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An anecdotal argument for progressive thinking


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#1 sevnson_71

 

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 06:28 PM

This is fascinating.

Be sure to read the final paragraph; your understanding of it will depend on the earlier part of the content.

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.


Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England , and English expatriates designed the US railroads.


Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.


So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.


And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.


So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.) Now, the twist to the story:


When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything... and

CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.


So the moral of the story from an engineering perspective is this; Whenever you wonder why something is done a certain way ALWAYS ASK WHY! If the person can't answer the question with anything better than "that is how we've always done it", find someone smarter to ask.

And if same person pushes you not to reinvent the wheel when you see a better way, ALWAYS ASK WHY NOT!
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So the combination is 1-2-3-4-5. That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!- Dark Helmet; "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils." - Gen. John Stark; "Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." -Robert Frost; "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams, Brewer/Patriot
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#2 Shlomi of Vulcan

 

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:34 PM

Bones said it right - "The bureaucratic mind is the only constant in the universe."
"Having problems with the present? Find solace in the fact that some future generations will call these "the good ole' days." Shmu'el Ben Shalom

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#3 JulesLuvsShinzon

 

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 06:10 AM

Good one sevnson!

I was wondering to what use I could put this nugget of information and I couldn't think of a single situation in which I could amaze an audience. However, it could come in useful for parents currently experiencing the "Terrible Threes" which come right after the "Terrible Twos", in which small people go through a phase of only ever saying the word "NO"! In the Terrible Threes, the word "No" is replaced by "WHY?" in answer to anything a parent might say to them. Absolutely nothing gets achieved during this phase of child development without protracted negotiations and endless explanations. I used to give up in the end and simply ended it with "Because I said so that's why!" But "Two horses assess" might have been a more elegant riposte - not because it would make any sense to an insatiable three year-old girl well versed in delaying tactics, but because she would become puzzled and in her confusion I could just scoop her up and get her pointed in the right direction -like nursery school or bed.

And actually "Two horses asses" might just be more satisfying...

#4 sevnson_71

 

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 03:24 PM

I wish I could take full credit, but I admit that one was sent to me by a lady a bit more clever than I :P
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So the combination is 1-2-3-4-5. That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!- Dark Helmet; "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils." - Gen. John Stark; "Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." -Robert Frost; "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams, Brewer/Patriot
FORUM RULES



#5 aklaus

 

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 05:58 PM

My dad's a railroad nut, therefore I heard most of this long ago. If you wanted to, you could even argue for the horse's ass as a fundamental unit of measurement...in which case, 10^27 times that length might soon be a hellahorseasses...


#6 sevnson_71

 

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 12:44 PM

Pretty sure that is why most of the world uses the metric system now :P
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So the combination is 1-2-3-4-5. That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!- Dark Helmet; "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils." - Gen. John Stark; "Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." -Robert Frost; "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams, Brewer/Patriot
FORUM RULES



#7 Apocalypse

 

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 12:54 PM

Meter, horse ass, tomato, tomahto...
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