My Father with turkey circa 1935
My Father the scientist circa 1935

Originally I was going to post just about being thankful.

See, despite shrinking budgets and challenging times, we scientists are a lucky group – especially those of us who have benefitted from the budget largesse of the USA towards our endeavor.

When else in history has any society spent so much money on people simply exploring and figuring out who the world works?  Never.  It’s actually amazing if you think about it.

We are so lucky to be living in a time when society has had money to spare for such things.  I can only hope it will continue in the future.

So when lamenting about the challenges that we face, it is good to keep this in mind.  Just imagine if, instead, we were beholden to rich patrons to fund our work – ones whose tastes were fickle and craven?

We’ve got something to be thankful for!

But … (there’s always a but…)

I want to say “no thanks” to university bureaucracies.  I don’t know about you, but in my own case, I’ve seen so much sclerotic implementation of arcane and byzantine architectures of arbitrary rules that my head is ready to explode.

Seriously – if you think about it, almost half of all money that NIH, NSF, and other agencies give out as grants go to fund the university bureaucracies.

I don’t think anyone set out to make these for malevolent purposes.  Quite the opposite, they grew out of the desire to “protect” and “do good.”  But in the ones I’ve observed so far, they’re like trees whose branches have grown too big for the trunk.  They soon topple over by their own weight.

In other words, they are big money pits.

And that’s a real shame.  Given that we have had this tremendous opportunity to do great science, and to have a big part of the money and momentum sucked away by bureaucracy is simply a damn shame.

So, I give one thumbs up to being thankful for the opportunity to do great science

And I give one thumbs down (no thanks) to bloated university bureaucracy.

What about you? Thanks or no thanks?  I want to hear from you.


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