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GSA Emails Recount Inside Story of Exploding Toilets

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the watch-where-you-sit dept.

Government 119

First time accepted submitter v3rgEz writes "Six months ago, the toilets of the General Services Administration started exploding, injuring two employees and beginning the agency's spiral down the drain of bad press (this is the same GSA now under fire for pricey Vegas conference flings). E-mails just released under FOIA now show the culprit: Compressed air + ancient plumbing + leaving it all unattended."

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Fascinating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729701)

Tell me more...

So that's why... (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729709)

I think that if my posterior was injured by an exploding toilet, I'd feel justified in taking a two-week junket to Las Vegas.

Re:So that's why... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730165)

I can't say your posterior would thank you for it though.

Re:So that's why... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731205)

Uhhh, if your posterior is sore after a two week junket to Las Vegas I don't think you're doing it right. Unless you have a booth at the AVN or something...

Re:So that's why... (3, Funny)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732407)

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. If what happens in your posterior stays in your posterior, you need to consult a doctor, unless you developed an interest in a certain variety of beadwork in Vegas, in which case the problem is bound to work itself out in due time. If it persists longer than three days, you still need to consult a doctor.

Re:So that's why... (3, Informative)

CaptainLugnuts (2594663) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730269)

They should have hired Encyclopedia Brown to investigate. He's solved similar cases before.

Re:So that's why... (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733027)

That was my first thought too. I still remember eraser and "The First Battle of Bull Run" and toreador petticoats.

Anyone who grew up reading Encylopedia Brown stores -- you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Joe Meno's wistfully spare The Boy Detective Fails [goodreads.com] . If you can imagine indie shoegazer music put into book form, this would surely by part of that imaginary genre's major canon.

Re:So that's why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730281)

I guess some government employees didn't give a schitt that day.

Re:So that's why... (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733981)

You don't want to walk into a casino with that kind of luck.

So what? (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729757)

I hate to be one of those nogoodniks who responds, "Why is this news for nerds?" but... why is this news for nerds?

Re:So what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729787)

There's probably a linux distribution for exploding toilets and no doubt an emacs command to make your toilet explode.

Re:So what? (5, Funny)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729821)

nerds poop. perhaps even more than average.

Re:So what? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730579)

I would have guessed a diet of Mountain Dew and Cheetos would lead in the other direction.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730693)

Either way it's still going to a toilet. Unless your a lazy nerd who just runs a hose out the window to pee thru...

Re:So what? (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729859)

Because it's technical and explosive?

Re:So what? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731607)

Because it's technical and explosive?

They didn't explode it, they blew it up.

Re:So what? (1)

MeEvilBob (2621053) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730013)

Because they said that somebody left the air compressor on unattended and left it at that. To most people this would be a perfectly rational explanation, but when I read it I have a lot more things come to mind, like why was the air compressor even connected to the water supply system of an occupied building? Before learning of this compressor, my thought was a leak in the basement or a loss of water pressure from the street which caused the water to drain out of the system as the system filled with air from open valves throughout the building as people left their sinks on while waiting for the water to come back. Then when the water pressure resumed it forced the air out with enough pressure to break the toilets. Not all nerds work in offices.

Re:So what? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730523)

I thought air compressors were an integral part of the low-flow toilets (the high pressure forces the waste down the hole).

Re:So what? (5, Informative)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730791)

No air compressor need be connected to the water system in order to get compressed air in the system.
This [washingtonpost.com] has a better explanation.

Though very rare, it is not unheard of for flush valve water closets to explode. The flush valves need 20+psig to operate, and most codes allow up to 80 psig. Water is, practically, incompressible, so the release of pressure from a suddenly opening valve will create sudden acceleration that may cause "water hammer" and jerk the pipes some. But air is compressible, and if there is air in the pipes, a sudden release of pressure can cause the air to expand explosively, adding much greater acceleration and velocity to the water entering the fixture, and possibly rupturing the brittle ceramics that the fixture is made of.

In most buildings more than a few stories high, you need a pump to raise the water to the top floors and still have enough pressure. Especially in older buildings, this pump is a constant RPM centrifugal pump, which cannot adjust to the variability in flow rates, especially at times of low usage. So the discharge of the pump fills a bladder tank, which contains water on one side of the bladder and air compressed by the water on the other. The pump does not have to turn on and off all the time, because the bladder tank holds enough water and pressure to keep the water flowing for a minute or two after the pump turns off (much longer in times of low flow) and it takes a minute or two for the tank to fill to full pressure while the pump is running ( longer at times of high demand).

Apparently, in this case, the air got into the system because some part of the system failed, the water pressure dropped, and air got sucked in. It was then pressurized by the normal water pressures.

Re:So what? (1)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730213)

Some of us work in govenment buildings and are wondering if our shitters are going to explode.

Re:So what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730357)

im stealing this from somebody's old post, but "news for turds, stuff that splatters"

Re:So what? (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731039)

why is this news for nerds?

Um, it mentions email? Best guess I can come up with.

Well, actually, not the best, but definitely the most charitable. :)

Re:So what? (2)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731085)

explosions are cool

Re:So what? (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732373)

There' s a Mythbuster episode about exploding toilets, is that not enough nerdy?

Re:So what? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733969)

Huh? You're a nerd and you don't like blowing shit up? I almost got expelled in the 7th grade for a science project. [slashdot.org] When toilets explode for no apparent reason, finding out why is good nerdy fun.

Why does it hurt when I pee? (2)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729759)

God I love Frank Zappa lyrics.

Re:Why does it hurt when I pee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731805)

It only hurts a night, untill I pee.

Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (4, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729775)

The GSA is a prime example of why raising taxes on anyone I don't care what class is beyond stupid.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729841)

Really? Because they aren't perfect, because there are fallible human beings involved?

If that's bothering you, you really should curl into the fetal position because it can happen anywhere. Your plumber, your auto mechanic, the guy who runs the red light, the priest at the local church, anybody anywhere can be up to no good.

And if you think cutting pay will be any thing but a disincentive to honesty, you any want to ask yourself how you'd feel if you got abused into anything.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729913)

The difference is that the plumber, mechanic, and guy running the red light aren't doing it with the money that was taken from me by threat of force.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730343)

I notice you left out the bit about the priest. That's at least tacitly acknowledging their use of coercion.

But you really need to talk to people who have felt pressured and intimated by plumbers and mechanics who were taking advantage of them. And the guy running a red light can easily be one who is threatening you.

So no, there's no real difference in my experience. Especially since the tax collection is so distant from the actual spending, that it's not actually a serious connection between the two. If the tax man ever comes around asking for a specific contribution, then maybe you'll have a point.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (4, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731403)

I'm sorry, when my toilet is spewing sewage and the plumber asks for money to fix it, that's pretty heavy handed coercion!

I don't understand this rabid anti-tax stance. You get something in return for taxes, maybe not as much as we'd like but it's a necessity. If no one is taxed then you have no roads, no sewage, no water, no defense, no social security or medicare, no police, no fire departments, no free schools, etc. Unless you're wealthy of course and just buy your own.

The point of the GSA is to centralize administrative services and save money. Maybe they can be better at it but if you throw them out the deficit gets worse. As for Vegas conferences, these occurred every year in the past as well, and they were damned expensive even when Bush was president, and yet people are treating this like it's suddenly a new thing.

One thing I find amusing is that cities that have outsourced government services and end up paying more in the long run, and some folk actually claim to be happier this way because even though they pay more taxes at least there are fewer direct government employees. The logic is absurd and does not make sense until you understand that politics is just another form of religion.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732349)

I'm sorry, when my toilet is spewing sewage and the plumber asks for money to fix it, that's pretty heavy handed coercion!

No, it isn't coercion at all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coercion [wikipedia.org]
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force.

"If you don't pay me I won't work for you" is not a threat. To the extent you are being forced, it is your own sewerage doing the forcing, not the plumber and you are the one who put it there. You can also call another plumber if you don't want to pay the one who first quoted the job. Expecting people to work for you unpaid is entirely unreasonable so I won't explore that further.

If you really can't see the difference between a tradesman refusing to do your work for free and the government taking money by force I suggest to you that you may have become a member of one of those political religions yourself.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39734047)

I don't understand this rabid anti-tax stance.

Look up "sociopath". ;)

In the USA, we've gone from an idea that our economic and political systems should be designed and implemented so that they can survive immoral participants who purposely work against the good of their own group, to a completely different idea, that immoral participants are heroic and sociopath behaviour is something our children should aspire to. We used to say "the system should function despite the presence of greedy men" and now we say "greed is good". It seems like an inversion of the most historically successful indo-european value systems to me.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39734247)

It's not a rabid anti-tax stance. Everyone agrees we should pay taxes because we do get some good benefits, such as highways that speed commerce, police that keep the peace, a military that defends our nation, etc. etc.

The anti-tax folks are against an increase in taxes when the money is carelessly spent. For example: I work hard, am well educated, and make a good salary. I make more than most but definitely not the top "1%" (an arbitrary number anyways). I am against Obamacare because I work in an industry that works for the Government, and I see the constant waste in how the Government operates, and I don't think the Government will do a good job in running healthcare (in fact worse than I think the private companies are). That's just my opinion. Thus I am against a tax increase on the wealthy people to fund a program like Obamacare which i think will be a colossal failure.

Concurrently I am against this so called "Buffet Rule". I am against the idea of these higher taxes for the rich because these "rich" get a lot of their taxes in the form of capital gains tax from the sale of investments. Capital gains tax is 15% whereas their income bracket at that high is something like 39% plus the marginal rate. The reason the tax rate was designed to be that way is because it encourages those with lots of money to put their money into the capital markets, making capital available for businesses and furthering economic activity. Raising those taxes will discourage them from doing so, making less capital available and discouraging business investments as they will have less capital to work with.

However, if we were facing a serious crime problem and it was proposed to raise taxes to hire more police, then I am not against that. Heck, in my city of San Diego there's discussion of raising the local sales tax (already at 8.5%) another .25% to help fund building a new stadium for the Chargers. One of the locations they're talking about would benefit from the stadium being there, revitalizing the area and bringing in new businesses and economic activity.

I'm not coming here to argue the merits of any of those positions, I'm explaining the anti-tax thing. Most people are not really anit-tax, it's just that the perception is that the money they're giving is being spent wastefully (and trust me, having worked in an industry that sells to the GSA, sells to the DoD, sells to DoHS, you would be sickened at the waste), and so it's really an argument of the value they're getting for their tax dollars.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729931)

No jackass, because they serve as the current and most prominent example at the moment of the massive out of control government waste that plagues our country. If fraud/waste/abuse of taxpayer dollars were remedied, the marginal tax rates could be readily lowered and there would still be a surplus. No bother though, just keep your hand out and keep demanding that your fellow workers give more to the Fed so they can keep you fat and quiet.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730075)

Yawn, keep telling yourself that it's only about the waste. The problem is not opposing waste, but the focus on it to the exclusion of all else.

That's all you care about, and you'll spend dimes accounting for every nickel.

All this serves as is a distraction to justify a hysterical overreaction to an inconsequential problem that is being remedied.

Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, we'll chase after people and clamp down, with the only result being less effective government.

If you ever complain about having to file something in triplicate, you can assure yourself that it's to protect your precious tax dollars.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730189)

How is this different than big business? Don't they keep saying they want to run government like a business? Bingo, there you go. All the big players do stupid crap like this GSA junket. Think about it, the acts getting paid handsomely didn't just materialize out of thin air, they already existed, bilking money from companies like IBM and Oracle, Boeing, you name it. I know, I know, "But those are private businesses, they have the right to do what they want." Except that the junkets are funded indirectly through tax payer dollars via government purchasing, particularly through the DOD, at insanely inflated prices.

I don't understand the idiocy in saying "let business and the free market do it and it would run more efficiently". No, it wouldn't. The difference is, when IBM or Oracle or Boeing or whoever does this, it doesn't end up as front page news. Larry Ellison spends more than the entire junket on his yacht race and paying people to race against him on his "$1" salary (plus billions in capital-gains rate taxed income from stock options).

The tell here is the fact that they are trying to make a big stink about a problem with a building system, as if that is somehow part of the Great Global Obama/GSA/Acorn conspiracy to bilk you out of all your hard earned money. Yeah, because having a toilet explode benefited those unscrupulous Washington insider socialist commie pinko GSA bastards so much.

I'm not excusing the GSA's acts here. Can the individuals responsible, that's just fine. But hold businesses, particularly those doing business with the government and even more so those that get major tax incentives from the Federal and State governments to the same damn standard. And get over the friggin' toilet for cryin' out loud. If that is the new big controversy then we are all well and truly fscked.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (2, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730557)

If the GSA ceased to exist, it wouldn't matter if they were perfect or imperfect human beings. Meanwhile we the people would be richer (less government spending). In fact I'm reaching the point where I think NO central government would be a good plan, except to provide a navy and army for defense, and build roads for internal transport, and that's about it.

Anything else could, like Europe, be left to the member states. Or private companies (mail, trains, cars). Or both (regulated monopolies like utilities).

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731221)

That assumes there would be no consequences from the elimination of the GSA. Their budget is about 20 billion. You're flipping out over a tiny portion of it, and ignoring the other work they do because you have no personal experience with their functions.

Keep making assumptions like that. After all, if you don't recognize the benefits, it can't be that important. The GSA actually does a lot to avoid excess duplication of effort on the part of the other government agencies, even including those who you would support.

And your concept of the EU is...amusing. The reasons they are separate nations is cultural and historical, not because of any deliberate political decisions, and no, they will not be adopting your libertarian wet dream.

Mostly because they realize there's more to good government than national defense and highways. I don't know why, maybe it's because they think about power generation, environmental pollution, health care and the like. And sometimes, it's a bigger concern than a single US state can handle. Heck, sometimes the US even has to work with other countries in a co-operative framework.

Damn centralization! It gets in the way of anarchist individuality which means somebody somewhere is being coerced! To Arms!

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732601)

Anything else could, like Europe, be left to the member states. Or private companies (mail, trains, cars). Or both (regulated monopolies like utilities).

Yeah... Things are not that great over here actually. The financial problems in the Euro Zone are a good example of why we need central monetary policy. In the UK we privatised mail, trains and are now having private road building too, and all have been a disaster. Mail is expensive, the service is crap and the company is failing. Trains are expensive, the service is crap and the system works less well than when the government was in charge.

Regulation doesn't work very well, and we are at the stage now where it is almost nationalizing some sectors. Electricity is a good example. We force utilities to send money helping people save electricity and on renewable generation, we even force them to tell people when they could get a better deal with another company, and the whole market still sucks. In fact most of our energy suppliers are not even British owned any more, meaning we are dependent on foreign companies for a vital service.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733949)

>>>The financial problems in the Euro Zone are a good example of why we need central monetary policy.

It was central monetary policy that CAUSED the financial collapse. The old method of competing currencies actually worked better (not for the bankers, but for the common people).

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733439)

In fact I'm reaching the point where I think NO central government would be a good plan, except to provide a navy and army for defense, and build roads for internal transport, and that's about it.

Yeah, because that whole Articles of Confederation thing and 13 different currencies worked out real well, didn't it?

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730147)

The GSA is a prime example of why raising taxes on anyone I don't care what class is beyond stupid.

Be thankful you don't get all the government you pay for.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (3, Interesting)

forand (530402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730337)

Perhaps you should familiarize yourself where tax dollars are being spent [dailyfinance.com] . We are not over spending on maintenance of government facilities (see the article), we are over spending by spending 20% of our budget on defense and even more out of budget [warresisters.org] . Instead of investing in infrastructure, a time proven way to stimulate long term growth, we are neglecting it and talking about cutting taxes when we are not taking in sufficient fund to pay the current budget.

As US citizens we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world and pay one of the smallest tax rates. While I disagree with how we spend some of the Federal budget I find it difficult to imagine how I am not getting far more than I pay for in taxes from my government. Living in a democracy requires that we compromise; that we accept that some things will be done that we disagree with; that we will not be happy with every decision our government makes. We, as citizens, have a duty to hold our elected officials accountable for their failing and to seek better representation when they do fail. We also have a duty to call out those within government who see it as a cash cow, as is the case with the GSA spending, as well as those outside government, as in the case of oil companies being given tax subsidies. Regardless of these few failings, hampering our government further will not lead to some magical land of plenty but to a cyberpunk dystopian brubdom.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

spearway (169040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731031)

Smallest tax rate???? Really????

The only reason for this is that taxes in the US are split between various level of government and that health insurance is not included in taxes as it is in most countries. When you compare oranges with oranges the tax rates are quite similar. It is for example only a few percentage point lower than Canada even through Canada has tax funded universal health coverage.

I thing there is large space for improvement. And also I thoroughly dislike the tea party they have a point.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

forand (530402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732597)

Fair point, however, you then directly use the opposite assumption in your statement: "[The US tax rate] is for example only a few percentage point lower than Canada even through Canada has tax funded universal health coverage." So you too are comparing apples to orange by your own accounting.

That being said while Canada provides universal health care with their taxes they do it at a very low cost relative to even similar service in the US. That is Canada provides the same coverage for less. While the US collects less in taxes+health insurance, but only marginally by your assertion, while only providing health care to 84% [census.gov] of citizens at an average rate of 16% of GDP. While other countries are spending money providing universal health care, excellent public education, improved infrastructure, etc. the US is spending money on wars without end, a huge military industrial complex, and providing some of the least efficient health care in 1st worth nations. [wikipedia.org] Our private sector does not provide an efficient solution to non-market driven problems e.g. health care, military. What is baffling to me is why anyone would think it would.

"Same coverage" (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732659)

Yeah, no difference in coverage except for huge waiting lists on many surgeries and treatments.

Other than that, no difference...

With reforms in the U.S. insurance industry, we would maintain the better patient treatment the U.S. offers, while also having costs lower.

Perhaps you should learn to budget (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732669)

Perhaps you should familiarize yourself where tax dollars are being spent.

So you are saying that if one government agency is vastly overspending for something it's OK as long as other agonies are vastly overspending more.

Got it.

Oh wait. Actually that is stupid. If you are trying to save money, to cut spending, you do it for ALL categories of spending, not just really large ones.

Your point then is totally irrelevant.

Re:Perhaps you should learn to budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733873)

Do it for all categories of spending? Yeah, that'll work out just fine. Like the guy who decides to save his budget and doesn't buy enough fire extinguishers. Or who buys a cheaper product, thinking it'll save him more.

Then the house burns down, or the product doesn't work, so he has to pay to fix it.

Sometimes if you're actually trying to save money, you don't cut spending in some ways. Certainly not "for ALL categories of spending" as you said. Not all of them may be over-invested.

The smart thing to do is take a keen look at things, and not just blindly work with it. Your point is totally brainless.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730437)

The GSA is a prime example of why raising taxes on anyone I don't care what class is beyond stupid.

Congratulations, you're drawing the exact conclusion you're being lead to by all the hype. Forget the fact that the Las Vegas conference cost the same as 3 minutes [armscontrolcenter.org] of the Iraq war. Forget the fact that the same and worse is standard in private industry, except the executives in those cases also make tens of millions of dollars per year in takehome pay. Just make a simple emotional association, draw a kneejerk conclusion, and you're all done! So easily lead.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (2)

Leebert (1694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730727)

Forget the fact that the Las Vegas conference cost the same as 3 minutes [armscontrolcenter.org] of the Iraq war.

It's that thinking that perpetuates the problem. A whole lot of "it's not as bad as..." adds up quickly, no different than all of those little incidentals on a day-to-day cumulatively impact your budget more than most people realize. Just because the Iraq war is a grossly egregious waste of money doesn't mean that we ignore waste elsewhere.

Forget the fact that the same and worse is standard in private industry

Private industry (with a few notable exceptions) that wastes too much money will go out of business because its products will be too expensive. The government has no such economic pressures; it simply taxes more or borrows more. In government, it's OUR money being wasted.

I believe it's perfectly consistent to be outraged at the waste of tax money while simultaneously not condemning a similar waste in the private sector. (Taxpayer-funded bailouts, government-supported monopolies, etc. notwithstanding)

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731011)

Its not a good idea to discuss poor government spending with a DNC supporter, they will not be reasonable no matter what is said or shown to them. More government employees = more union dues collected = more automatic campaign contributions to the DNC. It has come to the point where government union employees are effectivly money laundering tax payer money to DNC coffers and the more of them there are the more they launder. Thats why, for example, a school district can have 1000 employees with only 250 of them being teachers and if the proposed budget gets cut by a fraction of a percent they cut the teacher's pay first so that the money keeps going through the system to them.

The blatent theft from the American people that the DNC now does on a daily basis is mind boggling, and you can't discuss it reasonable with them or they will go right into claiming you are a racist or woman hater and ask why is it you hate children so much.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731169)

And that war that your darling man child started was free...oh wait......

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733249)

Just as I asked timeOday above, I'll ask you - The Iraq War and government junkets are both examples of waste; why are you assuming that condemning one is supporting the other?

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731161)

Actually, the thinking that's a problem is yours, you sweat the small stuff, then let the big stuff slide by without comment, because all your energy is exhausted from the tiny details you try to make right.

Private industry manages to waste money quite effectively, with costs to the customers as bad as anything you might think your government does to you, and they often manage to do it with ways that are underhanded and destructive. But you ignore them because they distract you with things like this. Then give you a coupon.

And you're forgetting an important component of a government. The consent of the people is intrinsic to any just government, and yes, that includes the right to question it, and correct it. Even perhaps dissolve it. Is the same true of a corporation? In theory, but they have one weakness. Not all shareholders are created equal, nor is their share based solely on their actual contribution to the entity. Instead, it's based on what they can weasel out of the others.

What does this mean? That somebody who does almost none of the work can abscond with all of the profit, and that's not a good thing.

So you know what? Go ahead and think yourself consistent, others think you're completely blinding yourself, much the way the other poster claims the DNC is, because you're bribed out of the profits to fail to notice it. Especially when there's so much theft from the American people from corporations that aren't donating to the DNC, but to the GOP.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (2)

Leebert (1694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732337)

Actually, the thinking that's a problem is yours, you sweat the small stuff, then let the big stuff slide by without comment

Did you miss the part where I said: "the Iraq war is a grossly egregious waste of money"?

Go ahead and think yourself consistent, others think you're completely blinding yourself

I don't see how you don't understand the difference between government (money is taken from me at gunpoint without me having any choice in the matter) and private industry (money is given by me to a private party only in the case where the transaction is mutually beneficial). You're darn tootin' in the former case I'm going to care a lot more if the money is wasted.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733577)

I think you missed the point that you're ignoring real waste while going all hysterical over this. If you think you're not, that's the problem. You also seem to be unaware of how consensual government works. The point of voting is to give you a say in making that choice. Do you expect absolute authority over everything? That's a but much. You don't get tobe a king. But if you feel you aren't getting enough benefit, you have the same say as anybody else.

In contrast to this, a private company acts however it wants and doesn't have to give you any say unless the government makes them. They do let some men be kings...and the rest peasants, serfs, and slaves.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733227)

Forget the fact that the Las Vegas conference cost the same as 3 minutes [armscontrolcenter.org] of the Iraq war.

The Iraq War and government junkets are both examples of waste; why are you assuming that condemning one is supporting the other?

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

lanner (107308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730439)

That sentence is totally incomprehensible, and it was modded +3?

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730461)

The GSA is a prime example of why raising taxes on anyone - I don't care what class - is beyond stupid.

Maybe he meant this?

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730471)

The fact that you think the GSA and current tax rates across socio-economic boundaries are somehow correlary to one another, shows just how you really know about how government works. Or in this case, doesn't work.

Here's a hint: this has likely been going on for the last 30 years. But please, don't let that stop the misguided direction of disgust. Clearly you need to vent.

Re:Bad Press or Bad Behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731411)

Guess what, I just found two easy ways to not pay any taxes! 1) Lose your job and live on the streets, eat from the trash and never pay a cent in taxes (take that, government!); 2) Move to Somalia and become a mighty pirate, if anyone asks you about taxes you're free to shoot them (and they're free to shoot you, too! no pesky government to tell you what to do, just people acting in a friendly, natural manner).

Taxes are a necessary evil. If you don't like it you're free to move to a place free of taxes and the civilization it creates.

Slashdot: Toilet humor and ads... FOR NERDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729777)

I used to think old people were stupid talking about how great things used to be. Now I am an older and see how exactly right they were.

I wish the kids would get back on my lawn, at least back then it was interesting.

It really is Rome all over again (5, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729781)

A corrupt government allows one of the most basic necessities of civilization, indoor plumbing, to decay while money is literally spent on wine, clowns, and magicians.

Re:It really is Rome all over again (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39729881)

You, and many other people, seem to overlook that they where caught, and are being called out on it.

And the GSA does not equal the whole American government. Rome fell because the leader weren't accountable.

People are people and shit happens. The response is important.

Re:It really is Rome all over again (2)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730081)

No they are just the part of the government which is supposed to be the poster child for responsible spending.

Don't worry I cannot think of a single person that is really shocked by any of it.

Re:It really is Rome all over again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730443)

Are you really implying our "leaders" are accountable? Every godamn vote is only a vote against the other guy, nobody votes because they think their candidate will do a great job.

Re:It really is Rome all over again (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733367)

You, and many other people, seem to overlook that they where caught, and are being called out on it.

Have they been fired? Made to pay back the costs? Formally charged at least?

Re:It really is Rome all over again (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730503)

I'd argue that roads are slightly more of a basic necessity.
And that's a national priority, not just an accident due to a mistake in one government building.

Re:It really is Rome all over again (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731321)

I'd argue that roads are slightly more of a basic necessity.
And that's a national priority, not just an accident due to a mistake in one government building.

Many more have died for want of proper sanitation than have for want of a road.

Good roads in some sense are actually killing people. The roads we have today are so good that people drive instead of walk and so increase illness and death associated with obesity.

Nobody blames the toilets? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39729829)

Toilets should be more industrialized by now, I blew up my parents when I was 16 with a waterproof M-80, more than a decade ago!

/Sigh. Standards....Forever following Yahoo's stock.

Rank hypocrisy (4, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730245)

this is the same GSA now under fire for pricey Vegas conference flings

Which is more outrageous than it sounds, because it's the GSA that sets the rates that lots of public institutions use to limit how much their employees can spend for hotel rooms, etc.

Re:Rank hypocrisy (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730721)

"because it's the GSA that sets the rates that government agencies use to limit how much their employees can spend for hotel rooms, etc."

FTFY. The GSA rates are done for internal federal government purposes, not for other institutions. Other people use them because they are freely published, updated regularly, and represent a reasonable limit on local expenditures. They are not limits for spending, by the way, but limits for reimbursement. I once had TDY at Kennedy Space Center and rented a convertible. I paid the extra $20/day out of my pocket. I also got a 3 bedroom condo on the beach, but since I was there for a week, the weekly rate was actually less than the daily rate for lodging. Of the $490 allowance, I spent about $375; and I was only reimbursed $375 - you don't get to keep the difference (which is also fair, imho).

Personally, I think everyone who went to the conference should be charged the amount for their stay above the per diem rates. It will probably only come to a couple grand a person, but will be a reasonable deterrent for the rank and file in the future.

Re:Rank hypocrisy (4, Insightful)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730825)

GSA that sets the rates

There are no rates. There is only pull. If you have the pull you can invoke whatever exception is necessary and reserve whatever hotel room you want, because exceptions are baked into all of those rate schedules and spending rules. You only need enough pull to get away with invoking them.

Neely ran his little fiefdom just like a gangster. Mess with him and he ruined your career. There are thousands just like him at every level of government.

Booze and hookers for the Secret Service. Planet wide GSA jet set. $800k/year city managers. One boondoggle 'green energy' political payoff after another.

I'm looking forward to the US credit crisis. It's been a long time coming and nothing short of an extinction level caldera eruption can stop it now.

Re:Rank hypocrisy (2)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730953)

That is incorrect, though you are probably just speaking as an ignorant cynic and are already aware of the fact.
I can book any hotel room i want, below or above the area lodging rate (most hotels know what the rate is and lock their govt rate to it). however if i go above that rate, i pay the difference out of my own pocket (and you dont get to keep unused lodging funds). you must provide receipts for lodging, so anything billed to the room that cant be proven to be in direct support of your work (internet, hookers, etc) comes out of your pocket.

on my last TDY i didnt want to stay in the same backwoods hotel the guy with the authorized vehicle was staying at, so i booked another hotel (at the govt rate) and rented a car. that car was not authorized, so i paid for it out of pocket. no way around it.

there is no "pull", and if you lie on your trip report to justify having spent over the allowed rate, that is simply defrauding the government.
other people's jobs rely on you doing it accurately and within reg, so unless you know someone in the RM chain that is willing to lose their job and possibly face jailtime for you, you are bound to the TDY allowances.

Re:Rank hypocrisy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731095)

Right. Except folks like Neely have the hotel gift them a 2000 sq. ft. suite for booking all the peon attendees at that hotel. Zero cost, so no problem. Cha-ching. Shit went on for years, will continue, and 99% won't ever be caught.

The difference is you're one of the peons that has to follow the rules.

Here is another [washingtonpost.com] 140+ DC city employees fraudulently collecting unemployment while employed. This shit with the GSA isn't surprising; the place is full of corruption [federaltimes.com] .

You're either a cynic, a sucker or both.

Re:Rank hypocrisy (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731265)

im not following the "news" de jour, so i may be misunderstanding you when you say "cha-ching".
This Neely fella doesnt pocket any of the lodging money. if he cant even claim it via receipt, then he has no opportunity to even get at it. its not like they give us wads of cash, its all on a govt travel card or a personal credit card. if its not on the govt travel card, it doesnt exist. if its not on your personal credit card, it would be silly to ask for reimbursement.
if you're getting at the hotel giving free rooms in exchange for business... well, at least thats a good deal for us taxpayers.

RM (resource management) is tough to work around. hell, getting some new DOORS (regular solid doors) in a few buildings here requires 20 pages of paperwork and a cost-benefit analysis that only a few in our Battalion have the expertise to complete correctly.
skirting rules is /very/ possible, but you have to be a good liar and be willing to take a lot of risk. the only real times having 'juice' matters is when you get caught in your lie. that determines if you get punished according to regulation or are allowed to live another day (figuratively speaking). if others are enabling your lies, it will be even harder to escape with just a warning.

im not saying there are no ways around, but theyre very risky and the benefit (some measly TDY money?) is not usually worth it.
and im a cynic, one who understands the position i've risen to in my favorite Theater is not worth the $15k/yr or so i could (50/50 odds) scam off my various TDYs, or $20k/yr for housing (100% odds, too easy!), etc... there are better things to lie for.

Farnsworth says: (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730367)

Farnsworth: Good news, everyone! We can blame terrorists and have our budget increased 500 percent!

Leela: But we investigated and found that it was just compressed air in the system.

Farnsworth: Oh.....

when janitors aren't considered cool (1, Offtopic)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730433)

look in the govt, 'maintenance man' is the lowest you can go on the totem pole/cast system.

you will be a fucking GS3 making 20k/year or some horrible shit while congressman doing coke off hookers in the lincoln bedroom get perks out the ass, etc etc etc.

of course, their toilets wont work because maintenance men won't be allowed overtime, won't be encouraged to get more education, won't ever get promoted, etc etc etc... but hey, whatever. they didn't go to MI fucking T right? am i right?

this is a symptom of what is wrong with this country. building spy planes that can blow up people in their houses in the middle of the night from 100 miles away, but you cannot fix the fucking bridges and keep the goddamn hospitals clean, because the only thing 'cool' about janitorial/maintenance/cleaning is how low you can push the costs by outsourcing and re-out-out sourcing, privatizing everything from the toilet seat installation to the toilet paper delivery, so some hedge fund finance fucktard can say 'oh i saved 2 percent this year, i deserve a 50,000$ bonus for projected savings over the next 30 years'

We think the soviet union collapsed on itself? we are collapsing on ourselves right now. bridges are falling apart. roads are falling apart. schools are falling apart. they are firing cops, they are firing fucking firefighters. they are trying to destroy the goddamn firefighters union for chrissakes because it 'costs too much'.

you know what costs too much? the fucking system costs too much, and eventually it will self topple just like the soviets did. nice fucking country while it lasted, good ideals, in practice they did not get implemented. oh fucking well. start over and build again.

Re:when janitors aren't considered cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733411)

It may be collapsing because idiots like you spout useless diatribes but can't even properly write a few paragraphs.

For the Plumbers in the Audience (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730627)

After all the jokes about exploding toilets and bashing the GSA, I'm just curious about something. I read the article and came across this:

[Supervisory Property Manager Chris] Litsey put out an announcement that the restrooms had closed and purged the system of compressed air that had been flowing into the building’s water tank. [...] Litsey’s theory was that someone had turned the compressor on manually and “left it unattended.”

Now, I'm not a plumber, nor have I ever played one on television. But why would you have compressed air flowing into the building's water tank? And if this is a good idea, why would it be a manual thing that you would turn on and off?

I'm sure there's a good reason, I'm just curious as to what it is.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730777)

I doubt it. The timing is unabashedly suspicious. In all likelihood the tale is as bogus as it sounds, only invented as a ploy to try to drum up some sympathy for our poor fatcat civil servants, and offset what is exclusively a negative view of them right now. Should work fabulously on the dummies, which has always been communists' only real chance of gaining power in democracies.

Picked up by Slashdot because this place isn't news for nerds, it's just a venue where leftist commoners gather to practice ways of wording whatever is their movement's deception of that week, as if in the hopes of eventually joining their brethren the ruling elites. Naturally all aspiring fascists dream of going pro some day.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730813)

Picked up by Slashdot because this place isn't news for nerds, it's just a venue where leftist commoners gather to practice ways of wording whatever is their movement's deception of that week, as if in the hopes of eventually joining their brethren the ruling elites. Naturally all aspiring fascists dream of going pro some day.

So that's why you hang out here so much.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730997)

Right, you can know that I must be a fellow fascist because fascists so readily admit to being such. <rolls eyes>

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731103)

Actually Fascists tend to either deny it or be oblivious about their own fascism.

So...yes, it is obvious you are one.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731235)

You've just described the lefties and the dummies, respectively. Either of which I'm obviously not.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731251)

Yet you're guilty of the same crimes you accuse them of committing.

It's obvious, you've become that which you claim to hate.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731365)

Well I haven't misspelled "us" as T-H-E-M in a while, so I don't think we quite match up.

The Hater (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732697)

It's you who speak of hate. Sadly that seem to be the fate of so many statists these days, as the world they tried to build is finally crumbling as was inevitable for any system that ignores human nature and economics...

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730833)

Repairs - they were probably using the compressor to clear a line that was to be repaired (in a big building letting it drain naturally would take a loooong time) and they forgot to disconnect it. That's my guess.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731207)

The compressed air is pumped into the tank to create water pressure in the pipes. This probably had to be done because the utility water line didn't have enough volume to supply the building on its own.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39731623)

In large buildings you need a pump to move the water to the upper floors with adequate pressure. You don't want to have to wait for the pump to start every time you use water, but you don't want it running all the time even when there is no flow.

So you have a system which consists of water-utility -> pump -> pressure-switch -> pressure-tank -> building-pipes. The pressure take is a take with the inlet/outlet on the bottom. The so long as the pressure-switch reads low enough the pump runs and pushes water into the building— if the building isn't using water it accumulates in the tank. The incoming water compresses air in the top of the tank and eventually the pump turns off. When someone uses water the air expands and pushes the water out. Eventually the pump turns back on until the pressure is back to the set point.

The air is very important in all this— water is almost incompressible if the tank only had water in it then as soon as a faucet was turned on the pressure would fall rapidly. So there needs to be a good amount of air in the take to store energy to push the water until the pump switches back on.

Over time the air can escape from this system— either through leaks in the tank or by dissolving in the water. To fix this someone would connect an air compressor to a fill valve at the top of the pressure tank and pump air back into it.

It sounds like in this case they started it and then forgot about it. Eventually all the water was pushed out of the tank and the system filled up with high pressure air. The pump did not activate because the pressure was still high. Because the air is so compressible it was storing a lot of energy in the pipes. When toilets were flushed this energy was released, rocketing out the small amounts of remaining water at high speed and causing things to blow up.

It sounds like they made an additional mistake of trying to refill the system with water with it closed. This would have just caused the water to repressureize the air wherever it was stuck in the system making for more explosive results. To fix this they should have first opened every thing up that they could before turning the water back on and only allowed the system to go back to normal operating pressure once they had most of the air out of it.

Re:For the Plumbers in the Audience (5, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39731691)

But why would you have compressed air flowing into the building's water tank?

Water doesn't flow uphill, and water towers are out of fashion. An unpressurized tank at ground level would just barely dribble out of wide-open faucets on the first floor, at best. And finally, water is non-compressible, itself, so air is used as a propellant.

A water tank typically comes with an air-filled bladder taking up most of the volume. When your well pump kicks-in, water flows into the opposite side of the bladder, compressing the air behind the bladder in the process. When the tank is nearly full, the pump shuts off, and the water is under pressure. This means you have significant water pressure, and more importantly, the well pump doesn't have to turn on to maintain pressure, every single time someone uses a tiny amount of water (otherwise it would burn out the motor in short-order).

There are also (cheaper) bladder-less tank designs, where there's no hard barrier strictly keeping the air and water separate, and those are the ones that most often need to have a compressor hooked-up to them and air added, as a routine maintenance step.

http://inspectapedia.com/water/WaterTankAir2.htm [inspectapedia.com]

Look-up "Hydro-pneumatic tank" if you want to know more about them. If you ever get off of city water, you'll really, really need to.

http://www.highlandtank.com/PressureVessels/Products.asp?ProdID=Hydropneumatic [highlandtank.com]

Not A Problem For Me Anymore... (4, Funny)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39730821)

FTA: "I'm afraid to pee..."

I laughed so hard when I read that, I don't have to pee anymore.

Re:Not A Problem For Me Anymore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39730983)

Urine the danger zone!

Well, it is spring; what did they expect? (2)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732365)

In a few months, I expect the trees will be filled with underwear.

'Twasn't compressed air, it was our money (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732509)

The toilets were exploding because they flushed a few stacks of money too much for the old plumbing to handle.

GSA WMD (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732901)

Damn, their shit is explosive!

Good lord! (1)

davydagger (2566757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733467)

This is something straight out of a Monty Python Flick!.

exploding toliets, set it to the william tell overature.

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