Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, who -- with Paul Krugman -- is among
the few voices of sanity in this corporate-owned brothel called the
U.S. economy, has published a trenchant article on this burning (pun
On Wed, 6 Apr 2011 18:08:37 -0700 (PDT), Higgs Boson
he ALSO has a great article on how income inequality in the US is
approaching that of egypt or libya
people will ignore this just like they ignored the housing bubble
The "Black Swan" theory plagues economic modelers, and apparently scientific
and engineering modelers as well. It essentially says that people don't
believe or prepare for events that are rare but that result in enormous
consequence when they occur. If you includes a scenario of a 737 crashing
into a building when costing committees met to sort out various designs
before the WTC was built, you'd be laughed at. You would probably still get
laughed at now that 9/11 is almost 10 years old and fading from our memory.
"These wizards of finance, it turned out, didn't understand the intricacies
of risk, let alone the dangers posed by "fat-tail distributions"-a
statistical term for rare events with huge consequences, sometimes called
"black swans." Events that were supposed to happen once in a century-or even
once in the lifetime of the universe-seemed to happen every 10 years."
Hey, that's my house and the 100 year floods.
From what I've read of AIG, they factored out the 1929 crash from their risk
models. Sounds like the Japanese engineers pulled the same trick. I can
understand the reasoning. The model becomes hard to manage when you have
one set of values way outside the range of others. Mostly, graphs and
tables don't look so enticing with near vertical drops. (-: I suspect
what happened is what always happens: as costs skyrocket, everyone scales
back the level of protection required a bit until the numbers "work" again.
The process repeats until (often) the shrinkage becomes severe. To the
people making the cuts it never seems quite so bad because they were shaving
a little at a time. Like in college, living with 10 other people, you could
put a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer at 9AM and by 9PM there was
always one tiny spoonful left. Everyone will confess to taking a single
spooful but not more.
In the case of the Fooked Reactors, it seems that not enough thought given
to tsunami effects. But it could just as easily be true that early on they
tried to factor in both quakes and tidal waves but at some point the cost
implications were so enormous they were forced to eventually obey Maier's
Law: "If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of."
But they did allow for an airplane crashing into a building. With the
consideration being an imaginable event not peace loving Muslims
intentionally crashing airplanes into the buildings at 650 Mph while
diving at full throttle.
IIRC, the WTC building didn't come down because of the force of the initial
impact, but because the burning jet fuel caused metal fatigue. I suspect
(but haven't Googled) that even a slower speed impact would have cause
penetration sufficient enough to cause the kind of fire that did the
buildings in. More importantly they COULDN'T have modeled a crash of a 737
because that plane did not yet exist when the WTC was constructed.
The above article casts doubt on whether the "aircraft collisions modeling"
was really ever performed: "Leslie Robertson, one of the chief engineers
working on the design of the World Trade Center, has since claimed to have
personally considered the scenario of the impact of a jet airliner-a Boeing
707-which might be lost in the fog and flying at relatively low speeds,
seeking to land at JFK Airport or Newark Airport. However, Robertson has
provided no documentation for this assertion."
That leaves us to wonder if crash analysis was EVER done, and suggests that
if it had been done, it was done with a much smaller plane with a much
smaller fuel capacity. The article goes on to further state:
"In its report, NIST stated that the technical ability to perform a rigorous
simulation of aircraft impact and ensuing fires is a recent development, and
that the technical capability for such analysis would have been quite
limited in the 1960s."
It also states the first plane hit at 440mph, and the second one 540mph.
The fact they didn't come down right away tends to lend credence to the
fatigue theory. The WTC was also a novel "pan and hook" architecture, a
sort of an arrangement like shelving. The older, post and lintel steel
girder structure of the Empire State Building withstood the crash of a
bomber into it. The novel floor arrangement was to done to increase
rentable space and eliminate the internal girders and posts found in older
skyscrapers. It did make the buildings incredible open and spacious, but
IIRC, many experts believed that sort of construction made the "pancake"
The wiki article mentions:
"The fuel from the planes burned at most for a few minutes, but the contents
of the buildings burned over the next hour or hour and a half. It has been
suggested that the fires might not have been as centrally positioned, nor as
intense, had traditionally heavy high-rise construction been standing in the
way of the aircraft. Debris and fuel would likely have remained mostly
outside the buildings or concentrated in more peripheral areas away from the
building cores, which would then not have become unique failure points."
Remembering what happened at WTC (the fire being the real building killer),
what would happen if a similarly fully fueled plane hit a reactor like those
in Japan? The 9/11 terrorists, IIRC, chose planes that were leaving on long
distance routes that meant their planes would be as full of fuel as
possible. Obviously they were aware of how much more dangerous a fully
fueled plane is compared to one at the end of a trip. With newer
generations of planes getting even larger and carrying even more fuel, this
becomes an important question.
The question is: Was the same sort of incomplete planning analysis done
when designing and building nuclear reactors?
From what we've seen of the Japanese design of the reactor complex, I am
beginning to think their disaster plans were woefully inadequate and that
our own plans to ward off deliberate attacks are similarly flawed.
yep. and the right is aiding and abetting this.
and the response of the right is to shriek "COMMUNIST" at every
economist...including alan freakin' greenspan...when they talk about
the effects of growing inequality
That's totally unfair. Stiglitz had been a voice crying in the
wilderness long before the crash. Here's just ONE link out of many,
way back in 2003:
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