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Head Starts are Overrated

Never decide you are too old or too late to the game to try something new. “The tidy specialization narrative cannot easily fit even [the] relatively kind domains that have most successfully marketed it,” Epstein concludes. “So, about that, one sentence of advice: Don’t feel behind…research in myriad areas suggests that mental meandering and personal experimentation are sources of power, and head starts are overrated.”

 Ephrat Livni, “To thrive in a “wicked” world, you need range

The Human Factor

Horrible news today out of Ethiopia, with the loss of a second Boeing 737 MAX 8 resulting in the deaths of all aboard. I’m grateful to learn that the recorders have been recovered, though one was severely damaged. Hopeful Boeing and the authorities can piece things together quickly.

Reading the initial reporting on today’s incident, this amateur plane nerd’s first reaction was a single word: Prius.

Remember when shortly after the Prius hit the mainstream there was a series of unfortunate events involving vehicles and their occupants sailing through hedge bushes and shopping mall storefronts? Toyota did eventually issue software updates to help prevent crashes, but over time the platform also became familiar to the public. Now, we see more and more models with push button starts and unconventional shift levers and transmissions.

This is the Prius, at scale. Boeing is already working with the FAA to deploy software updates to improve safety, and I’m sure they will help prevent future events. But training and familiarity with an aircraft and, now more than ever, it’s software, will always win the day. Like when you hit birds and determine your best bet is to go for a swim.

Further Reading

…on “we are experiencing high call volume…”

If I call your company’s 24 hour support hotline at nine on a random Sunday night and the first thing that comes on the line is your front-end message announcing “unusually high call volume,” what you really are telling me is that you not only don’t care about service you’re giving your customers, but don’t care how routinely overworked your call center staff is as well.

“We are experiencing high call volume” is just like “please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed” – they are the “under construction” clip art of the 21st century IVR system. Just don’t use it.

That Corned Beef Sandwich Steals the Spotlight, Again

John Young died January 5 at the age of 87. He was NASA’s longest-serving active astronaut, having flown two missions each for the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs. He commanded the maiden Shuttle flight, taking the Columbia out for a spin with Bob Crippen. He was also one of only three people in human history who returned to the moon for a second visit.

But despite his storied career and extensive experience as a master spaceman, his accomplishments have always seemed overshadowed by an incident onboard Gemini 3. Continue reading “That Corned Beef Sandwich Steals the Spotlight, Again”

I wish I was the person my Pocket reading list says I am — Quartz

“Maybe you have an account with Pocket, or Instapaper, or Flipboard, or a reading list on your browser or Kindle. In theory, these are exceptionally useful places to store intriguing reading for more convenient times.

“But I suspect a lot of people use Pocket in the way I use Pocket: less as a practical tool than a type of intellectual hoarding. It’s a place to put the ideas I’m certain I’ll make room for, someday. It’s the digital equivalent of the stacks that used to litter the homes of voracious readers in the pre-Internet era: months’ worth of The New Yorker, yellowing newspaper sections, anthologies plucked from the library book sale.”

Source: I wish I was the person my Pocket reading list says I am — Quartz

On Privacy in a Social Network

(Ringer illustration)

I’m fine living in a world where John Mayer is celebrated but I’m not fine living in a world where John Mayer is celebrated without the appropriate corresponding level of remorse. Spotify recently nixed its much-loved but infrequently used direct messaging feature, citing low engagement. Instead of getting rid of features, however, what Spotify needs most of all is a healthy sense of shame.

Source: Every Spotify Session Should Be a “Private Session” by Kate Knibbs