End Of The California Era

…and the beginning of the Texas era:

This state of crisis is likely to become the norm for the Golden State. In contrast to other hard-hit states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada, which all opted for pro-business, fiscally responsible candidates, California voters decisively handed virtually total power to a motley coalition of Democratic-machine politicians, public employee unions, green activists and rent-seeking special interests.

In the new year, the once and again Gov. Jerry Brown, who has some conservative fiscal instincts, will be hard-pressed to convince Democratic legislators who get much of their funding from public-sector unions to trim spending. Perhaps more troubling, Brown’s own extremism on climate change policy–backed by rent-seeking Silicon Valley investors with big bets on renewable fuels–virtually assures a further tightening of a regulatory regime that will slow an economic recovery in every industry from manufacturing and agriculture to home-building.

What a disaster.

Time For Heads To Roll

I have a piece up at AOL News calling for a new NASA administrator.

[Update a while later]

My favorite comment over there so far (there are about thirty, most of them pretty dumb):

Are you sure it’s not just because he’s black??? I’ve rarely heard that much hatred and pure BS except from racists! What proof do you have for these theories of yours? Other then way much Rush!!

Wow, this guy has me pegged.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Here’s another gem, from “RetardedPalin”:

Its the Republicans that see NASA as a waste of money. Bush cut NASA funding. Christians don’t believe there’s any reason to be looking at space or going there.

Sigh…

[Update a while later]

Here’s another highly perceptive comment:

Where did you buy that fully loaded Manure spreader? Thats some load of disrespect for a former Marine Corps General, enjoy your NASA retirement check you republican old f@rt. it is your generation that heaped these problems upon us.

Every day I look in the mail for my NASA retirement check, but it’s never there.

The Requirements Mess

“Ray” has a good comment over at NASA Watch on the NASA Commercial Crew requirements:

Oh I just cannot wait for these requirements to finally see the light of day. I am going to have a field day with them (because, of course, any requirements the GOV levies on commercial enterprises are subject to public comment). Without even reading them, just based on Wayne’s words and my knowledge of existing substandard NASA requirements (current human rating requirements is but one example), I can tell they are going to be a bunch of unsubstantiable doo doo.

I am just getting warmed up, but here are the first two issues I have for these requirements mongers:

1) How many of these existing requirements are actually validated? And if so, what are the principles against which they are validated (I hope someone answers this with a CFR citation!)
2) For all those requirements in this set that are not yet validated (a viable situation), I would hope that NASA will clearly and unambiguously identify each and every validation plan for each and every requirement levied.

My specialty over the last 10 years of my career is going into troubled programs and laying waste to all their BS, unverifiable, or outright wrong requirements. The best way to prevent such problems like this from happening is following model-based systems engineering principles, which I am pretty sure NASA has not done in this case. If they actually did, then when they release the requirements for public comment, they should also be expected to release the fully coherent operational, functional, and physical architecture models. If they do not or cannot, then all they are doing is politics, not engineering.

I will take this task on as part of my duty as an American engineer to make sure NASA is NOT permitted to make these kinds of mistakes in systems engineering that they have made before. It is well understood by professionals in systems engineering that each “shall statement” has a dollar amount attached to it. Many contractors use this as a metric (e.g. so many dollars for each well-formed, substantiated, and traceable requirement). When requirements are found that are not verifiable, not measureable, not coherent, or not traceable, the “cost fudge factor” on those requirements is usually somewhere around 4-5x that of a well-formed requirement.

What we are seeing here is the EXACT same problem that DoD has. It is the single biggest problem that government, overall, has that causes over budget and blown schedule technology programs. If We The People let this happen without a whimper, we deserve what we get.

Actually, I would go further. In order to figure out what the “shall” statement is going to cost, you have to look at the verification statement(s). In the last few years of my own curmudgeonhood, I will no longer accept a requirement without one (or more, if necessary). Because in my experience, the verification statements are the foundation for a test plan, and that’s where the costs of a program can really balloon. A requirement without a verification statement has no value, and isn’t a real requirement. I would also add that when I was working CEV (before it became Orion), NASA had imposed some truly ridiculous requirements on it (e.g., it had to survive a bird strike at 10,000 feet).

A True Bitter Clinger

If this guy was a Tea Partier, the media would make him the face of the movement. But he did it out of a rational hatred of a young woman who’d never done anything to him except be on television, so it’s OK. Apparently his remote was broken, and he was too lazy to get up and change the channel.

[Update a few minutes later]

Iowahawk comments on Facebook: “After booking, he was offered tenure by the University of Wisconsin and a Senior Fellowship by Media Matters.”

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!