January 16, 2008

Another Pre-emptive Nick Coleman Column

Hey, Nick, if you're reading this, feel free to use it in your next whining column.


Gusset Plates Were Designed By Republicans
I refuse to have my skewed worldview tainted by inconvenient facts
By Nick Coleman

So, the NTSB has come out with preliminary findings regarding the I-35 bridge collapse that occurred on Aug. 1, 2007, which seem to indicate a failure of ill-designed gusset plates, when we all know--and by "all" I mean "I"--that the failure simply has to rest on the feet of Republicans somehow, or as I like to call them in my professional journalistic parlance. . . wingnuts. You can actually look it up; I wrote that once, in this very newspaper. Wingnuts.

Anyway, the findings are currently focusing on something called gusset plates, which I don't actually know anything about, but I've been pretending to be a structural engineer since August, so I figured I'd just pen some drivel in the hopes some of you will take me seriously and think I'm some sort of expert when it comes to bridge engineering. Amazingly, there is, actually, a large contingent of Strib readership that does take me seriously, which is rather frightening, but I'm making money off their stupidity, so who am I to complain? Just kidding! Compaining is what I do!

Gusset plates were invented back in 1942 by William J. Gusset, a Republican of course, who was serving overseas and saw a way to make a quick buck by reinforcing army corps of engineer-made bridges with metal plates that were taken from poor people. There were a lot of poor people in Europe at the time, thanks to a war being fought for German oil, so there were plenty of metal plates to be found.

That wingnut Gusset, being evil and greedy and all, realized he could make even more gusset plates by skimping on the metal and making them half the thickness they needed to be. He figured such a tactic was just fine, because military-made bridges weren't supposed to be long term anyway. Who would notice?

Well, World War II came to an end--even though we never actually brought Hitler to trial, and the Japanese emperor was allowed to keep his throne; two more great failures of America to throw on the pile, along with dead Native Americans, segregation, smoking, our inability to redirect hurricanes, and a whole long list of other crap that makes me impotent with rage to a point an entire bottle of Viagra can't get me hard, and. . .

Where was I again?

Oh, right, the end of World War II. After that ill-advised war--oh, and hey, we still have forces in Europe and Japan, by the way, speaking of wars without end--we finally started bringing many of our troops home and began focusing on our own crumbling infrastructure. It doesn't matter what era I'm writing about, just so you know; there will always be a crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructures crumble. I know a lot of stuff, but top amongst them is that if a country has an infrastructure, that damned thing is crumbling.

So America started trying to de-crumble-fy its infrastructure, which meant an emphasis on building new roads and bridges, which eventually culminated in the opening of the I-35 bridge in 1967, complete with Gusset's skimpy plates, which were destined to fail in August 2007 and send me into my new career as a professional bridge engineer and critic.

As I perused the bridge wreckage all those months ago, my professional engineering analysis concluded Gov. Tim Pawlenty was somehow to blame, along with Carol Molnau and Republicans in general. I took one look at those skimpy gusset plates and thought: "If only there had been a five cent gas tax, this never would have happened." Oh, sure, that seems to make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but you're not a professional bridge engineer like I am. I don't expect you to understand the kind of stuff I know.

As luck would have it, William J. Gusset is still alive, and living in Minnesota, no less. When I contacted the Gusset home, I was assaulted with the kind of verbal abuse I expected from a wingnut Republican greed machine.

"I'm afraid you have the wrong number," Gusset said, trying to dodge the issue. "I'm 25 years old. I live with my mother. I haven't invented anything in my entire life. I think you've pretty much made up everything you're saying to me completely in your own mind. Please, stop calling me."

You know, THAT kind of wingnut rhetoric.

Stonewalled by the Gusset spin doctors, I decided to pound the pavement and land one of my signature man-on-the-street interviews, which always ring with the kind of convenient quotes that leave you thinking "no way; he HAS to be making this shit up." And, to your credit, I usually am making shit up but, honestly, how would anyone ever prove it?

Anyway, even though it was ear-lobe shattering cold outside (thanks to global warming), I did manage to flag down a woman walking down the street. She was Marjorie Wilson, 46, of Edina. I told her about William J. Gusset and his faulty plates, and about dead native Americans and poor people and about those Powerline guys I hate so much who probably have a wider readership than the newspaper I work at, which makes me just hate bloggers all the more.

Marjorie listened to me go on for about an hour-and-a-half before finally interjecting.

"Well, that's what you get with this Bush administration," she said. "You can only do so much wire-tapping before the wires weaken and the gusset plates can't sustain the weight on their own, so you're bound to have bridge collapses. I was just telling my life partner, Susan, the other day, about how BushCo has been weakening bridges now for the last seven years so they collapse as soon as a lesbian, gay or transgendered person drives on the direct center. We're afraid for our very lives. We're living in Nazi America and we don't even realize it."

Wisdom like Marjorie's is rare to come across these days. Thankfully, in Minnesota, you're more likely to find Marjories than you may realize.

And so here we are, at a crossroads of sorts, with Republicans out weakening bridges to kill gay people, and Democrats wielding the tax-increase Excalibur of truth, honor and awesomeness. That's about as close to an unbiased point as I've come in my last 30 or so columns.

UPDATE: See, now, this is why I've grown almost tired of making fun of Nick Coleman. The guy really IS that predictable.

With a nod to my ThunderJournaling colleague, LearnedFoot.

Posted by Ryan at January 16, 2008 11:41 AM | TrackBack




'Scuse me. Just had to hock that out. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: LearnedFoot at January 17, 2008 03:18 PM
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!