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
A Horse! A Horse! My kingdom for a horse! - William Shakespeare
Life looks better from the back of a horse. - Unknown
Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse. - Groucho Marx
Few girls are as well shaped as a good horse. - Christopher Morley
Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse. - Danish Proverb
The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing. - Jean Cocteau
The old horse in the stable still yearns to run. - Mongolian Proverb
Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead 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
An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle. - Theophrastus
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 float. - 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
A lame cat is better than a swift horse when rats infest the palace. - Chinese 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
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
In fifty years, he never worked a day. To him, nine to five was odds on a horse. - Archie Bunker
Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship. - Leonardo da Vinci
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
Half of the failures in life come from pulling one’s horse when he is leaping.
- Thomas Hood
A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character. - Tesio
And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse. - Bedouin Legend
One of the worst things that can happen in life is to win a bet on a horse at an early age. - Danny McGoorty
Thank you, horseradish, for being neither a radish nor a horse. What you are is a liar food. - Jimmy Fallon
It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races. - Mark Twain
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
Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success. - Dale Carnegie
A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but, one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. - Samuel Johnson
Do you ever get halfway through eating a horse and go, 'You know, I'm not as hungry as I thought I was'? - Tim Vinel
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World’s First Horse Power Vehicle
The Good Old Days
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How To Improve New Orleans
Texas Rain Gauge
Teahouse of the August Moon
Florida Golf Hazard