news of the day

  • The Congress, in its infinite wisdom, added Section 214 to the Defense spending bill adopted by the House. If it survives in the Senate, I, as a PI on a DoD grant, will have to publicly report on all my conversations or email exchanges about almost any math, with anyone (revealing, inter alia, the interlocutor’s “identity and nationality“). This disclosures will be on top of the obligatory reporting of all my affiliations, past and present (let me start with divulging my past as a Lieutenant, in reserve, of the Soviet Army), and all possible publications, in any language (including, I guess, a letter to London Review of Books from 1995, and whatever repos I have on Github? who knows).
    That lovely compendium is supposed to be stored on a government website, and the thought of interactions with the UI of that portal, gives me shivers already.
    The initiators of the amendment assert that this is to fight “Chinese Communist” whatever. I think Chairman Xi will be rejoiced by its passage.
  • From the incoming mail: “The Office of the Provost seeks nominations for candidates for two Provost Fellow positions for the 2023-2024 academic year. The¬†Provost Fellows Program¬†offers a unique opportunity for University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tenured faculty to develop leadership skills at the campus level.” How, indeed, can we otherwise handle the apparent severe shortage “deans and campus administrators” on this campus?
    A rather standard vicious cycle, starts with a bureaucracy declaring that to increase its efficiency one needs to train itself better; creates a training program; turns it in no time into a certification mechanism, a gatekeeping gimmick insulating it from challengers, and thus keeps overall deterioration of the management quality perfectly intact.
    I wish this is not what is happening here.

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