Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Thailand cave rescue: all 12 boys and coach successfully rescued (theguardian.com)
971 points by wallflower 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 540 comments

I feel like we all really needed this story.

For once, there's nothing political or divisive. There's no one to be mad at. It's not "us or them".

The world's top experts came together, volunteered for a dangerous mission, sacrificed, and pulled it off. Ra! Ra! Humanity! Feels like a brief moment of redemption.

Judging by sibling comments, Hacker News needed it too. Hey guys, it's totally OK to just be happy that 12 kids were saved.

The news cycle sure thought we needed it.

Some people still decided to get mad at Elon.

I don’t get the down votes here. My point is that it is sad they should be happy he tried or say nothing.

>There's no one to be mad at.

Except at the soccer coach who thought it was a good idea to endanger 12 children by going into a cave during monsoon season which also led to the death of an innocent person?

The monsoon season starts in July. They went in at the end of June. All warning signs in front of the cave are about July through October. There's a risk there sure but you're giving out bad information here needlessly.

Remember that two weeks ago, monsoon season hadn't started yet.

"If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost, just as many volunteers turn out. Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature—a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price. Weakness? It might be the unique strength that wins us a Galaxy."

(Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein)

"If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do."

(The Martian by Andy Weir)

"The Buggers have finally, finally learned that we humans value each and every individual human life... But they've learned this lesson just in time for it to be hopelessly wrong—for we humans do, when the cause is sufficient, spend our own lives. We throw ourselves onto the grenade to save our buddies in the foxhole. We rise out of the trenches and charge the entrenched enemy and die like maggots under a blowtorch. We strap bombs on our bodies and blow ourselves up in the midst of our enemies. We are, when the cause is sufficient, insane."

(Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card)

Well, in this case one of the Thai divers died from running out of oxygen... but 12 - 1 is still a win if you want to reduce it to arithmetic.

Except with the money spent they could have saved 50000 kids from dying from easily preventable diarrheal diseases with inexpensive vaccines.

It's not just the 12 kids. With the money spent Thailand is paying for a belief in the minds of its people: that the government would do the same for their kid.

I'd argue that this kind of belief is extremely valuable for a country's economics as a whole. In order for the populace to be economically productive (and save 50000 kids from dying of diarrheal diseas) you need to create a safe, reliable, and predictable environment. Governments insuring against events like kids getting lost in caves is the way that they get that.

Yep, same reason Private Ryan was saved (in the movie).

We still can spend money and save 50000 kids, it is not an A OR B problem.

There is plenty of money and resources out there to save all kids dying from easily preventable diarrheal diseases. There is no political will to do that.

Your comment is fading, and I upvoted even though I don't really agree with your premise.

I do have a respectful question though - are you, personally, acting to save those 50,000 kids? Is there an effective organization out there that accepts donations for this kind of thing, and if so, are you giving to them?

That's a false equivalency. Those two choices aren't mutually exclusive.

At some point they are.

My thinking is that we're a long way from that point -- there are numerous other, small, sacrifices that can be made.

What a great book, just finished listening to it. Afterwards I heard a lot of people thought it had a pro military/war bent; I don't think they read the book

A lot of people consider Starship Troopers to be pro-military (the US military itself has it on the recommended reading list for the enlisted). Heinlen's background and the situation surrounding the writing of the book also suggests it would be pro-military.

I'm curious as to what would make you think otherwise?

Sources: https://sites.google.com/a/newmyths.com/nmwebsite/non_fictio... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers

I always thought that the concept that you had to earn your right to vote was an interesting one. In the book, in order to vote, you first had to complete [onerous] military service.

“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.” - Startship troopers [1]

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2534973-starship-troop...

I've read it multiple times (first when I was 16) and I still think it has a fundamental pro-military bent. Heinlein himself said so, I don't see any reason to doubt him.

I don't think it was pro-war at all. But it could certainly be said it was pro upholding a strong military tradition in the concept of a voting population as a form of civil service to earn full citizenship.

And since the only people who would be voting would be the ones who were or had done the dying, it's likely a very strong anti-war book, as one would presume only absolutely necessary wars would ever be fought.

Military people are on average more pro war then average population. Military leadership gains power with wars and looses it with peace.

Pacifists happen to join armies less.

We're talking about a hypothetical electorate made up of mostly enlisted soldiers who were on the shit end of the stick when it comes to war.

And I am talking about actual attitudes of various real world demographics. Right now.

But also, Nazi leadership was on the shit end of the stick when it comes to WWI. That did not prevented them to start WWII. Instead, the experience normalized the violence for them and shaped their believes. On the other side, Stalin was fighter in particularly cruel war too in his formative years. Was not peaceful either.

Lastly and less importantly, people who had done dying don't vote, they are dead. Only people who survived previous war vote. And survivors often internalized values that are help to survive the war. They sometimes have hard time to adjust to peaceful life afterwards. Your presumption that "only absolutely necessary wars would ever be fought" has no basis in reality.

Also, your theory assumes that enlisted soldiers actions are motivated primary by self-preservation and will vote on that. Some are, but many are not. Others are motivated by duty, career progression, pride, social status, honor, professionalism, tradition, salary, wish to prove themselves or simply by liking to be in the army structure. In case of your hypothetical army, many men will join for career in politics and social status reasons. People motivated primary by self preservation wont join your hypothetical army.

Interesting points.

Ok well quite a few hundred reviewers have read the book and consider it virulently militaristic, and some go further considering it jingoistic, and fascist. I don't know enough about Heinlein, but I kinda rather doubt he was advocating fascism. But it would not surprise me if he thought civilian control of the military was backwards, because I've had this conversation with members of the military. And some of them have overtly expressed people who have not picked up a weapon and used it to defend the country (I guess by shooting and killing, but perhaps merely by taking the risk to their own life) should not have a right to vote. And that is directly expressed in Starship Troopers as a matter of public policy. If you don't serve, you aren't a citizen, you cannot vote, and you cannot be a member of the government.

This may not have been what Heinlein intended to convey. But I tend not to find an author's advocacy relevant when reading fiction. I see the author as giving me rope to hang myself if I choose, rather than considering that they advocate anything at all. As I read it, militarism so permeated that society that the only possible contrarian point of view would come from the reader. And I thought that was the whole point of the book. It doesn't matter whether that's Heinlein's intent.

If it's true Heinlein just didn't convey the vast majority of Federal Service was non-military, and yet all we have to go on is the exclusively militaristic bent as written, that deficiency might make the book all the better just to have the ensuing ideological battles and discussions that resulted. And this book generated quite a lot of them at the time, and I see it as overwhelmingly beneficial.

A likely metaphor to the non-citizens of Starship Troopers are those who of their own volition do not enter into military service, do not vote, do not participate in government - exist in large numbers in the U.S. Most Americans now do not vote, they're simply along for the ride, and in effect aren't citizens in any meaningful way (other than perhaps they can't be deported - but in Starship Troopers it was a world government so there's no concept of deportation anyway).

My takeaway from the book was that it wasn't so much about militarism as it was a critique of universal suffrage.

Fantastic book. And I'm pretty sure it's a staunch anti-war critique.

No it's not, but the movie was.

Just check the wiki page, he wrote it himself (under Major Themes, Militarism): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers

Interesting, I'll have to re-read as it's been several years. My original takeaway was that the surface level pro-military engagement aspect was meant as deep irony and that the user was encouraged to draw their own conclusions. Mine was that war is horrific, even if done for the right reasons.

"Yeah, war is horrible, but we have to do it."

That's militarism.

That reminds me of another quote: "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee, commenting on the Battle of Fredericksburg

I feel like that is overly simplistic. The world is not black and white.

True, of course it's a simplification. What I meant to say is that the militaristic argument will always be that you'd rather avoid war, but you're forced into it. This doesn't mean that it's never true- but rather that you should be highly suspicious of the claim.

Yes, this is definitely true. The sincere form of this argument is very easily co-opted by the military industrial complex.

Reality check is that armies do the math and do leave people behind. Rescuers do risk bith lives and life time injuries, but won't go into action that is likely to kill more of them then the amount of saved people.

That book is fiction, fun to read but still made up.

They were categorically losing that war, in the book and in the movie.

Yet who shows up for the 3.1 million children who die of malnutrition every year? Every 3 minutes we lose more children then were in the cave.

We can comprehend 13 people and the struggle against nature, while the scope of world hunger is far too complex and emotionally incomprehensible to mobilize enough people.

Yet who shows up for the 3.1 million children who die of malnutrition every year?

Billionaires like Bill Gates. Countless volunteer aid workers with organizations such as MSF.

Fact #1: Since 1960, child deaths have plummeted from 20 million a year to 6 million a year. [1] This was posted quite recently here on HN. Perhaps you missed it.

At the end of the day, the problem of child poverty and the death and suffering it causes is an enormous one but we are making progress on it. Could we do better? Yes. Could we do worse? Oh yes, way way worse.

[1] https://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Max-Roser-three-facts...

I’d say Bill & Melinda gates foundation + charities that fight preventable diseases have saved more lives than super heroes.

It’s so easy to forget how nasty Spanish flu, small pox and polio was. My grandfather has stories where they would burn people’s houses/huts with the people alive inside if they had contracted the disease. It was brutal. A curse that would wipe an entire enpire.

I hear that argument a lot. 6 million is a holocaust a year, I don't know if that is worth celebrating.

You literally turned the number on its head. Obviously OP is not celebrating 6 million dead, but celebrating the 14 million saved.

And if you look at that as a percentage of the current population. The number of deaths went DOWN as the population grew by billions. It’s amazing

It is worth celebrating because 14 million per year were saved.

20 million a year minus 6 million a year is 14 million a year. That's over two holocausts a year that are no longer dying. That's worth celebrating...

... without forgetting the holocaust a year that is still happening.

Focus on celebrating the 14 million not dying, and the trajectory that it represents.

Globalization lifts 138k people out of extreme poverty per day.


But about 3 times as much new people are born, most of them in poverty....

But a lower percentage are in poverty every year.

My opinion on this is unpopular, but I will say it anyway; People shouldn't have more kids than they can afford.

The way you reduce family size is by increasing the standard of living, reducing the child mortality rate, and increasing access to education and birth control.

In poor countries children are your retirement savings, so at an individual level having more children is a rational decision. In many cases they aren't having more kids than they can afford--they can't afford not to have more kids. Even at a national level it's not clear that lowering birth rates without additional changes would help a country economically.

Well, sure, but the people having 8 kids in Sudan probably aren't checking the comments on HN for family planning advice.

So they are probably (well, not probably)... they ARE going to have more kids whether you like it or not.

The question becomes how do we (Western society, which has more resources than we know what to do with) address the issue and try to do good in the world.

> The question becomes how do we (Western society, which has more resources than we know what to do with) address the issue and try to do good in the world

Be involved in how your governments and MNC's behave in these countries. These entities are more likely to pay attention when you, as a voter or customer with more disposable income, say something compared to the citizens of poorer countries who have less of a voice.

> My opinion on this is unpopular, but I will say it anyway; People shouldn't have more kids than they can afford.

It's a natural response to the hardship. If the chance that the kid make it is 10%, then make 10 times more kids. That way you have around 100% chance that your lineage makes it through life.

You never have an around 100% chance. You always have less. The chance of at least one out of ten making it if they have 10% chance each is: 1-0.9^10, that's two thirds.

In other words: In a society where 90% of children die and women have 10 births, one third of the mothers will lose all. All assuming the deaths are independent of course.

To me that is quite a popular opinion. Unfortunately, as often is with popular opinions, it is quite... unhelpful. For the vast majority of eart's population, kids are a pension insurance that guarantee income if you happen to live old. As soon as kids turn from asset to economical liability, number of kids fall dramatically. This has been seen over and over again.

I'll go further and say that we should seriously consider getting fewer children, period. We have limited resources here on Earth, and while I could probably support a couple without problems, those resources would be better spent on those who are already here.

I'm only 25 so I don't know how I'll feel in 10-20 years, but right now this is part of my consideration when thinking about long-term goals and whether I'd want to have kids at some point. I might, so for that eventuality, plan B is to adopt. Plan C is to have one (and only one) kid, which already turns two parents into one descendant, so that's better than nothing.

The only thing I'm worried about is that smart families will do this and the stupid ones produce six. It's in the education and not in the genes... but it's also in the upbringing, and if they're brought up with the mentality of the kind of people who currently get six kids...

That's the problem with saying "people should have less children". Yes, they should, but the people who will listen are often the people best equipped to raise children. If prosperous, well educated people have less children (who we can assume will end up better educated) and poor people have more (who we can assume will not receive those opportunities), that will only increase the imbalance.

People shouldn't get into car accidents, get cancer, no one should have to bury a child, etc.

We shouldn't turn to ideals in an effort to ignore or abdicate responsibility in dealing with the reality we are given.

But shouldn't every mating pair be able to afford having at least 2 children? Otherwise we will eventually go extinct.

And good for the individuals, but that still means there is a scarily large number of persons in extreme poverty.

From the article: "in 1820, 94 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (...). In 1990 this figure was 34.8 percent, and in 2015, just 9.6 percent."

> who die of malnutrition

Do they die of malnutrition or governmental corruption? I thought it was proven in the 1980's that the problem isn't a lack of food, it's the degenerate political systems blocking aid from reaching those who are dying. At least that's the prevailing narrative on reddit.

There is also the issue that food is not free and people starving can't pay for it.

Which fuels corruption. Charity imports tons of food for the poor, only to be intercepted by someone in the government and resold for profit. I admit that's a generalisation and I have no idea what actually happens. I've only read that the food has a very hard time making it to those who need it most. Which is why I applaud Gates' charity for rethinking it and trying to get to the root of the problem.

I honestly think this is an oversimplification.

1. Food is free for the starving in many places around the world.

2. Where it isn't free, a meal of rice and beans is usually within reach of even the poorest.

3. Where it is out of reach of the poor, it may be due to corruption; ie North Korea redirecting food supplies to the army instead of the public, and withholding it from prison camps.

Don't fixate on the price or you'll miss the forest for the trees.

It's both corruption, and economics. A lot of places with famines are capable of being self-sufficient, in terms of food production, but it's just not profitable for farmers to grow it (And sell it domestically).

When a million people died in the Irish potato famine, it wasn't just because the United Kingdom prevented foreign aid from reaching Ireland. Ireland was the breadbasket of the empire - throughout that entire time, it was a net exporter of food.

Not to mention the fact that the fate of those children is decided before they are conceived.

It is the handiwork of the rapists that beget these children.

> We can comprehend 13 people and the struggle against nature, while the scope of world hunger is far too complex and emotionally incomprehensible to mobilize enough people

These are different disasters. The cave impacted 13 random children. Hunger impacts millions of poor children. One is random, the other more predictable.

There are utilitarian arguments for numbing oneself to tragedy which predictably strikes those without resources while defending those visited by random misfortune. (Note: I am not arguing for this utilitarian calculus. Just describing it.)

Define random. The million of poor children are randomly selected too.

> Define random. The million of poor children are randomly selected too.

Coarsely, what happened to these kids could happen to ours. Starvation, less likely. In-group selection is built into our natures, and that is on display here.

Practically, saving these kids takes a short burst of effort. Their families will pick up the slack thereafter because they have—on average—the resources to do so. Saving children from hunger takes long stretches of coördination, together with efforts to ensure their education (to prevent the problem from repeating in the next generation).

It is cruel, and there is probably a solution. But the analogy between these problems is flawed. With minimal assistance, the cave children will become self-sustaining again. That is not true for the chronically hungry.

My guess is that Thailand wanted to be on the spotlight. There are kids dying of hunger, disease, sex-enslavement, violence or negligence (car/house accidents). But they are very unlikely to be on the spotlight.

We don't want to be humanly. We want to be praised for being humanly.

> My guess is that Thailand wanted to be on the spotlight.

I need to coin a term for this concept, I see it on every Hacker News thread once it reaches a certain size. It is the attribution of the topic to some nefarious intention of a dude in marketing. Once you start noticing it you can't unsee.

Intel fires their CEO? It's a PR stunt.

Startup abandons Europe due to GDPR? PR STUNT!

AlphaZero beats professionals at Dota 2? You guessed it, it's just PR for oligarchy parent Alphabet.

I see this so often now it's becoming humorous. As if some how this being all about PR explains everything. It doesn't explain anything! Although I'm sure Bill over in marketing loves that he has subsumed the historical role of deity in explaining the unknown.

This is a corollary to the /r/HailCorporate mentality, where every discussion about/mention of a brand is astroturfing. Healthy skepticism is encouraged, but there's a point where it becomes FUD, and perhaps in some cases as destructive as any surreptitious marketing.

Not really; their fate is practically predetermined. As in, any child that will be conceived in those areas of the world is highly likely to die of malnutrition. We cannot similarly predict that a not-yet-conceived child will end up trapped in a cave.

I think you need to be even more cynical. E.g., we're actively assisting in creating famine in Yemen.

It also has to do with drama (saving a kid from starvation doesn't make gripping television) and the perceived futility of it. So you give a kid a meal. Then what? The next day the kid is in exactly the same situation as before. To say nothing of the fact that most starvation is caused by distribution problems that are ultimately rooted in intransigent-seeming politics.

When you try to get a kid out of a cave there is at least some hope of lasting success.

It's about conceptual accessibility to the solution.

When you have a small group dying of hunger because of a drought, it is easy to perceive what to do and your ability to realize it. So people are more likely to speak up.

If a drought affects an entire nation, you're at least aware this must be a complicated task. So you're more reluctant to criticize inaction.

That behavior is especially problematic when the solutions are abstract or long-term.

I keep coming back to this. How many lives could have been saved it improved with the expense we put into saving 12 people who went caving in monsoon season?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad society found a way to save them, I just wish we took the every day threats to human life more seriously.

When you think 'the money', you're probably counting sunk costs.

What do Thai Navy divers do? If there's no war on, they're probably training. What better training than a live rescue mission? I.e. the wages for those highly skilled Thai teams have probably been paid down already.

Similarly international forces benefit from co-operation because it's something they would want to do anyway: good will, training in co-operation, skills training.

As for volunteers their time is hardly a cost in the same way. But if you're a cave diving medic, the expected utility of using your time to save people in a cave is probably better than working and donating to a charity.

I’d bet 0. The money “saved” from not helping these kids would probably have saved exactly 0 other people.

Because for better or worse, that’s not how most money is redistributed.

I think you're viewing this wrong. This wasn't a one-time $2M spend on saving 12 people, this was cashing in on an insurance policy where citizens of Thailand pay premiums in forms of taxes.

Failing to save these kids is the case you want to think about - that would be sending the message to the public that if your kid gets lost in the mountains we're not going to save them. Sure this particular "insurance claim" (in this impromptu parlance) was an expensive one, but most of the others aren't, and the thing about insurance is that it is there particularly when the costs are catastrophic.

13 people were in their situation by chance and bad luck. 3.1 million people are in their position likely because of corrupt governments.

We can help the 13 because government is not the cause and there is nothing to undo, we cannot help the 3.1 as easily because it would take either removing the government in power to putting the 3.1 in further jeopardy trying to fix it. So the real question becomes, when will the world recognize that some small countries need outside governance to see to the needs of their people. Right now sovereignty is absolute unless the nation in question threatens a neighboring country.

A ridiculous amount of people, institutions, resources. There's just no media drama. The effort is there, although not large enough imo.

Every person who works at Monsanto or pioneer seed? Every tax paying American, person who gives to charity?

>Yet who shows up for the 3.1 million children who die of malnutrition every year?

Bill Gates and tens of thousands of aid workers globally. The Chinese Communist Party and businessmen who outsource labor from the overfed first world to the underfed third world are by far the biggest help. Also your aunt who volunteers at the soup kitchen. Often these efforts funded by donations or aid grants (tax money, paid by you and me) from our democratically elected governments.

>We can comprehend 13 people and the struggle against nature, while the scope of world hunger is far too complex and emotionally incomprehensible to mobilize enough people.

Most of us can comprehend two (or more!) things at once. People are extremely mobilized about ending hunger and we have made strides against this in the last century: https://slides.ourworldindata.org/hunger-and-food-provision/

A few hundred people showed up to the cave for a few weeks. Tens of thousands show up to fight hunger every day.

but you have to admit humanity has made great progress in reducing extreme poverty over the last 40 years.

Should I quote Stalin now?

Something something tragedy; something something statistic!

Now off to the Gulag!

"Obesity a bigger problem than world hunger, Lancet study says"



not really

if you actually pay attention to border patrol, you will see that these kids have left horrible conditions and many are not separated from parents but from strangers using them to get in or for drug smuggling. some dont even have any parents or family with them.

ICE also saves the most lives on the border

Do you have any data proving that a significant percentage of these kids are being used by strangers?

> Many are not separated from parents but from strangers.

These aren't the ones that the uproar is about. The uproar is about the children who have been separated from their parents, not the children being held in foster care or holding facilities in general. The 3000 separated from parents is a number from HHS Secretary Azar. The Trump administration updated that number to 2342 children separated from 2206 parents.

the parents have committed a crime and the kids will be reunited later if they are real family

it happens to families everyday that are citizens too

not a big deal and the kids are still doing better than before, no reason for the uproar

> the parents have committed a crime

Largely, because the Administration has taken active steps to prevent lawful asylum applications.

> and the kids will be reunited later if they are real family

Maybe, sometimes, after the recent court order requiring that; most recently prior to that the kids were being used as hostages to force parents to sign voluntary deportation agreements and give up asylum claims; during and prior to that children were deported separately from their parents and vice versa in a number of cases. And, in any cases, there was no tracking of any kind to facilitate reunification.

> not a big deal and the kids are still doing better than before

No, they often aren't; especially for the younger children, being forcibly separated from their parents is itself an enormous trauma that will damage their development (social/emotional especially for life.)

> not a big deal and the kids are still doing better than before, no reason for the uproar

Somehow, they handled it just fine and at lower cost without family separation before. If so, why separate them except due to racism? They are now having trouble reuniting families weeks later because of improper tracking.

what is before? separation has been around since law started because criminals do not say with their kids when in jail, this happens to citizens too which you ignored

thinking that its racism is just you jumping to emotional conclusions

there are no problems reuniting families when they are actually families, it is when kids are alone or abused as drug mules that they have to work harder to find where to put them

they still leave horrible conditions so why arent you upset over how bad the other countries are?

> what is before?

Before Trump’s zero tolerance policy, when criminal charges for illegal crossing were essentially never pursued on their own and families with children targeted for deportation without criminal charges were also (since the court order limiting the use of immigration detention for children) not subjected to immigration detention specifically to avoid separation, and where active steps weren't taken to force entrants seeking asylum to enter illegally by preventing access at ports of entry, which is what actually pushed most of the families subjected to Trump's zero tolerance policy into the system in the first place.

> there are no problems reuniting families when they are actually families

Yes, in fact, there are, in the present situation.

> it is when kids are alone

Unaccompanied minors have been a particular problem at times in the past, but that's not the current issue.

> or abused as drug mules

That happens, but, again, is not the source of the current crisis.

> they still leave horrible conditions so why arent you upset over how bad the other countries are?

Most people upset about this administration’s blatant and indefensible mistreatment and hostage taking with regard to asylum seekers are, also, unhappy with the conditions in the countries that they are fleeing. Which is actually a big reason why they are upset at the Administration’s further tormenting them when they are trying to flee, and actively preventing them from lawfully seeking asylum.

> ICE also saves the most lives on the border

No, they don't, even before the Trump Administration policy changes that have produced the recent issues. You are confusing ICE with the Border Patrol. They aren't the same thing.

Exactly, so it is NOT genocide according to the Rome Statute, Article 6 definition. Unless you really want to argue that US ICE is doing this in a deliberate attempt to 'destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group'?

not yet. not. yet.

> concentration camps

This does nothing, but underplay the significance of the holocaust.

But they are literal concentration camps. Concentration camps have existed before and after the Nazis; that's not some idea they invented. The horror of the Holocaust is focused around the death camps more than the concentration camps.

Concentration camps were used very effectively by the British against the Boers (farmers) in South Africa at the turn of the previous century. They killed more women and children than men on both sides [1].

During the first World War, they renamed New Berlin to Kitchener here in Canada. They may as well have named it Hitlerville. The scale of evil wasn't as horrible as the Holocaust, but it was pretty damn awful. It's true what they say, that the victors write the history books. So few people know about that story.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_concentration_camps

The phrase "concentration camp" in the English language no longer has any literal meaning that is simply composed of "concentration" and "camp". It refers strictly to the WWII Nazi concentration camps.

Anyone using the phrase and then insisting that the literal meaning was intended is thoroughly disingenuous. That speaker or writer is deliberately using the loaded term in order to troll the intended audience with a crystal clear Nazi reference.

Ideologically there is no difference to previous uses of the term. Historically it refers to concentration camps of the second Boer War where over 150,000 people died in camps which concentrated specific settler populations in a manner that made the thinning of their population a foregone conclusion.

If it evokes the use of the concept you dislike, rethink your moral stance on it. Not the phrasing of the concept.

It doesn't evoke; it denotes. Like "rain" refers to "water falling from the sky". Not a moral stance whatsoever.

The word for non-murderous concentration camps is "internment".

Not only is that historically incorrect, but it's also a confession of a tolerance for detaining a specific population on ideological, non-criminal pretenses.

"It's different when we do it."

Is that so? So by this amazing reasoning, we should refer to both types of camps using the same term. Since the correct term is evidently "extermination camps" (see surrounding thread), that's what they should be called.

"Historically incorrect" is just a way of saying "presently correct". For instance "sensibility" is not a historically correct way of referring to a rational disposition. Historically, it meant what we today call "sensitivity".

Fuck historically correct; I live today, not in history.

I'm totally confused by your argument here. The simple fact that myself and others posting here don't treat "concentration camps" totally equivalent to "Nazi extermination camps" seems like ipso facto proof that this is not a disingenuous distinction.

The Nazi camps pertaining to the Holocaust are correctly called extermination camps, not concentration camps. Although e.g. Auschwitz is commonly referred to as a concentration camp, this is a euphemism, and the term is not considered correct by anyone writing seriously about the Holocaust.

That may be so, but you're referring to pedants and historians, not common usage.

It is not a euphimism; everyone knows that it refers to starvation and horrific murder and aren't using that word for the sake of masking this.

The term is a euphemism because "concentration camp" just means a camp with a high density of people. The fact that people know what they're really referring to doesn't mean that the term isn't a euphemism. After all, the whole point of a euphemism is that people know what is really meant.

It's quite well known that "concentration camp" is not the correct term for the Nazi extermination camps.

Just like it's quite well known that "hacker" isn't the correct term for someone who breaks into computers.

All that remains is the small detail of convincing the public at large that they are using the word wrong.

As I said, it's pretty well known that Auschwitz and the other camps like it were extermination camps, not (merely) concentration camps. I mean, I'd count myself a member of the "public at large" in this context (I'm certainly no expert on the Holocaust or the surrounding history), and yet I still know what the correct term is. Anyone who has so much as looked at the Wikipedia article for Auschwitz or one of the other camps will know the correct term.

Technically true. Also technically Holocaust could refer to the Armenian Genocide, or the USSR genocide against Ukraine or whatever other catastrophe and yet it doesn't and comparing what is absolutely aweful to one of the worst genocides in human history shouldn't win you any points.

Yes, but the word was clearly chosen in an attempt to liken them to Nazi concentration camps, which they have little in common with, besides being places where people are temporarily kept.

It's not just hunger. There is a failure on the part of their parents, i.e. by not being prudent and being selfish having kids they can't take care of; but one could argue that it's how "nature designed it" in order to increase genetic variability and a chance for the species to survive by pruning the traits not beneficial in changing environment, which we observe as inhumane deaths of small children. In the "civilized" world, unwanted children are dealt with the way they don't even register on any human statistics.

Famine and malnutrition hits people with one children or many. Also, Subsaharan Africa, where hunger is highest per-capita, is not an "overpopulated" subcontinent, having roughly 990 million people, and a massive amount of fertile land, rainforests, natural resources. It actually has fewer people per square mile than most places. In fact arguably this is one reason for having higher mortality: People are spread over vast distances, so it's more expensive to build infrastructure to distribute food when one region is hit with a draught/famine, distribute healthcare, etc.

It's simply under-developed and has not become industrialized. When American or European children were dying at higher rates it wasn't because their parents were selfish. It reflected the rate of development of the continent.

Hunger was an issue after World War II in most of Europe, and the US came to their aid. The hunger there was not due to parents being selfish either.

Do children eat dollar bills for dinner or are humans evil?

If there is no food to spare, then all the money in the world won't solve the problem. If there is food to spare and people let children starve to death, then people are evil. (edit: there technically exists a third potential that there is absolutely no means of delivering food, but at that point, any discussion is pointless)

EDIT: I suppose this idea makes people uncomfortable because it implies that those same people might be evil even though they don't see themselves as evil. We all want the world to be a better place, but we don't want to be inconvenienced. Rather than do something, we give a few dollars in hopes of absolution. Writing posts about starving kids is easy. Moving 100LB bags of food 12 hours a day in Sudan is much harder. "Be the change you want to see in the world"

It was a near tragedy, a man died in the process, but someway it is comforting to see everybody concentrated on a problem like this, trying to help fellow people, than waging war etc.

"Near" tragedy? A man died.

I suggest reading the book "Shadow Divers" for a look at some of the professional diving culture. It's super interesting. This death is definitely horrible. However, reading Shadow Divers also made me think that any cave divers take on high risk every time they swim, and that this death - while tragic - is a risk this person confronted long before the incident.

Just wanted to point out that diving culture as described in 'Shadow Divers' is pretty much as far from professional as it gets. What the book does describe is east coast deep wreck diving community of the early 1990s. In which I suspect it does a good job at. And how they pushed the limits before mixed gas diving / non-open circuit scuba equipment was well understood or widely available outside military and possibly some commercial outfits.

That said, the book is great read. Especially if you're into diving. It's just that it should not be read as a role model for anything but reckless regard of ones life.

Not to drift completely off-topic, here is a link to a long thread about Thailand cave rescue from the cave diving forums[1].

[1] http://www.cavediver.net/forum/showthread.php/35242-Football...

It could have been so much worse, is what he's saying. Nobody is downplaying the death of the rescuer.

but not for nothing - he was instrumental in saving 13 lives

just this. It's trite to say it, and I'm sure it's cold comfort to his family, but we all die, and this person went out saving lives, young lives with lots of years to save, and in service to others. His death is somber and sad, but not tragic.

Not only did he die saving lives, he died doing (apparently) what he loved, being a frogman. I imagine he didn't hesitate to show up and get in the water fully knowing his life was at as much risk as theirs, those guys are a different breed altogether.

With all due respect lets all be wary of the 'cult of sacrifice' which often takes hold when someone dies to save someone else. Any time someone dies to save someone else, I suggest the appropriate reaction is that we should simply regret among ourselves that we didn't develop a technological solution to the problem before the problem presented itself, not engage in hero worship (please don't read this as diminishing what this person did, it was a sacrifice, and those kids owe it to him to live good lives now).

Very much agreed. Similarly, the risk is something I was aware of when I signed up as a firefighter (and magnified even more now as an officer who makes decisions about going inside on structure fires, etc). But it's very much a matter of calculated risk.


This is related to firefighting, but it's interesting to see what some of the things we are trying to fix are in terms of saving lives, and little is around technology, and much in the way of culture, safety.

It is tragic. Tragic for him, his familly, his friends and collegues. Tragic for saved boys too, actually, I am sure they would be happier if no one died.

His dead is bad news not good news. Everybody would be better off if this man survived. Him dying while trying to save others does not make it less tragic.

Let's not minimize his death by saying (as sibling comment did) that his dead somehow matters less or is less important because he was rescuer and thus different. His life had same value.

This story has been a captivating lesson in the power of constraints. We have powerful drills and pumps, but adding the constraints of portability and time, we find fewer options. We have great mapping and tracking capabilities, but put them underground and everything changes. We have talented cave divers, but they aren't doctors or vice versa. When you start looking at all of the resources and all of the requirements, and then the thin slice of compatibility that was actually effective in locating, sustaining, and rescuing the team, it really was incredible.

I don’t get this attitude that I’m seeing in here. So many commenters “who cares about 13 when millions of kids are starving” JESUS be happy for once.

“Oh it’s a lovely day outside” “easy for you to say but don’t you know it’s raining at someone’s wedding in Omaha”

RIP hero Saman Kunan who gave his life for them.

I was so glad to learn about it. This was such an unlikely rescue mission and amazingly heroic effort from everyone involved. If I was religious I'd say this was a miracle. Just very happy every one is ok.

The amazing part to me is that it was 12 kids and one adult. Between the fear and the biological needs, I wonder what kept them alive for so long.

First, the first time I fasted I was quited stressed about it, and it was in controlled, cozy environment.

Second, they didn't know if anybody would come. Not even if somebody could come. For 9 days without eating and living in their own shit in the dark, they wondered.

I'm awaiting for the unavoidable book/movie, hoping they don't try to make it epic and get into real details about this.

I bet literally being a team helped out. It's not just a random group of people. They all know each other, they know each other's personalities, and there's a natural cohesion to win (i.e. not die!) together.

Possibly, especially since they were with a coach. He if kept it up, then it could have helped a lot.

The coach.

He shared what little rations they had, and his condition was visibly worse than the children by the time they were found.

He also helped them by teaching them meditation, so as not to focus on their hunger.

> He also helped them by teaching them meditation, so as not to focus on their hunger.

Learning meditation is hard. Learning meditation when you are scared, hungry and in such a bad situation is extra hard.

So if the guy pulled it off with 12 terrorized famished kids for 9 days, he deserves his own temple.

People in general are able of amazing deeds under the threat of death.

Unfortunately it's why we are able to wage war. Was watching a documentary on the Vietnam war the other day and one guy was describing how he felt like an automaton that was focusing only on survival, which kept him from going insane, while another guy was describing how he felt no pain from his bullet injuries while trying to stay alive alone in the jungle for 3 days, only feeling pain after he was rescued.

But yeah, this coach is a hero for sure, I'm so glad they made it out.

The Vietnam War, by Ken Burns?

Watched that episode with the South Vietnam veteran recalling that episode where he was left for dead (literally, by his own allies AND adversaries), crawled through the jungle for 3 days and only then felt the pain and smelled the nasty odor of the rotting flesh.

Not to belittle his accomplishment, but it's the times of great hardship where the search for meaning flourishes. See Viktor Frankl. It is the gift hidden in the horror.

Well, he was a former monk.

He was sent to a monastery when he was 12 and stayed for 10 years.

The coach is the key. His parents passed away when he was young and he was brought up by his grandmother. He was a monk for about 10 years. He taught them how to meditate constantly even during training when the kids couldn't control their temper. This crisis puts the kids into the test, proved the power of meditation and team spirit.

Let's not forget that the coach was the one who led them into the caves in the first place.

Hindsight is 20/20. I guess nobody should ever do anything because it always has a tiny chance to go wrong?

The coach probably didn't even take a wrong decision based on the information available at the time (it isn't rain season yet).

Err, no.

If you plan to enter deep into a huge cave, you check the weather forecast. Rainy season or not. And you don't enter if you see a chance of rain.

He failed on this one, and a man is dead because of it.

Now I'm don't think he should be blamed for it. It would be very unproductive.

But we certainly should make it a cautionary tale.

>I'm awaiting for the unavoidable book/movie.

Hollywood producers are already on the ground http://www.newsweek.com/hollywood-producers-head-thai-cave-r...

The coach then will be an american living in Thailand, half the team will be girls, the sport will be american football instead of soccer, one of the rescuers will be a woman who happens to be an ex-girlfriend of the coach, there will be a bad guy from the government or some company that wants to leave them in the cave because it's cheaper... and Elon Musk's device will save the day.

> there will be a bad guy from the government

Elon Musk is ahead of you - he has his government villain already: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1016684366083190785/phot...

The rumor is that The Rock is going to play the coach. Kevin Hart will play all 12 boys.

>The rumor is that The Rock is going to play the coach. Kevin Hart will play all 12 boys.

I would actually pay to see this.

...And it's already made 400M.

Ha, you nailed it. I hate how plausible this is.

It'll probably take place somewhere in the US and white wash it with white actors. Maybe they'll make one of the kids (a girl) Asian to give a little nod to the original story.

and that girl will be helping hand - because when she grows up, she wants to be a doctor

When contact was first made, they had no idea how long they had been in there and asked "how long have we been here".

Sat in the dark, with no night and day, the bodies internal clock gets shot to pieces. They would have had no idea whether they had been there 3 days or 30

Not being able to quantify doesn't mean you don't sufer from it.

> For 9 days without eating and living in their own shit in the dark

Not to mention the cold.

There's a hero-story about the coach that's yet to be told I reckon.

Caves are generally the average yearly temperature of the area they are found in, also given that the water was rainwater and not spring water I’d imagine that unless the boys were like waste deep in water the entire time they were probably rather warm given the tropical location of Thailand.

Somewhere it was mentioned that the temperature in the cave was about 23°C (73°F).

Oh wow. I wouldn't have expected that deep underground in a flooded cave at all!

A story Mark Wahlberg will be happy to tell.

> The amazing part to me is that it was 12 kids and one adult. Between the fear and the biological needs, I wonder what kept them alive for so long.

You can go a few weeks without food. The cave is likely at a consistent enough temperature that you're not going to freeze to death (sweating is more likely to be your real issue), so the only real constraint is potable water.

It's also been commented that the children had no idea they were trapped for as long as 9 days. Quite likely, without any source of natural light, they lost track of time, which certainly would help ease some of the panic.

People can live over 60 days without food, so maybe that part isn't so unexpected.

Water of course is a different story..I believe after 48 hours severe dehydration sets in...after 3 days...kaput.

> People can live over 60 days without food, so maybe that part isn't so unexpected

It's not a physiological problem. It's a psychological one. When you ate everyday all your life, not eating is scary.

> I believe after 48 hours severe dehydration sets in...after 3 days...kaput.

You can live more than 3 days without water. Either with training, of because the conditions help (you don't move much, temperature and humidity are favorable, you don't eat, etc).

There are cases were human lived for 9 days without water.

But they had water near them so that was out of the equation.

It's very odd that this somehow made it to all the media headlines. Sure, a happy ending and so forth, but in a world of ~7.5B, including indescribable tragedies on a daily basis, it makes you wonder how they knew the daily drama would lead to such ad dollars.

I suppose it's not a global headline and discussion point unless Silicon Valley finds a way to market itself and its technical prowess in a Musk. To wit:

"At least 155 people have died in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain in western Japan, says the government.

It is the highest death toll caused by rainfall that Japan has seen in more than three decades.

Rescuers are now digging through mud and rubble in a race to find survivors, as dozens are still missing.

About two million people have been evacuated from the region after rivers burst their banks."

(BBC, "Japan floods: 155 killed after torrential rain and landslides", 10 Jul 2018)

How do we save x million children from poverty, disease, etc? Well, we need to mobilize huge trans-national organizations, we need to drive systemic changes, we need multi-year disease intervention programs, etc.

How do we save a dozen kids trapped in a cave? If we put together some resources we can save all their lives within a week or so.

Also, starving kids have traditionally motivated enormous outpourings of effort, so your hypothetical straw man comparison isn't very accurate.

Rescue effort comparisons and news story priority comparisons aren't the same. I'm referring to the latter, while you're suggesting I'm doing the former. I gave a perfect example in the Japan floods. And sorry, now that you bring it up, rescue efforts aren't worth mobilizing for transnationally? Even for aid?

"Kids stuck in well" stories have a history of success for the news.

Story of the year for me. Just goes to show what we can accomplish together.

Hopefully it will go as a +1 in our ledger if the fate of our species is ever decided

Great thread covering all of the volunteers here: https://twitter.com/duduang2/status/1016301667380224000


> "This man...drove more than 200 km just to give ice-cream to the rescue team"

While this level of selflessness and generosity can be found almost anywhere, the Thais are truly some of the most gracious people you'll meet. That country is a gem.

The society is currently torn apart politically (similar, but different, to the polarization in the US) so good to see something unite the nation. And with such a happy ending, too.

Man vs. nature, we are still bugs.

What are your thoughts on how technology advancement in the next 30 years would change the way of this kind of rescue mission? Say in 2040, can a group of robots finish the mission in one day with ease? That will be awesome, people can be rescued from bad situations much sooner.

It'll probably change things so it'll never happen in the first place.

By that time even poor kids in rural Thailand will be carrying smartphones on them at all times.

Those, combined with location-based awareness will warn them just as they're about to enter the cave "uh, are you sure you want to do that? Look at the current weather forecast....".

I cannot imagine how robots could be used for this kind of rescue in the near future. Each situation like this is too unique to allow for a generic 'life-saving robot'. Even if we were to really try to develop a state-of-the-art cave diving rescue robot, what would we use it for in this case? We still would have to have people working crisis psycology and sitting with the kids as they were extracted, and some way to get the status of the robot as it is kilometers underground with no signal and no easy way we can have a 2km cable. We would still have to figure out how to get the people actually out, which was only really accomplished in this case by getting the best of the best to teach the kids to get themselves out. A robot would not be able to help a child fit through a tiny hole underwater in the dark

I agree with you taking care of people psycologically is probably the weak point of a robot task force. But in terms of pure technology advancement, I 'll just throw some random possibilities here for discussion.

Remember even as of today AI can compete on a high level of huge video games, face recognition, natural language processing, playing Go/Chess game, etc. Imagine in 30 years, all the robots, armed with AI and made of materials a few times stronger than whatever we have today, should be able to scan, learn, adapt and go. Another minor point, the robots can probably carry some heavy machines (or laser guns) and just pound hard on the cave's narrow sections to make the passage wider. Etc.

A personal anecdote from me and my wife.

The weekend before they found them my wife told me that a monk who was praying for them at the cave said that a ghost[1] was hiding them from the eyes of the divers until Monday[2]. They shouldn't be worried about the children and their coach as the ghost would take care of them. To my surprise they found them on that Monday.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/06/27/world/asia/ap-as... [2] I don't have a source as my wife was just scrolling through her Facebook feed

minus one diver, don't forget that

I'm grateful they were rescued, but how is this Hacker News material? I can go to Reddit if I want generic news articles.

> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.


Been following the Guardian and their Thai based journalist, Michael Safi. But, was their any other non-TV English language media house that was covering the event minute by minute?

ABC (Australia) have had a live blog going the whole time - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-10/thailand-cave-rescue-l...

is there some way to have a diving mask that can see in murky water? something like night vision - only it identifies solid objects and maps them for the diver?

If they recover in time would be cool to see them at the World Cup final.

It turns out that if your suffering is spectacular enough, people will come save you. Maybe if we throw all the poor children of the world into caves people will start caring about them.

It does become easier to focus on situations in which imminent death is anticipated and possibly observable. Think of the resources and attention devoted to the exoneration of death row inmates as they near execution, versus the attention given to them in the years/decades leading up to the execution. Nevermind the many, many more people who may be unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment.

It is not a new thing. In Seneca's "On the Shortness of Life" there is about people praying to get a few more years of life, while wasting decades when they were younger.

For me it seems as some sort of artefact of human cognition. (Mercilessly used by "last minute" opportunities by salesmen... and journalist.)

Human empathy is an instinct developed on rought evolutionary heurestics, is not rational and doesn't fit complexities of modern world. What else is new?

This particular cognitive bias is formally known as the ...


12 kids and 1 adult trapped in a cave is a discrete, solvable problem. Millions of kids in poverty much less so.

We're much better at dealing with time-bounded, localizable problems.

Stalin's quote about tragedies and statistics comes to mind.

I was wondering which quote you were talking about. I found "A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic".

There as Quote Investigator article on it, it is again a much older quote. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/21/death-statistic/

Still, the question is: for a given amount of resources (time, money, people) how many quality-life-years can be added?

If this quality is order of magnitude lower than other less exciting solutions (e.g. access to medicine and education for kids from poor families), then we should be aware that what we pay for is not lives saved, but an emotional entertainment show.

I'm reminded of a fellow in, IIRC, St. Louis. He expends tremendous amounts of energy, time, and money rescuing stray dogs, to the point where he doesn't have much of a social life. It's all about the dogs.

Someone asked him why he didn't instead pour that energy into helping homeless people. His response was something to the effect that there were plenty of others helping people; his passion was the dogs. I believe he also turned the question around: what are you doing to help the homeless?

A few dozen cave divers can't do much to help the millions of impoverished children, but they used their skills to perform heroic and deadly feats to help 12 children and their coach, and inspired many around the world to ask themselves these types of questions.

Reducing that to a cost-benefit analysis vs some vague "but can't we spend that effort on the other lost kids?" question is both impossible and missing the point.

It's hard to imagine leaving them in there AND living with the knowledge that they had been left in there. Attempting a rescue seems like a pretty human thing to do, and I found it hard to blame people for being people. I certainly do awesome & dumb things because I'm a person.

The difference is one is a very abstract and broad problem while the other is a very concentrated and narrow one. Humans have a hard time in the abstract. I do admit that the sensationalism of this event brought focus from the world but the same rules apply to someone who's stuck in a burning building or under a car or whatever, people will go out of their way to help when there's a well defined and immediate problem.

How much did this rescue mission cost?

1 human life

and US$3m

Do you have a source for that number? It seems incredibly low.

It is an interview in Thai with the guy who was sponsoring the water pumps.

So it was $3M paid for by a rich guy? Was he going to donate the money to charity if he didn't spend it on this?

I do not know the answer of this question.

Most of the money and equipment were donated.

While it may be true, not really the point GP was getting after.

Cost or donation, can we expect the same for every child in need?

[0] is the first source that popped up on a quick googling; the US alone spent 18 billion dollars between 2002 and 2014 on food aid (to hungry children and such).

[0] http://www.humanosphere.org/world-politics/2014/10/united-st...

Can we expect 1 person to sacrifice their life for every 13 children in need?

Helping every child in poverty requires a long term paced effort rather than a one time heroic one. As inspiring as this rescue was, it doesn't scale.

Especially in a place like Thailand where there is a lot of real poverty still.

What do you mean? The OP question is straightforward. How can you twist the meaning that much is beyond me

thanks elon


I love how the global diving community came together to rescue them, it's unfortunate that Petty Officer Saman Gunan died after doing a run of oxygen tanks to the caves though.

I even liked how Musk came out of left field "grab that tube, we're making a rescue pod!" and then hopped on a plane with it when it was tested and ready. While it didn't really matter I like that sort of thinking outside of the box and how he just dropped everything he was doing and set people to work on it and then took it over anyway in the event it will ever been needed in the future, I really wish more people had that go-the-extra-mile attitude.

Call me cynical, but I couldn't help but notice Musk seemed to be going about his effort with the maximum amount of tweeting and publicity possible.

His efforts turned out to be a bit of a damp squib but that's because the rescue effort was launched earlier than expected due to coming heavy rains.

There was talk about having the kids wait in there until as late as November, or maybe a long process of drilling an escape hole.

If the rescue had begun a week or two later, perhaps Musk's gadget would have been used. As it is, the divers already had a plan that, by the time Musk arrived, appeared to be working well.

But yeah, he tweets a lot about his projects, and no doubt has some thought toward self-promotion.

He appears to follow through, so I can't be too cynical about his apparent opportunism.

Talking about drilling escape holes. The Dahlbusch rescue device was improvised in 5 days, with no patents claimed whatsover. Wonder if Musk will do the same with his contraption.


perhaps Musk's gadget would have been used

The cave was too narrow in sections for a diver to pass through still wearing his cylinders. How exactly was a sub supposed to get in?

I would guess the "sub" was not much wider than the kids. While an adult or kid couldn't get through while wearing a cylinder, a cylinder a little bigger than a kid (or smaller than the torso of a Navy SEAL) might get through.

The problem may have been more that it would be too long to navigate some bends in the caves.

It also occurs to me that, being made of aluminum, the tube would act like a giant heatsink in the cold water, chilling whoever was inside.

But with more time before the rescue, and by consulting with divers familiar with the caves, the problems might have been worked out.

So, yeah, taking the tube to Thailand was kind of pointless, but I guess at least shows that it wasn't just empty tweeting. There was an effort.

The squeeze is 70 cm. The "sub" was designed to fit.

He himself said something akin to "I may be a narcissist, but at least a useful one".

Is the second half of this even true? If you create something that is impractical for the mission and won't be used have you been useful at all? I think not.

With a little more time before the rescue and consultation with divers familiar with the caves, they might have come up with something more effective.

But he did also send 700 or so PowerWall batteries to Puerto Rico for hospitals and whatnot.

If he is, I am sure he thinks in larger terms - helping humanity out more than dragging it down.

I would need a spource. What's next dude? The Gates foundation is all a PR stunt?

Actually this started when a random guy on Twitter asked him whether he could help: https://twitter.com/MabzMagz/status/1014251869760249856

I got the feeling that he just jumped in on that, without further thinking (which at least to me seems sympathetic). Got the feeling that it rather hurt their PR as people were quick to call it a PR stunt, which is foreseeable if you mainly think about PR.

Why is this comment flagged? I thought the exact same thing, it was all a publicity stunt rather than a legitimate humanitarian effort.

How dare you slander our lord and savior Elon Musk! /s

Seriously though, there's a strong cult of personality at play and HN readers frequently downvote any comment that is even slightly negative about Musk or Tesla or SpaceX.

I'd rather people do good things for selfish reasons than not do good things at all

Agreed. The man is a master of public relations.

In my discussions with people, it seems like he’s becoming increasingly polarizing. His fans are idolizing him, but others see his behavior as attention-seeking theatrics. Interesting to see how it plays out in the long run, in terms of company PR.

I like the guy, I'm pretty sick of his fans

> Call me cynical

Okay, you are cynical.

But in all seriousness given the domain knowledge that Musk has at his disposal he was perfectly entitled to get involved.

Tweeting his thoughts is pretty much how he rolls ...

In the end he made a lot of noise and then did not actually contribute anything to the effort.

You're arguing the point that because his help wasn't needed in the end that he shouldn't have offered to help.

But it's conceivable that his expertise could have been useful.

Did any other organisations offer subterranean expertise? Genuine question, e.g. mining companies, drilling, or was it just that Musk made the most noise about it?

My impression was that this was not a good-faith effort to help but rather to be seen to be helping, without any concern for whether his efforts were useful.

Which is itself a bad faith evaluation. I'd prefer to be kinder and thus keep the door open for other such "help" in the future. Fundamentally, he didn't do any harm.

Actually, I believe that other people were exploring the options of drilling a rescue tunnel from the surface. IIRC, there was even the beginning of projects to make a usable tunnel launch site for such a rescue tunnel.

Right, and so you don't think the expertise he was providing could have been valuable there?

Honestly, no.

Based on what.

The expertise you'd want for drilling an emergency rescue tunnel would be a combination of skills related to drilling roughly pipe-sized vertical shafts [1] (mining/oil services, or maybe the companies themselves; I don't know what the exact breakdown of work packages end up being) and remote (specifically mountainous and jungle, in this case) infrastructure and logistics, which is military or again mining/oil services. Possibly a geologist or two on hand to assess the rock layers and identify hydrographic hazards as well as risks such as accidentally causing cave-ins. For the cave diving extraction, you'd want experienced cave divers, ideally ones with good first aid knowledge and cave rescue experience. For any further expertise, I wouldn't suggest anything without hearing the observations from the cave divers who have just explored the cave themselves.

There is no evidence presented that Musk, nor any of his companies, has any of this kind of useful expertise.

[1] Emphasis here on vertical shafts. There is a world of difference between a tunnel-boring machine that tends to remain within a single geological stratum and a vertical shaft that is constantly cutting through several strata of different kinds of rock (that require different cutting techniques).

I think you're winging it.

> There is no evidence presented that Musk, nor any of his companies, has any of this kind of useful expertise


> There is a world of difference between a tunnel-boring machine

Yeah it wasn't the machine he was offering but the expertise.

I get it, you've got it in for Musk. Fair enough, and I'm not out to hero worship him but lets be fair here - he did offer to help, and did so in good faith.

Well, you repeatedly assert that he was acting in good faith, but on what grounds? I think the article Gizmodo put out on the subject is good. https://gizmodo.com/is-elon-musk-serious-1827456578

I added the footnote to emphasize why I thought The Boring Company was not relevant expertise, which you seem to have ignored or missed. Considering that Musk touted what SpaceX could do for the trapped people, not what The Boring Company could do, I also suspect that Musk recognizes the difference.

My contention isn't that Musk didn't make a good-faith offer to help, it's that Musk didn't have anything useful to offer. The end result is that would come across as something like this: https://xkcd.com/793/.

I wonder how many on HN are thinking more about Elon Musk's now-not-needed rescue plan than the delight those mothers of those boys must be feeling!

There is also a tragedy going on in Japan right now with a lot of people actually with us no more. But a few million people with flooded homes is a 'statistic' whereas a few boys in a cave is a 'tragedy' to paraphrase Stalin.

I think that there is a time for offering assistance in a big public way, there is also the 'George Michael' approach. He was willing to help many desperate people that happened to get into the news, however he helped out anonymously or in a way where it was clear that publicity was not sought. When he passed away a lot of people then learned how many people he had extended his hand of friendship to.

"There is also a tragedy going on in Japan right now with a lot of people actually with us no more."

This is true, and a tragedy, but I think it's natural for "12 kids in great jeopardy" to draw more interest than 100+ people who are already gone due to a flood and perhaps couldn't have been saved.

To be honest had the kids been found dead in the cave, it would have been a relative blip on Western media like the flood deaths in Japan or the 41 dead in the sinking of the Phuket tourist boat.

"He was willing to help many desperate people that happened to get into the news, however he helped out anonymously or in a way where it was clear that publicity was not sought"

In this case, talking about it on Twitter was probably an easy way to get in touch with the relevant authorities at the rescue site.

Similarly, when he offered PowerWall batteries to help Puerto Rico, perhaps that made it easy for people who knew where they were needed to get in touch with him.

Musk was already in China to open a factory. It was a smaller detour than I had thought.



If you label PR stunt a desire to help someone in need, you are further damaging that someone in need.

He's already working on the leading non-health-related cause of death. (car accidents) Both via self-driving cars and group transport. While you're right that this is a PR game to some degree, I think it's much different than if Bezos or someone similar did it.

Musk had no business being involved. Really, 'inventing' a MVP prototype of a submarine which he 'tested' in a swimming pool and then intended to test for real on live children, when an existing rescue effort underway was working?

This was egoism at its finest, taking public credit for 'helping' with a rescue he wasn't invited or asked to help with. And the media ate it up hook, line and sinker.

The only part I think was weird was him brainstorming on twitter.

I know there is a huge anti-Musk sentiment lately. Whatever you think of the guy, I think it's commendable that he used what resources he had to attempt to help.

People can blast him all they want for his 'egoism', but sitting behind the keyboard mocking him is even less helpful than what you accuse him of doing.

People blast McDonalds for putting phrases about tragic situations on their signs. People criticize them for being opportunistic and capitalizing on a tragedy. So, how is this different? Because he happens to be able to build a "submersible" for kids, he should get a pass? Why can't McDonalds say, "Our thoughts are with you" and get a pass?[0] This was pure PR. Everyone claims he's so smart and all this, but he ignored the domain when he designed this! Those SEAL divers aren't trained to work with a kid size submersible. Human bodies flex and can move around the narrow areas of the cave, this metal tube can't do that. If they had used this they would not have had training to fall back on when everything went south.

Musk injected himself into this situation as only a narcissist can and decided to PR the hell out of it.

Yeah, there's just a bit of anti-Musk sentiment lately, but he brings it on himself.

[0] I don't think they should. I think businesses should stay out of it. Even the ones helping would do themselves a favor and play down their involvement. It's the respectful thing to do.

>>So, how is this different? Because he happens to be able to build a "submersible" for kids, he should get a pass?

Because this wasn't Tesla or SpaceX taking out an ad and saying 'look at all the good we can do!' this was a human using resources in his means to help a situation. In the end it was futile, but it's pretty amazing that they were able to prototype something in days and offer support in the way they know.

Sure, you can argue he's a narcissist, but the public made him that way. His entire legacy and fortune was built on PR, which we gave him on a silver platter. Now all of a sudden it's become bad taste to support him, and everyone flips and expects him to slink away into the shadows.

There was literally 0 net negative from his move. Sure he got his name thrown around headlines, but it didn't take away from the hundreds of people who contributed.

Why is being critical of someone so much more important than acknowledging an act of kindness?

Oh Come on! The whole time he was tweeting about using real rocket parts and the "Space X" team doing this or that.

How can people be so blind to think he did this solely out of kindness? Pfffffffftttt!!

The public can't make someone a narcissist.

I thought the sentiment was fine, in particular sending engineers given that his latest subterranean endeavours. On the one hand there's a whiff of publicity off it, but the initiative is to be commended. I wouldn't go talking up the part he played beyond that though.

One of the things about these kinds of emergency situations is that the major media attention can cause harm by making people be too helpful. In most emergency situations, there's already a surplus of unskilled people on the scene who can help; the lack is in people with particular skillsets and materiel.

Granted, Musk probably is thinking he's providing relevant skills, but the concept has several potentially problematic things (most notably, the fact that you're basically doing an underground canoe portage and the fact that spending extended periods of time in a claustrophobic space is likely to be panic-inducing for the children). It doesn't sound like he fielded the advice of anyone who had actually had experience doing cave diving or caving rescue to figure out what problems are likely to come up. Indeed, from the response of the Thai coordinators, it sounds like the general sentiment on their end was a politely-worded "go away, you're not helping."

So while the sentiment of trying to help can be positive, this attempt does feel like it crossed a tad too far into counterproductive territory.

That's nothing but your opinion based on hindsight.

I found this especially disturbing:

The office of Thailand’s prime minister has thanked the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk for his offers of help. Officials praised his mini-submarine but said it was not needed. Musk praised the "outstanding rescue team" but questioned the expertise of the official who turned down his submarine.

He inserts himself into the event (but contributed nothing), requiring the Prime Minister to kiss his ass (again, when he contributed nothing), then criticizes the people who saved the kids for not using his idea.

I know talking about voting is generally forbidden, but there is no reason for the parent to be flagged. It's not my favorite post ever on HN, but criticizing Musk isn't a violation of HN rules. Several other posts that criticizes him are also flagged (though some of them are pretty useless comments).

One of the biggest philosophical questions is whether helping people because you see it benefiting yourself is still a good deed... Ask yourself, does it really matter what his motivations for helping were? At the end of the day he was prepared to help. If someone volunteers at the soup kitchen not because they want to help people but because they need community service hours, are you really going to complain about that or call them a bad person?

If the volunteer was telling other people constantly in all kinds of situations that he was helping the poor, many people would turn the other way, somewhat embarrassed.

Yup, but he still did it. Doesn't that count for something?

"They have already received their reward" comes to mind.

>and then intended to test for real on live children, when an existing rescue effort underway was working?

It was a good alternative to telling them to hold their breath and dragging them through dark and claustrophobic submerged spaces...

They tested it to make sure it was water-tight and easy to maneuver. Worst case you throw an oxygen tank in it and put a full-face regulator on each kid in the event it would have filled with water (which I'm imagining they did in the water anyway). Much easier to control a panicking child in a tube where he can't get at your hoses or slam his head into a rock.

The closest alternative would probably have been to immobilise the children by strapping them to a spinal board stretcher, and putting a full face SCUBA mask on them [and it seems that the other alternative of letting them swim/walk themselves actually worked].

I don't really understand how the more claustrophobic "submarine" capsule would be an improvement on this.

I don't understand the submarine idea, that is an untested device for cave diving, also human breath from a very localized part of their body, so their is no point to pressurize everything, and you keep the flexibility of the body to not have a full metal cylinder around you. If you need to control someone, some anti anxiety pills and a harness are some tested tools for that.

> Much easier to control a panicking child in a tube where he can't get at your hoses or slam his head into a rock.

Also much easier to get said child into a state of panic by sticking them in a claustrophobia-inducing tube. Also, whatever manoeuvrability characteristics the sub might have had, it was still a rigid tube bigger than the child inside. They were navigating caves, where some of the tunnels were hard to navigate by a single (flexible) adult. I _really_ wouldn't want to even chance getting the sub stuck on a tunnel.

Given that the rescue was a resounding success, I think diving them out turned out to be the best option?

They'd already rescued multiple children before Musk even got there, no sense changing what is working. They didn't seem to mind him leaving it behind for future rescues though. shrugs

They were being polite. Narongsak Osatanakorn said it was not practical for the mission.

> It was a good alternative to telling them to hold their breath and dragging them through dark and claustrophobic submerged spaces...

You can't say that?! Those SEALs train ALL the time so they have training to fall back on when things happen. You can't introduce something like this and expect them to use it. They would have no training to fall back on.

Clearly that wasn't the alternative here, seeing as the rescue was speedy and successful, so your comment is devoid of content.

I’m no going to dispute that Musk might’ve been on a narcissistic trip, he admitted as much himself. However in his defense, the sub was made of falcon 9 liquid oxygen transfer tubes and the water in the cave was no deeper than a swimming pool it was just in a cave. Plus the whole rescue operation was very much let’s figure out a plan and try it on live kids as there weren’t really any other options. AFAIK no one has ever tried to do a multiple km rescue dive in a cave, with fatigued and terrified pre-teens who can’t swim let alone do basic scuba.

when Musk got involved things werent looking as happy as now. the thai navy hero had just died and the 'more people will probably die' sentiment was in the air. Im glad he did it and I hope this will set an example to other billionaires who has enormous resources available for them to help out people in need instead of sipping decades old whiskey on the golf course, like literally every other billionaire did except Musk

I still think it's better than posting emotional tweets about the greatness of humankind. Real world activity vs. armchair activism.

> an existing rescue effort underway was working

From what I understand, he got involved while rescuers were still considering their options.

I’ll take prototype-producing egoism and PR stunts over “not my job”-ism any day.

I wonder how many on HN are thinking more about Elon Musk's now-not-needed rescue plan than the delight those mothers of those boys must be feeling!

There is also a tragedy going on in Japan right now with a lot of people actually with us no more. But a few million people with flooded homes is a 'statistic' whereas a few boys in a cave is a 'tragedy' to paraphrase Stalin.

I think that there is a time for offering assistance in a big public way, there is also the 'George Michael' approach. He was willing to help many desperate people that happened to get into the news, however he helped out anonymously or in a way where it was clear that publicity was not sought. When he passed away a lot of people then learned how many people he had extended his hand of friendship to.

Why are the comments critical of Musk being flagged?

Yeah, how dare he try to help.

If he truly wanted to help he would have done so quietly, in contact with the local authorities. But he didn't. He proclaimed in full voice he had found a solution, on twitter. So he doesn't care. He just cares about appearing in front of the cameras.

His idea was stupid and useless anyway. It just came off as if he wanted to play the hero and build a Batsub in his mansion to deploy it and rescue the stranded children.

I don't know what went down but I think he should have asked the people on location what they need. Maybe he did... If he didn't it's just pretty arrogant to spend a little time on a problem you know nothing about and then publicly exclaiming you know a solution.

A good idea now would be to send money to the family of the driver who died. That would be helpful.

It's odd that you admit you don't know what went down but are still passing judgement.

Even if he did, he didn't interfere or impede rescue efforts and gave them a tool they could possible use in the future. It's cool and a nice thing to do, and doesn't really seem like a big deal.

He did impede rescue efforts if the people on location had to spend even one second on thinking about some half baked solution instead of the task at hand. Why did he do all his stuff in public attracting a lot of attention away from the people risking their lives instead of working on it quietly?

He didn't. The authorities said it was useless for that purpose.

Checked his Twitter feed, he talked with a few persons about their gear and how to help with pumps, power etc. So the sub wasn't the only thing he did.

And yeah, he probably doesn't have all the domain knowledge needed, but I reckon he had some help. Example; the 6 or so people seen on the video when they tested the tube.

I really can't see why people are bashing him. Yes, he was public about it, but he also created something that seems to work, and if it's a prototype, that prototype can be used for further development. It feels like nothing speeds up R&D like a crisis.

Let's hope he keeps working on it now and delivers something viable for the next rescue.

He connected with the officials and the rescue teams before starting anything.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact