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      If there is something this blog is about, it’s how to think. There’s an entire category, but it’s most of what I write. Thinking well isn’t about always being right, because you can’t be. It is about having models of the world that are right often enough; and, that when wrong fail with the least […]
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Sign of the Times: Missing US user group meetings

Yesterday, I noticed that the application vendors of modeling programs that I use aren’t having as many user group meetings (UGM) in the US as they have in the previous two decades.  One of them is suspending its US UGM for 2013.  One other seems to have decided to display at ACS (American Chemical Society) conferences around the country, and a third says it is trimming back on the ACS meetings displays for a UGM in Montreal.

However, almost all of them are continuing to have UGMs in Europe, the Netherlands and Switzerland, specifically.  The Netherlands seems to be a convenient location for a couple UGMs.  It would be easy train rides for French and German scientists, and a channel crossing for the Brits.

Other than that, as business dries up in the US, there are fewer reasons to spend a lot of money on hotel conference facilities.  Not only are they not profitable for the vendors, fewer scientists can get the money to go.  So, that means that you’re going to have to be a senior level person, who probably hasn’t docked a protein in 10 years, to attend a  European UGM.  I predict lots of schmoozing, networking and license negotiations over wine and pate.  The rest of you, get back to work and just forget about talking to your peers.

Oh, and Astra-Zeneca laid off last week and decided to close a couple more American sites.  Couple that with the effects of the sequestration on grant approvals that I have heard about, and we have the makings for a disaster in the scientific infrastructure for generations to come.

Lovely.

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I found my missing dough hook!

It’s been conspicuously absent for about 10 years.  But now it is found and I am stuck with this old Kitchen Aid mixer that was not going to make the cut to the new home.

Now, I can make bread anytime I want.

yay

Nothing new under the sun

From Bring Up The Bodies, the second book about the life of Thomas Cromwell by author Hillary Mantel:

“In March [1536], Parliament knocks back his [Thomas Cromwell’s] new poor law.  It was too much for the Commons to digest that rich men might have some duty to the poor. If you get fat, as some men do who profit from the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off their land, the laborers without labor, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges.  Men need work.  It’s a shame seeing them begging their bread, when honest labor could keep the realm secure.  Can we not put them together, the hands and the tasks?

But Parliament cannot see how it is the State’s job to create work.  Are not these matters in God’s hands, and is not poverty and dereliction part of his eternal order?  To everything there is a season- a time to starve and a time to thieve.  If rain falls six months solid and rots the grain in the fields, there must be Providence in it.  God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the work shy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality, well, are there not hangmen enough?

The King himself comes to the Commons to argue for the law.  He wants to be Henry the Beloved, a father to his people, a shepherd to his flock. But the Commons sit stoney faced on their benches and stare him out. The wreckage of the measure is comprehensive. “It is ended up as an Act for the Whipping of Beggars”, Richard Rich says.  “It is more against the poor than for them.”

And with the newest proposal by Republican Representative Steve Pearce to test the pee of the unemployed for illegal drugs, the whipping of beggars never goes out of style.

Paul Krugman argues that there is some kind of psychological need to impose austerity, a moral imperative of sorts.  More likely, the wealthy have found a convenient way to convince politicians to project the blame for spilling the milk onto the table itself.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  This is the way of the powerful.  They do not want to worry about the lives of others.  That’s what makes power so appealing.  So, knowing that, our problem is not how we convince the powerful to think beneficently and empathetically towards other people.  Power makes them immune from such supplications.  Our problem is to convince ordinary people that there is power in sheer numbers.  The media has been very good at promoting learned helplessness.  That’s where they excel.  What we need is a movement that counteracts that message.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Domum Habemus

IMG_1822We have a house!  I closed on it yesterday. I am now technically a resident of Pennsylvania.  Still gotta move there but we’re getting closer.  The house needs some TLC before we can move in so I have a list of contractors and bids to go through today.  Lots of scheduling to do and I have yet to find a roofer.  If anyone in the Pittsburgh area has a recommendation, list it in the comments.

Anyway, it’s nice to have a house that I own free and clear without a mortgage.  Whew!  And according to the deed, I own quite a sizeable chunk of mowable yard.  It looks like I own a lot and a half, which is still a modest size but there’s a large sunny patch of ground with plenty of space for several raised beds.

cool

Stuff

Real Life is hectic lately.  I’m doing some real estate type things and there are some other things that have come up.  Will fill you in one of these days.  It’s been interesting in a Chinese proverb kind of way.

In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on current events.

Re: Pope Francis- Meet the new hardass, same as the old hardass.  Really, what else did we expect?  The old pope is still hanging around and probably made a big stink about picking his successor.  Nothing was going to change.  So, he’s from Argentina.  So, he probably knows how to tango.  BFD.  Given that it’s a 2000 year old institution run by a bunch of guys, this choice is no real surprise.

I only wish I could write these people off as irrelevant bunch of medievalists as they are.  Funny how the men of the world don’t have to pay any attention to who the new pope is.  It’s only the women.  Hmmmm…  It looks like Freedom of Religion doesn’t apply to everyone in this country.

Re: Paul Ryan and the Republicans.  They’re all cracked.

Re: More rail service.  I’m for it.  I’ve been a fan of public transit, and trains in particular, since my first trip to Europe in the early 90s and wrote about my experiences with the French train system when I was back on DailyKos.  In fact, my question to Hillary Clinton in 2007 in Chicago at the second YearlyKos was specifically about trains and other infrastructure.  I’m glad to see Atrios, Krugman and Lambert weighing in on trains lately.  Can we get a posse on broadband?  That was one of Hillary’s main focuses when she answered my question- bringing American broadband into the 21st century.  What a wasted opportunity.  {{sigh}}

Re: Kim Kardashian.  I don’t get it.

 

 

Let’s call the VSPs!

Atrios says that if the Grand Bargain comes we should get on the horn and call our reps, senators and White House.  But why stop there?

If the people who really count are the Very Serious People like David Gregory, Thomas Friedman and David Gergen, then shouldn’t they find out just how much the Average American doesn’t want cuts to their pre-paid social insurance benefits?

These VSPs don’t mingle with the rest of us but maybe it’s time they found out how many of us there are and that we’re not putting up with any bullshit.  We worked for our social insurance benefits, we paid through the nose for them and we’re demanding every penny back, with no cuts.  In fact, we’ve put up with a lot in our working lives including crazy hours, expensive daycare and reduced pensions, if we’re lucky.  I think we deserve a raise.  Raise the Social Security benefit so we can retire with the same lifestyle as our parents.

The last thing we need is a bunch of patrician thumbsuckers telling us to make more sacrifices so they don’t have to pay more in taxes. I don’t know who these VSPs think they are but I’m sick of their shit.

They ought to know that there is life beyond the Beltway cocktail circuit and we are not amused.

Breitbart goes after Krugman. Yessss!

Breitbart, or whoever is running the show over there since the founder let his ire get the best of him, is claiming that Paul Krugman has filed for personal bankruptcy in the past.

OooooOOOooooo, the geeky professor with sharp wit is starting to get under the skin on the right.  He might even be making sense.  Is it possible that his message is getting through to the average American? And he’s so fricking persistent.  Well, we can’t have that.  Must. Smear. Relentlessly.

Excellent.  He’s making progress.

Bwahahahahahhhhh!!!