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  • The Amazing Psychic Shannon

    Posted by Shannon Love on August 2nd, 2007 (All posts by )

    I will now amaze you with my psychic powers by revealing to you how events will unfold in the Minneapolis Bridge collapse.

    Wait a minute…Let me concentrate…I have it!

    Speak to me, oh, spirits!

    The engineering investigation will reveal the bridge collapsed due primarily to design or construction flaws dating from the time of the bridge’s construction in 1968. Poor maintenance sometime in the bridge’s history will have played a role.

    Wait…I think there’s more…

    Politicians will claim that the collapse resulted because they did not have enough money to perform proper inspections or maintenance! They will ask for higher taxes.

    Gee, spirits, you don’t have to be psychic to see that one coming…Ouch!…you didn’t have to do that!…wait, there’s more

    If anyone actually looks at the transportation budgets they will see that far more money gets spent on politically flashy but relatively useless projects that benefit individual politicians than gets spent on inspections and maintenance. After a brief flurry of inspecting every span in the state wider than a culvert, inspections will return to their normal neglected state. Most of the money raised by new taxes will be spent on projects unrelated to improved safety.

    Gosh, the spirits are cynical!…Ouch!

    Government sucks at doing the boring day-to-day things needed to keep the world running, because doing so doesn’t rebound to the benefit of any individual politician. They can put off attending to such matters today because the consequences won’t show up until years down the road.

    I think there is more…

    Maybe governments should be forced to buy private insurance for systems like bridges, that will pay off damages to victims and fund repairs in case of collapse. Let the insurance companies inspect the systems just as they do for similar systems in the private sector. Just as in the private sector, the state will have to fix systems that can’t be insured otherwise. Individual politicians won’t have any say in the matter just like individual business people don’t.

    Heed the wisdom of the spirits.

     

    21 Responses to “The Amazing Psychic Shannon”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      And it will all be George Bush’s fault.

    2. chel Says:

      Oh spirits, how would the government get money to buy private bridge insurance? That sounds mighty expensive. Our governor (as you know spirits, I’m a Minneapolis resident) just vetoed a 5 cent gas tax increase which would have been the 1st one in 20 years.

    3. Bill W. Says:

      “Oh spirits, how would the government get money to buy private bridge insurance? That sounds mighty expensive.”

      “If anyone actually looks at the transportation budgets they will see far more money gets spent on politically flashy but relatively useless projects that benefit individual politicians.”

      To anyone who doesn’t believe that all of a community’s wealth belongs to our elected tyrants, to be used however they (or their loudest and best organized constituents) think best, the second quotation answers the first. More bluntly put, at a time in which government at all levels commands roughly a third of all national wealth, it can get all the resources it needs for any worthy project by setting priorities and saying “no” to the rest. No tax increases without layoffs [of government employees].

    4. Verity Says:

      These spirits seem to be Anglo-American spirits because they also predict responses to failures of state projects in Britain. It is truly amazing. All hail!

      Spirits, parlez-vous français? Because I’d like to get your take on why none of this happens in France. Why is it that the grandest of grands projets come in on time, work perfectly right from the start and continue to do so for years? The French government is certainly not less corrupt than elements in the British and American governments (time out for hysterical laughter), yet pride in their nation gives the French huge, complicated engineering projects that come in on time, work from Day One, and continue to work as planned.

      Why the difference, oh spirits?

    5. chel Says:

      “And it will all be George Bush’s fault.”

      Nope, the Bush administration just clarified things. It’s Minnesota’s fault:

      By DEB RIECHMANN,
      AP
      Posted: 2007-08-02 14:42:30
      Filed Under: Nation News, Politics News
      WASHINGTON (Aug. 2) – The Bush administration said Thursday that structural deficiencies were found two years ago in the highway bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis, and it was the state’s responsibility to fix them.

      Let the blaming begin!

    6. dearieme Says:

      The French exploit their democratic deficit very well. If you are not going to consult The People about very much, just appoint a cadre of well-trained engineers and tell them to do it their way.

    7. Oclarki Says:

      Dearime, I’ll agree with you and expand on your point. Ever wonder why all those amazing European cathedrals and castles still stand hundreds of years after they were built? Because the king and the church didn’t have to listen to a bunch a whiny peasants complain about the costs.

      When the catherdral in Seville, Spain was built, the designer said, “Let those who come after us think we were mad men!” Wel nowdays we ask our madmen how much this is going to cost and if we can’t just put it off for a few years.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Oclarki,

      “Let those who come after us think we were mad men!”

      That might turn out well for works of art like cathedrals but I would hesitate to use it for the design criteria for a transportation systems.

      On a related note, if anyone will provide me a near unlimited budget and a 150 year deadline, I can guarantee I can build a bridge that won’t fall down for a thousand years.

    9. Shannon Love Says:

      chel,

      Oh spirits, how would the government get money to buy private bridge insurance? That sounds mighty expensive.

      The spirits say:

      Private businesses can somehow manage to insure their property against failure, accident and liability. In many jurisdictions, the government mandates such insurance. If the private sector can afford it and it serves the public interest to require it then government can also afford.

      wait…there is more…

      The important thing is to have an external force that compels decision makers not to put off inspections and maintenance.

      seems a straight forward idea. What else did you say?

      I’m a Minneapolis resident) just vetoed a 5 cent gas tax increase which would have been the 1st one in 20 years.

      The spirits ask:

      What happened to all the previous tax money? Insurance and maintenance cost should be part of life cycle operating cost of any system. In the private second, not accounting for such future cost constitutes fraud. . The maintenance of existing infrastructure should always take precedence over new flashy construction. What spending priorities changed?

      I’m getting a head ache…

      It won’t matter how much tax the people raise if the total political system provides no feedback mechanism to force politicians 20 to 30 years in the future to allocate enough money for maintenance for which they will get little or not political credit. Civil engineers have been warning since the 80’s that ever since the 60’s deferred maintenance has become routine at all levels of government.

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      Verity,

      Because I’d like to get your take on why none of this happens in France

      That’s a very interesting question, I will ask.

      Bwaaaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

      I’m not sure how to interpret that let me try again…

      ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha–oh lordy please stop! We can’t breathe even though we no longer have lungs!

      I still don’t understand perhaps the spirits meant to say something about the following datelined February 16, 2005:

      Both structural and design faults caused a large section of the newly constructed Terminal 2E at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport to collapse last May, killing 4 people and injuring 3.

      I think the spirits have caught their breaths.

      In Europe, final say on all transportation matter still resides with the military. The military still inspects transportation assets and maintenance often comes out the national security budget. Bridges in Europe are still erected with built-in placements for demolition charges.

      I think that about covers it.

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      chel,

      Nope, the Bush administration just clarified things. It’s Minnesota’s fault:

      Curse, Bush and his occasional devotion to Federalism. Of course, the Federal government has responsibility for bridge payed for, built and maintained by the people of the state of Minnesota! Bush should have ignored the law and ordered his subjects in Minnesota to fix that damn bridge.

    12. Verity Says:

      Well, Shannon, thanks for your channelling. I didn’t know that about CdG – the only airport in the world with no directional signs. Is that post-modern or what? Too chic for mots, my olds!

      I do think, though, with great respect, the spirits would acknowledge that French projects by and large come in on time and on cost and, with the odd exception, work beautifully. Also, with the exception of the Pompidou Centre, are usually chic, sleek and elegant. The overpass at Millau is absolutely sensational. It comes off at Montepellier, in the Languedoc, cutting two and a bit hours’ (translated into French driving times, that is “just under three hours”) drive-time from Paris to the Languedoc. It is an unimaginably vast project. I lived close to where the actual highway ended before joining the highway for Barcelona, and I was impressed. It’s unquestionably the Givenchy black Holly Golightly dress in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ of the world’s overpasses.

      Personally, I once turned back from a job interview because I couldn’t drive across the Missippippi. Driving for two and a half hours above the height of the Eiffel tower would be out. of. the. question.

      But, oh spirits, the incident at CdG was an exception in French engineering projects.

      I think it is we Anglos who can’t handle our corruption effectively.

    13. Shannon Love Says:

      Verity,

      I do think, though, with great respect, the spirits would acknowledge that French projects by and large come in on time and on cost and, with the odd exception, work beautifully.

      I don’t know if that is actually true. I’ve never seen any kind of systematic comparison. As for on time and on cost, the concord and the chunnel come to immediately to mind. I would imagine that if you look closely you will find they have the same kind of problems getting things done that we do.

      More to the point, the problem we face with our infrastructure is not getting things built but rather maintaining them. We routinely bring major projects online in a timely and cost efficient fashion. (We only hear about the minority of projects that don’t). We seem to have trouble getting politicians 20 or 30 years down the road to pony up the money for maintenance when they won’t see any political return for doing so. Neither do we have the military throwing its weight around like they do in Europe.

      …the incident at CdG was an exception in French engineering projects

      They’re the exception everywhere. Thats why we have engineers. The vast majority of the time, the things they build work. I just doubt that the French have fewer disasters per capita than anyone else. I know that in the literature that I have read on engineering disasters, the French seem proportionally represented.

      I think it is we Anglos who can’t handle our corruption effectively.

      Now, that was a joke I am sure.

      In any case, corruption isn’t the problem. The problem results from an inherent lack of feedback from voters about infrastructure maintenance. The private sector avoids this problem because owners receive positive feedback for maintaining their property. In situations were the natural feedback doesn’t exist, liability usually does the trick. Business people aren’t smarter or more moral than politicians, they merely have better feedback.

      I think we need to develop a system to insure that the politicians of generation B will take care of the things that the politicians of generation A built.

    14. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » The Spirits Were Right! Says:

      […] my previous post, The Amazing Psychic Shannon, I channeled the great ethereal spirits and ask them about we would eventually determine about the […]

    15. Verity Says:

      Shannon and spirits, I cringe to have to point it out, but the Chunnel and Concorde were joint Anglo-French projects.

      All I know is, British engineers have a hearty respect for French grands projets. If you Google ‘Millau bypass’,you will pictures of staggering beauty and grandeur. And brought in on time and working from day one. OTOH, the French government should not be making it easier for the French to dash around France with such loony abandon. They are bad enough on ordinary roads and highways.

    16. model_1066 Says:

      I haven’t been to France myself, but when I was in Europe I was consistently impressed by the clean, stately infrastructure of Switzerland. They truly take pride in their safe and well-maintained roads, bridges and tunnels.

    17. Shannon Love Says:

      Model_1066,

      I am perfectly willing to believe that the Swiss transportation infrastructure is neat as pin.

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      Verity,

      The French do a lot of nifty stuff but then if you look anywhere in the developed world you will see impressive engineering in every country. I am willing to take you word for it that the French pull of big projects with great aplomb. I am also willing to believe that due to their militarized transportation system, they take better care of their bridges on the whole than we do.I just don’t see the relevance to the type of failure I am talking about.

      Frances has its share of civil engineering failures and they seem to me to result from the same kind of errors that plague the rest of the developed world. Nothing you have said really provides evidence of the that this is not true. I think you are letting your francophilla overwhelm your empiricism.

    19. veryretired Says:

      The US is a huge country with thousands of bridges, ramps, elevated highways, and other structures that seem to perform very well without any catastrophic failures. This bizarre occurance is a painful alarm that all of these structures cannot simply be taken for granted, but must be examined and repaired or replaced as necessary.

      However, to find in this singular occurence some type of far-reaching, generalized cultural tendency is stretching, to say the least.

      Terrible accidents happen in many places around the world, and around this country. I’m already cringing at the prospect of months of finger-pointing, scandal mongering, and phony political posturing that is sure to come.

      It is natural for people to attempt to find something more in one of these shocking events, but oftentimes the search is more to support preconceived political positions than any real attempt to ameliorate the actual problem. In that, I tend to agree with Shannon’s spirits, cynical or not.

    20. Mike Says:

      This is an abhorent post that mocks a tragedy.

    21. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » The Amazing Psychic Shannon Revisited Says:

      […] August in my post, The Amazing Psychic Shannon, I predicted that the investigation into the Minneapolis bridge collaspe would find: The engineering […]