In part because of housing uncertainty — and mindful of George Monbiot’s excellent advice about true freedom arising from low living expenses “If you can live on five thousand pounds a year, you are six times as secure as someone who needs thirty thousand to get by” — I have been avoiding and minimizing taking […]

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I know it sounds assholish to say it, but writing books makes life thrilling. It makes me aware of the individuality of every passing moment of time, the progress of the universe toward some state of complexity and development which doesn’t exist yet but which is palpably coming. private to the other dot-orc, I hope […]


Of course, the Columbia and Challenger accidents have reminded us we need to be ever vigilant. Despite more than two years of careful work to prevent foam shedding from the shuttle’s main tank, my STS-114 mission lost a large piece of foam on ascent, in a circumstance very similar to what happened to Columbia on […]


One big surprise from Michael Leinbach and Jonathan Ward’s Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew is the claim that people at NASA hadn’t anticipated the catastrophic loss of a Shuttle during reentry. That despite of the delicacy of the thermal protective tiles and the fatal consequences expected […]


I find reading about and studying catastrophic accidents to the extremely calming. First, I love the precision of the investigations into them and the determination to get as confident as possible an understanding of what failed. In the case of well-functioning regulatory systems, like the global commercial aviation industry, those findings are immediately applied to […]


Lately I have been getting a lot of writing done. I have a few thousands words each in my first three thesis chapters, providing context on campus fossil fuel divestment, going through the relevant literature, and discussing the repertoires from which activists draw their tactics. A non-academic book project is also developing, with almost 23,000 […]


I fear that my list of project ideas, which I assemble out of an optimistic hope that the future will bring a long span of free time for such undertakings, includes an idea for a screenplay. It would be a film in the style of Apollo 13 (technically and historically accurate, and developed with lots […]