Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cash to the U-towns and a bad trip

An AP story in the Cedar Rapids Gazette Online reported that Vilsack wants to corral $50 million of the tobacco-refinancing windfall to shovel at the U’s to increase their “research” budgets. What does the Gov think they do with all the other money the state sends ‘em? Serve their communities? Teach undergraduate students?

The fuzzy idea behind this chunk ‘o’ money to university research is to start brand new programs that will…

"… essentially create teams of people who would go out to existing businesses, sit down with them and say here are some new technologies that might make you more efficient and effective," Vilsack said.
And
"My goal and my hope is that every worker in Iowa becomes more innovative and creative," Vilsack said.
Hmm, what will really encourage innovation and creativity – shrink the scope and size of government, and stop believing that any sort of top down approach always works. Geez, can’t Vilsack get at least one staffer to read a little Wildavsky or Sabatier!

Please, no more of the Vilsack hyperactive policy making, will someone just slip the guy a little Ritalin, PRN, for the next seven or eight months.

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This is a "bonus" post, because I really need to vent about a stupid meeting. I’ve been roped into rebuilding an organization that, frankly, should not have to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, due to long standing dysfunction it seems to need rebuilding every two years.

The person that has decided to be in charge -- though she can’t hear and is at her most efficient when spooning out gossip or directions on her cell phone (I know, doesn’t make sense, does it?) -- calls a meeting at her house to go over plans that are really not plans, because she can’t organize her way out of a paper bag. Meanwhile, I haven’t lived in this place long enough to be considered functionally human, so I am relegated to silently listening to this person, and figuring out innocuous ways I can get things done in this muddling culture of inefficiency. It’s finally clear to me that this was a huge waste of time; we’ll crank out two dysfunctional meetings before I gently suggest that she take the north side and I’ll take the south side. What a mess.

But the real problem is that the entire time I was sitting through the “we can’t do that”, “I know so and so” and “have a cookie bar”, all I could think about is the worst sort of existential pronouncement – my life makes no sense. I’m in a foreign place that never seems to be any less foreign, and all I can think about is a year ago we gave up the chance to move somewhere warm, where I have family and people come from all over the world to live. In this mythic place, because I know it’s not perfect, if I want a beach, dim sum, tapas, a grouper sandwich, a hippy art fix or a day at Saks, I know exactly where to go, and all within a 45-minute drive.

The only thing that saved the evening was flipping the dial into Blind Melon on my way home.


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