Online media and control

Here is an interesting paradigm for a major media company, as quoted in The Guardian:

The reason the web is so powerful is because it’s one of the only true things that is of the people. The minute you try to restrain freedom, people revolt. You cannot control what happens online, you can only encourage and facilitate.

Hmmm, that seems to be an argument for net-neutrality, no?

Monitoring for structural failure

The sails on the new gargantuan $100 million luxury sailboat look awkward and inefficient to me, like wagon wheels on a modern sports car:

The Maltese sets sail

Built for venture capitalist Tom Perkins, the 87.5-meter yacht sports three 57-meter tall masts and each mast has 6 yards from which the sails hang. This design gives it a slight resemblance to a clipper ship.

A clipper ship? No. On second glance, I can see the wing-like properties of the sails perhaps equivalent to two modern sails laid opposite one another and connected together at the mast. Wonder what these hanging sails are made from and how long they are designed to last. Does each one furl into the boom above? This ship might be the largest, but I can’t believe it is the fastest, unless the term “personal yacht” somehow excludes the big trimarans and catamarans…or maybe just the word “yacht” excludes all the performance vessels. If you can’t beat ’em, build a new category?

Anyway, the masts have no stays and so I thought‘s note about monitoring for failures is interesting:

The company inserted sensors into the composite mast to give the crew information on the forces on the mast and prevent the structures from being pushed to the breaking point.

This reminds me of the prediction that sailboats will lose their rigging just like the wires of airplanes gave way to the clean lines of modern wings. Composites are a critical part of this development. Everything large that tries to be efficient now depends so much on carbon fiber that information about its use must be one of the most important resources for the future.

Wait, I know why those sails look antiquated to me. Isn’t that a modern version of Admiral Zheng’s giant fleet in the 1400s? I bet the bazillionare owner read a book about Zheng and said “Oooh, I want one”:


Ming dynasty records show that each treasure ship was 400 feet (122 metres) long and 160 feet (50 metres) wide. Bigger, in other words, than a football pitch.

Ok, the living space is obviously different, but that’s still a lot of monitoring for structural failure for over 500 years ago on many boats all significantly larger than this luxury yacht.

Happy marine day

(Um-no-hi) The Japanese celebrate the third Monday of each July to commemorate the return of Emperor Meiji from a trip to Hokkaido in 1876. Meiji (“enlightened rule”) ascended the throne in 1867 when he was 14 and saw the fall of the Shogun the following year.

I’m not sure what was so significant about 1876 other than this was the year that the Samurai were forced to convert their stipends to government bonds (money payments rather than rice), they could no longer wear their swords and they cut off their “top-knot” hairdo. These were not exactly “marine” related events. Perhaps the Emperor’s visit (by boat) also reinforced an end to the Utari (and Ezo) independence movements — submission of the local identity and autonomy of the different regions to a Japanese national character under the Emperor.

This period is definitely an interesting study of regulation and building a common-purpose among competing (if not warring) private barrons and their industries.