Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall 2015 Bridges

We had some strong bridges this year. A couple of them made the competition an exercise in weight-lifting as much as a design and construction challenge.

Watch Me! Watch Me!

Some students, excited about dance routines sent me here. This makes me sad: the thin gruel you put up with as entertainment. Imagine if Bruno Mars had the dance moves of Fred Astaire.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ISIS is Glamorous
At least that's what Virginia Postrel says
Confronting Islamic State requires an exercise largely unfamiliar to the American military’s hardheaded pragmatists: thinking carefully about the elusive, seductive magic of glamour. Making that task all the more difficult, it also demands recognizing the allure of ideas and images that baffle, offend or horrify most Westerners. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, glamour is in the mind of the audience.
“What inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Qur’an or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool,”
Unfortunately your average wannabe jihadist is in for a shock
It’s drudgery, subordination, infighting, hypocrisy and general messiness. “The reality on the ground is a world away from the glamour of well-produced recruitment videos,” wrote Maher, noting complaints about boredom and guard duty. and by the way, once they have you, you are not getting out.
Personally, I’m not sure there’s a worse fate than quitting your comfortable job to run off and join the caliphate, all psyched to defeat the infidels, only to be told you’re being stuck on the graveyard shift at the IT desk, and you start tomorrow, oh, and if you don’t like it they’ll put you in a cage.

Digital Pictures of Propellers Look Funny

Here's an animation to show you why.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school

Ted Dintersmith wants to re-imagine North American education.
They had stellar resumes, early career success (often in consulting, investment banking, or corporate America), and were driven to succeed. Yet such patently qualified people often proved hopeless in the world of innovation, and I couldn’t quite figure out why.
He's very excited about a "new" approach.
[The Future Project]’s strategy centers on a far more fundamental “flip.” They start by helping students define projects or, in their vernacular, dreams. Motivated by an ambitious personal goal, students are motivated to learn the skills, content, and character traits required to complete their self-directed initiatives. The shift in student engagement is stunning. Given a reason to learn, students bring energy to classroom assignments, and commit “free” time (including coming in on snow days!) to improve their writing, public speaking, project management, collaboration, and math skills.
I suspect he's more wrong than right. I suspect he either overestimates the motivation and creativity of a classroom of students or underestimates the amount of material good students learn in a year. But as school critics go, he's interesting.