[OS X TeX] NASA, Word, TeX and PowerPoint

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Wed Feb 4 18:40:30 CET 2009

On Feb 4, 2009, at 12:24 PM, Joseph C. Slater PE, PhD wrote:

> On Feb 4, 2009, at 12:00 PM, Adam M. Goldstein wrote:
>> Right, my thought about the NASA bussiness immediately was, if  
>> they had used, say Beamer or TeX in general more widely, their  
>> communication would have been that much more effective, and then  
>> things such as what Tufte refers to in his little pamphlet  
>> wouldn't have occurred.
>> Moreover it occurs to me that Springer, at least, has a LaTeX  
>> submission option that allows you to upload your source, and it  
>> will typeset it and show you the completed PDF. So it's not as  
>> though this is impossible. You are supposed to put in any macros  
>> you want to use in the document itself. They are not generating a  
>> house style, I don't think, with manuscripts, but the auto upload  
>> does work. NSF's fastlane works the same way.
>> <snip>
> My sense, in having worked with NASA and US Military folks for 18  
> years, is that they are briefed and briefing to death. Instead of a  
> few high quality reports, the tendency is to generate PP after PP  
> presentation in what turns into a dog and pony show. IMHO an  
> excruciating amount of time is spent trying to show that things are  
> "getting done" in place of time better spent a) doing it, b)  
> documenting it. I really don't think Beamer, etc. solves the real  
> problem. It's about the fact that presentations have an  
> environment, and an expectation, that is not conducive to critical  
> thinking about details. The details can't be shown in a  
> presentation lest the presentation last more than the allotted time/ 
> attention span/donut supply. We spend a year of class time in  
> engineering going over Newton's laws for a variety of situations,  
> and it's not exhaustive. However, give me the details showing  
> whether it's safe to de-orbit the shuttle seems to have gotten 3  
> hours of presentation. The devil indeed was in those details. The  
> first presentation had an obvious statement that would have made me  
> panic, but someone important sipped coffee at the wrong time, and  
> oops, the test conditions being totally irrelevant to the situation  
> was blown right over.

And, methink, exactly the same goes on with governments' reactions   
to, say, economic crises, global warming, etc.

Poor everybody.

Rueful regards

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