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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Be on your guard in 2015-2016

Nate Silver has written a post on Hillary’s chances for 2016.  I find it the same kind of insufferable “she ran a strategic mess in 2008 and thought she was the pre-ordained frontrunner but now that we’ve taken her down, completely humiliated her and the Republicans have lost interest in beating the shit out of her reputation, which is strengthened by her executive level management skills that we didn’t require of Obama because he had Penis Years, she is now acceptable to us as a candidate for 2016″*.  You know, the same meme diarrhea we’ve seen from all of the Democratic operatives since 2007.  Lots of mythology about the blinding brilliance of the Obama campaign that overlooks the facts that he was carried over the threshold to the nomination by the DNC because his Wall Street backers were willing to throw lots of money at the party.  Lots of lying about Hillary’s popularity and her “polarizing” personality.

This is bullshit.  I don’t care what his success is as a statistician or how many people would vote for Hillary grudgingly or un.  What’s good for the country is not necessarily good for Hillary.  I also don’t think any position is worth that much humiliation and kowtowing.  It’s likely that she will have to kiss a lot of asses and promise a strictly hands-off policy to the corporate and finance industry overlords.  And you know what?  As much as I would have liked to see her as president, I don’t think it’s worth it if you can’t be your own person and set your own goals.  I will always be of the opinion that that’s why she didn’t get the nod in 2008.  She wasn’t willing to play the same kind of game as Obama.  Well, we know what kind of game Obama was playing so he must have been courted and pressured very heavily by the finance industry gurus who have gone virtually unpunished for ruining our lives.  They found his ethics and values to be quite flexible and much more to their liking.  Can we stop the nauseating hagiography of Obama’s 2008 campaign??  When the historians write about what really happened, the young, male graduate student factions of the Democratic party are going to look like the self-interested Obama fluffers that they turned out to be.  In fact, next election season, read whatever those young Ezra’s and Yglesiases and Kevin Drums say and carefully consider the primary candidates they loathe.  As far as I’m concerned, the new, young and almost completely male “progressive” opinion makers have shot whatever credibility they ever possessed when they signed on with Obama.

Make no mistake, one of the parties is going to try to run another historic candidate in the very near future.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a woman.  If it is, I sincerely hope that the Democratic voters take a good hard look at her record and pay very close attention to what the media is saying about her.  There is sure to be a lot of hype around the next woman candidate and it will be very hard to resist.

But let’s not get sucked in again, OK?  The last thing we need is to get another stealth candidate like Harvard educated, financier toe-kissing Obama.  It’s the policies that matter above anything else.  That was the only reason I voted for Hillary in the 2008 primary.  The fact that she had lady parts was only icing on the cake.  I suspect that posts like Silver’s are just setting us up for disappointment because Hillary will not run and that the next “historic” candidate is going to be another Trojan Horse.  Let’s not let it happen again.

* Beating down a politician by using constant humiliation and misogyny ala Spinal Tap’s Smell the Glove album cover is a weird criterion for making a presidential candidate acceptable. It says more about the guys who had a baitball frenzy in 2008 than Hillary Clinton. I don’t think you guys know how over-the-top horrible you looked. We won’t forget who you are and we’d be nuts to ever take you seriously.

Over 1000 comments on the NYTimes article on science majors dropping out

Typical lab stuff.

This goes back to the article posted in the Times yesterday about Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (it’s just so darn hard). Typical of the Times, the editor has chosen to highlight a lot of educator comments that go something like, “Well, of course it’s hard.  You have to study and stop whining and then you will get a BIG reward with a generous salary!!”

The *reader* recommend comments prefer comments like this one from someone I probably know (she lists her location as NJ.  No, it isn’t me):

To be a scientist, one has to have an employer. For many reasons, it’s not possible to do science out of your garage or house.

There aren’t a lot of openings for scientist. Or in other language, there aren’t enough jobs for scientists, compared to the people who have science degrees and wish to be employed.

It’s hard for these students who get through the STEM program and realize they won’t get a job in science, because there really aren’t a lot of jobs. They have degrees in science, but no jobs.

I’m saying this many ways because while it’s a simple concept, the people who publish articles like this one don’t seem to understand the simple concept.

No jobs in science. No jobs (or very few) for for people who want to be scientists.

And yet, ome people still do not understand what she is trying to say for some reason. To be fair, the top comment for both highlight lists is this one from a person who has obviously been there:

Even when students do stick with science degrees, what are their career opportunities? I have a PhD in biology, I’m working on my third post-doc, and i have multiple publications in high profile journals. I’m currently on the job market for tenure-track professor positions, and the situation is bleak! This is a horrible job market, and it is made worse by the compression of leftover PhD’s who couldn’t find jobs during their last 1-4 years of searching. At this rate, the US is going to lose a large chunk of an entire generation of scientists. And I’m not talking about undergrads, I’m talking about highly trained scientists with PhD’s! For the most part, our training has been paid for by US tax dollars, which are going to waste when these scientists drop out of science and choose other careers. When state governments slash education funding in response to the current economic climate, this has a huge ripple effect throughout academia. In addition, NSF funding has been stagnate for years, which further reduces levels of science hiring at Universities. While I agree with the goals/aims of STEM, these programs are diverting NSF money away from research, which only makes the problem worse. I think that the biggest issue isn’t a lack of students ‘sticking with’ science degrees, but the lousy job prospects available when they graduate

Yup, pretty much.  That one has 837 recommendations.

I love the ones from people who have apparently never had to get a job by giving a 45 minute presentation on their entire life’s work  that say that scientists should stop focussing so much on money.  We should just do it for the love of it.

What’s love got to do with it?  Sure, we love it.  We were the ones who stuck it out didn’t we?  But most of us didn’t sign up for anorexia and the life of a monk on some barren skellig.  We have to eat and prefer a family life.  When was the last time we told an accountant to prepare tax returns and balance company accounts for the love of it?  Or how about teaching?  Yes, you say you love teaching and developing little minds and everything.  But if you don’t do it for below poverty wages and give up any hope of providing for your own children, how can we really evaluate your commitment?   See how that works?  Take what ever your profession is and ask yourself if you would do it for a temporary post doc salary for 3 or 4 years after your 5-7 years in graduate school.  Would you do your work for $37,000/year if you had a PhD in your subject?  For how long?  Now add three years of calculus, two semesters of calculus based physics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, microbiology, biolchemistry and hours and hours of labs where failure is the norm, not the exception.

Didn’t think so.

That’s what it’s like for the science major right now.  And those are the ones who are lucky enough to get jobs.  The ones who have the years of experience it takes to actually do the research are getting laid off in droves.  It’s really bad in the Northeast because scientists tend to gravitate to other scientists as spouses and when both parents are getting laid off…

Did you ever get the feeling that there is a small evil group to which no one we know belongs who is sitting on a giant mountain of money and would rather strangle innovation in its infancy rather than spend even one shilling more than they think the whiny peons in the labs are worth?  The money for research in both industry and academia has dried up so thoroughly that it can’t possibly be an accident or coincidence.  There is plenty of work to do on some very challenging and difficult projects.  And there are plenty of people who would be more than willing to do them.  The problem is that there is no money.  Anywhere.  Why is that and why is the Obama administration letting them get away with that?  It’s not like when the spigots get turned back on that everyone will suddenly be able to catch up really quickly with the work.  Biology and nature doesn’t work like that.  A cessation in research means a real gap in the flow, one that can’t be made up quickly.  And by the time the money comes back in, the more experienced among us will have learned our lesson, downsized, and gotten new jobs making a lot less money in another field while the new scientists who come after will have to reinvent the wheels and work for a lot less money in a field that no one appreciates.

{{sigh}}

The only thing worse is not having an opportunity to do what you love.  In the 21st century, we have reverted back to the days when only the wealthy and self-funded can afford to dabble in science.  The joy of discovery for those of us who are not independently wealthy is becoming a dream:

Yes, it really can be this fun.  S%^&, maybe the problem is we’re not supposed to be having fun at work.  It should be dreary, miserable and for low pay or it’s not the American way.

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

Speaking of Occupy events, what is it about the midwest that makes them have the cleverest stunts?  These guys really go out of their way to piss people off.  Chicago is particularly good at this.  Is it because they don’t really have a place to hang out that they have turned to infiltration?  It would make a good research topic.  What makes occupier stunts successful?  Is it leadership or invention born of necessity?  Anyway, if you haven’t seen this one yet, check it out (H/T Susie Madrak):

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

Atrios points to a Reuters articles that  reports that Corzine’s brokerage firm, MF Global, sent out snail mail checks to depositors who requested their money when they heard rumors that the firm was in trouble.  The checks went out after MF Global went into bankruptcy.  Anyone want to guess why the checks were mailed instead of wired?  Anyone want to guess what the “MF” in MF Global really stands for?

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

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, check out Nate Silver’s recent deconstruction of the 2012 election using some updated models.  The bottom line is that if Romney is the nominee for the GOP, Obama looks like toast.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise because next year looks like another change election.  Since there isn’t much difference between Romney and Obama, it’s not that hard to change presidential parties while sending a message to the Democrats that voters expect more from them.  Keeping that in mind, the Democrats *could* get out in front of voter sentiment for change and Change! their own nominee.  Oh sure, it seems unthinkable now (although the rest of the electorate has been thinking it for about a year now) but give them a couple of months and a nice double dip to the recession and they may think that Obama doesn’t look nearly as shiny as he once did.

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

Moving on…

Speaking of MoveOn, I am going to delete any comment that directs readers to a petition.  It has come to my attention recently that if you sign petitions like the one I did for an occupy event lately, you may start getting a lot of annoying spam email from MoveOn.  If you want spam from MoveOn, I assume you already know how to get on their mailing list.  I don’t like the idea that they are using petitions regarding occupy events to get your email address.  I’ll be paying close attention to the people who are doing this because it feels devious to me and I don’t like it.  If you’re using my blog as an email address collection bot, you will be moderated.

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