November 14, 2005

The High Cost of Cheese

Over a year ago, I post-quoted without comment a bit of an AP article about what appeared to have been a rather extravagant awards ceremony presented by the government agency in charge of airport security. It cost nearly half a million dollars, including $81,000 for plaques, $500 for cheese displays, and 'a "lifetime achievement" award for one worker with the two-year-old agency.'

Just today, someone stumbled on the post and had this practical objection to the derision implied by withholding comment:

That is less than a dollar per person for the cheese displays. I swear that people have no idea what things cost!!!!! What are they supposed to spend $10 for cheese display for 543 people.
Posted by Dr. Frank at November 14, 2005 06:27 PM | TrackBack

what exactly is a cheese display? and can somebody really eat $9 worth of cheese in one evening without puking?

Posted by: kendra at November 14, 2005 10:05 PM

I'm not sure whether or not one could do it without puking, but all the same I'm guessing that the ceremony planners sprang for ritzier grub than $4.49 24-slice packs of Kraft Singles. That commentator was right; relatively speaking, it probably wasn't that much cheese. Though the idea that I chipped in on it is slightly annoying.

Posted by: Eric at November 15, 2005 01:38 AM

It's clear that the cheese aspect of the awards ceremony is the most practical one. I would be willing to donate more of my tax dollars if the entire thing were made of cheese. Celebrate the cheese!

Posted by: Dave Bug at November 15, 2005 03:13 PM

this is pretty unrelated but this just reminded me about how i read about NASA spending $2 million (thats our money!) to develop a special zero G pen that could be used in space....
and the russians just use pencils.
whats that all about?

Posted by: Nick G. at November 15, 2005 04:22 PM

"whats that all about?"

Like the cheese, it's about people gassing on about stuff they don't know anything about. Pencil points break off, and graphite dust floats around. Both can get into the circuitry and cause shorts, and burn nicely in pure oxygen environments (this is a Bad Thing).

That aside, NASA didn't spend the money for the pen. A private company developed them and then sold them to NASA for $2.95 each (which was steep for a pen in '67; I think it's roughly 15 bucks in today's money). But it can write in vacuum!

See here:

Posted by: Angie Schultz at November 15, 2005 05:45 PM

They have a box of those Fisher pens in the university office supply store; I never thought they wrote particularly well. Let the people gas!

Posted by: Eric at November 16, 2005 12:38 AM

fair enough, but remember, is hardely a very reliable source, however in this case it seems alright as they gave ONE source of their information...

Posted by: Nick G. at November 16, 2005 06:57 AM

But I knew deep down that the best thing about that "job" was that I didn't really work there in the end.

Posted by: Mike Hartovich at November 17, 2005 04:43 PM

Please tell me people ate the cheese.

Posted by: Manda Magpie at November 19, 2005 05:04 PM

Being familiar with the Department of Homeland Security, there are people who have been around 30 years since before that organization was formed. When it was established, it pulled from other sectors of government such as DOT, Energy and Commerce to construct it's core operations.

If you sharpen a pencil in the federal government, it counts towards your retirement.


Posted by: Mike at December 2, 2005 03:02 PM