Sometimes you have to wonder. Let’s start with today’s article titled New police station lifts spirits in Boyle Heights. It boasts the following picture and caption:
Note well the caption’s description of the individuals pictured as “Los Angeles police officers.” Uh, I don’t think so. That powder-blue uniform doesn’t look like any LAPD uniform I have ever seen . . . but it sure does resemble the uniform worn by LAPD Explorers, members of a youth program run by the LAPD:
Here, by way of contrast, is a real LAPD uniform as modeled by outgoing chief Bratton:
The article also says:
The new station will house about 300 personnel who will serve nearly 200,000 people over a 15.8-mile radius that covers Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and other neighborhoods.
Wow. A 15.8-mile radius? That would encompass a lot of other neighborhoods.
A 15.8 mile radius means a 31.6 mile diameter — and that makes for a heck of a large circle. The territory of Hollenbeck station, which currently occupies a rather small area in East L.A. (see this LAPD station map) would now take up most of the L.A. Basin, swallowing up the territory of a dozen or more other community police stations. Here is a very, very rough depiction of the territory that would be covered by such a colossus:
Again: I don’t think so. Irony alert: I checked my fourth-grade daughter’s homework tonight, and guess what one of the concepts was? You guessed it! the concept of a radius! (She got it right.)
Now we move on to a story titled L.A. still has a few free rain collection installations to dole out, which boasts this scientifically questionable passage:
Although rain barrels are available from a variety of manufacturers in a variety of sizes, the city chose a 55-gallon capacity because, when full, the rain barrels will weigh a relatively manageable 200 pounds.
Does a full 55-gallon barrel of water really weigh only 200 pounds? It seems rather unlikely, given that a single gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. I tried this online converter which gave me a result of about 459 pounds:
I don’t know; maybe they’re employing a different definition of “full” than the one you would think they meant . . . (Do they consider it “full” when it’s less than half full? I’m halfway serious here.)
My anonymous tipster points out that these concepts (the meaning of “radius” and the weight of water) are rather standard concepts for 4th or 5th grade. But then, Susan Carpenter (the author of the second article) is the sort of person who thinks it’s funny to call someone a “cunning linguist” — and that’s right around a 4th- or 5th-grade level of humor, isn’t it? So maybe it’s just too early in the year for the teacher to have gotten to these concepts.
By the way, I can’t possibly pass up the opportunity to quote the closing observation of my tipster’s e-mail:
Seeing this level of errors on the simple things, are we supposed to trust these people with foreign policy analysis, or other stuff that a 5th grader would not necessarily know?
Readers of this site, of course, already know the answer to that question.
P.S. I’m too busy to write the Reader’s Rep, but anyone who wanted to bring these three undeniable errors to the attention of the Reader’s Rep would likely score a hat-trick of corrections with a single press of the send button. Copy me on the e-mail if you send one: Readers.Rep@latimes.com