reported even higher levels of learning in college. This was true across the spectrum of students, including those who had struggled to find and keep good jobs.

Through diplomas, increasingly inflated grades and the drumbeat of college self-promotion, these students had been told they had received a great education. The fact that the typical student spent three times as much time socializing and recreating in college as studying and going to class didn’t change that belief. Nor did unsteady employment outcomes and, for the large majority of those surveyed, continued financial dependence on their parents.

Students who were interviewed in depth by Dr. Arum and Dr. Roksa put great stock in collegiate social experiences that often came at the expense of academic work, emphasizing the value of the personal relationships they built. But only 20 percent found their most recent job through personal contacts, and of those, less than half came from college friends. And while the recent graduates were gloomy about the state of the nation, they professed strong belief in their own future success. The vast majority thought their lives would be better than that of their parents. “They learned from the experts that they can do well with little effort,” Mr. Arum told me, “so they’re optimistic.”

On average, college graduates continue to fare much better in the job market than people without degrees. But Mr. Arum and Ms. Roksa’s latest research suggests that within the large population of college graduates, those who were poorly taught are paying an economic price. Because they didn’t acquire vital critical thinking skills, they’re less likely to get a job and more likely to lose the jobs they get than students who received a good education.

Yet those same students continue to believe they got a great education, even after two years of struggle. This suggests a fundamental failure in the higher education market — while employers can tell the difference between those who learned in college and those who were left academically adrift, the students themselves cannot.


CeeLo Green recently pled “no contest” to charges stemming from a 2012 incident in which he allegedly slipped a 33-year-old woman ecstasy during a dinner in Los Angeles. The woman claims she woke up next to CeeLo naked with no recollection of their night, but CeeLo’s lawyer says they had ‘consensual relations’.

No sex charges were filed due to a lack of evidence, and his no contest plea allowed him to maintain his innocence. He did get sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days of community service for furnishing ecstasy.

For CeeLo, that wasn’t enough. He decided he needed to speak out publicly and attempt to clear his name. The only problem is that he ended up sounding much more like a rapist. He gave his thoughts on what qualifies as rape and what doesn’t.

“If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously,” he tweeted. “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!”

It got worse. He continued to dig himself in to a deeper hole until he eventually deleted the entire rant. Check out a few of his other tweets below.

General Disconation / sepak takraw
« on: August 18, 2014, 12:32:20 PM »

Sepak Takraw Sport In Thailand

It's like someone took soccer and made it not shitty and boring + left all the cool parts

General Disconation / No thread on the Ferguson riots huh
« on: August 15, 2014, 10:58:13 AM »

Spamalot / dog trying to save fish out of water
« on: August 13, 2014, 07:19:40 PM »
Dog Tries To Save Fish Out Of Water

 :sad: :sad:

Palin's Response to Elizabeth Warren’s Progressive Commandments

Been Far?

General Disconation / RL Improbability Drive
« on: July 31, 2014, 07:30:02 PM »

Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. It’s perhaps the best known law of physics, and Guido Fetta thinks he’s found a way around it.

According to classical physics, in order for something—like a spaceship—to move, conservation of momentum requires that it has to exert a force on something else. A person in roller skates, for example, pushes off against a wall; a rocket accelerates upward by propelling high-velocity combusted fuel downward. In practice, this means that space vessels like satellites and space stations have to carry up to half their weight in propellant just to stay in orbit. That bulks up their cost and reduces their useful lifetime.

With that in mind, Fetta designed what he called the “Cannae Drive,” which he claims creates momentum without pushing against seemingly anything at all. He recently convinced a team at NASA to test it, who presented the results at a conference yesterday.
A schematic of the lower half of the Cannae Drive cavity

The NASA team, using a torsion pendulum, or a device that can measure minute forces, found that Fetta’s drive created 30-50 micronewtons’ worth of thrust. That’s not a lot of force—even one whole Newton is less than the weight you feel in your hand when you hold an iPhone—but according to the laws of classical physics, Fetta’s device shouldn’t have produced any at all.

Fetta, an independent inventor with a background in chemical engineering, explains that the drive is a “superconducting resonating cavity.” According to him, the cavity is designed with little wells along the bottom edge to trap electrons, so that when electromagnetic waves bounce around inside the cavity, more electrons push up on the top surface of the cavity than push down on the bottom. This imbalance, Fetta says, creates upward thrust.

In the paper, NASA seemed reluctant to dive into the drive’s mysterious physics. They wrote nothing to suggest how, exactly, the force was produced. In fact, the mysterious drive actually worked even when they modified it in such a way it shouldn’t have produced any thrust, suggesting the mechanics of the system are hazily understood. The one exception was a reference, in the paper’s abstract, to a possible interaction with the “quantum vacuum virtual plasma.”

David Hambling, writing for, explains what that might mean:

    This […] implies that the drive may work by pushing against the ghostly cloud of particles and anti-particles that are constantly popping into being and disappearing again in empty space.

A similar “microwave thruster” drive, proposed by British engineer Roger Shawyer, was tested last year by a Chinese team. Those results were largely dismissed. NASA’s results, though, seem to lend some credence to the idea that supposedly impossible “unbalanced forces” can actually result in momentum.

The NASA team stresses that the drive needs to be tested more thoroughly—but if it really works, it could be a major breakthrough for deep-space exploration. Because a drive like this could be powered solely by solar energy, satellites and space stations could stay on course and in orbit without having to lug around so much propellant.


    A working microwave thruster would radically cut the cost of satellites and space stations and extend their working life, drive deep-space missions, and take astronauts to Mars in weeks rather than months.

We still don’t know if Fetta’s propellant-less drive works the way he claims it does—and we need more evidence before we can be sure that it even works at all. But if it does—watch out, space. We’re coming for you.

Ok it's an improbable drive not an improbability drive. Also it's in all probability a hoax of some sort, but it'd be cool if it wasn't.

General Disconation / What is congress suing Obama over.
« on: July 30, 2014, 09:05:46 PM »
What is congress suing Obama over.

The articles just say like "overstepping bounds" but like don't cite any specific executive act so

Spamalot / phht
« on: July 28, 2014, 07:50:41 PM »
Facebook labels the satire articles they link under newsfeed stories as satire articles now so people won't confuse them with real news stories anymore


Spamalot / rewatching Tengen Toppa
« on: July 27, 2014, 01:35:09 PM »
Still the best

General Disconation / Airbnb user can't get squatter out of her house
« on: July 25, 2014, 03:28:11 PM »
This seems like a fairly obvious oversight. I've never owned a home and I know this kind of shit can happen--I'd've thought it was common knowledge.

In a city where property values have made housing nearly inaccessible to tourists and renters alike, Airbnb has become a double edged sword, both helping and hurting the availability of reasonable places to crash. The latest problem for the company, though, comes from a dirty loophole nobody seemed to see coming – the expensive battle to evict an Airbnb tenant who’s overstayed his welcome.

SF Gate reports on Cory Tschogl, who lives in San Francisco but rents out her Palm Springs condo on Airbnb. In late May, a guest booked a 44-day stay in her condo, and after one month, stopped payment on his credit card and told her he wasn’t leaving. Attempts to evict him from what was supposed to be a short term stay have been met with threats of a lawsuit, since under California Tenant’s Rights, anybody who maintains residence for 30 days and is not short on payment is considered a legal tenant. A landlord must go through a formal eviction process to get them out – this requires, at the very least, one month’s notice to evict, not to mention additional costs from legal fees and actual eviction proceedings. Tschogl even offered to refund the entire cost of the squatter’s stay, as well as pay for a hotel room while the man found another place to live.

But Tschogl told SFGate reporters that her renter has refused to budge, claiming that he was “legally occupying the condo and that loss of electricity would threaten the work he does at home that brings in $1,000 to $7,000 a day.” Unfortunately, in cases such as these, it seems Airbnb does not provide an easy way to coordinate with its corporate offices. It took a few weeks (and a small Twitter campaign by Tschogl’s sister) for the company to step up and apologize, although it eventually did, and to offer to help with legal fees. Tschogl could still be paying a hefty sum to get this guy out of her condo.

One of the biggest issues with home sharing is the wave of “new landlords” created by Craigslist, Airbnb, and Flipkey subletters. Sadly, when they’re unaware of the intricacies of tenant law, they can easily be taken advantage of. The purpose of Airbnb was supposed to remove the risk from a renter’s hands, by verifying identities, rating experiences, and collecting payment in advance; but obviously the system isn’t foolproof. In taking on the responsibilities of a landlord, however temporarily, one should research any potentially problematic situations, considering that some tenants are being dropped from their leases for even listing their apartments online. Now that Airbnb been valued at $10 billion dollars, the company should have a quick and airtight way of dealing with these issues head on. Otherwise it might not just be bitter homeowners trying to outlaw the whole subletting system, but screwed over hosts too.

Spamalot / I love Weird Al
« on: July 24, 2014, 02:55:33 PM »
I know I'm like two weeks behind on it but I finally watched his new music videos this morning and enjoyed the fuck out of them

I dunno how much of that is just because I listened to Bad Hair Day on cassette like 2348352435 times in elementary school and have a big softie for Weird Al himself but it doesn't matter

General Disconation / blacker than your blackest stallion
« on: July 21, 2014, 12:00:22 AM »

Puritans, Goths, avant-garde artists, hell-raising poets and fashion icon Coco Chanel all saw something special in it. Now black, that most enigmatic of colours, has become even darker and more mysterious.

A British company has produced a "strange, alien" material so black that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light, setting a new world record. To stare at the "super black" coating made of carbon nanotubes – each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – is an odd experience. It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss.

If it was used to make one of Chanel's little black dresses, the wearer's head and limbs might appear to float incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole.

Actual applications are more serious, enabling astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems to function more effectively. Then there are the military uses that the material's maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.

The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based company. While the sheets may be crumpled into miniature hills and valleys, this landscape disappears on areas covered by it.

"You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer.

A sample of the new material. Image credit: Surrey Nanosystems

Asked about the prospect of a little black dress, he said it would be "very expensive" – the cost of the material is one of the things he was unable to reveal.

"You would lose all features of the dress. It would just be something black passing through," he said.

Vantablack, which was described in the journal Optics Express and will be launched at the Farnborough International Airshow this week, works by packing together a field of nanotubes, like incredibly thin drinking straws. These are so tiny that light particles cannot get into them, although they can pass into the gaps between. Once there, however, all but a tiny remnant of the light bounces around until it is absorbed.

Vantablack's practical uses include calibrating cameras used to take photographs of the oldest objects in the universe. This has to be done by pointing the camera at something as black as possible.

It also has "virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout", which can contaminate the most sensitive imaging systems. The material conducts heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and has 10 times the tensile strength of steel.

Stephen Westland, professor of colour science and technology at Leeds University, said traditional black was actually a colour of light and scientists were now pushing it to something out of this world.

"Many people think black is the absence of light. I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light," he said. "These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine."

or w/e

Can't remember who that was

but I feel like I might have that (big surprise AD thinks he's sick--I know)

anyway sometimes I feel like I have  gas behind my lungs/heart that won't come out--I can't get a full breath and my heart beats funny. It's super uncomfortable

Eventually I burp and feel better

Spamalot / Bird using bread to catch fish
« on: July 17, 2014, 11:10:54 AM »
Clever Bird Goes Fishing

birds, man

maybe. Seems hella dangerous and all this video proves is that it runs--not that it uses less gas. I imagine in any modern car you'd fuck up a lot of the precision machinery and kill the car a lot sooner, too.

Gas saver dodge running on fumes

Spamalot / Kenzero virus
« on: July 16, 2014, 10:21:29 AM »
Kenzero hides inside video files of explicit hentai anime and spreads via P2P networks. Once executed, the Windows trojan takes screengrabs of your dirty web history, publishes everything online and demands a ¥1500 copyright settlement

brilliantly evil

wonder if the dude made any money

General Disconation / Arm band that turns your hands into remotes
« on: July 15, 2014, 10:34:37 AM »

looks p neat

Meaning I need to make a fake name for my facebook account and make a dummy one for employers or go through and delete all the pictures of me with PBR in my hand

le sigh

Hey ya'll

I'm trying to move shit off my box in order to reformat. Windows won't start so I'm forced to do everything by running a win7 boot disk and using command prompts. The box won't recognize my external hd so I'm forced to move shit at a snail's pace 8 gigs at a time onto a micro SD card because that's the only thing that's coming up in the explorer window (I can get an explorer window by opening a notepad window and going to file->open, which is how I'm moving files around) when I plug it in

But this is maddening and I'd really like to just be able to drop shit straight onto my external because it'd be way faster

but everywhere I look the internet's all "open device manager" blah blah blah. But I tried calling device manager from the cmd prompt and it can't be opened on this boot disc

so I need to know how to manage drives via cmd prompts if that's possible

Spamalot / Thought my box had bricked
« on: July 09, 2014, 11:07:11 AM »
woke up this morning and had a black screen saying something about I/O error resulting from improperly removed media device

Hadn't had anything plugged into it for several hours prior to going to bed so I dunno what that was about. My S3 doesn't load up an eject option like most other phones/external hds/etc do when I plug it in so I hope that's not what resulted in this but I've had the phone for over a year now so I'm thinking not

I came this close ( ---> ||) to leaving my Windows 7 boot disc in florida when I left after this last trip down there. Thank fucking god I didn't. Had to try a half-dozen things to get it to work but it finally recovered completely.


Spamalot / new attack on titan comes out this month
« on: July 07, 2014, 06:02:49 PM »
I saw a whole thing about it on the facebook

General Disconation / Odds ratios are a catastrophe
« on: July 06, 2014, 01:14:12 PM »

Adam Larson sent me the following question about a study of obesity and a press release about it from NPR. The claim, made in both the press release and the underlying article, is that weight discrimination makes the already obese 3 times as likely to remain obese, and the non-obese 2.5 times as likely to become obese. Adam writes:

    They interpret odds ratios of 2.5 and 3 as “2.5 times as likely” and “3 times as likely”.

    Balderdash, yes? I assume what they’re getting at is that in one group something like 85% remained obese; in the other 75%. This gives an odds ratio of (.85/.15)/(.75/.25)=1.89

    So common sense would call it a 10 percentage point decrease or a 12% decrease, right?

Adam is spot-on. An odds ratio is the odds of an event happening for one group divided by the odds of a thing happening in another. Odds are summaries of probabilities that get used by sports books and nearly no one else, because they are counter-intuitive non-linear approximations to probabilities. If an event has an X% chance of happening, the odds that it happens are (X%)/(100-X%). The basic problem with odds ratios is that long ago someone (we should figure out who and curse their name) realized that for rare outcomes, an OR is approximately a relative risk, or (% chance thing occurs in treatment group)/(% chance thing occurs in control group). That is:

(0.01/0.99)/(0.02/0.98) ≈ 0.5 = 0.01/0.02

That has ever since been taught to applied statisticians working in certain fields (public health is one example) who use odds ratios for the scientifically important reason that they are the default output of many regression packages when you run a logistic regression.*

And so people misinterpret them constantly, presently odds ratios as relative risks even when they are not small, and the approximation does not hold. This is even before we get into the fact that calling a change from P=0.01 to P=0.02 a “100% increase in risk” is itself fairly absurd and misleading. It’s a one percentage-point increase. There is no intrinsic sense in which “the risk tripled” actually means anything. Did you know that if you go in the ocean you are infinity times more likely to get eaten by a shark than if you stay on land? (You probably did, but it’s a stupid number to think about. What is actually relevant is that the absolute risk went up by some fraction of a percentage point.)

For this paper, under the assumption that their regression adjustment doesn’t change too much, we can actually back out what the percentages really are. First, the effect on the not-initially-obese:

Mean outcome = (% discriminated)*(mean for discriminated people) + (1 – % discriminated)*(mean for non-discriminated people)
0.058 = 0.08X + 0.92Y
Odds ratio = ((mean for discriminated people)/(1 – mean for discriminated people)) / ((mean for non-discriminated people)/(1 – mean for non-discriminated people))
(X/(1-X))/(Y/(1-Y)) = 2.54
Y = (50X)/(127-77X)
0.058 = 0.08*X + 0.92*(50X)/(127-77X)
X = 0.1230
Y= 0.0523

So the change is 7.2 percentage points. Put less clearly, P(became obese) has gone up by a factor of 2.35 for those who experienced weight discrimination, relative to those who did not. That is different from the OR of 2.54, but their figure isn’t too far from the relative risk.

Repeating the process for their other analysis, however, reveals how misleading ORs can be:
0.263= 0.08X + 0.92Y
(X/(1-X))/(Y/(1-Y)) = 3.20
Solving these equations for X and Y gives us:
X = 0.505
Y= 0.242

Here the risk ratio is 2.08, not 3.20. The percentage-point change of 26.3 remains completely comprehensible, as it always is. Misusing odds ratios here allowed them to overstate the size of their effect a factor of 50%! I suspect, but am not sure how to prove, that with regression adjustment these figures could look even more misleading.

As most people who read this already know, even if presented correctly the figures wouldn’t mean anything. There’s no reason to believe the relationship being studied is causal in nature. Indeed, it probably suffers from classic reverse causality: people who are gaining weight (or failing to lose weight) are likely to perceive a greater degree of weight discrimination. But presentation matters too. First, clear presentation can help us make use of studies, even when they are as limited as this one is. As the above derivation illustrates, figuring out what an odds ratio actually means involves 1) the annoying process of scrounging through the paper for all the variables you need and 2) solving a system of two equations for two unknowns, which most people can’t do in their head. This detracts very substantially from a paper’s clarity: in general, when I see odds ratios presented in a paper, I have no idea what they mean. An OR of 2 could mean that the risk went from 1% to 2% or (to use a variation on Adam’s example) from 75% to 86%, or a whole host of other things.

Second, poor presentation has consequences. Health risks are often reported using relative risks, or, worse yet, using ORs that are presented as relative risks. This is often extremely misleading, since a doubling of risk could mean that the chance went from 0.001% to 0.002%, or from 50% to 100%. Misleading and confusing people about risks undermines the basic goal of presenting health risks in the first place: to help people make better decisions about their health.
*I honestly believe that if we made mean marginal effects the default, and forced people to do ORs and AORs manually, they would disappear within 10 years. Being forced to construct ORs manually would also force people to understand what they are, which would stop people from using them.

This is why everyone should have basic statistics classes before they're allowed to leave high school

and why basic statistics classes should stop being fucking stupid

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