Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My Neighborhood

Across the river, into DC....you occasionally come across some nifty methods of corruption.  So today, there's a fascinating item.

The Mayor of DC....has this concept that he's been tossing around, and finally got a budget for it.  The city, with all it's ills of kids just not graduating....is going to spend around $1.5 million on a space station simulator for the DC public school system.  It has all these almost realistic space station consoles, wiz-bang communications equipment, and some control room equipment to look real 'spacey'.

Kids would enter into this space station....take directions from their science teacher....and accomplish some actions over a tour-hour period...with a few experiments along the way.

How does this work?

Well....you start by finding a fancy consulting company that offers to provide the hardware, the software, and the teacher's manuals.  There's no bidding process, so basically....whatever they say....is the magic number you pay.  Interestingly enough....it's a nice round $1.5 million.  It's hard to imagine how evenly this comes out.

A smart consultant will ensure numbers look good, but there's enough built into the estimate and delivery....that someone within the city structure will walk away with some cash.  I can't imagine the amount in this case, but it wouldn't shock me if several folks on the city council got $5k each to nod on approval, and the mayor probably did most of the talking and probably got double or triple that amount.

The neat thing about this....there's always add-on's.  You get some more updated software.  There's an update to the kid's manuals.  Then there's an update to the experiments.  So the $1.5 million will flip over in two years and another $750k will be necessary for consultant fees and costs.  Fee's off that?  Yeah, there will be another cut of money for someone else in the government later.

It's interesting how so many kids graduated from school in the 1970s and 1980s....without any fancy science gear and went on to pretty productive lives.  The odds of any DC kid being a NASA engineer later in life?  Maybe two kids of twenty thousand, that's my humble guess.  But it's a great way to flush $1.5 million.

Sunday Night

I sat on Sunday night, and watched an odd program on CNN...."Parts Unknown" with Anthony Bourdain.  CNN has decided to shuffle up its programming, and this is one of the replacement episodes.

Bourdain went off to Burma, and walked around noting culture and food.  Not that I'd ever be one to eat Burmise food....but after twenty minutes, I had to admit it was kinda interesting.

It was National Geographic....without all that modern science or climate change crap that they dump out these days.

Would I watch it again?  Probably so.  The numbers folks indicate that a fair amount of people actually shifted from Fox News over to Parts Unknown.  Maybe CNN can change (I'm not betting on it though).

Simply Observations

The Boston bombs?  News sources say there were a total of seven planted, of which two went off.  It doesn't appear to be fancy work.  Based on comments....it appears to all be materials that you could pick up and design yourself.  This continued comment of a Saudi national (student on a visa)?  Don't know....cops won't say anything about this kid.  Cops apparently did act fast on apprehending the Saudi, which makes you wonder if someone had noted something and already reported him.

There's some comments out there that the 'gang of eight' immigration bill is a couple votes shy of sixty.  They got at least four Republicans lined up to vote for it.  But apparently there are a couple of Democrats lined up to vote against it.  Go figure.

That fancy drone medal that the Air Force fixed up and had approval over?  Well....it got cancelled over the weekend. Not much comment by the Air Force.  The problem was that they had it ranked in order over the Bronze Star folks, and that irked a bunch of former Army and Marine personnel.  The end of the mess?  I'm guessing that the Air Force will sit tight for a year, and then try to bring back the medal....at a lesser standing.  The truth is that they need something to hand out....that doesn't fit for regular medals.

Fake charities set up within hours for the Boston Marathon bomb episode?  Yep, it only took around three hours for someone to put at least one on-line, and start attracting cash to their operation.  Kind of funny how the internet world opens up a vast new method of scamming folks.

Finally, "Lumpy" Rutherford passed on this past weekend. Lumpy was the big kid on Leave it to Beaver.  He generally had something to say....on every single matter.  I'm guessing this was a guy who walked around the rest of his life pretty satisfied over a minor character on a TV show, and probably used some of his TV quotes on a daily basis.