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Governor Rick Perry & H. Ross Perot open Nanotech Conference, nanoTX ’06

Yesterday morning, Governor Rick Perry and H. Ross Perot each gave opening remarks at the nanoTX nanotechnology conference here in Dallas.

Kelly Kordzik (President of the board of the Texas Nanotechnology Initiative organization), and Rich Templeton (CEO of Texas Instruments) each gave some introductory remarks. Templeton’s talk was interesting, touching on work done by TI, and on how Nanotech is still in its infancy and very much dependent upon government investment/support. Governor Rick Perry spoke for a short while, mainly trying to hype up his support of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund which has enabled a lot of research in the field of nanotech, enabling Texas to be on the leading end of the work, worldwide.

Read on for more details…

Unfortunately, Perry’s presentation was marred by rather too much politicking. He said that:

“The first time I heard of nanotech, I only thought of that old show, Mork & Mindy, and Mork’s favorite expression of ‘Nanu-Nanu'”.

Ugh! Why admit that in public? Why not take the time to become just marginally educated about a subject you don’t know, before speaking about it? Why is it that every political leader of Texas insists upon promoting an image of himself as a proudly earthy, dumb hick?!? It’s embarrassing and painful since proud ignorance is not a platform that one should be able to use to gain leadership — quite the opposite. I’m non-partisan, and perhaps of a younger generation than the majority of Texan voters for whom this brandishing of a “badge” of exageratedly bumpkin naivete is appealling.

One political blogger asked, “Does the governor know what nanotechnology is?” Based on his speach, I’m afraid the answer’s “probably not”.

Perry went on to something even worse – a parading of three multicultural grad students from various colleges in Texas onto the stage as a sort of window-dressing, perhaps. It wasn’t entirely clear why these students were being highlighted, nor what sort of honor they were supposed to be receiving, which lent the situation a decided suspicion of exploitation. At least one of the students looked visibly uncomfortable with the proceedings. It was appalling, and the whole ritual seemed calculated more for the cameras than for the audience of international scientists and engineers that were present.

Larry Sumney, CEO of the Semiconductor Research Corporation, spoke briefly next, mentioning the monumental challenges yet to be overcome on the road to nanotech’s new revolution.

H. Ross Perot was finally introduced as pretty much the keynote address for the conference. In direct contrast to Rick Perry, he came across as engaging and honest. Perot manages to be down-to-earth while never coming across as ignorant. The governor Perry should’ve been taking notes! Perot’s slideshow presentation couldn’t be brought up for his speach, because a prior speaker had slammed the lectern’s laptop shut, and it went into lockdown mode for which no one present had the proper password to open. I suspect Perry was the one who thoughtlessly slapped it shut, but I could be mistaken. Perot delivered his presentation with aplomb in spite of being unable to use his prepared slideshow, and the talk didn’t seem to suffer from the lack. Now, that’s a professional!

Perot first went through some of the historical progressions of Dallas, EDS, TI, and technology/computers. He provided examples that illustrated that progress derived as a result of the efforts of people who had drive and vision. And, he pointed out how things could evolve and progress over time with dedicated people to make it happen.

A few notable quotes from his speach:

The conference was great, and I’ll blog in another day or so about some of the interesting things that were presented in the sessions.

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