Friday Four

Friday, November 28, 2014

1. Have you ever wondered for a moment, upon zipping a coat or a jacket, something like, "YKK? What does that stand for?" Wonder no more:

Founded by Tadao Yoshida in Tokyo in 1934, YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (which roughly translates as Yoshida Company Limited). The young Yoshida was a tinkerer who designed his own customized zipper machines when he wasn't satisfied with existing production methods. One by one, Yoshida brought basically every stage of the zipper making process in house: A 1998 Los Angeles Times story reported that YKK "smelts its own brass, concocts its own polyester, spins and twists its own thread, weaves and color-dyes cloth for its zipper tapes, forges and molds its scooped zipper teeth …" and on and on. YKK even makes the boxes it ships its zippers in. And of course it still manufactures its own zipper-manufacturing machines--which it carefully hides from the eyes of competitors. With every tiny detail handled under YKK's roof, outside variables get eliminated and the company can assure consistent quality and speed of production. (When the Japanese earthquake hit last year many supply chains were shredded, but YKK kept rolling along.)
The elimination of outside variables is huge for a zipper manufacturer, given that the failure of a zipper effectively ruins a garment for many people. This company manufactures about half of all the zippers in the world.

2. What's not to like about fracking to a fan of industrial civilization? It lowers gas prices, brings prosperity, and gives OPEC headaches:
Whatever action Opec [sic] agrees to take next week to halt the sharp decline in the value of crude, experts agree that one thing is clear: the world is entering into an era of lower oil prices that the group is almost powerless to change.
The article does point out a what may look to many, at first glance, like a cloud behind the silver lining: Less oil money will make the Middle East less stable. However, given that the likes of Saudia Arabia and Iran are state sponsors of terrorism, that will be good in the long term, assuming American foreign policy eventually improves.

3. I have seen a small handful of articles debating the merits of the NFL expanding to London, but this article, about Britain's skin-deep love affair with American football may provide the best case against its doing so:
These kilted gentlemen are Euan Cartney, a Titans fan because it's the first team he ever saw play, and Graham Henderson, a Texans fan since his fiancee's family moved to the Houston area. Both are from Aberdeen, Scotland, and they plan on attending the Titans-Texans game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Nov. 30. Both started watching the NFL on Scotland's Channel 5 as kids and never stopped. Eventually they decided to pick teams. They had the kilts professionally made; leather with embroidered team logos, as well as the logos of each team they've seen play down the seam. They've been to all three games at Wembley this season.
Vignettes like these show interest, but the article also delves into relevant aspects of this fandom, like how Britons decide which soccer team to root for. Those details make expanding to London seem very dubious to me.

Some time ago, someone at Monday Morning Quarterback outlined what I think would be a far better way for the NFL to capitalize on this unusual fandom.

4. Two articles have me once again thinking about learning to use the Emacs text editor: Getting Organized with Org Mode and Why Browse the Web in Emacs?. (A third, on Emacs resources, will be worth remembering if I do.) The learning curve has been steep enough to deter me for quite some time. However, I have been casting about lately for a non-proprietary way to track projects, and Org mode is tempting me.

(While I'm geeking out, I guess I'll toss a couple of bones to fans of the other big Unix text editor, vi: Emacs Evil Mode and Vigor. The former allows you to edit with Emacs as if using vi and the latter allows editing with vi, but with the "aid" of a "Clippy"-like "assistant".)

-- CAV


George said...

I've been using emacs 'viper' vi emulation mode for about twenty years now and I love it. I think vi's command set is unmatched for moving within documents and editing, and using it within emacs just adds more functionality.

I typically open a single viper/emacs window and leave it up for months at a time, switching between files and pulling in new ones as needed.

Gus Van Horn said...


And the good thing about vi, if I recall correctly, is that is is installed on most, if not all Unix systems. Were you in a situation where you had to use vi, you'd be comfortable using it.

I'm playing with emacs for now, but I may do the same with vi afterwards to get an idea of whether I might like it better, since all the extra functionality is available in either case.