2020-06-22 3 min read


Notes, 2020-06-22.

It’s Kane again, guest editing from sunny San Francisco. Things feel more uncertain than ever, but there’s a silver lining in all of this that gives me hope. The creation of pedestrian-only streets around the city is nominally temporary, but seeing how well they’ve been received (Kids riding bikes! Leisurely walks! Outdoor dining!), it feels like a societal ratchet has turned. The default has switched from car-first to pedestrian-first and the switching cost, normally the source of much griping, has been eaten by the chaos of everything else. For the first time in most residents’ lives, they are vicersally experiencing how it could be. And that’s exciting.


The most clicked link from last week's issue (~14% of opens) was a retrospective of the 1987 celebration that flattened the Golden Gate Bridge's roadway.

Planning & Strategy.

  • The difference between Boeing and Airbus cockpit UIs is much more significant than I realized, and the reason is interesting: Boeing, being a much older company, has incrementally updated its cockpits for over a century, whereas Airbus designed its cockpits from scratch with digital controls in the late 20th century. I also appreciate this comic now.
  • My recent “I love the internet” moment was discovering acoup.blog, a UNC history professor’s blog dissecting pop culture battles like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones in painstaking detail.
  • JLASS-SP 2018 (Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program) is a DoD wargame that included the scenario “Zbellion” in which, I kid you not, a rebellious Gen Z hacks corporations and redistributes Bitcoin. Seriously.

Making & Manufacturing.

  • Ian Rust, the ironically-named founding engineer of Cruise Automation, writes about an emergent design methodology he calls DfMc (“Design for McMaster-Carr”): the ubiquity and influence that McMaster-Carr has imposed implicit design constraints.
  • Kudos to this brave man who stuck electric motorcycle parts (from Zero, a Santa Cruz-based company) in his ultralight and now flies it around NorCal. Electric aircraft seem outlandish every time I hear about them, but then I realize there are people alive who were born before the first jet, so then I feel excited.
  • A harrowing story of forced laborers sabotaging Nazi supply chains through small acts in factories and how an anonymous prisoner saved an American B-17 crew as a result.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • If you’re like me and miss purpose-built devices, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that the Game Boy restomod scene is thriving.
  • I’m guilty of bucketing all cross-drive screws as “Phillips”, but there are a lot of nuances between the dozen or so cross-drive screws (including between Phillips and the new Phillips II).

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • Every time I wonder if I should buy a shiny new tool I remind myself that Albert Michelson empirically calculated the speed of light with 0.001% error in 1927, and I can get a lot more mileage out of what I already have.
  • I have a reasonably intuitive understanding of the relationship between position, velocity (its first derivative), and acceleration (its second derivative), mostly by imagining what I feel in an accelerating vehicle. I recently wondered about further derivatives of position, and it gets pretty abstract. The seventh and eighth are lock and drop and the negative-first is absement. My favorite is the negative-fourth, abserk.
  • Color has unexpectedly thrown a wrench in my work at multiple jobs, most recently at a bicycle company where I had to figure out how to convert Pantone colors from a NYC designer to YS Paint colors at a Taiwanese factory (I have lots of fun facts about color! Ask me!). I’ve started favoring this short history of color theory to show friends why Color is equal parts amazing and frustrating.


  • My admittedly controversial view is that burial and cremation are both wasteful (the idea of taking up space forever is unsettling to me). Tower of Silence is an ancient structure for excarnation of the dead by carnivorous birds and I’m all for it (also, great name).

A 360,626 kg calibration weight for a bridge crane.

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