Brilliant satire and observations of the games of academia/science

“The first step is to create a task force to develop a proposal for funding for a workshop as a preparatory step toward a conference. Once you get funding for a workshop, you’re pretty well along for getting funding for a conference, because the workshop can compile a list of problems that the funding agency had better not ignore. The conference confirms the findings of the workshop. And the funding agency is on notice. If something big goes wrong, someone can pull up an old report and charge that you were warned about it but didn’t do anything. The press really goes for old reports that were ignored. Get that workshop, and you’re on your way.”

So advises “Grant Swinger”, Director of the Centre for the Absorption of Federal Funds.  Swinger is of course a satirical creation – while many would say this stuff privately, you’re not supposed to say it out loud, or the spell loses its magic.  He’s the creation of Daniel S. Greenberg, an American science journalist who has been observing the games of politics and policy for over 50 years, and has written some very well regarded books.  Including a novel “Tech Transfer” which looks like great fun too.

In 1988 he did a Grant Swinger Q and A about ‘the Greenhouse Effect’ that is hysterically funny, and will end up in my PhD if I can help it…


The game’s the game, yo?
See also:

Michael Frayn’s The Tin Men

Ian McEwan’s Solar

David Lodge’s Campus novels (and especially the character Morris Zapp),

Gilbert Adair’s The Death of the Author and

Malcolm Bradbury’s “Mensonge”

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