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Re: Seismic Upgrade ..... Appeal to those who created the code

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At 09:15 PM 5/4/99 -0700, In response to Mr. Charles Greenlaw's comments
back to Mr. Barry Welliver, audra ranous, CEM, wrote:

>Mr. Greenlaw:  what do you believe?  [It] seems to me that your comments
are >deliberately inciting toward dissentation, rather than assisting ... It
seems >that your comments are pointed toward divisiveness within the
profession... 
>[and against] those who are earnestly seeking compromise and understanding.
______________

Audra, thanks for raising these points and more. They go right to the heart
of the building code code formulation conditions that have resulted in the
"level of acrimony" Christopher Wright just noted.

You are very correct that I am inciting toward dissention, and pointing
toward divisiveness. Here is an explanation, in the words of Sir Winston
Churchill:

        "Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills
the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to an
unhealthy state of things." 

I admit to doing criticism that is not agreeable. But I am satisfied that
the existing code formulation procedures, as they have evolved in practice,
are such that criticism strictly limited to the agreeable kinds is
ineffectual criticism. And the effect of code adoptions is more important in
priority than is meekly agreeable decorum among one another; a higher
loyalty is at play. 

I outlined four levels of critical conduct, in increasing degrees of
unpleasantness. I advocated use of three of those, not just the first (and
most agreeable) one.  

You also ask,
>What suggestions do you have for improving the code approval process?  

Accept that code formulation work is very serious business, and not just
roses in the springtime. It's done under the slogan of protecting the
public, but also puts rope in the hands of those who would hang us, and
obstructs good engineers from doing the good engineering they know how to
do. Code activity is like Harry Truman's kitchen: there's heat in it. Accept
that.

Clash is a fact of life in our history whenever any faction finds themselves
disadvantaged. The country was founded that way. How is engineering policy
that exasperates and endangers engineers going to be formulated in avoidance
of this fact of life?

See my article in SEAINT Online, which was reprinted earlier, in the Oct
1995 SEAONC News. Other suggestions of mine are in it. Dissent to those
suggestions was brought in alarm to the SEAOC Board of Directors that same
month and appeared as a letter to the editor in SEAONC News in Dec 1995. A
series of letters, some very angry, ensued well into 1996. 

Unwillingness to engage in (or to tolerate) sincere dissent, or to let
dissent and disharmony show in public, is a disease that elderly
organizations like SEAOC die of. [ref. John W. Gardner's books, Self Renewal
especially.] Many symptoms of institutional decline in SEAOC, and across
many areas of interest, are there if one looks.  Naval aviators had many
years of raucous Tailhook Assn conventions before the one that became their
denouement. The SE Assn has had as many years of crusty arrogance and
getting away with it as did the Tailhookers. Don't look now, but....    

Charles O. Greenlaw  SE    Sacramento CA