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January 21, 2008


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Sean Stannard-Stockton

I resonates with me. This is an important type of information. I get frustrated when people interpret me as saying I think "metrics" are important when I really think that having more information of all types about nonprofits is the real key. But that misunderstanding is probably due more to my lack of clarity in my writing than anything else!


Information is not the same as inpiration. Facts are not themselves poetry. Explanation is not necessarily eloquence. Measure works for dance and poetry, but measurement can be reductive when applied to intangibles, or things of the spirit. The dryness of the business vocabulary and the dispassionate prose, and the spirit of measurement and management, of effectivness and efficiency, can place the writer in a genre, a way of life, a worldview, a social context, a tradition. To break that framing you have to conspicuously depart from business norms. When you try that you will find that you embarass yourself. For me it happens daily, working back and forth between the literary and philosophical traditions and those of finance and business. It makes people uneasy; and I can only reconcile the unease in laughter, taking the role of Fool, rather than sober planner. "James Joyce meet Milton Friedman, I want you to collaborate on a project to uplift the sensibility of Dubliners."

Wanda, Fish Called, A, 1 (ea)

Archie: You make me feel free.
Wanda: Free?
Archie: Wanda, do you have any idea what it's like being English? Being so correct all the time, being so stifled by this dread of, of doing the wrong thing, of saying to someone "Are you married?" and hearing "My wife left me this morning," or saying, uh, "Do you have children?" and being told they all burned to death on Wednesday. You see, Wanda, we'll all terrified of embarrassment. That's why we're so... dead. Most of my friends are dead, you know, we have these piles of corpses to dinner. But you're alive, God bless you, and I want to be, I'm so fed up with all this. I want to make love with you, Wanda. I'm a good lover - at least, used to be, back in the early 14th century. Can we go to bed?
Wanda: Yeah.


We have the Decider and we have Ubu Roi. Same basic concept, but very different self-presentations.

Over time my sensibility was hopelessly corrupted by literature. I cannot help seeing real people as bad but earnest actors and actresses working from a worn out script and demanding applause for the most hackneyed lines. I find I am of the party of Erasmus, not Ramus, of Rabelais, more than Descartes, though when it comes to getting my plumbing fixed, I always prefer a plumber who is logical. Whether he uses metrics or inches it up to the tradesman. What I want is results for my money. Holden and others are like that about philanthropy, and I can't blame them. If philanthropy were a pipe, we would want the maximum throughput, no blockages, and not a dime more per linear foot than we need pay. Likewise if it were a market, we would want that market to be efficient. And if it were a pig with wings, we would want it to be aerodynamically sound. Read "If Pigs had Wings" on venture philanthropy here.

Butt Crack Metrics


Took a fogey brother to the vets hospital to have some polyps removed. We had lots of time to talk and so we did. We were all over the map and we were laughing.

At one point, another fogey chuckled at something my fogey had said, so I turned to him and whispered, "He's a radical."

"I am, too!" he said.

A half hour later, another fogey emerged from the butt examination area and approached the same chair. He started to sit, paused, hovered his ass and wiggled.

"Gotta be silly," he said.

Relieved of his polyps, my fogey brother wandered the hall aimlessly looking for them. I followed him around for that is what I came for. We went into a room with automatic doors and two females inside. One was a fallen babe, she was sitting. The other wore a lab coat, Indonesian. My fogey brother was inquiring after his polyps, but neither girl knew where they were. He asked again. Still no good.

The Indonesian turned to me. "Who is he?" she said. I didn't know what to say so I just moved my face. "He's my father," said my fogey brother. Satisfied that I was the conscious party she began to speak to me very slowly about where the polyps had gone. The doctor had them and would be calling in two weeks.

"What am I, retarded?" said my fogey brother. Again, I just moved my face.

Then the amazing thing happened. My fogey smiled a big toothless grin. I smiled too. The fallen babe also. The Indonesian went to lunch.


Hackenbush & Hackenbush, M.D.

Quotidian. NPO.


If we could eliminate the chit chat and the human interchange you document, we might improve effectiveness and efficiency, improve outputs and outcomes, and reduce or contain costs.

JJ Commoner

Most efficient of all would be to not show up at the vets hospital, it having been rid of the obligation (through defunding) to treat vets.

Or better yet, privatize it and MAKE 'EM PAY ! Better for the economy, doncha see ?


Leave them to die on the battlefield might be most cost effective. Or, if we outsource to Blackwater, we could all get rich, farming tax dollars to the contractor, then going to work for the contractor in a top management position. We can convert the VA hospital to a for-profit and dump those vets who can't pay out on the street.

What Do You Call The Guy Who Graduated First In His Class In X School?

Best to start with the polyp and build the consumer around it. With a blueprint like that we could separate the two without a scope.


Just track results, please. We can decide objectively, based on rate of return on investment.

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