Airbag Industries

How airships could return to our crowded skies.

Years ago I had the fortune of an hour long flight around San Francisco Bay in an airship and it was one of the most relaxing things I’ve done. It’s like traveling by train but the view is infinitely better.

The best comics of the decade, according to Polygon.

Getting a jump on the competition, Polygon published their best-of reviews for the 2010s. While I appreciate the brevity of their comics list (What is it with the 50 or 100 best-of crap? It’s like giving out participation medals instead of declaring winners. It’s no wonder we have an entire generation of young people who have constant anxiety because life doesn’t hand out awards for attendance, and neither should a best-of list. That’s how curation—a word so cherish, beloved, and hugged in this decade—is supposed to work.) I am a little bummed that nothing from Valiant made it in.

Back in Austin, I dipped into the local comic shop to see what was going on in the comics world. I stopped buying physical issues long ago after I learned how expensive it is to move across the country. A few years back, a friendly fellow told me about publisher Valiant and how they were cranking out the best stories at the time. I bought a few books digitally and was delighted by the compactness of the Valiant universe that did not deter the diversity of characters or storylines. It’s a great publisher with fantastic writers and artists who weave tales that are on par with some of the greats at Marvel—and sometimes DC.

Back to Polygon’s picks, it’s a no brainer. Aside from some of their indie selections, these books are the best of the best. If you want the extended list, look for the titles mentioned in the comments.

Typographic Illusions.

All of the lesson’s from Abstract second season episode, “Jonathan Hoefler: Typeface Design” including six that “didn’t make the cut.”

IBM smacks down Google on it's claim around quantum computing.

“Google picked a problem they thought to be really hard on a classical machine, but IBM now has demonstrated that the problem is not as hard as Google thought it was,” says Jonathan Dowling, a professor at Louisiana State University.

As a fellow IBMer it makes me feel good to see Big Blue getting into a bit of a street fight here. While I didn’t work with the quantum computing folks directly, I followed some of their work and it’s truly badass—IBM doing what their brand always makes me think of: Deep research and development into the future.

"I took the world’s first 20-hour flight. Here’s what it did to me."

A first person account of the record breaking 19 hour non-stop flight from New York City to Sydney, Australia. The flight was setup to run a number of experiments including how to get passengers through such a grueling flight while acclimating to the destination time during the travel.

Marie Carroll, a professor at the University of Sydney who’s overseeing the passenger research on the flight, rallies her troops at the back of the plane. “This is the time, guys, when we really have to work through this,” she tells them. Moments later, they’re leaning against the food trolleys in the galley, stretching. Next, they perform upright press-ups among the empty economy sets. As a finale, they attempt synchronized dance moves in the aisles. All in the name of science. It looks like cabaret, but beating jet lag is serious business. Beyond the sleepless nights and daytime fatigue, experts say critical processes including heart function and metabolism are upset when the body clock gets disrupted.

It will be interesting to see how the research impacts the passenger experience on future long-haul flights. I once flew from Dallas to Shanghai and it took 14.5 hours and even though I had a first class cabin on a brand new Boing 787, the travel affects hit me like a wall and it took an entire day to recover.

As the number of annual airline passengers increases from “4.6 billion this year to 8.2 billion by 2037” I’m sure this research will come in handy. Meanwhile, the Guardian pledges “How to explore the world without harming it.”

"Stories of People Who Are Racing to Save Us."

From the editors of Wired magazine:

Climate change. Flawed algorithms. Deadly diseases. Tech monopolies. We are facing many existential challenges that need to be tackled head-on before it’s too late. Many of these problems are of our own making, consequences of our relentless push for progress. Fortunately, there are lots of people who are racing to save us from ourselves—progress we can definitely get behind.

It’s great to see Wired getting back into its game, and on these topics.

Steve Austin.

Despite the rough appearance, Airbag is back and better than ever—Six Million Dollar style. It was a bit of slog to get here, but with the help of Jesse from Plasticmind, this old site has been restored, rebuilt, and improved.

From 2006-2019 this site ran on an original Mac mini tucked into a co-location facility in Costa Mesa, California. Running on Movable Type 3.2 (pour one out), it chugged along just fine until earlier this year when the mini just stopped working. A heroic effort was made by Leo at AtlantisNet to save the drive—save the content—but alas, it was too late.

Jesse was already planning on how to clean up years of content and bring it into a new platform. The death of the Mac just made the project more difficult. Thankfully Jesse took on the additional work as a challenge and began the process of scrapping the content from a recent static backup that I did a few months before the site died.

Many moons passed, and punches from the punch list were punched.

Airbag is now living on a combination of Github, Hugo, Netlify, and Forestry. Jesse will provide details in a blog post he’s writing. There is still much work to do, but that’s mostly on my plate. I’ve got a redesign and a rebrand in the works. And a bit of strategy couldn’t hurt. Having the site live now provides the much-needed pressure to get this done sooner than later.

So close and yet so far.

I’m on the other side of a server and site rebuild thanks to a remarkable developer who is helpful, kind, and supportive. They will receive public accolade after the success of this project is ensured. Meanwhile, I am starting to dig into redesigning this site as I’m receiving more and more prompts to write again. Things will get ugly before they look sharp like they did back in 2006.

A handful of book ideas have come my way in the last six months from people whom I respect. Primarily because they are authors themselves and the ideas behind the books are solid. At the same time I’m not eager to jump in because these same folks, and other successful writers I know, have nothing very positive to say about the experience. In fact all I’ve heard about book writing is mostly bitching about how much it sucks. And the level of reward received for the experience isn’t shared across this group. Some make out like a bandit while others don’t see any serious return on their time investment. If you have any inspirational words, I’m all ears.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep reading and take notes for future blog posts.