Archive for November 18th, 2008
But why like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad roads, and that’s the gauge they used. But why did they use that gauge then? Because the people who built the first roads used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
But why that particular 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 own wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a Specification/Procedure/Process pamphlet and wonder “What horse’s ass came up with this?”, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses (actually, two horses’ asses). Now, then, another 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 fuel rocket boosters (or, SRBs). The SRBs afre 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, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad truck, 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 couple of horses’ asses. And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important? Ancient horses’ asses control almost everything…..and current horse’s asses are controlling everything else.
Source: Bits & Pieces
TechCruch covered the story of the stepping down of Jerry Yang as CEO of Yahoo. Yang will return to his former role as Chief Yahoo, and will remain on the board of directors. The company has hired executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to find the new CEO.
For many months the writing was on the wall. Under Yang’s watch the company has lost tens of billions of dollars in market cap and thousands of former Yahoo employees (and hundreds of execs) are now gone.
The press release:
Yahoo! Conducting Search for New CEO Co-Founder Jerry Yang to Step Down Following Appointment of New CEO and Return to Former Role as Chief Yahoo! and Board Member.
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov 17, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) –
Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) today announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Jerry Yang, co-Founder of Yahoo!, has decided to return to his former role as Chief Yahoo! upon the appointment of his successor as CEO, and he will also continue to serve on the Board. Yang, 40, assumed the CEO role at the Board’s request in June 2007, and he has led Yahoo! through a strategic repositioning and transformation of its platform.
Chairman Roy Bostock, working with the independent directors and in consultation with Jerry Yang, is leading the process of assessing potential candidates and determining finalists for consideration. The search will encompass both internal and external candidates, and the Board has retained Heidrick & Struggles, a leading international executive search firm, to assist in the process.
“Over the past year and a half, despite extraordinary challenges and distractions, Jerry Yang has led the repositioning of Yahoo! on an open platform model as well as the improved alignment of costs and revenues,” said Roy Bostock. “Jerry and the Board have had an ongoing dialogue about succession timing, and we all agree that now is the right time to make the transition to a new CEO who can take the company to the next level. We are deeply grateful to Jerry for his many contributions as CEO over the past 18 months, and we are pleased that he plans to stay actively involved at Yahoo! as a key executive and member of the Board.”
“From founding this company to guiding its growth into a trusted global brand that is indispensible to millions of people, I have always sought to do what is best for our franchise,” said Jerry Yang. “When the Board asked me to become CEO and lead the transformation of the Company, I did so because it was important to re-envision the business for a different era to drive more effective growth. Having set Yahoo! on a new, more open path, the time is right for me to transition the CEO role and our global talent to a new leader. I will continue to focus on global strategy and to do everything I can to help Yahoo! realize its full potential and enhance its leading culture of technology and product excellence and innovation.”
I’ll bet tomorrow Wall Street will give Yahoo a few dollars more for its shares. It’s a sign of relief to see Yang release the command to a better leader in turbulent times. Being a CEO was not Jerry Yang’s favorite cup of tea. Good Day.
Source: Yang Steps Down as Yahoo CEO, Search For Successor Begins – TechCrunch