The evolution of the Formula 1 design process

Spent most of my time at Te Papa’s Formula 1 exhibition imagining the design meetings, and how the process has changed over time.

For the 1959 Cooper T51. A combustion engineer and a mechanical engineer sit at a table, drinking tea.
Combustion engineer: “I’ve got this new engine.”
Mechanical engineer: “Right, we’ll put it in a frame, wheel at each corner, place for the driver to sit, Bob’s your unkle.

For the 2006 McLaren MP4-21. A manufacturing engineer sits at a table, an aerodynamics expert lies on the floor.
Aerodynamics expert: “Wings, right, and some more wings, then extra wings on top of those, and some winglets just sticking out, and some big swoopy bits here and some more whoopy bits there and some bits that aren’t attached but they just hover near the car, coz like they’re the car’s best friends, man, and some extra bits just for no real reason and they’ll all be these awesome swoopy loopy zoomy shapes. Oh man, I’m so high right now.”
Manufacturing engineer: “I hate you.”

pics to contrast

The Great Clay Hunt

We’ll be filling our house with mud, and not just by going mountain biking in winter. The floor of the main level and the plaster on the walls will be mud, from on site.

This weekend we’ll be sorting through several piles of fill and moving the good clay into the gimp cupboard for later use. If you’re keen to give us a hand, then let us know and we’ll have mud specially reserved for you.

Weather for the weekend promises to be perfect.*

* – this statement may or not be true

Free stuff

1 bottle of soft contact lens solution, unopened, still in packaging. Who wants?

Will exchange for large amounts of QI, or similar British comedy, or for general goodwill and a pony.

Going native in NZ

The first time I realised I was going native was when I found myself at a seminar on innovation in electric fencing, and it was really interesting.

The second time was earlier this month, when I found myself having a high-level strategic discussion about the structure and organisation of the wool industry, and I had useful and informed things to say.

Didn’t I used to be a rocket scientist?

No names, no pack drill

[A particular organisation] has somehow misplaced their collective arse. They have set up a strategic advisory group tasked with considering processes to be used for selecting which hand to use when looking for their arse, along with a process for developing a goal-oriented outcome measurement framework, all of which has been communicated through a widely disseminated Arse Location Plan of Action statement.

Sadly, however, they still haven’t found their arse.

A slight burning smell…

I’ve just had laser eye surgery. I am slightly disappointed that it was not like this:

Their laser was weedy. Nothing caught fire, nor did anyone have to dive for cover in slow motion. While it lacked in dramatic impact (or car chases, coz that’s the same thing) it made up for in improving my vision.

(Still, the anesthetic eye drops are starting to wear off now, so if you want me, voice is best.)

Economists stop eating kittens, briefly

I know it’s just me, but I’m more excited by Elinor Ostrom winning the Nobel prize for economics than for Obama winning the peace prize. Who, you say? Elinor Ostrom, however, kicked off the whole school of community-based natural resources management. What, you say? CBRM is the idea that the Tragedy of the Commons is bollocks.

The canonical example is grazing land in Mongolia, it’s a fixed resource, held in common, every individual has an incentive to put one more camel/horse/sheep on the land, so everyone should, so it should get overgrazed. Socialism tried to control this by telling the herders how many camel they where allowed and capitalism tries to set up markets in grazing rights. However, the herders where doing just fine before either socialism or capitalism came along, and had been doing just fine for hundreds of years. They had a community system that worked and Ostrom identified eight of the reasons why community systems work, such as individual resource use being obvious to the rest of the community, and cheap and easy ways to resolve conflicts between users.

(I’m also now even more annoyed that I didn’t fight harder to get this stuff into my virtual water paper, coz it’s all very relevant to water use by farmers in Canterbury, where these ideas are being put into place.)

Further policy discussions, translated into normal language:

Him: “That issue is mainly being raised by NGOs.”
Translation: “Bunch of hippies. We don’t give a shit what they think.”

Me: “The same issue has been raised by Wall-Mart. They’re not an NGO. The same issue has also been raised by JP Morgan, who called it one of the major sources of corporate risk for this century. They’re also not an NGO.”
Translation: “You’re so my bitch right now.”