Saturday, June 23, 2007

Evan Almighty

Sorry for the rant, but I saw Even Almighty and was mighty disappointed on the viewpoint of the film and the profession I have chosen to do in life.

First the whole dam portion of the plot was ridiculous and totally out of whack with reality. For one a dam is in no way governed by building codes as mentioned more than once in the movie. Dams, at least in the State of California, are governed by the Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams or the Army Corps of Engineers. While the supporting structures are governed by the building codes, the dam is in no way contained in the building code.

The premise of a Congressman being able to control the building process enough to have a dam of the size shown built shabbily is also ridiculous considering the amount of people involved in the construction of a dam. First you have the agency who needs the dam for drinking water storage or for Storm flow storage. Since most agencies no longer keep a large number of staff on hand an engineering company is hired to design the structure, then you have a Contractor who is going to build the dam. Then you have all of the people who are against dams, regardless of the benefits, that would point out any and all perceived design flaw. Each participant has some liability in the final output (except for the anti-dam people), I could concede that one participant could do the faulty construction, I do not think a Congressmen could pull this off, let alone profit from it. While Civil Engineers are not specifically singled out, the film does shed Civil Engineers in a bad light since it is guilt by association.

My next beef with the film is the impression that development is inherently bad because it occupies land previously undeveloped. All I have to ask is where are these people supposed to live? All these people are are children and immigrants (both legal and illegal). The only way to stop the destruction of natural places is to stop the production of people. I don't think that is a realistic solution to the problem. Another solution is infill in existing cities and towns. Unfortunately this also has problems, since a portion of people are adamantly against this. For instance any development project in the award winning downtown in the city San Luis Obispo, where I work, is derided as not fitting in and potentially destroying the character of downtown. How can this be, since this is how the downtown was created in the first place. The downtown of San Luis Obispo was created by various building dating from the mid 1700 to current day. People are also against building up, at least a portion of people in my town, so it looks like the current proposal to increase the height of buildings may not go through. An increased height would potentially increase the density of downtown and prevent the development of agricultural or raw land.

Quite frankly I am tired of going to movies and being preached at on environmental issues. It is especially galling that the movie cost $175 million dollars to make. If they really wanted to make a difference they would have saved 20% ($35,000,000) of the cost of the movie, bought the land they profess should be saved, and prominently provide an advertisement of where people could add to the fund (either at the beginning or end of the movie or both). But I guess they really don't believe it and are only trying to sell tickets.

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