Dennis Muilenburg Fired From Boeing Amid 737 Max Crisis

The New York Times reports:

The company has been mired in the worst crisis in its 103-year history since the crashes of two 737 Max jets killed 346 people. The plane has been grounded since March, and Boeing has faced cascading delays as it tries to return the Max to the air. 

The company said David Calhoun, the chairman, would replace Mr. Muilenburg on Jan. 13. Until then, Boeing’s chief financial officer, Greg Smith, will serve as interim chief executive, the company said.

Firing Muilenburg won’t mend the damaged reputation nor will it fix the highly problematic MCAS system that plagues the 737 Max aircraft, but it will catalyze Boeing to switch gears. Never mind the fact, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft test over the weekend was an orbital failure.

Previously, the ramifications of Boeings accumulated failures had begun as a slow moving tidal wave affecting airline operators such as Southwest being forced to leave Newark. Now, as the plane’s future remains unclear, aerospace supply chains have begun to feel the pressure as well. Boeing, just a week ago — halted the production of the Boeing 737 Max airplane. As many as 8,000 suppliers and third-party vendors will be affected by the halted production.

Not good.

Donald Judd’s Furniture

Donald Judd, was a truly wonderful artist. He was a Texan, a self-proclaimed minimalist (many attribute the term’s ubiquity and elevated definition to his contributions). He was a pioneer in fabrication methods, a prolific furniture designer, and finally an architect.

Judd once purchased a beautiful cast-iron, five-story building at 101 Spring Street, in New York City and it still stands today. It’s where his foundation is currently headquartered in New York. His work, (such as the one pictured below) is transcendent, stimulating ephemeral works. Often bold, they create little spaces and jettison outward from walls or floors with sharpness and arresting hues:

Untitled, 1991. Donald Judd. Photo via David Zwirner.

While Judd died in 1994, tragically from lymphoma (fuck cancer), the Judd Foundation lives on. It is a non-profit, dedicated to preserving and maintaining the life and works of Donald Judd. The foundation also happens to offer scholastic programs and internships to practicing artists. They even have some of Judd’s furniture design fully fabricated for sale. Sales benefit the foundation’s mission and helps keep the lights on. Some pieces in particular are quite striking:

I don’t know about you, but most of these are just completely divine. I highly recommend visiting the shop here, and check out the rest of the catalog.

Micronations

Very few micronations exist. Microsnations, by definition are self-proclaimed (and often unrecognized countries). Only about 67 exist, as of writing according to research from Quartz. My favorite tid-bit from Quartz’s research is the micronation Zaqistan, which is located in Utah. If you’ve ever been to Utah, you know how comical this is. There is, and I am not understating this — nothing out there.

Don’t believe me? That’s ok. Here is Zaqistan on Google Maps. Take a peak at that aerial view. Here are the coordinates for your GPS if you ever want to trek out there: 41.440006, -113.427229

If you really want to go the mile you can apply for a passport from Zaqistan’s (or is it Zaq Landsberg’s) website:

Zaqistan is small, remote and bound on all sides by the United States. It is as of now unrecognized by any other country. It is NOT POSSIBLE to travel to Zaqistan without going through the United States. Zaqistan is a fledgling, developing nation.

There are no living facilities, no roads, and no water in Zaqistan, it is not possible to live in Zaqistan. We currently visit Zaqistan for only a few days of the year, and no one lives there year round.

Away CEO Steph Korey Replaced After Verge Investigation

Zoe Schiffer, at The Verge writes:

Away CEO Steph Korey is stepping down, just four days after an investigation from The Verge highlighted the company’s toxic culture. Korey, one of the luggage brand’s co-founders, will be replaced with former Lululemon executive Stuart Haselden, though Korey will still continue on as executive chairman.

Stuart Haselden has impressive credentials. For one, he’s an Army veteran. Changing company culture is hard work, just look at Uber. It doesn’t happen overnight. Perhaps, he is just what Away needs.

His previous work at Lululemon, Saks and J. Crew were pretty long stints, totaling nearly two decades. Almost his entire professional career has been at the crossroads of retail and finance. Something tells me that Haselden, an Auburn alum (Tim Cook’s alma mater), just might be up to the task of turning around Away’s toxic work culture:

Haselden’s mandate will likely involve turning around Away’s company culture, and he may have relevant experience. Lululemon faced its own reports of toxic management, which culminated in CEO Laurent Potdevin’s resignation last year. In the aftermath of the scandal, Haselden took control of the company’s people and culture functions — the teams that are directly responsible for creating a healthy working environment.

Colorful Aerial Image of City-center of Rome

Near the city-center of Rome, lies the Vatican City (which is technically it’s own country and is one of the few countries who is unable to host foreign embassies on their soil). Much of Rome and Vatican City is so unbelievable beautiful. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the real expert — Anthony Bourdain. It’s one of my personal favorite episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. The food alone, is reason to visit the region.

Right next to Vatican City is the small, quaint, and just gorgeous little neighborhood of Prati. It looks just as charming at sea-level as it does from above (via Daily Overview):

Maxar’s Incredible Low-angle Photograph of NYC

The Maxar Worldview-3 satellite is a high-resolution commercial satellite armed with an impressive 31cm panchromatic resolution DSLR camera. Kottke shared this impressive low-angle shot the camera took of NYC:

Here’s a tighter crop which includes the Hudson river, East New Jersey, lower Manhattan, and Brooklyn (Prospect Park is huge!):

The Maxar Worldview-3 satellite is still in service today. It is not to be confused with the Maxar Worldview-4 satellite, which failed and ultimately lost control of the satellite mid-orbit earlier this year.

David Harbour’s Cozy Reconstructed New York Loft

Juliet Izon for Architectural Digest writes:

Then, after about three years of searching, he came across a space in the Nolita neighborhood that he describes as an uncut gem. “It didn’t look like much,” he says of the building, which was once a wagon wheel factory. “The floors were uneven, there was crappy drywall. There were two bathrooms placed right next to each other that served no purpose other than to make it a two-bathroom. It was just a crazy space that clearly hadn’t been touched since the ’70s.” And, since it made a pretty terrible first impression, the price was right. Harbour also knew he would be shooting in Atlanta for nearly a year, which meant he had the time to complete a “soup to nuts” renovation and didn’t need to worry about where he would live in the interim.

This is a proper way to reconstruct a home. You go out, and buy a some under-appreciated piece of property, give it some love, and before you know it, you have your self a lovely cozy little next you can call home.

Kyle O’Donnell, of Gramercy Design was hired by Harbour (at the referral of his business manager it appears), and it does not disappoint. It’s stunningly beautiful. I highly recommend watching the video the magazine produces for the piece on David Harbour. It’s lovely, charming and the vintage NYC loft isn’t over-the-top. It’s simple, utilitarian, filled with greenery, cozy corners and candelabras (but they’re not always there):

And it has four taps. Everybody who always comes in here is always like, four taps? Why four taps? It’s like why not four taps? I don’t understand why everyone gets so — but you can, you know, turn them all on and it fills up very quickly. I love this bathroom. I think it’s great.

And I don’t want to throw Kyle under the bus, my architect designer, who’s fantastic and who designed this thing. I love him. We knew you guys were coming today. It was a lie when I pretended like I didn’t know that you were coming. We knew you were coming and so we art directed a little bit of the apartment, one of which is Kyle likes these candelabras. And we put these big candelabras [into the bathroom]. I don’t want you to think that I’m a big candelabra bathtub type guy.

Photography by Max Burkhalter for Architectural Digest.

Visit Architectural Digest for the rest of the photography and video.

Interfaces, People and Machines: Good Design Goes Beyond Just Good Looks

Interface: people, machines, design, is a new show exhibiting at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in New South Wales, Australia. From the exhibition’s description:

Interface: people, machines, design explores how design has been applied to information technology products; about how a handful of companies made complicated technology appealing and easy to use. What they did effectively was, look at what you do, think about what you need and create what you want. Interface is about the visionaries who started some of the great consumer product companies of the 20th century, including Olivetti, Braun and Apple, and how the designers and engineers they hired found a means of imparting their ideals into the products they designed.

I’m a huge fan of user-centric design. We often forget that everything is designed. While most items are not thoughtfully designed, the most successful are (and therefor, plenty of products are emulations or forked from original products without permission, such as mass-market SEM watches). The Conversation has an excellent summary of the exhibit core-focus on human-centric engineering and design:

While we nowadays associate interfaces with digital computing, this show suggests we should think otherwise. Tactile buttons, knobs, dials and machined surfaces abound.

[…]

Featuring the work of well-known designers such as Dieter RamsJonathan IveEttore SottsassSusan Kare and Peter Behrens, the show does more than acknowledge the genius of the “superstar”. It also presents an “archaeology” of how material, function and form morph across time.

More than this, Interface underscores the importance and continuity of what we now call “user-centered design”. It shows this across a range of practices – and not just modern information design.

2+7 Telephone. Designed by Marcello Nizzoli, made by SAFNAT, Italy, 1958. Powerhouse Museum
Divisumma 18 portable calculator, designed by Mario Bellini, made by Olivetti, Italy, 1973. Photo: Powerhouse Museum. Powerhouse Museum

Microsoft Announces New Next-gen Console, Xbox Series X

Pretty big announcement from Microsoft happened yesterday. Tom Warren for The Verge reports:

Microsoft has been working on Xbox Series X under the name Project Scarlett previously, and today’s naming follows confirmation from Sony that it’s choosing PlayStation 5 for the name of its next console. Microsoft is also claiming Xbox Series X will be the “fastest” and “most powerful,” in what could be a reference to having a more powerful console than Sony’s PlayStation 5.

Earlier this month, Project Scarlett (the alias the Xbox has been known as up until now), officially became Phil Spencer’s (Phil is Microsoft’s Head of Xbox) primary console at his home:

Well, now we have a few more details, and can expect it to go on sale in 2020. It kinda looks like a boxy Mac Pro with a slot-loading disk drive. While we don’t have a list of specs or internal photography, looking at this design so far I would be concerned about thermals. The Mac Pro wrestled with that problem til the very end, and the Series X is supposed to be playable resting upward or on its side like a soundbar.

Here’s the new trailer, it’s a little over-the-top, but definitely a tour-de-force of creative CGI that can be appreciated. The console appears around 1:18

Here’s a few stills from the video:

Urban Rats are Evolving at Super Speed

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“Raspbaby Yoda” Raspberry Pie

I hope you’ve been following The Mandalorian on Disney+. Wether you have (or have not) seen the show yet, matters not. All you need to know is, Baby Yoda, (or as he is officially known, The Child) is pretty much the cutest thing ever to grace the Star Wars universe.

What happens when you combine stellar baking artistry and a love for the cutest alien sidekick ever? You get a Raspbaby Yoda. Get it?

You can follow this incredible pie artist here on Instagram (via u/ThePieous on Reddit).

Duolingo Earns $100M in Annual Bookings, Raises $30M from Alphabet

Duolingo’s Premium subscription offering, which launched in 2017, has contributed to a meteoric increase in annual bookings. It continues to invest more and more R&D into AI and machine learning to power its tutoring software and growth. Duolingo raised some serious money from Alphabet bringing the total valuation of the charming Pittsburgh startup, to roughly $9 billion:

Popular language learning app Duolingo has raised $30 million in a series F round of funding from Alphabet’s investment arm CapitalG. […]

Duolingo claims 30 million users are actively learning languages on its platform, and it has emerged as one of the most downloaded educational apps globally. Since its last funding round more than two years ago, it has more than doubled its employees from 95 to 200 and has opened additional offices in Seattle, New York, and Beijing. It also now claims annual bookings of $100 million after it launched its premium plan in 2017, a significant increase from the $33 million it drew in last year.

(via VentureBeat)

The ‘No Time To Die’ Trailer is Here and it Looks Smashing

There’s so many awesome names in this production it’s not even funny. I simply cannot wait for this release. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Daniel Craig, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Barbara Broccoli, Lashana Lynch and Christoph Waltz.

If the name Cary Joji Fukunaga sounds familiar, it’s because you know his handy-work. He was Executive Producer on the first season of True Detective for which he took home an Emmy for his work. He directed the powerfully fantastic film, Beasts of No Nation, and directed the Netflix mini-series, Maniac.

This Bond film is going to be a record-setter.

Arcade Game Typography

I have nothing but praise for those who study niche topics like these. Toshi Omagari of MonoType, studied typography at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. He’s worked alongside big brands like H&M, and he’s previously contributed to Google Noto, and more notably introduced Tibetan Script support to Google Noto which is spectacular work. He helped resurrect Metro Nova from the dead.

Omagari has a limited-release book coming out (sufficed to say, it’s already sold-out but you can buy the paperback version here on Amazon). He has meticulously researched the wonderfully niche topic of video game typography and it’s freaking awesome:

The first book of its kind – a definitive and beautifully designed survey of ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s arcade game pixel typography. Exhaustively researched by author Toshi Omagari (a celebrated typeface designer at Monotype UK) Arcade Game Typography gathers together 250 pixel typefaces, all carefully chosen, extracted, redrawn and categorised by style, and each with an accompanying commentary by Omagari. The title also features 4 illustrated essays on videogame typography theory and practice, documenting the unique advantages and challenges presented to designers of these bold, playful and often quirky alphabets.

A beautifully produced celebration of the eclectic typography featured in hit games such as Super Sprint, Pac-Man, After Burner, Marble Madness, Shinobi, as well as countless lesser-known gems. Unlike print typefaces, pixel type often has colour ‘baked in’ to its characters, so Arcade Game Typography looks unlike any other typography book, fizzing with life and colour.

Love this bit about the original 1978 Space Invaders typography (image below):

The original game, and most of the clones, featured the above typeface, copied from Tank 8 with a minor modification to M.

Photos via Read-Only Memory
Left page: RoboCop 2 (Data East/1991), Captain America and the Avengers (Data East/1991)
Right page: Spider-man: the Video Game (Sega/1991), Xexex (Konami/1991), X-men (Konami/1992)

PlayStation Turns 25

The single largest innovator in the video gaming space just turned 25 year old today. Before the PlayStation came around, controllers were bulky, console felt like outcasts in your entertainment center. Joysticks felt clumsy, games were mainly sold in cartridges. Sony brought a whole new edge to the at-home entertainment system market. From The Verge:

There’s plenty of credit to award when it comes to video game controller design. Nintendo pioneered the core button layout with the SNES (D-pad on one side, face buttons on the other), and both Nintendo and Sega beat Sony to shipping an analog thumbstick for their consoles. But ultimately, it’s Sony’s innovations and ideas that would go on to become the elemental base of what we think of as a “video game controller.”

There are two pioneering parts to Sony’s foundation of the modern controller. First is the original PlayStation controller that launched in 1994, which would establish the broad design (elongated palm grips, shoulder buttons, and the D-pad / face button combination). And then there’s the Dual Analog Controller from 1997 (followed by the more well-known DualShock models), which would change 3D games forever by offering a second analog stick: one to control a character and one to look around.

Check out The Verge’s PlayStation 25th Anniversary Issue here.

New Apple Variety, Cosmic Crisp, or WA38, Enters the Market

Who would have thought that a new apple variety would be such a huge ordeal? A cross-breed between the Honeycrisp and the Enterprise apple gave way to the Cosmic Crisp. A sweet, rigid, crisp, pretty and juicy apple variety that can allegedly last up to a year in refrigerators. A holy-grail, whose fruit finally came to bare after 20-year’s of research and cross-breeding.

I wouldn’t call a new apple variety “game-changing.” However, a variety that can last longer than a few months in refrigeration is no small feat. I’ve never understood the Washingtonian penchant for Red Delicious. Maybe the Cosmic Crisp will become the new Pacifc Northwest favorite. Production of the classic red apple has been in decline for a while now. Personally, I favor the Gala, Fiji or Honeycrisp variety. Then again, there are quite a lot of cultivars out there to chose from.

The New York City Subway Map as You’ve Never Seen It Before

I love interactive stories like these. This story, was written by Antonio de Luca and Sasha Portis at the New York Times. It begins here:

In 1979, responding to complaints from riders that the subway map was difficult to use, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hired the Manhattan design firm Michael Hertz and Associates to create a new map.

That map. The problematic Massimo Vignelli (RIP) subway map designed in 1972, and it was cool-looking but wow, was it unusable:

No wonder Vignelli’s map only lived 7 years. It’s pretty difficult to find these lying around anymore, but you can find them for sale on eBay. You used to be able to even find them at old subway stations, still plastered up on waypoints or platform corkboards.

Portis and de Luca did an outstanding job on this interactive Times story. If you enjoy trains or even New York history, you’ll love this story. Read it here.

Lil Bub, the Internet’s Favorite Cat Has Died

From Mashable:

On Monday, Lil Bub’s human, Mike Bridavsky, shared the sad news on social media, along with a side-by-side photo composite featuring the first and last photo the two took together.

Per the post, Lil Bub was born in June 2011 and passed away on Sunday, Dec. 1. She was born with several genetic anomalies, including a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis, disproportionately small limbs, a lack of teeth, and an extra toe on all four paws. According to Bridavsky, before she died she was battling an “aggressive bone infection.”

Rest easy Lil Bub, you showed us love and you will be missed 💔. Lil Bub passed away at the young tender age of 8, but may she will live on forever in our hearts.

The Library That Almost Wasn’t, Hunters Point Community Library

Libraries, all-too-frequently, are sadly neglected. They serve so many wonderful purposes. They are civil centers, repositories of information, waypoints of knowledge and are doorways to other worlds. What should be celebrated is often left to decay. Libraries for many, are their own personal Room of Requirement. In short, libraries are awesome.

The Hunter’s Point Branch of the Queens Public Library almost didn’t happen. Classic New York City problems, time and money:

Over the years, it became a poster child for the perils of public architecture in New York, as if the ambition of its design and not the city’s broken bureaucracy was to blame for the library’s extended timetable and escalating budget.

From the start, pea counters in the city’s Office of Management and Budget didn’t see why Hunters Point needed a big fancy library, notwithstanding all the new apartment towers going up, bringing in droves of young families. The pea counters held the project up. Delays raised costs.Over the years, it became a poster child for the perils of public architecture in New York, as if the ambition of its design and not the city’s broken bureaucracy was to blame for the library’s extended timetable and escalating budget.

Behold this stunning, marvelous, and albeit slightly self-indulgent piece of New York architecture.

Looking upon the library from Manhattan
The exterior
The interior is awash in warm sunlight throughout the day and has plenty of cozy corners to curl up into

The New York Times has some incredible stunning photography of the library. You can view all the photos here.

The Motorola RAZR is Back

Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge reports:

The hinge is also a bit stiff so you won’t be able to just whip it open with a flick of a wrist — closing it with one hand also involves some more finger contortions to start the closing action. It’s just more practical to close it with your other hand.

Even with these caveats, the whole opening and closing mechanism is supremely satisfying to do, with crisp snaps in both directions. Snapping the phone shut to hang up on a call is a particular delight; there really is no better way to end a call than the classic flip phone snap, and it’s excellent to see that Motorola has kept it alive here. The hardware feels great, too, with solid-feeling stainless steel and glass on the outside and a wonderfully textured back that’s nice and grippy, which is essential for not dropping it while flipping it open and shut. (It is a fingerprint magnet, though.)

A freaking… hinge! Did you hear that?!

Photo: The Verge

Pretty wild right? What year is this? Check out The Verge’s review video below. At the 1:20 mark, Chaim makes a fantastic point. All the other foldables seem to have run into the same problem. They all have terrible hinge designs, among other unmemorable product design issues. For other unknown reasons, most of the other devices fold hamburger style instead of hotdog. Perplexing really. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Fold? It was atrocious, and If you recall, it failed spectacularly.

Sure, the new RAZR isn’t exactly the most beautiful smart device either. It does after all run on Android and will likely employ Google RCS. Nonetheless, it does raise some eyebrows. It brings Motorola back into the fray, and it brings the flip back to smart phones in such a memorable way. One major upside for this design? No more glass screens, which means no more cracked screens for those that fumble (myself included). I think that’s a bright future we can all hope for.

Overall, I’m not sure if I would love it owning a RAZR (I never owned the original RAZR in the first place, but I did own a Sidekick 3 once upon a time), but it has certainly piqued my interest. I think it’s entirely possible that this foldable mobile-device paradigm just might make a comeback. What do ya’ll think?

Texas: The Big State

I have a deep love for The Lone Star State. Every inch of Texas feels like home to me. I was born in Texas, and I would prefer to be buried there.

It’s a place that is seemingly boundless in resources, kindness and wholesome kinships (for those unaware, the state motto is simply, friendship). I advise everyone to take a road trip sometime through the heartland of Texas via its highway arteries: I-35, I-30, I-20, I-45 and I-10 and befriend some Texans in far-away places. There are so many treasures that dot the landscape in pretty much any direction. Buc-ee’s, Whataburgers, kolaches, and breweries and all! Texas has thick forests, wide canyons, rocky mountains, wild rivers, deserts, beaches, thousands of gigantic lakes, farms, big cities, sleepy towns, historic sites and BBQ like you wouldn’t believe.

Texas also has a history unlike any other state in the union. One might say that turmoil, drama, oil, entertainment and entrepreneurship are the tenets of Texan culture. Speaking of entertainment — enter Dallas SMU’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection. It has a remarkable video/film archive. Within its vast collection are film prints, tapes, reels, and television tapes. The archive was originally known as the Southwest Film/Video Archives, but was later renamed after its founder Dr. William Jones. Yesterday, they posted a new video, highlighting Texas treasures and culture from 1952:

This film in particular is interesting. It was produced by The Dudley Pictures Corporation. The motion picture company takes its name from the esteemed and legendary travelogue producer, Carl Dudley. The company completed a number of remarkable and charming travelogues which have been compiled into a handy YouTube playlist here. The playlist description reads:

Carl Dudley was best known for his 1958 production of Cinerama’s South Seas Adventure, but throughout his career produced more than 300 “travel adventures” as he preferred to call travelogues. Dudley was born in 1910 in Little Rock, Arkansas aboard his father’s Ward & Wade Minstrels Show train. In 1935, inspired by seeing the film Mutiny on the Bounty, he traveled to Tahiti, Australia and India, supporting himself by working on film crews. He landed back in Hollywood in the late 1930’s and worked briefly as a screenwriter. In 1944 he started Dudley Pictures Corp which produced the series This World of Ours and This Land of Ours for theatrical and educational distribution. He died of a heart attack in Hong Kong on September 2, 1973.

Without further distractions, here’s Texas: The Big State (skip to 13:18 for Fort Worth and TCU)

5 True Tales of Manhattan

Lorri Cramer, is a New Yorker who re-habilitates turtles in her Upper West Side apartment. The last Cuban-Chinese restaurant (La Caridad 78) in Manhattan. The best Jazz in NYC can be heard in Marjorie Eliot’s apartment in Harlem every Sunday. New York can be a tough place for the birds — meet the city’s only bird clinic called the Wild Bird Fund. Lastly, NYC can be lonely, Mr. Jones Supper Club aims to solve that problem.

100 Drone Light Show

Firefly is a company focused on delivering highly choreographed drone shows for venues, performances and entertainment. It takes a lot of time and money to get FAA certified these days for piloting a single drone. Programming a fleet of these is really remarkable, and takes some serious planning and skill. If you ask me, this much much cooler than a fireworks show.

A Lab-made Primordial Soup Yields RNA Bases

Looks like Stanley Miller and Harold Urey were onto something with their experiments back in 1952. Their classic abiogenesis research continues to be refined in a new experiment spearheaded by Thomas Carrell. From Nature:

Carell, an organic chemist, and his collaborators have now demonstrated a chemical pathway that — in principle — could have made A, U, C and G (adenine, uracil, cytosine and guanine, respectively) from basic ingredients such as water and nitrogen under conditions that would have been plausible on the early Earth. The reactions produce so much of these nucleobases that, millennium after millennium, they could have accumulated in thick crusts, Carell says. His team describes the results in Science on 3 October1.

The results add credence to the ‘RNA world’ hypothesis, says Carell, who is at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. This idea suggests that life arose from self-replicating, RNA-based genes — and that only later did organisms develop the ability to store genetic information in the molecule’s close relative, DNA. The chemistry is also a “strong indication” that the appearance of RNA-based life was not an exceedingly lucky event, but one that is likely to happen on many other planets, he adds.

The results, are essential to the Hot Spring Hypothesis and the origin of complex life on Earth. Pretty awesome!

FarmWise, and the Rise of the Agribots

From TechCrunch:

Automating agriculture is a complex proposition given the number and variety of tasks involved, but a number of robotics and autonomy companies are giving it their best shot. FarmWise  seems to have impressed someone — it just raised $14.5 million to continue development of its autonomous weeding vehicle.

Currently in the prototype stage, these vehicles look like giant lumbering personnel carriers or the like, but are in fact precision instruments which scan the ground for invasive weeds among the crop and carefully pluck them out.

A pretty impressive, lumbering, weed-pulling, beast-of-a-prototype. It looks like an absolute unit too:

Image: FarmWise

These sorts of bots have became very well known in the auto industry, the textiles industry, and now they’re coming to agriculture. Simply put, they’re designed to replace mundane awful tasks previously occupied by human hands. In the long-scheme of things, this is a good thing. Not-so-fun jobs should be automated. Improving the quality of life for mankind is a good thing.

But, if you think your job can’t be automated, think again. We have robots writing headlines and blog posts, self-writing their own programs, nailing roof tiles, and just about everything else (questionable or otherwise) in-between. That may sound really scary (and it is a little bit). The long-arc of these sorts of innovations will make create abundance with little effort, and will ultimately lead to a world where a majority the human-race are unemployable. I won’t claim to know the solution to that problem, but is an unavoidable outcome (see below) we should debate and talk about more freely, because it’s happening faster than you think.

I’m serious about the nail-gun wielding roofing-robot. It’s really something to behold:

Further Watching:

If you have 15 minutes and you’re convinced your job can’t be occupied by automation, I urge you to watch CGP Grey’s film, Humans Need Not Apply. It’s a gripping must-watch short.

The Mask of Sorrow

Image via Wikipedia, Сергей Ковалев

From Wikipedia:

[The Mask of Sorrow] is a monument perched on a hill above MagadanRussia, commemorating the many prisoners who suffered and died in the Gulag prison camps in the Kolyma region of the Soviet Union during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. […]

It consists of a large concrete statue of a face, with tears coming from the left eye in the form of small masks. The right eye is in the form of a barred window. The back side portrays a weeping young woman and a headless man on a cross. Inside is a replication of a typical Stalin-era prison cell. Below the Mask of Sorrow are stone markers bearing the names of many of the forced-labor camps of the Kolyma, as well as others designating the various religions and political systems of those who suffered there.

Lost at 15

From SyFy Wire:

What separated Lost from the pack is that it had compelling characters, a great cast, and an enticing mystery that invited fans to solve it. Lost was one of the first shows to embrace AR storytelling, which has now become ubiquitous. Other networks, and even ABC itself, tried to recreate Lost‘s magic formula … and have yet to find a way to recapture that lightning in a bottle.

But all good things come to an end, and that’s the biggest problem some people have with Lost: the ending. It must have been impossible to craft a conclusion that would please everyone, but the Lost finale was unusually divisive. Some even claimed that it retroactively ruined the show for them. We wouldn’t go that far. If the Lost finale had truly been that bad, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show’s beautifully convoluted mythology a decade and a half later.

LOST was monumentally epic (just read through some of the comments on this forum thread at MacRumous, classic). It had a mythology that captivated millions (and continues to do so to this day). It was ahead of its time, inspired countless sci-fi series, horror anthologies, films, and kicked Bad Robot Productions into override to produce sleeper hits such as, 10 Cloverfield Lane. It led Abrams to the directorial helm in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lastly, until HBO’s Game of Thrones, LOST previously held the contrarian title of worse series finale ever.

LOST was and continues to be so important to me. I think I might be overdue for a re-watch. We have to go back…