WTF News
Baran Hines

Sunday night on Fox, the season premiere of The Simpsons made a blatant reference to the September 11th attacks. In a scene where Bart is asking Homer to take the family to New York City, he entices Homer by saying that two famous buildings he always hated were “obliterated”.
This is not the first time the show has made a cryptic reference to the Twin Towers. In the 1997 episode “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” there is a camera close-up of Lisa holding up a comic book with the Twin Towers on the cover and a large $9 price. The strategic placement of these, as seen below, clearly appears to represent the numbers 9/11.

As for the controversy from the Sunday premiere, the quote is below as well as the video.

Bart: Now that your two least favorite buildings have been obliterated.

Old Penn Station and Shea Stadium.

Homer: Lousy, outdated relics

Who came up with this comedic moment at Fox? That’s a pretty deliberate reference. If someone mentioned two famous buildings “obliterated” in New York City, the majority of people would assume that it was a reference to the Twin Towers. The irony of the joke is also that anywhere between 10-20% of Americans are aware that 3 buildings collapsed in New York, not just the two Twin Towers, but also also Building 7.

To make the suggestive reference and then an ironic punchline is one thing, but to finish with allusion to a little known fact about the Twin Towers also?

One reason the destruction of the Towers happened to be convenient for developer Larry Silverstein is it saved billions of dollars in maintenance and upgrades, chiefly the removal of at least 400 tons of asbestos and possibly as much as 2000 tons. There was also a significant issue of galvanic corrosion.

Consider the following 2008 article from Hard Boiled Dreams Of The World.

By the 1990s, the twenty-year-old Twin Towers — like any other twenty-year-old office buildings — were due for some major upgrades.

Writes John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:

…in recent years the complex…had the reputation of being A financial misfit, unsuited to modern fiber-optic and Internet technologies, and burdened with an inefficient and costly elevator system.

Unfortunately, due to the danger of spreading asbestos dust, building codes required any remodeling work be preceded by removing the asbestos.

So, in 1991, with two gigantic out-of-date office buildings on its hands, the Port Authority tried to garner the immense funds required to remove the asbestos: it filed suit against its insurers. The case, Port Authority of NY vs. Affiliated FM Insurance Co., sought between 500 million and 1 billion dollars for asbestos abatement.

The case dragged on for years, and then finally, on May 14, 2001, the judge ruled against the Port Authority; there would be no insurance money for asbestos removal.

Because of the asbestos health risks, and their size, the Twin Towers couldn’t be demolished. And because of the asbestos, they couldn’t be upgraded. And disassembling them floor by floor would have run into the double-digit billions of dollars.

So, that’s how, by May 2001, the Port Authority found itself between several rocks and the hard bedrock 70 feet beneath the WTC.

There was also the more costly and immediately dangerous issue of galvanic corrosion, which ironically would have to be dealt with to prevent collapse. An article posted at What Really Happened has analysis outlined below by a former architect, Karl W. B. Schwarz President, Chief Executive Officer, Patmos Nanotechnologies, LLC.

The Statue of Liberty had to be repaired due to galvanic corrosion in air. Not what most think is possible but in ocean environments, very possible. Normally galvanic corrosion is only a factor in an electrolyte such as sea water and the stern drive on the boat – having steel and aluminum components – erodes, turns brittle and snap – it fails – if electrolytic grounding plates are not installed.

“The galvanic reaction between iron and copper was originally mitigated by insulating copper from the iron framework using an asbestos cloth soaked in shellac. However, the integrity and sealing property of this improvised insulator broke down over the many years of exposure to high levels of humidity normal in a marine environment. The insulating barrier became a sponge that kept the salted water present as a conductive electrolyte, forming a crude electrochemical cell as and Volta had discovered a century earlier.”

In 1989 – there were plans to erect scaffolding and disassemble the WTC towers and rebuild them. Cost projection was around $5.6 billion. One of the architects shows up to work one day and the MIB’s were there – had confiscated all of the plans, specs, details, etc for WTC. They even confiscated their office cubicles and had tape on the floor outlining where they went.

Reason – the exterior cast aluminum WTC panels had been directly connected to the steel superstructure of the building, thus causing galvanic corrosion. In short, the “life cycle” of the WTC was not 200 – 300 years, more like 30 years or so.

The exterior skin of the building – in being aluminum and connected directly to the super structure – was making the building weaker every day.

That could explain why there appears to be explosives set only about every 25 floors. Once the failure started, the brittleness of welds, rivets, bolts, etc would fail much easier as the loads became progressively greater on the way down.

That same process would also explain why the concrete was “powderized” over time because electrolytic processes weaken concrete too by “debonding” the Portland that causes concrete to bond in the first place. However, bear in mind that the “concrete floors” were not load bearing reinforced concrete. They were supported by what was a weakening by the day superstructure and cross members.

There was a 1989 meeting and the folks at the architectural firm Emory Roth, the project architect that took over after the design architects completed the conceptual drawings that had their office, records, plans and specs seized – were told that the $5.6 billion “take it down, rebuild it” project was cancelled and in about “10-12 years” they would “blow it up and start over”. Consider that – and consider that NYC and the US Govt could not stand the global embarrassment of being so stupid or negligent that they did not consider the effects of galvanic corrosion on the superstructure. That is structural design 101 in architectural school and why they want architects to take physics and chemistry for Christ’s sake. I did.

Billions of dollars maintenance had reached a decision point just 4 months before the 9/11 attacks? Follow. The. Money…

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