Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Facts Are for People Who Don't Know Stuff™

The following is a KAR SimulFisk™, featuring usual suspects LearnedFoot, Ryan and the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Please do not try this at home; we are professionals. Parental discretion is advised.

LEARNEDFOOT: Hai guyz: this may be the dumbest NonMonkey column since the "Great Our Schools Are Burning / Captain Fishsticks Neuron Misfire of Aught-6" (GOSABCFNF06)!

The National Transportation Safety Board is able to explain structural failures. It is not much good at explaining governmental ones.

RYAN: As opposed to journalists with political agendas, who are ALL ABOUT explaining EVERYTHING, even at the expense of truth and logic. Little known fact that's little known and little, the vast majority of journalists, Nick Coleman chief amongst them, have a nebulous grasp on facts, which they mask through their ability to string together words in a somewhat coherent manner so they have the ring of truthiness. Over the years, Coleman has opined/whined about countless topic areas he knows nothing about, usually armed only with the first five Google search results as background information. The man is an intellectual deer tick.

THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (THOAG): That's the thing about Coleman; he seems to have such faith in this idea that "journalism is above and beyond it all" that he thinks he can not only poo-pooh science, engineering and fact, but demand that we all accept his version of things on...blind faith?

The final report on the Interstate 35W bridge blames the collapse on an obscure bridge designer who, like 13 citizens trying to get home on Aug. 1, 2007, is dead. In effect, the NTSB adopted a conclusion reached days after the collapse by an outside consulting firm hired by Gov. Tim Pawlenty for $2 million -- the exact same cost as a plan to reinforce the bridge that had been rejected by the same administration: "The dead guys did it."

A very convenient theory. But there's one problem: Carol Molnau is still alive.

FOOT: Catch that? Carol Molnau being alive is "a problem".

NonMonkey wishes Carol Molnau was dead!111!1!!!!1

(After years of observing NonMonkey's - and certain leftybloggers' - logic twisting, context-mangling and profferings of imputed motives, I think I'm finally astute enough to give it a try of my own. How'd I do?)

THOAG: You did so well that "Tild" is on the line, and she says she's wearing a thong.

FOOT: Thanks for that mental image. It's like ricin for the soul...

RYAN: You know, it occurs to me; if Pawlenty and Molnau and the evil conservative agenda can be blamed for the I-35 bridge collapse, then doesn't it stand to reason they should be credited for every bridge and expanse that HASN'T collapsed? If so, their track record is simply STUNNING.

LEARNEDFOOT: I think the Pawlenty administration has done a solid job of keeping the Canadian invasion force at bay. We still fly the Stars and Stripes here, baby. Suck it imperialistic Cannuck pigs!

THOAG: If Coleman were a Republican (heaven forefend) he'd write something like "Sure the Canadians haven't invaded - but it's not because Tim Pawlenty spent enough money on repelling them".

On the morning after the bridge collapse, I wrote here that "both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap" and both have scrimped "on the basics." Still true. But the buck stops with the man in the governor's chair, and during six years in office, Tim Pawlenty has stopped billions of bucks designated for crucial highway and bridge projects. He has vetoed three transportation bills, including one that passed over his veto while he was engaged in a yearlong beauty pageant, trying out for Miss GOP V-P, a role that went to Caribou Killin' Sarah Palin.

RYAN: Um, first off, it's MOOSE Killin' Sarah Palin. Second off, what the hell kind of non-sequitur, logic-defying nonsense was that whole paragraph even about? It's like he's throwing literary spaghetti against the wall hoping something will stick.

FOOT: That's right, Ry. Her nickname is Caribou Barbie. She kills moose. Please do try to get your parroted casual slanders straight. Nimrod.

His complaints about being the target of premature and unfair criticism after the bridge fell should be viewed as the posturing of a guy who wants to be a standard bearer for the Republicans and needs to shake the mud off his feet.

FOOT: I'm trying to think of different word that describes "jumping to conclusions with no facts, but with a Republican in office". Help? "Premature factulation" perhaps?

"Partisan douchebaggery"? "Asinine"?

Is it unfair to link the bridge to the infrastructure problems that have grown much larger during Pawlenty's tenure? Hardly.

THOAG: "Infrastructure problems that have grown much larger during Pawlenty's tenure?" Measured how? Has physical entropy itself sped up in the past six years? Because that would be scary.

RYAN: It occurs to me. . . in an attempt to better distinguish my comments from those of Foot and Head, all input from here on will be in limerick form.

Before reading, yet again, about "the Bridge"
You should first grab some beers from the fridge
It's best to be drunk
When reading Nick's junk
Or when having sex with Melissa Etheridge.

Despite his post-Obama-slide conversion to a belief that Republicans need to reach out to moderates, T-Paw has embodied the knife-point anti-government agenda of those who think the best way to shrink government is to prove that it doesn't work. On Aug. 1, 2007, he may have felt the effort had gone a bridge too far.

"Premature?" How about unveiling plans for a new bridge while victims were in the river?

FOOT: You're right. We should have left a big crater where a thoroughfare used daily by tens of thousands of commuters used to be until NonMonkey had the chance to refute the NTSB's findings in print.

THOAG: How about, um, that's his job. He's not an ironworker or a salvage diver; he's a governor.

FOOT: OH! That's right. Thanks for the reminder Head.

How about hiring a firm supposed to investigate independently that ended up partnering with the NTSB and fingering the gussets (before the wreckage was examined)? Premature? A week after the collapse, Pawlenty declared it "unrelated" to any shortcomings in inspection or maintenance.

RYAN: Nick Coleman and the term "premature,"
Conjures mental pictures too gross to endure
A chronic maturbator,
Nick's a quick ejaculator
When viewing pics of Christiane Amanpour.

Fast work, T-Paw.

Reporters found differently: State officials had worried openly that the bridge might fail. Consultants had warned that it needed immediate maintenance. Molnau, Pawlenty's running mate, rejected plans to reinforce the bridge. Instead, MnDOT ordered a cosmetic fix, a repaving project that added about 300 tons to the bridge.

RYAN: Before the most important bridge collapse EVAR,
Nick wrote about the expanse exactly NEVER.
Not once did he detail
The bridge destined to FAIL
Yet now he's an expert. How clever!

FOOT: There is so much misinformation in that paragraph, I don't even know where to begin.

1) These unnamed officials didn't openly worry about the bridge failing. They slated it for replacement in 2020.

2) They didn't reinforce the bridge because that would have entailed drilling holes in the support beams, further weakening the structure and perhaps causing a collapse in its own right.

3) The repaving project was part of a routine maintenance regime.

4) The consultants also said that the bridge had at least ten years of life left in it.

5) You are a jerk.

THOAG: You. Are. A. Jerk.

Oh, wait - I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Follow the bouncing ball: MnDOT rejects a $2 million plan to reinforce a bridge that was deficient, fracture critical and the subject of fretting about a failure, in favor of a heavy repaving project.

THOAG: Oh, crap, now I gotta try this:

"Nick Coleman, the last in his class,
In college gave science a pass.
He went into reporting,
Spent three decades cavorting,
And now just pulls facts from his ass"

More scrimping: The resurfacing went ahead without a precautionary use of ground-penetrating radar that would have shown whether subsurface deterioration had taken place since the last exam, eight years earlier.

RYAN: Nick wields hindsight like a sword,
He can see all the signs left ignored
Yet where was this clown
Before the bridge just fell down?
Don't answer. I'm already bored.

Skipping radar saved $40,000

The radar would have cost $40,000. Instead, the state dragged a chain across the bridge, listening for thumps that might indicate problems. It would have been even cheaper to hire a dowser to check the bridge with a magic wand. And it would have worked just as well.


Yes, Nick's a structural engineer
A skill he picked up in just over a year
He's a jack-of-all-trades
Chock full of FAIL and AIDS
Journalism's not his only career.

THOAG: Closed-circuit message to Nick: Y'know what woulda been a real coup, Nick? If you could have found that a) an actual dowser, rather than a civil engineer, had recommended the chain thing, and b) found some empirical evidence that the chain thingie was actually a worse choice under the circumstances...

...since, y'know, both of them tested the roadway, and the gusset plates that failed were way, way below the roadway, and neither test would have found the fatal error, either in the real world or in yours. Y'know.

No Mere Mortal or Molnau could have kept the bridge from falling. Its doom was sealed at the dawn of time, predicted by Nostradamus, right after he got done inventing gusset plates.

THOAG: Coleman seems to have fun giggling at the word "Gusset". I wonder why?


FOOT: I've given up trying to psychoanalyze NonMonkey's weird fixations because I'm not a shrink. Maybe he should give up second-guessing structural engineers for similar reasons.

On the plus side, I now have more time to think about things that make sense, like beer and bacon.

Wow. I pity the fools who live in high-rises built before automatic sprinklers were required by building codes. Man, those people will die fiery deaths! Unless, somehow, you know, the state might require retrofitting? Nah. Too crazy.

FOOT: Oh. My. God.

THOAG: Er, perhaps - and I'm not a journalist, so I'm not an expert on civil engineering or fire codes - but perhaps that's because fires happen all the time, and bridge collapses are, well, kinda rare.

FOOT: There are non sequiturs. And then there are these sort of super-duper non sequiturs that make so little sense that...

Just... wow.

THOAG: I think Nick has discovered the anti-sequitur.

Pawlenty has twisted himself like the bent gusset plate that was photographed and ignored.

LEARNEDFOOT COMPLETES THE THOUGHT: ..By NonMonkey's preferred candidate in the 6th CD, Former MNDOT Lead Gusset Ignorer Elwin Tinklenberg


Yes, a picture taken in 2003
Shows a gusset bent like a knee
But where was Nick then,
That nattering hen,
Could someone please revoke his degree?

At first, he swore off the No Tax Moonshine, saying the state would do whatever it took to ensure safety. But after being blasted by neo-cons for losing his religion, he went back on the sauce: Just a month after the collapse, Pawlenty re-attached his name to a list of "leaders" against any new tax.

My point is: Choices were made in funding, inspecting, maintaining and repairing a bridge that yes, had a design flaw, but stood 40 years and never should have collapsed.

Never. Ever. Collapsed.

FOOT: Should. Have. Never. Ever. Read. This. Column.

THOAG: Is that some journalistic voodoo? "If you write it twice, it's really true?"

The Titanic should have had watertight hatches on top of her compartments. The Hindenburg should have been filled with inert helium instead of explosive hydrogen. The Corvair should have pushed its center of gravity forward a few inches. The USS Juneau should have provided the means to vent a main-battery magazine fire faster to prevent the explosion that killed 90% of its crew, because ocean liners/zeppelins/cars/light cruisers just don't sink after colliding with icebergs/explode/go into uncontrollable spins/explode - or as Nick would say...

...Never. Ever. Sink. After. Colliding. With. Icebergs. /Explode. /Go. Into. Uncontrollable. Spins. /Ex. Plode.

It really is that simple, isn't it?


The Romans built wondrous creations
Bridges and aqueducts with solid foundations.
Yet even those crumbled,
Downward they tumbled,
Human beings can fuck up calculations.

Yes, Tim Pawlenty has a bad case of Potomac Fever, but he is Minnesota's governor and he needs to stop complaining about unfair criticism and take Big Boy responsibility for a catastrophic failure that happened on his watch.

FOOT: Meanwhile the Strib is crashing and burning. NonMonkey is currently a writer for the Strib. THEREFORE the Strib's demise is NonMonkey's fault.

Not using teh brain are fun!!11!!1!1!!

He has not said what any governor must say:

"Minnesota, your government let you down. I am sorry. We did not do our job. There are no excuses."


I could end with a witty limerick
But Nick's column has just made me sick
The man's a disgrace,
A major dickface,
In his ass is lodged a major league stick.

FOOT: A closing haiku

Wise men change their minds
When the facts change. NonMonkey's
Mind changes the facts.

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