For some reason, Queensland keeps coming up a lot this week for me.
- First, some visitors from there were introduced at my Rotary meeting Monday afternoon (at which I had to do the Health and Happiness presentation). Queensland is South Carolina’s official Australian sister state for economic development purposes, a fact that comes up frequently at Rotary, it seems.
- Monday night, I sat in on Janette Turner Hospital‘s lecture on Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, then I was the moderator of a panel discussion that followed about religion and culture and politics and how they come together in the whole Rushdie fatwa thing. Why Janette and Gordon Smith asked me, I’m still not clear. Anyway, Janette grew up in Queensland, and went to university there.
- Then today, Samuel Tenenbaum, in keeping with his never-ending battle to save the endowed chairs program (a battle that gets tougher every day), sent me an article by Peter Beattie, the former premier of Queensland, who is now teaching at USC Moore School of Business.
Somehow, this series of coincidences seem almost like the sort of mystical stuff you’d find in a Rushdie novel (either that, or like something from "I ♥ Huckabees," depending on how high- or lowbrow your cultural associations may be). Which reminds me… tonight I’m going to Mr. Rushdie’s lecture at USC, and might meet him afterward at a reception. If so, I’ll tell you about it.
Anyway, the article Samuel sent me was about how "Queensland took the view that brain power and the encouragement of innovation are our future," and the resulting "Smart State" program took Queensland from a "traditional rocks and crops economy" to the point that it attracted some of the most sophisticated research facilities in the world, and now has about 90 knowledge-economy firms employing over 1,900 people. The whole "Smart State" thing has really caught on there, leading observers around the world to ask South Carolinians, "Why can’t you be smart like your sister?" OK, I made that last part up, but it’s not an unfair representation of how we are received, which is why folks like Samuel (and I) believe we need to maintain our commitment to endowed chairs.
Samuel wants me to consider the piece for op-ed, and perhaps I shall. If not, I’ll post it here.