The Big Think

September 1, 2009

The Real Flying Dutchman

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 7:39 pm

19 year old Jesse van Kuijk builds a giant human powered aircraft and takes to the sky.

Current Reading

Filed under: Current Reading,Disclosure — jasony @ 6:37 pm

Just finished reading, actually. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. A totally unexpected book I picked up only because Erin and I joke about how we know so many women named Katherine (or Catherine) and which turned into quite an outstanding book. It’s about a road trip, and hog hunting, and tampon strings, and 19 Katherines, and one genius. And anagrams. And a car called Satan’s Hearse.

And the misplaced body of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

And just because it’s relevant (though you can’t possibly know why): Thanks to Bill Robbins for, 17 years ago, singing Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire at exactly the right time.

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 3:10 pm

Pinewood Derby for adults! Sounds like a blast.

Plumb Loco

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 2:36 pm

Last night whilst cutting the veggies for our Giant Salad* I managed to plug up the garbage disposal pretty well. No problem, I thought, I’ll just let it run for a bit and it’ll work itself out. No dice. Uh oh, better bring the plunger** into the mix and try to force the obstruction out. No luck.

Uh oh.

So today I gathered all of my tools and prepared for an hours long trial of sink plumbing and garbage disposal disassembly to get the thing unstuck. I figured I would curse and yell for three hours before giving up and calling an expert who would charge me a hundred and fifty bucks to do the job in five minutes.

Imagine my surprise when I managed to get the thing disassembled, cleaned out, and correctly reassembled in less than half an hour. A bonus is that it now runs as well as it did the day we moved into the house.

It’s not often I do a more advanced home repair job and don’t feel like I’m a complete neanderthal with a pipe wrench. It was nice to turn on the breaker and switch and see it all running like it was installed by, you know, a guy with real butt crack credentials.

*a salad which is, in fact, giant, and contains enough different salady ingredients to give Brer Rabbit a tiny bunny rush.

**we bought a separate plunger just for working on the sinks because eww. Are you telling me some people use that plunger for the kitchen sink? Don’t tell me if you’re one of them, please.

Maytag Woes

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 8:20 am

Don’t think we’ll be buying a Maytag when our washing machine eventually dies. What a nightmare.


Filed under: Business,Quoth — jasony @ 5:59 am

“Many people blithely assume that the critical labor-market disctinction is, and will remain, between highly educated (or highly skilled) people and less-educated (or less-skilled) people- doctors versus call center operator, for example. The supposed remedy for the rich countries, accordingly, is more education and a general “upskilling” of the work force. But this view may be mistaken… The critical divide in the future may instead be between those types of work that are easily deliverable through a wire (or via wireless connections) with little or no diminution in quality and those that are not. And this unconventional divide does not correspond well to traditional distinctions between jobs that require high levels of education and jobs that do not.”
Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft, p. 33

I find this absolutely true, as the most important thing in the current economy is not overall education level or academic degrees, but instead the ability to communicate effectively and develop and keep relationships. These relationships are impossible to maintain over a long distance when you’re dealing with an adequate but impersonal service provider over a cheap Skype connection. Personal services in person almost always trump impersonal but cheaper business relationships done with an eye only toward the bottom line. Which would you rather deal with: a customer service rep who knows your name and the name of your kids, who has a genuine interest in your life and business, or one who is a ‘voice on the phone’ reading a script? Granted, some business models (tech support, for example) don’t require this level of personal involvement, but given a choice, I think most people would rather call a friend who handles your account than some faceless script-reading call center person on the other end of a Skype connection.

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