October 17th, 2011
Published by: mooresb
The University School Whimsies The University School Whimsies October 17th, 2011
University School's first English Teacher, proposed that the school abandon teaching formal grammar and rote spelling in favor of a writing rich language development program. While this produced students of unusual skill at expressing their thoughts and ideas, it also produced the idea that University school students were not stellar spellers. But wait! The European Language Commission is adopting proven University School spelling techniques to help Europe avoid adoption of German as the standard political, commercial and legal language in the European Union. The Commission has just announced an agreement whereby University School English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase-in plan that would be known as "Semplified Universaty Skool English". In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the"k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the Universaty Skool spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgrasful, and they should go away in non kore kommunications. By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl any Universaty Skool graduet wold understand. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru! And zen ve vil tak over ze world! The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the prerailroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Why did they use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in England were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original question. Now the twist to the story... When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main 1
October 17th, 2011
Published by: mooresb
fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago By the width of a horse's ass!