• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Propertius on Throwback Thursday: Corey the…
    Propertius on Throwback Thursday: Corey the…
    jmac on Throwback Thursday: Corey the…
    William on Throwback Thursday: Corey the…
    William on Is “Balance of Nature…
    thewizardofroz on Is “Balance of Nature…
    Beata on Is “Balance of Nature…
    William on Is “Balance of Nature…
    Beata on Is “Balance of Nature…
    seagrl on Why is something so easy so di…
    Propertius on Is “Balance of Nature…
    jmac on Is “Balance of Nature…
    William on Is “Balance of Nature…
    Beata on Is “Balance of Nature…
    Beata on Is “Balance of Nature…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    August 2011
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • God As Idea, By Eric Anderson
      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
  • Top Posts

I don’t have any patience for this crap anymore and I’m not going away

Jonathan Capehart in the Washington Post is the latest pundit to tell us to stop pining for Hillary and give Obama some slack.  He agrees with Rebecca Traister at Salon who just wishes the rest of us would STFU already.  Capehart puts the blame on the Republicans who thwarted Obama’s first term, even though he started said first term with a solid majority in one house and a filibuster proof majority in the other.  But these are the two paragraphs that caught my eye because they border on the absurd:

By agreeing with Traister, though, I’m not giving Obama a pass on some of the anger and frustration the base has with him. The president has made mistakes. He pursued priorities that I believe will be judge kindly by history but are being judged negatively right now by the American people. And Obama hasn’t been as effective weaving the narrative of his administration as he was at reminding us of who we were as a country at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

The president needs to do a better job of focusing on the near-term priorities the American people have been clamoring for and the long-term issues that will leave this country better than he found it, fighting for those issues and story-telling. With Obama trying out themes on his bus tour that we’re bound to hear in the fall, delivering those themes with a snap in his voice that surely thrilled his supporters hungry for him to fight and leaking news of a post-Labor Day speech on jobs and the deficit, it appears he has already begun.

Obama’s going to try out “themes” with a “snap in his voice”.  Has Capehart been paying attention to the less than thrilled supporters who have abandoned Obama lately?  They’re not coming back.  They’ve finally seen the light like I did three years ago.  Once you see what’s going on, it’s hard to unsee it.   If there has been one thing Obama has been good at it’s disillusioning the leftist activists who worked so hard for him last time.  I’m hoping we can get the band back together and reunite the two coalitions of the party before Obama rolls out too many “themes”.

Does anyone really believe that just because Obama tests out some campaign themes that he’s going to rally the troop?  How come he didn’t test those themes out in January of 2009?  I’ll tell you why.  He didn’t believe in using the force of government to head off a lingering Lesser Depression.  He had his chance to do it and … he didn’t.

This is why the calls for Hillary Clinton to jump in are not going to go away.  The buyer’s remorse has to do with the very reasonable expectation that Hillary would have been a lot more proactive than Obama was in January 2009.  Do we really believe that she would have taken office and let the economy languish during her first year in office, that she wouldn’t have aggressively championed a bigger stimulus package and a mortgage program to help struggling homeowners?  Can any of us see her getting the news from Christina Romer to ask for $1.2 trillion in stimulus and have her say, “Ehhh, that’s probably too hard to get through Congress.  Let’s go with what Tim proposed and the market will take care of itself”

No, nobody who has been paying attention to the way Hillary and Obama conduct business that she would have been as passive and inept as this president has been.  And the thought of what might have been is deeply frustrating and maddening to those of us who have lost our jobs and are about to lose everything else.

Now, a lot of political party operatives will tell you that it is impossible to change the nominee, that’s it’s unheard that an incumbent is not entitled to a second term.  But to leave Obama in place risks losing the White House.  And I suspect that he has very short coattails.  I sure as hell don’t want to see him campaigning with any of my Congressional delegation members.  I live in an area where high tech jobs have been smashed to smithereens and all I ever hear about is how we have to retrain ourselves to take the jobs of the future.  How much more futuristic do we have to get???

What the political environment needs right now is something completely unpredictable.  Voters are getting really tired of not having a choice.  If Hillary jumped in, she’d be where all of those pent-up, frustrated votes would go.  It could be electric.  She is the most logical candidate to field, seeing as she appeals to a large number of voting constituencies.  But if there is another candidate with her viability and appeal, I’d consider him/her.

But all I ever hear is how I should stop whining about it because we’re stuck with Obama, who if he wins, will have even LESS incentive to take on the Republicans or do anything that will put government to work for us.  Yes, I’m supposed to just suck it up while my savings dwindle and my family falls out of the middle class while he tests his “themes” and makes more promises he does not intend to keep.  (We’ve been paying attention)  This campaign is not about the success of Obama’s “themes”.  It’s about correcting inequity, writing new rules and getting people back to work.  That Obama responds to our plight with a series of “themes” does not thrill me or make me want to vote for him any more than the first time he rolled out his marketing campaign in 2008.

I’m not voting for any of the candidates presented to me so far.  I will choose a third party candidate.  And I’m not shutting up or going away.

Friday: Well, this is interesting- NIH request for information on the future of biomedical research

From Jared Berstein's blog. If you havent' found a job after 6 months, your chances of getting are slim.

A few months back when I was still working, the American Chemical Society held a webinar with some people from the Bureau of Labor Statistics where they proceeded to tell us that unemployment was really, really low for chemists.  The disconnect was astonishing until we realized that the BLS hadn’t collected data since before the Lesser Depression began.  The pharmaceutical industry has laid off something like 300,000 people since 2007 and this time, the sales division did not take the biggest hits. In my own immediate family/friends, not one of us has a full time job with benefits for the first time in our working lives.  We are all either un or under employed without health benefits and are barely managing to scrape by with paying our rents and mortgages after the industry lured us out to the most expensive part of the country to live and then stranded us here.  And we are not high school dropouts.  We all have degrees, some of them PhDs from prestigious universities, in physical or natural sciences and our performance evaluations were good.  Some of us even got performance awards (for the second year in a row!) a month before we got our pink slips.

Well, it seems like the NIH is trying to get some new data.  As Derek Lowe reports on In the Pipeline:

A reader passes along this request for comment by the NIH. The “Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce” is asking for thoughts on issues such as the length of time it takes to get a PhD, the balance between non-US and US workers, length of post-doctoral training, the prospects for employment after such is completed, general issues relating to whether people choose biomedical research as a career at all, and so on.

If you are in the industry, let me rephrase that, if you once had hopes to work in the industry but have had those hopes brutally dashed after you spent years slaving away over a hotplate, you may want to contribute your constructive input.  You have until October 7, 2011 to do it.  Go to this form.  Try not to get tears and snot on the keyboard while you’re filling it out.

From the  NIH website on this RFI, here’s some of the information they are interested in:


This Notice is a time-sensitive Request for Information (RFI) requesting input into the deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce.


The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) has established a working group to examine the future of the biomedical research workforce in the United States (seehttp://acd.od.nih.gov/bwf.asp for charter and roster).  The group will gather information from various sources including the extramural community, and will develop a model for a sustainable, diverse, and productive U.S. biomedical research workforce using appropriate expertise from NIH and external sources. The model will help inform decisions about how to train the optimal number of people for the appropriate types of positions that will advance science and promote health. The working group will recommend actions to the ACD and to the NIH Director.

In its initial deliberations, the working group identified the following issues as important to consider when developing a model of the future biomedical research workforce:

  • The balance between supply, including the number of domestic and foreign trained PhDs and post-docs, and demand, i.e. post-training career opportunities.
  • Characteristics of PhD training in biomedical research, including issues such as
  • The length of the PhD training period.
  • Recommendations for changes to the PhD curriculum.
  • Training for multiple career paths (including bench and non-bench science).
  • Characteristics of clinician-research training including issues such as
  • The balance between MDs and MD/PhDs
  • Career development of clinician-researchers.
  • Recommendations for changes to the curricula for training clinician-researchers.
  • Length of Post-doctoral training.
  • The ratio of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on training grants to those supported by research grants.
  • Possibilities for professional/staff scientist positions and the level of training required for such positions (e.g. PhD or MSc degrees).
  • Issues related to the attractiveness of biomedical research careers (e.g. salary, working conditions, availability of research funding)
  • The effect of changes in NIH policies on investigators, grantee institutions and the broader research enterprise.

I’d like to thank whoever is responsible for getting this together for actually taking an interest in the issue, even if it is years too late to save our careers or the underlying infrastructure that all Americans are counting on to produce the results we have taken for granted in modern times.  If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that the number of PhDs produced is irrelevant if no one wants to hire you.  Regardless of your degree level, studying the sciences is not for the faint of heart.  It takes dedication to master some difficult material, perseverance to learn new information and years and years of practice before you’re any good.  You can get your 10,000 hours in graduate school or on the job.  Some non-PhD scientists are extremely capable and some PhDs come to industry with lots of attitude but no practical skills.  But whatever the degree level and regardless of where we are located in the world, there just aren’t a whole lot of us who have the skills to do research at this level.  We need to be compensated accordingly.  At some point, research becomes an art.  It’s not something that can be broken down into assembly line, just-in-time parts.  It operates best when there is “frictionless” collaboration, when the physical barriers that separate groups are minimal and leadership is partitioned away from the bean counters.