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RE: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak,Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

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This is a very weak reply from "Mike".

Blaming greed, cost cutting and unscrupulousness is just kicking the can
down the road. It doesn't get remotely close to addressing the real issue.
That issue is RISK and society's ability and, frankly, its need to accept it
in order to function.  

Since the acceptance of risk is usually inversely proportional to the
proximity to the risk, one cannot then sincerely address any particular risk
since the proximity to that risk is not identical for all parties. Moreover,
since real risk is NOT at all tied to the understanding of that risk, the
ability to make relevant decisions about what is acceptable or not is even
harder to do.

So, whose risk are we actually talking about?  Generally, reduction of
communal risk is often at the expense of greater the risk to a specific
individual, (like say, a fireman or a cop or that worker the SE orders down
the hole to clean out the bottom of the footing). Who watches out for the
individual? 

So, IMO, this is a far broader issue than complaining about rivet specs and
ignoble builders. It gets to the fabric of how a society operates...and that
moves us foursquare into the realm of Conrad's excellent post on the
subject.

--DB

-----Original Message-----
From: Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl [mailto:astaneh(--nospam--at)ce.berkeley.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2008 6:41 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC,
Weak,Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

Subject: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak
Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

To: Structural Engineers Association International Members
From: Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl
Date: April 17, 2008
Subject: Weak Rivets of  Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak
Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

Dear SEA-Int. Friends:

I had sent a blind copy of my earlier posting on this subject to my
scientist friend and had asked him if he likes to communicate anything else
to you. Below is my e-mail to him and his reply.  Mike is a great scientist
and a great humanist and friend. I am honored to be his friend. His views
represents very well the views of many non engineers whom I have met since
1989 when I started my work on the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge , which
by the way in my view is the best example of the worst structural
engineering and disregard to public safety . Here is the exchange between
myself and Mike. If any replies are posted on Seaint forum, I will forward
them to Mike. I only like to ask that in your response to him follow the
general rule of posting on the Internet and be polite and have no personal
attacks on the messenger or otherwise unlawful statements, which
unfortunately have occurred here in these pages once in a while, posted. 
Sincerely,
Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Consultant on
Structural Engineering, Earthquake Engineering and
Protection of Buildings and Bridges against Blast and Impact.

====================== 
From: Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl 
To: Mike wwxxyy (Faculty member in science)
Date:April 15, 2008
Subject: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak
Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Abolhassan Astaneh wrote:


> Hi Mike, Hope you got the BCC that I had for you for my e-mail to 
> Structural Engineers Association-International members.  If you want 
> to prepare a specific e-mail to them from you, I will be happy to send 
> it to them with only your first name. You cannot e-mail directly to 
> Seaint, you have to be a member.
From: Mike wwxxyy (Faculty member in science)
To: Abolhassan Astaneh_Asl
Date: April 16, 2008
Subject:Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak
Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths

Thanks, Hassan.  I don't have anything to add.  I think you are a good 
representative of the non-engineers of the world!

We have to think in terms of what I'll call "social engineering."  The 
environment of the engineer is also designed, but we seem to not pay 
enough attention to the design of that environment.  The engineer might 
be pushed by very powerful forces to cut corners and save money.  Every 
bit of cost cutting increases risk a little bit.  In order to achieve 
the appropriate balance between cost and risk, we need to design the 
engineer's working environment so that there are powerful forces pushing 
for lower risk and enhanced safety.

Maybe the builder/contractor is the bigger problem.  They can alter a 
design a little bit to save a few bucks and thereby make a structure 
much less safe.  We also need to be sure that there are appropriate 
countervailing forces pushing the builders to produce safe structures. 
It is important that these forces do not come in the form of lawsuits 
from bereaved families in 20-50 years.  We need to provide immediate 
corrections to builders who cut corners.

We'll always have the old problem of who is to police the police, but I 
think we can do much better than we are doing today by creating systems 
that won't fail unless everyone is corrupted.

Mike
========================================================




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