Just say no to driverless cars ?

Mike O'Dell mo at 131.ccr.org
Sun Dec 2 13:20:35 CST 2012

The first flight being made by Ham the chimp certainly rankled them.

The sound bite that captured their wrath was 
"being treated like Spam in the Can."

The confrontation scene in the movie was an even more distilled
version of the description in Wolf's book, but it certainly
captured the reaction of best-of-the-best test pilots and
combat-hardened fighter jocks to being utterly ignored in the
entire design process which considered to be passive passengers,
and in fact, an unavoidable nuisance.

as was shown time and time again, designing a spacecraft and
flying a spacecraft well enough to get home again was *not*
the same problem. 

I have no problem with robotic exploration - getting Curiosity 
on the surface of Mars is an engineering tour de force which will
return unimagined intellectual wealth, and it might even help
restore the imagination which was once the driving force of innovation
before the dominance of consumerization and birth of The New Shiny
as innovation metric.

But the US has gotten horribly jaded and intellectual curiosity has
all but been snuffed-out as a result of mindless terror over anything
which even remotely smells of "risk". We have become a bubble society,
not in terms of investing, but in terms of demanding perfect insulation
from anything impeding not just instant but continuous gratification.
God forbid that anyone be exposed to anything they might not like,
such as a cut on a record album they don't love upon first hearing.
Nope - just buy the one cut with the cute hook and ignore everything
else, *especially* if it might be challenging. And heaven help them
if they want to go to the park and play on the swings or anything else.
(Yes, the lawyers and their willing stooges are a significant
contributor to this problem, but the attitude of "nobody ever got
fired for avoiding risk" is pervasive and utterly corrosive.)

When we lost Challenger, i was infuriated by the bleating gits on
the telly bemoaning how those poor astronauts died thinking it
was all safe and easy. Bullshit - there was nobody else on the
planet that understood the risks better than those people who
made a conscious decision over and over to go attempt something
great. And because their deaths were soooo tragic, we should
drop manned spaceflight because it is horribly dangerous.

One week after Challenger, a Military Airlift Command DC-8 with
almost 300 souls-on-board, *family* only, meaning essentially
all mothers and children, crashed attempting to land at Gander,
Newfoundland. Everyone aboard died in an immense tragedy.
But did it get coverage in more than 1, maybe two "news cycles"?
No.Did anyone suggest that civil aviation was obviously way, way
too dangerous and should be stopped? Of course not. But whose
expectations of "safety" were violated? Those of 8 people who
had spent years training to ride a rocket known to be full 
of explosive propellants, or 300 mothers and children flying
home on a commercial airliner from a European deployment?

Sorry to rant, but this kind of insanity pushes *all* my buttons.

I'll stop now. Thanks.


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