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The Dalai Lama said, "Well, yes, a woman Could be the next Dalai Lama, but she'd have to be good looking." ugly.buddhist.woman@gmail.com
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Faith Based Architecture

Optical illusion, crooked camera or intelligence test? (live webcam 8/24/2011 washingtonviews)
This photo capture comes from the live webcam trained on the Washington Monument the day after the August 23, 2011 earthquake.(1)   Although most people think the camera is crooked, the horizon reflects the sloping of the National Mall.  The camera is straight on. (2)
Tilting at Monuments
 There is a long documentary history of monitoring the tilt and curl of The Washington Monument going back to the 1800's. (see case studies in engineering: Washington Monument for records of settlement, tilt and sway going back to 1879 (3))
     The tiltiness of the Monument was regularly reported in the news until news became so fair and balanced:
"The Washington Monument not only tilts, but is sinking steadily, new measurements show" Calgary Herald, May 1959
"The (sinking) movement is straight down, though the Monument has had a slight tilt - three-eighths of an inch - for 75 years. On a hot day, however, the shaft may curl as much as three inches." Tall Problem, David Barnett Portsmouth Times, Feb 24, 1960  (While three eighths of an inch was the official “slant,” really, one has to wonder!)
"Although some of the 1,185 persons who visited the shrine last year swore the shaft is leaning like the Tower of Pisa, even the combination of tilt and curl cannot be noticed without special instruments." David Barnett, Portsmouth Times, Feb 24, 1960. 
Well that was a very odd thing of Mr. Barnett to say when every visitor to the Monument that year did indeed carry a very sophisticated and sensitive instrument to measure tilt:  the vestibular system of the inner ear responsible for our being able to perceive tilt and balance ourselves in sloped environments.  As visitors to the Guggenheim Museum can attest, one’s vestibular system is working in overdrive to compensate for slope while trying to look at paintings that are plumb.  It can be stressful! 
     Why were some and not all the visitors in 1960 highly attuned to the imbalance of the Monument comparing it to the Tower of Pisa?  Could be many reasons.  Maybe some of the visitors were more aware of their sensory perceptions, more aware of the incoming information reported by their vestibular system and processing that information more efficiently; maybe others were preoccupied, or maybe some had taken a plane that day or the day before and their inner ears were not quite recovered.
  To say the Washington Monument is NOT tilting is pretty silly. All buildings are to some degree off of plumb... all buildings settle and sway, and these stress tolerances are built into All tall buildings... (except the ones that fall down.)

 "The sun scorches it, and strong winds tilt it. The sides are scarred and stained, the corners chipped and the stone faded..." Washington Monument is Deteriorating, Washinton Post, October 1998

Monuments Don't Lean, Heroes Don't Talk

     It is important to remember that when the Monument was built it was referred to as a shrine, meant to stand forever. Every story and every person who claims that the Monument is not tilting as a result of the earthquake is claiming a miracle... that the Monument which has tilted since the 1850's has been miraculously set straight and true... call it an Architectural Divine Adjustment, which would have pleased the architect, Robert Mills, a Freemason.


The story beneath the story here is the now historic American public's policy that believing is seeing... The Washington Monument is not tilted because Symbols of American strength and endurance are inviolate.  As far as "Faith Based Architecture" the official policy has been to idolize our heroes but refuse to listen to 12,000 pages of their eyewitness interviews. When extraordinary ordinary people say, "I saw explosions," or "I am worried about the tilt of the Washington Monument post-earthquake." or "I visited the Washington Monument and it was like the leaning Tower of Pisa," the choice is to consider impartially the true, corroborated account, or blindly believe what you are told to or need to believe.
       How did it happen that in the early 21st Century in America that it actually took bravery to connect one’s perception and understanding to produce a statement of fact or truth?  I don’t think the 1960 visitors to the Monument felt they were bucking the system when they compared their experience to that of visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or that it took any type of courage to say so. 
    Today around the country say the Washington Monument is tilting and you are in for a fight!  How did something so common sensical become political?  And really, why strain the brain?  It is so much easier to adopt the credo: “If my enemy speaks it, it must be false.”  (In Google Latin: “si inimicus meus loquitur, oportet quod falsum.”)  This relieves stress, no necessity of thinking required and it will work no matter what side you’re on.
Washington needs another Monument!  Location: entry West Mall.  I am thinking a combination of the Arc de Triomphe and the Tower of Babel.  Inscribed all over with every language known to man, (don’t forget net-speak, text-speak, geek-speak and Double Speak, and of course Google Latin,) it should read “Abandon all thinking, ye who enter here.”

(1) W Washington DC, Live from Washington DC, photo capture refreshed every few hours.
(2) Calculating tilt:  Is it possible to calculate tilt of Washington Monument using the live webcam photo? 
The camera is straight on. The horizon reflects slope of national mall area, as it would when you take photos of hills, mountains. All other buildings in this photo capture are plumb straight up and down...
The only way to really calculate the tilt (other than to drop a plumb bob from the Monument) would be to create 3-D model using this photo and dimensions of Monument. Also one would have to know distance between left tower and Monument.   Due to the curvature of the Earth, IF the distance between the left tower and the Monument was 138 miles, the live webcam photo would show two perfectly plumb buildings.
(3) Washington Monument Case History:
International Journal of GeoEngineering Case Histories, Vol. 1, Issue 3
(4) Illustration arch says “deserere cogitabat. Donec a die  “Abandon Thinking.  Have a nice day.”