2017-08-23 Wed

Negative Thinking

Is a pejorative term nowadays, but it needn’t be so.

Here are three examples, one of them esoteric and one a bit flaky, but all three examples can be of benefit.

(1) Devil’s Advocate: On any committee it seems to be a good idea to have a member recognized as devil’s Advocate. Someone who is allowed to speak against the idea.

(2) Esoteric: I learned from building a single-instruction computer that the Subtract operation was more powerful than the Add operation. If you can subtract, then you can negate and then subtract to add. But if you can only add, then you can’t subtract (because you can’t negate)

(3) Language (this is the flaky one): I realised today that negativity is a powerful tool, so much so that it is sometimes easier to learn the word for “bad” or “little” in a foreign language than it is to learn the positive form. So. Add in the word for “no/not” and you can negate the easily learned negative words and make a positive statement.

Ne malo.

Engineering Costs

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Of course, I’m not a trained Civil Engineer (Science Joke: Most of the time I’m not even civil).

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I note with interest the two phases of the project.

Phase 2 is basically “widening the highway from what it was when we built it”

Phase 1 is basically “build a new stretch of highway that we will end up narrowing in ten years time”.

Given that there are engineering firms that specialize in this (I have little confidence in Toronto City Councilors and Provincial Ministers) I have to believe that this approach makes sense.

But you and I both know that ten years from now a tender will go out to “widen from four/six to eight lanes” and to “build a new stretch four lanes wide”.

The widening phase ties up that stretch of four-lane highway for a couple of years at a time. Orange cones, concrete barriers, dump trucks and bulldozers backing in and out of the traffic lanes.

The widening adds expense in the form of breaking open the old shoulder and marrying the new lanes into the old.

In short, as you know, widening a highway is expensive.

Building a new stretch of highway is expensive too. Valuable farmland that used to grow ice-cream is re-possessed and bulldozed, graded, graveled and covered in bitumen or concreted over. Bulldozers and dump trucks are on-site for a couple of years. Crews trained (“No, it has to bend towards the EAST!”) and so on.

To my non-trained mind, it would make sense to predict the future and build every new six-kilometre stretch to eight lanes from the get-go. You have the bulldozers on site; you have the dump trucks and the gravel pit open. It is probably the same order of cost to build six kilometres of eight-lane highway as to build six kilometres of new and widen six kilometres of old.

And the disruption is confined to six kilometres instead of twelve.

What am I missing here?