Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Choke-Chain of Causation

Well hello again boys and girls! Say, do you remember that post last week in which LearnedFoot wrote the following in reaction to NonMonkey's deeply stupid column about the bridge collapse:

A little presumptuous, dontcha think? What if we find out that the collapse was due to an undiscoverable latent design defect that occurred when the bridge was built back during (looks at watch) the Johnson Administration; those halcyon days that Lori Sturdevant still dreams about when Minnesota Republicans and the DFLic Party were united in extracting taxes from the citizenry with a roto-rooter?

[Rolls eyes wistfully heavenward] Ah, that was great. Good times. Good times.

Anyway, that was LearnedFoot's little reminder to the knee-jerking politically addled community that at that point in time they didn't know shit, and to point fingers of blame was a tad premature, and more than a tad disgustingly opportunistic. In fact, Foot and his good pal - me, Artie the Ardvaark - continued to show various frothing activists and a particularly ego-afflicted mutt that their criticisms and calls to tax Other People were assuming a whole lot of facts not in evidence. In fact the whole stupidity of that one particular cur, led to the birth of me, another condescending talking mammal.

And yet that dog continues to embarrass himself, gnawing at ankles of a certain chair of a certain university's Econ department as though the fact that he keeps a pretentious reading list means he has the intellectual game to keep up with the good perfesser on such matters.

But I digress.

Well sure, before the ink was dry on this story, the mutt and the other like-"minded" drooling partisan knee jerkers were hopping up and down on their hind legs proclaiming "Aha! Negligence"!

Which makes the story in today's paper 1) so very funny of it weren't so very sad and 2) one you will see nowhere on any lefty blog, unless the purpose is to marginalize the material contained therein (and here, I will ask you to reread that quote from Artie's pal LearnedFoot again), to wit:

Federal officials investigating the Interstate 35W bridge disaster said Wednesday that they are looking at a possible design flaw in some of the steel plates under the bridge and issued an alert that added weight from construction work may have been a factor in its collapse.

Opening a new window into last week's fatal bridge collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that one of its areas of inquiry involves the design of steel connecting plates known as gusset plates; the material makeup of those plates; and the loads and stresses they bore.

Hours later, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said the NTSB indicated that the stress on the bridge's gusset plates may have been a factor in the bridge collapse and that one possible stress may have been the weight of construction equipment and materials on the bridge
.

Now, Artie's not saying this is conclusive proof of the cause of the collapse. The NTSB isn't saying as much, so, unlike your typical DFLitic activist, Artie will defer to them in matters that require such expertise.

But what Artie is saying is that Artie's guess is that when the Knee Jerking Droolers come try to wrench even more money from your wallets while crying "Infrastructure!!!" don't be surprised when you don't hear them acknowledge the possibility that taxcutsfortherich had nothing to do with the disaster; that a defect that came from a mathematical error or a lack of foresight did. It tends to work against their argument.

But if they are forced to acknowledge it, Artie has a good idea of what they'll say:

"It's too early to say what caused that bridge to collapse."

To which Artie will politely clap, and note "Gee, what took you so long to figure that out? I mean, you read Voltaire, right? And you almost know how to spell 'res ipsa loquitur'..."

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