September 4th, 2006


More Antique Technology

Frank Rich in the NY Times said that Donald Rumsfeld had been asleep at the switch when the destruction of Baghdad happened early in the war.  We usually say "asleep at the wheel" nowadays, which is clear enough but doesn't carry the same connotation of permitting a general disaster to occur.  Of course the metaphor is from railroads, where the switchman had to manually switch tracks at a Y or wye switch, for an oncoming train to be sent out on the right track rather than the disastrously wrong one, where the night mail or the milk train or the crack express was coming on.  Sticky switches a source of horror or comedy in early films.