Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Quotation of the Day

"...I've always been mindful of the illusion of influence. Usually the people you're trying to influence have already charted their own direction and embrace your work principally if it serves as an argument in favor of what they plan to do anyway. Barnett can push PNM with the zeal of a dope dealer but it doesn't mean anyone with real clout will mainline it. They're more likely to cut it and re-sell it to whatever group and in whatever way will further their own interests.

I once spent a summer at RAND Corporation researching European collaborative aircraft programs--the Jaguar, Tornado and Alpha Jet programs. Supposedly this was to be "objective," but really it was to help make the (futile) case that the Europeans should scrap the EFA and Rafale projects and buy our F-16Cs instead. I candidly didn't give a shit. I got to spend three months in Santa Monica and make several times my grad student stipend and I had no complaints. But a good friend of mine who went to work as a CIA analyst eventually left in frustration when his reports, which concluded in effect that such-and-such was "white," were revised so that white became first "beige," then "grayish-white," and not infrequently ended up "coal black." It's one thing to do this sort of thing on summer break. It's another thing to make it a significant chunk of your life's work."

- Mark Grimsley


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