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The Gods of the Copy Book Headings…updated

Good intentions but with bad engineering still equals dead people in the train wreck….

The Real And The Fake of ObamaCare: Politicians can’t talk their way out of a technological mess.

All appearances to the contrary, the managers involved in this debacle aren’t dumb. But they come from a background — law and politics — where arguments often take the place of reality, and plausibility can be as good as, or better than, truth.

What engineers know that lawyers and politicians often don’t is that in the world of things, as opposed to people, there’s no escaping the sharp teeth of reality. But in law, and especially politics, inconvenient facts are merely inconvenient, something to be rationalized away.

When our country has accomplished great things in the past, there has usually been a great engineer running the program: Hyman Rickover with the nuclear submarine program, or Wernher von Braun with the Apollo space program, for example. Rickover and von Braun were famously stern taskmasters, but they did not substitute wishes for reality.

Which may be why they were able to launch submarines, and rockets that astounded the world. While today, we can’t even launch a website.

Read the whole thing!

UPDATE: Reader G.L. Carlson writes:

For years, I told MBA’s working on new product programs that there are two kinds of laws. Man-made law is a mutable matter of opinion, persuasion, and convenience. Mother Nature has no pity, brooks no argument, and enforces HER laws absolutely with massive indifference to the consequences. Breaking the speed limit may get you fined; ignoring gravity will get you killed.

This understanding is a fundamental difference between those trained in science and those in liberal arts. The latter may get it; the former always do (or win Darwin awards, thus leaving the field).

Indeed. Though to be fair, this is precisely the sort of thing that a rigorous liberal arts education — as opposed to the sloppier modern alternatives — did in fact teach.


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