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« Don't Know Much About 'Rithmatick | Main | Katrina, Take Two? »

Risk And Adversity

Katherine Mangu-Ward compares and contrasts NASA's safety approach to that of private industry.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 17, 2007 01:05 PM
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Uh...that was weird. I had a hard time figuring out what in heck she was trying to say, aside from the generic paean to private enterprise which is the reason Reason published her.

This doesn't inspire confidence, either:

NASA has been tearing out its collective hair deliberating over the problem of a three-inch gouge in the protective foam on the bottom of the shuttle Endeavour. The injury exposed a small slice of felt, the heat barrier of last resort for the shuttle's aluminum frame.

She's usually more informed and more cogent, in the Weekly Standard. An off day, I guess.

Posted by Carl Pham at August 18, 2007 12:06 AM

Yes, I was struggling to figure out what her point was, as well, but I thought I'd point it out for others to ponder.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 18, 2007 07:47 AM

The reason that Reason published her is that she's an associate editor. I've never seen anything by her in the Weekly Standard. Are you sure you're not confusing her with someone else?

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 18, 2007 07:48 AM

Not too likely, it's an odd name. If you do a search on, you'll find her. But she doesn't seem to have written anything since 2006 for them. Maybe she was some kind of intern?

Posted by Carl Pham at August 18, 2007 11:09 AM

No, apparently she was a reporter for them. But I think she's always been more of a libertarian than a conservative. I know she was when I met her a couple years ago, and she was working for the New York Times as a staffer to John Tierney.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 18, 2007 11:42 AM

Well then she's found her niche, certainly. But she ought to work on her cogency. You can't write for a magazine called Reason and merely wander around in a garden of bright images.

Or maybe you can, I dunno. There's a sad tendency I've noticed in that libertarians are clever, useful people when they're criticizing or otherwise in opposition, but when they own the shop (Reason) or aspire to (Ron Paul) they seem to turn into flakes and cranks. It's almost like libertarianism is only productive as a counterweight to other governing philosophies. Odd, that.

Posted by Carl Pham at August 18, 2007 01:25 PM

Carl got it in one: it's a "generic paean to private enterprise."

The context and circumstances of the Scaled Composites accident and the STS-118 tile damage are so different that there really isn't much to be learned from juxtaposing them. But Mangu-Ward knows a priori that a comparison of government and private activity will always favor the latter, and aimlessly turns over facts under the impression that she's building an argument.

I'm beginning to understand some of the oddities that have cropped up in John's op-eds on space.

Posted by Monte Davis at August 18, 2007 03:19 PM

You would be tearing your hair out too if you knew that if you do guess wrong there is a Congressional investigation and Presidential Commission in your future that will second guess everything thing, no matter how minor, you did and said on it.

Posted by Thomas Matula at August 19, 2007 01:59 PM

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