#1 Jul 25, 2007, 2:23 AM
- Journalist - New Zealand
>> "NASA seems to have been playing things very close to their chest. "
The term comes from the old west and the poker players. If you were playing your poker hand close to your chest, you were holding your cards in such a manner as to stop other people from seeing them. You may have been concerned that someone was watching.
It implies that you are striving for a bit of secrecy, or to keep things out of public view.
As for the term "Cowboys" - It is used not only to describe the Old West rugged sort of farm hand who we often see in movies, but it can also denote a tradesman who has no real qualifications, or who may perform a haphazard job.
For example: If you hire a registered plumber, you get someone who knows their job, but may charge you more. If you hire someone who may have fixed a drain or two in their life, but tends to perform such tasks with all the wrong tools, and not comply with all of the building/sanitisation laws, but usually charges you less... then you are said to have hired a "cowboy".