ProPublica On The Role of Confusing Technology in US Naval Crashes

ProPublic has a fascinating look at the root causes of collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain in 2017. One of the interesting facts that was apparently a contributing factor in the USS McCain collision was that the same systems on different ships would often have different interfaces and operating procedures.

A third-generation Navy officer, Copeman fired off a couple more memos before retiring, hoping he might at last get the leadership’s attention.

The first warned of the fleet’s increasing “configuration variance” problem: The same systems operated in dozens of different ways on different ships, confusing sailors as the Navy shifted them from one vessel to another.

“I liken it to this,” Copeman told ProPublica. “You have a car with a steering wheel and a gas pedal and one day you walk out and get in your car and an iPad sits were your steering wheel used to be and the gas pedal is no longer there.”

Copeman enlisted a four-star admiral, Bill Gortney, to sign the memo and distribute it in the upper echelons of the Navy. His memo would prove prescient. Four years later, confusion over the McCain’s new steering system caused the ship to turn in front of an oil tanker.

. . .

According to the investigative report, the McCain was steaming through the crowded Singapore Strait en route to a shipyard on the country’s northern coast, when the captain noticed that one of his sailors was having difficulty staying on course and maintaining the ship’s speed at the same time.

The captain ordered a second crew member at a different computer console to take control of the speed, but that only led to more confusion and eventually panic. No one fully understood how to use the new touchscreen navigation system. For several minutes, the crew mistakenly thought it had lost control of the steering. Then they accidentally slowed the propeller on only one side, forcing the McCain to turn sharply left.

My Spotify Classical Music Playlist for Reading/Studying/Coding

When I am reading, studying, coding, etc. I like to listen to classical music in the background. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really finding any good playlists on Spotify for this. Yes, there are certainly playlists in this genre, but they tend to be too short or not varied enough for my tastes.

Anyway, this is my current 259 track playlist, and I’m always looking for suggestions to add to it.

Wyoming State Senators Use Unique Logic to Justify Capital Punishment

The Wyoming state senate today voted down a bill that would have ended capital punishment in that state. Some of the state senators voting against the repeal had some interesting arguments in favor of capital punishment,

Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, argued that without the death penalty, Jesus Christ would not have been able to die to absolve the sins of mankind, and therefore capital punishment should be maintained.

“The greatest man who ever lived died via the death penalty for you and me,” she said. “I’m grateful to him for our future hope because of this. Governments were instituted to execute justice. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying via the death penalty, we would all have no hope.”