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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


10 Responses

  1. OTB . . . I just found a comment in the current NaCap thread illustrating with some detail in a particular instance Barak Obama’s M.O. It goes to show why I consider him a secret agent Republican conspirator rather than an “inexperienced and incompentent” “Democrat”.
    Jill says:
    December 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm
    This is not true: “Apparently the Republicans…they want an environment-killing Keystone pipeline—so they want that linked to the extension of the payroll tax holiday. The wording they prefer forces the President to forego any reasoned analysis of the wisdom of the pipeline by rushing a decision within 60 days.” I do not mean you are lying, I mean this isn’t accurate.

    Obama said the decision about the pipeline was his to make and he would make it. He said this about two months ago. In the meantime I can tell you Marathon has been quietly buying out an entire neighborhood in Detroit to expand facilities for the oil from the pipeline. In other words, this decision has been made and Obama needs cover for it.

    His fellow Republicans are standing in the breech, so when he makes public the decision he’s already told the industry about, it will look like evil old Republicans “forced” him to make that decision. Obama does this a lot. If he didn’t have evil Republicans around, people would figure out he actually made his own horrific decisions.”

    • Really? I thought I read somewhere that the Republicans want him to agree to the pipeline in the bill and that Obama was going to dogs along with it because the state department is the only entity that can actually approve the thing and they are guaranteed to put the sucker on hold. So, what are the Republican really up to? Are the working some back room deal to get Hillary to fast track the deal? I can see both Obama and the Republicans liking that idea. Yep, get all the ducks in a row first. Make sure Hillary takes the blame. THEN run the sucker through congress.

      • Arghhhh! IPad keyboard autocorrect sucks.

      • I have been just halfway following this, mainly in terms of opposition efforts as written about at the Energy Bulletin website. To the best of my skeletal knowledge, some level of approval was made by the civil permaservants somewhere within the State Department . . essentially a bogus declaration of environmental non-harm, I think. I don’t know at what level a declaration of national security importance is made.

        Eventually, the President, in this case Obama, gets to make a final decision. I don’t know if he “gets” to or “has” to. But Obama has been selected as the pressure point on which Bill McKibben has been focusing all the pain and pressure he can figure out how to focus.
        “Obama, remember your promises, Obama, remember your pledges, etcc”. We will be watching and we will vote, etc.” It did have an effect.
        Obama was hoping to delay the decision long enough to get re-elected and then okay the pipeline and laugh at all the enviro-liberals.
        The Republican officeholders want to make Obama okay it beFORE the election so he can face a bunch of angry enviro-liberals.

  2. I was listening today to a description of this pipeline – from a Canadian who says that the environment at the base of the pipeline has been destroyed: that the dirty oils will be forced through the pipeline with such high intensity force that leaks “will” occur; that it will end up in Texas to be refined by oil giants; and then (wait for it…..) be sold to China. He claims that the Panama Canal is already being enlarged to handle the shipment to China.


    Seems to me that all of these claims can be fact-checked and if proven, should be screamed form the rooftops.

  3. “Some supernatural being called a job creator…” Ah. Good one! What’s amazing to me is that the hoi polloi actually buy into this nonsense. When you read actual business journals, they make clear that hiring is low because demand is low, not because the “job creators” feels hemmed in. But our national dialog remains fueled by myth.

    Oh — there is this weird thing on Myiq’s site where suddenly everyone has decided that I am Son of Hitler. I’m not too bothered by this, since his site gets even less traffic than mine.

    Apparently, I am being accused of 1. Trying to stir up dissension on the Confluence and of 2. Kissing your ass at every opportunity. These two claims seem to conflict with each other. Well, you can’t expect people locked in the throes of hate-gasm to think logically.

    At any rate, if you prefer to delist me from your blogroll, that might be for the best. If people have a problem with me, I don’t want that to reflect on your site.

    You know how blog readers are: They form all sorts of bizarre theories about conspiratorial relations between people who actually have only a tangential relationship. In reality, you and I have never spoken and don’t see eye-to-eye.


    • When was the demand ever low for people who could work on cures for cancer?
      Just curious.

      • Good question. Demand is generally low for products in the US but the STEM situation is different. The science/engineer employment problems are due to the MBA’s fad of outsourcing for cheap labor overseas. But you already know that.

    • As for delisting you, when did we start taking orders, or even suggestions, from The Crawdad Hole? I don’t remember signing any agreements with you but even if I did, backing away for you just because of stuff myiq says doesn’t bloody phase me in the least. He knows I don’t read bad press about The Confluence and I don’t give a f}#% anyway.
      Besides, if there’s a bigger conspiracy theorist than myiq at the moment, I can’t think of him. He’s still convinced that Occupy is an Obama AstroTurf thing when I can’t pick that signal up at all.
      When we have problems with you, we’ll let you know. Do nothing toil you hear from me.
      Anyway, we are not the blog nanny.

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