Speaking of Florida

May 11th, 2011

Link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/billionaires-role-in-hiring-decisions-at-florida-state-university-raises/1168680

Unbelievable. From the St. Petersburg Times:

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."

. . . The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it's not happy with the faculty's choice or if the hires don't meet "objectives" set by Koch during annual evaluations.

David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty's suggestions . . . .

Most universities, including the University of Florida, have policies that strictly limit donors' influence over the use of their gifts. Yale University once returned $20 million when the donor demanded veto power over appointments, saying such control was "unheard of."

Rich, selfish assholes run everything, and it's good for all of us.

The contract is here [pdf].

Good Idea

May 10th, 2011

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Our Bags Are Packed (And There's A Heck Of A Lot Of Them)

May 8th, 2011

Gerty and I have our bags packed for a "shakedown cruise." We're preparing for our first self-supported tour together. (And Gerty's first tour ever.)

Seemed pretty simple. Get some panniers, shift the backpacking gear from packs to panniers, toss in some tools, and take off.

Not so fast! There are six bags not two. We had no idea how to arrange things between the bags (aside from keeping pairs of bags roughly equal in weight.) And, it was touch and go whether every thing would fit.

I thought I would experience a wave of satisfaction once everything was stashed away in the panniers. That "I have everything that I need right here on my back" feeling.

So far no sign of such satisfaction. More a feeling of discouragement -- how can we have so much stuff? I like to have room to just toss stuff sacks into my backpack and start walking.

Our panniers have no room for a granola bar. They look ready to pop. Repacking tomorrow morning may require a trash compacter.

Why do we have so much stuff? Traveling in a civilized place just requires more things than sitting around in the wilderness. We have a little computer, a set of minimally respectable clothes, and -- gasp -- deodorant.

And, we don't really have that much stuff. We have about 64 pounds of stuff packed for two of us. Even adding in a couple extra liters of water we'd only be at 68 pounds, which isn't ghastly. I was aiming for 60 pounds, so we're not wildly off. We've certainly backpacked with more.

Perhaps it just looks and feels like more because we have six bike bags (three sets of panniers), and if we were backpacking we'd have only two backpacks.

Pound Rocks, Gerty!

May 1st, 2011

Link: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=RrzKj&doc_id=5358&v=b#186557

Gerty and I are planning a tour. Each time one of us places something in the "to be packed" pile, the other asks "Are you sure you couldn't find something lighter?" or "Do you really need that?" or, most often, "WTF! I'm not carrying that just so you can . . . ."

So, I was delighted to find a fellow who plans - PLANS - on hauling rocks around in his panniers. Should be fun to follow along. (If I have time during the divorce proceedings.)

Our new Budget Plan Will Make Us Rich

May 1st, 2011

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Image by dotpolka. Some rights reserved.

Since the government's budget is just like our household budget (if you don't believe me, just ask our idiotic senators), we've developed a plan to cope, should our household income drop because I lose a job.

Though it might make sense to go back to work, jobs are not something our household can or should have anything to do with. And, in any case, we have a better solution.

We're instituting food vouchers for our home. Food is essential so this is a responsible change to ensure the continued availability of food.

The food vouchers won't keep pace with inflation, but this is a feature not a bug. Our declining purchasing power will result in lower food prices and save money. After all, if we don't balance our household budget now, eventually we won't have money for food.

We will then take the money we save and give it to our rich neighbors. Although they have plenty, we owe it to them because they have more than we do.

And in a few years, we'll be much richer.

Me, Too.

April 26th, 2011

Link: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_04/029132.php#1927037

From a comment at Washington Monthly:

"I would rather have the Postal Service run my health insurance than have EXXON, AT&T, or GE run it, wouldn't you?"

I would.

Nothing So Fun As Brown Paper, Markers, And Hours of Useless Nattering

April 26th, 2011

Sent by a friend. My response would be "just kill me now":

This 1.5 days of goal setting should be very fun and interesting. We will be brainstorming, listing, and ranking all our goals for this project. After we get all our goals on paper we will list all our potential risks for this project, and then we will connect the risks and goals so as to help direct [the organization] on where exactly we will need to focus our attention to make this project a reality. To be successful we will need creative thinking, collaboration, and a breadth of expertise.

I wonder why people continue to do these things. My private theory remains that these events give the illusion of progress without anyone having to do anything.

I start thinking of chewing off my arm, when the facilitator comes up with ever more abstract summaries to garner "agreement," records them, and congratulates everyone on the incredible process. I try to exit without insulting anybody. It usually works because everyone else is distracted admiring the meaningless pabulum they've created. "We shall creatively pursue appropriate, strategic opportunities in pursuit of goals supporting our mission." or some such.

Organized Cross-State Rides List

April 22nd, 2011

Link: http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_WebPages/statebicycletourindex.html

Bis is still the best place to go if you are considering an organized ride in the U.S. this summer.

Gerty and I have been over there the last couple days discussing the possibilities.