Monthly Archives: September 2017

Rounding the Bases 20170929

What Tuesday’s scandal means for the future of college basketball.

There is no obvious National League MVP.

Carson Wentz and the kicker the Bengals cut. BTW, the same week Elliott hits a 61-yd FG for the win, the Bengals kicker that they kept missed a FG in route to an overtime loss.

Interesting case of Pro Football Focus data on NBC telecasts.

PFF has invited coaches to study its process, to meet the analysts who watch that film and determine those ratings. [Chip] Kelly was so impressed, according to Collinsworth, that he bought a share of the the company.

Book Review – Elon Musk

Thanks to Brian Bergman for the guest book review!

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance, 2015

After watching Elon Musk’s conversation with Chris Anderson at TED2017 in April, Ashlee Vance’s timestamp book on him and his various pursuits rocketed (yes, I just did that) to the top of my “To Read” list. This quick read – about 300 pages – chronicles Elon’s personal life, his involvement and success with PayPal, and his work to launch Tesla Motors and SpaceX (with greater emphasis on the latter). Through interviews with Musk, his family, close friends, colleagues, and enemies he’s made along the way, Vance does a nice job of blending these perspectives and narratives with the technical details of what Musk and his companies are trying to accomplish. The book is full of entertaining and thought-provoking stories – Musk’s anger and response when learning another US automaker took the rights for “Model E,” how the Tesla team dismantled a Lotus and Mercedes CLS to design their cars, the modular design of SpaceX rockets, the list goes on.

Elon certainly gets his fair share of praise from the press and his cult of followers. Upon reading Vance’s book, it is hard for one not to appreciate Musk, not only for his ambition, but for the very sophisticated scientific/technical command he has over what his companies are trying to do. A bit dated now, this book is still a great window into the life of a unique person building some of the most disruptive companies of the early 21st century.

Energetic 20170928

Chance of a solar panel tariff.

Solar power to protect military installations.

In a sense, stationing diesel-fueled generators outside key buildings to provide emergency power is a start down this path. But fuel supply lines can be disrupted too, so renewable energy is best for a long-lasting solution. Solar photovoltaic systems, which generate electricity directly from sunlight, are best because they are easy to maintain, can be located almost anywhere and don’t need to be refueled.

Primer on lithium production.

Book Review – Micromotives and Macrobehavior

Thanks to Crisson Jno-Charles for the guest book review!

Micromotives and Macrobehavior
by Thomas Schelling, 1978

Micromotivates is a proto-pop economics book by the Nobel Prize winning economist Thomas C. Schelling. The book was first published in 1978, and it expanded on research Schelling conducted on how self-segregation can arise as a long-run consequence of moderate preference for neighbors of a similar race.

The friend who first introduced me to the book mentioned that it predates our modern expectations of popular social-science books. Their assessment is mostly correct. Schelling’s writing comes off as accessible, but not to the point of diluting his underlying economics or game theory lesson. It doesn’t entice the reader with “here’s this not-obvious-thing that we think is incredibly important, that once you’ve learned it, will make you feel super smart” — a feature common to modern day pop social science books (and TED talks, which I enjoy by the way). It reads more like a Summer elective lecture on Game Theory. You’ll learn a thing or two and possibly perceive human organizational a little different, at least for a little while.

But it also plods along, sometimes belaboring a concept and I mostly skimmed the latter quarter of the book. But you should read it anyway and especially so the first half.