Three views on Chilean miners’ rescue

October 17, 2010

Theodore Dalrymple in the Wall Street Journal – In Chile the lessons of isolation:

That they behaved with great fortitude, courage, faith and dignity will hardly be denied by anyone; the efforts to save them were inspiring. . .  Angels could hardly have done better. . .

 . . . The miners were also aided by another factor. While they were isolated in the physical sense, they were far from isolated in any other. For once, media attention was wholly beneficial in its effects. The miners were in the eye of the world. They knew that what they did, how they acted, would be known to untold millions.

You have only to consider an alternative scenario to realize how important this was to their survival. Suppose that they had been trapped underground all that time, with enough food and drink to survive, but not knowing whether anyone was making an effort to reach them, or whether their plight was of any concern to anyone other than their immediate family (something that they could pretty well assume, but which in those circumstances would have been a cause of anxiety rather than of consolation). Would their conduct then have been so admirable? Would they have been able to maintain their equanimity to such a remarkable degree?

It seems intuitively very unlikely . . . Here, then, is an illustration of the evident but often forgotten fact that social pressure is conducive to virtue as well as to vice. . . No man but an out-and-out psychopath wants to appear worse than his fellows in the eyes of the world; and the miners’ (justified) pride in appearing brave and self-composed helped them to survive their ordeal. . .

Jim Hopkins in the NZ Herald: 33 reasons to make us feel more alive.

Take a bow, humanity. We made it happen. Or, more precisely, our inventions did.

So many inventions from so many inventors: cables and pulleys and machines that harness electricity; gears and cogs and pumps making oxygen; wires and winches and wirelesses, too.

And there, turning slowly on top of its simple wooden frame, raising the Phoenix upward, one of the earliest of them all, our liberating, rescuing wheel.

Throughout our time on this planet, it’s the things we’ve invented that have masked our frailty and freed us from it. Not completely, of course; we’re too frail for that.

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Disease and disaster still have their wicked way with us. So, for the frailties invention cannot master, we have faith and hope, prayer and drama. . .

. . .  No one watching the drama unfold on their picture machine can feel so intensely alive as those rescued miners must. Nor can we be as grateful and relieved as their families and lovers and friends. But we can share some part of those emotions and know that they make us feel more human and more alive.

“Be strong, my love. I love you,” one miner wrote to his wife from deep in the earth. “I love you.” That is all any of us can hope to hear. “Be strong, my love.” And that is all that any of us can be, whatever hole we’re in.

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal – Capitalism saved the miners (HatTip: Roger Kerr):

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism. . .

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.

This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill’s rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock’s president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That’s why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above. . .

Samsung of South Korea supplied a cellphone that has its own projector. Jeffrey Gabbay, the founder of Cupron Inc. in Richmond, Va., supplied socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria, and minimized odor and infection. . .

 In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry.But the reality behind the miracles is the same: Someone innovates something useful, makes money from it, and re-innovates, or someone else trumps their innovation. Most of the time, no one notices. All it does is create jobs, wealth and well-being. But without this system running in the background, without the year-over-year progress embedded in these capitalist innovations, those trapped miners would be dead. . .

Update:

Hamish Collins at No Minister writes on The Chilean miners and capitalism.

And Pablo at Kiwi Politico  posts on The real Chilean miracle.

Update 3: Robert Tracinski at Not PC on Something heroic in their way of trading.


Did you see the one about . . .

July 4, 2010

New Zealand and Uruguay as sporting equivalents – Pablo at Kiwipolitico compares one small country where sport and agriculture are important with another.

Don’t admit them to hospital then – Macdoctor on the smoking ban for prisoners.

Star the second – In A Strange Land has a star chart to help her stay dry for July.

What makes us happy? Rivetting Kate Taylor on what really matters.

Sparks in the universe – Stellar Cafe on the bright ideas that get away from you.

What determines productivity? – Anti-Dismal on attemts toa nswer the big question.

Biology isn’t destiny but it affects your saving throws – Offsetting Behaviour on nature vs nurutre.

Trio – Quote Unquote on tree planting and muttering and purring.

Mines railways or jobs – Liberty Scott on unintended consequences.

Happy Birthday to us – Gooner at No Minister on the blog’s third birthday.

TraeMe hints – Oswald Bastable knows something but he’s not telling much.

Farewell to the Independent – Liberation bids the paper goodbye with a parody of Chirs Trotter’s writing.

Apropos of which is The Independent 1992 – 2010 at Bowalley Road. He also discusses the redefinition of protest in Russel’s tussle.


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