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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Skybots, Fembots and Ripoffs

You may recall from a prior post ("Deputy Drone") that the L.A. County Sheriff planned to conduct surveillance via remote-control drone airplanes.

You may also have noticed a story in Thursday's L.A. Times saying that the FAA has nixed that idea for the time being; apparently we have enough action in the skies without a squadron of Radio Shack mini-me planes buzzing about.

But did you notice the following line in the story? "The drones are still in the testing stages. But if they prove effective, the department planned to buy 20 SkySeers at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000 each."

Twenty grand for a remote-control airplane with a little camera?! Times 20, for the squadron, means $400,000 -- batteries not included.

Here's the thing: these units should cost a few hundred dollars each. Do your own search, and you'll find remote-control airplanes and helicopters, complete with wireless video, for well under $1000 -- more like $199 each. For example: airplane link, helicopter link, and mini-blimp link.

Does something smell funny? Does something smell scam-like?

For $400,000, we should at least get a few Fembots, don't you think? Yeah, Baby!


Anonymous Anonymous said:

The privacy issues should concern you more. The real "price" of such safety equipment cannot be calculated in monetary terms.

The $400,000 would best be spent on human deputies to patrol the streets and solve crimes, not on machines to hover over the city and spy on law-abiding citizens.

It's really not a laughing matter.

June 22, 2006 7:48 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

Actually, I raised the privacy issue in the previous post, "Deputy Drone." I don't think we should feel constrained to raise just one objection to a given public policy proposal, do you?

As for this not being a laughing matter, come on, man! This is hilarious! Twenty grand of taxpayer for a radio-controlled airplane that costs $200 retail?! This is gallows humor for the 21st Century, in the spirit of "1984" -- with a gratuitious Austin Powers element!

June 22, 2006 8:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Is this Kevin De Leon and his ex girlfriends?


June 22, 2006 8:15 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Jackie Goldberg, is that you??

Win one small election and the femlibs go right after you, huh?

Shame you, Kevin, beating one of the girls...

June 22, 2006 8:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


The whole "early release" crisis at county jail that the Times FINALLY got around to writing about recently was caused because Baca spent too fuel money on a Sheriff's Dept. jet.

Is is therefore any surprise that Baca's fascination with aviation is costing taxpayers money?

June 22, 2006 9:14 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

LOL. No, it is not. But I think this is more sinister than just a fascination with wings. When you see public officials over-paying vendors by a factor of 100 -- $200 retail vs. $20,000 for these -- I think you've got enough to launch (as it were) an investigation.

June 22, 2006 9:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

7:48 here. I read your previous post. You asked "is this a good idea -- a good way to leverage the existing force? Or is it too '1984'?" A smart person would have taken a position that this is not a "good idea," and would've used a thesaurus to avoid using "good" in two consecutive sentences.

This isn't "gallows humor" even if Baca has an aviation fetish and if the drones cost 100X retail. The point is that NOT A DIME should be spent on this project. A real leader would denounce this on moral grounds, not simply make fun of it and question its financial propreity.

June 22, 2006 10:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

7:48 again. I'm sorry, you didn't use the word "good" in two consecutive sentences...you used it twice in the same sentence. Even worse. THESAURUS.COM

June 22, 2006 10:22 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

I guess some drones are flesh and blood.

"Good, good, good, good vibrations" -- good grief, better send a good memo to the Beach Boys.

June 23, 2006 6:28 AM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

P.S. For a guy who misuses ellipses . . . you have some funny ideas about syntax!

June 23, 2006 6:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

If you want privacy, stay in your house. What are you doing in your backyard anyway, growing your own or just barbequing "au naturel"?

June 23, 2006 6:30 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Its amazing what one can see when flying over neighborhoods...
On a recent return flight from Oakland while on the wide approach into LAX over East LA, Vernon, and the Manchester corridor..
It is amazing to see not only all the cars parked along every inch of curb space in these neighborhoods. Not only that, all the cars and whats left of cars in driveways, front lawns, side yards, and back yards. Throw in boats, camper shells, mobile homes and trailers to boot. Its like mini salvage yards.
These eyes in the skies should be given to code enforcement and document the violations and help clean up these neighborhoods via technology. This would be a good start to clean up this city and improve the quality of life in these areas.

You could even post the "nude" BBQers and make some extra $$$ for the city.

June 23, 2006 3:08 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

I love the code enforcement idea. This thing could pay for itself in the first nine minutes, even if we buy the deluxe remote-control airplanes equipped with champagne and hot towels!

June 23, 2006 8:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Sometimes when I'm hiking and I see helicopters, I flash them. I don't know what they're looking for or if they're looking for anything, so I just show them so they don't feel like they've wasted the trip.

June 24, 2006 8:49 PM  

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