Successive Approximations

TAG: Essay

The Volt, Part 1: Lineage

My grandfather, James P. Berry, bought the first Chevy Volt sold in Rock Hill. Unveiled in 2007 (the same year as the iPhone) and taking 3 more years to come to market, the Volt was an odd car. An entirely electric drivetrain that had a 40 mile battery but could burn gas to power a generator to run the motors for unlimited maximum range. Commute on electricity, road trip on gas. The best of both

Yuval Levin on EconTalk

I'm not familiar with Yuval Levin (I don't even remember his previous appearance on EconTalk, which I must have heard), but he was on EconTalk recently talking about his new book.

The book sounds interesting enough, and if I had room on my to-read shelf for it, I'd probably add it, but I don't so I won't. But the bits of conversation that emerged centered around three things that really stuck with me.

First was

Why do hackathons work?

Reading about Bell Labs and Xerox PARC, both histories emphasize that part of the successful R&D formula is hiring the best minds you can, giving them resources, and then leaving them alone to follow their curiosity wherever it goes. (Expect that they produce something, but not what or when.)

The closing chapters of "Range" by David Epstein echo this as well. Hyper-specialization is a trap. Great results in the lab can be achieved

The world that C, Unix, and C++ Built

It is difficult to comprehend what modern computers would look like without Bell Labs. In some abstract way I was aware of this, but reading Kernighan's new Unix history/memoir really hit that home when he talked about Bjarne Stroustrup developing C++ while he too worked at Bell Labs.

Stroupstrup's name and the fact that he invented C++ was lodged deep in my brain from my high school AP Computer Science class where it was

USPSA and Friendship Distance

At dinner last night, the topic came up again about how I've gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of shooting USPSA, but that I've never really made friends (in the "hang out and drink beer together"/"help you move"/"bail you out of jail" way) through USPSA. I've met lots of interesting USPSA people and had good internet conversations, but that only goes so far.

All of the

Reputation and Resilience

If your reputation can't absorb a few blows, it wasn't worth anything in the first place.

Ryan Holiday, Ego Is The Enemy

It's so tempting to think that your reputation is fragile. You feel like you spent years building it up, and then someone posts something negative about you. More people pile on. People you've never heard of before, who just enjoy the bandwagon of hate. People so empty that they have to keep busy