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Bridges and collapse

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I was very sorry last week to hear about the bridge that collapsed in the Twin Cities, and relieved to hear that (last I heard) none of the extensive sf community there was directly affected. But that doesn't help those who were.

I was actually kind of surprised (but, obviously, relieved) by how little loss of life there was, given that I gather it was a major bridge and it collapsed during rush hour.

I meant to link to Karen's entry about bridges.

It feels to me like there's been a lot of collapsing infrastructure lately, a bunch of things becoming more dangerous than we'd believed. (Or at least seeming to become so; it may well be that the danger was always there and we just hadn't noticed.) A bunch of contaminated food in the news lately (and it adds insult to injury that much of that food has been vegetables--aren't vegetables supposed to be healthy and natural?) (that's gut reaction, not reasoned argument; no need to explain to me about vegetables); various bridges and highways collapsing; things fall apart. As they say.

I don't honestly believe that terrorists have had anything to do with any of this stuff, but it would make a doozy of a conspiracy theory. After all, it's always seemed to me that 9/11 was as much about attacking our belief in the general safety of air travel (a huge piece of our commercial infrastructure, and also, I think, a part of our national identity) as about anything else. Make us feel unsafe by tearing down the things that feel solid. I had a theory at the time that the next attack would be an attempt to infect America's cattle with mad cow disease, because the beef industry is another big part of our commercial infrastructure and our national identity. That obviously didn't happen, but it seemed to me to be in keeping with the kind of thing the terrorists were interested in doing.

But again, I truly don't see any reason to think that terrorism has had anything to do with recent infrastructural issues, and I haven't heard anyone even hint that it might. I'm just drawing connections. The world is not an entirely safe place; on the other hand, our ability to find patterns and focus on the unusual makes it easy for us to overestimate risk. A bridge that we thought was safe has collapsed; but thousands of other bridges are just as solid as ever.

I have no particular point here. Just musing.

And my vague general musings are not intended to detract from the immediacy and specificity of the particular issue at hand; I am sad about the people who were injured or killed in this particular bridge's collapse.

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Speaking of American infrastructure, have you seen the report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (via Neatorama)? As of 2005, the overall grade was a D. Ugh! It's depressing and upsetting to see how low craftmanship and quality have fallen.


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