Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Du Lieber Augustine!

Leiber Augistin
According to legend (and this entry in Wikipedia), Lieber Augustin, referred to in the song "Oh du lieber Augustin" lived in Vienna during the Plague period of 1678-1679.

One evening, Lieber hoisted a few too many glasses of wine and decided to nap off his hangover in a pit next to the bodies of plague victims. Next morning he awoke (much to the shock of those who witnessed the event and assumed him dead) so the rumor spread that wine acted as a cure for the plague. 

How does this relate to the present day Norm Augustine, and his current position as chairman of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee? That's easy. Liber, was given a second chance at life and Norm Augustine has been given a second chance to chair an advisory committee on the future of the US space program.

It's interesting to see how the first Augustine report (written in 1990 and available online here) compares with the current report released earlier today. According to the article "NASA needs Direction? Call Norm Augustine!" from the Daily Planet website:
The 1990 panel worried about a “lack of a national consensus as to what should be the goals of the civil space program.” Still true.

They said “NASA is currently over committed in terms of program obligations relative to resources available.” It still is.

The 1990 report (also) lamented management inefficiencies at the space agency, a graying workforce, and the tendency “for projects to grow in scope, complexity, and cost.” Check, check, and check.
Of course the first Augustin ended up scaring people and driving them to drink (but only as an antidote to the plague, of course).

Only time will tell what the current Augustine ends up doing.

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