2017-09-05 3 min read


Whoo, what a weekend. In addition to recording a new episode of the podcast (up soon!) and spending some time with family, I got knee deep in footpedals, barcode scanners, & Tulip for The Public Radio's upcoming production run. It's good to be reminded just how much work the most basic customization (a unique EEPROM image for every order) requires - and how much fun it is when everything finally slips into place :)

Also, I'm very excited to hand the reins to Deb Chachra for next week's issue! Deb is a researcher, a professor of engineering, and writer who I first became aware of via her 2015 piece on gender, makerism, and our fetishization of creation above other (just as valuable) things. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does here!

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • Some very effective before/after photos of Houston.
  • Related, a very good thread on Houston's flood control systems, which rely (wisely, given the constraints) on roads. The downside is that converting asphalt roadways (which are generally cheaper to install but absorb water) to concrete (which is better for directing water away from the city) is expensive and only happens when roads need to be repaved anyway.

Distribution & Logistics.

  • Between 4,000 and 185,700 Atlantic salmon were released into the waters outside of Seattle when a net pen broke. Atlantic salmon are tough, and farms in the Pacific Northwest are unpopular because of incidents just like this one - which threaten native, wild Pacific salmon populations with resource competition, etc.
  • An interesting concept for a circular runway, which in theory would allow air traffic control to both land more planes per unit time AND accommodate a wide variety of wind directions. A friend of a friend who works at one of the big aircraft manufacturers comments that while modern autopilots (which are very capable and widely used - read Our Robots, Ourselves for context) could handle a runway like this pretty well, it would be rather difficult for a human pilot to land and then immediately go into a turn.

Inspection & Testing.

  • OSHA is becoming an embarrassment. The agency recently cut back its reporting of on-the-job fatalities; they also rolled back their plan "to require workplaces to electronically file to the government the injury logs they keep at their work site" and have "reduced the number of press releases it issues to publicize enforcement actions against employers."
  • A rigorous debate on Tesla, and the degree to which they are innovative and/or opportunistic and/or reckless and/or a vehicle for your hopes and dreams. Recommended.


  • On the use of matching algorithms in online dating, and the unimpressive results they produce.. "We might say that we would never date a political conservative, say, or an atheist. But if a potential match has other appealing qualities, most of us will agree to give the person a shot. If we’re not so good at predicting what we’ll like in our partners, it isn’t such a surprise that machines also struggle."

Building NYC's water supply, 1906-1917.

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