Republicans in the hearing tried to downplay the number (and Politico dutifully reports their skepticism) with a  ”yeah, but” kind of rejoinder. Issa tried to say the 7.3 figure was a “precipitous drop,” (ignoring that it beat his own projection) and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said that for “the past five months, the administration has been silent on enrollment details for the president’s healthcare law, and now we know why: the number was going down.” Nice try there, boys, but that’s one dead talking point.

Here's Something Odd.

There is a blinking light up on the mountain. It is red. Blinking lights are always red. It is nestled among the crags and nooks of the precipitous slope. We can all see it. No use denying it.

The City Council already tried. “Nope,” they said. “Blinking light? Let me think. Bliiiiinking light. No, sorry, it doesn’t ring any bells.” But then a bell started ringing, a signal from the watchman who lives in Night Vale’s invisible clock tower, letting us know that he had seen something, and we all saw it too. It was a blinking light up on the mountain. “Ah, well,” said the Council, crawling backwards through a window into Town Hall one by one. “Ah, well. It was worth a shot.”

What does this light mean? Who will dare investigate it? Will it spell our doom? Dear followers…who knows? No one. And probably, more later. For now, just this. Just a blinking light, red, up on the mountain.

"A beautiful question," he writes, "is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something — and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change."

The challenge — and threat to everyone who cares about innovation and creativity — is that the number of questions that kids ask drops precipitously starting from the moment they walk through the schoolhouse doors.

Declining Wind May Change Predator-prey Balance

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady bug on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air — and the soybeans — were still?

Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships.

Read more:

21st Century Unions

Unions were a fixture of the 20th century, serving as a stabilizing force against corporate and investor interests in business, creating deeply influential voting blocks for elections, and creating community among individuals who otherwise might not have known each other, or been close.

In modern times, the labor union is at its lowest ever approval rating in the United States. 2009 represented the nadir, when the population may have been reacting to the first national democratic victory since the 90s. But it’s stayed low. One wonders if the laissez-faire liberalism that won the Cold War is what precipitated this trend, or the accompanying period of relative prosperity in the 90s. Even now that wages are stagnant, inequality is persistent, and the topic du-jour is very much the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ the unions are still unpopular. I suspect that is very soon to change.

There are a few prominent industries today where the need for a 3rd-party arbiter is particularly pronounced, where one class of participant does a lot of heavy-lifting, is* much* more likely to end up broke and alone, where the ability to connect with peers creates outsized value and influence, etc. The first is our industry: venture-backed entrepreneurship! Venture capitalists, even if their investments go badly, are protected, in part by their fund cycles, in part by the amazing willingness of LPs to fund managers who don’t have results, and mostly because they tend to have money to begin with. Failing entrepreneurs, on the other hand, end up broke, sometimes friendless, often really alone, and so forth. As for valuations and deal terms, the venture capitalists had incredible control and agency over these for the first 30 years of venture capital. While the Series Seed documents by Ted Wang at Fenwick and AngelList have done extraordinary things in rebalancing the power in negotiation, one organization has done far more: that’s why I think YCombinator is the first truly successful 21st century union.

Once you’re a YC alum, there is a community, a 3rd party who will arbitrate disputes on your behalf (with muscle, if necessary), and peers who will provide resources in the form of proprietary information, as well as safe landings in the event that things don’t go well. When Sam said that he specifically wanted more women and people of color to apply to YC, I couldn’t help but applaud, because entrepreneurs who are already marginalized need the added protection the most. 500 Startups, AngelPad, Techstars, and others are working hard, with varying degrees of success, to create a similar effect. I think the wake of YCombinator’s efforts will create a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats, rather than a winner-takes-all. The incubators will be the unions for the entrepreneurs.

The collaborative economy is the other big one. Let’s just take the drivers of Uber, Lyft**, Sidecar, Hailo, etc. To-date, they are a big and *very fast* growing population, who have no ability whatsoever to set their own wages, to ensure benefits (health insurance, actual property-and-casualty insurance for their work) or to get access to proprietary information about the work they are doing, or that their peers are doing. Sounds familiar, right? There was an interesting piece in New York Magazine last week about the “contract worker problem” referring to the math on being a supplier in a peer marketplace, and how the economics work out. I was far from convinced, but it did remind me that this is a community that is heretofore not fully organized, and needs resources to protect the participants, far beyond the current status quo. The drivers, as an example, are already doing it themselves. The subreddit** for ridesharing drivers is lively, and a great resource for any new driver. Follow along this forum to see that that Uber drivers are hacking community in absence of somebody creating one for them.

Freelancers Union, who were probably the first organization to identify the trend of moving toward the gig economy has created tens of millions of dollars of revenue offering health insurance to its members, the freelancers of New York City, and with their national benefits program will expand even further. is doing a great job as an advocacy organization, as well, launching internationally, and focusing on supporting the platforms’ right to operate in cities. But a crop of startups recently has taken a purely for-profit approach, which I find very interesting: Zen99*, Guild*, Benny, SherpaShare, Guevara, and others have appealed to the participants in the collaborative economy to provide resources for them. In my opinion, the organization that wins the trust, and the network, of the people powering the on-demand economy will represent the next great 21st century union. And that organization will be best-poised to win the next generation of influence in business, policy, and technology.

**AngelListReddit, LyftZen99 and Guild are Collaborative Fund portfolio companies.

"Non c’era mai stata stanchezza verso chi amavo…
mai, neppure per un istante.
Ma se poi il mio cuore precipitò, fu per l’infinita stanchezza
per quella sua volontaria protratta assenza.”

G. Cerney


After agony had left his body to find another,
or in search of no one, just agony on its
own for once, merely cruising,
something stayed, like
                                 a precipitate—grief, maybe,
that’s what they said,
as if such had ever been
grief’s properties … Why is lying
to others always so much harder
than to ourselves? Yesterday, for example,
starlings in flight, the ice of
the frozen pond beneath them briefly
containing their shadows—not
                                              reflecting them,
not the way water does, the way
the water did, the way it will
in spring when the pond has unlocked itself
all over again with
no more regard than disregard
for the wings and faces that pass, or don’t,
across it, so what,
                            so what? When I say
I trust you, I mean I’ve considered
that you could betray me, which means I know
you will, that we’ll have between us at last
that understanding which is a safer thing
than trust, not a worse,
not a better thing … Wanderer,
little firework, little
                             not-my-own, soon enough
the non-world we’ve been steering for
from the start: colorless, stripped of motion, all those
pleasures you knew so well how to give to others
gone also—pleasure,
I can hear you say, what world
was that

Carl Phillips

How to grow your own crystal precipitate tree

What’s needed:

  • 90 ml water
  • 6 tablespoons table salt (preferably uniodized)
  • 90 ml Mrs. Stewart’s liquid laundry bluing [manufacturer’s website] (Chemically known as ferric hexacyanoferrate, Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3 - Despite containing cyanide groups - they are so tightly bound to the iron that they pose little threat if ingested - it’s often used as a treatment for ingestion of radioactive elements Thallium and Cesium)
  • 15 ml household ammonia
  • Felt tip markers
  • Absorbent cardboard cut into the shape of a tree

Decorate the carboard tree with markers if desired. Dissolve all ingredients then place cardboard tree above so it’s just touching the solution. Alternatively dab the bluing on the tips of the carboard where you want crystals to form instead of adding it directly to the solution.

What happens:

As the water from the bluing and the clear water which is added evaporate, two things happen. The blue particles can no longer be supported and the excess salt cannot stay in solution. The salt crystallization process will take place around the blue particles as nuclei. Small amounts of ammonia are added to speed up the evaporation process. Ammonia evaporates very quickly and aids the other liquids to do the same. No chemical reaction occurs - this simply demonstrates the crystallization process.

Sources: 1. 2.

GIF video source

A double rainbow appears after a heavy monsoon storms over Nipton Road in Searchlight, Nevada, July 13, 2012.

The National Weather Service has extended a flashflood watch through Saturday night, as rain and thunderstorms have rumbled into Southern Nevada. Picture taken July 13. 2012. [REUTERS/Gene Blevins]

See more photos like this: Follow Reuters on Tumblr

Sodium hydroxide + silver nitrate precipitation reaction

Adding clear sodium hydroxide solution to clear silver nitrate produces a brown precipitate (silver oxide).

2 AgNO3(aq) + 2 NaOH(aq) —> Ag2O(s) + 2 NaNO3(aq) + H2O(l) 

This is post number three in today’s series “sodium hydroxide + things”.

The molarity of the NaOH here could be anything between 0.1 M - 2M, and the reaction would still work well. It would not be necessary to use a stronger concentration. The same stands for the silver nitrate solution, where 0-1M- 1M would probably suffice.