View 742 Saturday, September 22, 2012
The ambassador’s journal was found in the sacked consulate in Benghazi, and it appears that days before the siege and attack on the American consulate in Benghazi Ambassador Stevens was concerned about the lack of security in the consulate. http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/tv/170856871.html?refer=y
Presumably he passed his concerns on to the State Department in Washington, which seems to have done – well, nothing. But State is angry with CNN for copying the journal before passing it on to the ambassador’s family, and for releasing part of it. Meanwhile, it is now clear that both the consulate and the socalled ‘safe’ house were under fairly accurate mortar fire. In my experience one does not become proficient at mortar operations without training and practice, and carrying the base and tube and projectiles requires some preparation; it’s not the sort of thing one carries to a demonstration. The evidence for this being a well planned attack, not some kind of reaction to a a movie trailer, is pretty overwhelming. It is also evident that our people in Tripoli knew that security was insufficient and were concerned about an attack on the 9-11 anniversary. We do not know why State and the White House did nothing about the predicted attack. Doubtless they have their reasons, and perhaps we will find them out in days to come.
The evidence mounts that Ambassador Stevens was both tortured and raped before he died.
John Dvorak has sent this to his friends:
everything wrong with computers
John C. Dvorak, KJ6LNG
No comment seems required.
I also have
> I heard the Endeavor go through the Valley but I was not able to see
> it from here. It’s now down at LAX. In the old days I’d have been out
> at Edwards to see it take off. An era has ended.
I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks that you are part of an irrelevant bygone era.
But I am not sure what I should do with it. Or indeed what it means. I make no secret of having mixed emotions about the Shuttle. The design was wrong and the design criteria included requiring the services of the large standing army of development scientists who had made Apollo possible. Had I stayed in the aerospace industry, say in Operations Research at North American Rockwell – I would doubtless have benefitted from Shuttle. And in 1980, when we were preparing the transition team papers for the incoming Reagan Administration, the Administrator of NASA came to Larry Niven’s house to plead the case for continuing Shuttle on the grounds that it might be flawed, but it was all we had. (It had not yet flown an orbital mission.)
And it was all we had for manned space flight, and it was possible that it could evolve into a truly reusable space ship. It didn’t. From the first Shuttle required operation of the Shuttle main engines at more than 100% of their design rated thrust, and that meant that after each flight they had to be reconstructed. Shuttle was a rebuildable spacecraft, but it was not reusable in the usual operational sense – refuel it and fly again. And over time we found that the Shuttle annual budget was independent of the number of flights. Shuttle ate much of the dream of manned space flight.
Worse, NASA Houston and the standing army insisted on keeping the low pressure pure oxygen space suit system rather than developing the NASA Ames higher pressure air suit. This compromised all the Shuttle EVA missions since it required pure oxygen prebreathing, meaning that the pressure in the Shuttle on missions in which an EVA was planned had to be at low pressure pure oxygen; and that in turn meant that the number of molecules of cooling ‘air’ would be low, meaning that many of the electronics in Shuttle had to be shut down until after the last EVA.
There were other flaws. And yet: Shuttle accomplished much. And she was all we had. And yes, I loved seeing her fly, and I can’t listen to ‘Fly Columbia’ without a tear. And if that doesn’t get to you, and you can hear Fire in the Sky without emotion, then – well. It’s not my place to insult my readers.
A long time ago Larry Niven pointed out to Carl Sagan that every time Carl and his people won the argument that robots would do, and we did not need a manned space program, he lost more support for space. The American people were willing to pay to send humans to space. They were not so concerned with taxing themselves to send robots and only robots. Exploring the universe has a purpose, and part of that purpose is to find new resources, and new habitats, for humanity. As Tsiolkovsky said long ago, the Earth is too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in. And as I said long ago in A Step Farther Out http://www.amazon.com/Step-Farther-Out-Jerry-Pournelle/dp/0441785832 90% of the resources easily available to the human race are not on the Earth at all. Even inefficient space exploration has a high potential payoff.
It may be that I am part of an irrelevant and bygone era, but if so, then so are you all. Arthur Clarke said it well: if the human race is to survive, than for most of its history the word ‘ship’ will mean ‘space ship.’ If we do not go to space, all of humanity will one day be part of an irrelevant and bygone era.
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.