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      A little over 1 week in, and we’ve raised approximately $2,400. The first tier is at $5.000: A longer article on the collapse of the USSR, putting everything I’m aware of together. In particular I want to discuss the steps Gorbachev took which seem like either gross stupidity or intentional destruction. The fall of the Soviet Union was studied in great detai […]
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Touché

I just read this story over at Derek Lowe’s blog, In the Pipeline. It’s too good to excerpt:

I believe that this story has been mentioned in the comments here, but since I’ve heard from the actual person involved, I thought I’d pass on the canonical version. Someone I used to work with at Schering-Plough found himself (like many others in his position) out of a job in late October. He had a previously scheduled trip to Florida the next day, and as he boarded the plane, who should he see sitting in first class but Fred Hassan, the CEO of Schering-Plough who’d helped engineer the deal with Merck?

As the chemist involved put it, “After quickly scanning to make sure there wasn’t a body guard looking guy near him”, he said “Hi, Fred!” Hassan looked up and asked “Do I know you?” “Well,” said the chemist, “no, probably not, but I’m a medicinal chemist with Schering-Plough, and now Merck”. Hassan smiled and said “Great, so how are you?” The response, in a loud voice, was “Well, I just got laid off!”. He then walked on down to his seat in coach, and heard Hassan saying something about being sorry about that. And as he told me, he sat there in coach, smiling at the picture of Hassan thinking about this irate ex-employee on the plane with him for the next 2 and a half hours. . .

I can think of some other CEOs who we’d like to meet in planes.  Like Bernard Poissot, Jeffrey Kindler and all of the guys from Morgan-Stanley and Goldman Sachs who helped arrange the innovation sucking, livelihood killing mergers that resulted in the unnecessary and stupid loss of our jobs.

Now that we know that they occasionally fly commercial, we may get our chance someday  Fred Hassan has left such a trail of destruction through the industry, it’s a wonder he didn’t find a contingent of Occupy Pharma on that flight.

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

Conflucian Sharon recommended this video last night.  It’s supposed to be the research version of Glengarry Glen Ross but it’s eerily accurate.

I’ve even had my share of rageaholic bosses who used to travel from Cambridge, MA to Princeton just for the purpose of screaming in our faces. He subjected my female colleague to a purple faced tirade for close to 30 minutes and it was so loud the whole floor could hear it.  Not only that but there have been instances where the guy who invented a multi-billion dollar blockbuster drug for a company was laid off with the rest of the site.  Well, after all, that was 10 years ago.  The dude probably sold that invention to the company for the customary $1.  And after billions of dollars, he gets a pink slip.  And yes, we drive Ford Fiestas, or PT Cruisers, in my case.  I once had to drive my French director to a dinner in my Cruiser and he told me in no uncertain terms how little he thought of it.  I like it.  As a single person, I need a car that has the versatility of a Swiss army knife.  Besides, if he wanted to travel in style to dinner in a BMW or a Lexus, he was hanging with the wrong crowd.  The executives up the road can afford the nice cars.

Every day in the labs that are left in America, a less noisy version of that video plays itself out.  Your job is constantly on the line.  There is no time for thinking problems through thoroughly, no money for the iterations of experiments that are necessary to crack the problem.  Your colleagues become your competition for a vicious game of full time position musical chairs.  Every year, there’s a new hairbrained scheme from the MBA class that never sets foot in a lab.  One of the most idiotic is to have each department bid for another department’s work.  Yes, let’s treat each of our former seamlessly integrated pieces of the research puzzle as potential contract resources complete with competitive bidding with the outside world and all of the time wasting paperwork that goes with that. And no one is allowed to feel “good enough”.  If you don’t have a PhD, you’re dirt.  If you don’t have a PhD from a prestigious university, you’re barely tolerable.  If you haven’t published 2 papers per year in Nature as first author, your job is in jeopardy.  Steak knives?  Unheard of.  You’re lucky if you still get free coffee.   And your pension is not safe no matter how many years you put in.

So, it only looks like comedy until you have to live it.  Oh, I could tell stories that would make your hair curl.  This is the way we treat our best and brightest.

Happy Solstice!

I’m going to be hosting a Solstice party so I’m going to be busy for the rest of the day and part of the night.  Yes, technically, Solstice was yesterday but school’s out for holiday break starting today so, you know, sleepover and all that.  Tonight, we’re going to try something bright and colorful.  If we do this right, the neighbors won’t complain.  I’ll try to take a video.

In the meantime, enjoy the starshine.  “We are stardust, we are golden”:

F%&*ability

So, myiq posted this video of a surprise visit that Newters got from the local Occupy group in Iowa:

While I admire the Iowan Occupy group’s audacity in getting that close to the candidate and I like the “Put people first!” message (simple, understandable, easy to dance to), I hope they won’t mind if I say they need to work on their Mic Check coordination. Write it down so others can “continue” when you get your ass hauled away and make sure you have enough people scattered around who can reinforce the check phrases in a regular pattern. I might also recommend a Plan B, whatever that might be for the situation at hand. Practice, practice, practice. This kind of thing can be nerve wracking the first couple of times you do it. But after while, it gets to be second nature.

Anyway, myiq thinks that the Ocuppiers made Newters look good.

Really?

I don’t think anything could make Newters look good to me. Let me be honest with you guys. Women my age are about as physically attracted to men our age as men our age are attracted to us. You want 18 year olds with flat stomachs and perky boobs? We want six pack abs and perky, ah, well, you know. If we must fantacize about guys our age that we wouldn’t kick out of the kitchen, it would have to be someone like Roy Hensling, the IKEA kitchen designer. This is kinda what we want:

Ok, see this is what hot looks like. Toned, slim body, winning smile, sexy voice with a nice Swedish accent. He’s got gray hair and wrinkles but that’s ok. His bone structure is good. If we have to drug him with some Cialis, so be it. He can slam my doors and bang my pans as much as he likes.

So, how do the Republican candidates stack up in the f%&*ability test? Jon Huntsman looks like the kind of guy I’d want to poach a salmon with. Michelle Bachmann is pretty cute too, except that I’m about as straight as people get. (Note to Michelle: skip the corn dogs at the next Minnesota state fair. You’ll scare the senior ladies.) You’d have to be a specialist to want Ron Paul but at least he looks trim. The others are OK I guess.

Newt? Totally UN-f#$^able. He’s out of shape, packing too many Georgia barbeques and sweet ass teas. He’s got a double chin, jowls and his piggy little eyes. All of his facial features look like they have been scrunched into the middle of his massive bowling ball shaped head. As my mom would say, the sexist thing in his pants is his wallet. The thought of deglazing a pan with Newters kind of kills my appetite.

So, I don’t think there is any way that the Occupiers made Newters look good. That would require an act of divine intervention.

What was the point of this post? Um, I don’t think I really have a point. I just like making fun of Newt because he’s a fearmongering, authoritarian sociopath who would look absolutely stupid smuggling plums in a european style bathing suit. See? There’s an image you won’t be able to scrub out of your head for a couple of days.

Nauseating, isn’t it.

Thursday: Pete and RePete

I’m stealing this comment from reader tle.  This is for all of the people who are, once again, shoving Obama down our throats without asking him to make ANY adjustments to his method of governance (if it can even be called that):

I don’t really perceive the repug leadership as weaker than the Chitown dems. I see two possible scenarios:
1) Mitt Romney is going to be their candidate, but they are allowing the TP folks to blow off some steam and pretend they have a say in the eventual outcome. The leadership wins here because Romney has a shot at winning, and the TP will vote as they are told, just as their “revolutionary” congress critters have done.
2) The repug leadership is intent on keeping their lap dog in the WH for another four years, in which case they will allow one of the morons to run an under-funded campaign. The moron loses, the TP folks STFU and fall back in line, bowing once again to their “betters.” If their use for the Tea Party is done, this is the smarter option.

I don’t think Hillary Clinton is interested in running this time around (and probably never again). If she was, I’d support her in a heartbeat. Since she’s not, I’ll just be voting third party again — ANY third party that appears on our ballots. I don’t even care which one, since 99% of my fellow citizens will once again be choosing between two crappy candidates and telling themselves they are making an informed decision of great import. At least I know my vote won’t make any difference.

You know who you are.  We know you read us.  You’re either leading the narrative of “OMG! If Obama loses, the Republicans will ruin us all!”, or you’re fine tuned to respond to that message.  What you are asking us to accept is a repeat of the last four years where Obama will pretend to defend the middle class and then, just go along with the Republicans anyway.  You’re asking us to accept more long term unemployment, more erosion of our infrastructure, and the mentality that is becoming fixed that Americans should stop resisting globalization.  Just give into the corporate overlords, give up your pensions and get with the program of neofeudalism.  That’s what you’re asking.

If that’s NOT what you’re asking, then you have an obligation to the rest of us to demonstrate *now* how four more years of Obama is going to make our situation better.  Here are things you are no longer allowed to do to make your argument: 1.) you are no longer allowed to smear the Clintons.  Bill Clinton did not ruin the Democratic party.  I was a Democrat until 2008.  It was Obama that ruined the party.  Stop doing this.  You are making yourselves less credible every time you open your mouths to say it.  It is becoming ineffective and tiresome and those of us who were there in the 1990’s think you’re full of shit.  Every time you blame Clinton for the failure of the Democratic party to get its act together, you make another independent.  2.) Stop acting like this is a binary choice.  The 2012 election is between the Republican nominee and Obama only in the minds of the party operatives.  This shows a lack of imagination and a heavy dose of malevolence.  If you can’t think of a better Democrat than Obama, you’re not trying hard enough.  In fact, if you can’t even suggest an alternate Democrat, I consider you the enemy as much as any Republican.  3.) Stop using fear.  Just stop.

If you can’t think of a way that Obama is going to make our lives substantially better by, oh, I don’t know, proposing policies that actually work or using his veto pen or talking in sentences without a dozen propositional phrases, then drop him.  If you can’t drop him, I am tuning you out.  I’ve noticed that the “Clinton was an evil president who triangulated” crap is cropping up everywhere with increasing desperation.  And what does triangulated mean?  It means whatever the speaker wants it to mean.  It is a catchall word that has nefarious undertones when the original meaning was just a fancy word for political jujitsu against your opponents.  That’s all it means.  It doesn’t mean you agree with your enemies and are planning to roll out soft fascism and a road to perdition.  THAT is an Obama specialty.

So, to recap: if you are proposing to ram Obama into the White House against our objections again, you are actually asking for 4 more years of ineffectual leadership from a guy who is nothing better than a moderate Republican disguising himself as a Democrat and you condemn the rest of the country to four years of a moderate Republican negotiating with what might be a Republican Congress.

I’m not sure who is making the Hillary in 2012 robocalls but the fact that so many party operatives are freaked out by them says a lot about the mood of the electorate right now.  We don’t want Pete OR RePete.  We’re sick of it, we’re sick of you and we’re sick of the unity pony you road to town on.

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

Other things:

Joe Cannon thinks I don’t like him.  This is not true.

I don’t know what’s going on in Myiq’s head but I don’t like what I see.  Is he a Republican troll?  Don’t know.  Is he catering to the Tea Party crowd for a bigger audience?  Sure looks like it.  You can draw your own conclusions from that.

I do happen to agree with Joe Cannon that the Tea Party people need to be taken down a notch.  They’re very misguided and confused.  I don’t want to say they’re stupid because I don’t believe that.  But I will say that they are more prone than geeky types to respond to emotional  manipulation and appeals to the worms that lurk in their mental mud.  It especially pisses me off that many Tea Party folks have no idea what it’s like to work a full time job and yet have the audacity to cast aspersions on those of us who are unemployed for the first time in our lives after decades of hard work in challenging professions.  The first one that pops off that shit in my presence is going to be choking back teeth.  I’m generally in favor of non-violence but I won’t put up with that crap from anyone.

Fortunately, myiq has taken most of those clueless and insensitive assholes with him to the Crawdad Hole.  For that, I will be forever grateful.

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

Newt Gingrich sees mortal threat in Sharia law??  What about crazy American fundamentalists?  Didja ever think of that?  American Christians fundamentalists are notoriously unhinged.  Take this paragraph from Gingrich’s “Oooo!  Muslim Boogeymen Speech” and rewrite it:

“Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence,” Mr. Gingrich said in the speech. “But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Shariah.”

to read:

“Stealth fundamentalist Christians use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent fundamentalist Christians use violence,” Mr. Gingrich said in the speech. “But in fact they’re both engaged in fundamentalist religious warfare, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of fundamentalist interpretation of Old Testament law.”

Yeah, that sounds about right.  The whole world knows our country is at the mercy of these nutjobs that Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann cater to.  Why doesn’t anyone ask them why they are pandering to a bunch of people whose vision is so firmly fixed on the next life they are certain they are going to and you’re not?  They’re so convinced that the next world is better than this one and that it is imminent, that they are willing to do absolutely nothing about addressing the evils of the world and everything they can to make those evils worse.  The logic, if you can call it that, is that if the world goes completely haywire and dangerous, Jesus is *certain* to come.  How is that substantially different from an Al Qaeda suicide bomber?  In fact, in some respects, it’s worse.  The suicide bomber can only take out people within his or her immediate radius.  Suicide bombers kill dozens of people but American Christian fundamentalists are willing to subject millions, even billions of people to lives of abject misery, poverty and pain all for the love of Jesus.

Note that I am not calling all Christians fundamentalists because that would be inaccurate and unfair.  But there’s nothing unfair about treating Christian fundamentalists as a much bigger threat to civilization than someone who presumably wants to institute Sharia law in this country.

What really irritates me about Gingrich’s screed against Sharia law is that his target audience doesn’t seem to be able to estimate the likelihood that a bunch of Muslims would have the numbers and wherewithal to actually impose it on the United States.  They’re launching a pre-emptive strike against Muslims in a war that doesn’t need to be fought.  American Muslims have better things to do with their time than go all Jihad on the rest of us.  They’ve got work in the morning, kids they have to chauffeur to soccer games, they have to go grocery shopping on weekends.  Who has time for co-erced religious conversions anymore?

Am I worried about Sharia law from Muslim Americans?  Nah, I’m more worried about the gullibility and fanaticism of the homegrown Christian fundamentalist nuts.  The people most likely to listen to Gingrich don’t know any Muslims, have never had to live near them or work for or with them.  They’re clueless.  But they do know plenty of fundamentalist Christians who think exactly like they do, which is that they are in siege mode against a world full of evil unbelievers.  Since I’ve known both varieties, I’d feel MUCH safer around a bunch of American Muslims any day.  American fundamentalist Christians are dangerous.

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

And now for something completely different.  Chriselle Lim is a stylist based in California.  Just last year, she started making styling videos for youtube.  I *love* her.  She has a wicked gift for taking one clothing item and styling it different ways so that you don’t even recognize it as the same thing.  You can literally wear the same item seven days in a row and no one will notice.  For those of us on teensy clothing budgets, her styling tips are a very welcome.  I’ll never look at my wardrobe the same way again.

Here’s one of her most current videos on how to wear a cowl neck sweater: