Nova – Why Ships Sink

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Feb 022015

Great episode of Nova examining various cruise ship catastrophes, including the recent Concordia wreck.

There’s also a mind-blowing story about the MTS Oceanos, which flooded and sank off South Africa in 1991 due to a valve failure. This musician named Moss Hills and his wife were doing a gig when the shit hit the fan. Power went out, no announcements, no officers to be seen, etc. Moss goes belowdecks with a camcorder and documents a disturbing amount of water sloshing around, then heads to the bridge to inform the captain, but the bridge is empty. He radios an SOS, and the response is, what’s your rank? He’s like, well, I’m a guitarist. South African rescue helicopters show up, and a guy lands on the deck and informs him that, yeah, it’s worse than you think, this thing’s sinking like a rock. Moss gets a crash course in the use of rescue harnesses, and proceeds to organize the evacuation of everyone aboard before him and his wife get hauled off. Zero fatalities (sadly, the captain somehow avoided being shotgunned weeks later in a dark alley).

Mar 182014

Carrer analyst Dan Pink’s 2009 lecture at TED (link to YouTube) should be required watching for anyone in management. Dan Pink shares clinical psychology research on Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation.

  • Extrinsic motivation – elicited by a goal-based reward, like a bonus for processing x widgets per hour.
  • Intrinsic motivation – driven by internal factors, like curiosity, professional pride, or a feeling of ownership in the project.

Extrinsic Motivation has been found to increase productivity for non-creative or repetitive tasks (eg. assembly line work), but actually decreases productivity for creative tasks (eg. programming, design). Perfomance-based initiatives are not effective with employees in more esoteric roles that require creativity or problem-solving skills; Instead, Intrinsic Motivation determines performance in these areas. Bottom line: if you need employees to use their brains, all you have to do is back-off and treat them like human beings.

La Princesse

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Apr 102011

La Princesse is a 15-metre (50-foot) mechanical spider designed and operated by French performance art company La Machine. The spider was showcased in Liverpool, England, as part of the 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations, travelling around the city between 3-7 September. In 2009, it was on display in Yokohama, Japan, as part of Yokohama’s 150th anniversary of its port opening. – wikipedia

La Princesse in Liverpool