Something the world needs: an origami machine. I’m not thinking of one with robot arms and hands, but more like a booklet-capable copier shrunk to printer size. You feed it paper, press a button, and a few internal whirls later, a swan.
I often gaze with admiration and not a little fear into the insides of a copier; into insides which seem almost as complex and cluttered as those of a human being, with the differences that a) humans don’t have the important bits neatly labeled, or those you can safely twist or pull out, and b) I don’t gaze into the open insides of humans all that often actually. And into copiers I mostly gaze just since I know there are at least four different places there’s a paper stuck in when the copier tilts on me; the inspection is at times like a stage magic routine.
Given the complexity of that machine, one which just needs to shuffle papers around without much folding, I wonder what kind of a monster of moving planes and edges and joints you’d need to make a machine that could auto-fold even a paper hat?
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PZ had a link to a program which evolves cars; couldn’t watch that for long before thinking that, by Gawd, bad news for those who think engineering competitions are good for improving talent, creative thinking, etc. — copying those who did well the previous year plus a few slips of the wrench seem to work wonders. No intelligent engineer required.
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I apologize, but the next sentence has to be spoken or in caps for the desired reading:
“PATRICK ROTHFUSS, AUTHOR OF THE WISE MAN’S FEAR”
— easily sounds like some kind of an epithet. “He Pat Rothfuss, he make wise man fearful. He Rothfuss the Claw, he wrestle with mammoths and break their backs. He Rothfuss the Rending Claw, he look at a bowl of milk and it turn to cheese, it be so afeared of the Claw. Of Rothfuss. Rothfuss the Claw.”
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And finally, practical advice.
How to pray during a cyclone: quickly, in short bursts and, to avoid all the shit that’s flying around, preferably from a fetal position.
The same applies to cyclone-time defecations, too.