Hackaday Podcast 074: Stuttering Swashplate, Bending Mirrors, Chasing Curves, And Farewell To Segway

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys recap a week of hacks. A telescope mirror that can change shape and a helicopter without a swashplate lead the charge for fascinating engineering. These are closely followed by a vibratory wind generator that has no blades to spin. The Open Source Hardware Association announced a new spec this week to remove “Master” and “Slave” terminology from SPI pin names. The Segway is no more. And a bit of bravery and rock solid soldering skills can resurrect that Macbook that has one dead GPU.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Hackaday Podcast 074: Stuttering Swashplate, Bending Mirrors, Chasing Curves, And Farewell To Segway

  1. Change isn’t a crime, the master/slave naming convention has always seemed gross and made me cringe. COPI/CIPO makes sense to me, its the serial peripheral interface after all, not the serial slave interface.

  2. The point of disagreement with the master/slave terminology was rather that the political censoring of language is fundamentally dangerous, and in this context it’s merely putting a band-aid on a more fundamental issue (More of this towards the end of the comment). It’s only cosmetics and there was no real need to go through the trouble to change the established terminology, even if something marginally better was available.

    Changing the language doesn’t change the fact that the people are still being excluded. What it reads in a technical document doesn’t change anything. When a racist person is trying to hide or absolve their racism by playing lip service like this, they are merely patronizing the minorities, and by censoring these terms you are actually helping them to pretend that their racism is no longer an issue. It’s substitute action, because you feel like you have to do something.

    But the concept that these are offensive terms hinges on the acceptance that the power relationship still describes our day-to-day reality. When we are told that these are bad words that you are not allowed to use, this is at the same time teaching us to identify blacks as the slaves and whites as the masters. Explaining the reason behind the censorship is saying “This is what it means, now don’t think like that.”. That’s only the best way to make sure that people will keep thinking it, so they could avoid the taboo. It’s the same trick as “Don’t think of the green monkey.”

    For the point that someone is personally offended by words because of what it means to them in particular, it’s arbitrary and absurd to adhere to this person’s interpretation and ban the use of the word for others. It’s the same problem as languages having words that mean offensive things in another language. The classic example is when Mitsubishi named an SUV “Pajero”, and had to change the name to “Montero” in Spanish speaking countries. They didn’t abandon the name in the other markets, because it doesn’t mean anything offensive by itself – only in particular cultural contexts. In the context of electronics and documentation in English, it’s rather irrelevant what someone from Ukraine thinks when they translate the word “slave” to their own language and judge the text based on that. For them to take offense would be to impose their cultural context to something where it doesn’t apply, and that is just picking a fight by a misunderstanding. Just because you can interpret a word in a bad way doesn’t mean you have to. If you cannot help yourself then you’re not acting rationally, but compulsively, and that’s the real problem that needs to be resolved.

    Picking fights brings us to the last point. Taking offense against terminology is part of the intersectional olympics, where people want to find more things to be offended about because it’s a theory that the oppression by a person’s social identity in various contexts is intersecting (additive). By claiming more oppression to your identity, you can claim you’re lower in the social ladder and more marginalized than someone else, therefore you need greater representation, in other words more political power. You are more right because you are more offended, and where oppression cannot be found, oppression has to be invented. When this is done by proxy, people find things to be offended about for other people, in order to claim the power on their behalf. They sow discord and then employ themselves as the arbiters of the resulting fight, directing the conflict against their own political rivals. It’s the age old tactic of, “Hey, that guy over there was talking smack about you!”.

    Many of these complaints and points were censored away from the previous article comments, leaving mainly the debate whether COPI/CIPO is better than MOSI/MISO, which is trivial. That’s not what the people were complaining about. Unfortunately, the HaD editors and moderators do not want to give focus to this discussion because it is not politically correct and would have them crucified in the social media for allowing the argument. They don’t want to be branded as supporting racism, which is the tactic today for suppressing dissenting voices. Alternatively, the akismet spam filter system used here is doing covert propaganda by selecting opinions and people that are allowed to appear in the comments. Either way, they put you on a list, which causes all your messages to be delayed for hours and even days until presumably someone reads them and gives it a pass.

    This goes back to the first point of why censoring language is fundamentally dangerous – it’s creating an echo chamber where established ideas are presented completely unchallenged because you cannot express the opposing thought even as a hypothetical thought experiment, because you’re not allowed to use the words to express it and have to go around the bush which makes your presentation weaker, and because censoring the words also tends to make a taboo out of the concept itself. You’re not allowed to even think in those terms, else you’re a dangerous person and deserve to be silenced for good.

    This is my second comment attempt. Some of my other messages have gone through in the mean while, so I know you’re reading this.

      1. Dammit, reported by accident. Sorry. Must stop using a phone for internet forums.

        Thanks for the insightful discussions and comments. Progress is hard if people are afraid to talk.

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