Riff Raff: Observations, a dinosaur-riding savior, a real Nutt job, and 50 education labs

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 504 views 

If Mr. Musk’s hyperloop thing doesn’t soon arrive in Chicago, there is always Mildred. Best Uber driver ever. Her tiny red Kia used every part of the interstate except the underside, and the top part of most lane dividers. Our trip through the Windy City was so quick that not one new Trump administration controversy popped up during our adventure with Mildred. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

Speaking of access to fast women, the former Ole Miss coach and Twitter pastor recently learned that the Lord R. God may have claimed the right to vengeance, but Houston Nutt has a lien against the claim.

Mr. Freeze rarely gave an interview without proselytizing the virtues of faith, family and football. We can now add fornication. Hotty Tawdry. His avid devotion to pushing his faith is yet another reminder that we should always wonder if the overt advocates of religion are trying to convince us or themselves.

• On the note of religion, here’s a friendly piece of advice. During a campus visit at a Jesuit college, don’t ask if a secular approach to life and a young Carl Sagan would be welcomed by the institution. Such a question will make you unpopular with some of the student panel participants and the audience. And your daughter.

• Speaking of education, let’s think out loud on an idea. It’s about the U.S. Department of Education and its necessity. The federal agency has 4,400 employees and has an annual budget of $68 billion. It was founded in 1979, in part as a play by then President Jimmy Carter to shore up support with educator unions.

To be sure, unwinding such a large agency would be a challenge. The multitude of grant programs, for example, would either need to be phased out, moved to another agency or maintained with a block grant program. Also, “saving” $68 billion is not a primary reason for ending the agency. It is likely much of that, if not a majority, would still be needed to support the nation’s education systems. In fact, part of the unwinding would be to make better investments in education with respect to teacher pay, direct support of classrooms, and innovative learning environments – just to name a few options. I’d also argue that instead of building another aircraft carrier ($4 billion to $6 billion, plus around $400 million in annual operational costs per carrier), we use that money to reward quality teachers.

But there is a good argument to be made for devolving education back to the states – with adequate federal judicial oversight to protect civil liberties and minority rights within the system, and to keep the good folks in Texas from approving textbooks claiming Jesus rode a T-Rex on Palm Sunday. Businesses could work with state officials and educators to create an atmosphere in which the states become 50 laboratories for education innovation.

This may prove a bad idea. But having 50 laboratories is appealing.

• Still on the topic of education, allow me to correct an error. I recently noted on a radio show and in social media how support of the arts and its public use is becoming more widespread in the Fort Smith metro. There is the art grant at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine on which we recently reported. There is the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum. And of course there is The Unexpected Project which is now in its third year which continues to bring international artists to the region to create amazing murals, sculptures and other artworks.

My error was in failing to mention the many art programs and public artworks at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. A part of the UAFS leadership in art is the Windgate Art & Design Building that opened in September 2015. The 58,000-square-foot facility was the first building to be constructed as part of the university’s new master plan, and brings all art department programs under one roof. Funding for the facility was provided by a $15.5 million gift by the Siloam Springs-based Windgate Charitable Foundation. UAFS raised $2.5 million in private support to help establish an endowment for the facility.

Not all universities are as supportive of the arts. Folks in the Fort Smith metro and UAFS students should be grateful for what is happening on this campus.

• The U.S. Department of State has issued a ban on travel to North Korea. One might think this an unnecessary order, but some of us Americans are incapable of understanding that traveling to this crazy corner of the globe is the decision of a 100% dumbass. Would not be surprised if the state department also issues warnings on the following:
• Don’t jump into a pit of rattlesnakes;
• Don’t piss into the wind;
• Don’t order hookers on your state-issued phone, and
• Don’t publicly blame your problems on Houston Nutt.

Also, don’t forget about the art programs at UAFS.

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