The Pocket Operator (PO) series is a set of three miniature battery-powered synths, all priced at $59. There’s the PO-12 “Rhythm” drum machine, the PO-14 “Sub” bass synth, and the PO-16 “Factory” melody unit. All three have 16-step sequencing and a selection of 16 sounds to choose from, and also offer 16 additional effects.

Obama’s bank tax is a big idea that might actually get done - Vox:

What Obama proposed was a 0.07 percent tax on borrowing by America’s largest banks. The way this works is that banks with over $50 billion in assets (which is about 100 banks) would need to pay a 7 cent tax to the federal government on every $100 that they borrow. That has two goals — raising revenue and restraining risky debt from bailout-prone institutions. And Congress isn’t going to pass it.

This would both make a bailout less likely, it would create a fund that would pay for a bailout. And it would fall onto the banks directly. Why is anyone against this?

Two Contradictory Arguments That Dodd-Frank is Crony Capitalism | Next New Deal:

I’m pretty convinced that the term “crony capitalism,” as deployed by the right, is useless as a political or analytical tool. I keep a close eye on how conservatives talk about financial reform, and according to the right, Dodd-Frank is crony capitalism. Oh noes! But what does that mean, and how can we stop it? Here’s a fascinating case in point: two AEI scholars with different publications argue that we need to stop Dodd-Frank from enabling crony capitalism, and then proceed to describe two opposite, mutually exclusive sets of problems and solutions.

I missed this the first time around, but I’m glad I got a chance to read it. This is worth a read. There are a few words that are now meaningless in political discussion because they are used to mean different things, even contradictory things. Crony Capitalism joins Socialism as a term that means something I don’t like and has lost all other meaning.

Patton Oswalt on political correctness:

That idea of context doesn’t matter is a scary thing. Especially because the oppressive, racist, homophobic forces in the world don’t have comedy as a weapon. We progressives do. If we’re going to start giving that up and start policing progressives twice as hard as we do the conservatives and homophobes and haters, then we’re fucked. Then they get to be the rebels and they’ll find a way to make homophobia and racism look cool. Because all we’re doing is attacking each other.

Patton Oswalt nails it.

American transit activists need to speak up about exorbitant construction costs:

But the problem hits transit the hardest because the basic fact of the matter is that political and economic elites don’t rely on mass transit. The clearest case is the growing popularity of mixed-traffic streetcar projects. These are much cheaper than grade-separated light- or heavy-rail, but still far more expensive than a conventional bus without actually moving people any faster. In terms of offering a transportation service, spending money on a streetcar is much worse than spending the same amount of money on multiple new bus routes or upgrades to existing ones. Soon this bus will have a streetcar in its way | Elvert Barnes/Flickr Streetcars appeal, however, because those high costs create construction jobs and because the aura of classiness around them appeals to real estate developers and other would-be drivers of gentrification. So cities across America are opening stub streetcar lines rather than investing in improving the transit experience of bus riders.

The Strange Tale of a New Species of Lizard:

In the 1960s, scientists noticed that some whiptail lizard species had a strange genetic makeup. They have two copies of each chromosome, just as we do, but each copy is very different from its counterpart. The genes look as if they come from different species. Perhaps stranger, many species produce no males. The eggs of the females hatch healthy female clones, a process known as parthenogenesis. Normally, unfertilized animal eggs have only one set of chromosomes. The second set is derived from a male’s sperm following fertilization. But parthenogenic female whiptail lizards can duplicate the chromosomes in their offspring without males. These findings led scientists to a hypothesis for how these strange species came about: Sometimes individuals from two different species of whiptail lizards interbreed, and their hybrid offspring carry two different sets of chromosomes.

A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It:

Between 1974 and 1979, residents of a small Manitoba city were selected to be subjects in a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. For five years, monthly cheques were delivered to the poorest residents of Dauphin, Man. – no strings attached. And for five years, poverty was completely eliminated. The program was dubbed “Mincome” – a neologism of “minimum income” – and it was the first of its kind in North America. It stood out from similar American projects at the time because it didn’t shut out seniors and the disabled from qualification. The project’s original intent was to evaluate if giving cheques to the working poor, enough to top-up their incomes to a living wage, would kill people’s motivation to work. It didn’t. But the Conservative government that took power provincially in 1977 – and federally in 1979 – had no interest in implementing the project more widely. Researchers were told to pack up the project’s records into 1,800 boxes and place them in storage. A final report was never released.