« Please read this now | Main | Apple Blossom Time »

May 24, 2017


F'in Klingon kids, playing with the dimmer switch.

Someone needs to tell them to knock it off.

Warming up Starkiller base.

This is one of those "clearly we don't know everything, by a long ways!" cases

Yes indeed. I've been thinking about this a lot in relation to medical "science," because there's someone in my life dealing with a constellation of issues that no one can pinpoint the cause of, or a remedy for.

Or just think about the shifting conventional messages about healthy eating over the past fifty years.

We have a long way to go.

I think it's important to note that Tabby's Star was discovered by a crowdsourced citizen-scientist project. When people say "but what will people DO, if they get a basic income & don't need to work to survive?!?" -- one of the things they'll do is more science. The main thing, in my experience, is more music, performance, & art -- but a lot of people *like* doing science, too, and there's more of it to be done than there are ways to make it someone's paid job.

I intended to mention the crowd-sourced involvement when I noted that the phenomenon was found from photographs. But I blew. Thanks for catching that, Dr S.

I think one thing we could improve on is publicizing the opportunities for people to get involved in science. Just for one other kind of opportunity, think how much it would benefit psychology to have a pool of subjects who aren't undergraduates. And it's something that requires zero previous training!

When people say "but what will people DO, if they get a basic income & don't need to work to survive?!?" -- one of the things they'll do is more science.

And engineering, particularly software.

From my time on the legislative budget staff, with permission to poke my nose into assorted software places, there are tens of billions of dollars worth of software -- at current billing rates for the companies that specialize in government systems -- that is going undone because the governments lack the money to pay for it.

From personal experience and listening to friends, there is a huge business opportunity to design hardware and software for contemporary household appliances. Essentially, to at-worst reverse engineer the control boards for ovens, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. Check with your friends -- I can almost guarantee that at least one of them has had a seven-year-old range or refrigerator "die" because the processor board croaked (most often, because a 25 cent electrolytic capacitor failed) and there were no replacements available.

I have been enormously tempted to create firm(s) that specialize in such projects and employ, with no salary or benefits, staff on Medicare and pensions. Flexible working hours. I can motivate plenty of staff simply by offering an opportunity to show "regular" businesses just how much talent they tossed away. There's an enormous amount of talent available, what's missing is organization.


An army of dishwasher hackers? I like it!


Have you heard of iFixit.org? Not exactly what you're talking about, but related.

If I had a modest but secure stipend to live on, I would spend my days making things and fixing things for my friends and neighbors, as well as myself. To be sure, I have an advantage over most people: my basement shop is full of tools accumulated over decades; it also contains piles of not-quite-raw materials, aka junk. Alas, I haven't had a chance to play in it for a couple of years now -- too busy earning a living. I may have to wait until Social Security kicks in.

Meanwhile, I did take apart and fix the motor of my mother's ancient Singer sewing machine last weekend, and will be fixing the lift mechanism of my car's driver's window this weekend, so that's some consolation.


I have hung on in the environmental industry for years by being the person who could tack old equipment into something (barely) usable. I lose my grip today (layoff), so I will have some time on my hands.

It is a mixed talent. My wife is pretty leery of letting me do 'good enough' home repairs, though she has learned to give a crack at the appliances before we toss them.

Some manufacturers want to make it illegal for users to hack their products. This has especially come to the fore with agricultural equipment. They want their customers to take the equipment out of production, haul to sometimes distant locations to certified repair shops instead of the users fixing it themselves.

The comments to this entry are closed.