Planning & Strategy.
- A good preview of SpaceX's upcoming Falcon Heavy launch.
- Lawrence Livermore National Lab has an open postdoctoral position for additive manufacturing process simulation.
- A whole rabbit hole on drop shipping, no-label products, and what it means to be a _real_ company. I started with There's No Such Thing as a Free Watch, which digs into the "brands" on Instagram "selling" watches (which are then drop shipped directly from Alibaba sellers) for free, following a model that - somewhat counterintuitively - isn't a scam per se. The essay ends up being an investigation into authenticity, and in an aside mentions How Madewell Bought And Sold My Family's History, which itself tells the remarkable story about how (erstwhile J Crew CEO) Mickey Drexler resuscitated, reinvented, and partially co-opted what used to be an un-self-conscious, profit-driven, utilitarian purveyor of white labeled and third-party-manufactured goods. Finally, I recommend following back up with Alexis Madrigal's The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed, which dives deeper into the "free watch" business model and the implications of Facebook's cheap & ubiquitous marketing/remarketing infrastructure.
- Ben Thompson on Amazon (/JP Morgan/Berkshire Hathaway) Health.
Making & Manufacturing.
- I started following @heavyironchris on Instagram recently, which (along with @forge_shop_2) has completed the process chain for big forged/machined parts pretty nicely.
- A good visualization of the staggering amount of urban public transit that's been built in China since 1990.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- On the drastic shifts taking place due to China's recent ban on certain kinds of foreign waste. Like any valuable product - and trash is indeed a product - some waste is apparently being smuggled into the country, including through North Korea. See also this older piece on how cars (not on the ban list) are shredded and then sifted through for loose change, and how that change is then sold at a discounts to Chinese tourists heading West; See also this companion piece on the automobile shredder as a hugely important 20th century invention.
- A good piece (paywall, but readable in Pocket) on Starbucks' failed attempts at recycling paper coffee cups; see also this (terribly formatted) article on the same subject. Technically feasible, yes. But: "Starbucks paper cups represent less than 1 percent of the 500 billion paper cups produced a year. If Georgia Pacific recycled all of the paper cups Starbucks customers use in a year — about 3 billion — it would create only the equivalent of less than a week's worth of paper from a mill."
- Boeing received an almost $24 MM contract to supply two new refrigerators (and "the engineering required to design, manufacture, conduct environmental testing and obtain Federal Aviation Administration certification") for Air Force one.
- "Russia's flagship space observatory, Spektr-RG, will be launched with a space tug which had passed its original operational warranty and had to be refurbished for the task."
Distribution & Logistics.
- A good explainer on why there's a shortage of trucking supply right now. Some of the factors are obvious (weather, a busy holiday season) some straightforward (new legislation mandating electronic monitor devices going into effect, which catch a lot of the semi-downtime hours truckers experience and log it towards driving hour maximums), and some the result of unintended consequences (trucking as a profession is easy to get into and easy to get out of, so rising wages in industries like manufacturing mean that truckers ditch, assuming they can always go back if things reverse course).
- Some *very* nice looking maps of Hong Kong showing how terraced & vertically oriented the city is.
- An amateur astronomer found a NASA satellite that had unexpectedly gone non-responsive - and then missing - in 2005.
Inspection & Testing.
- Last summer, thousands of MTA system delays were inaccurately (and intentionally) mislabeled as "power failures," wrongly implying that Con Ed was to blame.
- "Paths of 800 unmanned bicycles being pushed until they fall over."
- The former VP of Autopilot at Tesla on the Model 3: "I’m also sad how little progress HW2 Autopilot has made since I last drove it in June..."
- Last year, Trump praised Harley-Davidson as a "great American company" and forecasted that they would expand; last week they announced a factory was closing and 800 people would be laid off. The CEO says that staying in the Trans Pacific Partnership "would have helped us a lot."
- A list of startups working in big, nerdy, mostly B2B industries.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared.Credit also to Mayo, Patricia, Willem, Kane, Reilly, and Johanna for sending links.
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