[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Tue Feb 12 23:55:29 UTC 2008

On Tuesday 12 February 2008, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> > working for the Voyager 2 mission Photopolarimeter team at the Jet
> > Propulsion Laboratory.
> The funding for space missions has collapsed, too.

I am reminded of:

> In the mid-1960s my father worked for a contractor on the Apollo 
> program. Realizing that once the moon rocket design was substantially 
> complete, engineers would be superfluous (a Briton would say 
> redundant), in 1968 he transfered, within his company, out of the 
> space program to a group in another state designing time-shared 
> mainframes for business applications. It was the best decision of his 
> career, but one that was very controversial at the time ("you're 
> leaving the space program?!?"). I will carry the memory of the period 
> that followed to my grave. Some time after the transfer, the NASA cuts 
> began, and we started getting phone calls (at home!) from my father's 
> former coworkers, looking for work -- any work, any where, in any 
> field. More than 20,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians in the 
> state of Florida alone -- and probably 100,000 or more around the 
> country -- were laid of as fast as the mimeograph machines could 
> reproduce the pink slips. Engineers were driving taxis and bagging 
> groceries in the towns around the Kennedy Space Center. The ultimate 
> was when my father returned to the dinner table from another call to 
> announce that the caller had been his former boss's boss's boss, 
> looking for any work -- even a drafting position (six levels down the 
> corporate ladder, and one that did not require a college degree). Like 
> all the other callers, he had a wife, x young children, and a mortgage 
> to support. (Homes were essentially unsellable in the areas around the 
> major contractors' plants; the mortgages were greater than their 
> market value, so foreclosures were the norm.) I hope I have 
> sufficiently expressed the desperate nature of the situation.                        

- Bryan
Bryan Bishop

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