Sunday, February 9, 2014

Italian Corruption: Going where (sadly, every man) has gone before

We barely finished celebrating Italy's first astronaut in space, when, the head of the ASI - Italian Space Agency has been caught with his hands (allegedly) in the multi-million euro till.  Their offices have been sequestered along with those of their suppliers - from their travel agency to their events planners.  Investigated for issuing false bills and taking multi-million euro junkets to Californian conferences that were not taking place; so much for being the pride and joy of Italy - in a year that saw their CERN researchers identify the Higgs Boson particle and sent a man into space.  Or is it, that, as a symbol of Italy, Enrico Saggese - an engineer with a whole lot of political ties - is just that? 
In his defense, he claims that these mysterious expenses were "an internal matter" and needed to be treated as such.  Nonetheless, it brings to mind that old joke about an International Space Agency - set in Geneve - looking for the right astronaut to send to a Mission to Mars:

They comb the world for an astronaut who could take on this mission.  It would last years.  You had to be nimble, ready for anything, and be a top scientist and in superb physical shape.  The Americans, the Chinese, India, S Korea, Canada...everyone is considered.  They are down to their last three candidates.

The American Astronaut comes in and says...
Well, of course, NASA has the no. 01 Space Program on earth. I've been training for years. I know every part of that ship, and could handle anything that's thrown at me.
I will do it for $600,000.

The Russian Cosmonaut sits down and states...
We were the brains behind the MIR Space Station. In the name of mother patria, we will make sure it is the best mission ever accomplished.  I am willing to leave my family, my motherland for this mission.  I will do it for $700,000.

Next, comes in the Italian astronaut.  He sits down, and with little fanfare, blurts out:
Three years?  Away from la famiglia?  I will do this job for $1 million.

Aghast, the committee Chairman says...
What? What are you talking about? Sure, your researchers are top-notch, but you don't even have any spaceships...You just sent your first man up in space!  The Americans have a space program that's been going on for decades!  The Russians have just as much experience!  What do you have to say for yourself?

The Italian gets up, shuts the door, and leans forward.  In hush tones he says...
Don't you get it?  Two-hundred for me / Two-hundred for you / and dee American goes to Mars!


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