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OT: Response to Bill Polhemus - re:personal attacks

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Bill Polhemus wrote:
Dennis S. Wish, PE wrote:

Why couldn't you have stated it this way to begin with?

Because when I have done that, I was ignored. That added insult to injury.

So I guess I've just taken to "popping off." When "the 'I' word" came up again--even though it was in a rather harmless vein--it just brought ti back to my recollection. So I popped off. I have done that a time or two before, with the same result: Others here say "why are you being such a ****?"

I guess I can understand someone objecting to my "popping off" like that. I happen to think what's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander. Certainly making an acerbic comment like I did is far, far less serious than what the other person did originally that riled me up so much.

When I complained, it was met with silence, except for the one reply by the other that was along the lines of "well, if you don't want to be called 'incompetent,' don't be 'incompetent!'"

You know, if someone really concludes from the tiny amount of information we post here--and it really is "tiny"; there is simply not enough time or bandwidth to explain all the "backstory" elements that go into each of the problematic situations we sometimes discuss--that another list-member is "incompetent," then so-be-it. But I am of the firm (and yes, "obstinate") opinion that it is NOT appropriate under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES to so state on this forum. The implications are disastrous. What we say here, doesn't stay here. I refer to my adventures with the attack-dog trial lawyer in support of that.

If an engineer here in wild-and-wooly Texas can actually have his license suspended as a result of making scurrilous charges of "incompetence" in a private letter or report, how much more serious do you think such a charge ought to be seen, made here on this public forum?

Can you imagine if Mr. Texas Über-Lawyer had got hold of that statement of Gail's prior to the trial of which I spoke earlier? How about the next deposition I have scheduled in a month or so? I hear that lawyer's pretty tough, too, and they've already found the transcripts from the earlier matter and are planning to say that I "perjured myself" on this or that question because I didn't remember that three years ago I had asked a question here about some building code provisions that could conceivably have stemmed from that case but under oath said I hadn't spoken of the matter to anyone. Can you imagine how much fun it will be in deposition, to have to answer the opposing counsel's question: "Isn't it true that on SEAINT other notable engineers have called you 'incompetent'?"

Notice the wording of that question, and think how I'll have to answer.

How about the Google searches that clients will do, concerning you? The negative as well as the positive come up all the time. What if I lose a potential client because they saw where one engineer, under the circumstances I cited, said I was "incompetent"?

Again I say: How is my so-called "personal attack" on Gail's use of the word "incompetent" in any way, shape or form "worse" than what she did? She has used the term in reference to more than one person here, yet I'M the "loose cannon"? Sorry, it's just more than I can bear. If that's the standard of acceptance, then in my extreme-minority opinion I'm in the wrong room.

There are a number of things you could have done differently.
1. When the topic changed direction - change the subject line
2. If it became a personal attack - leave a note that you object to the insinuation as it is false and that you choose to respond privately to the sender. This makes it personal and off line.
3. I don't think much of what is witting on this list compared to what might be disclosed in court either against me or as a means to try and prove me incompetent. As I mentioned before this was tried once. I was called incompetent to be an expert on a subject because I wrote to the list seeking information on the subject I was responding to as an expert witness. I turned this around in my favor - Yes, I used the list to obtain opinions of my peers - this is what the list is for. If I am testifying on a topic and if there is any chance I might be wrong or have not investigated other issues when writing up my report or advising the attorney I am working with then I need to know it.
There is nothing wrong with using the list to obtain information or help with any topic - I think this makes you a better and possibly a more competent engineer. When confronted with the e-mails I wrote to the list, I simply said that I had indeed requested information and that was the purpose of the SEAINT Listservice - to utilize the minds of 15000 professionals who may agree or disagree with me. In fact there are usually as many who agree as disagree. Does this make me incompetent - NO! In fact it provides me with the information I need to make an informed professional decision that I use to advise my clients.

So, the answer is that you attempt to trap anyone via e-mail, but I would doubt that information obtained on the Internet would ever be considered the sole reason for you or anyone being caught in disciplinary action unless your professional attitude is such that you were excessively inflammatory and made claims that were considered slanderous. Making this type of remark public or lying by claiming another engineer performed some illegal act may be taken serious, but would also put you at risk if you could not prove your claim in court. I doubt that any board of registration would considered this information important enough to act on on its own merit.

As far as Texas being "wild and wooley" ; The last time I looked at a map of Texas below say the pan handle area in the north, there was very little open land between towns. I would say my area is more wild than yours considering that once I leave the town to the east, it is between 60 and 90 miles to the next small town and then another few hours to the outskirts of Phoenix - nearly four hours of driving through the open desert - now that is wild and wooley (or prickly).

Hope this sets the record straight.



Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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