Jerry Pournelle

He’s posted a brief but complimentary review of the book (it’s buried deep in the post, after his lengthy discussion of his computer tech upgrades):

Safe Is Not An Option, by Rand Simberg is a reliability expert’s look at the space program. The book is discussed at length on its own web site. Those interested in the space program should read it: the book is quite critical of current space policies. It has endorsements from both astronauts and space policy analysts.

His general thesis is that NASA’s obsession, born of the days when “ours always blow up” and brought back with a vengeance by the Challenger disaster, is eliminating all human risk from spaceflight. That doesn’t work and the obsession is a huge obstacle to progress. There will always be risks, and we will always have heroes.

Simberg is an aerospace engineer with considerable experience and his analyses of various space incidents such as the Challenger Disaster are spot on, which is to say, I agree with them. Recommended.

Thanks!

Coffee

Is it ruining your productivity?

In other words, that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what non-habitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.”

See, for me, the thing is that I can’t even tell whether or not I’ve had any. I just drink it for medicinal purposes. In fact, even though I now drink two cups almost every morning, I don’t consider myself a “habitual” drinker, because that implies that it’s a habit. It really isn’t, for me. I sometimes forget to drink it.

The Mann Lawsuit

We filed our response in the appeal. I have some excerpts over at Ricochet.

[Afternoon update]

Why Mann must be stopped.

[Update a couple minutes later]

He doesn’t link it, but I think that this is the Bishop Hill post being referred to.

[Late afternoon update]

Here‘s the formal statement from Sam Kazman, lead counsel for CEI.

Broken Government

Laws have gotten far too detailed:

Until recent decades, law based on principles was the structure of most public law. The Constitution is 10 pages long and provides basic precepts—say, the Fourth Amendment prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures”—without trying to define every situation. The recent Volcker Rule regulating proprietary trading, by contrast, is 950 pages, and, in the words of one banker, is “incoherent any way you look at it.”

Legal principles have the supreme virtue of activating individual responsibility. Law is still supreme. The goals of law are centralized, but implementation is decentralized. Every successful regulatory program works this way. New airplanes, for example, must be certified as “airworthy” by the FAA. There are no detailed regulations that set forth how many rivets per square foot are required. It’s up to the judgment of FAA officials. This system works pretty well. Which would you trust more, a plane approved by experts at the FAA or a plane that was allowed to fly merely because it satisfied a bunch of rules, many outdated?

The health-care law exemplifies this problem.

Obama’s War On Terror

His half-hearted one:

Barack Obama’s heart was never in the war on terror, and he burst onto the national scene with an anti-Iraq War riff. He called it a “dumb war,” a phrase that echoes still in his foreign-policy slogan of “don’t do stupid stuff.” The latest declaration, “No boots on the ground,” is cut from the same cloth. As faculty-lounge wordsmiths go, he’s top shelf.

Voters were with him big time in 2008, and a majority stayed with him in 2012 as he promised to get out of Afghanistan, too. He had OK’d the assassination of Osama bin Laden, a fact he waved like a bloody scalp, and it shielded him from direct hits after the Benghazi terror attack.

His mistake, or his latest mistake, was that he began to take his Houdini-like escapes for granted, and thus was gob-smacked when the “war-weary nation” suddenly wanted a tougher president after the Islamic State beheaded two Americans. In a flash, the usually nimble president was way out of step with the country.

Yet Obama again proved himself a cynical politician worthy of a fickle public. After some flub-a-dubs, he announced a strategy that is true to his core. It is ­neither-nor.

It is neither a strategy for victory, nor a strategy for doing nothing. Like a man taking a shower while wearing a raincoat, he put America back into the fight without a commitment to win.

As Glenn notes, this is nothing except an effort to get through the next six weeks. After the election, he’ll (as he told Vladimir) have “more flexibility.”