BENCHMARK STORMS AND HYPE

Unfortunately for this overly dramatic reporter, this video went viral, with over a quarter million views in mere hours:

The reporter was only attempting to add a bit of drama to his report, but likely was not on the best of terms with the man holding the camera. If it were not for the two people casually strolling by in the background (which an adept cameraman would have made sure not to include) his acting job would have been quite convincing. Instead he will be held up as yet another “epitome of fake news”, (and also will likely have to bear some nickname such as “Staggers” for the rest of his life).

This hype is old news in many ways. Here is Anderson “pooper” Cooper reporting from the gutter during Hurricane Ike.

The accompanying hysteria seemed to be reaching “jump the shark” proportions. I cannot help but wonder how many take the media claims that “It is all Trump’s fault” seriously.

https://news.grabien.com/story-media-politicize-florence-blame-trump-storms-predict-mass-de

The level of inanity astonishes me, and demands some sort of push-back. I was glad to see the “Watt’s Up With That” website immediately produced a series of posts countering the politicized editorials spewed by the mainstream media. Especially encouraging was a parody of media hype produced by firemen, for it seems to indicate ordinary people are not gullible “sheeple”, and see through the hype, and find the media laughable.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/15/another-fakenews-video-cnn-anderson-cooper-hypes-hurricaneflorence-flooding-meanwhile-firefighters-spoof-tv-news/

Besides reducing the hysteria of the media to absurdity, it is important to factually counter their wild claims. I think Dr. Tim Ball did an excellent job in the following post, first by examining Hurricane Florence from a meteorological standpoint, and showing it was in many ways a fairly normal September hurricane at landfall, and second by pointing out how insurance companies stand to profit from hysteria. (Especially interesting and informative were his insights about how such storms “flatten” as they come north.)

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/16/hurricane-florence-culmination-of-exploitation-of-natural-events-by-government-extremists-and-business/

Another post, with further facts and figures was produced by James D. Agresti.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/16/the-washington-posts-slander-on-hurricanes-and-climate-change/

I feel it is important to arm yourself with facts and figures, despite the fact some Alarmists will simply shout you down by screeching you are a “Denier.” Admittedly it can be scary to face a mob, and some elements of current politics has the definite feel of a witch hunt.  One wants to duck for cover, for one feels like Dr. Frankenstein facing villagers bearing pitchforks and torches. But during such times I remember the importance of the character “Jojo” in the classic “Horton Hears A Who”, by the great American poet and master of  anapestic tetrameter, Dr. Seuss.

 

Yes, it is important for every voice to be heard, for a grain of sand can start an avalanche. Do not allow yourself to be shouted down.

I’ll admit the struggle does get tiresome. It’s been going on for decades. I myself was first jolted awake to the element of nonsense within “Climate Science” when I opened the November, 2006 issue of National Geographic, as it was devoted to hurricanes and I had a long-time interest in such storms, and came across a article by “weepy” Bill MCKibben called, “A  Deeper Shade Of Green”.  It began,

“This is the year we finally started to understand what we are in for. Exactly 12 months ago, an MIT professor named Kerry Emanuel published a paper in Nature showing hurricanes had slowly but steadily been gaining in strength and duration for a generation. It didn’t gain widespread attention for a few weeks — not until Katrina roared across the Gulf of Mexico and…”

I knew enough trivia about hurricanes to recognize the article contained sheer balderdash misinformation, and began attempting to correct the record in small ways, but my efforts seemed to have no effect. Bill McKibben got lots of publicity generating hysteria that failed to verify, while I was either ignored or rebuked as a “denier.” However 2006 marked a clear increase in the number of “Skeptic” sites where you could be heard. As McKibben’s nonsense went on and on, year after year, he faced increasing push-back. I finally got a long and detailed rebuttal to his hysteria published at WUWT in 2012.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

Long and detailed rebuttals didn’t seem to have the slightest effect on Weepy Bill himself, or on the more ardent Alarmists. They simply refused to respond. But this refusal to respond made their arguments look increasingly like they lacked any substance. They were like those hollow paper tubes that hold rolls of toilet paper. More and more they seemed to be using empty political slogans rather than any points that were remotely debatable. Getting hit by these empty slogans was like getting bopped over the head by a paper tube. All they did was rob you of a degree of your dignity, but they failed to make the attacker look civil, and did make them look a little insane.

The ineffectiveness of political slogans, and the failure of such propaganda to fool indoctrinate the public became apparent with the Brexit election, and the election of Donald Trump. At this point a certain degree of desperation set in, felt by those whose livelihood is dependent on empty slogans. However, if you only have empty slogans to use, using them more and more frantically persuades no one.

At this point I think it might be interesting to go to a network noted for slogans, MSNBC, and examine the introduction to a so-called “analysis” of the news. Usually such an introduction passes quickly as a stream of blather, but we shall slow it down and parse the sentences. If we analyse the analysis we can see if it is connected to reality, or not.

The speaker is Katy Tur and she begins,

“President Trump says FEMA is ready for Hurricane Florence but mounting evidence suggests it could be incredibly difficult to deal with this disaster if climate change deniers are on the front lines…”

Excuse me? Is there anything an Alarmist can do that a Skeptic can’t, on the “front lines?” Does an Alarmist have a witch doctor’s wand they can shake at the waves to make them retreat? No. In fact even the UN’s highly politicized IPCC  report can see no “trend” in hurricanes,  either increasing or decreasing, in recent years. If there is no “trend” there can be no “trend” caused by man, which therefore suggests there is no way puny humans can turn these mighty storms left or right.

In terms of the present tense, when Hurricane Florence battered our shores we didn’t need Climate Scientist’s theory from ivory towers, which accomplishes absolutely nothing, but rather we wanted hard-nosed people who understand the logistics of coping with a hurricane’s effect on our infrastructure. As is the case on battlefields in the fog of war, or on ships at sea in storms, it doesn’t matter if you are black or white, Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, or even Alarmist or Skeptic. All that matters is the capability and grit you display, under the stress of a hurricane.

Katy’s next sentence is this appeal to authority:

“…A new study from the Princeton University is echoing the findings of previous research showing climate change as the cause of ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey…”

Oh brother! Hurricane Harvey was a slow storm, not a fast storm. Harvey’s excessive rainfall would have been less devastating if it was spread out over several states. However the hurricane stalled over Texas, and all the rain fell in one place.

In actual fact I doubt people at Princeton University are so ignorant, nor that they “echoed” any other “study” so ignorant, that that called Hurricane Harvey “fast”. Rather this is an example of atrociously bad reporting, and the above point is an attempt of an imbecile to look like they hang around with college professors. It is as silly as the video of the man staggering in a calm that began this post. It is an appeal to authority by a moron attempting to look like a genius by donning a white lab coat. (I won’t blame Katy, but rather the writer who wrote the balderdash she mouthed.)

(By the way, I fully expect to soon see a report stating that slower storms are caused by Global Warming.)

Her next sentance is:

“…NOAA is suggesting it’s 3 degrees Fahrenheit above average…”

The “it’s” Katy is referring to is the “ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey”, however NOAH doesn’t need to suggest. The have actual satellites that produce actual data. So let’s look and see if the ocean is three degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Oh! I see. The “it’s” Katy says NOAA is referring to isn’t the entire ocean. “Its” an area off the Northeast USA coast extending towards Europe. Elsewhere, the southern hemisphere is largely below normal. And Hurricane Florence actually formed over below-normal waters over towards West Africa. But never mind that. Let us proceed to the point she was driving at.

“…Where does the Trump Administration stand on climate change?…” 

Eh? How does that follow? A sort of leap in logic has occurred. Is this a case of the-hand-is-faster-than-the-eye?

As best as I can figure, Katy has leaped from NOAA “suggesting” that some vague “it” is three degrees above normal, to politics. The assumption must be that “it” proves Global Warming is real, and now we should hurry on to how Trump is dealing with this “reality”. However we will need to come back later, and look more carefully at the “it” she has so hurriedly hastened away from.

She continues:

“…President Trump rolled back Obama era mandates for leaks and oil and gas wells…” 

Now we have completely left the topic of meteorology. We are into the fields of economics and energy production, and also public safety. The state of our infrastructure is a topic of interest to me, and well worth discussing. On September 13 a leaky gas line, (and perhaps a foul-up in the pressure in the lines),  caused 60 fires and chaos not far from where I now sit and type.

I will return to this subject later. (But please note the solar panels on the above house.)

For the time being, let us continue with Katy’s logic:

“…These rules were part of Obama’s three part strategy for combating climate change.”

Whoa! Wait a minute. How did we get back to meteorology? I thought we were talking about leaky gas mains and infrastructure.

All in all Katy Tur has provided us with a splendid example of an intellect that fails to think deeply, or move cautiously. Instead she leaps from topic to topic with a splendid disregard for investigative reporting. In this manner she avoids that which would give a more ordinary thinkers reason to pause. It ignores the advice, “The buyer beware.” (I could likely sell her the Brooklyn Bridge).

I don’t really want to take Katy to task. She’s putting on a show for the cameras, just like the reporter in the video at the start of this post was putting on a show for the cameras. The above quotes were from Katy’s intro to an interview with “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, who also is hard to take to task, for he too is putting on a show for the cameras. And then Katy moved on to interview the former “White House Climate Change Task Force’s Director Of Communication”, (a position that paid a six-figure taxpayer-funded salary, which President Trump has abolished.)  But what, may I ask, is a “Director Of Communications”? It is not someone in charge of putting on a show for cameras?

All these people putting on shows for the cameras are merely doing the job they are paid to do. If they show a falsehood, don’t blame them (though they must bear a certain shame for doing the job they do). Blame those who create the job, hire them, and pay them.

But the so-called “infrastructure” does not care how you look on camera. It must obey a fundamental reality or it fails. If you put too much pressure into the gas mains, big troubles can ensue. Allow me to be redundant and repost this picture:

This poor home-owner lost his house despite his virtue-signaling solar panels. Was his loss due to “Climate Change”? No, for the weather was nice. Was it due to “Climate Change Politics”? I suggest the answer is “Yes”. Why? Because too much focus has been on how things look on camera, and too little attention, time, and money has been placed on the basic facts of basic engineering. The infrastructure is not a thing thing that cares for cameras. A politician’s blandishments and pretty talk mean nothing to a rusting pipe. You cannot bribe a gas main.

Look again at the virtue-signaling solar panels. They are not very effective when the sun sulks down by the horizon, this far north, in December. Nor can wind turbines replace them, for our coldest weather occurs when the Arctic Highs are cresting, and the “Montreal Express” ebbs to a dead calm. At that point both solar power and wind turbines supply the infrastructure nothing, and we must turn to fossil fuels, or freeze. As coal power plants were “phased out” by the prior administration, natural gas became increasingly important as a “back-up” for “sustainable” energy (which isn’t sustainable, because it can’t sustain itself in a midwinter cold spell.)

But when neglected infrastructure, (neglected because Alarmists demanded attention be elsewhere), breaks down, the usual suspects reappeared, including the nemesis of sanity  “Weepy” Bill Mckibben. (He tends to show up after every disaster, licking his chops like a vulture). Within hours of the Massachusetts explosions and fires he tweeted, “The Massachusetts gas explosions are a good reminder of the many reasons we need to get off fossil fuel.”

I am so sick of this “progressiveness”. In any disaster it holds the helpfulness of a hyena. It waves hands vaguely at some future prospect, and does absolutely nothing to remedy the current crisis, and (what is most annoying) it gets rich doing so.

What McKibben was suggesting in “A Deeper Shade Of Green”, way back in 2006, was that Katrina was the first of many massive hurricanes that would smash into the USA, due to mankind’s production of CO2. Time has proven him completely wrong. There actually have been fewer major hurricanes in the past thirteen years than his dramatic article, (containing the same appeals-to-university-authority that Katy employed), warned us to expect. In actual fact there have been fewer hurricanes than a ordinary scan of history would lead us to expect.

Can he be held accountable? According to some readings of the Old Testament, when a man stands before other men and states he is a prophet, and then, when what he prophesies does not come true, he has proven himself a “false prophet”, and the societal remedy is to haul him to the town green, and stone him to death. Fortunately for Weepy Bill we don’t follow this practice any more, perhaps due to Jesus stating, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” This is not to say he doesn’t get stoned, but if so it his own doing, perhaps due to what it is now legal to smoke in Massachusetts.

What annoys me is that some continue to heed such people, taking them as an authority  despite the fact they have proven themselves persistently wrong. It does not help us with the real task at hand, which is to keep our infrastructure is the best possible shape, and to repair it after benchmark storms.

Rather than hype, the public should be informed about what is possible, which involves a clear comprehension of what a “benchmark hurricane” is.

A benchmark hurricane a worst-case-scenario.  It is the worst storm a particular area has a record of.

As one moves up and down any coast one discovers the “benchmark hurricane” differs, because the worst winds and storm surge associated with a hurricane are in its eyewall, (usually the part with onshore winds), which in some cases can be a surprisingly tight area.  For example, driving south of Myrtle Beach in November, 1989 I witnessed, moving through Surfside south towards Murrell’s Inlet, the devastation rapidly increased as one neared the place where Hurricane Hugo’s path plunged inland. Driving north, on the other hand, to North Myrtle Beach,  (to where I once lived), there was only slight damage, and the relieved residents were joking about how they hadn’t needed to evacuate. But I could point out to them a place where I had put in a garden, behind the house where I had formerly lived, and explained that as I dug I found scattered bricks, from a hotel a hundred yards down the beach that Hurricane Hazel smashed in 1954. I stated they were wise to evacuate, for the weather bureau can never be exactly sure where a storm will make landfall, and if Hugo had veered fifty miles north the situation in North Myrtle Beach would have been entirely different. In any case, Surfside had Hugo as its “benchmark,” while North Myrtle Beach had Hazel. (An area between was spared the worst of both).

The word “benchmark” came from a mark a workman might put on his workbench as a handy reference point, so he would not have to take out a tape measure and re-measure over and over. It serves the same purpose for engineers, who must design structures to handle bad weather. They look to see what is the worst Mother Nature has dished up in the past, using it as a reference point, and then look to see if they can design anything that can withstand such fury.

The answer is seldom, “No”, which surprises some people. The Bible advises against building on sand, but the engineer’s answer is “Yes, you can build there, but it would be extremely expensive; do you have a couple billion dollars handy?” In such cases they are not building on sand, for they put in a deep concrete foundation, and build a sort of bunker.

The buyer, (and often the taxpayer) beware. Often the engineer is disappointed, and rather than a billion dollars only gets a hundred thousand. For example, there are rivers in Texas that are usually dry,  but occasionally rampage due to tropical storms. An engineer could design a costly suspension bridge over the gully,  or a cheap ford over the river bottom which would be closed when the river was in flood, and likely need to be replaced on a regular basis. The customer then looks in his wallet, and makes a choice.

There are some sections of coast that, for whatever reason, are luckier than others, and have dodged the bullet and therefore have less devastating “benchmark hurricanes”. In these cases engineers raise the benchmark, for they think the luck will not last.  Perhaps they studied a channel cut through a nearby marsh, and noticed that within the layers of peat there were occasional layers of sand, washed all the way inland from the beach, during massive storms that occurred before records were kept. With the help of geologists they can determine the likelihood of such huge hurricanes, and advise customers about the likelihood of such a storm, giving us terms such as “once-every-500-year-storm”.

In Europe, where records have been kept longer, there are records of times the North Sea went on a complete rampage, and villages and parts of entire counties vanished, and on maps areas went from being land to being shoally seas. Because this is actual history the Alarmists should not use the word “Unprecedented” for modern storms in Europe, but history never seems to stop Alarmists from being overly dramatic (and therefore inaccurate) about the present.

Engineers need to be economical. A small road in a small town can’t afford a giant culvert for a small brook, to handle a once-every-500-year-storm. The taxpayers will pay for a small culvert, and then pay to fix the road if they have to. For this reason a wisely devised emergency-management-plan seeks to predict damages, not to prevent any and all damage from ever occurring.

When I was living in Myrtle Beach I was a bit scornful of everyone building on land that was only three to six feet above high tide, and one time I haughtily informed a construction worker that another Hurricane Hazel would  wash away all his work with a twelve-foot storm surge. He smiled cheerfully at me and stated, “That will be great for construction workers, for we’ll have to build it all back again. You’re not going to stop people from enjoying the beauty of this beach.”

A few years later I returned to inspect the damage after Hurricane Hugo, and down past Surfside came to a stretch of beach where nothing but pilings remained of the beachfront homes. They had all been built atop twelve foot pilings, and only the pilings remained. Each and every house was a block or two back from the beach, smashed into other houses. But then I noticed a lone beachfront house remained. The garage beneath the house was gone, and the staircase up to the house dangled brokenly in mid air, but the house remained. As I looked at it and scratched my head a local fellow came up to me and asked, “Wondering about that house?”

I nodded.

“I don’t know why, but that fellow paid a bit extra for longer pilings, and his house’s floor was three feet taller than the rest.”

Surfside was a terrible mess, but now it is all cleaned up and people are enjoying vacations at the beach again.

And what is the moral of all this? It is to be practical. It isn’t to ban beautiful resorts in beautiful places, but to enjoy the best while being ready for the worst, with a wise contingency plan.

We also need a plan of how to deal with the Alarmists who have become addicted to a way of making money from the imaginary danger of Global Warming. They may number in the millions, if you include all government jobs,  and they are facing a hurricane of their own making. They have mortgages to pay, children to clothe and feed, car-payments to make, but are facing homelessness, for the political construct they depended on is going to be swept away.

Either it will be swept away by wise choices and sane behavior, or by the social insanity of civil war, but it simply is not a sustainable construct, despite all the bather about “sustainability.”

 

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Nipigon Bridge Failure —Social Vs Real Engineering—

“Murphy’s Law” kicked in up in Canada, as a brand new bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway buckled. Nipigon 1 1297792332567_ORIGINAL

This obviously is due to a mistake in the engineering of the bridge. There is discussion about whether the buckling was caused by a storm’s high winds, or very cold temperatures causing cables to contract more than expected, or both, but it really doesn’t matter. Problems such as these are suppose to be discussed and solved before construction even begins. It is a bit late to be heading back to the old drawing board.Peter Arno drawing board cartoon, New Yorker 1941-8x6

It is at this point that the wonders of tracing down the reasons for the SNAFU start to appear. This is also known as “The Blame Game,” and involves the absurdity of politicians, and a sort of engineering that has very little to do with real engineering: Social Engineering. Call it “spin” if you will, but it involves attempting to warp reality in such a manner as to benefit some, and to basically crucify others.  It departs from firm foundations and launches into a sort of false reality which often creates the very engineering mistakes it later is in such a hurry to cover-up, or excuse, or blame on others, or in some way, shape or form deny responsibility for.

Already I’ve seen the “Blame Game” regarding the Nipigon Bridge blame Spain. I didn’t bother to dig into the details, but I gathered some thought the mystery of Canadian politics had involved employing a Spanish construction company, which had less-than-usual experience with arctic cold and what such cold can do to construction materials, in the building of the Nipigon Bridge. Others blamed China, because some of the materials had been obtained more cheaply abroad. It all struck me as somehow splendid. One can only marvel at the ability of some people to blame disaster, occurring on their own doorstep, on nations and peoples thousands of miles away.

This is not to say politics isn’t to blame, for often it is. Rather than the best engineer, some brother-in-law of a person who donated to the party-in-power’s election gets the job, though he happens to be a complete doophus. The result is then a doophus’s debacle, such as the buckling of a brand new bridge.

The buckling of the Nipigon Bridge was due to real problems with real engineering, and created a whole new set of real problems for Canada, as Canada’s major cross-country highway was cut. On one hand real engineers set to work coming up with real answers, to open at least one lane of the bridge. Nipigon 2 nipigonbridge02jpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

However these real solutions to real problems swiftly began to overlap the world of unreality created by social engineering. For example, the real engineers stated the most heavy loads could not cross the bridge, and this includes the super-heavy engines for wind-turbines, (which happen to be an unreal solution to the unreal problem of Global Warming). Those in charge of the real problem of wind turbine logistics then began to seek alternate routes down through the United States, but this of course involved crossing a border, which is an imaginary line involving passports, paperwork, and all sorts of complications involving paying politicians what are basically bribes, but is excused by calling them “fees”, or perhaps “tariffs”, or some other fancy-pants word.

At some point we are forced to stop and scratch our heads, and wonder why on earth we put up with Social Engineering.  All Social Engineering seems to do is to get in the way of doing jobs correctly in the first place, and then gets in the way of fixing the mistakes that Murphy’s Law makes all too common, even when we strive to do things correctly in the first place. Why don’t we strive to stick to what is real? Real Engineering seems to trump Social Engineering every day in every way.

I have thought long and hard about this subject, likely because as a schoolboy I was guilty of being a bald-faced liar, when it came to telling the teachers the truth regarding the whereabouts of my homework. The reality was too stark for me, and I sought to avoid facing reality. Had I been a true engineer I would have faced the facts, and the facts were I hadn’t done my homework and must bear the punishment. However I didn’t like those facts. I wanted to change the facts. And therefore I made up some of the most amazing stories teachers have ever heard. So incredible were my tales that teachers gaped, their jaws hanging in total astonishment, and they were unable to act. I paralyzed them with my bull, and then the bell rang, and I made a beeline out the door thinking I had escaped punishment.

Of course I didn’t escape punishment. You can’t escape reality, as real engineers know. A day comes when the bridge you built simply falls down, like the gorgeous structure over Tacoma Narrows known as “Galloping Gertie”.

In my case the punishment wasn’t quite so dire. It was basically a test I sat down to take, and then flunked because I’d never done any homework. This led to further punishment, because if you get poor grades then doors that are open to others are closed to you. The only doors open to me were the doors that open if you call tell a tale so amazing it makes teachers gape.

Obviously I should have gone into politics. I was such an excellent liar I likely could have gone far. The problem was that the real reason my bull could be spell-binding, and enchant teachers to a point where they forgot to punish, was because, as strange as it sounds, my fabrications were founded on Truth.

The Truth was that I hadn’t done my homework because I’d found something better, and finer, and higher than homework. It is something most boys know about but many forget as they grow up, and it isn’t politics. It is something Mark Twain attempted to describe when he wrote “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”, and is every bit as much a Truth as the Truths incorporated by the best engineers. It is in some ways crucial to life, and is spiritual, and therefore is about as far from modern politics as one can get.

(I hope that explains why I was repelled from politics, despite apparently being an excellent liar. It is the best I can do.)

Now, when I start to speak of Higher Truths, I warn you I am starting to weave my enchantment, and you are in danger of becoming as spell-bound as my teachers once were. Keep in mind that Truth is Truth, and there is no way around it. Be firm, even grim. Remember that if a bridge isn’t built correctly it will buckle and sway, and that many more people than the stockholders in the shamed construction company will have to pay a price, to fix the mess made by incorrectness.

The point I wish to make is that there is a reason behind the bull of Social Engineering. Unfortunately it hidden from, and even called incorrect by, the politically-correct. The problem with political-correctness is that it seeks to profit from spirituality, which is basically ludicrous, and is in a sense like trying to make money off giving to the poor.

Suppose your brother-in-law is a complete doophus. The spiritual instinct is not to damn him, but rather to uplift him. The problem with the politically correct is that they assume uplifting the fellow means you should practice blatant nepotism, and give him the job of engineering a bridge that he will likely turn into a doophus’s debacle, meanwhile ignoring a far more qualified engineer who happens to be a total stranger, and unlikely to ever offer you any personal kick-back if you give him the job. And the problem with this political correctness is becoming increasing apparent, as brand new bridges fail, or major waterways silt up causing floods in England, or the US Navy’s latest high-speed troop transport is exposed as having a bow that crumples in gales.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-14/navy-s-fast-sealift-ships-can-t-stand-buffeting-from-high-seas

However we should not blame the instinct to upraise doophuses for these increasingly common examples of doophus’s debacles. Rather we should blame the selfishness attached to politically-correct nepotism and cronyism.

The distinction between the Social Engineering that seeks to uplift a doophus even at our own expense, and the Political Correctness that seeks to profit off a doophus, should be blatantly obvious, but tends to be hidden in a haze of economic uncertainty, wherein fewer and fewer are self-reliant farmers, and more and more are holders of government jobs or government pensions or government welfare, and are completely reliant on so-called benefactors who are in fact beneficiaries of reliance. In this haze it is only when a bridge buckles that we are abruptly faced with the facts.

Because it is important to highlight the distinction between uplift and personal profit, I searched about through the history of mankind for examples I could use, and quite by accident chanced upon an example involving the Father of my Country, George Washington. Of course, as soon as his name is evoked one is looked upon as being a bit maudlin, but this example was too perfect to ignore.

The year 1776 had pretty much seen Washington fall from the heights of popularity to the pits of what was close to ignominy. He’d moved from driving the British from an untenable position in Boston to attempting to defend an untenable position in New York, being driven from New York, and being driven in retreat across New Jersey. What was left of his army was half starved and in rags. 2000 troops had walked away simply because their enlistment was up. He was very nearly completely defeated. It was the black night that Tomas Paine described by stating, “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman“.

It is all well and good to talk in that grand manner, but without any evidence besides retreats and defeats, the politically-correct “sunshine patriot” tends to shun the loser, even if he once was a winner. Even one of Washington’s most steadfast and loyal friends, Joseph Reed, was starting to feel Washington might be too “indecisive”.  Washington relied so heavily on Reed that he once pleaded for Reed to return to service because Washington needed someone who could do more than follow him; Washington needed someone could think for him, but now Reed apparently didn’t think much of him,  and said as much in a letter to Washington’s second in command, Charles Lee.General_Charles_Lee

Meanwhile Charles Lee, despite Washington’s clear requests for reinforcements, was very slow leading his forces south, as he apparently thought joining Washington was likely a lose-lose proposition, and also apparently felt he should replace rather than assist Washington. He sent a letter back to Reed, who Washington had sent south to enlist reinforcements, but this letter happened to pass through Washington’s camp. Washington, desperate to learn how close Lee’s reinforcements were, opened the letter, and the opinions of the two men became glaringly obvious.

One can only imagine how Washington must have felt. Rather than reinforcements and rescue coming from north and from south there was basically conspiracy and collusion. It was a position where other desperadoes in other lands, and where other dictators in other times, would have have lopped off the heads of their opposition, calling them traitors. What Washington did was somewhat amazing. He resealed the letter and sent its on its way, including an apology to Joseph Reed for having opened another man’s mail.

That’s the end of the story, because right there you have an example of a man living on a different and higher level than your ordinary dictator or desperado. Despite Lee behaving like a doophus, and Reed behaving like a doophus, Washington uplifted, apparently gaining nothing but self-respect.

Of course, you likely want the story to go on, so I will mention that Lee, leading an army of over 2000, managed to get captured in his nightgown by 25 English soldiers on horses, because he was lollygagging three miles behind his troops, writing letters in a tavern. His second-in-command promptly led his troops south more than three times faster than Lee had planned. They were as haggard as Washington’s troops, and many lacked boots and, with their feet wrapped in rags, left the famous bloody footprints in the snow. Meanwhile Joseph Reed was writing Washington that he should consider a counterattack, which Washington was already in the final stages of undertaking, and which is remembered as the “Crossing of the Delaware” which resulted in the victory at Trenton on Christmas morning 1776. That victory was like a bolt from the blue to many who deemed Washington already defeated, and was such a huge boost to the moral of the Revolution that it is seen as the point when a pendulum swinging one way started to swing the other way.

I, however, see the swing as occurring when Washington opened the letter he was never intended to see. Why? Because if you want proof your fellow man sucks and isn’t worth the time of day, that letter supplied proof. However Washington apparently didn’t need proof. He already knew his fellow man sucked and wasn’t worth the time of day, but he didn’t use that as an excuse to behave like low-life himself.

This is something worth musing upon, as we have to deal with buckling bridges, and likely other signs of bad engineering. There is bad engineering of many sorts, and that includes bad “Social Engineering”. Even as we strive to be clear about the distinction between Real Engineering, (which deals with that which is), and Social Engineering, (which deals with how that is viewed), we should also strive to see the distinction between Social Engineering that is spiritual and uplifts, and Social Engineering that is basically selfish, politically-correct greed.

PS  —GREEK ENGINEERS ALSO NEED TO BRUSH UP THEIR BRIDGE WORK–Greek Bridge downloadThis is after a nasty winter storm this week.

“Winter shows teeth” in Greece – Video