Category Archives: Philosophy

Space Safety Magazine

The book has been out for over a year now, so it’s nice to see them finally acknowledge its existence with a review. It’s not really new, though. It’s the same thing from Fodroci that AAS and The Space Review published a few months ago.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Actually, in reading, it looks like it may be an updated version. Here’s one area with which I disagree, and it’s key to some of his critique:

Individuals flying on private carriers are, of course, free to accept whatever risks they mutually deem acceptable, something which Mr. Simberg spends considerable time on, but which I believe to be a red herring: The exploration of the solar system will almost certainly be carried out by international partnerships, not by daredevils, and they will insist on a methodical approach to risk identification and mitigation.

I don’t believe that is true. The “international partnerships,” I mean. I think that private individuals are much more likely to venture into the solar system.

[Update a few minutes later]

I’d also note that he completely avoids discussion of my point of the value of the activity at ISS. And then, there’s this:

Mr. Simberg seems to think that “Safety First” is a bad notion somehow. I’d be interested in an example of a successful program where this was not held to be the ideal.

He must have missed the example that I gave in the book itself. If “safety first” had been the motto in Apollo, we wouldn’t have flown Apollo 8.

[Afternoon update]

I suppose I should address this, too:

Mr. Simberg also questions the need for a lifeboat for each crewmember on the ISS – here it’s impossible not to imagine the fun headline writers would have comparing the ISS to the Titanic – and suggests as an alternative that we could use a co-orbiting platform of some sort as a temporary safe haven. How this would benefit someone suffering from a heart attack, a ruptured appendix, or the bends, he doesn’t say. Nor does he address the cost of such a venture.

I’ve often noted (though I admit, I didn’t really address it that much in the book, except to say that we accept the need not to have it at places like Amundsen-Scott in the winter) that the ambulance requirement set is so different from that of a lifeboat as to pretty much demand a completely different vehicle. NASA’s CRV plan was always to have one vehicle do both, but a lifeboat must evacuate the whole station, whereas an ambulance only has to get a subset down (if the whole crew requires hospitalization, things are already pretty disastrous). And it would be crazy to have to evacuate the entire station (which you’d have to do, unless there was a spare lifeboat aboard) in order to return an injured crewperson. Also, an ambulance has to provide a more gentle ride entry and recovery, for someone suffering from broken bones or burns. So if it were to be developed, it would probably be much smaller (one or two passenger) and of a different design. In fact, an X-37 might be a reasonable basis for such a vehicle.

Charlie Hebdo

How do we stop another one? Thoughts from Richard Epstein on religious tolerance:

The hard question then is what should be done with those who refuse to accept the universal truce not to use violence against those who dare to utter statements that they regard as blasphemous.

Here again the libertarian theory offers the first step towards a response. By their refusal, they become outlaws. Those who are prepared to use force should be subject to the full range of criminal and civil sanctions. Individuals and the state may use force to resist force, they may work hard to ferret out threats of the use of force before they materialize, and they may root out conspiracies of individuals for particular acts of violence. Similar hostility is the order of the day against the nations and groups that practice the use of unlawful force or harbor those that do. Once again, it is critical to note that the libertarian vision seeks to preserve a large domain for protest and dispute, but it is relentless against those do not play the game in accordance with those rules. Its basic principle is: you disarm, we disarm, but if you fight, we fight harder.

At this point, the practical program should be clear. It is no longer defensible to try to soft-pedal the enormity of the difficulty by announcing some supposed parity between murderers and the people they murder. Supposed social grievances against those who ridicule and deal in satire must fall on deaf ears. Moral equivocation worsens our ability to maintain an ordered liberty. Force must be met with force. France, the United States, and other nations must conduct massive manhunts against those who commit terrorist actions, properly labeled as such. They must go further and deprive these individuals of the sanctuaries from which these attacks can be brought, which means troops on the ground, as well as planes in the air.

No one has a right to not be offended. And yet, with perfect timing, the largest Islamic organization in the world calls for more anti-speech laws.

[Update a few minutes later]

Popehat has some questions for the New York Times regarding its policy on depicting Mohammed.