Plan B

A couple of years ago, my supervisor Larry gave me a couple of pieces of advice. The first was that layoffs were coming and I should keep my head down, my mouth shut and do my work. I loved working for Larry just as I loved working for Isabelle, my previous supervisor. My job was my bliss. I was able to work in the lab again and learn new things with Larry and apply what I learned previously with Isabelle. Guys, there is nothing better in this world than doing something you enjoy for your living. It was better than making obscene gobs of filthy lucre. Well, I could go on but you get my drift.

I didn’t always follow his first piece of advice. I’m way too opinionated and when I’m worried, I’m easily distracted but when the layoff came, I was genuinely surprised that it hit our group because we were so freaking productive. So, I fell back on Larry’s second piece of advice: Have a Plan B.

One of the things job counselors will tell you besides the fact that you must sell yourself like Wilbur the Pig without the benefit of Charlotte’s Web is that you should not take just any job. I realize that’s easy for me to say because I saved a wad of cash before my layoff and got a nice severance package. Nevertheless, I’m glad I took my time deciding what my next move would be. I realized pretty early on that I did not want to go back into corporate research. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. It’s pretty clear that I loved it and think its probably the way to go if you want to do world class research in the private sector. Corporate labs benefit from an economy of scale and shared resources. But the truth is that the pharmaceutical industry is broken. I mean Seriously, fatally broken right now and while the grasshoppers are busily eating their seed corn, it’s harder to get research done. Then there is the whole lack of a PhD thing that shouldn’t make a difference when you need an experienced modeler/structural biologist (trust me, experience is essential), but somehow has become maniacally important in this job market.

I was very lucky to get some part time work with some former colleagues of mine who decided to bring industrial research to academia. I love this job too but it’s not going to pay the bills in New Jersey when the stash runs out, which will be in the not too distant future.

And then there is the kid who had a few years of high school left when I was laid off. I figured it was probably best to keep her in her present situation and not move her right away. I think this was the best decision for her because she needed the continuity even if she absolutely hates New Jersey with a white hot passion. Next year, the kid will be a senior and through with most of her AP classes. She can take classes at a local university. She’s ready so that’s a load off my mind.

So the time has come to implement Plan B. And what, you may ask, is Plan B? Plan B is to move back to Pittsburgh and live less expensively and without debt.

To that end, I’ve bought a house. :-)

When I close on it next month, I will own it free and clear. It’s in a semi-urban hellhole and about a block and a half from the bus line that will take me into the city in about half an hour. I’ll be looking for a job there soon and fortunately, because I won’t have a mortgage and won’t need a car everyday, I’m not going to stress over how much money I need to make. The house has a big yard so there will be raised bed gardening happening although I intend to spray the veggies if I have to. Screw that organic stuff. I want yield. Ok, maybe I’ll go easy on the pesticides. I can’t wait to try to grow fruit trees on an espalier.

For a short period of time, I’ll be living in two states. The house I’m buying was a foreclosed property but the bank closed on it months ago. It needs a bit of work but it’s got a nice layout and it’s on a lovely street. So, while I’m having the roof fixed and retaining walls repaired, I’ll be seeing the kid through the last months of school here in NJ.

Then, I’m blowing this pop-stand. It’s been real. Never again will I walk into a house and have an epiphany that the bank owns me and everything I have.

I can hardly wait.

The Company Jumped When She Sang Reveille

Patty Andrews, 1918-2013

And my personal favorite:

Looks 10, Pain 3

I am gallbladder less. Sitting in recovery. Surveillance of my abdominal region suggests that I will have to postpone my next Victoria Secret shoot.

It could be worse.

Pathetic

Digby gives the old tired excuses on why she and so many other left leaning bloggers turned their backs on women during the 2008 election.  It wasn’t *their* fault.  Hillary just brought out the misogyny.  Plus, you know, like, there wasn’t a hair’s breadth of difference between them.

The whole post is just lame but the excuse that there wasn’t a bit of difference between Obama and Clinton is incredibly easy to shoot down:

1.) If there wasn’t any difference between them, why was such a tsunami of money thrown his way in February 2008 after she beat him in the big state primaries on SuperTuesday?  Apparently, SOMEBODY thought there was a difference.

2.) If there was no difference, why wouldn’t you go with the person who had the most relevant and comprehensive experience overall?  If you were worried about getting things done, wouldn’t it make sense to go with the candidate who might have a clue and be able to hit the ground running on the first day?

3.) If there was no difference, why wouldn’t you go with the female historic candidate who would represent more people overall including voters in the other camp?  It was even a winning formula among african americans because half of them are women.  I never understood this argument that african americans would walk away from the party if Clinton was nominated.  At the worst, I could see half of them walking away.  The other half would be thrilled with either choice.

And let’s not even get into the real, tangible differences between the candidates.  I can’t take seriously all the lefties who are screaming “neoliberal!” at Clinton.  If Clinton is neoliberal, what does that make Obama?  It’s a lot like the brain dead tea partiers who insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is a socialist.  Note that Clinton has said over and over and OVER again in the past 4 years that she does not comment on domestic politics.  So, we have no idea how much she agrees with Obama on all the weak policy he’s driven in the past 4 years.  We can only assume that they agree on foreign policy.

But I suspect the bankers *did* know how much of a difference there was between Clinton and Obama back in 2008.  The real estate bubble was already clearly collapsing in early 2007 according to authors such as Michael Lewis of The Big Short.  They knew that the degree to which they would personally suffer was contingent on which candidate was nominated.  And the last thing they wanted was some kind of homeowner bailout.  How do we know that?  Because the last thing homeowners got in the last 4 years was a bailout.  The people who got bailed out were the bankers and ONLY the bankers.  They did not want to see Hillary Clinton implementing a HOLC style program where principals were crammed down and mortgages restructured.  I haven’t got time to track down all of the videos of Clinton on the early morning talk  shows from September 2008 where she discussed her HOLC proposal but there were at least 3 separate appearances. (readers?  can you track them down and add them to the comments?)  Of course, by the time she gave those interviews, she was already out of the picture.

Update: Commenter Rangoon found this op/ed piece by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the September 25, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal, laying out the argument for why it was so important to implement a HOLC program.  Regardless of one’s vague personal feelings about Clinton, there is a very good possibility that she wasn’t kidding about this policy.  Policy was her strong suit.  She did her homework.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it was this particular policy more than any other that doomed her presidential career.  She knew it was coming, the banks knew it was coming and they didn’t want rehab.  They wanted an enabler.

She also gave an incredibly forceful defense of abortion shortly after she was confirmed as secretary of state.  You will never in a million years see or hear Barack Obama defending abortion like this:

No difference, Digby?  The issue of abortion and women’s reproductive rights are extremely important to you and yet there’s no difference?  How about gay rights, Digby?  Can you imagine Hillary Clinton inviting Rick Warren to her inaugural?  The same Hillary Clinton who ordered the State department to equalize the treatment of gay State department employees and their families as far as the law would go?

But, Ok, we’ll never really know, although I think given her record at State, Benghazi notwithstanding, that she would have been an exemplary president.  Let’s put that aside for now.  I don’t think she’s ever going to run again.  Why should she?  She doesn’t have the advantage of 2008 when all of the auspices were in her favor.  In 2016, it will be a different America and she’s smart enough to know this.  I’d rather she get her own column in the Washington Post or the New York Times.

Let’s talk about the suggestion that Hillary Clinton brought out the misogyny in the media and the parties.  Wow, I guess we could do nothing about that except become passive observers, right?  I guess we couldn’t threaten the party to walk away from it and their candidate if they didn’t stop using misogyny to further their chosen candidate’s goals.  I guess it would have been silly to point out that gratuitously taking advantage of that misogyny might backfire on women in general.

Ok, we know that our side had a fair share of cowards who were either unable or unwilling to speak up and defend a woman.  They would have defended a female candidate, just not this female candidate.  Well, it’s a good thing it was only one female candidate in 2008.

Except that Sarah Palin got it too.  Now, I don’t care whether you like or dislike Palin.  I don’t like her even if I thought she had a lot more political talent than the left gave her credit for.  For some bizarre, freakish reason, the left still hasn’t let up after 4 years of bashing her.  The left still seems to think she’s relevant even if she’s not.  That kind of obsession is pathological if you ask me.  There must be a reason for the persistence of the Emmanuel Goldstein treatment of Palin.  She’s useful for a good, unifying 3 minute hate, right?  That’s why the left just can’t quit her.  But she’s been useful for years to the Democrats.

With Palin, we saw the same kind of misogyny pick up where it left off with Clinton.  So, clearly, it wasn’t just Clinton that was bringing out the misogyny.  Misogyny became a convenient bludgeon because it worked so well taking out the candidate on the left so it was employed to take out the candidate on the right as well.  And who was one of the leaders of that club?

Digby.

Yep, day after day, week after week, we read how stupid Palin was, what a disgrace her family was right there in the posts of Hullabaloo.  Digby piled on with the rest of the left.

You can say a lot of negative things about Palin.  Justifiably.  You can attack her political philosophy, her conservatism, her opportunism.  All of that makes sense.  But the attacks on her in 2008 were horribly misogynistic.  Remember the effigies?  Remember the “Sarah Palin is a Cunt” T-shirts?  Remember the jokes about Caribou Barbie and the photoshopped pics of Palin in a bikini holding an assault rifle?  Remember the big fucking deal that Katie Couric made over the fact that Palin didn’t have an immediate list of national newspapers in her head that she read cover to cover before breakfast while she took on her responsibilities of running a state?  She should have asked Couric, “How many state budgets have you prepared in a year?”, because that would have been a good question for feminists.  She was a governor who got to be governor without family connections.  That’s something that Katie Couric hasn’t done.  That’s how feminism is supposed to work, Digby.  You are supposed to credit women for their accomplishments, not bury them with your stereotypes.

Whatever you think of Palin, dehumanizing her in 2008 was misogynism like I have never seen.

That’s what misogyny is.  It is the intentional dehumanization of females.  It denies women their personhood, dignity and accomplishments.  It’s belittling and relies on stereotypes, like the idea that a pretty woman must be a light weight or that women need to develop executive experience while men are born with natural authority.  And in 2008, it wasn’t the case that only Hillary Clinton brought it out.  Misogyny was used as an intentional campaign tactic just like rape is used in some countries as an act of terror and political strategy.  Just as the accusations of racism were used to shut up the supporters of Clinton in 2008.

Digby, YOU were part of that.  You decided to not buck your team’s leadership.  If you said anything, it wasn’t forceful enough to get them to stop.  You didn’t stick up for your half of humanity.  Even if you were right that it is Clinton personally that brings out the worst in people, that was no excuse for giving those people a pass to behave as badly as they did. Isn’t that like blaming the victim and don’t misogynists make an art form of blaming the victim?  You had an opportunity to stand up and make a difference even if it meant incurring the wrath and shunning from people who you thought were your friends.  To do nothing was to tacitly admit that Barack Obama could not win without using misogyny and racism.  What does that say about the candidate?  It said enough to me that I could never support him in a million years.

What kind of friends use misogyny to get their guy in at any cost, especially if that cost will have significant repercussions for half of the people living in this country?  Those people were not your friends, Digby.  They were financier class driven political operatives who would have killed their own mothers to get what they wanted from this president.

And this president is no hero when it comes to championing the rights of the socially disadvantaged. He’s certainly no Martin Luther King who famously said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I don’t know why so many people on the left abandoned women and thought they were doing everyone a favor.  Or maybe they were so driven to elect Obama that the ends justified the means.  I’ve never found that sentiment to be very rewarding.  If fighting the misogyny had meant that Clinton had a fighting chance for the nomination, would that have been so horrible?  After all, NY, NJ, PA, OH, TX, MA, FL, MI, WV, KY, RI, NH, NV, MO, NM and CA (this list not exhaustive) voted for her in the primaries.  It’s only in a parallel universe where we would consider that candidate a failure against a guy who won a bunch of rural, prairie states with cheap, undemocratic caucuses.  I suspect the country would have embraced her and a Clinton/Obama ticket with her in the top slot would have been unbeatable even before the September crash.

But that’s not what happened, is it, Digby?

Don’t look to misogyny against Clinton as the cause.  Look at it as the method.  The bad guys got what they wanted. They got the weakest nominee and president.  If women got caught in that fight and got taken out, fuck’em.

THAT’S what you and your buddies were either too stupid or too complicit to realize.  It’s human nature to want to find a way downplay the effect of “follow the herd” mentality or cowardice or to find excuses (you should at least make an attempt at logic) or distance oneself from the fallout.  I understand that impulse.  We are all guilty of that in some aspect of our lives or others.

But ultimately, we are responsible for the effect of our decisions.  In 2013, women are feeling the effect of the 2008 election when the people who should have put their foot down on the brake hit the accelerator instead.  Digby can lie to herself about what happened in 2008 but she can’t lie to us.

*************************

Note to commenters: Sarah Palin has been talked to death here on this blog and there are filters in place to send all comments containing her name, or variations of it, directly to the moderation queue.  Please don’t tell me about how unfair the left has been to Sarah Palin.  There are very good, non misogynistic reasons for loathing her.  She might be worthy of human dignity but she’s no Hillary Clinton.  If you’re in her corner, you’re wasting your time here.

Americans Who Pay Attention Leadership Council: There’s no accounting for taste

Press Release

The Americans Who Pay Attention Leadership Council met recently to discuss how the President should deal with the Republicans and have concluded that there’s no pleasing those people.

“It’s a trend we have noticed for some time now”, a senior official of the leadership council says, “Republicans seem to get off on yanking our chains.  We think it’s a consequence of the way the country developed over 300 years.  The two distinct cultures that developed in the north and south were incompatible, probably shouldn’t have been stuck together to begin with and the Union hasn’t been as successful as anticipated.  But it’s too late to fix it now.”

When asked what the main sticking point seems to be, the council says it has to do with the comfort level that Republicans and their followers have with exploitation of other human beings.

“We have seen a progressive decline in living standards since Americans decided to let the Republicans have their way.  We have noticed that Republicans are particularly good at throwing fits, playing the victim, blaming other people for their bad behavior and generally acting like poorly disciplined adolescents.  Before you know it, they’re going to be out partying all night, totalling the family car and knocking up their girlfriends.”, the senior official said.

“It’s important for the president and the other party to stop acting like negligent and permissive parents.  What feels good to the Republicans is probably not good for America. It’s time for the White House to stop listening to the friends of Republicans who keep telling it to give the Republicans another chance or they’ll jump off a bridge.  They need to be grounded, not going through some squishy therapy session where we’re all supposed to get along.  Unfortunately, the president is behaving like he’s living vicariously through Republicans so this could be a problem.”

The Leadership Council reiterated it’s observation that an increase in cable news ratings was inversely proportional to American living standards and recommends a low cable diet.

What Women??

Atrios writes:

In the year 2013, misogyny and gender inequality persists in part because male editors pay women to write anti-feminist screeds, allowing men to continue feeling good about their misogyny.

Am I supposed to do a “George Bush looking for WMDs under the tablecloths” maneuver?

Where are these women of which you speak?

Do you mean the ones employed by Fox or the past-their-writing-prime variety like Maureen Dowd who graduated from Catholic school when women still wore doilies on their heads in church?

There are pitifully few women writing for major newspapers in the op/ed section and even more pitifully, a mere tincture of women bloggers cited by blog aggregators like Greg Sargent’s PlumLine.  It got so bad last year that we started a Plumline metric, a ratio of female to male blogger citations.  The numbers would have had to triple before they were even slightly significant.

I’ll be the first one to support the notion that women should stop bashing women.  But when the DNC threw all of its support behind Obama, bashing women became inevitable- because his main opponent and best qualified candidate was a woman. Since the DNC determined that he was going to be the nominee, women were forced to bash their own in order to keep the slender reproductive rights they had in 2008.  And how did that turn out?

This problem didn’t just spring out of nowhere.  It has always been there because our numbers in the op/ed world have always been few.  It’s just worse now because the graduating class of 2008 was almost exclusively male.

If Atrios had been paying attention, he would have noticed that there are plenty of female bloggers waiting for paying gigs who are not writing anti-feminist screeds.  Oh wait, he would have had to seek out those writers on his own.  They never get mentioned by the opinionmakers and they’re not bloody likely to get mentored by anyone.  Heck, WE can’t even get on his blogroll.

Nevermind.

********************************

Hey, remember this little ditty?  I know *I’ll* never forget.

Winter break

Hi guys, I’m still working on my super secret project which I hope to unveil to you soon.  The news is at lull level at the moment while the various forms of government play Conan the Barbarian (the Republicans) or ritually immolate themselves (the Democrats).  There may be a method to Harry Reid’s madness, I don’t know.  I think he’s capable of playing at least 3D chess.  We’ll see.  But anyway, I’m drifting again…

So, I thought if might be a good idea for all of us to take the day off and pamper ourselves so that we can be refreshed and ready for the insanity that starts next week.  I’ve chosen this video from youtube blogger Julia at TheThirdShift, a Canadian-Swiss who has access to a rustic cabin in the Alps for weekend getaways.  In this video, Julia describes a spa day.

Go brew some tea, light your fire, fill up the tub and relax.  Baby, it might be cold outside but it’s warm and cozy in here.  Ahhhh….

Start with Julia’s trip to the cabin.

And follow with the oatmeal mask.

(Yeah, yeah, I know that bed is to die for.  Some people have all the luck.)

Foodie Dance

The #1 child went back to school last week to get her degree as a registered dietician.  (She already has a diploma from the CIA).  This little ditty from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is for her. It’s a flash-mob-slash-stir-fry performed by the students of Marshall University in West Virginia. Get out your woks and dance:

 

As for me, I’m headed off to the local farmer’s market for some fresh mushrooms and bread to make mushrooms on toast.  The thyme is growing on my windowsill.  To be accompanied by a nice tomato and red onion salad with fresh basil, also growing on the windowsill.  And some honey crisp apples for dessert.  Maybe I’ll make a crumble.

That oughta do it for a cold winter’s day.  Ahhhhh….

What are you eating?

Catholic hospital: fetuses are persons, er, unless we kill them accidentally

More evidence that God is getting a bad rap and needs a major rewrite. In this case, a Catholic hospital in Denver is claiming that twin fetuses who died in the emergency room were not persons and therefore, the hospital is not culpable for their wrongful deaths. Normally, Catholics insist that fetuses are persons before their own mothers are born but when lawsuits are involved, god is nowhere to be found. How conveeeeeenient.

More on the story:

Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins

Maybe this is new church doctrine, like the trinity. God is three! Three! Three persons in one! Like a perky triplet of girls smacking rolls of breath mints together. Or maybe this is an example of Schroedinger’s fetus. The fetus is both a person and not a person. You will never know until someone files a lawsuit.

Let’s see, where are we now? Contraceptives make you a slut, pedophilia is forgivable, abortion is strictly verboten and fetuses are not really persons even at seven months gestation. Wow, that’s amazing. I would have said at about 22 weeks they’re entitled to life saving measures and only medical reasons for the health of the mother or child should be acceptable for terminations but Catholic hospitals are willing to deny personhood all the way to the third trimester if there’s money involved.

And the Vatican thinks the nuns need thought control.

Can we stop listening to the guys in the red beanies now?

Stuff about the inaugural speech

This will be quick since I’ve only seen snippets and read the cautiously optimistic reactions to it on various and sundry sites. I’m going to talk about the reactions to it from the left.

I’m not surprised that there are so many people in the left blogosphere who were hopeful about Obama’s turn towards liberalism.  His forays into the left side of liberalism reminds me of one of those papers that groups put out where they discuss “progress towards the synthesis of some impossibly big and chiral natural product that will save the world from toe fungus” or something like that.  I get the feeling that those authors are hoping that the project will be dropped before they have to write on it again.

Now, I realize that there are still skeptics among the hopeful but I don’t think they’re skeptical enough.  What’s a little surprising is how quickly they forget that Obama started his first term with solid majorities in both houses and a filibuster proof majority in one of them and that public sentiment at the time was running so high against the banks that he could have pushed anything he wanted with the public’s blessing.  Oh sure, the right would have called him a socialist but the right would have done that anyway, no matter what he did.  When you’re leader of the free world with so much power and public urgency to do something, there are only a couple of reasons I can think of as to why you might do relatively nothing.  The first reason is that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing and are therefore susceptible to bad advice.  The second is that you think “liberalism” is a dirty word and don’t want to hurt the people who put you in office.  The third possibility is that both are true.

But whatever you think went wrong with the first term, here is the thing: for many of us who were affected, the lack of action to serve the vast majority of Americans, the astonishing squandering of two years of Democratic majorities, is insurmountable.  It has caused irreversible damage to our personal fortunes and those of our children.  Don’t get me wrong, many of us will survive this and go on to lead productive lives again, though never again as securely and prosperously as before.  But the pain and the sacrifice that we have had to endure for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the houses that were lost, the careers that have been blighted either at the beginning or the middle, the harshness of the society that we now live in, all that has lead to an America that is vastly different now than it was four years ago.  This America has lost its shine.  It’s living with what will soon be third world infrastructure.  We have given exploitation and extraction of wealth of average Americans the official stamp of approval.  We will now be guests at major scientific projects around the world instead of leaders.  We have trashed our educational system by making it almost impossible for some of our most talented students to be able to afford it and we have jeopardized our public health system by making research a private endeavor optimized for maximum profit.

Four years ago, there was a golden opportunity to set things right and it was lost.  Obama would have to be superhuman and extraordinarily motivated to turn this around.  And even if his heart is in the right place, and I see no evidence of that, he still needs to develop the political skills to get around a gerrymandered House.

Now, this doesn’t mean that some people in this country will not succeed.  I think there are still opportunities available for success in this country.  But it’s going to be more of a Dickensian country in the future and that puts the teachable moment about race in its proper perspective for me.  Besides, any “liberal” or “progressive” who thinks that only one group of disadvantaged people can be served at one time and that symbols are more important than actually, you know, getting things done, is a fool and a mark for psychological manipulators in future election cycles.

I don’t want to depress my side of the blogosphere or tell them all is lost or that all efforts are wasted.  I’d just like for them to be realistic and evaluate the evidence and stop living in a dream world where the good guys triumph.  Obama has shown you who he is.  He was the wrong guy at the wrong time.  He doesn’t have it in him to make it better and he doesn’t have the resources to make it work anymore.  This is the guy who was elected- twice- when there were other, better choices available.  Pining for Hillary to take over in 2016 doesn’t help those of us who needed a better choice back in 2008 and by 2016, it will be too late to make a difference.

These are the parameters you are working with in the next four years.  In other words, you can’t rely on the White House.  His speech was “just words”.  Anyone can read those carefully crafted, committee synthesized words on a teleprompter.  Believing them and acting on them are quite different things and we have seen with this president that he has a habit of getting the hopes up of various Americans, making them think he’s going to take action in their favor and then delivering extremely dilute solutions of eau de tea.  He has very little integrity, he’s surrounded by advisors who calculate exactly how much or little effort to expend on your behalf and the trust is gone.

That’s what we’re working with.

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And here is Frontline’s most recent episode on the fallout from the financial collapse of 2008 called The Untouchables.  Apparently, Frontline hit a nerve with the White House.

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