Electrons and Guys Over 50

It’s being reported that the electrical system of the submarine recently lost on a tourist dive to the wreck of the Titanic had been designed by a college intern. It had been previously reported that the CEO of OceanGate, the company that operated the sub, didn’t want to hire “white guys over 50.”

I’m currently working on the power systems for a couple projects for NASA. One is a robot that will be used to refuel satellites on orbit. The other is a lidar system what will used by autonomous vehicles for close-in maneuvering. While most of members of the teams working on these systems are young engineers under 30, there are at least a couple over-50 engineers and technicians on both teams. One of us is 70. I’m 75. We’re there as mentors.

It’s been said that most of us need about 10,000 hours of experience to fully master a skill. (Think of all the time Michael Jordan spent shooting baskets.) The young men and women I work with are smart and talented, but only part way up their learning curves. We geezers are there to coach them and to help them avoid mistakes we have already made.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

One of the bases for several of Bill Schmalfeldt’s LOLsuits has been that the trail of blowback from his Internet activities has made it difficult for him to survive a background check, which brings us to this Self Awareness Failure Du Jour from four years ago today.

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Speaking of employment background checks …

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Vigilans Vindex left this in the comments to the original post—

20 % of the Customers Drink 80 % of the Beer

That version of the the 80/20 Rule is attributed to an English pub keeper. It’s an informal summary of the Pareto distribution, a power-law probability phenomenon that describes a great deal of human behavior. The Pareto distribution suggests it is usually the case in an organization with a statistically large population that a group about the size of the square root of the total population produces half of the organization’s beneficial work.

This tells us why Elon Musk is probably right and Robert Reich is probably wrong.

If Twitter had 7500 employees when Musk took over, something on the order of 87 were probably carrying half the real productive load. Firing only half the staff wouldn’t get rid of enough deadwood.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Twitter will be reshaped.