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RE: Criticism (was Steel Shapes)

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In a message dated 6/10/2004 2:31:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ShermanWC(--nospam--at)cdm.com writes:


In my opinion there should be a difference in how opinions are expressed in
a professional forum vs opinions regarding entertainment and consumer
products


I don't totally disagree with this,  but I guess I would ask how the lines are drawn.  Say cars, electric shavers, and gas barbecue grills are fair game for any kind of criticism.

What about software or architecture?  What about the new World War II memorial?  And why is an engineering publication different from a novel (an entertainment product)?

With respect to association documents that have a large number of technical errors,  personally,  I think this is something the sponsoring association should be held accountable for.  I think most people want to be able to rely on association documents as providing good,  well-researched, and correctly explained information.  Association documents are typically considered as being written to a higher standard than articles in the various free advertising-supported magazines and to be more credible than what someone (no matter how well qualified) simply gives as their opinion.

With respect to offering constructive criticism,  I don't really see how this list is the most efficient way to do that.  A more appropriate place would probably be the committee meetings.  From personal experience,  constructive criticism in a committee meeting, if it will require more than a very small amount of work on anyone's part,  is often either vehemently disagreed with or ignored.  (The technical word for "ignored" being "tabled for future discussion.")

With respect to the (perhaps commonly held) opinion that writing  is okay,  as long as it is understandable,  I guess I would  ask who decides what is understandable?  These are two sentences from two articles in a randomly selected copy of the magazine Concrete Construction:

" VAEs (vinyl acetate ethylene) are subject to some hydraulics in alkaline environments."

and:

"Curling increases when the concrete has a high modulus of elasticity (that is, the slab is relatively flexible)."  

Does the fact that I understand them make them understandable?  

The problem is not that they are taken out of context - the problem is that the words are wrong.  In the first sentence,  the word "hydraulics"  is supposed to be "hydrolysis."   In the  second sentence,  the words in the parentheses probably shouldn't be there.  Although,  even when they are taken out, the sentence is seemingly written as stating a fact,  when in reality it is expressing an opinion that I don't agree with.

And this might also be an appropriate time to say that actually much of what I post is not original, because I am too lazy to be original more than about once a year.  For example the distinction between a code and a standard was taken from an article in the PCI Journal by Tom D'Arcy, George Nasser, and SK Ghosh  (page 121 of the Nov/Dec 2003 issue.)  I thought it was good information and worth passing on.  I think I paraphrased a little,  the exact wording was:

"It may not be widely understood that the ACI 318 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, despite its title, is a standard and not a code.  A standard, unlike a code, is not a legal document.  A standard acquires legal authority usually by a two-step adoption process.  The first step is adoption of the standard by a a model code.  The second step is adoption of that model code by the legal code of a local jurisdiction (city, count, or state).

With respect to the World War II memorial,  personally, I think it is nice, but probably not 4 million dollars worth of nice.  Or maybe it cost 27 million,  I forget.    I agree with those who say it really doesn't make much of an impact if you are just casually strolling through, but this is partly due to the constraints the architect had to work under.  And just about any memorial will come up badly when compared to the FDR memorial.


Gail Kelley