For the past 18 months, Jacqueline Trescott and James V. Grimaldi of the Washington Post have covered the never-ending scandals that have plagued the Smithsonian, reporting for which they deserve the Pulitzer Prize. They've broken the story of the resignation in disgrace of the previous Secretary, the subsequent resignation in disgrace of the previous Deputy Secretary, and then the resignation in disgrace of the "CEO" of Smithsonian Business Ventures. Enough for one year? Not on your life!
Today, they bring us the story of W. Richard West, Jr., who as head of the National Museum of the American Indian, felt that the taxpayers should foot the bill for $250,000 in "first-class transportation and plush lodging in hotels around the world, including more than a dozen trips to Paris." (Paris being noted as one of the centers of American Indian culture!)
What struck me particularly hard was a quote from West buried deep inside the story. When asked about his $292,000 salary and his outrageous expenses, all West could manage to say was:
"I am grateful for at least the past year to have been the highest-paid director of a museum in the Smithsonian. Even at that status I have yet to earn even two-thirds of what I earned as a private attorney in my last year in private practice."
Jeez. What is amazing is not that one greedy lawyer tried to bilk the taxpayers, what is amazing is that the Regents of the Smithsonian (which includes 6 members of Congress, the Vice President, and the Chief Justice) let him get away with it without objection. It shows how deeply institutional the problems are in our attic.
I have three or four of these Lighted Hand Held Magnifiers. And at just $2.16 including shipping on Amazon, why not. It works with 3 x AAA batteries (not included) to power the two bright white LEDs, and even comes with a fake leather case with a snap button. I use mine mainly to read […]
Judge William Alsup in San Francisco is presiding over a case in which California cities are suing the big oil companies over the climate-related disasters they're experiencing; Judge Alsup asked for a "tutorial" session in which experts for both sides would be asked to explain the underlying science, something he's done in earlier cases that […]
Before Max Headroom shilled for Coke and collaborated with the Art of Noise (below), he starred in this fantastic and prescient 1985 UK TV movie about a dystopic future. This brilliant bit of cyberpunk science fiction feels even more relevant today than it did back then. Previously: “Max Headroom, the full story” (Thanks, UPSO!)
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