Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ArchiTechs: terrific!... and other news

Media - related news.

I went to LA to view the first screening of “the ArchiTechs” ... and can report to you that it’s terrific! Our creative and dynamic (and good-looking) “design A Team” blitzed a difficult modern technical problem rather successfully, with entertaining and vivid style. Well worth either staying up late or setting your VCR/Tivo for Wednesday at 11pm on the History Channel!

Of course, there are always embarrassing moments that you wish you could have edited out, if you had your druthers. But, all told, I think it’s a great show. (REPEATS: October 12 at 3 AM & October 14 at 11:00 AM For details see the History Channel Web site.)

Why 11 pm on an obscure night? They are test marketing, not only for total numbers of viewers, but to see what fraction actually hang in there for the whole show, or drop out. So if you wander off to bed, at least leave the TV on! ;-)

Other Matters:

Ever heard of “blooks”? Books made from blogs (mostly via print on demand or POD) To some extent a marketing endeavor by one of the top Pod companies, see the “Blooker Prize” which aims to promote this style of publishing. Which brings up the question... is there enough “good stuff” on Contrary Brin to merit collecting between boards? Your opinions are welcome. Better yet, gather together and offer a list of your own favorite or “ best of” my postings here. It’s your chance to get some input/voice, or to suggest “blook” structure, like topic categories.

Not sure I really want to do this. But...

Some science...

Humans Strange, Neanderthals Normal -- (Live Science -- September 8, 2006) When comparedhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif with our common ancestors, modern humans have roughly twice as many uniquely distinct traits as Neanderthals. In other words, Neanderthals are more like the other members of our family tree than modern humans are. In the broader sweep of human evolution, the more unusual group is not Neanderthals, whom we tend to look at as strange, weird and unusual, but it's us, modern humans. Uh... and this is surprising?

Polar Bears Drown, Islands Appear in Arctic Thaw -- (Reuters -- September 15, 2006) Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming. Signs of wrenching changes are apparent around the Arctic region due to unusual warmth. MEANWHILE Destructive insects in unprecedented numbers are finding Alaska forests to be a congenial home, and climate change could be cause. Warmer winters kill fewer insects. Longer, warmer summers let insects complete a life cycle and reproduce in one year instead of two, the forest ecologist said. Warm winters also can damage trees and make them less able to fend off insect attacks

Study Acquits Sun of Climate Change -- (CNN -- September 15, 2006) The sun's energy output has barely varied over the past 1,000 years, raising chances that global warming has human rather than celestial causes. Researchers found that the sun's brightness varied by only 0.07 percent over 11-year sunspot cycles, far too little to account for the rise in temperatures since the Industrial Revolution.

Flying-Car Firm Releases Simulator, Takes Deposits -- (CNET -- September 6, 2006) The Transition, a plane that can also be driven as a car, won't come out for a few years, but you can try a flight simulator. Potential buyers can also now plunk down $7,400, or 5 percent of the anticipated $148,000 purchase price, for a deposit on a Transition. The planes will come out in late 2009. A fully operational prototype is expected to come out in 2008.

Finally some political swipes... as we approach the month when we find out the next surprising bit of cleverness that Rubert-Rove-Diebold-and-Faud have in store for us... what fun. (Of course the retro-feudalists won the first few battles in the LAST round of the American Civil War, too. They under-rated the Union then... and they are under-rating us now.)

"Everybody kind of wishes he was still president." -- British Labour delegate Christopher Wellbelove, describing his party's repeated standing ovations for Bill Clinton's speech at their annual gathering last week.

"Everyone agrees that the Orinoco Belt has the biggest reserves in
the world. What Chavez will do with them is another question, but
there's no doubt that Venezuela will take Saudi Arabia's place as No. 1." -- Alberto Quiros, Chavez critic and past president of Royal Dutch Shell Venezuela.

"I think what those people [the Bush administration] have done is
protected themselves from learning by counterpunching every time anyone lands a blow and turning what should be very difficult strategic policy questions into, essentially, part of a permanent campaign at home to win a political argument." -- George Packer.

Last week, for the first time in modern history, China's global exports of goods outpaced the U.S., as July figures for the former
settled in at $80.313B, vs. $80.337B for China. China's exports have grown at 19.5% for ten years, vs. 4.8% for the U.S., 7.0% for Germany, 5.6% for Britain, and 4.0% for Japan.


daveawayfromhome said...

I'm not sure that your blog would work all that well for a blook. Without having read any of them, I'd guess that most blooks are simply collections of blog essays, rather like newspaper and magazine pundits do. Your blog is more tidbit-and-question oriented, and I think a lot of its appeal is in the commentary as much as the original posts. A lot of brainpower passes through this blog, and while you probably could turn it all into a blook, I'm not sure you'd want to put in the (massive) editing time. Maybe you could "co-write" it with someone who has that kind of time available.

Anonymous said...

There is a wealth of material here for a book. There isn't anywhere near enough writing out there with a moderate view, and I think your view is a far more realistic outlook on the opposing forces at work in the U.S. than the simple minded Liberal vs. Conservative worldview. I say go for it - all the way.

Anonymous said...

I plugged the show in a few places. Also emailed my parents; my father is a big History Channel fan.

As they say in show biz, break a leg! This is just the sort of reality show we need.

* * *

RE "blooks":

There are blog entries and there are blog entries.

Some amount to rough drafts (or even not-so-rough drafts) of essays which could, with little work, be published on an op-ed page or newspaper column.

Others are chatty, link-filled, and off-the-cuff.

I believe our host's posts lie somewhere in between these extremes.

I think, DB, that you'd have to deliberately set out to write concise "column" style posts if you want to aim at blook-ability. Some of the entries you were making a few months back are close to the mark.

One they could use less of: References to other essays! Make 'em self-contained.

Anonymous said...

To be honest i would think a collection of your essays would be a better bet

lightning said...

You have a lot of Good Stuff in here, but I think that it would be as hard to make into a book as it would be for you to rewrite it from scratch. A lot of the most interesting stuff is either (1) in comments or (2) in wide-ranging multi section posts (this one, for example).

I've found your thoughs on the Enlightenment/Anti-enlightenment forces and on the Cult of the Professional to be fascinating, and would be willing to buy a collection.

Perhaps it would be easier to put together a list of links on various topics? Like, say, this one.

Anonymous said...

Blooks: I've got to agree with Stefan Jones. The material is great, but format is an issue. I'd much rather see a full-size Defense of/Call to Modernism non-fiction Brin book! Of course, it'd probably take longer to write and make less money than a novel, so I'll just have to settle for the next novel, instead. Poor, poor me.

Off topic, but this seems like a low-controversy comment section so far: I'd like to ask other Contrary Brin readers who their favorite two or three science fiction authors (other than our host) are? Comment on their modernism if you wish!

Anonymous said...

I also think that Contrary Brin might not make the best "blook" out there (though it does make me curious as to if Tangents Reviews might not be a good one... though I tend to use a lot of links as well). First, you have a lot of links to expand on articles. Second, I think one of the more lively aspects of CB is the commentary you get in response. The debate back and forth is an equal part in making Contrary Brin something I enjoy reading.

Rob H., Tangents

Blake Stacey said...

The "blook" (quel portmanteau!) which I have found most attractive is Liberman and Pullum's Far from the Madding Gerund, which is a collection of "dispatches" from Language Log. The way they handle transferring hyperlink URLs into print was, I found, clear and useful.

In the case of Contrary Brin, so much of the good stuff has happened in the give-and-take-and-take of the comments section that I don't know how one would transfer it into book form. The various lengthier essays (disputation arenas, gerrymandering, Contract with America, Modernism) could make a very interesting book. Perhaps one could interleave little intermezzos of blog material between the longer essays. Like palate cleansers, to switch sensory metaphors.

One thing which should be edited into a coherent narrative is the whole BASIC fracas. I mean, that showed the Internet in action, in all its ugly glory!

On reflection, I think it could just possibly be done. Contrary Brin could become a book, but you'd have to find somebody who really loves rearranging text, and you might end up including so much verbiage from other people that they'd need co-author credit!

Perhaps the most accurate statement is that I believe it should be done: the viewpoints and style of argument displayed here — not just by the host — are too valuable to let rot in obscurity. Do it for the record; do it for history.

David Brin said...

Well, Blake thanks for reminding me about the modernism essay. Which already amounts to 20,000 words.

Of course, then there's my "religion" essay, that you guys were supposed to remind me to get around to some time. another 20k that's pretty much a book overall.

If only I had the time/energy to put it all together....

Rob Perkins said...


I'd like to take this opportunity to ask you to post your religion essay.


Blake Stacey said...

I don't know what to do about "time", but if it's energy you lack, you can always try the Pál Erdös method: amphetamine.

The story goes that another mathematician one bet Erdös that he could not go a month without taking amphetamines; Erdös went cold turkey and won the bet, but later said that mathematics had been held back a month.

A good overall plan for a book might be to lead off with the Modernism essay, to establish the scope and severity of the problem, and then probe more focused topics in later chapters. Change the footnotes in the Modernism piece which say "I wrote an article on this at such-and-such URL" to say instead, "We'll cover this in chapter four."

(I recall that the Modernism essay said a bit about Alan Sokal's merry prank, which reminds me, I think Michael Bérubé said some worthwhile things about that which I need to read in more detail Real Soon Now.)

Setting the tone with the Modernism introduction, then follow up with gerrymandering, Star Wars versus The Matrix versus Foundation's Triumph: The Movie, "Why Johnny Can't Code" and the rest. Interweave a few bloggy snippets, both for comic relief and to illustrate/record the way Internet disputations happen these days, and you just might have a book.

So yeah, where's that religion essay? And what about the "third movies suck" rant you promised so long ago??


Kevin Crady said...

On the subject of "ArchiTech" style technological innovation, the virtues of modernist-Enlightenment science-based civilization...

The X-Prize Cup is a big rocketry festival and competition coming up in Los Crucas, NM. There will be design teams competing to win a prize for developing a new lunar lander, stronger tethers (for use in space elevators and other applications), and space-elevator climbing technology powered by beamed energy.

They will also be unveiling a rocket-powered racing aircraft intended for a futuristic "NASCAR-in-the-sky" racing league.

This is about as close to a forward-looking modernist "sacred rite" as we could hope for. :) Check the website out. There's also a link to some videos. "John Carmack on the Future of Space" is a must-see.

I hope I can go!

Kevin Crady said...

I must admit I'm a little unimpressed with the time slot they gave ArchiTechs. "Let's test its market by putting it on our most obscure time-slot, when nobody's watching. Well, nobody watched. Must not be a market. Let's forget this and do a Trading Spaces-style home-improvement show for historical landmarks instead. We'll test that on a Saturday in prime-time. Yep, once again, it's proven that home improvement shows outperform all that other stuff."


I don't get THC, but I hope you trounce the InfoMercials on the other stations well enough they'll give you a slot with an audience before giving up on the show. Do you know if they'll be selling videos or DVD's of the show on their website?

Woozle said...

I'm seriously tempted to try putting together a sample chapter for Contrary Brin Vol. I, as if I didn't have enough other stuff to keep me busy ;-). Each chapter would focus on a particular thread or topic, rather than being strictly sequential; all text would be edited for clarity.

Blake Stacey raised the issue of co-authorship. Does anyone know what the legalities actually are? Does BlogSpot have any kind of default copyright policy for blog comments? Should Contrary Brin have a posted copyright policy, so as to be able to freely reuse comments in the future?

I would suggest that it seems reasonable, in this context, to use people's comments without compensation or explicit permission (requested exceptions dealt with on a case-by-case basis), though attribution would probably be a good idea. (Once it has been decided which comments to use, the individuals in question could be contacted to find out how they would like to be attributed in the actual publication, with non-replies attributed by however they signed their posts.)

Blake Stacey said...

Haven't yet found any specifics about Blogspot copyright policy. . . Although I did notice something funny: if you Google for blogspot "copyright policy" brin, the first ten hits all concern Sergey Brin, except for number two: "David Brin gives Newt Gingrich some advice", says del.icio.us.

Tony Fisk said...

I think you'll find that blogspot policy is full copyright protection by default (which is the current legal situation). Since David hasn't got any CC licenses in evidence, I suggest you be polite to your host (and your fellow commentators!)

I think I've already droned on enough about the relative virtues of blogs vs wikis. One thing that I find very interesting is that people apparently feel much more comfortable with the blog format than the asynchronous wiki. (From comments, woozle has noticed it, too). I would have thought wikis were a surefire hit. (Oh well, one more victim of a Cartesian fallacy!)

Nevertheless, anyone considering a 'blook' would be well advised to start by correlating the material via links in a wiki. (Incidentally, you *can* obtain a link to individual comments by clicking on the timestamp at the end of each one. eg the first comment of this post is here. I've only just found this trick, having trawled through source dumps in the past!)

*sigh!* Can we get away from it?

'Huge rise' in Iraqi death tolls

'...John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) estimate that the mortality rates have more than doubled since the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, causing an average of 500 deaths a day...'

'..."Six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just... it's not credible," Mr Bush said.'

Mr. Bush, they weren't guessing. At least, the Lancet doesn't seem to think so. Which part of 'peer review' don't you understand?

Welcome to Club Genocide.


Anyone wanting a bit of extraterrestrial escapism after that should go here, or here.

Anonymous said...

Those of you interested in the way the blogosphere functions as a disputation arena ("We Can Fact-Check Yo' Ass!") may be interested in the following sordid tale of intrigue and skullduggery.

Back in September, New Scientist magazine published an article on the "EmDrive", a machine purportedly able to propel itself using microwaves bouncing inside a box. Those of us who remember the Dean drive and umpty-ump other wonder machines have no trouble recognizing this as the same old stuff: like all the wonder-powered spacedrives before it, it can only putter forward by violating the conservation of momentum. New Scientist's reportage provoked science-fiction writer Greg Egan to write an open letter saying he was "gobsmacked by the level of scientific illiteracy" the magazine showed.

So it goes, as they say on Tralfamadore. Claims of exotic spacedrives fuelled by violations of fundamental physics are, sadly but understandably, about twopence a dozen. The aspect of the affair which Egan found truly disturbing -- indeed, reprehensible -- was the way New Scientist glibly provided an news piece full of pseudoscientific gibberish purely to justify how the EmDrive might work. (Their argument really pushed the limits of the absurd, too: Einstein's relativity has momentum conservation built into its mathematical structure, so you can't use relativity jargon like "reference frames" to sidestep the conservation law.)

Egan posted his letter to the moderated Usenet group sci.physics.research, and the physicist John Baez put a copy on the blog he co-hosts, The n-Category Café. This spurred enough people to write New Scientist that the magazine opened a blog thread to discuss the issue, opening with a self-exusing note from the editor. (Said note, as far as I can tell, satisfied nobody.)

Discussion also continued simultaneously at the Café, eventually including Baez, Egan, the science writer Jennifer Ouellette and others. During this merry back-and-forth and round-about, lots of physics people spoke their minds, but naturally physics is only part of what New Scientist covers. In order to sample other viewpoints, I posted links to the relevant pages on a Pharyngula open thread. A commentor there, "Lab Cat", pointed out an article New Scientist ran last April about "Water: the quantum elixir".

So, off I trundled to Respectful Insolence, where this topic had just come up as "Your Friday Dose of Woo" (probably putting the idea in Lab Cat's mind). Then back to The n-Category Café to talk about it over virtual hot chocolate, and a little later Prof. Baez cross-posts a message to the Café and to the New Scientist blog.

(As he very justly points out, New Scientist pulled a fast one when they titled their pet thread "Emdrive on Trial" and not "New Scientist on Trial", which is what really concerned the first people to speak up. Again, wonky spacedrives are too common to count; it's the magazine's editorial policy we care about.)

Now, all this was fun, and I sure idled away productive life-time hopping from one blog to another. (I bet the Internet could even subtitute for real friends! Has anyone ever tried that out, and if so, how did it work?) It does strike me as inefficient: all these people in different places obviously cared enough to write about it, but without my going all evangelical, would the biology fans at Pharyngula have heard the physicists' complaints at The n-Category Café?

Towards the end, the Café discussion started getting less than civil, so commenting on that thread was turned off and a few comments were deleted. (The thing which replaces blogs will have to solve this problem, or rather make it easier for people to implement whichever workable solution they prefer! Trolls are probably an inescapable product of human psychopathology, but we could sure do a better job of handling them than we do right now.) As the discussion was winding up, Prof. Baez said:

I also think we're seeing the emergence of a science blogosphere somewhat analogous to the political blogosphere, which among other things can catch some of the mistakes of the "mainstream media".

(Among other things - alas, including a bunch of really silly, annoying things.)

Now, why has it taken so long for a scientist to say this?

One lesson of the Bogdanov Affair which nobody seemed to learn was that our peer-review system is shoddy and imperfect, but the disputation arenas provided by the Internet can take up some of the slack. The deduction is almost trivial: if the Net hadn't caught the papers in question, the fraud would have gone undetected. All the brouhaha which erupted after the story hit Usenet happened because the system worked, but too late -- or rather, the "wrong" part of the system did the necessary job.

(It's sort of neat: when one studies the Bogdanov Affair, one can follow the progress of debate from Usenet to blogs, web forums and eventually the Wikipedia. What can I say -- the people involved keep up with the times!)

During that sorry incident, it was the electronic disputation arena which saved the dignity of the profession. Unfortunately, nobody realized how valuable that ability was, and we continued to muck forwards. Hello, George Deutsch, who didn't graduate from Texas A&M after all. Hello, Ben Domenech, the creationist plagiarist snared by the Amazon search-inside feature.

As Fox Mulder might say under similar circumstances, "Do you see a pattern forming here, Scully?"

I have gone on at much greater length than I intended to ramble. I have too much in common with the Mencken character in Inherit the Wind,, who has only been in love "with the sound of my own words, thank God." (At least it's a requited love, most of the time.) To give this tapeworm of a tale something like a moral, suffice to say that we need to study online disputation far more carefully than we have done so far, with a historical eye.

David Brin said...

Dang Blake... that war good writing! I am most very pleased to have hosted it...

...and several others of y'all have likewise doen us proud on this thread. Good stuff!

Oh, I have no doubt that many elements for disputation arenas are now being engendered. And yet, I do yearn someday for some well-heeled group to grok my disputation arenas paper fully and fund the real deal. One in which the call to ritual combat between two sides is primly ritualized and meticulously relentless, allowing the web to actually start achieving its potential as an error-correction system, and not simply a generator of fusion-powered opinion.

So far, nobody has chimed in with a set of "best-of" urls for favorite postings of mine... or favorite comment-discussions. I lean friendly toward a group of volunteers slaving on collating and organizing such a collection... and copyright isn't likely to be a problem.

Rob, remind me re religion when politics settles down. Too worried right now. I thought for sure that plane crash in New York...

Tony Fisk said...

A belated Pee-e-eep from a henchman!

Aide to testify in US e-mail row

'A top aide ... is to testify before the House of Representatives ethics committee...

...Kirk Fordham is expected to say that Republican leaders knew about Mr Foley's activity at least three years ago, but took no action.'

Where are you now, Mr. Starr?

Between this and Iraq, any 'surprises' will need to be a good deal more rivetting than a wayward airplane. (I do not find that a comforting thought!)

Rob Perkins said...

Let me tell you a little about that plane crash in New York.

First, it was *clear* from the footage, even early on, that what you had was a single-engine four seater, or something similarly sized, which had impacted the building after a stall.

Never *ever* ascribe an air incident or accident to malice before all the facts are in, no matter what they're shouting at you.

And what did it turn out to be? Yeah: A Cirrus SR-20, in the hands of a private pilot, who lost his airspeed. And crashed into a building, dumping his wingtanks into the broken windows.

Four windows. A fire out of four windows. With a death toll of precisely two people. The ones in the plane.

This is one of those cases where even if the airplane had impacted that building at full cruise, its kinetic energy is so miniscule that there would have been damage to maybe eight windows.

I'm actually more concerned that you panicked than that an airplane crashed. It's the third building impact in almost five years in that area, with maybe three more reported nationwide. Including the terrorist attacks.

How many people died the previous *week*, due to negligence or drunkenness or whatever, on the streets of NYC in car accidents?

And who did we find shouting "BAN THE PLANES THEY'RE TOO UNSAFE!"

That's right, folks: The Democrats. Oh, and Fox News. Without at all noticing in their tone that the emergency plans worked, for this crash, perfectly.

Or are you concerned that somehow the Bushies will try and use this event to disappear 200 more people?

David Brin said...

Chill, Rob. Most people have the sense to see the difference.

What I am hoping is that we see (as I learned filming Architechs) just how tough New Yorkers are! In some ways, they are among the best Americans, I think. Certainly they have earned their chops.

Anyway, did any of you see the show? Do I take ribbing well? I got to!

Now if it goes to series....

Rob Perkins said...

Chill, Rob. Most people have the sense to see the difference.

Most people get their information about aviation safety from a disasterously irresponsible news media, and even more irresponsible entertainment industry. For example, for over 50 years my own father thought every airport in the country had a control tower.

Even so, the Congresscritter (Maloney) was *correct* that airplanes shouldn't be jaunting up and down the East River, unless under traffic control. What she missed is that it's required already!

So, sorry, no, not gonna chill. Not when influential leaders are calling for more restriction over what amounts to a Volkswagen full of gas crashing into a building. Once.

I have yet to watch ArchiTechs, but it is on the list today!

Blake Stacey said...

ArchiTechs is high on the list of things I would be watching if I had a television. (There's nothing particularly ideological about my lacking a TV set; it just seems to be last on our priority list after moving into a new place!)

If the circumstances weren't pulling my brain in several different directions simultaneously, I would be all over compiling CITOKATE: The Best of Contrary Brin. But with a talk to prepare, software to code and a continual buzz of distractions to work through, I'm afraid I can't dive into that project the way I'd like. :-(

Anonymous said...

The wife and I enjoyed it immensely. It reminded us of Discovery's Mythbusters, but with inventors instead of debunkers.

We cracked up when Brin2's rocket-powered soft-lander went all wonky and his head exited stage left. It looked pretty good for the first twenty percent of the drop, until that piece broke and the rocket started flying off in every direction.

You lent a quirky combination of charm, humor and science the show would otherwise have lacked. Your creativity was astounding. I'm curious, were you aware you would turn out to be the star prior to seeing the final cut?

We'd watch it regularly if it went to series. Not blowing smoke at all. It's the kind of stuff we watch.

Rob Perkins said...

Yup. Got to agree. Now that I've seen it, I think it's on par with the Bill Nye science shows. That is, a series of such shows would be well worth showing to high school students on engineering or technology tracks.

I've got my DVR programmed to record the next ones, if they're produced. Who at the History Channel, and which address, could get a letter offering that sort of info?

Anonymous said...

Re: polar bears

I knew something was fishy about 15 years ago when I first heard about communications going down in Alaska when telephone poles fell over because the permafrost had melted, freeing the base of the poles. I suppose Alaskans all have cell phones now (or ham or CB radio), but what happens when the cell phone towers (or platforms for ham antennas) collapse in newly generated mud as the ground thaws further?

Re: plane crash

This story will have more "legs" than it deserves because (1) it reminds people of 9/11 and (2) a Yankees pitcher was involved. We can expect lots of sports memorials on this one.

Anonymous said...

ArchiTechs was quite entertaining. Good quality TV is hard to find, and I really enjoyed the show. Hearing that David thinks outside the box was one thing, and then to find out that the box wasn't even on the planet sealed it for me.

I also think that the flying-fox zip-line guy wire idea has legs. If they hadn't got hung up on the "fun-fair park" source ot might have been accepted too.


Anonymous said...


Just saw the show. I'd love to have that team!

No disrespect to your ideas, but your team should have consulted old electronics guru Don Lancaster. Electronics and technology expert going way back, well grounded in science (His "Energy Fundamentals" at http://www.tinaja.com/glib/energfun.pdf should be required reading for anybody interested in alternative energy.), AND a volunteer firefighter with experience!

Mark said...

Gotta love that "Brin2"! :-)

I'm not sure why ArchiTechs was on the the History Channel instead of TLC, but I enjoyed the show and the solutions you guys developed. In particular, I really like the elevator idea; it was the only one that seemed obvious yet had never occurred to me. Anytime you see a design and find your self going "well, duh, of course that is how you should do it" you know it is a good design.

The dirigible was my second favorite idea and more what I expected from the show: more high tech sounding yet kinda obvious. It could be combined easily with the wall climber, all buildings would need is some standard connection point on the roof and let the dirigible bring the wire and, potentially, climber.

The balloon/rocket thing seemed silly to me. Why on Earth would you ever use a rocket over a parachute? (On the thin atmosphere of Mars, sure, but why on Earth?) Some bouncy balloon with a parachute might work, though it sounds expensive and too hard to use for a panicked person without training.

I'm curious if we ever saw the graphics that guy on the show made, or were the ones presented all perfected in post-production?

Rob Perkins said...

You'd rocket-assist so that the chute can be smaller than otherwise.

I think the elevator idea was the best building re-engineering idea, but the carnival ride atop the skyscraper gets points for being the most creative, and being a tourist's revenue source as well as a rescue path! :-)

And that building-climber robot really ought to be named the "Adam West"...


Waiting for it...


David Brin said...

Hey, in part thanks to you folks, we've been approved to go to the next step... a test showing on prime time!

SPECIAL ADDED PRIME TIME PREMIERE: Wednesday, November 01 at 08:00 PM

ADDITIONAL TIMES: Saturday, October 14 at 11:00 AM & Thursday, November 02 at 12:00 AM

Thanks for the nice messages. Indeed, comments sent to the History Channel are welcome. (I am trying to find out the best email address.)

Don't know that I was "the star"... but seeming a bit of a leader helped make up for also being the (good-natred I hope!) butt of most jokes.

Yeah the rocket-balloon was silly, but it gave us something busy and dynamic to be seen doing. Gotta get some action! Yes, some high rise folks actually keep base jumping chutes by their desks! Kwazy! Me? I'd keep a lawn chair, four deflated weather balloons and a canister of helium. Depart in comfy style!

The screen in our presentation was blank at the time! But Tim did some way cool graphics on the spot.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to watch my taped copy tonight.

The prime-time trial is good news. I will post plugs in a few more places.

The fact that there's rocket technology involved in one of the solutions means I can post about it on rocketry-geek forums.

Rob Perkins said...

I have to ask, does getting picked up for more shows mean that you six, specifically, will be the six archi-techs to do whatever projects come for the next eps? Kind of like the MythBusters team?

Also, if I had a crit to offer, I'd actually be more interested in less of a deadline and more of the showcasing of neat ideas. If you'd had *four* days to come up with stuff, and *two* of them could have been dynamic field test or tours of What's Cool...

Also, I'd hope for a segment following the ideas themselves around, after they're turned in; someone to follow what's-his-name the fire chief guy as he goes into the International Firefighters meetings and proposes them himself.

Anyway, fun show. I hope to see more.

Tony Fisk said...

I suspect the 'ArchiTech' format was based on management course team games, where the aim is not so much about solving a problem but to see how people react under stress (the debrief on these exercises can be as much fun as the game itself!).

'Our ABC' might pick it up, one day.

Me? I'd keep a lawn chair, four deflated weather balloons and a canister of helium. Depart in comfy style!

...drifting off into the air lanes (didn't some guy do that a few years ago? Ah yes! 'Lawn Chair Larry'!)

Roald Dahl advocated seagulls!

A couple of items relevant to reciprocal accountability:

- I Want My Google Data Privacy sez Jamais, commenting on an interesting idea from Fred's House.

- Air passengers 'could be tagged' (can we tag back?) This article is talking about the use of rfids at airports, but also makes mention of a portable 'compton' camera able to detect radiation sources. It brought to mind one of David's short stories about a fully connected life in downtown LA, skipping the purple tagged street litter someone had marked as toxic.

David Brin said...

Lawn CHair Larry, yeah!

Here's where to send comments about the show: Send comments to Feedback@aetv.com

But above all, jot a note to start around October 29 nagging folks to catch the prime time premiere on November 1st!

Then maybe... the humvee episode.

I honestly don't know if they'll keep us six exactly. Three of us are left from the 7 who took part in the hummer pilot. Tim is essential as BOTH an idea guy and graphic envisioneer. Dave Stollery is quiet but the best designer on our design A Team. Dunno! But twer a great bunch.

I do think we need a woman. Hrm

Keep pondering ideas for things we ought to crisis design. I like "habitats for refugees."

Rob Perkins said...

I missed the hummer pilot. Any chance it will be reaired?

David Brin said...

The humvee episode was the 1st one filmed but it has never aired. It will presumably be aired down the road. Maybe after we film a few more... that is, if they greenlight to series.

Again, comments to Feedback@aetv.com

People are still welcome to gather their own lists of "best of" my past blog entries.

---- veering to politics---

If you live in a "contested" electoral district, or next to one... (and do not neglect state assembly races! that's is where the nation's real power lies!) one thing you could do is volunteer as a poll watcher, keeping an eye open for Rovean dirty tricks.

In any event, such (rare) districts are where the nation's hope now focuses. If you're a Democrat, consider contacting the local candidate to do phone work, or get a sign. If a disgusted independent or a truly patriotic Republican (like me), at least talk to others like yourself.

I know there are only a few of you down here at the comments level. That's why most of my efforts on-blog go into creating poitentially "viral" lumps of grenade-like prose... packets that can be copied and hurled (coughed?) onward. Like (apparently) my letter to Newt.org.

But I don't fool myself. I cannot counter Diebold. That's up to a nation - a Union - that wants its renaissance back.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the show quite a lot myself. Most of my comments have already been made, so I'll just add that I loved the fact that Brin 2's head was on the design table later in the show... :P

Anonymous said...

I know virtually nothing about blogs from the authorial side, so this may be a stupid question. Is there any way you, our esteemed host, can turn on a Blotspot feature which gives month-by-month archives? I know I've seen other Blogspot sites with such links in the sidebar, and they would make it a whole lot easier to scan the old stuff for Contrary Brin's Greatest Hits.

Anonymous said...

When was the piece filmed? Has there been any evidence of this getting attention from the national association that VonEssen was talking about?