The Onion: Scientists Posit Theoretical ‘Productive Weekend’

Perhaps within our lifetime we will even see to-do lists whittled down or even eradicated by Sunday nights, reversing the current trend of growth over the 48-hour weekend period. It’s truly a transformative prospect.

Scientists Posit Theoretical ‘Productive Weekend’ – no author listed, The Onion (18 August 2014)

Read the full piece.

Weekend read: trying to kill GPS with an axe

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, two men attempted to axe the GPS programme – entirely literally:

On May 10, 1992, the activists Keith Kjoller and Peter Lumsdaine snuck into a Rockwell International facility in Seal Beach, California. They used wood-splitting axes to break into two clean rooms containing nine satellites being built for the U.S. government. Lumsdaine took his axe to one of the satellites, hitting it over 60 times.

They were arrested and faced up to 10 years in prison for destroying federal government property, causing an estimated $2 million in damage. Ultimately, Kjoller and Lumsdaine took guilty pleas and were sentenced to 18 months and two years in prison respectively for an act of civil disobedience they named “The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade.”

Acting in a tradition of civil disobedience established by the Plowshares movement while citing the leader of the Underground Railroad and the heroine of the Terminator series, the Brigade’s target was the Navigation Satellite Timing And Ranging (NAVSTAR) Program and the Global Positioning System (GPS). Back then, GPS was still a fairly obscure and incomplete military technology, used in some civilian applications (the first civilian GPS device, the Magellan NAV 1000, came on the market in 1988) but far from a mainstream resource. Today, GPS feels almost more intimate than industrial or weaponized.

The Failed Attempt to Destroy GPS – The Atlantic

Read the full piece to find out why they tried and why at least one of them doesn’t regret it.

Sunday read: Design is Eating the World

The industrial revolution democratized consumption. By rationalizing the production process, things were made vastly cheaper and more plentiful. The average person living in a developed country today has access to more products and services than even royalty did a century ago.

Yet there have been some trade offs. In earlier days, craftsmen created products from start to finish, but now each part of the value chain is now highly specialized. As Leonard Read so aptly pointed out in his 1966 essay, I, Pencil, even the manufacture of a simple writing implement is beyond the reach of a single person.

This has been especially true of design. In the days of craftsmen, each product was a singular event. In an industrial environment, however, a design is repeated thousands or even millions of times. That leaves no room for whim or fancy, because each element is tightly integrated into a massive industrial complex. Errors are profoundly expensive.

Design Is Eating The World – Greg Satell, The Creativity Post (21 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Weekend read (quite literally)

The Atlantic on the origins of the weekend and of the purely historical reasons we have five-day weeks.

Do we? Only five?

Plus the ways you may and some are changing things:

If it’s man-made, can’t man unmake it? For all the talk of how freeing it’d be to shave a day or two off the five-day workweek, little attention has been paid to where the weekly calendar came from. Understanding the sometimes arbitrary origins of the modern workweek might inform the movement to shorten it.

Where the Five-Day Work Week Came From – Philip Sopher, The Atlantic (21 August 2014)