Intergalactic travel is much stranger than sci-fi.

Stewart Brand:

Standard-physics travel will require extremely long voyages, much longer than a human lifetime. Schwartz suggested four options. 1) Generational ships—whole mini-societies commit to voyages that only their descendents will complete. 2) Sleep ships—like in the movie “Avatar,” travelers go into hibernation. 3) Relativistic ships—a near the speed of light, time compresses, so that travelers may experience only 10 years while 100 years pass back on Earth. 4) Download ships—”Suppose we learn how to copy human consciousness into some machine-like device. Such ‘iPersons’ would be able to control an avatar that could function in environments inhospitable to biological humans. They would not be limited to Earthlike planets.

Thus his four starship scenarios… 1) “Stuck in the Mud”—we can’t or won’t muster the ability to travel far. 2) “God’s Galaxy”—the faithful deploy their discipline to mount interstellar missions to carry the Word to the stars; they could handle generational ships. 3) “Escape from a Dying Planet”—to get lots of people to new worlds and new hope would probably require sleep ships. 4) “Trillionaires in Space” —the future likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson will have the means and desire to push the envelope all the way, employing relativistic and download ships or even faster-than-light travel.

It sounds like the most likely scenarios involve people believing in something larger. God, or the end of the world, or a trillionaire’s belief in his or her own ego. This is all assuming we don’t ruin everything here before we can get away…which seems like the most likely scenario to me. But maybe I need to stop reading about peak oil.


Soldiers Feel Loss, Anger When Their Robots Die

There were a few articles about soldiers becoming emotionally attached to their battlefield robots a couple weeks ago. It’s stuck with me because IT’S SO WEIRD, and it might be something we all have to deal with at home. My wife already gives me grief about how often I have my nose stuck in the screen of my phone.

These soldiers take care of the robots that do a great deal of their dirty work, such as bomb disposal. They learn the robots’ quirks, what the robot can and cannot do. They train with the robots every day. Then, one day, something goes awry and the robot is blown to pieces, creating a sense of anger and sadness that soldiers have trouble deciphering.

They couldn’t quite verbalize the reason behind their sadness, but Carpenter believes it stems from the loss of something familiar, a semi-autonomous object with which they spent every day for quite some time.

Carpenter is concerned that further emotional attachment to robots could affect a soldier’s decision-making skills. Petman and BigDog, robots designed by Boston Dynamics, may one day be used on battlefields. (The bots look like a human and a dog, respectively.)

After watching videos of Petman and BigDog, I’m already feeling a bit sentimental.

The Siren Call of Dropbox Blogging Services

Gary tweeted about a new blogging service called Droplets the other day, noting that it would fuel my obsession with blog platform switching.

Luckily, it was easy to brush off once I saw the bit about self-hosting.

Also, I don’t have a blog platform switching obsession.

I have my 6 month chip.

But his tweet did trigger something in my brain, because I’ve spent most of tonight looking at Dropbox integrated blogging platforms. Things like [](, [Markbox]( and [Skrivr](

They work by turning markdown formatted text files in Dropbox into blog posts … they don’t do much else. But the ability to just write a text file and stick it in a folder with any images I’d like to use sounds perfect for how I’m doing most of my writing these days: markdown formatted in text editors like Byword, Drafts and Editorial. I’m not using a ton of other features with my blog anyways.

I’m not ready to leave Squarespace, because it’s 90% awesome and I feel like they’ve got something in the works that’ll make publishing a little bit better. But I might start playing around with one or two of those other services on the side.

Now Broadcasting Via $22 Standing Desk

I’ve been on the standing desk bandwagon for awhile now, but was having a hard time making it happen at the office.

Then I found instructions for building a standing desk on a regular desk for $22 of Ikea parts:

Building a standing desk on a regular desk

When you’re working in a coworking space (we’re in General Assembly in New York) or in a regular office, the friction to go from sitting to standing is usually high:

The cheapest adjustable standing desks are around $800 (geekdesk)
You already have an existing desk in your workspace
Your boss would rather you die in your chair than live on your feet
Marco Arment while working at Tumblr built his standing desk from stacking cans of soda stacking cans. Ryan and I did it with parts from Ikea for $22 (+ tax)

So, what’s the recipe?

Lack side table – $7.99
Viktor Shelf – $5.99
Ekby Valter bracket $4.00 x 2
Screws from home: free.
Total cost: $21.98

As a note, the Lack side table is now an appalling $9.99, so make sure you’re setting aside the full $24. Go here for the full instructions.

Here’s mine: