30 votes

Buckminster Fuller: “Call Me Trimtab”

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trimtab.

It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab.

Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trimtab.” - R. Buckminster Fuller


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On a related note...

Over long distances, a very slight deflection in trajectory can translate into a vast difference in destination.

Here's C60 - a Buckminister Fullerene:

That's a good response...

to give when the media or other trolls on the blog say your efforts in a worthy, moral endeavor are pointless or have no effect.

Just say, "Call me Trim-tab."

Great post Barracuda_Trader~

Michael Nystrom's picture

Bump again Barracuda

Because this has been such a profound topic of conversation around the Nystrom household between my wife Samantha and I. It has really enriched our ideas over the last few of days.

I am truly, profoundly blessed by the Daily Paul, and you are a big part of that, BT.

Thank you.

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a virtual reality simulation?

this is weird because the first time i saw the term trimtab was here today/last night. i kinda skipped over it last night but since it was on the top of the front page today i took time to read it and understand it. also, i stayed on the queen mary ship (hotel) in long beach during the Rodney king riots back in the early 90's.
so just now i'm watching youtube videos (kids react to) and a song about the trimtab comes on, weird.

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A trimtab of a trimtab

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue.
James 3 (New International Version)

Bum rap

On October 27, 1933, the first Dymaxion Car was involved in a fatal accident just outside the grounds of the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago.


Michael Nystrom's picture

What a beautiful car

I'd never seen it before, or knew about it.

Filled with his love, clear to see.

Naturally, because of the way my mind now works, I wonder if it was just a bum rap, or ... a set up!?

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I guess in the big picture it doesn't matter if

it was just haste makes waste by some big ego stars of some sinister plot to take it out.

The contrast between what the current technology was and the Dymaxion Car was a huge breakthrough.

And "breakthrough" as a technology of it's own was what Bucky was really about. 1. a significant or sudden advance, development, etc., as in scientific knowledge.
2. an act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction.

I've heard people say that a good example of a breakthrough is the transformation of the monarch caterpillar into the butterfly.
The caterpillar could not imagine flying. Restricted to creeping and the use of a silk lifeline to escape danger quickly.
So flying is a discontinuous result or a breakthrough for the monarch caterpillar.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Breakthrough -> Transformation

I have heard the story of the caterpillar to butterfly described as transformation. One thing becomes another thing. This is beyond change. If you were to change a caterpillar, you might make it a little longer; add a few legs; change the color.

Change is often not much use. We saw "Change" in 2008. Change rarely leads to breakthroughs. Transformations are always breakthroughs.

And it is always wise to remember that the first word in breakthrough is break. You need to break old patterns of behavior, old ways of being. You need to break things in order to allow space for the new to emerge and grow.

The other thing about the caterpillar/butterfly transformation is that both creatures have the exact same DNA. The difference is a matter of expression.

We all have this challenge and this opportunity. How will each of us choose to express ourselves?

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"The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun."

- Buckminster Fuller

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

War is obsolete.

War is obsolete. It is a mater of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry." - R. Buckminster Fuller

“It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a mater of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry." - R. Buckminster Fuller

“Weaponry to livingry” is a very simple but powerful phrase that represents the solution to all humankind’s current physical problems. It’s just that clear-cut according to Bucky Fuller and many other expert individuals and organizations. All we need to do is shift approximately 40% of our global military budget from things that take life (weaponry) to things that support life (livingry – food, education, roads, housing, etc.).

The World of Buckminster Fuller.

excepting that,

"Damn the pandas, full steam ahead"

-Admiral David Farragut

In defense of Bucky. You need to check s-h-i-t- before you imply

First Fuller didn't write the book.
Second Fuller's use of the word utopia was not political.

The word Utopia has taken on a meaning of Marxism, Socialism and Communism.

That's not at all what Bucky Fuller espoused. He envisioned a world where the contrived scarcity would be eradicated through education and wisdom.

A good example of contrived scarcity is the way governments use food to control populations or enrich corporations. An environment where power is centralized for control and profit.

I too studied Buckminster Fuller's work and by no means was he anything but a free thinker.

Buckminster Fuller wanted...

a single unified global computer program that would manage the production and distribution of natural resources for the entire planet. This is a full-bore hardcore extreme socialist wet dream. The global command and control of the economy that commies have always dreamed about.

Bucky is/was nobody's friend....

~wobbles but doesn't fall down~

Buckminster Fuller rules..

I was going by title since my copy is now gone and I read it in my 20's but here it is:


Great fun read starting at 4 bucks delivered.

"Damn the pandas, full steam ahead"

-Admiral David Farragut

Contrived scarcity/Bullshit jobs

A pretty fascinating article about why our technology has not
resulted in the increase in well-being and leisure that it seemed
to promise (Keynes thought, back in the 1930's that it would not
be long before people were working 15 hours a week and still
enjoying a rising standard of living)

From "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs" by David Graeber:

There’s every reason to believe he [Keynes] was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.


"The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them."


Interesting response and commentary to the Graeber article here:


This is a dialogue that needs to take place.

WHEN the current work of most people will be able to be accomplished by a relative few, what are we going to do? Allow just the few to eat and let everyone else starve? "Roll the clock back" and have people work at former jobs made obsolete by machines/computers/technology? Have people just dig ditches and then fill them back in as if there is inherent value to work unrelated to what is accomplished and/or because it's only "fair" that everyone who eats has worked x number of hours. Or pay everyone some wage that affords food, clothing, and shelter and have people choose how they wish to spend their time, including working at those few available jobs that would earn them some money? Maybe I'm missing some alternative there. The point is, bottom line, technology eliminates jobs. How long is there going to be a "market" for all the latest technology toys when people have no money to spend because they've maxed out their credit and/or are unemployed?

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Our technology has not resulted in an increase in well-being and

leisure? Are you serious? Do you have to get up at 5 am every day to tend your crops, and work till sundown?

Also, nobody is forcing anyone to work a boring office job. You can go be a farmer, or a lumberjack, or a fisherman. But you want more money, so you take the office job.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

Michael Nystrom's picture

Thank you


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Don't just accept chris cudnoski's little "info-fart" without scrutinizing the information for yourself.

You of all people in this 'house' are a true trim tab.
So act like it!

Whoops - I posted a link to the wrong Bucky book...

HERE is the one I strongly recommend:


thank you Amazon search for making it so easy to find

"Damn the pandas, full steam ahead"

-Admiral David Farragut

good name for a Yorkie

"Come here, Trimtab!"
"Trimtab, stop that!"

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson


Hope here is a little video that acts like a trim tab.

How we can stop Monsanto without begging government.


Protect your assets and profit from the greatest wealth transfer in history.



"Jesus answered them: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-36)

Michael Nystrom's picture


I have heard this story before. Thank you for bringing it up again.

I'd like to know more about Bucky. He was a little before my time

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Anton Flettner

The guy who invented the modern ship's rudder and the trim-tab system
for aircraft (and possibly the first radio-controlled vehicle, rotor propulsion
for ships and windmills, probably the first viable military helicopter and those funny revolving
ventilators you see on factories, warehouses, barns and such..)

Anton Flettner

Born 1 Nov 1885; died 29 Dec 1961 at age 76.
German inventor who produced a practical helicopter for the German navy (1940). He also developed a device that allowed airplane pilots to raise or lower a plane's nose for better control. It evolved into a mechanism called the Flettner trim-tab control which is still used on all airplanes. He designed a rotor ship (1924) on which he replaced sails with unique propulsion - two 50-ft cylinders, electrically rotated, mounted vertically on the deck. A transatlantic voyage was accomplished using the aerodynamic power of the Magnus Effect which builds pressure behind a rotating cylinder. After WW II, he went to the U.S., and conducted helicopter research for the U.S. Army. He also invented a windmill and the Flettner marine rudder.«


Pretty amazing guy all in all -

"The helicopter invention was accomplished from his wealth from the ventilator business, whose success also depended on the skill of his wife, Lydia Freudenberg Flettner. Although Anton Flettner built his helicopters for the German military, primarily for navy spotter use, his wife was Jewish. He held a personal relationship with Himmler who in turn had a lower ranked officer and his men escort her family safely to Sweden for the duration of World War II. His partner and confidant was Dr. Kurt Hohenemser, a brilliant and thorough engineer who developed the details necessary for the helicopter's success. Dr. Hohenemser's father was also Jewish, yet the pair remained unharmed during their tenure together throughout the war as they worked to develop the helicopter for military use.

While the final product, the Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri ("Hummingbird"), could be factory-assembled, Flettner and Hohenemser insisted that they were the only ones who were capable of assembling the complex intermeshing rotor gearbox assembly.[citation needed] However, plans for mass production for 1,000 examples by BMW were made, which were disrupted by the destruction of the designated factory by allied bombing."


Wow! thank you!

You just sent me on an adventure of discovery! Found a very good site to add to this about the ship:


If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

No Problem -

Thanks for the excellent links. Not bad to be getting
praise from Albert Einstein.

I only originally found out about Flettner because I bought his 1926 book
The Story of the Rotor on impulse years and years ago. Bought and then
didn't read it for years, but it was quite a revelation when I finally did.

When he was thirteen or so he had some health issues that a doctor
thought would be helped by a long sea voyage - so he ended up travelling
from Europe to Australia on one of the last working all sail powered clipper ships
and developed a lifelong interest in fluid dynamics.

He knew conventional sailing ships couldn't compete with steamships
as long as coal was cheap and available, but he wanted to create a new
generation of wind powered ships, windmills and such.

You'd like to think that he got to meet Tesla when he was in New York...

Biography of R. Buckminster

Biography of R. Buckminster Fuller - Section 2

1895 - 1927 • Experimentation, Exploration and Disappointment

SteveMT's picture

Geodesic domes & Buckminsterfullerene (or bucky-balls)

Fuller thought outside of the 'dome!'