"The Engineer’s Lament: Two ways of thinking about automotive safety"

Interesting piece by Malcolm Gladwell that offers insight into the difference between how engineers view the world and how the rest of us do.

Almost all engineering jokes—and there are many—are versions of this belief: that the habits of mind formed by the profession enable engineers to see things differently from the rest of us. “A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.” To the others, the glass is a metaphor. Nonsense, the engineer says. The specifications are off. He doesn’t give free rein to temperament; he assesses the object. These jokes, like many of the jokes people tell about themselves, are grievances. The engineer doesn’t understand why the rest of us can’t make sense of the world the way he does.

It includes some interesting discussion of the infamous Pinto case.

10 about car stuff

"Autotrader Experts Reveal the Best Certified Pre-Owned Programs".

"Ten Car Parts That Need To Be Totally Redesigned".

"How To Pee In Your Car And Keep Your Pants Dry".

"Ten Videos Every Car Enthusiast Needs To Watch".

"The people behind the MINI Cooper have created an incredible x-ray vision device for drivers that will blow you away".

"The 30 Most Expensive Cars".

"A Porsche enthusiast made a working scale model of his car's engine".

"Here are the 27 must-see cars at the New York Auto Show".

"In Depth: Most Dangerous Times To Drive".

"Formula One Drivers Do Highly Specific Exercises To Keep Death At Bay".

"In Silicon Valley, Auto Racing Becomes a Favorite Hobby for Tech Elites"


When you get past the noise and the smell, the unbearable heat, the G-force, the surprising physical exertion and, always, the constant threat of injury or death — auto racing, like much else, comes down to math. There is an optimal path around a racetrack, a geometric arc of least resistance. It is the driver’s job to find this sweet spot of physics and stick to it, lap after lap, as consistently as a microprocessor crunching through an algorithm.

For tech people — who are accustomed to finding and manipulating hidden math — hitting the arc can be a moment of particular pleasure. 

There's also all the networking going on.

"Here’s Why The Check Engine Light Is A Horrible, Terrible Thing"

Funny, and more than a little true.

And this brings me to the point of today's column, which is: the check engine light is the single stupidest warning light in existenceStupider, even, than the "Low Tire Pressure" one, which is this little asshole warning light that tells you that one tire is low, and it's probably dangerous, and it could kill you, but you're on your own to figure out which tire it is. Imagine getting a call from the school principal, and he tells you that one of your children took off all his clothes during recess and threw a sandwich at the lunch lady, but he won't tell you which child until you show up at the school and stick a tire gauge in his mouth.