Notes

Enron, far from being a creature of the free market, was the quintessential mixed-economy firm, using its crony connections to gain financial backing from government and using its mastery of regulatory minutiae to create the appearance of profitability.

Moreover, Enron’s employees demonstrated an ethos, not of capitalist creators, but of postmodern Potemkins that capitalism’s leading philosophers have warned against for centuries.

Notes

The Porsche 911 Targa hardtop convertible is as cool as any Transformer

The top of the Porsche 911 Targa is completely bonkers. I think I agree. Instead of the entire hard top roof disappearing into the car like other hardtop convertibles, the 911 Targa gets to keep the slick curved glass back while in topless mode. Awesome.

Notes

Tonight SpaceX will live-test the reusable rocket that could change spaceflight in a real mission

Wow, I didn’t know we were so close to reality on this. $200,000 to launch something into space? That’s amazing.

There’s some drama in space today: A malfunctioning computer on the International Space Station (ISS) has jangled nerves around a routine re-supply mission already complicated by US-Russian tensions.

But there’s also important news in a surprise announcement from SpaceX, the private company headed by Elon Musk, which designed and built the rocket and spacecraft for today’s re-supply flight. The launch, scheduled for just before 5pm US Eastern time, will also serve as a test of the company’s reusable rocket. After the robotic Dragon spacecraft is launched toward its rendezvous with the ISS in orbit, the Falcon rocket that sent it on its way won’t just tumble into the Atlantic ocean: It will attempt to deploy four landing legs and use thrusters to control its descent, something like this but over water:

SpaceX says that the test has a 30% to 40% probability of success, so it could all go pear-shaped. But the engineers there hope that the data collected during the attempt at a controlled descent will help them to refine their approach to building a more efficient launch vehicle. As we’ve written before, making a rocket reusable is something of a holy grail for Musk and SpaceX: While the rockets cost $54 million, their fuel costs only $200,000, so making most of the rocket reusable would save tens of millions of dollars and allow the fledgling rocket company—which already seeks to undercut its competitors on price—to dominate the putting-things-in-space business.

Update from after the launch via ABC News

After the launch, Musk reported via Twitter that the first stage executed a good re-entry burn and was able to stabilize itself on the way down. However, the rough seas posed problems for the recovery.

"I wouldn’t give high odds that the rocket was able to splash down successfully," Musk said. He was awaiting additional telemetry that would provide the final verdict on the first stage’s fate.

Notes

This guy is the Bob Ross of photography.

2 Notes

Housing is most cost-effective treatment for mental illness: study -- "For every $1 spent providing housing and support for a homeless person with severe mental illness, $2.17 in savings are reaped because they spend less time in hospital, in prison and in shelters".

For every $1 spent providing housing and support for a homeless person with severe mental illness, $2.17 in savings are reaped because they spend less time in hospital, in prison and in shelters. That is the most striking conclusion of a study, obtained by The Globe and Mail, that tested the so-called Housing First approach to providing social services. Beyond the cost savings, the new research shows that placing an emphasis on housing gets people off the streets and improves their physical and mental health.

Notes

Quick! To the Fynmobile!

It only stands to reason that Fynman had a pimpin physics van.

3 Notes

History Shows That Capitalism Begets Plutocracy

Wages constitute the lowest share of U.S. GDP, and profits the highest, since the end of World War II. And with heightened accumulations of wealth come heightened accumulations of political power — a shift toward plutocracy to which last week’s Supreme Court decision, permitting the wealthy to contribute to as many electoral campaigns as they wish, adds a helpful push.

Piketty’s primary contention is that it is inherent to capitalism that the returns on capital generally exceed the growth of nations’ economies, save in times of epochal population growth or rare technological breakthroughs, and that this leads to ever-rising concentrations of wealth and power.

"No self-corrective mechanism exists" within capitalism to retard this descent into plutocracy, he writes. Rather, he concludes, its prevention requires political action: He suggests a global tax on capital, which, he admits, is a utopian solution, though others — empowering workers again, increasing the social provision of goods and services — are more readily attainable.

Lewis gives us a great read on today’s latest scam. Piketty gives us the most important work of economics since John Maynard Keynes’ “General Theory.”

1 Notes

Trees

Trees

107 Notes

climate-changing:

mediamattersforamerica:

After the ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday, this could be the twilight of campaign finance law. 

We are all equal but some of us are more equal then others.

climate-changing:

mediamattersforamerica:

After the ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday, this could be the twilight of campaign finance law. 

We are all equal but some of us are more equal then others.

1 Notes

Maserati Alferi Concept - Hubba hubba.

Maserati Alferi Concept - Hubba hubba.

2 Notes

Supreme Court to finally decide whether people can patent software

This is huge, I hope they don’t fuck it up. The right decision could unleash a whole new world of innovation, the wrong one can tie up innovation even further in constant useless court battles. I would love to see all of these software patents go straight into the bin where they belong.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether people can patent software. The court agreed to hear the case Alice Corporation Pty. v. CLS Bank International to look into the issue of “whether claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture – are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.” This is a big deal, because it will determine what types of software are patentable.

1 Notes

What women want on the dance floor, according to science

Thank you science. I probably still won’t be a good dancer, but at least I’ll know why I’m bad. Be sure to click the link to see the videos.

They found that women rated dancers higher when they showed larger and more variable movements of the head, neck and torso. Speed of leg movements mattered too, particularly bending and twisting of the right knee. In what might be bad news for the 20% of the population who is left-footed, left knee movement didn’t seem to matter. In fact, certain left-legged movements had a small negative correlation with dancing ability, meaning that dancers who favored left leg motion were rated more poorly. While not statistically significant, these findings suggest that there might be something to that old adage about “two left feet” after all. One final surprise - arm movement didn’t correlate with perceived dancing ability in any significant way.

Going beyond the dance floor, these findings could demonstrate that mens’ dance moves could carry “honest signals of traits such as health, fitness, genetic quality and developmental history,” although the authors stress that more research is needed to be sure. It would be particularly instructive to see whether similar findings hold true for mens’ assessments of womens’ dancing ability.

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