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bureaucracy - 'off track'
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- Subject: bureaucracy - 'off track'
- From: Annejke@prodigy.com (MS MARTHA L WALLENHORST)
- Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 17:31:38, -0500
- Reply-To: Annejke@prodigy.com (MS MARTHA L WALLENHORST)
- Sender: email@example.com
Poster: Annejke@prodigy.com (MS MARTHA L WALLENHORST)
The following is something that fell on me recently (I do not even
know where it comes from) and I thought it was cleaver, true and cute.
It may not EXACTLY fit our form but I would like to sit at a table,
have a mug and tell you this story.
The US Standard railroad gauge (the distance between rails) is 4 feet,
8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge
used Because that is the way they built them in England, and the US
railroads were built by English expatriates. Why did the English
people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built
by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and thats
the gauge they used.
Why did they use that gauge then? Because the people who built the
tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building
wagons which used that wheel spacing. OK. Why did the wagons use
that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing
the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads,
because that is the spacing of the old wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads
in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their
legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The
initial ruts, which everyone had to match for fear of destroying
their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the
chariots were for or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the
matter of wheel spacing.
Thus we have the answer to the original question. The US Standard
railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches drives from the original
specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specifications
and Bureaucracies will live forever. So, the next time you are
handed a specification and wonder what horses pi toot cam up with it,
you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots
were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two
I finished my tale and my mug and will now continue to sit in the
corner in the dark.
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