KISS not the enemy

Keep It Simple, Stupid. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Think about the recent derailment of a northbound AMTRAK train on a curve in the Frankford Junction rail yard just out of Philadelphia. The train was going 106 mph, the speed limit on the curve was 50 mph, and positive train control — if it had been installed — could have prevented the accident by automatically slowing or stopping the train.

But wait! The train was equipped with positive train control. The transponders were in place on the tracks. Why wasn’t the system operating? Continue reading

Fixing “the E.R. problem”

An Op-Ed in The New York Times claims that emergency rooms are overused, and that one organization, serving mainly poor, sickly, non-English-speaking minority working women, has a fix for it. Continue reading

The stolen sacred mountaintop

Astronomers want to build the world’s most powerful telescope on the very top of Mauna Kea, on the big island of Hawaii. But Native Hawaiians revere that mountaintop as the sacred center of the island. All is described in an editorial in The New York Times. I don’t know how the dispute should be resolved, but I do know that some of the reasoning in the editorial won’t work: Continue reading