August 10th, 2010

The width of a horse's arse

 Railroad Tracks

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 English expatriates designed the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad 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 had 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? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.

Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/ procedure/ process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?' , you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.)

Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main 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 would 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 happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle 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. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything.. . and Current Horses Asses in Washington (or here in Malaysia) are controlling everything else

via "nam psk"

Don’t criticise teachers


EVER since the Government announced that teachers in categories DG41 to DG48 can take part in active politics, there have been letters criticising the move.

So far no one has written to support the move, neither has there been any response from serving teachers.

If one cares to look around and observe carefully, there are already teachers actively involved in politics even before the announcement was made. These teachers are hardcore politicians who are naturally inclined to politics.

The new ruling is not going to make much difference to the teaching profession because those who are keen in politics are already out there.

I don’t understand why the public is so overwhelmingly concerned about teachers’ involvement in politics.

Note that not a single teacher nor teachers’ association are jumping with joy over the announcement.

We teachers are only concerned about the welfare of our students and to a certain extent, the well-being of those involved in the profession.

Those who have written in to heckle teachers over the issue should think first before hurling hurting accusations against us. We never asked for this so-called perk.

Yes, there are some who are right in saying that if teachers are interested in politics, they should resign.

But, please don’t generalise the whole issue. The same goes for other professions too.

Talking politics in school among staff does not mean we are pushing our political ideologies.

As far as I know, teachers have not imposed their political ideologies upon students and we will never do that in future.

We are mature professionals and we know our limits and commitment.

If those in power feel that graduate teachers are an asset to politics, it shows the amount of respect we command but sorry to say, the majority are not the least bit excited.

Whether aligned to the ruling party or the opposition, there are many who hold important party positions but have lied low due to prior restrictions. Now, they might come out openly, and that’s all the difference that is going to be made.

JAYARAJ K.G.S., Sitiawan.

Source : The STAR Home > News > Opinion Tuesday August 10, 2010

Teachers in politics: They could impart their own political views

 2010/08/10 RUEBEN DUDLEY, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

TEACHING is about imparting knowledge to students in a correct, factual and impartial way.

Teachers, by their very role, have a strong and direct influence on their students.

The teacher, in the good old days, was a "friend, philosopher and guide" to students. Students learned from their teachers many of life's lessons and often sought their advice on matters concerning their studies and their future.

To many a student, the teacher was a role model, worthy of emulation. The teacher was an adviser even to parents and the community in general, and was held in high esteem by all.

When a teacher is active in politics, invariably the two roles will merge, almost inextricably. It is, as an educator once said, "like swimming in a river and trying not to be wet"!

Teachers involved in politics could impart their own political beliefs, even partisan views, to their students.

If and should there be discussions that have political connotations, teachers must be encouraged to provide proper balance in whatever opinions they impart. They should be obliged to point out that there are other opinions and explanations and one should consider all issues with an open mind and decide critically and rationally on their validity and merit.

Not only is teaching a noble profession, it is also, besides the home, the foundation that cultivates young minds and develops the nation's leaders on whose shoulders rest the future of our country.

I am sure teachers of today will endeavour to reflect those great values of their noble profession and be fine examples to their students. The students deserve nothing less.

Source:Teachers in politics: They could impart their own political views