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Hewlett-Packard Company Message Board

  • stillcenter stillcenter Oct 10, 2003 12:33 PM Flag

    HPQ merger = Apollo 13

    A key turning point in the onset of decadence in America was the making of the film "Apollo 13." This film accomplished the remarkable feat of reprocessing an embarrassing failure into an heroic saga. The Apollo 13 mission was a total failure in terms of its objectives, but because the lives of the astronauts were saved through quick thinking and ingenuity, the film represents the mission as a greater triumph than if it has met its original objectives. The message of the movie is that glorious failure is an attractive option - provided it allows for heroic posturing, grandstanding, and strutting on the part of the men who manage the failure.

    The American cinematic formula of failure reprocessing was repeated in "Blackhawk Down," where the failed US mission to Somalia is transformed into a glorious massacre of Somali irregulars by elite Army rangers who are rescued after a bungled mission.

    It now appears that the Apollo 13 syndrome is applicable to the reprocessing of failures all across American society. In the case of the HPQ merger, the failure of the merger to lift the stock price and to allow the merged company to overtake its competitors has been transformed into a a personal success story for CEO charlatan Cara Sneed. Because of her scrappiness in refusing to back off from a stupid merger and her willingness to do "something extraordinary" to get her way, Sneed is hailed as a great business leader.

    America needs to get its collective head screwed back on straight and to call things by their proper names. A failure remains a failure, even if those involves flail around in an impressive way. If we can no longer distinguish between posturing and performance, we are in deep trouble.

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    • I hate to get sidetracked on a movie (Apollo 13), but if you didn't read that movie as exactly the opposite of what you claim, there is little hope for you.

      There was a plan (explore the moon), there was a launch, something unexpectedly went wrong. The human mind and technology were applied to redress the problem, lives were saved. And around the world, most of us realized what had just happened because of excellent concurrent communication. It didn't take the movie for most of us to recognize what had happened, so you are probably incorrect there.

      This is no different than what some mere mortals (e.g. physicians, firefighters, inventors, the military, etc.) do every day, except for the scale and remoteness of the incident, the degree of difficulty required to ameliorate the problem, the global reach and public nature of the event.

      You can argue that we shouldn't have been gong to the moon anyway (or meddling in Somalia, or...(pick your topic du jour)), and maybe you're correct, but maybe not. If you weren't around before the space program, you may not recall that the scale of miniaturization and light weight was different after the space program started than before. I will not rehash all the materials developed through research for the space program, but computing, household appliances, and many other developments were spurred by space exploration. It is a measure of the importance of the program to national prestige that China is now ready to hit the heavens, nearly half a century after the US.

      I should also point out that the Somali debacle was caused, not by US Rangers deposited in hostile territory, but by the failure of a civilian government (namely a Secretary of Defense from Wisconsin, Les Aspin) to supply its people, on the ground and in the know, with proper transport which had been requested by those in the field. He judged, from his safe perch in Washington, that armored vehicles requested for the mission weren't necessary. Another case, like yours, of folks not understanding the depth of a problem, and suggesting solutions with no consequence to themselves.

      • 3 Replies to shbrom
      • The most surprising thing about the Apollo program is not that we got to the moon, but that we never went back.

      • I have to agree with shbrom on this one still.

        My sister had a chance to talk with Michael Collins many years ago when she was a house guest at his home. One of the many things he told her about the historic Apollo 11 moon mission was that he was told that there was a 50/50 chance that he would be coming home alone. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. The Apollo missions were on the cutting edge of technology and were, therefore, inherently very dangerous. All of the astronauts were aware of these risks and accepted them. The fact that some of the missions experienced problems should not be viewed as a failure by NASA.

        I also agree that many technological advances came about because of the space program. And let's not forget about Space Food Sticks and Tang :)

        Colonel Buck

      • One interesting technology which achieved commercial success primarily because of the space program was Intel's 4004, the first Microprocessor. Intel initially developed the 4004 for a Japanese company called Busicom. The design reached first silicon in January 1971, but Busicom went under before they could take the chip to market. Intel had retained rights, and sold the concept to NASA as a way to reduce weight and power on spacecraft.

        The development of the microprocessor might have been delayed for years without NASA as a 4004 client...

        from h ttp://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa092998.htm
        "The Pioneer 10 spacecraft used the 4004 microprocessor. It was launched on March 2, 1972 and was the first spacecraft and microprocessor to enter the Asteroid Belt. "

    • Well still_a_shit_head, maybe they will get around to making a movie about you and your "great accomplishmentss" and portray you as a "hero" before they see the light and start again making movies about snow white and jack in the bean stalk.

    • lol....VERY well said. Yes, as usual.

 
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