Michael Lewis’s Deep Dive Into the Department of Energy

From Michael Lewis at Vanity Fair:

This piece is long, like 30 minutes long. But I believe it is well worth giving it a full read. I have jotted down some quotes below for my reference, but they do not add much without the context of the full story.

— “You have only been here 200 years so you can only imagine 200 years into the future.”

— “Resistance to understanding a threat grows with proximity.”

— “‘The reason the Hanford cleanup sucks–in a word–is shortcuts,’ said Carpenter. ‘Too many goddamn shortcuts.'”

— “…here is another way to think of John MacWilliams’s fifth risk: the risk a society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.”

— “Program management is all the ‘less detectable, systemic risks.’ Some of the things any incoming president should worry about are fast-moving: natural disasters, terrorist attacks. But most are not. Most are like bombs with very long fuses that, in the distant future, when the fuse reaches the bomb, might or might not explode.”

— “If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is a downside to knowledge. It makes life messier.”