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veen  ·  14 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 6, 2018

You do forget that Europe, in general, doesn't know AC is a thing. Plus, humidity. I'd take hot LA over lukewarm London any day.

Quatrarius  ·  32 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas: At least 8 killed, sheriff says - CNN

"don't report on it, it encourages them" is the "just ignore it and they'll stop bullying you" of the gun control world, and it's a reddit comments section-tier analysis of the situation

i wish i could spit on an opinion

OftenBen  ·  56 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Kleinbl00's Red Pill Reading List: Geopolitic

    You can't just leave it there, man!

Aight -

    What annoyed you?

Mostly how goddamn correct you ended up being. Our original discussion was around the difference between rebellion and mature subversion with regard to making a tangible difference in world events at historical scale. You made the point that with education in the practical history if the last century or so comes the knowledge that democratic processes didn't ever really amount to bupkis with regard to the course of events. Based on the reading list, that appears to be true. Decisions that mobilize troops, actors that conduct the covert and "covert" operations of international relations before, during and after wars are simply not affected by democratic processes. There simply isn't enough time to make decisions that way. I can't tell you how many times I have read and watched Charlie Wilson's War. It drives me to liquor almost every time.

    What surprised you?

How deeply personal history can be. To use the example of Charlie Wilson's War, who the fuck has ever heard of Gust Avrokatos or Mike Vickers? How did a few guys with grudges and bad personnel reviews and a coke-n-strippers habit basically bring about the end of the USSR and change all of global politics forever? How did they defeat the monster that Churchill warned about? I was surprised how divided every nation-state's government's seem to be with regard to international policy. It highlights the damage done to the state department by 45, because it takes decades to cultivate even shitty international relations, to say nothing of developing workable, non shitty, professional and respected ones.

    What made you think?

As much as I talk about the personal nature of history writ large, it's also deeply impersonal. The Russians don't really care about the average American, they want to not be the butt of dumb/poor/drunk/low-life-expectancy jokes. They want a strong domestic economy and they have a history of not playing nice which makes people not want to play nice with them. But Nobody who considers the US an enemy gives a damn about John and Jane Doe. They either have a legitimate grievance about something done without our knowledge or approval or they have a world philosophy that precludes peaceful coexistence.

    What made you want to not think?

How goddamn correct you ended up being. I, as an individual who has no intention of pursuing international politics or covert operations will have exactly zero impact on who decides to bomb who. The best i can hope for is to be a nonviolent actor personally and vote for an anti-war candidate if one ever comes along. Otherwise better to not think about such things except to study history and try to better whatever community I can find or scratch out of the dirt for myself. Bombs will fall or they won't, either way, I'm not a part of the process. Much as I want to take all human failing on my own shoulders, Mattis didn't check in with me before he launched several billion dollars worth of whoop ass at Syria.

    What changed about your worldview?

I take these things significantly less personally. I try to take Dan Carlin's 'Martian' perspective on world events. I'm more interested in the politics of my state and city than national and global events simply because they are more likely to affect me and my opinion of them has a snowball's chance of actually causing some change that might be helpful to the next generation. Hopefully we michiganders can get our asses in gear and save the great lakes from NESTLE and the petrochemical companies running leaky pipe under the Mackinac bridge. Think global act local has never made more sense to me.

    What stayed the same?

I'm still not gonna vote blue team just because. Lesser evilism is no more appealing to me now than in the past. Maybe the blue team will have its house in order the next time national elections roll around. I am not hopeful in this regard. I am reminded of Obama's analogy of the US and national policy as an ocean liner, and of the colossal force needed consistently to bring about a minor course correction. The whole business reinforces the little house on the prairie fantasies we have discussed and you have derided in the past. I don't get to opt out. In some clockwork orange ish way, I get to watch the whole thing unfold and I don't get to look away.

In short, I need to read more. For some reason, no matter how much I listen I still can't seem to get through Durant, even at 1.25x speed. I think I have 17 hours left on the first volume, we're currently discussing the origins and structure of Hinduism.

cgod  ·  85 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Absence of Olive Gardens

Just a brief aside on the chain restaurant business model.

They buy nothing from Sysco. There is one business that owns the restaurant side and another that owns the distribution side. They are owned by the same guys. For all I know there might be a third that manufactures the slop.

Sysco can't provide the the consistency or the product that these stores need at a price they will pay. All the sauces come in jugs, cans or in frozen packets, the sauces are only for that chain. The cooks might need to rehydrate them.

The meat products are easy to handle and perfectly uniform having no variance in size or shape. Sysco dumps garbage on its customers with regularity, changes distributors or what ever it can to make an extra dime, wider variation in size of proteins or a different precooked burger than before. Sysco tells you that you are wrong and their shit is great, deal with it or call FSA.

Chains get exactly what they want at a competive price. The sauce is always the same because it's in the same 200 gallon batch by the same guy every time.

When a chain wants to expand they lower distribution prices and a franchise looks great profit wise. When a chain wants to boost it's stock price it tightens up costs on the distribution side and buys back a few of the franchises that it's stressed out with higher prices.

The chain sets the price on the menu and it sets the price of distribution. It makes all the profit on wholly owned stores, it makes all the money on distribution, it makes it's franchise fee.

A chain can raise distribution fees to lower store profits so that managers can't make their performance goals if they think too much money is going out in bounuses.

I've worked for franchises that were buying higher quality ingredients for a lower price to boost product quality and profits. Mixing three bags of franchise cheese with one bag of better cheese and making sure that the good shit was hard to find in the walk in just in case there was a cooperate inspection. It's the stuff lawsuits were made for.

I pretty much never know what the fuck his point is. It's like the op ed equivalent of a New Yorker cartoon

Quatrarius  ·  144 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google

There are two problems.

I like to call the first one (since right now, when I made it up) CONTROVERSY-AS-DISCUSSION. CONTROVERSY-AS-DISCUSSION (CAD) is what you do when you have no news, but you have to write about something otherwise you don't make any money. Here's how it works:

1. Take any divisive social issue (race)

2. Find someone who has an opinion about it (megawhitey)

3. Feed the opinion into the media ouroboros

4. KEEP FEEDING

5. Success!

You can write articles debunking the original opinion, articles debunking other articles, hot takes, thinkpieces about thinkpieces --- going on forever. Nobody would care about what this guy had to say if it wasn't used as ammunition by these people. They're pretending to report on something that they made up out of thin air. Internet journalists are the agents of controversy (megawhitey knows this too), so this story gets picked up by the right-wing sites instantly - but I'll get there.

Look at some of the titles these articles have around the time this started to take off:

Google employee's leaked anti-diversity memo sparks evaluation of tech culture

Google Employee's Anti-Diversity Manifesto Goes 'Internally Viral'

Right away, it gets called a manifesto. This random guy's craziness is a manifesto? Is it that important? Fuck you.

SECOND PROBLEM: It's not really crazy. It's pretty mild. It's not really right, either, but that's not the point. When things like this get drawn into the culture war, they immediately get painted as extreme.

(here on hubski, we're smart, we're moderates, we don't buy into the system, man, we know that this guy isn't a nazi)

But now this guy is hanging out with a lot of wannabe nazis smart scientific gentlemen. Dangerously/occasionally reasonable-sounding gentlemen. I'm assuming this guy wasn't a crypto-fascist, but maybe just a regular (friendly) conservamoderate? You know - the kind that shakes his head at how dumb these kids can be about race and sex, but doesn't quite tip over the edge into being alt-right?

(he'd have to be alt-right because he's too young to be rightright)

Now he's been driven into the arms of these people. Because he probably thinks he's right, right? He probably thinks all he was doing was making a reasonable point, with !!science!! and !!analysis!!, and he's getting shouted at by ev-er-y-body with a blog/twatter/"journalistic position" on the internet. Except for the fine fellows at

The Daily Wire

Breitbart

Jordan Peterologist the Canadian Psychologist, INC

n'all that. Because they're taking him seriously, and not shouting at him, and calling his critics crazy liberals obsessed with political correctness. Which is what he was talking about in the first place.

SECRET THIRD PROBLEM:

Could we talk about diversity without sparks like this setting everything off, almost like we care?

I didn't use my CAD abbreviation at all after I defined it, too. That could be the fourth problem here. The fourth problem might be this comment as a whole.

Meh.

OftenBen  ·  160 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 10, 2018

Ooops.

It's almost non-news to us, ha. Just formalizing something we both have felt and known for a while.

veen  ·  251 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 11, 2017

DUDE I think I found it!?

It looks a lot like the Fontainemelon trademark that you see twice in this list, registered in 1880 for the region in Switzerland. Found this by Googling 'Schweiz uhrwerk apfel' and it was the first hit. It actually does lead back to that site of yours when you Google for Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon SA. Check that advert, it has the logo!

edit: hah, wasoxygen was slightly faster. Damn ninja!

kleinbl00  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I watched my patients die of poverty for 40 years. It’s time for single-payer.

I firmly believe that "single payer" would get a lot more support if people stopped talking about it in grandiose themes and noble vignettes and started talking about it in real terms. All the liberals I know are in heavy favor of "single payer" without any of them knowing what the fuck it is.

HERE'S WHAT THE FUCK IT IS.

I've got a medical facility - Al's Medicine. Al's subcontracts to Betty the Biller and Cindy the Client Specialist. I operate in a state where my medical facility is covered by Medicaid. We also take private (employer-provided) insurance, which is underwritten by the following insurance firms: Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z.

Al's must sign individual contracts with Q, R, S, T, U, V and W. These contracts are "take it or leave it" binding: they say that for ICD code 1, Q will pay Al's $7.50 but for ICD code 1.000000001, Q will pay Al's $0.00 because fuck you, Al's. Note that Q might pay Joe's $6.50 or $9.50 or pi.ie^2 for ICD code 1. Q is entirely within its rights to do so. Al and Joe, on the other hand, are contractually forbidden from discussing their rates for ICD Code 1. If Q gets wind that Al and Joe know what the other are getting, they can drop both because fuck you, Al and Joe. Also know that Joe might not get anything for ICD Code 1 because Q has decided that all of Q's contracted healthcare clients can drive 75 miles to Al's for those services because fuck you, Joe. Also know that Q can tell Al's they'll pay $7.50 for "services" verbally and in writing, but when the actual contract comes through the actual number listed is $2.25 because fuck you, Al's. Also know that they won't tell you what ICD codes they'll pay for, they'll just say "services" and let you resubmit your bills over and over and over again until you find the ICD code that pays out the most because fuck you. Also know that the ICD code they choose to pay for can and will also change because fuck you.

A few other notes: Al's might have to provide, for example, rhogam shots to prevent babies from dying from blood type incompatibiliy. These rhogam shots might cost Al's $28 but Q is going to pay $7 because fuck you, Al's. If you ever wondered why hospitals charge you $40 to hold your baby it's because they're trying to claw back the $21 the insurance company isn't paying for medicine they're required by law to administer (for example). Also note that your involvement, gentle consumer, starts when you get an "explanation of benefits" from the insurance company listing all the outrageous charges the doctor hit you with. It will provide no explanation. It will show how generous they were in all their disbursements and then show you that your doctor's office is going to bill you STILL MORE MONEY because they're such bloodsuckers.

This is where Betty Biller and Cindy Client Specialist come in. Betty makes 10% by pickaxing all the money she can get out of Q. Betty's whole job is knowing what Q pays out on. Betty knows which ICD codes Q pays out what on, and can turn your "normal child checkup" into 42 different codes that pay the maximum rate Q has contracted to pay. She is literally a medical billing bounty hunter. Betty is the back office side while Cindy talks to you, the client - here's what's coming, here's what it means, here's how to get your insurance to pay for this ahead of time, here's how to get preapproval for that.

For those keeping track at home, billing specialists outnumber doctors 2:1 in this scenario.

Multiply times insurance companies R, S, T, U, V and W, who all have their own rates, all have their own codes, all have their own geographic exclusion areas, and probably have seven or eight sub-plans so that it's not actually "V" it's V.a, V.b, V.c, V.d, V.e, V.f and so on. Suddenly, Betty and Cindy look positively useful and you will pay them gladly because the act of billing for care takes three to four times as many man-hours as actually providing that care. Betty and Cindy make good livings and their existence is entirely parasitic on the insurance companie's deliberately opaque, byzantine and antagonistic reimbursement practices.

Not Y and Z, though. Y and Z contract through Medicaid. Medicaid has no patience for that bullshit. They will pay the following amounts on the following ICD codes. Anybody who contracts through Medicaid bills those codes and gets that money. It is known. Y knows, Z knows, Al knows, Joe knows, and all of Al and Joe's clients can fuckin' look it up. And when Medicaid's reimbursements lag behind the real world, it gets turned into a bill that goes to the legislature that raises the rates for everyone.

Al's, in fact, might get better reimbursements out of Y and Z (because of medicaid) than they get out of Q, R S, T, U or V.

Unfortunately you as a patient don't get your insurance through Y and Z because you make more than the poverty level for your county. You get whatever insurance your job provides, which might be V.c, might be Q, might be nothing because you drive for Uber and fuck you.

As a provider, we get to choose who we contract with. We do not get to choose what those providers pay us. And if 50% of your clients work for Microsoft, you bloody well better be able to take V.c, despite the fact that they reimburse at exactly half what Medicaid reimburses at (which is funny, because all your Microsoft mommies make six figures). R, on the other hand, may decide that they'll never cover you because they have enough of your specialty in network, never mind that the nearest provider is a ferry ride away (because this way they don't have to pay for those services).

As an insurer, you get to decide who you contract with. You can pick the providers that are the stupidest, that will accept the lowest rates, that have the lowest conflict rate of you arguing over charges. And you get to discuss this with the HR reps of companies large and small, none of which have any background in medicine, medical billing, accounting or statistics. To no one's surprise, they choose on price.

But the poor people? They pay what the state says they pay, the insurance companies collect what the state says they collect, and they contract with the providers the state says they contract with.

THEY STILL MAKE MONEY.

They're still private insurance companies, privately managing your health care, privately paying out private doctors. It is not "socialized medicine." It is not "universal healthcare." It is not the National Health Service. The healthcare industry is something like a tenth of the US economy; you're never getting that. But you go single payer and all of a sudden things go from back-room knife fights between Q, R, Betty and Cindy to state-mandated pricing and state-mandated coverage.

My future is tied to health care. I've got more in a medical practice than you have in your house.

And I'm a big booster of single payer.

And so's Aetna, who in this example is R.

thenewgreen  ·  379 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Real talk: depression

Humility is fine. Shame is not. Resist shame.

cW  ·  403 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Neoliberalism is creating loneliness

Thanks for this. I connect with your descriptions of the ache of disconnection, even though my situations are all different. I'm rich in friends, even though most of them are scattered so far, and that is its own kind of different pain. Ibuprofen for social pain makes good sense, though I'd never thought of it before. It seems inflammation is the problem regardless, doesn't matter if the trigger is externally or internally initiated. I've been consuming turmeric paste in my coffee to combat inflammation, rhodiola rosea when I need a sanguine shot of energy, and kava kava when I need to chill. It does well enough most of the time.

I really enjoyed that How To Be Alone video. It's beautiful, and contains lots of helpful stuff in it, threads from some of the best traditions which promote solitude. I'm thinking of that Pascal quote right now, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone," though I think he was selling it from the negative, rather than positive side. The Buddhist version sees the solitude as the link to the real source of connection, beyond people. That's present in some Christian mystics' thought as well. Not sure if it's what Pascal was getting at though. Regardless, we need a functional web of social interconnection whenever we leave the cell of solitude, meditation, prayer, what have you. That web's not there on its own though, and I find myself hamfistedly trying to pretend it is, or weave together a few inches of it. Playing music with strangers has been the best catalyst for unexpected connection lately.

Are you an Alaskan currently? I've never been, but I have a friend who moved out to Homer. He tells me it's one of the best places on earth.

If you make your facebook ad, let me know. I'd like to see it. You should cc: the guy who wrote the guardian article too, if you do.

lil  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: April 12, 2017

    Pronoia: the belief that the universe is conspiring in your favour.
I had to look it up. I'm a little proanoid, but I mostly believe you have to take the first steps to change your life. Then the universe will rush in to help.
francopoli  ·  463 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sci-Fi club no. 29: Cowboy Bebop Discussion

The recent half of the family came over to get the hell out of Ireland when the Brits starved people intentionally, then sort-of intentionally, sort of accidentally started a religious civil war. According to the family bible, they stayed with black families that introduced them to Jewish people before they noped-the-hell-out of NYC and Boston in the 1830's. They ended up in Philly just in time to realize they had to go west. They kept a list of names of people that helped them out along the way and ended up mining in the Rocky Mountains when the Civil War started.

The father of one of the families notes in the margins of Romans 14 and not sure why this stuck with me, but in shaky pen was written: Hebrew fed me beef. First in my years eating flesh of cattle.

The older men in the group had to be in their 40's when they came over, so this was a 50ish year old man writing this statement. I wonder how many more Irish immigrants never ate cow/beef until they came to the US and started working here.

thundara  ·  670 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: NeverNeverGawkerEverAGAIN

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

bfv  ·  684 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Schadenfreude

Our choice is between more of the same or self immolation. There is less to say about the pros of more of the same than the cons of self immolation.

goobster  ·  730 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: So I'm going to Kosovo??

Congratulations! I lived (in Prishtine) and worked in Kosovo (at Film City) for a while when I was a civilian contractor with KFOR.

Kosovo was rough then - 12/13 years ago - and really the ass end of the world. Power for a couple of hours a day, every third or fourth day, often no running water, and the Albanian mafia running basically everything. (The whole thing in Kosovo was a proxy war between the Albanian mafia and the EU, and largely unrelated to the problems in the northern parts of the Balkans. The Albanians were trying to annex the land by trafficking shitloads of Albanians in, and claiming they had "always lived there", and the EU/US were just trying to get everyone to stop shooting long enough that they could have a reasonable conversation with Serbia about the region, and wondering what the fuck the Albanians were going on about.)

The one power plant was coal-fired, and it made the snow was bright yellow from all the soot and pollution in the air.

My friend ran the - what was it called then? International Security Center, or whatever? - where they housed and tried all the criminals. Nice guy from Texas, ex-cop, ex-military, and a grandfather. Talk about a shitty job, man. Working in a craptastic place like Kosovo, doing a thankless job, for an organization that wished he didn't need to exist, a public that was against him, and genuine war criminals were the people he got to hang out with on a daily basis. Man... that was hard work.

Good luck with it. The bureaucracy is inconceivably Byzantine (appropriate, considering the history of the region) but I expect the best introduction to the current situation there is understanding how it went from Yugoslavia to the mess it is now, and the best way to do that is to read my friend Adam LeBor's book, "Milosevic"

It really will be a good primer to understanding the tribal underpinnings of everything you are getting into there.

Good luck. And thank you for doing the good and important work that needs to happen there. I did my part with UXO awareness, but that was all I could manage before I got out.

swedishbadgergirl  ·  768 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 11, 2016

So I've been in the mind section of the hospotal for a littel bit more than two weeks now. It feel like time i here is standing still while everyone else is moving on.

I have never wanted to stop time so much like I want now. Or fastforward.

But I can't. So instead I'm receiving a foster family and only God knows when.

And... I know I'll look back on this thinging it was har tiny Ronja, but you did it

But it is just SO HARD.

flagamuffin  ·  780 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Julia Baird: Being Dishonest About Ugliness

    Two p.m. Vivian Jackson’s class, Room 207.

    What Calvin can’t see: He can’t see the small, pretty girl sitting opposite him, the one who is wearing little rows of red, yellow and blue barrettes shaped like airplanes in her braided hair. He can’t see the line of small, green plants growing in yellow pots all along the sunny window sill. And he can’t see Mrs. Jackson in her rose-pink suit and pink enameled earrings shaped like little swans.

    (“Were they really shaped like little swans?” he will ask later.)

    But Calvin can feel the warm spring breeze—invisible to everyone’s eyes, not just his—blowing through the window and he can hear the tapping of a young oak tree’s branches against the window. He can hear Mrs. Jackson’s pleasant, musical voice and, later, if you ask him what she looks like, he will say, “She’s nice.”

A Boy of Unusual Vision -- indeed.

wasoxygen  ·  785 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Washington Metro: When infrastructure maintenance is an afterthought

The Post has long been a champion and cheerleader for Metro. That it is now expressing such despair is telling.

It may be hard to imagine how bad a system can be that still delivers passengers to destinations daily. I am well-situated as a rider: I can walk to a station served by two lines, both of which directly connect to a station from which I can walk to work. Yet I rode my bike every day last week, and intend to do so whenever the weather allows.

Some of the original 1000-series cars delivered in the 1970's are still in service, and show their age. Since a 2009 crash, Metro only uses them in the middle of trains, away from the crumple zones at the ends. Later cars have upgrades like digital displays which can display upcoming stations, but frequently show only the name of the line.

Electronic platform signs showing arrival times were a long-demanded upgrade, but when they show approaching train times it is often bad news, and they often don't show train times at all, rather information about elevator outages, a static PSA like the website address, or stupid see-it-say-it security reminders.

The escalators are notoriously unreliable; it is noteworthy when all the escalators in a station are running. Many were built to exit a station into open air. This was a somewhat magical experience when it was snowing, rather less so in the rain. Eventually glass canopies were installed over the exits. Same with elevators; I once saw a man give up waiting for a broken elevator and take his wheelchair down the escalator.

The farecard system is complicated, fares are charged based on distance (requiring turnstile interaction at entry and exit) and there is usually a queue of confused tourists at the farecard machines on weekends. Station managers, when present, are helpful, but the fare variation, difference in paper vs. plastic RFID fares (paper farecards were recently discontinued), and primitive vending technology are challenging for newcomers.

Even a seasoned commuter must stay alert. Approaching a turnstile, the heavy jaws of the gate are likely open to admit the previous rider. You wave or wiggle or drag your SmarTrip card over the reader, and once it registers, a tiny green electronic display, appropriate for a 1980's pocket calculator, updates showing your balance. You can't read this without stopping, so you proceed through, only to have the jaws close, bruising your thigh and destroying any smartphone in your pocket. Turns out the tiny display actually showed a low balance in the same tiny green letters. Only recently were you allowed to exit a station with a negative balance of a dime or two (you can enter with a low balance because your fare is not determined until you exit).

On board, the lack of good information displays on any but the rarely-sighted 7000-series trains oblige the operators to make high-volume, low-clarity announcements about upcoming stations. These are mixed with automated warnings about the doors. Metro doors are especially touchy, and frequently require several attempts to close. (Annoyingly, they also require several seconds to open, upon arrival at a station, as the operators have to stand up and look out a window before operating doors.) Operators will sternly warn passengers of the need to offload a train if a door jams. This happens to me once or twice a year, and when a loaded train unloads onto an already-crowded platform in rush hour, it is an ugly scene.

If I am leaving work between 5 and 6, I sometimes take the train in the wrong direction, further downtown, so I can turn around and catch a less-crowded train going my way.

Official IT tools are unpolished and clunky, so most riders rely on third-party tools that depend on an API. MetroHero is a recent arrival. You can look up historical data on performance of individual lines and see that most airlines manage better performance. I don't know if WMATA has a slogan, but they might want to adopt Delta's old underachieving promise: We Get You There.

francopoli  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Lunar X, Imaged by ME!

    Question: why is seeing and capturing the X a big deal?

For 99.9999% of humanity, it is not a big deal at all. There is really no science to be done here, after all the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has fully mapped the moon down to the meter resolution level. The "X" has been know about for at least a generation, so it is not like I am the first to see it. And the reality is that outside of a few nerds here and there, nobody cares.

But I do. The "X" is only visible for about an hour every Lunar month, and it is only visible to the US in dark skies about 2-3 times a year. So it is a rare thing to see. I've seen images of it, seen video of it, seen other people excited about the "X" but never got to see it with my own eyes before. Seeing something is an entirely different thing and looking at a picture. Take for instance, oh, at random.. The Antenna galaxies. I can show you amazing photos from Hubble and some of the big telescopes in vivid colours swirling texture and amazing detail. I've seen them with my own eyes and they look more like this under very dark skies and clean air with no moon out to mess with your night vision. Honestly, seeing them takes a 12" or larger telescope, a few hours to get acclimated to the dark, make sure equipment is in tune etc, and is a pain in the rear. Most people are never going to go through that effort to see something that a normal person will say "that it?"

But there is something more than just looking. It is the knowing that a few measly photons of light traveled at least 50 million years uninterrupted through the dead, dark of space and ended up triggering a chemical reaction in the rods and cones of the eye of a hairless chimp on a tiny spinning ball of iron covered in silicate rocks. An event that otherwise has no purpose in the grand scheme of the universe impacted the eyeball of a creature with enough brain and mental energy to say "I understand."

When I give telescope classes, I get sort of laughed at when I talk about the, and I hate this word but it fits, 'spiritual' aspects of astronomy. Looking at the sky, seeing things that even 100 years ago were not understood, not known, though impossible and you get a sense of scale and awe that is hard for me to put into words. I've seen, with my eyes, a galaxy whose light has been traveling longer than complex life has existed on earth. I've seen with my own eyes the proof that space-time curves, that gravity bends light, and at the same time had light that traveled roughly EIGHT BILLION YEARS hit the back of my retina (This took a special night at a star party with a 30" telescope. The owner screamed at people to come and look; he had a line all night and the guy was in tears he was so happy he could show people something that defines awesome in every sense of the word.)

So, why is the "X" important? It is something that I have wanted to see but either get clouds, or work, or I forget to set an alarm, all the little ways that I have missed this over the years. For the same reason that tonight I am going to freeze my ass off in windy freezing frost-laden air to get a picture of Jupiter with two moons, two shadows and the Great Red Spot all facing the earth. I'm so expecting to suffer to see this that I preemptively took tomorrow off to recover. I've seen this image with the Hubble and from people far more advanced in photography than I but I have never seen it with my own eyes. This comes back to why I do outreach as well. When someone at random comes across you and your gear in a park, and see the moon for the first time, or Jupiter, Saturn's rings, and exclaim "you can see that!??!??!" or "I never knew you could do this" I see the same thing. The seeing... that is something that you just cannot duplicate in any other way to make it have a meaning.

The 'why' is a great question. Thank you for asking it.

vile  ·  846 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Which Podcasts, and why?

I'll preface this by saying that I only recently began listening to many of these.

99% Invisible

Common Sense with Dan Carlin: Interesting perspective on politics.

Data Skeptic: Data science from a skeptical perspective.

Freakonomics Radio

Hello Internet: CGPGrey and Brady Haran talking about things.

Invisibilia: Similar to 99% Invisible but with a broader scope.

Lore: True and scary stories from history.

Note to Self: Discussion about being human in this day and age.

Play Dead: Discussing death in video games. -- This one is very new, and I can't find a proper link for it.

Still Buffering: Two sisters, roughly 15 years apart, discuss being a teenager.

Still Untitled: Adam Savage et al. talk about things.

The Greatest Generation: A Star Trek: TNG podcast by two guys who are a bit embarrassed to have a Star Trek: TNG podcast.

The Minimalists: mnmlsm -- I'm actually thinking of unsubscibing from this one. It seems to be getting a bit repetitive.

The Partially Examined Life: A philosophy podcast for the everyman.

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe: A show about science and skepticism.

Useful Science: Interesting topics in science.

Waking Up: Sam Harris discusses a variety of topics ranging from politics to science to spirituality.

Welcome to Night Vale: Hilarity and Cosmic Horror combine in a way so beautiful and terrifying that your attempts to comprehend it will thow you into the depths of insanity.

cgod  ·  864 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What makes an atheist love religious music?

I think this fella's fondness for religious music is a bit shallow. Religious music is beautiful because it speaks of an all encompassing love, solace, and forgiveness from a power so much more potent than the powers of man that it has to leave one grasping to touch it's hem.

I don't have a single shred of faith but would that I did. What comfort it would be to have a vessel to put all my shame, fear and doubt into. I'm jealous of those who have found such solace.

I could put up more and better but I'm pretty tired and can't seem to get neurons to fire.