February 23, 2018

Home improvement

“You going from half to three quarter? Need threadtape?” It’s the home plumber’s nightmare, and no matter how well prepared you think you are you’ll doubtless face it more than once during the course of any project, no matter how minor a fix  it might seem at the outset. It’s the moment when the professional behind the counter, or even the…

Unfair competition

World-class Darts, unlike Curling, has never had any issues with banned substances. You could argue the relative athleticism of each — throw in snooker, while you’re at it — but it’s hard to see the advantage offered by any sort of drug in these kinds of sports. Save caffeine, perhaps, if not for the participants then at least for the…

Hoorah for the free

Certain things exist more as clearly desirable goals than as, well, things. People talk about them because they really sound like they are great, good, honorable or whatever — and hopefully some of that great goodness will rub off just by the talking even though deep down we all know they probably aren’t real. Customer Service is one such. Our…

Smart people talking

Elon Musk’s staccato, recursive speech is not uncommon among smart people. Speakers seem to be listening to themselves and repeatedly revising, editing, revisiting, restating. It sounds as if what they’re trying to convey is too complex for them to capture completely, so they sort of herd their ideas instead, trying at least to keep them all going in the right…

Eco Rocketry

For those of us who have to travel, flying is probably the worst thing we do to the environment. We recycle, drive our Prii cars, turn the heat down a notch, even eat vegetables to cut down on cow farts. We walk and bicycle, take the bus, wear vegan leather, and tweet severely and regularly about climate issues. We do…

Industrial magic

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made,” claimed Otto von Bismarck. He might well have said the same of iPhones, rockets, or the Cloud. We’re at a point where every company that makes stuff aspires to the condition of magic. How the hell does Space X land the rocket boosters back on the ground again? Clearly,…

Online shopping

You used to browse big fat catalogs where you could see the stuff much as you would in a store, then order it by mail. Before we began to run out of forests, mail order catalog shopping was very popular. But it was a long time before your stuff arrived. The big promise of online shopping was to avoid the main…