Look! Up in the Sky!

We’re going to run this long, because it’s even better that way:

Benjamin Wallace-Wells is a contributing writer for the magazine and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation. His last article for the magazine was about the legal scholar Cass Sunstein.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 6, 2011

An article on Jan. 16 about drilling for oil off the coast of Angola erroneously reported a story about cows falling from planes, as an example of risks in any engineering endeavor. No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig. The story is an urban legend, and versions of it have been reported in Scotland, Germany, Russia and other locations.

Anybody who Googles “Cass Sunstein AND falling cows”, we’re here to serve.

The Will to Drill [NYT, via TPM]

Image: Gomberg Kites


Figures it was someone from Kal who said it.

From the original article:

There is an element of uncertainty in every complicated engineering endeavor. “In July 2003, in the Pacific, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk by a flying cow,” Robert Bea told me. Bea is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading scholar of risk; he also spent many years working in research and management at Shell. The cow, it turned out, was part of an illegal cattle shipment bound from Anchorage to Russia; as the plane approached its destination the smugglers became nervous about their cargo and began shoving it out of the plane. “No risk analysis can ever be complete. No one can predict a flying cow.”

Emphasis mine.

That’s better than “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

Many people had a cow when Cass Sunstein, Mr. Cost-benefit, was brought into the Obama Admin.

“Cass Sunstein AND falling cows AND Glenn Beck”


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