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    • The Technology of Violence and its effect on prosperity and freedom
        Prosperity is two things: 1) How much you can produce with your technology and social organization; 2) Who gets how much.   The second is determined by a number of factors, but the simplest is the structure of violence.  Those who aren’t good at fighting, don’t get as much of the surplus created by [...]
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Americans Who Pay Attention Leadership Council

Press Release

The Americans Who Pay Attention Leadership Council met recently to discuss the most effective way to cut the budget deficit. After having examined recent trends and similar historical events, they have decided that resolving the employment problem should be the focus of public and private initiatives and that policies to bring down unemployment would be the most effective way of reducing the deficit.  Higher employment has been shown to stimulate economic growth and lead to higher tax revenues.

“It’s unlikely that the private sector is going to be able to contribute to higher employment levels without a ‘carrots and sticks’ campaign”, says a senior director of the leadership council.  “The focus of the private sector is on the next quarter, according to our data.  Unfortunately, we do not see a movement within the White House to formulate policies that would lead big businesses to focus longer. The 2009 stimulus package was underfunded and not well designed to have a lasting effect.”

The leadership council plans to meet again to monitor the White House’s response to the ongoing unemployment crisis, which it says has been “pathetic” in the preceeding four years.

A second topic that the leadership council explored was the nature of President Obama’s political philosophy.  The leadership council has determined that President Obama is not now nor ever has been a member of the socialist party.  The irony of such claims to the contrary were not lost on the council.

“Clearly, we must do a better job of moving Americans away from television and radio sources of news.  They’re lowering our collective IQ and making us a global laughingstock”, the senior director said.  “Americans Who Pay Attention recommend a cable news free diet and only occasional consumption of NPR.  Excessive intake of focus group driven memes has been shown to be harmful to the American standard of living.”



Attention Cory Booker

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 10.54.27 AMI saw you on the DailyShow last night and the stuff you said about the state of New Jersey being desperately short of biomedical researchers made me sick to my stomach.

You have to know this is not true.  How could you NOT know this is not true?  It’s so easy to prove with cold hard numbers and statistics.  The big pharmas are pulling out of New Jersey to go to Massachusetts because Massachusetts offered them almost half a Billion dollars in taxpayer money to relocate there.  They are leaving thousands and thousands of us behind.  That’s thousands and thousands of well-educated, technically proficient, TAXPAYERS. That’s where the unemployment money is going, Cory.  Those companies take the money that Massachusetts is offering, dump thousands and thousands of us on the state of New Jersey’s unemployment roles and then relocate only a tiny fraction of their workforce to Massachusetts.  What do they do with the rest of the tax incentives?  Beats me but I’m sure the shareholders are happy.

The idea that you would actually believe a pharma lobbyist who tells you he can’t find good help anymore in NJ and now has to outsource and that you would voluntarily spread this misinformation without actually checking to see if what they’re telling you is true or not defies explanation.  It makes no sense, Cory.  It is UN-believable. You either know that you are willfully lying, compromised by people who you view as your true “peers” or you’re dumber than a box of rocks.

I suggest you spend some time with those of us who used to work for pharma and are now unemployed in New Jersey.  Funny how no politician actually does that.  They’re more than happy to listen to whatever bullshit the financiers and industry propaganda artists tell them but they won’t go down to the NJ Department of Labor and actually check the database for the unemployed from Roche, Sanofi, Pfizer, Merck and all of the other companies that shed employees on a routine basis.  Go check out the shuttered lab facilities in South Brunswick and Bridgewater.  Our unemployment rate is more than 10% in this state and a big slice of it comes from the biomedical researchers who are not employed anymore.

But don’t tell lies on national TV.  It will come back to bite you during your next campaign.  Someone who is that out of touch shouldn’t be representing our state.

By the way, the idea that “the more you learn, the more you earn” is the old paradigm.  It doesn’t work any more. Wake up already or you’re going to condemn a whole generation of New Jersey school children to a lifetime of indentured servitude to pay off their student loans for the low paying jobs they got in a laboratory.  Come talk to us, Cory.  The sooner you get a clue, the better off the school kids in Newark will be.  What we need is a tough negotiator, not more low paid scientists who can’t make ends meet in New Jersey anymore.

Madeleine Jacobs makes $800,000+ a year

I rarely answer my critics.  In fact, I don’t even read them.  Why play Whack-a-Mole with people whose sole purpose in life appears to be poking you to see how you react?

But it has recently come to my attention that Madeleine Jacobs, executive director and CEO of the American Chemical Society wrote an Op/Ed particularly criticizing something I said to a reporter at the Washington Post.

The piece that reporter wrote didn’t exactly misquote me, although he wasn’t entirely accurate either, but let’s just say that Brian left a lot of things out and “shaped” his predetermined narrative.  If you read that article and had never read anything I’ve posted about my career or layoff  *here*, you would have gotten a distorted impression about my passion for science.

But the most annoying thing was that my comments about not encouraging my daughter to go into science has left a lot of context on the editorial cutting room floor.  But anyway, here’s Madeleine’s snippy little commentary on what I said:

This misguided advice so stunned me that I began crafting a response, but Daniel Jordan, a biology major, beat me to the punch with a superb letter to the Washington Post. He wrote: “Anyone who would discourage a child who loves math and chemistry from pursuing a career in science because it might be difficult to find employment might not be a scientist for the right reasons. Energetic men and women must be encouraged to enter the sciences despite these obstacles. In fact, those individuals who are passionate enough about their work to stick with it during times of hardship and who hunger to expand their, and our, knowledge of the world are the very ones we most want. … This prognosis of doom and gloom should be seen as a catalyst to redouble our efforts to foster creativity, ingenuity and admiration for the sciences.”

Right on, Daniel! The U.S. must support and produce the most-talented, best-trained scientists in the world to drive U.S. innovation. In the 1960s, in the aftermath of Sputnik, being a scientist was a noble calling. Many people became scientists to fulfill what they saw as their patriotic duty.

Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine, you have taken on the wrong person, my dear.

Let me address this one item at a time:

1.) My daughter is good at many subjects.  I won’t go into it all right now because people are sick of hearing about it but suffice it to say that she is currently being recruited by some very nice universities and she just started her junior year in high school.  But the reason she is being recruited is because her brain has a peculiar and rare wiring for languages.  She is a human babel fish.  When I talked to Brian, I told him that I thought she might be good at international law, something he neglected to mention.  But she might very well be suited for research into the cognitive sciences or computational linguistics.  Right now, she is taking two AP science courses and I’m sure she will do well in them.  But with TWO parents who have experienced layoffs and have not been able to get jobs that pay what they used to make, and who have to pay for their health insurance and everything else, she knows without me even telling her that chemistry and biotech in general are very unstable career paths.

2.) I am hardly the only one who has told their kids to not go into chemistry, medicinal chemistry or biotech, Madeleine.  I am simply the person who isn’t afraid to admit it.  In fact, all of my former colleagues have told their kids the same thing.  Don’t go into biomedical, biotech, or chemical research.  Even the ones who still have jobs, and there aren’t many of my friends who haven’t been laid off, have told me that if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn’t have gone into research.  They say this because they know that the people who run the industry don’t give a rat’s ass about how much passion they put into their jobs or how much experience they have or even if they have discovered a multi-billion dollar drug.  The bottom line is the bottom line and when it is time to cut costs, your salary just looks like it is getting in the way of some shareholder’s dividend and some hot shot corporate office jockey riding over your life to a big bonus.

3.) The industry is becoming increasingly unforgiving towards those of us without PhDs.  In this environment, Michael Faraday would be relegated to glass washing. It’s short sighted and I have found that even on sympathetic chem industry blogs, the PhDs are lording it over the rest of us and clinging to their privilege as if their years of sacrifice in graduate school were still meaningful or necessary (it’s not necessary, trust me).  But it’s not enough to get a PhD these days.  No, you have to be the creme de la creme. The Wall Street Culture of Smartness, status and privilege has invaded the biotech world. You must be a graduate of the best universities in the world, have a royal pedigree and have made some stupendous, miraculous discovery that will be the next big “get rich quick!” thing that the financial backers will invest in.  If you’re lucky, you will be paid a lot of money, but probably not as much as the Wall Street analyst who is checking your outfit out, and will be relocated (if necessary) to Cambridge or San Francisco or some equally outrageously expensive place to live.  If your now shuttered US lab facility bestows upon you the blessings of employment in Cambridge, you will have to sell your underwater house and take your kids out of school and relocate them to one of these high priced enclaves.  Or you will have to leave your family behind.

And what will you do when you get there?  If you are fortunate, you will get to apply your expertise in a lab but more likely, you will be saddled with coordinating half a dozen contracts and remote labs where underpaid scientists do one thing in the absence of any context of a project.  Yep, people who are not PhDs get to run HPLCs or robotics or something that requires a degree but is not particularly interesting.  You are not part of a project team, you only get the information you need to know and you don’t need to know.

Those who do not have PhDs will end up working for CROs or some teensy little biotech that compensates you with equity.  When the small company fails, and over 80% do according to your own ACS representatives who come to the local university to try to talk you into risking everything you own to start one, you will be encouraged to jump to another small company for a short period of time and then another and another.  It will be like Silicon Valley, except that unlike projects in Silicon Valley, biological organisms rarely obey the laws of physics.  They have their own agendas.  Then, those same ACS representatives will tell you to make a deal with Merck or Pfizer who have a whole stable full of the best lawyers that money can buy who will write 400 page contracts to ease you out of your patent rights.  Your own ACS representatives will tell you to take the lousy 1% return that the big pharmas offer you and consider yourself lucky.  Oh, yes, they really did say that, Madeleine.  I have witnesses.

So, here we have thousands of people jumping from company to company, without many benefits, without much of a salary but lots of promises that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, and without any pension or security.  And with that, you’re supposed to be able to rent a house.  Let’s just throw out actually OWNING a home, Madeleine.  Even if a bank will give you a mortgage, you’d have to be totally nuts to get yourself into one with no prospects of employment stability.  Those of us in NJ have learned that lesson the hard way. You might not even be able to buy a car.  If you’re a woman, you might as well get your tubes tied.  If you get pregnant, you can’t work in the lab for long.  And if you can’t work in the lab, you’re going to look like you’re slacking.  Maternity leave?  In these economic conditions?  What person in their right mind would take that kind of risk?  There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed scientists right now who would be more than willing to take whatever job they can get even if that meant taking over from a more well qualified woman.  Stabbing women in the back and taking over their projects is standard operating procedure for any guy who wants to secure one of the few remaining jobs in the industry game of employment musical chairs.  I’ve seen the number of women in certain departments plummet as they were either forced out or laid off while their male colleagues snagged the peach positions in Cambridge.  It happens all the time.

What you are lecturing us to take, Madeleine, is the same insecure precariat existence that Michelle Obama was so cluelessly passionate about in her DNC speech.  Isn’t it great that so many teachers will work for no pay?  Isn’t it wonderful that so many dedicated, smart chemists will go work for peanuts and an uncertain, unstable economic existence?  What patriots!

Madeleine, we do have caloric requirements.  We need a roof over our heads.  As a military brat, I’m used to moving every year or two.  I didn’t always like it but my background makes me pretty receptive to shifting gears and learning new things.  I went out of my way to go back into the lab in my last year of work to learn molecular biology and crystallography and I *loved* it.  In middle age, I decided to do something that some of my more lofty, PhD carrying colleagues felt was beneath them.  Many of the PhDs I worked with think that past a certain point, lab work is a step down.

Don’t you get it, Madeleine??  I’m the person you were referring to with the passion and interest to do the work.  I was working on my projects literally to the very last minutes I had a job.  I had 4 months from the announcement of my layoff until my last day and I worked like a maniac those last 4 months, staying well into the night to solve my structures because I loved my work and I knew I might never have that experience again in my lifetime.  But it made no difference to the people who wanted me gone to satisfy their numbers.  Those people even sent us emails a couple of weeks after the layoff announcements congratulating themselves for reducing costs and making the analysts quarterly earnings predictions. Those reduced costs were me and my unfortunate colleagues who were left jobless in the middle of Pharmageddon smack dab in the heart of the worst recession since the 1930’s.

Who the heck do you think you’re talking to, Madeleine?  I collaborate with people who have taken very steep cuts in salary and while they’re grateful to have any job at all, they can’t make their mortgage payments.  I know people who have had to commute to one state for part of the week and only see their families on weekends. Like diamond miners in Soweto.  They share apartments with other chemists.  My own daughter’s dad works in a different country for months at a time on a contract without any benefits.

This is no way to treat your smartest citizens.  And frankly, I have no idea why any of us take it.  The unemployment rate among chemists, even PhDs, is much, much higher than is being reported.  It has to be because we are all laid off.  One of the companies I worked for, Wyeth, laid off 19,000 people when it was bought by Pfizer including all by a handful of my former colleagues.  The company I worked for last year has shut down the facility and transferred only a couple dozen people to their Cambridge facility.  I met one person going to Cambridge who was extremely worried that the job would be temporary at best.

But we’re supposed to uproot our very talented children to go chasing our dreams and take whatever job we can at vastly reduced salaries.  In my case, much of what I do can be done from my home but we’ve got to go out and find the work and keep finding it and keep finding it.  We will never have a moment’s security and as our savings dwindle and unemployment insurance is denied to the self-employed, we will be constantly worried about how we’re going to pay the bills.

And let’s not even start on how we’re supposed to fork over $33.00 per paper in an ACS publication when we need to do research.  Saddling new small companies and self-employed people with these outrageous digital copy costs of material that was given to you for free is a little like shooting the baby on the way out of the womb.  What’s that all about?  Madeleine’s family has to subsist on $800K+/year but a hard working researcher footing their own bills is going to be able to fork over $33/copy for an obtuse 4 page paper?

What about the ACS’s patriotic duty?  Because of your organization’s greedy publication pricing structure, most of us can’t afford to even do the preliminary research to do our work.  We have to make friends with university professors with licenses and instead of just downloading the paper to our computers at home, need to make special trips to university libraries.  Do you know how annoying it is to find that the paper you really need is a buried citation in the paper you read at the university library and now you need to make yet another trip??

Not only is your pricing policy greedy and anachronistic, it doesn’t even make sense financially.  You’re not going to get us to pay $33.00 a copy.  Nooooo, we’ll get it for free from some other source. Do you think we just fell off the turnip truck? That means the ACS gets nothing.  If you adopted an iTunes model and charged one or two dollars a digital copy, that might actually make you money.  But no, you’d rather screw the very people you are excoriating for not working hard enough for their new American precariat existences.

And what are you doing about the visa problem, Madeleine? What are you doing to protect those of us new self-employed and contractors who need to get paid regularly and no longer have labor protections?  What are you doing about getting us low cost group health insurance policies, not gap insurance?  Why aren’t you working with the Freelancers Union to help chemists make the transition?  Why aren’t you lobbying congress on our behalf and proposing private-public partnerships to take over abandoned labs in NJ to put people back to work?  Do you know what the unemployment rate is in NJ?  It’s almost 10%.  What is it you are doing with the $800K+ dollars the ACS is paying you every year?  Writing clueless Op/Ed pieces about people in the trenches who you know nothing about is not the best use of your time, Madeleine.

When the industry is doing it’s best to kill research in this country and when professors are telling their grad students to not pursue a career in chemistry and dedicated chemists are losing their lifestyles and their houses and their careers after decades of hard work, you’ve got a lot of nerve telling me how to raise my kids. I’m not going to encourage my bright, multilingual Brooke to become some economically insecure lab rat indentured to a bunch of greedy vulture capitalists.

From where I am sitting, my patriotic duty is to tell the truth about what is happening to us so that maybe someone takes an interest in preserving the last tiny shreds of American scientific infrastructure that are left.  And if that makes you uncomfortable or conflicts with the lies you’ve been telling our governmental officials or your idea that well educated professional chemists should become desperate and cheap labor for your industrial friends, tough.  You can always resign.  Trust me, there are thousands of chemists who would jump at a chance to do your job better than you do at less than half of your salary.

The Big Dawg’s Magic Trick: Pulling Obama’s Bacon Out of the Fire.

So, Bill Clinton, who all of the Obama fans and loyal Democrats will never forgive for 8 years of peace and prosperity, will attempt to turn us refuseniks into devoted Democratic voters.

I hope he asked for something good in return.

(It’s not going to be Hillary in 2016.  Just forget it.)

Now, Bill’s got a big problem.  He’s going to have to make the case that the Republicans are the ones who decided to make unemployment sky high going into the election.  And I don’t disagree with him.  *Except* that Obama had two years of a filibuster proof majority and the unemployed were loooooow on his priority list after saving the bankers and passing an inadequate and largely unimplemented health care insurance reform bill so he could look like a hero to other Democrats.  If he had put jobs, and I don’t mean just “manly” jobs, as his first priority, he wouldn’t need Bill to save his bacon.  (Well, that and killing the Bush tax cuts, implementing a HOLC program to save people’s houses after they are laid off, putting bankers who threaten the economy in jail, break up the biggest banks, etc.)

No, instead, all he needed to do was push for the $100 Billion that Christine Romer said would put a shitload of people back to work.  But you know, Romer was a woman and the Obama White House doesn’t really listen to women.  She also recommended a much bigger fiscal stimulus package but instead of asking for the moon and having to dial it back to a Romeresque number of $1.2 Trillion, Obama asked for much, much less than that to start and negotiated down.  Unnecessarily less.  He spent no political capital on the rest of us and much real capital on the banks.

Then he let Tim Geithner cover up what bad shape the banks were in.  If Congress had known about the LIBOR manipulations, and what serious condition the economy was in, well, we couldn’t have counted on the Republicans to lift a finger to help but we might have prevailed upon the more sensible Democrats to do the right thing (I know I’m being generous here.  Work with me.).

You know what?  Just forget it.  The dude just blew his first two years.  Totally blew them.  Unfortunately for us, they were the crucial two years.  It looks like Obama’s campaign is going to be a sentimental journey into BoBo land where if you would have only worked really hard and gone to the right schools and didn’t have unapproved sex, you wouldn’t be in the straits you’re in right now.  That utopia conveeeeeniently leaves out what happened to all of the scientists with PhDs I know who were 33 before they got their real first job after their post docs, but the Obama campaign is busting a gut trying not to mention the word ‘unemployment” or to in any way burst the merry little scenario they have built in their heads of well tended gardens in idyllic upper middle class suburbs.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, back to Bill.  Well, he’s got his work cut out for him tonight.  He’s got to get the remaining Clintonistas back in the fold.  Except the remaining Clintonistas are pissed as all hell.  Four years ago, we were dragged, kicking and screaming to vote for Mr. Caucus Fraud against our better judgement (some of us protest voted).  He wasn’t ready, had no practical experience, used misogyny against his opponent in a way that reverberated throughout the social sphere and we didn’t trust him because he was a ruthless, unethical and egotistical campaigner who took more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history up to that point.  We still don’t trust him.  Not only that but we were right about Obama.  It’s regrettable that so many Clintonistas took their ire a step too far and joined the Tea Party.  Not the smartest move but you can hardly blame them.  Obama made a point of blowing off the working class (which in this context, O Best Beloveds, means anyone not making a living off their investments).  So, bad move or not, they are no more guilty of letting their emotions cloud their judgement than the 2008 Obots were.

Some of us didn’t defect from our values.  We just left the party and became independents.  But we’re still liberal, FDR Democrats.  And Obama ain’t.  Not even close.  So, I think the best that Clinton can do is deliver a powerful, enthusiastic vision of the future, which Obama will fail to pay any attention to.  Bill’s a loyal Democrat and a mensch.  That’s what he does.

And the nation will shake it’s head and think, we could have had a V8.

Pay close attention to Bill’s words.  Without careful parsing, you could be persuaded to think he said something he actually didn’t.


Oh, and the Democrats just f^&*ed the non-believers.  Would the Freedom From Religion Foundation care to comment?  Check out the expression on the face of the woman at minute mark 1:44.  Priceless.

Words not found in Michelle Obama’s Speech




You can grep it yourself here: Text of Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC 2012.

People all over the country send her mail about the bills they can’t pay and their problems and she has no idea how those people got that way.  But if they just keep working hard, they’ll dig themselves out of the mess they’re in.  Whoo-hoo! Obama 2012!

By the way, the unemployment rate in NJ in August 2012 was 9.8%.  I’m guessing that included many, many overeducated professional college graduates with STEM degrees because that’s what I’m seeing, including some former colleagues of mine who are newly unemployed with the upcoming closure of the Roche research facility in Nutley, NJ.  My friends worked on cancer drugs.  Cancer.  We are closing cancer research labs all over NJ.

Here’s a snippet of Michelle’s speech:

And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.

I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.

I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.

I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.

And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

Thank you, Effie Trinket.

Yes, we love to work without pay and it looks like we’re expected to do so indefinitely.  With more cuts in the Grand Bargain, more people will have an opportunity to work without pay for bankrupt school districts.  The only thing that could top that is having the bankers work without bonuses but I couldn’t find it in her speech.   And until Obama actually ends the wars he said he was ending, more soldiers will have the opportunity to lose limbs and eyes 100 times over.

That man is never going to see again.  He’s not going to see a Van Gogh blue sky on a summer day.  He’s not going to see his kids’ faces.  He’s not going to know how much money he has in his wallet without help.  He’s going to wake up in the dark for the rest of his life. That man is trying to give meaning to a loss from a now meaningless war while government contractors lobby Congress to keep the damn thing going.

I think your broccoli needs weeding. You may leave now.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

In case the youtube embed doesn’t work for you, here’s the link.  Great movie, made just in time for the 2012 elections. Spells it out for even the dimmest wit.


More Michelle moments, this time on equality for women:

Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.

And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.

But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.

And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”


Stop complaining, Ladies.  Your careers are just not that important.  We insist on making you choose between your family and your job.  Is my husband great or what!?

What’s missing in this NYTimes article on the divided Democrats?

The word


Nice try, guys. Is David Axelrod taking “journalists” aside and telling them to ix-nay on the unemployment-ay? By the way, poverty, which is the concern of only the “liberal” Democrats derives from

having no job.

Is this what the Unemployed are going to have to put up with?  They’re not going to mention us at all!?

Please get Caroline Kennedy off the fricking stage.  She is not doing the Democrats any favors:

Mr. Obama has, if slowly, taken stands that many members of his party long felt were politically risky, including support for same-sex marriage and issuing an order granting many young illegal immigrants brought to this country as children a two-year reprieve from deportation.

“They’re Democrats — they are always going to be disappointed,”Ms. Kennedy said. “But I think his stands on gay marriage and immigration this year changes that. I think he’s accomplished some really substantive things that people gloss over.”

Or he hasn’t accomplished anything substantive so there’s no need to gloss over.  But it’s hard to prove a negative.  Except in one particular area:


He hasn’t done a damn thing about that, even when he had a two year lead and a filibuster proof majority of his own party in Congress.  Not that Caroline, who was one of the people responsible for this disaster, has any clue.

Wait a sec, that’s it?  He says he’s for non-discrimination of the LGBT community but he doesn’t sign the non-discrimination clause for government contracts and he says he’ll leave anti-discrimination laws up to the states.  That’s not progress.  That’s pandering in the weakest way possible so as not to ruffle the feathers of the evangelicals.  And those students who are Americans in every way but birth?  There’s no teeth behind that “accomplishment”.  He might as well take up embroidery.

Let me work through this.  If Caroline Kennedy doesn’t think that poverty is a big deal, that must mean she’s not a liberal.  Oh sure, she has socially liberal views but she doesn’t really give a f^&* about poor people.  Can we agree on that?  BTW, it’s just as easy to be a poor gay person or immigrant.  Unemployment tends to not discriminate.  Even PhDs in STEM professions are not immune, Caroline.

Can we just push Caroline into the extinct liberal Republican camp and be done with it?  And take Obama with you, Caroline.

By the way, my brother is still in Afghanistan.

Isn’t it possible that the “lack of spirit” is due to the fact that Obama turned out to be a disaster to the


And what’s with this crap?:

Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor who broke with Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008 and endorsed Mr. Obama, said it was critical for the White House to “re-energize the base that got him elected: minorities, young people and independents.”

“They need to get excited again,” he said.

What is he saying?  All we need is to have a couple of keggers and par-tay and that will make everything Ok?  Gawd, Richardson always was overrated.

Ah, this is closer to the truth:

Mr. Kerrey said the enthusiasm was “quite high,” but added, “It’s not going to be the naïve enthusiasm of four years ago.”

Yep, It was naive.  Stupid naivety.  And Democratic activists who were easier to fool than they thought they were. And a whole lotta bankers’ money with which to do it.

Happy Labor Day to those of you who still have jobs!

Since I cut the cord, I have been blissfully unaware of all the meme pushing out there.  Lambert says there has been quite a stir on the Democratic side over the Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC.  A couple of days ago, I checked out the youtube video of it but couldn’t get past the first few minutes.  But it wasn’t because he sounded incoherent.

It was because I was so touched that Clint Eastwood remembered the unemployed that I didn’t want to see the rest of it where he might have gone completely off the rails.

Remember when Ross Perot went on and on about the deficit being the crazy aunt in the attic or wherever?    Well, he always was one sandwich short of a picnic.  Nowadays, all you hear about is the deficit.  One party is going to gouge us.  One party is going to gouge us and ask for a token sacrifice from the bonus class.

No one is talking about unemployment except everybody I know.  Because everybody I know has been laid off, got a new job, got laid off again, is about to get laid off, is retraining before they get laid off.  Layoff is inevitable.  It’s a fact of life now.

Just because an old semi-conservative Hollywood star talks about unemployment in front of a bunch of heartless, mean spirited rich people doesn’t mean that his criticism of Obama and the Democrats is incorrect.  As Karl Rove said recently, you don’t have to get personal.  The truth is the best thing the Republicans have going for them.  They might have caused the crisis to begin with but they weren’t in charge when the decision was made to ignore the unemployed so the bankers wouldn’t feel inconvenienced.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s something the Republicans would definitely do but voters never expected that kind of behavior from Democrats.

All I want to hear from the Democrats in Charlotte is how they are going to deal with Unemployment.  I don’t want to hear about the deficit or “entitlements”, i.e. those benefits we PREPAID, or any other stupid thing the bonus class would like to use to commandeer our attention.  I don’t want to hear about how this has been “played”, or the style, or the inside baseball, horseracey, competition.

Unemployment is not a competition.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to watch crappy cable news coverage of things that are of no importance to me.  But I will be periodically perusing the videos coming out of the convention.  You’d better not let us unemployed people down because we may not have money anymore but we do have votes and there are a lot of us out here in the suburbs where four years ago you thought you had us in the bag.

Time to rewrite those speeches, Democrats.


I hate Facebook.  Just thought I’d throw that out there.

I thought I was the only one who hated Facebook.  It’s not like I don’t want to be social. It’s just that I don’t like the interface or any of the stupid things people have to do in order to remain relevant.  I have an account but I NEVER use it except if I have to sign into the damn thing in order to get registered for a sweepstakes at my favorite design blogs.  If I had bothered to accept all the friend invitations I received since 2008, I’d look like one of the most popular people on Facebook.  We hit 58,000+ unique hits here at  The Confluence on one day in 2008.  Everybody wanted to be my friend (I don’t take this as an indication of the attractiveness of my many wonderful qualities or charisma.  As if. It’s just what people do, they “friend” you when you hit their radar).  And I’m sure that most of you are very lovely people…

But I hate Facebook.  Yep, I just hate it.  I’m right up there with George Clooney’s hatred of Facebook when he said “he would rather have a prostate exam on live television by a guy with very cold hands than have a Facebook page”.  Fortunately, I don’t have a prostate but I know the feeling.  Er, not of cold hands in my rectum.  Wait, that didn’t come out right.  Well, anyway, you know what I mean.  I don’t want to get into too many examples and extended metaphors.  Let’s just say that Facebook requires me to use my brain in ways that I find unnatural.  As a person whose former profession involved quite a bit of learning new interfaces, Facebook is non-intuitive to me and besides, why?  Just… why?  I don’t understand what is the big draw?  Don’t people get enough of my trivialities and whining here?  And I’m not interested in your trivialities and whining anymore than you’re interested in mine.  Post a blog and I’ll read it.  I want to hear your thoughts and the way you’re figuring things out in writing, your internal monologue.  That’s interesting.  That you’re eating breakfast?  Not interesting.

So, on the final day of the summer season, but not the season of summer, I’m stepping away from all the tech for awhile so I can do other stuff.  Maybe go outside, go shopping for the kid’s school supplies, see a movie, finish cleaning my basement, you know, useful things.  Don’t look for me on Facebook.


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