[FPSPACE] How cultural differences turn lemons into lemonade

DwayneDay zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 18 13:13:55 EDT 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: LARRY KLAES <ljk4 at msn.com>

>It's funny reading the reaction of the person who owned the apartment that got
smacked by the Chinese return capsule last week.  They actually considered this
a source for good luck.  

Ever see the movie "The World According to Garp"?  In the movie, Garp is thinking about buying a home when an airplane crashes into it.  He immediately tells his wife that they have to buy it because now there is virtually no possibility of something like that happening to it again.  It's "pre-disastered."

I wonder if, when the Chinese guy was asked how he felt having his place destroyed by a government spacecraft, if there was a cop standing next to him?  That might have affected his comments to the press.

>Had it landed on an American home, there would no doubt be at least several lawsuits 
and a condemnation of space exploration in general as a needless expenditure while 
there is so much suffering in the world - though of course space has nothing to do 
with the sad state of human affairs.

So I imagine if your property was destroyed, you'd just laugh it off and start again?  All in the service of sending humanity into the cosmos?  (Me, I'd be rather mad.)

Actually, this raises an interesting question: if a US spacecraft fell on an American house, what liability does the US government have?  I believe that the US government will only pay for direct damage costs, not any punitive damages because of negligence or something like that.  So if a government employee in a government vehicle on government business swerves off the road and kills someone, that person's family cannot sue.*  This is based upon the old legal principle that "the king can do no wrong" (there is some latin term for this).  I presume this extends to spacecraft as well.  And there is a rather brutal logic to this, especially when you consider the scope of government operations and the opportunities for some minor government employee, such as an Air Force mechanic, to cause major mayhem.  (Of course, international law holds a government liable for any accidents caused to other parties for its spacecraft debris, even if the spacecraft is privately owned or even consortium owned).


*As with everything, there are exceptions.  A few years ago a friend of mine, an FBI agent, explained how she had to buy special insurance in case she screwed up on the job.  Normally the government will protect its law enforcement agents, except when it decides not to.  So if a federal agent gets drunk on the job and kills someone, the government will probably not defend them when they get sued. 

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