ASWI: Lots of Ponderables in the WSJ Review – Part 1

Some people do book clubs as a sort of community experience — where a group reads the same book and then discusses amongst themselves various points.

While we applaud the efforts of those doing the book club thing, we know our world is one of speed reading, sifting and commenting. That’s why you have been seeing more Tweets / Facebook posts from us and fewer actual posts.

Did we give up writing? Heck no! We have been busy converting “The Taming of Viv” to a serialized version (which you can find here:

And clearly from the last few posts, you’ll notice we have a pretty extensive batch of books we’re working through — books in rotation that require time to sit down, read and ponder.

So this week, a serendipitous occurrence reminded us that we really need to get back to doing some AWSI (As We See It) posts. The Review section of the weekend Wall Street Journal was chock-full-of-ponderables that engaged our curious minds. Hats off to the editors for accomplishing this — making us stop and take notice.

Are you curious on what “grabbed” us?

To start, it was the appearance of a piece by our favorite automobile reviewer, Dan Neil in the Review section (page C3) not his normal spot in the Off Duty section (which we feel is less time sensitive than Review).

Mr. Neil’s piece showed a Zeppelin-like, 3-wheeled vehicle that kind of resembled an AirStream but with really wonky wheels.

Newly re-created Dymaxion gets a test drive.

Newly re-created Dymaxion gets a test drive.

Called Dymaxion (a mash-up of Dynamic + Maximum + Tension), this concept vehicle was created by Buckminster Fuller , a man of big ideas.

His game plan was to show it at Chicago’s 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair. Per Mr. Neil’s article, there was a crash of one of the prototypes that ended up killing the test driver and two passengers (it was designed for hold 11 so that outcome could have been a lot worse).

Mr. Neil pretty much confirmed why this vehicle never took off. He described how harrowing the driving experience was:

“At no point in my test drive on the glass-smooth Natchez Trace outside of Nashville did I exceed 40 mph. And several times I was seized with terror when the 20-foot vehicle developed uneasy, oscillating swivels, with the tail wanting to wobble like a shopping cart’s bad wheel. You drive with fingertips, breathless, very gently, because if you don’t…OOPS, WHAM! Over you go.”


What we really liked about this well-worth-reading piece, is how he put the experience in context where he made these points:

“…the Dymaxion story cautions against falling in love with your own engineering, no matter how smart you are.”

Tommie nodded when he read this.

“…Interestingly, if a manufacturer were to choose to build such a rear-wheel steering system today, it could probably be done with drive-by-wire control algorithms, just as computers keep stealth fighters in flight with endless, precise corrections beyond the abilities of the best stick-and-rudder pilots. So perhaps Bucky hadn’t miscalculated at all; he was just waiting for technology to catch his comet’s tail.”

No doubt.

Here’s where you can go to read more:

NY Times: A 3-Wheel Dream That Died at Takeoff

As for the man who envisioned this vehicle, Mr. Buckminster (AKA Bucky) Fuller, we are hoping he’ll pay a visit to our cafe. Based on the description of his background, we think he’d fit right in.

Bucky: A man full of ideas.

Bucky: A man full of ideas.

“…spent his life working across multiple fields, such as architecture, design, geometry, engineering, science, cartography and education, in his pursuit to make the world work for 100% of humanity…”

Just think of the stimulating conversations we’ll have!

So that was the first of two eye-catchers from the Weekend Review section. Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 AND, stay curious my friends!


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