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Posts posted by Alexandros

  1. Definitely very animated and, at least to me, it seems genuine. I love this kind of expression.

    I'll Youtube Anne-Sophie Mutter and Andre Rieu tonight. Up until a year ago, I rarely watched performances and mostly stuck to audio recordings, so I have a lot of ground to cover. Feel free to recommend some more of your favorite composers.

    Another of my favorite performers: Pianist Evgeny Kissin

    In this video he is performing Liszt's arrangement of Paganini's "La Campanella"


  2. Posted by Ari Armstrong on his Twitter:


    Excerpt from the article:

    On January 12, around dinnertime, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, decimating the island nation and leaving hundreds of thousands presumed dead. A rescue effort is underway now, but as government officials and rescue agencies sort through the rubble, it is worth asking: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

    One group of scientists thinks so. Back in 2008, Eric Calais and Paul Mann, geophysicists who study fault lines in the Caribbean, predicted that Haiti would soon face such a devastating quake. The researchers reported that the Enriquillo fault, the line that Haiti sits upon, could produce a 7.2-magnitude quake if strained enough. Using GPS measurements, the team said that the fault was inching along at 7 millimeters per year, a moderate crawl in the realm of fault lines. But since this highly strung fault line has stretched several millimeters per year for the last 250 years, it was time for it to snap.

  3. This new ad is identical in substance to the Axe ads.

    I remember taking a course like this in high school. They called it "Economics". Really, all I did was look at ads and determine things like message, intended audience, etc. When it came time for class discussion, the teacher would open with some remark about what things were obvious and were to be taken for granted, such as "this ad is degrading towards women" and "this ad is degrading towards blacks." At the time, I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker (not suprisingly as I was a socialist and hardly ever questioned anything that "seemed self-evident", so long as it coincided with my pre-existing beliefs).

    Take everything you are taught in this class with a grain of salt. Instead, consider it a chance to observe and learn about the enemy. Don't take my word for it, just be alert. What you are witnessing is postmodernism at its finest.

  4. Great article. You wouldn't by any chance happen to have a recommendation for good reading on the history of Soviet Russia, would you? Chomsky's remark about the USSR in the first 3 minutes of the video reminded me that I don't know as much about its history as I'd like.

  5. http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1782306...elevator_games/

    A Seattle team has won a $900,000 prize in a NASA-supported competition to develop the concept of a space elevator.

    The winning team's robotic machine charged up nearly 3,000 feet of cable dangling from a helicopter.

    Powered by a ground-based laser pointed up at the machine’s photo voltaic cells, which convert the light into electricity, the LaserMotive completed one of its ascents in just three minutes and 48 seconds – fast enough to secure the second place prize.

    Despite the likelihood that commercial space flight (via Virgin Galactic, X-Cor, and Space-X) will become cheap, safe, and practical long before a 90,000-ft elevator could achieve the same, I still found this story interesting from an engineering standpoint. 3000 feet in 48 seconds is nuts. Any person who would wish to ride would need to train in a centrifuge unless we can train the liftman to administer Vulcan neck-pinches. Still, pretty impressive achievement.

  6. Don't forget the fact that the existence of the state (public) university is itself unconstitutional. When we keep that in my mind, we can approach this with the "private vs. public school" angle. Amongst other things, the idea that public schools should not exist is the result of the fact that, in order to finance the school, the property rights of many people must be violated via taxation. Since dismantling the university is a wholly impractical goal at this point in time and, therefore, lots of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent no matter what, all attention should be paid to figuring out how to get the most out of every dollar spent. It is my idea that, since we are dealing with taxpayer dollars, one should only concern themselves with the physical side of things. That means monetary profit. The idea here is that if the citizens are going to have their money stolen, they will be justified in expecting the absolute best of what it will be spent on. In this case, they should expect the best school that their money can buy. And if we think about what a school is (a learning establishment), we can determine what fundamental things are used to gauge the quality of a school: 1) The level of education offered and 2) how high its profits are. To me, this means determining what is more profitable: the chapel or an extra restaurant/reflection room/etc.

  7. I'm interested in what you could have said that could possibly make them feel that "Be present" was a finishing move. Sounds like cliche-guru nonsense to me. As humans, we are predisposed to interpretation, and have a deeply rooted need to comprehend our surroundings. It is impossible to flip a switch and suddenly stop considering the things we are confronted with. I'm convinced that anyone who says otherwise is just trying to be 'cool' or trying to game some kind of intellectual power over you.

  8. Commenting about specific cases is nearly impossible, because both sides have their own story and it is often more about figuring out what the facts are, rather than the legal principle to be used.

    The idea of insurance is this: a group of people all face the possibility that only a few of them will have to spend a lot of money because some event -- like a house-fire. So, they pay in small amounts into a pool and whoever's house goes up in flames gets money from that pool. However, each person has different risks. Not only are the homes of different values, but one guy might be on the edge of a forest that sees frequent fires, and the other may be in a much safer location. So, one needs to study these factors and decide how much each should pay into the pool. Also, when the event occurs, one has to check up to ensure that the person's claim is legitimate. Since insured events are rare, these overheads are a small percentage, and are easily paid out of the premium. In fact, they are easily paid out of the interest earned while the premium sits in safe investments waiting for an insured event to happen.

    Now, imagine that people wanted their insurance to cover all non-rare, routine events. The mesh in my screen door tore and I have to go to Home Depot and buy a new one for $14.99. Suppose I want that covered too. If insurance firms start to cover such routine events, they are not really providing insurance as such (in the sense of protecting against sudden, larges and unexpected expenses). If one owns a house one pretty much ends up spending some money to maintain it. Some years such spending will be small (say $500) and some years it will be more (the roof and driveway both need to be re-done). Suppose that -- on average -- one spends about $2,000 a year maintaining a house. If one wanted to pay money into an "insurance" pool and have it paid out in little bits every time a mesh door was torn, or a plumber had to come in to fix a faucet, the insurance company would need that much more administration for each such event. They would have to charge far more than the average annual expense, in order to cover all costs. As one wants "cover" for smaller things and more routine things, one is going away from the concept of insurance, and simply creating a third-party payment program, which will be much more expensive than average.

    Doctors have to keep large staffs of people whose only job is to follow-up with insurance companies. On their end, health insurance have large staffs who are following up small claims.In a private market, the bulk of these claims would not be covered by insurance. Some very risk-averse people might want to pay lots of premium, but the typical person would consider it a waste. For instance, one can get used-car warranties that will reimburse you every time you have some repair; but, their cost usually makes them a poor choice. In a private market, the typical health insurance would cover you for large expenses that are outside the normal range.

    Many people in the U.S. clearly understand that this is the crux of our problem: the original tax law that favored company-purchased health policies, and all the other laws that grew around it. When Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) were introduced, it was with the hope of moving toward a more individual-based system. Again, when they were morphed into Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) it was with the same intent. Those who want to move the country the other way are well aware of this issue as well. They have done all they can to hamper MSAs and HSAs. In order to move toward a better system, the government should allow people to deduct any money they spend on health-care expenses, and should allow the first few thousands a year to be deducted without any presentation of receipts (much like a standard deduction).

    Great post! I've been wanting to look into this topic some more, and I think this will work for a general framework.

  9. Ayn Rand lived in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, and lived through the Great Depression, both events were far worse than anything we have seen in our life times, both rife with mooching, legalized looting, and power lust on a massive scale. Ayn Rand knew human depravity at its worst, she did not have to imagine it, she lived it.

    She was not overly "optimistic".

    While I agree with you, I think there is still something to be said about the world today. In my lifetime I've had the chance to speak with several people who lived through that time (the Depression), and the thing that I took away from them is that, while they are happy to live in a country that will step up to help them when in need, they were still very, very, very ashamed to take relief money from the government. To them it meant they had failed, when it was the politicians and the FED who were failing all around them. This is because FDR's answer to the Great Depression was totally unheard-of and foreign. Those people did not grow up with the idea that "Government takes care of the needs of the people when the people are in trouble". No, they grew up with that can-do, work your arse off to feed your family attitude.

    Now, let's look at today. There is hardly a person alive, conservative or liberal, who doesn't hold the idea that "Government takes care of the needs of the people when the people are in trouble." On both sides of the aisle, FDR is one of our country's most well-known heroes. Sure, this generation and the last haven't experienced anything remotely as disastrous and devastating as the Great Depression, but that isn't the point the author of this thread was making. If there were another depression, the people alive today have neither the attitude or the leadership to handle it as well as the people during the Great Depression.

    As a side note, it is for this reason that I think we will have our own 'Bolshevik Revolution' someday. A president was just elected on a slogan: "Hope and Change"; a promise to spread the wealth around: "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." (Direct quote); and a gaurantee to give to every lazy and unproductive person he can uncover everything they need to survive, "free"-of-charge. Let me restate the beginning of that last sentence: A president was just elected by majority vote...

    It really is frightening. And, while I do everything from writing my congressman to taking a vacation day so that I don't miss the chance to vote to getting lost in hours of conversation with any socialist or liberal who is interested in intellectual conversation, I'm losing heart. I can't talk to enough people for enough time to convince them of the immorality of socialism, and, living in a state like Texas, my vote is mostly meaningless. As my classes get harder, and my studies intensify, I find myself becoming more and more like Roark: absorbed in my work and passion, and mostly insulated from the world around me. Lately, I've been having to remind myself to care, remind myself to read the news to see how the rest of these delusional individuals are going to vote away my rights. But, I'm starting not to care, and with that comes a bit of guilt, and even that is disappearing now.

  10. I just started my freshman year in Mechanical Engineering. Aerospace and automobiles are of prime interest to me. I've wanted to be a part of the space program ever since I was 10 years old, when I saw Ron Howard's "Apollo 13". That story rocked me to my core. If there are any here who aren't familiar with it, I recommend reading up on it a bit. Off the top of my head I can't think of any story that is a truer and more complete testament to the awe-inspiring power of the human mind.

    As far as automobiles are concerned, I never really had any great interest in cars. I always thought they were cool, and I knew I would one day have the perfect, well-engineered driving machine, but I never thought about designing them. It wasn't until I read this statistic that I became deeply interested in cars:

    Even when aided with turbochargers and stock efficiency aids, most engines retain an average efficiency of about 18%-20%. -- Wikipedia

    I remember thinking, "How long have cars been around? 100+ years? That's not just absurd, it's totally unacceptable."

    And that's my story. I salute you, fellow engineers. Heat is a powerful enemy, but he will be defeated. Stand strong. :)

  11. Keep in mnd this is the same organization that awarded Albert Einstein, the foremost physicist of his time, a prize in chemistry. Not for the Theory of Relativity, which revolutionized physics, but for his work on the photo-voltaic effect.
    Einstein's theory on the photoelectric effect and the idea of the photon can be considered the start of quantum physics. If that isn't revolutionary, I don't know what is.


    In my lifetime (24 years), the Nobel Peace Prize has never stood for anything. To me, Obama just received the equivalent of a gold medal from a 25-cent vending machine. However, the prizes in sciences and literature are interesting (literature less and less every year). Kao's work in fiber-optics was revolutionary to say the least, and Boyle's and Smith's invention of the CCD (charge-coupled device) revolutionized everything from medical imaging to the little camera you travel with in your pocket. But my favorite result of their invention? These: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/

  12. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/artic...ZpGq_clUpC7dAUg

    Empire State Building turns red-yellow for China's 60th

    (AFP) – 1 day ago

    NEW YORK — New York's iconic Empire State Building will light up red and yellow Wednesday in honor of the 60th anniversary of communist China.

    The Chinese consul, Peng Keyu, and other officials will take part in the lighting ceremony which will bathe the skyscraper in the colors of the People's Republic until Thursday, Empire State Building representatives said in a statement.

    The upper sections of the building are regularly illuminated to mark special occasions, ranging from all blue to mark "Old Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra's death in 1998 to green for the annual Saint Patrick's Day.

    Just last week the tower turned bright red.

    However, that was not to mark some other communist achievement, but the 70th anniversary of the film "The Wizard of Oz" in which Dorothy wears ruby slippers rather than the silver of the original L. Frank Baum novel.

    Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

    I'd like to say something here, but the article speaks for itself.

  13. I've bought several remastered recordings of Rachmaninoff playing himself. While there is a certain novelty in hearing him play his own compositions, recordings as old as these can only be remastered so much, and most of them retain much of the original white noise. Thankfully, incredible music never dies and there are tons of modern day, crystal clear, beautiful versions of his music.

    Look for Krystian Zimerman's recording of Rach's 1st and 2nd Piano Concerto, which was performed with the Boston Symphony. There is a feeling that one gets when listening to the Piano Conerto no. 1 that is reserved for only the most amazing things in life.

  14. I would think that theres a way in which deserve can involve only one person. Namely when I decide that because I've worked hard all week I deserve a good steak. Or if I decide that I deserve medical care than I mean I value my life enough to work to get it. I see it mainly as a self esteem thing. If a person says they deserve medical care to be earned and paid for by others I take that to mean that they don't think their life is valuable enough ( to them ) for them to work for it or maybe they don't have enough confidence in themselves to believe that they'll be able to earn it.

    Forcing it from others is a way for them to avoid the knowledge that they didn't think they deserved it or could deserve it.

    You deserve payment for your hard work, so that you may purchase a steak or health care if you want them. That is to say, for your hard work, you deserve the ability to seek these products. This is not the same as deserving the products themselves. You can only deserve anything if it is what was agreed upon as payment for your efforts*.

    *Edited for clarity

  15. Consider the scenario where someone has had something stolen from them. In this instance, the victim deserves justice. This, I think, can be applied better to the present situation with healthcare than can the idea that "deserve" is being used incorrectly. I think you'll find that, of the people speaking up in favor of socialized medicine, far more think they deserve healthcare because 'we, the American people, have been screwed over time and time again by the evil, evil, evil, greedy, evil insurance corporations who do evil, greedy, evil things to us, and we deserve free healthcare from the government so that we can be protected from such evilness and greediness. And, oh yeah, Bush did 9/11."

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