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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The San Jose mine rescue

The Chilean miner rescue is a wonderful thing to watch. The miners are being rescued from what up until this past decade would have been certain death. Think about that for a moment. All the mining that that has gone on in the world over the millenia, and until about 10 years ago, miners like these Chileans would have - in similar circumstances - faced certain, horrible deaths.

To quote Patrick O'Brian's Captain Aubry from Master and Commander: "What a fascinating, modern world we live in."

But even as I watched, moist eyed and joyous, I was unable to keep a thought from popping into my head:

The place was a media circus and the president of Chile was personally grandstanding the event. If something went wrong in the rescue as a result of media or political pressure we would never know it. Were engineers and rescuers being at all hampered by an imperative to, essentially, make the event good TV? Was anything at all in the rescue schedule or the rescue process being effected by considerations such as the president's presence on the scene? Was any equipment placed or were any rescue personnel staged in certain places because of TV camera angles?

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