The Battle Inside
Right, so at this point, you might be asking yourself why I'm all of a sudden rambling about stress and work-life balance, and why I'm doing it here on flowXRG.
To me, this site is about thinking through ways in which the world can be changed for ...
Short-Cycling in the Death Zone
Stress is a Good Thing
The human stress reaction is a normal part of human physiology and it is a terrific biological adaptation. It helps us deal with intense or dangerous circumstances by dumping a ton of (awesome!) drugs into our bloodstream. Our...
Work-Life Balance is a Misnomer
The term "work-life balance" seems to imply a relative amount of time spent on work versus the amount of time spent with one's family, friends, and on hobbies. You get the idea that if you spend too much time at work, you don't have enough time for ...
Refusal is a Tactical Decision
This is the last of a three-part series on refusal.
Part I introduces the idea that there are projects that should not be built.
Part II posits that refusing to do that kind of work, and risking financial loss, can powerfully perturb the stat...
Dropping the Bomb: The Perturbation of Refusal
This is the second post of a three-part series on refusal.
Part I introduces the idea that there are projects that should not be built.
Part III clarifies that refusal is a tactical, and not necessarily a moral, decision.
Deep Green Bomb Factories
There are two ways to do something wrong.
You try to do something worth doing, but you botch it somehow.
You try to do something not worth doing. It doesn't really matter if you botch it or not because it shouldn't exist anyway.
Punk Engineering: Definitions
Definitions from Wikipedia.
Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom and anti-establishment views. Common punk viewpoints include anti-authoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action and not selling o...
The Materiality of Virtual Design Modeling
I've been doing virtual design modeling for building mechanical systems since 2009. That was about the time when Revit MEP, the main software tool I use, had advanced to the point where people generally considered them to be, finally, useful. There w...
The Concrete Lathe Project has a New Home
The Concrete Lathe Project has a new online home: oslathe.com
The site is still rough but some exciting stuff is coming up that we'll be posting about there.
My role on that project has been 3D design modeling, drawing prep, and a few other thi...
Lean Startups and Worldchanging: Thinking About Failure
I recently wrote about the importance of failure for learning and that as we ramp up to figuring out how to save the world, failure will be a critical part of our path and needs to be embraced. I stated that our culture is too failure-averse for what...
Radical Design Activism
Radical Design Activism. I've had these three words bouncing around inside my head for months now. I'm trying to figure out what they mean, what they don't mean, what the act of radical design activism looks and feels like. How do we conceptualize de...
The Virtuous Cycle of Design Modeling
Something I talk about a lot is the virtuous relationship between design modeling and the process of design itself. I use the term "design modeling" to indicate the broad practice of creating virtual models that approach a true representation of the ...
On Not Giving In to Green Burnout, Part III
Turning inward is a cop out.
I need to clarify well here. I'm not against introspection, nor am I against enjoying and living in a manner that fulfills oneself in a very individual way. Find something you love, do it, live life exu...
On Not Giving In to Green Burnout, Part II
Do Something About It
We have to do things. We don't have any more time for endless equivocation, analysis, or critique. It's mind-bogglingly important to do things that matter and that don't just perpetuate the system, but we need to realize that w...
On Not Giving In to Green Burnout, Part I
I've been mulling over a follow-up post to my last post here, but it has been difficult to try to pull everything into one concise package. So I'm thinking what I'll do is break out into a mini-series, sketch out some notes and what I've been contemp...
Green Battle Fatigue
You work in a "green field". All those politicians talking about green collar jobs? That's you.
You feel good about going to work. You feel like you're making a difference, helping save the world in some way or another.
You worked your ass off ...
It's the Growth Paradigm, Stupid
Jevons Paradox is the thorn in the side of energy efficiency nerds everywhere.
Jevons Paradox is the observed phenomenon that gains in energy efficiency lead to increased consumption of energy, ultimately negating the energy "saved...
Failing vs. Sucking
That awful twisting feeling in your gut. The involuntary contraction of abdominal muscles. The clenching fists. The uncontrollable shivering even though the room is warm.
It's not just the combination of too much shitty coffee and too little sleep...
I imagine two worlds. By world I mean something like worldview, cognitive lens, basic understanding, headspace.
The first world is the subject of Tainter's analysis of the collapse of complex civilization: it is the systems of complex problem-solv...
The Rise and Fall of the Idea of Progress
[tl;dr - Modern industrial civilization is rooted in the mechanistic worldview of dominance of Nature. This worldview is in error, and dangerous. We need to reboot our cultural understanding of man's relationship with Nature if engineering is to fulf...
The Moral Philosophy of Kicking Ass
[tl;dr: Virtue Ethics is a moral philosophy focused on character and habits, rather than rules and actions. Instead of asking "Did Tyler do the right thing?", virtue ethics asks "Does Tyler kick ass?"]
An Introduction to Virtue Ethics
“This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods o...
Evolving Engineering Culture and Morality
[tl;dr: While engineering does have a background of moral criticism of the profession, it is stuck in the early 20th century. It needs to quickly expand the context of engineering moral discourse to match the crises facing the planet.]
I've had t...
Why Engineers Make Good Dissidents
Dissident: adj: disagreeing especially with an established religious or political system, organization, or belief; A person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution.
[tl;dr: A skill fundamental to the art of e...
flowXRG going down temporarily
I'm doing some maintenance on this site, so it'll probably be down for a short amount of time.
I've no idea what I'm doing, so no promises or estimates: it'll go down when it goes down and come back up when it comes back up. 🙂
Catch you on the...
How Not to Model an Appropriate Technology Project Using Sketchup
[tl;dr: When modeling a complex project, let the sketchup model stand alone and speak for itself during the design process. Wait until the design is very well gelled before getting into drawing and construction process drawings.]
The open source l...
Concrete Lathe Manual v1.10
The instruction manual for Pat Delaney's Concrete Lathe Project is finally ready to be released into the wild for the first time. Grab it here:
Multimachine Concrete Lathe 11.27.11 ver. 1.10 [pdf]
You can also grab the latest Sketchup model from t...
Incrementalism is Suicide
Any task, if its benefit to changing the status quo is only incremental, is a waste of time.
And there is no more time.
"The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in ...
I've been preaching for a couple posts now that if we want to build a future we actually want, we need to go through the work of actually envisioning it. You can't aim for a goal you can't see, and if you can't aim for it you'll never get there.
Occupy Design: or, Why I Joined the General Strike in Oakland
Last Wednesday, November 2nd, I joined the Oakland city-wide General Strike initiated by the Occupy Oakland movement. Among us out there were several of my engineer colleagues as well as a couple architects. We marched under this banner that ...
[This is a series of posts focused on visions of a hopeful, intentional future. See this post for why developing compelling visions of the future we want is important.][Future: The Myst Aesthetic]I have a confession to make. I love just about every s...
Concrete Lathe Project
Designed for developing world entrepreneurs who provide services in the informal economies of countries like Ghana and Kenya, the Concrete Lathe is a rotary machine tool that is necessary for maintenance and production of basic machines and parts. ...
Vision of the Future
What is your vision of the future?
There are a lot of visions of the future out there in popular culture that we're exposed to, mostly in movies, graphic novels, and books. The vast majority of these visions are dark, dystopic, melanch...
We're On to You
Dear You Know Who You Are,
We're on to you.
We're getting wise to the fact that possessions and debt are slavery, and that experiences and relationships are liberation. More and more and more people are understanding that consumptive lifestyles...
Instructions for an Open Source Lathe: First Pass
I'm getting into actually putting together the How-To-Build manual for the Yeoman's Lathe, designed by Pat Delany.
Remember LEGO instruction sheets? No text, just step-by-step numbered panels showing how to build the spaceship/fortress/truck/etc. Th...
Technology isn't Magical
Technology isn't the problem.
Our ideas about technology are the problem. The stories we tell each other and ourselves about technology are the problem.
We started this whole Enlightenment project with the thought that we'd be able to conquer and ...
Tim Ferriss, the Long Now, and how the Meta-Skill of Learning will help us Save the World
[tl;dr][Preamble][Tim's Talk][The Rub][Wherein I Read Between the Lines][In Summary...]
Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hr workweek, gave a talk through the Long Now Foundation titled "Accelerated Learning in Accelerated Times". He walked thro...
The Idea of Progress, the idea that advances in science, technology, and social organization produce linear improvements in the human condition, has been the dominant social narrative of Western Civilization since the Enlightenment.
How to Win Hearts and Minds
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
— Richard Buckminster Fuller
I live in Berkeley right now. I'd say something like 80% of all stop signs in ...
Green Tech is a Fad
It's not uncommon to hear people say that the whole "green thing" is a fad, that it'll go away eventually and things will return to normal.
Well, they're right: the green thing is a fad.
What they're wrong about is that things will return to norma...
(de)Automation: Or, The Divine is in the Details
There are a lot of corny, fairly sexist images and magazine articles from the 1950's or so that depicted how people would live in the "future".
["Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hos...
Lathe Project Public Review Drawings
Check out what I've been spending most of my spare time on for the past few months!
We're "releasing" our current design drawings, models, and notes for Pat Delany's Concrete Lathe project and asking for comments, critiques, questions, etc. Engineer...
The Shape of the Future
I recently read the book "The End of the Long Summer" by Dianne Dumanoski. It pulled together a lot of concepts I've been thinking about recently - climate history, human cultural evolution, globalization, the Myth of Progress, resilience, and the ar...
Redefining Engineering Vernacular
I've been using the word "engineer" a lot lately, and I really need to clarify what I mean by that.
It would be fair for you to assume I mean engineer in the traditional sense: an individual with an engineering degree who works in industry. Electric...
Is Kick-Ass Visual Communication Important for Engineers?
Scenario A: Francis has a brilliant idea for a technical design solution. It's cheap, it's easy to make, and it could change the world for the better. Francis types up some text in Word, makes some awful sketches in Paint, and starts telling people ...
I rendered this short very amateurish half turntable animation last night.
Most of the solid modeling is done in Sketchup. It's then exported to .obj and imported into Blender. I've got a file set up with materials for steel, concrete, etc, and a ba...
Yeoman's Lathe: Background and FAQ
Acquiring tools and the skills to use them is one of the biggest roadblocks to development in informal economies1. Those who do gain skills often are roadblocked from passing their skills on due to the lack of available tools.
Pat Delany, while at t...
Background: Architectural Criticism
There is an entire field of writing and thinking that is concerned with analyzing, critiquing, and reviewing works of architecture. Traditionally "architectural criticism" means (from Wikipedia):
"...the act of wri...
The Language of Design
I think engineers can and should produce better design drawings; better technical drawings but also better conceptual drawings.
The ability to produce amazing visual drawings is a skill that has eroded over time in the engineering community. I have...
Why Use Open Source/Free Software?
There's a lot of good reasons to use open source software, but here's one more:
Few things are as expensive and as frustrating as license issues surrounding a deadline.
You essentially have two options when it comes to software licensing in any o...