Lost In Space

No, literally (I hate that as a title of a space article or op-ed). They’re apparently doing a reboot. I thought the show was stupid as a kid, but as my old roommate Alan Katz (and Glenn Reynolds) noted, the first season, which I missed as a kid, was actually quite dark and interesting, before it devolved into camp with the robot flailing its arms around shouting “Danger, Will Robinson.” It could be interesting. But then, I think between The Expanse and everything exciting happening in real spaceflight, it could be new golden age for good space-based science fiction, in all venues.


I’m back in Florida, not for fun. Still trying to get another house ready to sell, so we’ll finally be done with real estate in this wretched state. I hope to see the Falcon launch on Sunday, but from afar (I’ll be down in west Palm Beach County). So probably not a lot of blogging for the next week, but I’ll post a couple of things a day, to keep the conversation going. Just to let you know, you know, that I am at least keeping an eye on comments.

And congrats to SpaceX for another successful launch and getting closer on fairing recovery. I’m sure Mr. Steven is disappointed. Though I’ve heard that ships get upset when you anthropomorphize them.

California’s Climate Litigation

It’s going to be a loser, on multiple levels:

San Mateo County claimed in its complaint to be “particularly vulnerable to sea level rise” with a 93 percent the county will experience a “devastating” flood before 2050. Imperial Beach and Marin County also claimed in their separate complaints to be vulnerable to devastating floods because of climate change.

“If sea levels were to raise that high, it most certainly would be catastrophic,” Epstein said.

However, bond offerings in the last few years by those counties and cities weren’t so forthcoming about those predictions, Exxon said in a verified petition filed last month with the District Court in Tarrant County, Texas.

San Mateo’s 2014 and 2016 bond offerings told would-be investors that the county “is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur,” Exxon’s petition said.

Imperial Beach and Marin County never disclosed the same information to perspective bond investors that was detailed in their complaints against the energy companies, Exxon’s petition said.

Making those claims in their lawsuits against energy companies – but not in their bond offerings – smacks of hypocrisy, Exxon is arguing.

As he says, cross-examination will be brutal.

SLS Follies

Eric Berg has the latest on the Leaning Tower of not Pisa, but Launch.

[Late-morning update]

Good point in comments. This London skyscraper only cost half a billion dollars, in the heart of one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The FBI Chief

Kevin Williamson says he should be canned.

I’m no big fan of Wray (or opponent, either), but I don’t think this particular incident, that happened not long after he came into the job, justifies his firing per se. I guess if he’d come in with a writ to clean house at the FBI, it would be more justifiable. But if I were Trump, I’d put him on notice. At a minimum, if he wants to keep his job, he’d better come up, very publicly, with a clearly effective plan as to how he’s going to prevent this sort of thing from continuing to happen. After all, it’s about the fourth time they’ve screwed the pooch on this sort of thing, and dozens are dead and injured, from the Boston Marathon to south Florida.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Jeez: “Minnesota Terrorist Let Go After Telling FBI She Wanted To Join Al Qaeda And Wear Suicide Belt.”

[Update a few minutes later]

Not FBI related per se, but related: IRS resistance to tax reform (or IRS reform):

[T]he IRS is already playing games with the GOP tax reform.

Just a week after passage, the IRS rushed out guidance declaring that most taxpayers couldn’t deduct prepaid 2018 property taxes on their 2017 returns to claim that benefit before the new law kicks in. The IRS decided this with no input from the White House or other agencies. IRS bureaucrats—many of them implacably opposed to his White House and bitter over recent congressional oversight—will have plenty of opportunity to cause trouble with its interpretations of a complicated tax reform. …

The swamp is rarely drained, for the simple reason that it takes rare and extraordinary governance. It requires leaders who are willing to offend institutions and top advisers, expose internal abuse, and willingly surrender unjustifiable powers. Today’s Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are examples of what happens when those leaders follow the far more common route of succumbing to the natives.

Mr. Mnuchin’s Treasury can make the successful rollout and implementation of the Trump tax reform a priority, or it can roll to an IRS bureaucracy. That ought to be an easy call.

That’s the task for Wray as well, if he wants to take it on. He should be considered on probation until we see something positive happen. And he doesn’t have to wait for Horowitz’s report on malfeasance in the election to start to clean house with the terrorism reports.

[Update a while later]

Uh oh…Sessions is going to investigate the FBI’s failure to fully inform the FISA court on the nature of the data provided for the warrant.

[Update a while later]

End the 911 Syndrome at the FBI:

But what also sticks in my mind is a simple fact: Not one person in the federal government was fired on account of 9/11.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. During his presidential campaign, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) noted that the FBI had caught the “20th hijacker” a month before his comrades launched their deadly carnage on 9/11. “The FBI agent who caught him wrote 70 letters to FBI headquarters saying we should look at this guy’s computer — get a warrant — and they never did.” Senator Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper in 2015. “That was a huge failure, and I never quite understood why no one was fired over 9/11. . . . And there were some mistakes. We also had a report out of Arizona of people trying to fly planes but not learning how to land them.”

As bad as those mistakes were, the Bush administration made them worse. It took 411 days for it to finally agree to form a commission to look into how 9/11 could have happened. Compare that with the six days it took to form the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The 9/11 commission ultimately did a credible job, but it was hobbled early on for lack of money. The government initially allocated only $3 million for its work, later raising it, under pressure, to $11 million. Compare that with the commission that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 1986. That was a tragedy that killed seven brave Americans, and we spent $50 million to find out what happened.

Since 9/11, we have seen many tragic events fueled by bureaucratic bungling, followed by a complete lack of accountability. The cycle has repeated itself over and over.

…When only small fry are let go, the complacency among upper management remains and problems are swept under the rug. Only with new blood and a fresh approach can systemic problems within a bureaucracy be addressed.

Even though he has been on the job only six months, FBI director Christopher Wray has already shown a reflexive desire to evade congressional oversight by ignoring House subpoenas to the FBI in the Steele-dossier matter. The FBI turned over the documents, after months, only when the House said it would to hold Wray in contempt of Congress. That attitude shows that Wray has little desire to cut to the heart of the FBI’s problems and may even be an accessory to them.

Congress should demand a response from Wray, immediately.

[Update Tuesday morning]

Uh oh. A judge’s order in the Flynn case may reveal more wrongdoing on the part of the FBI.

Falcon Heavy And Asteroid Mining

Martin Elvis says it’s a game changer. BFR would be even more so. But this (from the story’s author) is a little silly:

Also, I feel like launching all of those rockets and processing the metals can’t be good for the environment.

The metals would be processed in space. The whole point of this is to start to move industry off the planet, which would be great for the environment. He should try thinking, and doing some actually analysis, rather than going on feels.

[Tuesday-morning update]

This seems related, sort of: Planetary Resources has a funding shortfall.

Seems like those billionaires who supposedly founded it don’t actually have that much faith in the venture.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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