Saturday, June 6, 2009

Compound Failure

Here's a time worm joke on poor planning. This was supposedly a city council meeting in Mississippi, according to the quoted book. (Although I've seen it attributed to various cities throughout 40 of the 50 states on the web, possibly mis-attributions of the same story). The council planners make a three-part plan. Any two of the three alone would have been an excellent plan, but mixing the three suddenly becomes pure idiocy. (And aspect 2 wasn't very smart to begin with, I say get rid of that one.)

1. Resolved, by this council, that we build a new jail
2. Resolved, that the new jail be built out of the materials of the old jail.
3. Resolved, that the old jail continue to be used until the new one is finished.

Presumably next month's meeting was about the strange and alarming increase in jail escapes.

Now like I said, any two of those alone would have worked. (Albeit combining two or three alone would basically be waving your hands and yelling "TADA!!!") Plans 1 and 3 would be the best combination, in which the city builds a new jail from new materials, presumably of higher quality, and then move the inmates to the new one upon creation. Plans 1 and 2 would involve moving the inmates to another facility temporarily while the materials get recycled.
The material recycling is the least important part because jail components are quite cheap. Steel for the bars, concrete for the floors, walls, and ceilings, maybe some brick. At most, $20/ft^3, and that's assuming that we do something like have sophisticated electronic locks.
I see this kind of thinking all the time. Sometimes people just don't grasp the implications of some of their statements. Sometimes it's because they don't want to understand the implications, especially when this means harder work or less profit for them. Sometimes it's because they're working far outside of their expertise. Sometimes it's because they're not used to making connections.
As an example of purposely not understanding the connections, chickens are not legally animals in Louisiana. Although the legislators do understand that chickens are animals, they have ruled otherwise because cockfights are quite popular there, and they need a loophole from the animal cruelty laws to continue them. So their loophole is that chickens are not animals, they are something else and therefore exempt. (Food, I suppose? So an insane conclusion is required to preserve the status quo.

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