Friday, October 21, 2005

Crabs in a bucket

There is a pattern of mutual destructiveness that has been fostered at LANL in the past several years by bad management. Some program managers, in their infinite capacity for malicious interference, have caused furious struggles among the staff for diminishing resources in work for others, LDRD, and even some dibbles of programmatic money for basic research in support of weapons physics.

It reminds me of an old Mexican parable. A stranger comes into a dusty Mexican village and sees some kids playing in the street with a bucket sitting nearby. It seems to him as if there's furious noise and splashing going on inside the bucket. The stranger moves closer, looks down into the bucket, and sees it has several crabs inside, struggling madly to get out. But there's no lid on the bucket, and he tells the kids that they should put a lid on to keep the crabs from escaping. One of them, an older girl with pigtails and bright black eyes, looks at him with deep scorn and says, "Mister; everybody knows you don't need a lid on a bucket of crabs! When any one of them gets near to climbing out, the others pull him back down."

It's just a parable. Right?

(-from an anonymous teller of parables)

Actually, the parable has lobsters, not crabs.
Actually, lobsters are more common in Maine, or at least they were until we got global warming. Maybe the parable-teller should have used crayfish, instead of crabs.

But the point is still pointy, isn't it?
I bet it would work with a bucket full of LANL staff, too.

(Subtlety is sometimes lost on the scientific community -- can't hurt to spell these parables out for them).
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