2019-06-24 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • On nuclear power's (underrated) role in successfully decarbonizing electric power generation. "If the electricity generated by nuclear power between 1971 and 2018 had instead come from the burning of fossil fuels, humanity would have emitted an additional 63 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. To put that in perspective, all the burning of fossil fuels in the world in 2018 emitted 33.5 gigatonnes...But humanity is not building on this success. Few nuclear plants are being built, existing stock is aging, and some countries, notably Germany, are actually phasing out nuclear plants early."
  • Food waste contributes to 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions. "Cutting down on food waste could have nearly the same impact on reducing emissions over the next three decades as onshore wind turbines."
  • In a joint op-ed claiming that "we can’t know exactly what the future of work will look like," the CEOs of Uber and Lyft argue for a new labor classification besides employees and independent contractors.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • Eric Weinhoffer on workshop organization. Great throughout; my one big additional thing (which is on The Prepared's Tool Guide) is a good, flexible fastener storage system (drawer cabs + PartsBox).
  • Lyft spends $0.14 on AWS for every ride they serve. Some very good additional analysis in this thread re: why insourcing cloud services does *not* make much sense unless you have crazy volume and stable demand.

Distribution & Logistics.

  • FedEx and Dollar General (which is a remarkable operation that's kind of terrible for communities) will offer in-store pickup and drop-off of FedEx packages in 8000 Dollar General stores by 2020. The partnership seems to be focused on a) rural areas that are otherwise inaccessible via FedEx (but of course would be served by USPS) and b) e-commerce return shipping. I find these goals curious: In my neighborhood, UPS uses independent and variously funky dollar stores as a backup delivery location if I'm not home; the experience is ostensibly convenient but not exactly seamless. And while it's true that online product returns are inconvenient, I'm not sure that the answer is to rub one's e-commerce failures in the face of one's local brick-and-mortar joint.
  • Shopify announced its own 3PL service, saying they'd invest $1B to create a network of fulfillment centers capable of reaching 99% of the US within 2 days. As a small-time hardware product seller who has dabbled with Shopify (and hustled to stitch together a manageable fulfillment chain), this kind of vertical integration makes a ton of sense. That said, it'll be interesting to see if Shopify can handle having such different business models (e-commerce SASS and 3PL don't have a ton of overlap in therms of core competencies) under the same roof.
  • China will have a single, nationwide transit payment card covering 245 cities by the end of the year.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • Corrugated cardboard is rated by two methods: The Mullen (or burst) test and the edge crush test (ECT). Mullen testing simulates heavy loading and rough handling; in it, a sheet of cardboard is clamped in a fixture and then a diaphragm applies pressure to one face until the board ruptures. Edge crush testing, on the other hand, simulates boxes being stacked in a warehouse: A small sample of cardboard is fixtured so that it stands on one edge, and then force is applied to the other edge until the board buckles or is crushed. I searched far and wide for explainers with good visuals, and my best finds were this *perfect* video by a Chicopee, MA based company called Mullen Testers (I mean, he's burst testing scratch-off tickets and forgets to open his own valves before running the test. It's perfect!) + this charmingly poor quality video demo of an edge crush testing machine.
  • A very good video explanation of how SpaceX's Starlink will work and why its business model makes sense. Related, a video simulation of where and when Starlink satellites will be visible.


  • Dame Products is suing the MTA for denying their vibrator ads, while sexual health pharmaceuticals are allowed to advertise.

A Twitter thread of all of the photos taken on the Apollo 11 EVA.

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