Monday, December 22, 2008

Never Wrong

Caught having posted something debunked by Snopes, what does NRO writer John Hood say?
I'm a big fan of the wisdom of crowds/hive mind thesis, but you gotta know when to just relax and enjoy a good story.
Huh? If by "wisdom of crowds/hive mind thesis" you mean people talking and working out what's true. Jon continues to not say I Was Wrong:
Besides, if you follow the Snopes link, you'll find that the debunking isn't really a debunking of the relationship at all, just a quibbling with its details.
Well, the primary point of John's original post was that some aspect of the Space Shuttle owed its size to the width of two horses' asses - the latter determined the size of ancient Roman roads, which supposedly led to the size of railroads and then that determined the size of a tunnel part of the Shuttle had to travel through.

In other words, there was nothing inevitable about a railroad gauge supposedly traceable to the size of wheel ruts in Imperial Rome. Had the Civil War taken a different course, the eventual standard railroad gauge used throughout North America might well have been different than the current one.

Back to Mr. Hood, who sticks out his tongue:
As for the fact that America finally adopted the English standard because the Union defeated the Confederacy in the Late Unpleasantness, you'll have to pardon some of us with particular namesakes if we choose not to dwell on such things at merry times of the year.
Snopes continues to quibble with details, ie. continue to demonstrate that what John posted was false (er, "a good story"):
Now, as for that Space Shuttle addendum...When Thiokol was building the solid rocket boosters (SRB) for the space shuttle, they had to keep shipping considerations in mind, but they didn't necessarily have to alter their design because any particular tunnel that lay between their plant and the Florida launch site wasn't large enough. (The original article implies that one specific railroad tunnel was a cause for concern, but since the location of the tunnel isn't identified, it's difficult to evaluate that claim.)

In any case, railroads don't run through tunnels only "slightly wider than the railroad track" unless every one of their engines and all their rolling stock is also only "slightly wider than the railroad track." (And unless the tunnels encompass only a single set of tracks, of course). Data from the U.S. Army's Rail Transport in a Theater of Operations document, for example, makes it fairly clear that one would be hard-pressed to find railroad equipment anywhere only "slightly wider" than 4 feet, 8.5 inches.
I've nothing against posting fanciful tales, but this "not admitting when you're wrong" is a bit of thing for you guys, so forgive us if we're a little sensitive.

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