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Employment Index: STEM professions, updates

This is not me, I swear.

It’s been a long time since I did a post on this subject. That’s because for a very long time, nothing much happened. That’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. I have career counselors who are working hard so that I can get a real, permanent full time job. But it has been all up hill, day after day.

I actually did have a full time job, briefly. But the hours were not conducive to carbon based life forms and the benefits were laughable. I might have stayed there but I could barely pay to keep the lights and wi-fi running. This is what I think the employment statistics are really showing. The jobs out here are baaaaad. Nevertheless, I was in good company. I worked with an archaeologist and a software developer, both of whom were very underemployed.

So, I resigned and have taken a job with a temporary staffing agency. The pay is better, the bennies still subpar. I am *finally* starting to get phone interviews after an 8 month drought.

A couple of people have posted about the STEM profession statistics that lately got a bit of notice. Only 25% of those people with a degree in a STEM profession are employed in their degree field. Quite a few of the people I used to work with are no longer doing research. Some have become adjunct professors, some are teaching in private schools, some are doing medical writing, some real estate, one went to law school. Some went to Cambridge because they were the remnant of our closed facility and got laid off- again. And people ask me why I don’t want to go to Cambridge.

Some other interesting things I have noticed. I have job alerts that are still running from when I set them up in 2011. It looks like the pharma industry is sending weak but faintly detectable signals that it is trying to hire more computational chemists. In particular, I am seeing postings from a large and well known company looking for comp chemists. Of course, you still need a PhD, blah-di-blah-di-blah. Fine, whatever. {{OMG, if I see one more “PhD” requirement for these positions that do not actually require a PhD, I’m going to scream}} But the posting has been out there for more than 30 days with no takers. You would think a headhunter would have found someone by now. Nope. It’s just sitting there unfilled. Not sure what that’s all about.

It could be that there’s some pompous hiring manager who is laying out some unattainable standards and no one looks worthy. Or maybe the most likely to apply are just not into it now. From my own perspective, I’ve been burned- badly- and I am very, very leery of relocating in order to work for a company that was pretty straightforward about its previous massive layoff decisions. Now, if someone wants to contract with me to do work from my home in Pittsburgh, I’m all ears. Or if I only have to show up for facetime once every couple of weeks and do structure based drug design from my home office, that’s cool too. Fortunately, comp chem is the kind of job that makes that easier to do than most chemistry positions. Still, the industry laid off a lot of people in their prime, interrupted their research mid career and told them to fend for themselves. From my own personal experience, I was at my peak performance mentally when I was laid off. Call me a late bloomer. Then I had to shift gears downward because I wasn’t in the same environment nor did I have the same steady stimulation. That induces a state of mental inertia. Ramping back up would be, um, interesting. There would be a lot of catching up to do. Not impossible but it does make one wonder what the point of the last four years of mothballing me was.

The most experienced and smartest among us have mostly gotten on with life in a different job to one degree of success or another. Asking them to get intellectually and emotionally invested in research again with very little guarantee of a lasting career might be asking too much from them, especially when they will probably end up socking the money they make in some conservatively invested fund or hide it under the bed in preparation for the next layoff. If you can’t actually spend the money you make, it does make you wonder whether the job is worth it. Perhaps this will be the lasting damage of Pharmageddon.

The last thing I want to mention is onboarding. This is ridiculous. I have had to fill out papers for a background check that asked me to list every place I have lived since I was 18 years old. If you don’t have a permanent full time position somewhere, the amount of documentation you need to provide to prove you’re not a criminal or lowlife waiting to steal the company’s paper stock is over the top. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many background checkpoints you will be asked to provide. A pee test is mandatory and, Ok, fine, you can have my pee. Test away! I am boring when it comes to pee content. But the other stuff? Does a job application have to be this humiliating? Nothing is off limits.

I will say this: elderly people have no idea what the work environment is like these days and I’m going to bet that most senior women do not have the proper documentation to get a job. They will have to be experts at web searching old addresses if they’ve ever moved or changed jobs. They will need to provide all kinds of drivers license information, birth certificates, and social security cards. Every name change has to be properly documented. It’s a giant pain in the ass. Imagine having to show your papers to everyone you meet- all. the. time.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this is. Even lowlifes and ne’erdowells have to have a way of making a living. How does one rehabilitate themselves or mature if these infractions follow you all your life? We’re not just talking about criminal actions, we’re talking about credit checks and stuff. I don’t consider myself a risky employee and it still makes me nervous. Technically, I’m between jobs. I have tendered my resignation from one but my background check isn’t complete for the new one. What happens when the checker confuses me with the person with the same name who has a record like Lindsay Lohan’s? (This has actually happened during a real estate transaction. I was shocked at how much trouble that other Riverdaughter had gotten into. The DWIs were over the top.) Nevertheless, as long as she comes to work sober and does her job, what’s it to the employer?

Anyway, it’s not me! I’ll sign an affidavit if I have to!

So, that’s the update. I hope this saga comes to an end soon. I hate this much paperwork. It’s either endless applications or endless onboarding. One thing is for sure, once you have lost your first class citizen status with a full time job and all the benefits that your employer’s safety umbrella provides, it is very hard to get back in.  It doesn’t matter if the layoff wasn’t your fault, the system seems determined to blame you anyway.

I guess this is the place where I should list all of the applications I have submitted since I started this series. I’ve lost count, honestly. I know that I have applied to one company for 31 positions and have attended several job fairs where they were the starring employer. So far, nada. I have a spreadsheet of applications that I need to update. Let’s just say that it’s a lot. Forgot to mention that I had to prove my Microsoft Office skills. I scored advanced for Word and Excel and I think I am an expert in PowerPoint. But Outlook? WTF?? That should have been a slam dunk and I was only average. Weird. I think there was something wrong with the shortcuts I was using or something. Anyway.

Stuff about Ted Cruz

You can never tell if someone who really shouldn’t be president for reasons that should be obvious will rocket to the top of the charts. Take Ted Cruz (Please!).

A little bit of background. He’s from Texas and he’s a Republican. Gosh, I’m really sorry about stereotyping but those are two strikes against him right there. He went to Princeton and Harvard. Alan Dershowitz says he’s brilliant. (Hey, my academic advisor said I was brilliant too and told me I should go to law school. Then I majored in Chemistry and found out that it would take me 23 years before I would ever feel brilliant again.) OooOOoooo! He’s an O’Reilly type: a guy who should know better who is making his fortune by pandering to bitter, mean spirited, judgmental senior women who think he’s so dreamy because he’s “godly” and “macho”. Quick, someone find out if Ted Cruz has ever reported from a “combat zone” in Argentina.

Politically, think George W. Bush but this time with brains to actually carry out the most regressive, callous policies the uber right can dream up.

Here’s some additional information from a site called isidewith.com. (By the way, I haven’t taken any survey for this site so I have no idea how they scored my answers with Ted Cruz’s political issues. I’m not sure who gave the answers for me but I feel strongly about some of the issues where I’m shown to be “meh”. Interesting.)

Looking at these answers from Cruz, let me just say that I am skeptical about some of them. For example, Cruz doesn’t really give an answer on whether he believes in evolution. A good Christian fundamentalist does not equivocate about evolution. He shouldn’t be on the fence about it. Of course, he did go to Princeton, home of a major Presbyterian seminary. Princeton is pretty non-fundamentalist. No one at Princeton would take Ted Cruz seriously about anything if he said he didn’t believe in evolution. Trust me on this. I used to live in the area. So, either he’s lying to his peers who offered to help his career or he’s going to be lying to the public. Someone should pin him down on this.

He also doesn’t believe in national parks. Huh. I guess he would be Ok will putting up some tacky MacMansion in Yosemite or a neon covered resort and casino on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Ahhh, here’s a good one: he is against Net Neutrality. So, in essence, he is ok with the idea that the cable companies can restrict what you see or can download. He is fine with some group of rich people making some sites speedier to download and some not so speedy. Or just being unavailable. Or curtailing your ability to speak your mind on Facebook or the comments section of your favorite news site or blog. Yep, Ted Cruz would be Ok letting the cable companies do that.

He’s against government funds for research. The private sector should be doing research. That’s right, research investigators, get used to beans, threadbare clothing and a lifetime of poverty. For some strange reason, both the left and the right would like for you to save them out of the goodness of your own hearts, caloric intake and shelter requirements be damned. Go figure.

So, that’s a little taste of Ted. He sounds like another clone of the conservative movement. The minute you try to compromise with someone like him, he’ll move further right. And then right again. He’ll keep moving right until we reinstitute slavery, rescind suffrage for women and eliminate social security because it’s a commie plot.

The problem with someone like Cruz is that there are too many people out there who simply will not believe that people like him are serious about eliminating social security. They think it is so sacred and embedded in American culture that people like Cruz would not dare touch it. And that’s true – as long as he doesn’t get elected and/or doesn’t get elected with a Republican majority in Congress.

So, see that he doesn’t.

Presidential Campaign 2016 Kickoff: Ted Cruz, Hillary/Obama redux, notes on focus groups

Ahhh, campaign season. I guess we are officially in it now that Ted Cruz is going to announce. I don’t have much more to say about Cruz except that he is typical of his clan and will probably fluff the panties of the typical conformist, senior “I-got-mine-fend-for-yourself”, moralizing, judgmental, creationist conservative Fox News viewer. If there is anyone who has a different point of view, add it to the comments section.

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

Yesterday, commenter Perplexed left the kind of comment we have been dealing with for about seven years on his here blog. It was along the lines of blaming Bill Clinton for NAFTA (the deal was written by the time he took office. He tried unsuccessfully to get labor protections) and the financial catastrophe (for the record, the roll back of Glass Steagall was accomplished by an OVERWHELMING, veto proof majority in Congress. It was the Gramm-Leach bill, or something like that. Clinton couldn’t have stopped that train if he tried.). It is worth noting that Bill Clinton has said publicly that he regrets listening to some of his economic advisors. I’m guessing he particularly regrets the Summers and Geithner partnership that suppressed the warnings of Brooksley Born. I could go over other areas that I think the left protests too much in Bill Clinton’s record. He wasn’t perfect but he was the best president I have ever voted for and I don’t regret voting for him- twice.

But as for what happened in 2008 and why I think there WAS a difference between Hillary and Obama, I do have something to add. (By the way, I don’t buy the left’s facile excuses for why they preferred Obama over Clinton. These include, 1.) there was no difference between them 2.) We decided to let Obama go first and then Hillary and 3.) he ran an awesomer campaign. This is all bullshit. The real answer was Obama’s campaign donors offered the Democratic party more money for the following reasons.):

I think I understand your perplexity. Over the past 7 years, I’ve gone over this territory quite a number of times. I’m not going to go over it in detail today. But I do want to talk about something I think is the key to the whole Hillary/Obama mystery. There is genuine value in experience. A person who has spent a lot of time in government in various capacities has a lot of it. When we talk about the Clintons, we are talking about years of accumulated experience in many different areas and two major branches of government. We are talking about people who have done statewide politics and federal politics. They have foreign policy experience and legislative experience. Think of the first job you ever had. Now, think about all of the things you have learned since then. What you are today is a product of the opportunities you were presented, the risks you took, the envelopes you pushed. At one time, all these things were outside your comfort zone. But you either taught yourself on the job or you got an education or you learned from the experience of others. And with experience and accumulated knowledge and colleagues that you’ve known and worked with, comes power. For the Clintons, that power is substantial. They didn’t come into Washington knowing everything but they know quite a bit now.
Back in 2008, the financiers had a choice of two candidates to back. One had experience, a mentor, and a lot of mojo. That person would have known how to stand up for herself and which buttons to push, who to call and what to look for. She wouldn’t have been easy to control.
The other was a senator from Illinois with less than a single term to his name in Washington. He’d never worked on major legislation and all of the friends he had in Washington were bought for him.
If you were a big money entity and you saw a looming catastrophe coming at you and you wanted to make sure you controlled what happened to you, which one would you choose?

That’s it in a nutshell and something the right will ponder and roll around in its collective hive mind. That’s a pretty powerful motive to vote for someone. You could make a case that the political dwarfs that the right is planning to roll out won’t hold a candle to Hillary’s accomplishments and experience. Which brings me to my next point:

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

Notes on Focus Groups

If you are a writer or commenter on a political blog, your comments and writings will be mined for information about what makes you tick, the strength of your arguments and trigger words. The right does it and the left does it. They might even float someone over to ask a particular question in order to gather information. They will use this information to shape a narrative or crush your point of view. It happens.

This is all normal. Do not let it bother you.

It goes without saying that we do not disclose your email address or any other personal information to any entity. We’re not into that. We believe in privacy.

But don’t be surprised if you find that something you followed here or on another lefty or independent blog gets warped or exploited in ways you find unexpected. This is campaign season. It is what it is.

Other than that, feel free to contradict your own side. The left got pretty good at psychological manipulation in 2008. We like to poke holes in consensus reality. You’ll be safe here.

Another good reason to free range your kids: it prevents myopia

From Nature:

Based on epidemiological studies, Ian Morgan, a myopia researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, estimates that children need to spend around three hours per day under light levels of at least 10,000 lux to be protected against myopia. This is about the level experienced by someone under a shady tree, wearing sunglasses, on a bright summer day. (An overcast day can provide less than 10,000 lux and a well-lit office or classroom is usually no more than 500 lux.) Three or more hours of daily outdoor time is already the norm for children in Morgan’s native Australia, where only around 30% of 17-year-olds are myopic. But in many parts of the world — including the United States, Europe and East Asia — children are often outside for only one or two hours.

“Sort of as an afterthought, we asked about sports and outdoorsy stuff.”

In 2009, Morgan set out to test whether boosting outdoor time would help to protect the eyesight of Chinese children. He and a team from the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (where Morgan also works) launched a three-year trial in which they added a 40-minute outdoor class to the end of the school day for a group of six- and seven-year-olds at six randomly selected schools in Guangzhou; children at six other schools had no change in schedule and served as controls. Of the 900-plus children who attended the outside class, 30% developed myopia by age nine or ten compared with 40% of those at the control schools. The study is being prepared for publication.

A stronger effect was found at a school in southern Taiwan, where teachers were asked to send children outside for all 80 minutes of their daily break time instead of giving them the choice to stay inside. After one year, doctors had diagnosed myopia in 8% of the children, compared with 18% at a nearby school12.

Morgan is buoyed by the preliminary findings, but thinks that he can do even better. “We’ve got proof of principle that increasing the amount of time children spend outside actually works,” he says. “The question then is how do we make this work in practice at a level that would have a significant impact?” He recognizes that many schools do not have the flexibility to add time outdoors. So last year, in collaboration with Congdon, he began piloting the idea of teaching kids in a classroom made of glass to let in more natural light. “This glass classroom idea is quite applicable for whole swathes of China,” Congdon says.

Rose points out that additional outdoor time “has to be mandated through the schools, because getting parents to voluntarily do this is extremely difficult”. Saw and her colleagues learned this when they trialled a 9-month programme to teach parents in Singapore about the importance of outdoor time in order to prevent myopia. They provided step-counters, organized outdoor weekend activities for families and even offered cash prizes for cooperation. But by the end of the trial, the time spent outdoors was not statistically different from that for a control group with no such campaign13.

Organized sports may not be enough. Kids need to spend time outside playing in the sunshine and learning to judge distances during the years when the eyeball is developing.

Keeping them indoors to keep them away from imaginary predators is ruining their eyes.

Not sure I would have used the word “army”

It sounds too much like they’re going to go all ISIS on us.

 

Disgusting (but not surprising) if true: Valerie Jarret allegedly leaked email scandal.

Consider the source. It’s the NYPost. Here’s the blurb:

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked to the press details of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail address during her time as secretary of state, sources tell me.

But she did so through people outside the ­administration, so the story couldn’t be traced to her or the White House.

In addition, at Jarrett’s behest, the State Department was ordered to launch a series of investigations into Hillary’s conduct at Foggy Bottom, including the use of her expense account, the disbursement of funds, her contact with foreign leaders and her possible collusion with the Clinton Foundation.

Six separate probes into Hillary’s performance have been ­going on at the State Department. I’m told that the e-mail scandal was timed to come out just as Hillary was on the verge of formally announcing that she was running for president — and that there’s more to come.

Like I said, this might all be made up. I’ll wait to see confirmation.

Setting aside the animosity and rancor that the Obama campaign generated by its scorched earth tactics against Hillary in 2008 (Accusations of racism and skin darkening photos anyone? How about the classy photo of Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau groping the breast of a life-size Hillary cutout?), we have to remember that Obama was funded by Wall Street. When Wall Street had to pick a candidate to support to ensure that it suffered none of the consequences for its reckless behavior, it picked Obama, not Hillary.

One was rehab and the other was an enabler. In the years since, I haven’t seen Wall Street making amends, have you? It still might control the horizontal and the vertical.

So, while I have no reason to believe this NYPost story (yet), let’s just say that nothing would surprise me at this point.

And in retrospect, it was probably wise for Hillary to put her emails on a private server. Some of us can’t trust our bosses to not snoop even at the highest levels of power.

More from the article. This part is totally unbelievable, as in, it can’t possibly be true that anyone actually said this with a straight face:

With his wife and Jarrett looking on, Obama made it clear that he intended to stay neutral in the presidential primary process — a clear signal that he wouldn’t mind if someone challenged Hillary for the nomination.

“Obama and Valerie Jarrett will go to any lengths to prevent Hillary from becoming president,” a source close to the White House told me. “They believe that Hillary, like her husband, is left of center, not a true-blue liberal.”

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! {{short breath}} LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Who is this “source close to the White House” and who do they think is their target audience? That’s the stupidest thing I have read in years. Only an Obot would believe that Obama is more true-blue than Hillary and only a Tea Party person would think that Obama is liberal at all. Is this source targeting aspirational Democrats with a latent conservative leaning that they keep in the closet or are they targeting people who read the NYPost?

Jeez, she hasn’t even announced she’s running yet and the party is already in full swing.

Fun, fun! Let the games begin!

Here we go again with the old, stupid analysis of the 2008 campaign

The NYTimes has a piece up about Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s new data guru.

Woah! Hillary hired a data guru?? This changes EVERYTHING. Wow, if she had only had this dude back in 2008, the whole campaign would have been different! He’s a game changer. He likes “social media”. That’s something new to the Clintons. Her supporters, you know, those old, uneducated, working class, mouth breathers have probably never even heard of twitter and Facebook and sophisticated stuff like that.

{{snicker!}}

Either the NYTimes is setting out to deliberately insult us and the Clinton campaign or it really believes that Barack Obama “won” the nomination due to his technological superpowers.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in new consultants and if Robby Mook can bring something special to the table by his mastery of SpotFire and other data analytical tools, more power to him.

But, please, let us dispense with the notion of Barack Obama “winning” through advanced and sophisticated use of data. That is not what happened. No, Obama “won” because a flood of money was pumped into the coffers of the Democratic party in February 2008 from a bunch of sophisticated wealthy donors on Wall Street and probably a good many of them were country club Republicans who were more than happy to flirt with the other side in order to avoid financial disaster that they knew was coming. They used that money to buy off super delegates, many of whom were running for office. The party put pressure on everyone to turn away from the Clintons.

Hillary was winning handily in February of that year. Her only problem at that time was that the party deliberately withheld her wins in Florida and Michigan in order to make it look like a tight race and that Barack Obama was starting to overtake her.

It was a matter of managed perceptions. That’s all. The use of data did not help Barack Obama in California, Florida, Michigan (where he wasn’t even on the ballot), Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. He lost those states, sometimes by significant margins. Obama didn’t win any of these big Democratic states with the exception of, what? Illinois? He won places like Utah. OoooOOOooo! So much data to sift through in Utah. Indeed, the biggest scandal involving the Clintons was how they were betrayed by their own party in 2008.

As for the general election, Obama’s only real triumph was that he successfully ran against Sarah Palin.

Ta-da!

Can we just stop with these silly hagiographic legends of Obama’s strategic intelligence already?? Clinton’s contingent wasn’t old or unsophisticated. Oh, look! I can install, manage and use WordPress! I have a twitter account! I hate Facebook for many reasons but I know how users are manipulated on it. Indeed, I know how DailyKos was turned into a giant focus group for people like Robby Mook to data mine. There are many, many Clinton supporters who know how to use a computer, tablet, smart phone, etc. How does that make me different from an Obot except I actually know when I’m being manipulated?

It’s not that I’m irritated, frustrated or offended by the constant mischaracterization of Clinton’s contingent. It’s that this narrative of old, unsophisticated and technologically behind Clinton overlooks the reason why she was winning so many states and had such a devoted, dedicated following. What the media missed in 2008 was that Hillary Clinton came into her own in 2008. She started off tentatively, relying too heavily on Mark Penn’s own version of data analytics, but became burnished by the fire of being the perceived underdog whether that was true or not.

We saw her fight in the rain, on the back of flatbed trucks, through the heckles of “why won’t she quit??” and “brush the dirt of my shoulders” and “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” and she kept on going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Adversity made her amazing. She was the one everyone wanted precisely because she wasn’t bought and paid for and gently carried over the finish line.

Data did not make Barack Obama a great politician. It didn’t even help him win. Take away the giant Charlotte’s Web that was paid for by America’s Most Wanted and you have an inexperienced, ruthlessly ambitious guy who has proven to be out of his depth, just as we predicted he would be.

So, it’s great to see Robby Mook join the throng. I hope he is as tirelessly devoted to her as she deserves and doesn’t, you know, sell her donors’ list to the highest bidder. Just do your job, Robby, and do it well. She is more than capable of doing the rest.

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