Does the statement, “We’ve always done it that way”
ring any bells? The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is
4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an odd number, don’t you think? Why was that gauge
- Because that’s the way they built railroads in England, and English
expatriates built the U.S. Railroads. Why did the English build them like that?
- Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the
pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did "they" use that
- Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that
they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Then why did the
wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
- Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on
some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of
the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads?
- Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for
their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads?
- Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match
for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for
Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The U.S.
standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original
specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot And bureaucracies live forever…
So the next time you are handed a specification and
wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the
Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back
ends of two war horses...
Now the twist to the story... When you see a
Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets
attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters (SRBs).
The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who
designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs
had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad
line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs
had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad
track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’
behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the
world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand
years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.
And you thought being a Horse’s Ass wasn’t important...
I should like to be a horse. - Queen Elizabeth II
Horse ovaries (hors d'oeuvres) - Archie Bunker
Use a little of your horse's sense. - Archie Bunker
Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse. - Groucho Marx
Lend a horse, and you may have back his skin. - English Proverb
A unicorn is just a horse with a point of view. - Ron Sexsmith
Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse. - Danish Proverb
The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing. - Jean Cocteau
Marry me and I'll never look at another horse! - Groucho Marx
I had the best buffalo horse that ever made a track. - Buffalo Bill
This is really a lovely horse. I once rode her mother. - Ted Walsh
You don't have to have been a horse to be a jockey. - Arigo Saachi
Life is like a horse - either you ride it or it rides you. - Unknown
Horse Manure: 50p per pre-packed bag. 20p - do it your self. - Unknown
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong. - Unknown
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. - English Proverb
The only thing worse than beating a dead horse is betting on one. - Relient K
Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon. - John Madden
The wagon rests in winter, the sleigh in summer, the horse never. - Yiddish Proverb
All music is folk music. I ain't never heard no horse sing a song. - Louis Armstrong
It's too late to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. - French Proverb
When rats infest the palace, a lame cat is better than the swiftest horse. - Chinese Proverb
Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. - WC Fields
A horse doesn't care how much you know until it knows how much you care. - Tom Smith
You can lead a horse to water but I'd rather ride it to the liquor store. - Wayne Nowazek
It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. - Adlai Stevenson
In fifty years, he never worked a day. To him, nine to five was odds on a horse. - Archie Bunker
Take care to sell your horse before he dies. The art of life is passing losses on. - Robert Frost
To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse - German. - Emperor Charles V
Some people play a horse to win, some to place. I should have bet this horse to live. - Henny Youngman
You've got to concentrate on one idea. You can't ride a horse with two asses. - Joe Segal
The one thing I do not want to be called is First Lady. It sounds like a saddle horse. - Jacqueline Kennedy
One of the worst things that can happen in life is to win a bet on a horse at an early age. - Danny McGoorty
I'd call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse. - Woody Allen
An Irishman after trying American beer for the first time: "Put it back in the horse!" - Unknown
It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races. - Mark Twain
A definite purpose, like blinders on a horse, inevitably narrows its possessor's point of view. - Robert Frost
Democracy is very different in U.S. and A. from Kazakhstan. In America, woman can vote, but horse cannot! - Borat Sagdiyev
Like the old adverb, "you can lead a gift horse to the water but ya can't look in his mouth." - Archie Bunker
When you're young and you fall off a horse, you may break something. When you're my age and you fall off, you splatter. - Roy Rogers
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