An excerpt from “Less Than Two”
The Last Brave Engineer
The casings were not tamper proof, and Kent knew it. Each test confirmed that the system would fail if one vertical control rod was bent by 1.789 degrees – a feat accomplished with only twice the force needed to crush a human skull. This was a very odd thing to focus on, human skulls, especially since crushed skulls would be the least of his worries in about three hours. In that time, he could drive north, find some cave, settle in, and think about growing a beard. His ex-wife had always liked beards. But again, Kent remembered the problem at hand. There would eventually be no north far enough away and no time to grow beards.
There were three rods in this system and twelve of these systems across the country, each of which, when operating at full capacity, provided power to no less than sixteen substations. The substations, 210 in total, were connected to a network of 105,422 commercial and residential buildings. 105,422 buildings without power. 210 substations no longer connected to the grid. Twelve reactors without control rod support. And one bent rod. At this point it wasn’t a matter of prevention, but of minimizing the inevitable destructive wave that would soon crash over the east coast. The worst part, Kent thought, was that he was not an engineer – he was
just a mathematician. The last brave engineer evacuated just seven minutes ago as the sun began to creep slowly above the horizon.
Other sections from this short story:
- The Lone Girl on the Beach
- The Only Living Boy in New York
- The Solitary Politician
- The Singular Thumb
Using a plain text editor requires knowledge in more than just the basic understanding of formatting needed to use a WYSIWYG editor. However, being able to use plain text editors allows the author more control over the content and how it is displayed. The ability to change text-based content through HTML adds levels of interactivity to content and creates a form of reading that not only informs, but also invites the reader to connect with the information. This encoding of the particular text creates a new environment for the writer – one that does not automatically present itself in the final format. While this may prevent some users from voluntarily searching for greater skill and understanding in regards to plain text, this lab in particular invites those users to see the supporting framework behind what they view daily, the creation of which often requires significant labour.
In the Liu piece, I found that the section on the “three powerful needs” to be of particular interest. The first, “the need to make discourse as transformable as possible between varying technological and social conventions,” aptly describes a problem facing all modern media (57). Can a piece function across multiple platforms? As most digital products today are designed to be mobile-first, the display principles that designers once adhered to are shifting to allow media to change depending on the user’s display device. In this regard, we have multiple frameworks that allow an automatic shift in the layout of websites depending on the device.
One point that I have yet to fully