We need to think differently about Sandy Hook

As an Engineer and Scientist I greatly respect the work of Albert Einstein. I particularly enjoy his ability to see and think from a perspective that is rational but that many people overlook. One of my favorite quotes of his (and there are many) is:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”Einstein Quote Gun Black and White


There have been many tragedies over the years, and they seem to be escalating. Sandy hook is a recent and horrific example. My heart and my prayers go out to the families effected by this tragedy. In reality I think that applies to almost everyone.

It seems as though the vast majority of people instinctively insist that the solution is either more or less guns. Guns are neither the problem nor the solution. We need to think differently about the problem.

My suggestion would be to focus not on firepower but education.

No, not education about firearms. If that was your first thought when I said education then you need to completely rethink the situation.

I mean reach out in your community, both to your own children, nieces and nephews, and to those who may not have someone to look up to, and read to them. Talk to them. Be there for them. It takes a village, and a child cannot have too many good mentors. When I was young it felt like adults were constantly asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I rarely hear adults ask children that question anymore. Maybe it’s just me, but those are the type of questions we should be asking kids so often that they roll their eyes at us.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales” – Albert Einstein

Same Passion, Different Generations

My father in law came over last night w/ an Ardruino Uno and asked if I had ever heard of

Arduino uno

Ardruino, and if I would like to help him out with a project. I had to use a lot of self control to keep from jumping over the couch and hugging him right then and there. Before I had a chance to explain that I love Ardruino, and that at times the only reason I hadn’t quit my job and taken up hacking/inventing using Ardruino platforms is because I know my beautiful wife would be very sad (I actually don’t think she would leave me, she loves the mad scientist in me; but she also loves me not spending money we don’t because I quit my job on more stuff that takes up 99% of the garage). Before I could tell him about laundry list of arduino projects just waiting for an excuse good enough to justify doing. Before I could tell him about the Raspberry Pi, or the Beagle Board. Before I could gush about all of my excitement, he said “ya know, ardruino is going to change everything”. My response; “it already has”.

world maker faire poster

This might seem like a random rant but it sums up a social/generational situation that I have run into at least explicitly at least a dozen times this month, and indirectly almost every day. The “Maker movement” and baby boomers. Boomers honestly are the best people to have involved in a Makerspace, hackerspace, project, startup, whatever; because they have so much experience, and “making” is what most of them grew up doing. Only when they were younger it didn’t have a title per se, it was just tinkering or getting the job done. You don’t see enough boomers in the make/hack/startup community because of a variety of reasons; but the problem I face constantly is trying to communicate how big of a deal things, like 100kGarages and Make, are despite the fact that they feel so familiar and common place to a generation that has spent their evenings in garages making stuff.

festival for little makers

IMO the Maker Movement is about moving (some) production from factories in China back to your back yard/garage. It is a work ethic as old as time, an inventive nature innate in so many people, and technology younger than the Millennial  coupled with skills and trades older than the Boomers even.

Making stuff is timeless, but faces change with time.

forget twitter, fMRI FTW!

My last post (I know it’s been a long time) was about breaking research on brain image reproduction. After reading recent publications on the subject I am filled with a giddy excitement, and paranoid fear at the same time. While my scientific inner child, who wants nothing but to build world peace by the means of very large shiny tools,  dances with joy at the idea of being able to tap into all of the thoughts that his hands and mouth are too clumsy to articulate.  My paranoid sci-fi apocalyptic reading inner adult cringes at the thought of someone being able to monitor our most inner thoughts, are safest of safe places could be monitored! I suddenly feel naked in my cubicle knowing that my boss could not only monitor the key strokes of this blog, but also read my thoughts!

whoa whoa, slow down. data overload.

What I am talking about is fMRI. the possibility of being able to construct data collected from the brain in a way that you can actually see what’s going on in there.  Neuroscientists at UCLA and Rutgers University have been working on exactly that.  Turning a cat scan machine into a mental x-ray. How successful they currently are or are not may determine how sound this technology may prove to be in our lifetime. But any success is an indication that it will be one day possible.

Many of you have read the “tweet with your mind” story. I thought it would be cool tell I saw the head dress you would have to wear.  The interesting part to me was that the tech was so accessible that they put it together in a matter of weeks.

How long will it be till I don’t have to type this blog? When I make a mental note, it is actually a pdf note or list that I can go back through later. When the minds of babies can be recorded so we can actually know “what are they thinking?”. When we can download the memories of our loved ones, or not so loved ones and keep them for history. The possibilities are endless.  If you think twitter is big, wait until we have linked data w/o a computer interface. Information could be closer than your fingertips.