Can you guess what it was?

Can you guess what it was?

Here’s a little clip of information taken directly from a recent article I was reading. I replaced the parts that would give away what it is, see if you can guess what it is:

Even as project proposals were being submitted, a 53-year-old structural engineer secretly already had the job sewn up. He had met with the government official in charge of funding and the official had rigged the process so that only this engineer could possibly win the bid. When the construction was started, more than 300 prominent [inhabitants] signed a petition protesting the [construction]. They claimed that [it] would “disfigure and dishonor” the city.

There was a great deal of protest surrounding the construction as well. A [prominent] mathematics professor predicted that when the structure passed the 748-foot mark, it would inevitable collapse; another expert predicted that the [construction]’s lightening rods would kill all the fish in the [nearby river].

The [local] edition of the New York Herald claimed the [construction] was changing the weather; and a daily newspaper ran a headline story claiming The [construction] was sinking. “If it has really begun to sink,” [local paper] pontificated, “any further building should stop and sections already built should be demolished as quickly as possible.”

What was this abominable construction that would destroy the environment and be a disfigurement to the city? It was none other than the Eiffel tower.I always try to keep things like this in mind when confronted with the scads of ‘disaster is imminent’ reports on everything from new public/religious social programs, to dams, to global warming, to whatever. Whatever you’re in the middle of, by nature you are going to be very myopic. Now, this is not to say that disastrous human endeavors do occur and are often foreseen but warnings ignored, but it reminds me that you need to look at the real data and know that expert ‘opinions’ are just that – and are just as equally wrong as right on both sides.

Instead, the only way to denounce critics or lend credibility for a plan is in a *lot* of careful research and number crunching before one begins. A great example is a task force in Portland that have done some great research on homelessness patterns and found that often times the current feed/shelter system simply prolongs and perpetuates the homeless’ problems (this is not to say that homeless help should go away – but that their influence and role needs to change in a new way). Some of their findings

There has also been all this talk of carbon-neutral obsession, bio-fuels, etc. This is all good, but simply reducing environmental impact down to your ‘carbon-load’ doesn’t take into account scads of other toxic stuff you release. Use an air conditioner in your car/home? What about your freon load? What about your arsenic load? What about your estrogen loads ? (yes, estrogens from shampoos and birth control pills goes right though water treatment and has long been known to be mutating fish/river life. That one sure doesn’t get as much press as blowing up damns now does it) Now we hear that bio-fuels aren’t that much better than other fossil fuels as far as the environment goes.

I guess my point is that productive change in the right direction requires people not being reactionary, over-simplifying the problem, or lately appealing to sentimentality or emotionalism, or even spiritualism about ‘mother earth’ (I could go on about that one being even worse than the religious appeals made in the middle-ages that everyone loves to decry) – but really put some pencils and pens to paper and do the math and science. Real science that isn’t myopic ‘experts’- or we’ll end up looking as silly as the Parisians did to future generations.

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