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Old 27 September 2007, 09:14 PM
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Computer US Dept. of Labor got a C on Amy Carter's school paper

Comment: Here's one I found online, is it true?

Amy Carter brought an assignment home one Friday night while her father was still President. Stumped by a question on the Industrial Revolution, Amy sought help from her mother. Rosalynn was also fogged by the question and, in turn, asked an aide to seek clarification from the Labor Department. A "rush" was placed on the request since the assignment was due Monday. Thinking the question was a serious request from the Prez himself, a Labor Department official immediately cranked up the government computer and kept a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend ... at a reported cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The massive computer printout was finally delivered by truck to the White House on Sunday afternoon and Amy showed up in class with the official answer the following day. But her history teacher was not impressed. When Amy's paper was returned, it was marked with a big red "C."

Campus Life, May, 1981 p. 59.
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Old 27 September 2007, 09:16 PM
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Teacher

I'd think that if the teacher gave Amy a "C", it was because the teacher realized that a massive, multi-page computer printout was probably not the genuine work of an elementary school child.

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Old 27 September 2007, 09:27 PM
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Wouldn't they fail her if they thought she'd cheated, though?
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Old 27 September 2007, 09:40 PM
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If I'm reading it right, it's a factual question, not an essay, and if that's the case I don't see why there would be a problem performing research to find the answer.

If it was one of a series of questions, and each answer was right or wrong (rather than an essay, which is judged on the whole), then the C wouldn't have been for that one answer, but rather the correctness of her answers to all of them.
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Old 27 September 2007, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend ... at a reported cost of several hundred thousand dollars.
This bit is dubious. Unless there were several hundred thousand team members, there is no way they would make that much on OT. Not on government wages, and certainly not on government wages in the 70s.
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Old 27 September 2007, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
This bit is dubious. Unless there were several hundred thousand team members, there is no way they would make that much on OT. Not on government wages, and certainly not on government wages in the 70s.
I agree the amount is dubious, but there's also the cost of heat (or A/C), electricity for the lights and equipment, paper, wear and tear on every piece of equipment (down to chairs and floor tiles), clipboards, pencils, etc... every tiny little thing gets computed when something like that is costed out. I know that the cost of having an employee work in my company's office vs. at their home is ridiculously high because of that sort of thing.

ETA: Wasn't there a scene like this in a movie or on a TV show, where a higher-up at the White House made an off-hand comment to a government official and ended up producing a ginormous, super-serious report about it? Was it West Wing? Maybe Josh Malina's character?

Last edited by Mr. Furious; 27 September 2007 at 10:15 PM.
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  #7  
Old 27 September 2007, 10:55 PM
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Read This!

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Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
Wouldn't they fail her if they thought she'd cheated, though?
Using outside resources isn't necessarily cheating. But if you simply present verbatim information from those sources rather than collating the material and forming it into a concise answer expressed in your own words, you haven't performed very well overall.

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  #8  
Old 28 September 2007, 02:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
This bit is dubious. Unless there were several hundred thousand team members, there is no way they would make that much on OT. Not on government wages, and certainly not on government wages in the 70s.
Nah, they were probably Contractors, or the kids of some of his friends!
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  #9  
Old 28 September 2007, 03:33 PM
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"Campus Life, May, 1981 p. 59" appears to be a magazine published by a Christian group, that was recently renamed "Ignite Your Faith.". From Campus Life Magazine . The online archives only go back to the late 1990s.


In Edmond Life and Leisure, November 24, 2005, a more elaborate version appeared. It says the department produced a 6,000 page paper t a cost of $325,000. (It also has a nasty copyright statement, so I'm not going to quote it directly.)

Little Known Facts: One odd deadline


The author is Chaz Allen
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Old 28 September 2007, 03:49 PM
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Carter was president from 1976 to 1980. If it was a history essay, why on earth would they need computers? They weren't used for word processing, there were likely no calculations, and any factual information would have been stored in books - even the index (or card catalog) would have been on microfiche.
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Old 28 September 2007, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Furious View Post
I agree the amount is dubious, but there's also the cost of heat (or A/C), electricity for the lights and equipment, paper, wear and tear on every piece of equipment (down to chairs and floor tiles), clipboards, pencils, etc... every tiny little thing gets computed when something like that is costed out. I know that the cost of having an employee work in my company's office vs. at their home is ridiculously high because of that sort of thing.
The annualized current year cost including EVERYTHING for the typical GS civil servant is around $175,000 for a non-bargaining unit employee. Earning overtime wages is a very, very, rare. Overtime is paid hourly and at a rate of not to exceed (about) $36 straight wages.

In 1981 wages for federal employees were far below where they should have been (Pay Gap). I find it very hard to even come up with an amount of man-hours that would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars as stated in the OP.

Not to mention the fact that in 1981 we did not have "databases" per se, we had clunky IBM mainframes that were primarily used for data, mathmatical, and logical analysis. There would have been no reason to utilize a computer to answer what was surely for Amy Carter, an esoteric pondering and an emperical answer.

Ranger "I love my job" Dog
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