Bosses and Boomers

Leland Teschler’s editorial on knuckleheaded bosses brought in dozens of comments, most describing nitwit leaders. (You can see many of these comments online at http://tinyurl.com/mqwcpdm). Another reader chimes in that baby boomers didn’t make very good engineers, either.


Bosses breaking bad

Your editorial (“Knuckleheads I’ve Worked For,” Sept. 11) testifies to the enormous egos of many corporate leaders. These “leaders” fail to realize that their success (or failure) is a result of the entire organization’s efforts.

Beyond that, your “quality” experience illustrates the propensity of company management to jump on bandwagons usually advocated by “experts.”
The egomaniac leaders are the ones who apparently are gullible enough to believe that consultant-based initiatives have merit and will result in miraculous results for the company. Particularly amazing is that they fail to see that they are being duped by people with a vested interest in keeping new bandwagons available for all to jump on.

— Bruce Meyers


Going nuke

Your commentary (“Fracking: It’s Better Than the Alternatives,” Aug. 6) on fracking was spot-on for the near term. While power plants can run on compressed gas, long-distance vehicles such as trucks and trains need liquefied natural gas. Hopefully plans are in the works to build the LNG infrastructure needed to power fleets of trucks to fully realize the benefits of natural gas.
In the long run, nuclear energy would seem to be the best option, considering its emissions and overall footprint. The two downsides that you mention, hazardous waste and public perception, seem to be manageable. Safety issues, such as the failure of Japan’s nuclear plant after the earthquake, can be addressed with proper system design.

Radioactive waste is more of a storage issue than a disposal issue. We have the technology to store it, it’s simply a question of where and dealing with the NIMBY factor. Although it doesn’t get much publicity, probably because of security concerns, we already store nuclear material at power plants and in our weapons depots. Have you ever wondered what happened to all the warheads that have been taken out of service under the START treaties? After the warheads are dismantled and rendered incapable of exploding, the highly enriched weapons-grade material goes into long-term storage.

There is a program called Megatons to Megawatts in which Russian warheads are processed into fuel for our nuclear-power plants. About 50% of our nuclear power is generated using fuel from Russian warheads. Although some highly enriched uranium has been converted to fuel power plants, the vast majority of the U. S. supply sits in storage at various weapons depots. It has been estimated that there is enough uranium in storage to provide all of our electricity from nuclear power for the next 100 years, including projected growth. All we have to do is build the power plants to use this existing resource.

— John Reynolds

DDT and malaria

In the ’50s, DDT was sprayed to eradicate or limit mosquitoes in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Since DDT was banned, the number of mosquitoes has grown enormously and millions of people have died from malaria as a result. So Rachel Carson may have helped save some birds and insects with her book, but the price paid was literally millions of human lives.
There should be more thought given to all “save the world” projects before harming one group to save another, especially when one of the groups consists of human beings.

Who will be harmed if the global warming group has its way?

— Name withheld by request

Bye-Bye Boomers

The massive removal of baby-boomers from engineering will be a good thing. I’ve been right behind them my whole career, pushing them out of the way. There are some engineers in that generation who know their stuff. However, most of the really good engineers I’ve worked with were from the generation before. The guys who were working during Word War II, the Korean War, and the early days of the Cold War are the ones to emulate.

— Phil Jones