Saturday, August 04, 2007

Open Thread Post

We talked the smoking ban and Harrison Square to death by now; we know where everyone stands on the issue. The one big news story recently is the Minnesota bridge collapse. Everybody is against bridge collapses, few of us actually know how to design, build, or maintain a bridge. So it's Open Thread Time! Promote, plug, or denounce whatever you like! And to the guy who keeps posting "SYLVESTER FOR COUNCIL", try endorsing somebody who will be on the ballot this year.


Charlotte A. Weybright said...

Where to start. I appreciate the fact that the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota was a tragedy, as it would be anywhere in the U.S. or the world.

But come on, now we are going to live in fear of crossing every bridge in the U.S.? These things happen, just like fires, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and various other disasters, both natural and man-made.

The fact that this one happens to be man-made now sends everyone into a bridge-inspecting panic. And now discussions are popping up about our infrastructure. If we care about our infrastructure that much, then let's stop spending billions and billions of dollars on the war in Iraq and put the money to good use here at home. Just think what $450,000,000,000 could accomplish here.

Everyone needs to take a breath and understand that many tragedies happen every day all over the world.

I almost get the sense that, as Americans, we somehow believe we are or should be immune from those things that happen to others. We can't solve every problem that exists.

Bridge building is a structural engineering feat that provides us with one of the most valuable man-made tools ever conceived to enable us to be "on the move." Bridge building is not perfect, and I assume the investigation will ferret out any defects.

On the pragmatic side, anyone want to bet on how many lawsuits will be filed over this?

Robert Enders said...

The lawsuits will probably depend on who build the bridge, who supplied the matierials, and how deep their pockets are.

Maybe I'm a starry-eyed optimist, but I think the Iraq war is going to be over soon. And politicians use the "We can afford X if we stop funding Y" arguement all the time. We need to bring our troops home from the Cold War and pull out of Europe. Europeans can afford their wasteful socialist economies because the US spends more money defending Europe than they do.
I propose we give them 2 years notice then pull out. We can cut defence spending and recoup some moeny by selling the weapons we used to guard Europe. If we cut taxes, more people can afford health care. We can offer dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to free clinics, so those who still can't afford healthcare can still get treatment.

I have one small question. We live in an enlightened era in which we have "congresswomen" and "chairpersons". Why are disasters are automatically assumed to be "man-made"? The inicident has not been thoroughly investigated; we don't know for sure that this wasn't caused by faulty weilding done by a female construction worker.

Charlotte A. Weybright said...


Maybe we should say person-made or human-made. I chose the word probably for the same reason that many people still say fireman, policeman, Congressman, mailman, etc.

I should have thought harder for a gender neutral word.

I typically try to use gender neutral language, but I failed at that one.

On the other hand, the word, "man" as in mankind is seen as encompassing all human beings. It would have been interesting to see the reaction to Neil Armstrong's statement - "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" being changed to use "humankind" instead of mankind.

Tim Zank said...

Yep, it's obvious the war in Iraq diverted our attention from bridge inspections. Gosh, who couldn't have seen that coming, I mean with all of the federal, state and local bridge inspectors focusing on Iraq all the time. I can't wait until the war is over and all the bridge inspectors come home, I'll feel SO much safer.

Robert Enders said...

It doesn't bother me personally, but if you want gender neutral terms, use "artificial" or "synthetic" instead of "man-made". Also use "humanity" instead of "mankind".

I know political correctness sounds silly, but it's usually best to avoid offending people if at all feasible.

Robert Enders said...

But I will say that the neologism "homicide bomber" urks me a little.

If a person plants a bomb in a building, and 5 people are killed but the bomber survives, that person has committed homicide.

If a person blows himself up with 5 other people, he has committed suicide and homicide. The term "suicide bomber" simply indicates that the bomber deliberatly took his own life with the blast. The term "homicide bomber" was coined because some people felt sympathy for those who sacrificed their lives. But these idiots will feel the same way no matter what term you use. Even if a terrorist blows himself up, his actions are still just as wrong as if he survived.

Jeff Pruitt said...


Where did that rant come from? Who in the world is saying bridge inspectors were focused on Iraq?

Tim Zank said...

Jeff, Charlotte alluded to it
with " then let's stop spending billions and billions of dollars on the war in Iraq and put the money to good use here at home. Just think what $450,000,000,000 could accomplish here."

Minnesota has a 1 billion surplus, and simply dropped the ball on inspections and repairs.

She didn't jump all the way on the nutroots bandwagon, but the inference is there.

Charlotte A. Weybright said...

Geez Tim:

Thanks for cutting me some slack - "she didn't jump all the way on the nutroots bandwagon, but the inference is there."

The problem with inferences is that the person on the other end is the one doing the inferring, and that is a subjective matter.

I stated that the $450,000,000,000 could do a lot here in the U.S. That is true - unless you think those funds are being well spent. Bridge construction is just one area of our infrastructure where the money could be spent. After all, where is the federal government getting the billions to spend on Iraq?

It is coming out of our pockets, isn't it? The more out of our pockets to be spent on Iraq, the less to be spent on infrastructure or any other item in the U.S.

Tim Zank said...

Charlotte, your last sentence is what I feel is not valid, it's just a cheap shot at protesting the war, because even if we had NEVER invaded Iraq, the bridge in Minnesota would have still collapsed. The funding for infrastructure like bridge maintenance is there, and has always been there. It's not a lack of money, it's a lack of efficiency at the state level.

John B. Kalb said...

Katie Couric's comment about the millions spent on the new Twins baseball stadium with no thought for bridge maintainence struck a bell - How are we doing in Fort Wayne on bridge repairs? "Infrastructure only counts if it's for some boondoggle!!!" John B. Kalb

Charlotte A. Weybright said...


What's cheap about it - I oppose the war and always have. And, by the way, I said "infrastructure and any other item in the U.S." I did not focus on the bridge in Minnesota.

My last sentence, "The more out of our pockets to be spent on Iraq, the less to be spent on infrastructure or any other item in the U.S.", is a statement that I believe is true.

I was addressing the waste (subjective, of course) of the money being spent in Iraq and what it could be used for in this country.

If you think it's cheap, that is your choice.

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