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It was a dark and stormy night…

…and I had just finished my night cap of eggnog and rum.  Yum.

We just had a thunderstorm pass through.  Lots of high winds and driven rainfall, a little thunder.  Very noisy.  Spooooooky.

Time for something more cheerful!  I found this at the OccupyWallSt.org site.  Too good to keep to myself.  Enjoy.

Wednesday: Ignorance and Want

While my fellow unemployed colleagues in the research and development industry sit on top of our degrees, publications and patents, waiting to see if the Republicans and Obama will stop playing a game of political chicken with our unemployment checks so we can, oh, I don’t know, fill our crack pipes and watch cable on our flat screen TVs while we replace our spring houses and root cellars with a brand new french door refrigerators (True, I *did* buy one last summer, but only because I thought it would be a good idea to update the appliances in case I had to sell my house), I ran across this in a post from Paul Krugman about the plutocrats:

One of the disadvantages of being very wealthy may be that you end up surrounded by sycophants, who will never, ever tell you what a fool you’re making of yourself. That’s the only way I can make sense of the farcical behavior of the wealthy described in this new report from Max Abelson:

“Cooperman, 68, said in an interview that he can’t walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. At least four people expressed their gratitude on Dec. 5 while he was eating an egg-white omelet, he said.

“You’ll get more out of me,” the billionaire said, “if you treat me with respect.””

and this blurb at Corrente from some supernatural being called a “job creator”:

“It’s simply a fact [by which we mean, “completely an ideological construct”] that pretty much all the private- sector jobs in America are created by the decisions of ‘the 1 percent’ to hire and invest,” [Robert Rosenkranz, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Delphi Financial Group Inc.], 69, said in an e- mail. “Since their confidence in the future more than any other factor will drive those decisions, it makes little sense to undermine their confidence by vilifying them.”

It’s such a relief to me that none of them are worried about getting sick with cancer. You don’t know what a burden has been lifted from my mind to know that having obscene gobs of money guarantees immortality.

Because I spent the summer of 2010 in the lab producing a cancer protein. Never done it before. In order to make me a more attractive employee to the job creators who ran my company so they wouldn’t sever me from my livelihood, I decided to go back into the lab after 20 years and learn molecular biology and crystallography. It was hard, let me tell you, not that I didn’t enjoy it. I had to learn how to pipette 2 µL drops onto a cover slip and then pipette 2 µL smack down on top of them and make them perfectly spherical. I had to learn to ferment ecoli. I had to learn how to culture insect cells. I had to learn how to purify protein and then choose the correct conditions for crystallizing it. Then I had to fish fragile microscopic crystals out of those 2 µL drops with an equally microscopic nylon loop and freeze them so that they could be diffracted at a synchrotron. Then I had to learn how to place amino acids into the electron density of the data that came back so I could construct a model of that protein. I learned all of that in a matter of a few months. Then, just for fun, I started to design drugs for that protein.

My lab partner and I did this on a protein for oncology that had not been reported in the crystallographic literature. This was a protein that our company had tried to outsource to a company in China but they had no success in producing or crystallizing it in over a year of having the contract. My lab partner ordered the constructs and we did the whole thing start to finish, gene to structure, in 5 months. In many aspects of the project, she was as much a novice as I was. We did this on top of the work we were already assigned for other proteins. The structure that we solved was being used before I left to design drugs to combat a serious cancer for which there is no cure.

And it was some job creator’s bright idea to lay both of us off in January of 2011. We were 2 of 90 at our site who lost our jobs that day, and only 2 of over 100,000 research professionals who have lost our jobs since 2007.

The 1% are not like you and me. They’re different. They have a very strange definition of success. And they need confidence before they make hiring decisions. So I can only assume that the finance and investment class people who decided that I and my lab partner were too expensive to keep on the books, are confident that in the future they will need fewer discoveries, like the structural elucidation of cancer proteins from a crack team of two who with dedication and hard work churned out in 5 months what couldn’t be outsourced in 18.

Keep them in your thoughts this Christmas Season. This is their success and these their creatures:

Ignorance and Want

“‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said
Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe,’ but I see
something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.’ ‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was
the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children;
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt
down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.‘Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.’ exclaimed the Ghost.They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling,
wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where
graceful youth should have filled their features out, and
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled
hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No
change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any
grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has
monsters half so horrible and dread.Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him
in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but
the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie
of such enormous magnitude.‘Spirit. are they yours.’ Scrooge could say no more.‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.’ ‘Have they no refuge or resource.’ cried Scrooge.‘Are there no prisons.’ said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses.'”– A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits