Concrete Might Not Be Sexy

2 years ago

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1. The unexpected story of the creation of deep-water diving, which was basically a mad scramble for treasure.

"While Charles basked in public acclaim, John saw danger in the competition and set off on his own to beat rival divers. Over the next few years, he dived isolated sites in the North Sea and sailed farther south to dive the Duke of Marlborough, a sunken trading vessel with cargo valued at $3.5 million today. He learned how to use explosives to detonate ships half-buried in the mud, allowing them to offer up their bounty. He ventured along the west coast of Ireland and dived the Lady Charlotte, a large freight vessel driven ashore while sailing from Peru to Liverpool. In just a few weeks of diving, John recovered gold, dollars, and silver worth more than $11.2 million today."

2. The development of self-driving vehicles in countries with lax regulations is something to keep an eye on.

"Intercity freight transportation will be a huge market in China, says Xiaodi Hou, CTO of TuSimple, a company based in San Diego and Beijing that’s developing an automated trucking platform in partnership with a large Chinese truck maker (Hou declined to name which). He says there is effectively no restriction on testing self-driving systems in China currently, and he believes the government will be supportive because it wants to see the trucking industry improve."

3. Read this before you get sucked into the Christmas crap vortex.

"I’m at the Christmas level of the International Trade Market in Yiwu, around 300 kilometres (187 miles) south of Shanghai. According to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, more than 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations are made in Yiwu, a significant proportion of which is sold at this enormous wholesale market. As I discovered, Christmas is made in Yiwu. That tree lighting up your lounge. Those decorations hanging from the ceiling. That novelty stocking filler you bought for your child. Chances are they came not far from where I am standing."

4. What is a media lab?

"Media labs are liminal but increasingly powerful spaces in many contemporary settings. They appear in universities and colleges, wedged uneasily between traditional departments and faculties. They’re also in basements, warehouses, strip malls and squats. They are stable to varying degrees; many have long-term addresses and an itinerant roster of occupants. Some pop up in one location for a few days, then relocate to another. Sometimes they’re even in mobile trucks in the streets, bringing tools and expertise to children in schools and the general public. As clusters of tools and talent streamlined to produce economic value, labs sometime align with the most ruthless of venture capitalists; in other cases, they are free and open for all to use, disdainful of all commercial motivations."

5. A shockingly fascinating look at the role of concrete on the battlefield.

"What lessons about concrete should inform future operations? Should the military incorporate concrete into its plans for contingencies in urban terrain? Should it equip Army combat formations with better cranes among its organic equipment? Should the Army pre-position concrete? Where will concrete come from around critical cities? Should research and development be conducted on advanced hydraulic systems or technology that lifts six-ton barriers so that a soldiers can push them into place by hand? I say yes to all the above. But at a minimum, these are questions that military planners should be asking. Concrete might not be sexy, but it is the most effective weapon on the modern battlefield."
+ The Sadr City anecdote alone is worth the read: "Within thirty days, soldiers emplaced over 3,000 T-wall sections to create a three-mile wall that interconnected with previously emplaced walls and ultimately completed the encirclement of Sadr City."

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Concrete Might Not Be Sexy

5it by Alexis Madrigal
Fairview Park Oakland, CA 94618 USA
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