Monday, February 4, 2013

Link roundup

1.  Interesting discussion of the technological advancements in warships in the 1700's.  For example:

the British were the first to completely copper the bottoms of their entire fleet beginning around the time of the American War for Independence. This factor had a radical impact upon hull durability and speed, comparable with almost any changes in actual ship design. It was hugely expensive but kept ships out of dry-dock and improved their weatherliness and speed and helped assist uniform the speed characteristics of the whole battle fleet when in formation. This crucial change in itself was comparable in impact to the 20th century's incorporation of the microprocessor into modern naval electronics.
2.  From a discussion by Robin Hanson on the importance of status:
I would like to see a building, say, the Empire State, I would like to see on one side of it a foot-wide strip from top to bottom with the name of every bricklayer, the name of every electrician, with all the names. So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, “See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.” Picasso can point to a painting. What can I point to? A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to. (Studs Terkel, Working) 
I’d guess that if building makers could get this if they were willing to take a 5% pay cut to pay for it, and that it doesn’t happen because such workers don’t want it that much. Anyone know how much of a pay cut people take to get their name in the credits of a movie? How much of a pay cut to get your name shown as author of a novel? Do artists care more about getting visible public credit more than construction workers? If so, why?
3.  I was intrigued enough from io9's episode summary to watch the Palpatine/Maul battle from the latest Clone Wars episode.  I guess I just can't get past the misguided character designs and overall dark look because I liked the summary a lot more than the cartoon.  But the black saber animation is very cool.  It's the very best thing to come out of the entire Clone Wars series.  Dramatically cooler than a red saber.

4.  Ann Althouse on the possibility that a school board will try to claim ownership of all work created by teachers and students:
God forbid that teachers might become entrepreneurial about their creations and amass personal wealth. It's important to keep them inside the system, teaching their wards that the government needs to possess everything in order to ensure that no one gets more than her share.