Tech Tuesday 11/7/17 – Hulk Edition

Oscar Gordon

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget.

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91 Responses

  1. pillsy says:

    [Bio7] Um, OK:

    Compound based on iridium kills cancer cells by filling them with deadly version of oxygen when activated by laser light – without harming healthy tissue

    Deadly Version of Oxygen is the name of my progressive metal band.Report

  2. Bert The Turtle says:

    [Aero2] – One more example of nominative determinism. “Scott Hall, a doctoral student in aerospace engineering at U-M, carried out the tests at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland”

    [Mat2] -That press release seems to claim a bit more than is warranted if I’m reading it right. The silver + graphene manufacturing process they’re talking about is only for the electrode that gets attached to the glass substrate. To get an actual bendy touch screen you still need a bendy substrate. Plastic scratches too easily for smartphone use, but it could absolutely go on something like Willow Glass.

    [Mat3] – I saw this one on Boing Boing yesterday. I’m curious how robust the nano patterns are against finger swipes (damage, grease entrainment, etc) and whether they would work with the chemically strengthened glass that is used in most phone screens. Still, it could be useful for reducing Fresnel losses on the unexposed side of glass in sealed systems like solar cells.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Bert The Turtle says:

      I think you are right about Mat2, but the article wasn’t exactly clear about it, and I don’t have access to the paper. I doubt the process would result in the screen shown in the image, that is way too thick. Willow Glass, on the other hand, is pretty cool. First I’ve heard of it.Report

  3. Morat20 says:

    [Aero2] I thought I’d drop in the random reminder that the EM Drive still, apparently, works. Which is both awesome and upsetting. I think a number of physicists are now poking the thing with metaphorical sticks, trying to figure out any plausible mechanism that can generate thrust.

    Or poking at NASA’s testing, trying to figure out how they could have screwed up.

    (Fun fact: I know people who had to fabricate some sensor rigs for that test. They had quite a bit of difficulty vacuum and temperature hardening sensors good enough to pick up on thrust levels that low).Report

    • veronica d in reply to Morat20 says:

      Wouldn’t it be cool if physicists were totally wrong about stuff.Report

      • veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

        Speaking of which, I really need to study more science stuff. The other day a couple of my friends nerd-sniped me, got me interested in Galois theory again, and now two weeks later I’m reading a book on category theory.

        ADHD — it’s a heck of a drug.Report

      • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

        depends if we still had an earth afterwards.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

        In the case of the EM drive, I don’t think you’ll find any flaws in basic physics (or not so basic physics). Everyone’s certain momentum is being conserved, for instance.

        You put energy in, work is done, thermodynamics isn’t violated. The confusion is how it’s applying force, exactly.

        So I suspect it’ll end up being something akin to “One weird trick you can do with virtual particles” or something like that, or — still more likely — some weird experimental error. (Although as more people test the thing, that’s decreasing in liklihood).

        In this case, my fingers are crossed for it being “One weird trick you can do with physics” because even un-optimized (it’s really unlikely that the current configuration is the most efficient, given nobody is 100% sure how energy is being turned into thrust), it produces enough thrust to work.

        And reactionless drives are the Holy Grail of rocketry. Of course, that also makes it sort of the perpetual motion of rocketry, meaning there’s a zillion “reactionless drives” that don’t work.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

      Maybe they should point the thing at the tub of superfluid helium, see if anything happens.Report

    • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

      My wager it is doing something like this, but instead of ejecting combustion products, it’s ejecting EF mass with some momentum.

      • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

        So your theory is that it’s…a rocket? You know, moves by tossing something very light very fast out the back end, or something very heavy very slow out the back end?

        Yeah, that’s the problem. It doesn’t toss anything.

        There’s nothing to toss. They bounce around some EM radiation in a resonator cavity and the thing apparently (by the best tests NASA could come up with, and NASA was pretty certain it was BS) generates thrust. It’s not doing it thermally, it’s not somehow pushing off the earth’s magnetic field, it’s not doing it using some weird trick with air (they tested it in vacuum, various temperature regimes, and in various orientations).

        The closest to “rockets as known to man” I’ve seen anyone hypothesize is that it somehow manages to orientate and use virtual particles for the brief span they exist, like an ion drive with imaginary ions.

        Honestly, at this point I’m not sure if someone’s trying to figure out it’s an aetheric drive built by one of the Sons of Ether.Report

        • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

          That’s my theory, I would have to sit down with some EMF guys to really work through it. If it is ejecting some tiny amount of EF, there would have to be a way to pick it up. It would run fine in a vacuum.

          EF doesn’t have much mass, and it doesn’t appear to be ejecting it very fast, or all this would be more pronounced.

          As a side note, cavity resonance is a pretty gutless wonder in producing thrust to start with, but it can be helped along.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

            If it is ejecting some tiny amount of EF

            What does “EF” stand for here? I tried googling “EF mass” to decode the acronym, but I don’t believe the EM Drive runs by tossing out an unusual form of Catholic worship out the back end.Report

            • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

              Electron Field, which has mass. Now how it is ejected, what part, how much, I admittedly only have ideas.

              Maybe we could try worshiping somewhere else, but when it comes to thrust, I’ve been baptized in the holy church of mass and acceleration.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Joe Sal says:

                If it is ejecting fully formed electrons, it’s nothing more than a complicated electron gun.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Joe Sal says:

                a complicated electron gun.

                Semi- or fully auto?Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Stillwater says:

                This one would be fully auto.

              • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

                If it fired electrons out the back end, it’d be an ion drive. (And an electron field…is an electron. Well, QFT views an electron as an excited state of a field, but same same)

                I don’t think you’re getting the “reactionless” part of the drive. It’s not tossing anything out the back end. That’s one of the things they tested for, and also there’s no actual source for crap to toss out the back end.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Hence my comment about aiming it at the tub of helium, maybe it isn’t reactionless, maybe it’s just kicking dark matter around.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

                I suppose you are correct, I am not buying it as a reactionless drive. My assumption is it is moving mass in a way not anticipated.
                If it’s not pinching a electron field and throwing it, then it’s probably throwing electrons, for whatever value can be attributed.
                Electron guns in open air have a pretty short mean free path, so I am not sure how to compare that to some open air ion drives.

                In vacuum the functions are pretty well known. The electron gun in vacuum will move mass without the requirements of additional gas, although the mass is very little.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Well, you not buying it as a reactionless drive is understandable. Nobody does, and yet it works.

                However, it’s not throwing electrons out the back end. You realize electrons don’t form ex nihlio, right? It’s an empty cavity. There’s no reaction mass to throw. And also they can actually track anything coming out the back end.

                To throw electrons out the back end, you have to give it electrons and then shove them out the back end. Nobody’s giving the thing electrons. It’s got no source of mass to throw, and nothing’s coming out the back end.

                An ion drive is a reaction drive, which requires feeding it reaction mass. Unless the EM fields in there are stripping matter off the resonating cavity itself, there’s nothing TO throw. And if they were, we’d notice the energetic matter coming out the back end. NASA has very sensitive instruments and I can promise they were looking for anything coming out the back end.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

                These discussions are always interesting. I am aware of what you have mentioned. The only thing that gets fuzzy is when we talk ion engines, as those can change how they function significantly between designs.

                The designer claims it is not a reactionless device, so I guess I am in good company. He mentions high Q and I think if that follows in the doppler shift to increase or decrease frequency that leads to change in electron velocity then he probably is using electron mass.

                In a way the claim that it doesn’t require propellant or mass is misleading in that Watts of energy are being input, and if your resultant is your moving electron mass, then it becomes one of those logical fallacy problems. I guess to strip it down to basics: ‘is electron mass a propellant?’. Since electron guns have already been reviewed as a thrust device, My opinion is yes, YMMV.

                Whether you have a magnetron or whatever weird antenna thingy pointing and sending waves, microwaves and such at a metal plate inside a resonator cavity, It gets kind of a thing about how electron emission could work there. I mean it’s not like there is a lack of metal and opportunity.

                The real interesting problem is if it is working fully closed system as claimed or if it is leaking electron mass. If there is a claim in change of velocity of the electrons internally, I would expect a counter velocity change to eventually, somewhere, cancel that out in a closed system. That’s a problem.

                It’s not a obvious electron gun. I could see why there is no real reason to test it as an electron gun. It’s not going to make a nice clear beam like a designed device would produce.

                Assuming the output would look a lot like noise from the input I don’t know how you isolate the measurements on a electronic/signal level.

                I would probably start by putting a phosphor plate close behind the back plate and see if it glows while in a vacuum at full power.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Assuming the output would look a lot like noise from the input I don’t know how you isolate the measurements on a electronic/signal level.

                Well, you start by hanging it in hard vacuum in a room as cold as possible (which is really, really cold). Then you point a ton of sensors at it.

                That’s what you do after the obvious tests like checking whether something is coming out the back end.

                Which is what NASA did. They hung it in an incredibly cold room (as close to 0 K as you can really get on earth for a room that big, in hard vacuum) and pointed a ton of sensors at it. They measured thrust, in significant (in the scientific sense) amounts, and no matter come out the back.

                Again — there are no electrons coming out the back end, because no source of electrons are coming in the front end.

                I guess to strip it down to basics: ‘is electron mass a propellant

                Yes. An electron has mass and therefore would be a type of ion drive. That’s how reaction drives work — you transfer momentum by shooting something out the back end (and conservation of momentum says if you toss something out the back in, you’re also moving yourself forward). With light things like ionized atoms, you shoot them out very, very fast.

                The problem with the EM Drive is there is no “something coming out the back end” so no one understands how it generates thrust, because either momentum is not conserved OR there’s something really squirrely going on. Energy is clearly conserved, but they’re not sure what it’s pushing against.

                And yes, they’d notice a stream of energetic electrons zapping out the back end of thus sufficient to generate even the tiny amount of thrust this thing generates. Because they’d have to be highly energetic, or else being expelled in truly staggering quantities. Electrons don’t weigh much, and the EM drive ain’t light.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

                Well, If we can agree that electron mass on it’s own is a propellant there is no need to continue talking ion drives or ionized gas. The reactionary mass is electron mass or on the QFT side electron field mass.

                If electron mass is enough to produce thrust then all is left is to determine if it is a closed or leaking system.

                The magnetron is in the front. I assume you know how electrons function in a magnetron, at the front, of this device.

                If they say they didn’t find electrons coming out the back, then I’m sure they didn’t find electrons coming out the back.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

                The RF cavity, the thing the magnetron fires into, is closed.

                So when they’re talking exhaust that can’t be measured, they’re talking microwave photons — in short that the closed walls might be transparent at that particular wavelength, and that somehow the shape of the cavity creates an destructive interference of photons that end up with a lopsided result and thus thrust.

                Thrust that tunnels through a metal wall to push on the other side.

                You can see why it’s annoying physicists. They’re pretty sure it’s experimental error somehow, but can’t find it. Because if it’s not, it’s some weird third degree quantum screwery.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

                Ha, yes I know many of the reasons why it’s frustrating. I wasn’t sure if the magnetron cavity had to be closed on this particular device. There is mention of the resonance with the cavity, so in the end I don’t know if it matters.

                Even if it just converts cleanly to microwaves, waves are still bouncing off that back plate, which creates a lot of other conditions.

                As long as it uses electron mass, and momentum is conserved it’s not too screwy, just regular Newtonian stuff. We may have to brush up on the way we think about electron mass and electron fields.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Joe Sal says:

                No, see if you fire into a closed chambers they’ll bounce off one wall and into another, and the system will balance — it’s closed — and so you don’t get thrust.

                That’s the basics. To go faster than you’re going now (in space), you have to throw something off the rocket. You have to shed mass. If all the motive force is coming from sending energy into a closed bucket, how are you shedding mass?

                Which is why, if it works, people are proposing weird stuff. Temporary mass you toss off before it disappears. Photons that mostly destroy themselves, but the ones that are left have a bias in one direction — and penetrate the walls and escape.

                If you’re not dumping mass, then you’re pushing off something — then you’re like a car. What can you be pushing off in space?Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Morat20 says:

                I think the claim is that the magnetron produces the photon waves, as the frequencies slows from the shape of the cavity, the electron velocity increases. Now what I find in some descriptions is the electrons then interact with the front plate.

                I suppose if the magnetron cavity was fairly open you would get the returning electrons/photons interacting with the mass of the electrons in the magnetron.

                I can understand both concepts, but i don’t buy either. My wager is still on electron mass exiting the back plate.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

                The scale differences certainly complicate measurement: watts, or tens of watts, in; microNewtons out. Any stray bits of thermal imbalance or odd magnetics are likely to produce more force than that.

                Also brings up the interesting question that even with several orders of magnitude improvement in performance, it still needs MWs or tens of MWs of electricity to produce enough thrust to move big masses around in reasonable times. That’s going to be a fun design problem all by itself.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

                It adds up pretty quickly in space, and not lugging reaction mass around is pretty sweet. Plus, you know, if it works and they can figure out why they can optimize.

                But yeah, the small amount of thrust has been a real issue in testing (hence me hearing people complain about trying to get sensitive enough instruments to work in not just hard vacuum, but as cold as you can get it — which, for NASA, means “pretty close to deep space”).

                You can’t optimize the design to produce more thrust because nobody knows why it’s thrusting. They can — and have — designed experiments to rule out every other form of thrust they can think of (pushing off the earth’s magnetic field, thermal oddities, running it with and without power, varying the power, etc) — and come up with results that basically say “yes, it’s producing real thrust in every orientation.

                Hence me thinking they’ll eventually toss one into space and see what it does over six months.

                Nobody, not even NASA, is convinced it works. NASA released their results because they ran out of ways to test it and couldn’t say “It doesn’t work”. (As best I can tell, they held onto the results for several months after the testing was done, running internal reviews trying to figure out where they’d screwed up. They weren’t able to find any thing, and neither has anyone else).Report

        • veronica d in reply to Morat20 says:

          Perhaps it runs on the power of love and rainbows.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Morat20 says:

      the EM Drive still, apparently, works. Which is both awesome and upsetting.

      If it’s real then we colonize the galaxy in a few thousand years.

      And the Fermi Paradox issue becomes much more, or much less, of a thing.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Morat20 says:

      @morat20 Just wanted to note that I shared this info with two of my STEM student workers who’d never heard of it before and we all spent considerable time reading back through the literature and trying not to squee too loud at the circ desk.

      Can’t believe it’s still holding up….

      Anyway, thanks for mentioning it.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Maribou says:

        95% chance it’s not doing what it looks like it’s doing. I think eventually someone’s just going to throw it in space, point it outward with a simple transponder, and see how long it goes.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Morat20 says:

          @morat20 Yeah, we all got that. (I was a STEM student once too.) But it’s SO INTERESTING, ennit?Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Maribou says:

            Yep. Not to mention, you know, if it works it does may exploring space a lot easier. (I mean sure, you have that ground-to-LEO issue still).

            Depends on efficiency. I suspect that if it works, figuring out HOW it works might lead to a more efficient design. It might not get up there with NASA’s latest ion jets, but it doesn’t need to if you’re not hauling reaction mass.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Morat20 says:

              First, I think we haven’t proven it works outside of the margin of error.

              2nd, if it does work… we’re exploring the local stars within the century, and within a million(ish) years we’ve totally settled/explored/conquered the galaxy, and there had better be a happy answer for Fermi’s Paradox.

              Happy answer is it’s really, really hard to get to this state in evolution. Unhappy answer(s)… may mean we’re extinct.

              And speaking of unhappy, as far as I can tell, a reactionless drive makes near-light speed weapons cheap and easy. Imagine history if Physics let the bronze era make fusion weapons.Report

  4. gregiank says:

    Bio6- This sounds like a really impressive achievement in Press Release-ology. It hits all the marks for taking speculative, very basic research and making it sound like far far more than it is. Even reading through the PR this sounds a bit out there: it’s a small N study though that is common with brain imaging, there are likely different paths to suicide depending on diagnosis and various medical problems so just using people with suicidal tendencies is pretty vague and you would need to follow a large number of people over years to see who actually suicides.Report

  5. Michael Cain says:

    Bio3: In my traditional role as killjoy, this article on why you can’t live forever.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I don’t really want to live forever. Longer would be nice, as would things not sucking so much near the end.Report

    • Brent F in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I’d have to read the actual work to be sure (and sounds like the work itself is sufficiently outside my wheelhouse that I wouldn’t be able to evaluate it), but it more sounds like they’ve demonstrated that your anti-aging technology has to be paired with highly effective anti-cancer therapies to be effective. Which I think most people reasonably informed about cell biology would have guessed at. So it may be more a story that you need to work both sides to promote the happy medium (which usually what you’re doing in medicine anyways) rather than the thing being impossible.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Brent F says:

        anti-aging technology has to be paired with highly effective anti-cancer therapies to be effective”

        I believe the phrase for that is “Duh and/or hello”. 🙂Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Michael Cain says:

      You can prove anything mathematically if you don’t limit yourself to premises that are true. They could have saved themselves some time and just started by assuming A ^ ~A. As far as I can tell from the article (and to be fair, science journalism is terrible, so this may not be an accurate description of the paper), the premise here is that aging is caused by senescent cells growing too slowly and cancer by cancer cells growing too quickly, and you can only selectively destroy one or the other. Left unexplained is why you can’t use one treatment to selectively destroy cancer cells and another to selectively destroy senescent cells, allowing healthy cells to dominate.

      In fact, both problems are under active research, and progress is being made. Slower than I’d like, certainly, but there’s no evidence that either is impossible.Report

  6. Michael Cain says:

    Env2: Vaguely related, in my infamous whole-house fan controller the brightness of the backlight is controlled by turning the LEDs off and on 500 times per second, and varying the percent of the interval when the LEDs are on. The other day I did an estimate and figured the LEDs have been been through 79 billion on-off cycles. So far…Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Now that they’ve figured out how to manage the color, LEDs are one of those technologies that will cause things to shift. I mean, in my house, right now, I have maybe a half dozen incandescent bulbs, which are mostly holdovers from the previous owner. The rest are LEDs, and only a few of those are the brilliant blue-white color LEDs were once limited to. The rest are warm white (2700K range). Can’t even really tell they are LEDs.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    Trolls are infiltrating supposedly kid-safe sites set up by tech giants with disturbing videos of beloved cartoon characters. Some of the videos themselves might be auto-generated:Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I read the Medium piece about that – it sounds right messed up…Report

      • Kazzy in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Does it? I read most of it but couldn’t generate the outrage. Does it matter if a shitty kids video is made by a human or a bot?Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

          Okay, I read more. Yes, these videos are problematic and should not be accessible to young kids. YouTube could probably take steps to tighten up controls. But realistically, the parents should be monitoring their kids’ media consumption.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I read that but was a bit wary.

      Partly because my son is 27, I don’t know what the landscape of children’s websites looks like.
      I’ve certainly never heard of any of those sites, and have no way of corroborating any of it.

      It could be spot on, but it could be another moral panic based on urban legend.

      Has anyone here with children experienced what the writer did?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        I can talk a bit because my girlfriend’s nephew likes to watch Youtube videos. There is a rule that he can only do it with an adult in the room. There videos with cursing at least, there could be more. Anyway, this isn’t “razors in the candy” but stuff that could be googled and found.Report

      • aaron david in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        My son is 22 so no direct view on any of those sites, but…


        Seriously, this isn’t hard.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to aaron david says:


          You know, he works with me now as an architect, and has become skilled enough now to show me how to do virtual building modeling with video tutorials.

          Not quite the same as the essay referred to, I think.Report

  8. dragonfrog says:

    [Tech5] One of the festivals I attended this past summer had on-site spectroscopy for testing drugs. The cops on site had promised they wouldn’t bust people for bringing in their drugs to test – they were, thankfully, more interested in preventing overdoses than padding their arrest numbers.

    I guess this device is intended for screening, not full analysis, so it might not be useful in that kind of scenario – figuring out whether you’re looking at the drug claimed with some harmless filler, or the drug claimed, some harmless filler, and a tiny bit of fentanyl…Report

  9. Chip Daniels says:

    And now, for a dissenting view…

    Let’s be really honest with ourselves: a brief glance at any structure designed in the last 50 years should be enough to persuade anyone that something has gone deeply, terribly wrong with us. Some unseen person or force seems committed to replacing literally every attractive and appealing thing with an ugly and unpleasant thing. The architecture produced by contemporary global capitalism is possibly the most obvious visible evidence that it has some kind of perverse effect on the human soul.


    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I like the modern variants of townhouses going up in cities like SFReport

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ve become a bit tongue in cheek regarding architectural style wars.

        While I dearly love traditional and traditional-inflected work, much of art and architectural criticism is premised in the idea that there is a zeitgeist, and room for only one true authentic expression so any contrary one becomes threatening to our understanding of our place in the world.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I’m a traditionalist in the whole ‘form follows function’ vein. This is not to say I can’t appreciate stylistic and artistic accents/flair in a design*, only that if the flair is going to significantly impact the cost of the project, it should have some function to justify the cost. This is why Frank Gehry just bugs me, he has designs whose form is just… form. The function, if there is one, is secondary to the form. It irks me.

          *Spent a long weekend at Disney’s Grand Californian, a hotel done in a craftsman style, with lots of accents and features in that style. So yes, the beams had decorative ends that jutted out into space, but they were still beams. And floors had hand-cut marble tiles laid into decorative floral patterns, but it still functioned as a floor. That kind of thing.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I’ve taken a cruise on Disney’s boats. They were done with unified, specific styles. The one we were on was Art Deco, and I believe the other one was done Art Nouveau.

            My wife — very much more in tune with that sort of thing than me — was rather impressed by how well done it was, and how they had not just clearly picked a theme, but that the ship had clearly been done with the same design team with the same unified vision.

            I think Disney’s two new cruise ships continued this (I believe one was done in each style). Disney, if nothing else, seems to understand the power of a singular, coherent “style”. (They also have ridiculously good customer service.)Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            It is ironic, that contemporary architecture does exactly what the Modernists hated
            They hated that a building’s shape had no relationship to what it did, or how it was constructed.

            Yet very few contemporary buildings have any “dialogue” or visible interaction between their construction, use, and shape..Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Yet very few contemporary buildings have any “dialogue” or visible interaction between their construction, use, and shape..


              Here we are in an age when we have materials and techniques that grants us a freer hand in design than every before, and to me it seems like Architects are spending more effort trying to be… how do I say this? Pretentious artists who get upset when people don’t appreciate their vision, because the building is painful to be in.

              They forget to other people have to use the space, not just their egos.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:


          I never ceased to be amazed about how many otherwise progressive people have their aesthetic preferences trapped in the Victorian era. There is a lot of good old-form architecture. I love a good Colonial style house or Brooklyn Brownstone if I could ever afford it. But I also love modern art and find it just as beautiful as a Turner. I have a general loathing of the Pre-Raphaelites which seems counter to most. People find the Pre-Raphaelites to be pretty, I think they are too false and idealized to be such.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I have a general loathing of the Pre-Raphaelite

            Because you are a leftist in good standing, I will let that one go.

            There is a surprisingly large amount of pre-modern sentiment in leftist thinking.
            Many of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement were socialists, like William Morris.

            The architect Leon Krier has made a lot of sharp explanations of how capitalism and modernism are linked.

            But of course, aesthetics take on the meaning we assign them.
            Remember how Classical architecture meant both democracy for Jefferson, and fascism for Speer.
            When I look at contemporary architecture I see consumerism, the aesthetic of personalized luxury and brand consciousness.

            But of course there isn’t any argument that can supercede your own eyes, and overrule what gives you delight and fulfillment.

            Which leads me to conclude that my aesthetic judgment is like yours, a personal preference in a world without a guiding zeitgeist.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I just can’t get over how clean and pretty their version of the Middles Ages is. It is a fantasy land that never-existed. I love a lot of older artists like Turner but much of 19th century art is nothing for me until you get to the Impressionists and their desire to paint En Plein Air.

              It isn’t Turner but I see a lot more beauty in a Richard Serra sculpture or a Donald Judd piece than a pre-Raphaelite painting of a noble knight or what not.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Yes, it is and its one that even I have be cautious about, since a lot of nasty assumptions about class and culture can be hidden among the beauty.

                However one feels about it though, it is striking that the mass production and consumption of modernity is found so lacking, don’t you think?

                That even as our lives have gotten better in many measurable ways, there is something lacking and unfulfilling.

                What I find fascinating is how AI, robotics, and the internet may be changing how we manufacture things.

                For example, is it possible that AI driven 3D printing can bring about Distributism, a decentralized way of making things?

                For example, mass production became efficient by reducing variety and individual choice; You could have a Model T in any color you wanted, so long as it was black.
                And it gained efficiency by mobilizing massive numbers of workers in a single facility, all headed by a single centralized command structure.
                At its height, I believe the River Rouge assembly plant has something like 100,000 workers.

                But AI and robotics turns this on its head; it doesn’t cost more to make things individually than it does en masse.

                Like for instance, what if your local Ford dealership also could make and assemble Fords as a franchise, the way MacDonald’s hamburgers are? The plans and specs for the cars are available online, and 3d printers and AI driven machines mill the parts to a custom specification selected by each customer from their home.

                And what if the cost of robotic assembled cars was cheap enough to allow local artisans and craftsmen to do the paint and upholstery of the car?

                AI, robotics, 3D printing, combined with a universal basic income could make this happen.

                In my romantic imagination at least.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            @saul-degraw ” how many otherwise progressive people have their aesthetic preferences trapped in the Victorian era.”

            I can’t bring myself to be moderator-level bothered about how you talk about architecture and fine art preferences, at least not today, but just for the record? This is an unnecessarily condescending way to phrase this point.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Maribou says:

              Speaking only for myself, dressed in my 1890’s style shirt, paisley vest and topped with a trilby, I took Saul’s comment as a compliment.

              But YMMV.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip-daniels I suspected you might, which is part of the reason I’m not particularly bothered :). Still when I see someone following the same negative pattern that has gotten them in moderator-trouble elsewhere, I feel that I should mention it.Report

  10. gregiank says:

    Not strictly tech but i did see it on the intertoobz. The elections seem to be going rather well for the D’s in Viriginia and other places. A socialist seems to be winning a state house seat in VA which is also notable and cool. Also first transgender state rep. Let the grist be gristed.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to gregiank says:

      Democrats won the VA Governor’s race and seem to be doing well otherwise.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to gregiank says:

      Good results big picture in NJ: won governors house, held or increased control in House and Senate. My area went GOP (though that’s largely fiscal cons in the NYC suburbs) but margins shrunk with same candidate slate as ‘15.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

        The Dems appear to have done very well in all the places where they were already strong: NE urban corridor and the parts of the West where they’re dominant or have been gaining ground.

        The most interesting result I’ve seen in Colorado was the Douglas County school board election (the county and school district share the same borders). Back story… Douglas County is by far the highest income county in Colorado. For a decade, the school board has been trying to create a voucher program that would allow district funds to go to private schools, including schools associated with churches. Every proposed program has worked its way up to the state supreme court, where the program was knocked down due to the state constitution’s ban on taxpayer money going to anything affiliated with a religious organization. Last time it looked like the board was going to appeal to the US Supreme Court. Then Scalia died and the board declined to spend another million or two of the district’s dollars with a 4-4 tie the best outcome they could realistically hope for.

        My understanding of “the new plan” was that with Gorsuch in place, and Trinity Lutheran Church decided, the board would revive the voucher program, take it up through the courts again, all the way to the SCOTUS this time. Yesterday, “the new plan” got kicked in the head when four anti-voucher candidates won seats on the board and are now the majority.Report