2018-10-22 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • The Trump Administration announced that it will withdraw from the Universal Postal Union, whose structure has the effect of heavily subsidizing shipping rates for parcels coming into the US from overseas. As someone who is *not* a fan of trade wars (and who owns a side business that both imports components from China *and* ships small parcels from the US to the rest of the world), I gotta say that this seems remarkably sane to me. I strongly recommend Planet Money's story on the UPU for context.
  • An overview of the investments (both direct and through SoftBank's Vision Fund) that Saudi Arabia has made in "future of transportation" companies. "With companies like Uber now facing a potential $120 billion public offering, thanks in no small part to the money it’s received from Saudi Arabia, turning back now — even in the name of human rights — would mean sacrificing what Silicon Valley values most: growth."
  • Aaron Gordon on the countdown clocks on NYC's lettered trains, which were installed as a stopgap to a stopgap and are wildly inaccurate. I don't think I've ever written this explicitly here before, but NYC Transit is just a fantastic, beautiful, tragic mess - an almost serendipitous combination of deeply complex political, social, and engineering problems. Even if you *don't* think that New York is the best city in the world, you really have to appreciate the confluence and magnitude of the factors here.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • A live world map showing websites that are down.
  • A very good, very honest interview with a data scientist about the hype around data science, machine learning, and AI. One note, on the comment about how "truckers are not going to become JavaScript web devs:" Taken literally I agree, but as I noted in 2018.02.05's issue, trucking is pretty unique in this respect: "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." My expectation is that *if* autonomous trucking becomes cost competitive with human drivers, you'll see truckers moving to other low-skilled positions relatively easily. The counter, of course, is that we'll end up with a game of whack-a-mole, with low skilled employees jumping from job to job with autonomous systems nipping at their heels... but in my opinion that assumes a pretty optimistic view of AI/ML/whatever.
  • After years of building *lots* of housing, rents in some areas of Seattle actually dropped a little in the last quarter. "The Seattle area is building the fifth-most apartments of any metro area in the nation right now, and the four regions building more — Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. — are all significantly larger."
  • A good quick video of Munro & Associates' assessment of the Model 3.


A visual history of computing 1945-1979.

Read the full story

The rest of this post is for SOW Subscribers (free or paid) only. Sign up now to read the full story and get access to all subscriber-only posts.

Sign up now
Already have an account? Sign in
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Scope of Work.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.