2020-02-05 The Capital of the Empire - how the sausage (doesn't) get made

As some of you may know, before I departed to bananaland I stopped by the capital of the empire with the Caltech Y to look around. While we were there, they voted to impeach the leader of the free world - and tomorrow they’ll vote to acquit him, right before Sovclub. It is only fitting.

Some of highlights of the people and places we visited, and what we learned:

NOAA: Looks like global warming is real. Also we learned that you’re not supposed to deface and divulge fake maps.

AAAS: Scientists and experts can help the government. But you can’t help them from themselves.

Caltech’s lobbyist: Not only we have one, their job is awesome and they make shit happen by playing a real life version of 4D chess that requires extensive networking knowledge (the other kind of networking).

Bill Colglazier - Former Science Advisor to Secretary of State (Clinton & Kerry): Bill is really cool. Also the Department of State is GG. Lucky for you, he’s gonna be on campus giving a talk at 3pm on Thursday.

The NSF COO: There are some interesting quirks to how American government science funding came to be, and it was all kickstarted by Vannevar Bush after the war thanks to a report he compiled aptly called Science: the endless frontier. We’re still pretty much following it. ALSO, breaking news: when I asked the NSF COO about different funding modalities and giving money to fellowships instead of PIs he pretty much said “oh boy” and declined to respond*.

So there you have it. Everything I learned in DC. Now you don’t need to come to the meeting anymore. Good thing nobody reads my emails.

See you tomorrow at 6PM on Sovereignty Lounge, BBB B101.

In Sovereignty,


*But he basically confirmed that PIs oppose fellowships because it removes their control over grad students. I asked about the impact of fellowships vs grants and freedom and he said “oh man you’d love to be a fly in the wall in some discussions we had with PIs here… I’ll just say that the response is ‘nonlinear’. If this were a congressional hearing this is where I’d deflect your question and go on an unrelated tangent but…yeah. I’ll just not respond to it”