Counter-revolutionary design

What If New York City 3 by Studio Lindfors

This is pretty awesome, but it would make it much harder to use the political & economic disruption of a precipitous rise in sea levels to stage a world revolution.

[vis BLDGBLOG, so so long ago]


Engineering Confessions

Spending most of my time around engineers, I forget that certain things aren’t common knowledge. For example, I recently had to explain that buildings are not designed to survive earthquakes. Rather, they are designed to not kill people during earthquakes, then afterwards we’ll knock em down and rebuild.

Engineers make this sound noble: “We’re in […]

Let Malibu Burn

It’s on fire again today, and while I hope everyone got out safely, it seems like a good time to remember: The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.

Alternative 9/11s

An Absolution Revolution tells of Mel Gibson’s defeat of the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. This is similar to my approach to dealing with 9/11, which is to talk about the lesser known atrocities of the date, and try to counteract America’s 9/11 hyperbole via context. Except Jason went with a […]

It’s a beautiful day for a coup

I looked down at the calendar to check the date and, lo and behold, it’s September 11th, the 34th anniversary of the US-backed coup that toppled President Salvador Allende and brought Pinochet to power in Chile. That act of terrorism resulted in thousands of deaths and made political prisoners of thousands more.

Of course, 6 […]

WTC Steel

Warped, yielded steel from this issue of Engineering News, picture taken at the WTC. It somewhat illustrates what I was talking about below — the wide flange is bent and it look like some type of edge connection broke off, but the beam as a whole is still in one piece. Mostly, I just […]

Sunday Conspiracy Blogging

By linking to this Robert Fisk article about questioning the 9/11 explanations, LitBrit produced quite a bit of commenter angst over at the House that Klein Built. As an engineer, I find the discussions of 9/11 steel collapse fascinating, and at the risk of revealing ignorance within my own field I want to wade in […]


Money quote from today’s New York Times article about the Minnesota bridge collapse:

“Bolts are better,” Mr. Peterson said, “but we wouldn’t consider anything wrong with rivets.”

Yeah, except for the rivets not being strong enough, there wasn’t anything wrong with them at all…

Strange thing though: the NTSB let everyone know that something may […]

“God Hates Minnesota”

Fred Phelps is an asshole, and while there is no law against being an asshole, there is one against protesting at funerals in Minnesota, thank God. I have little doubt that this kind of over-the-top nuttery pushes the country to be more accepting of gays and, in this case, Minnesotans, but that is cold comfort […]


The Alvarez Hypothesis claims that sixty million years ago an asteroid 80 miles across hit the Yucatec peninsula in Central America. It threw up fifty trillion tons of dust and ashes into the air (note: speculative statistic), blotting out the sun and causing a worldwide mass extinction.

People, those of us […]

For Shame

Even more ridiculous than the Republicans putting tax cuts over public safety, is that they will say infrastructure and social program spending will need to be further cut to fund the increased disaster relief that is now required.

UPDATE: California Republicans are already doing their best to ensure that the next collapse happens here.


Uh Oh

7 killed in Minneapolis bridge collapse

Some of my structural engineering colleagues are about to lose their jobs…unless it was the contractor’s fault. Of course, the first rule of structural engineering is: It’s always the contractor’s fault.

Disaster Relief as Class Warfare

One of the problem with arguments that New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt (7/20/07 post, no permalink) is that they ignore our government’s history of rebuilding towns in hazardous environments.

In 1993 Malibu had its worst fire since the 1930s, killing 3 and doing $1 billion in damage. The town occupies the narrow strip of land […]

Swirling Passages of Death

So this is a little embarrassing:

A memorial for Hurricane Katrina was one of the first projects assigned in my architecture design labs. Wanting to differentiate myself, I decided to try for a memorial in the tradition of the Holocaust museum (i.e. not soothing).

My memorial was an aquarium. The […]