Sunday, March 25, 2007


Bill Moyers Speaks About America, But It Applies to LANL

From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectra, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic pressures on ordinary Americans that deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life.

What's to be done?

The only answer to organized money is organized people.


The only answer to organized money is organized people.

And again:

The only answer to organized money is organized people.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them."

-Bill Moyers, an address to students at Occidental College, entitled "A Time for Anger, a Call to Action."


Does this strike home to those of you who are NOT part of LANL's new "Power Elite"?

Think, before you answer.

--Pat, the Dog

PS: A herd does not qualify as "organized people"...

The people who've posted comments on this blog supporting the local Corporation (Bechtel and its evil partner, UC) and the Bush/Cheney Administration are probably doing so because they are the Elite. I find it comforting, rather than disgusting to see these desperate posts, because I think it shows their deep fear of the common man. (Which includes women, too, and Hispanics and Native Americans who live in the Valley, and -- gasp! -- the rare, but increasing numbers of ... liberals, most of whom are actually libertarian Republicans from about a quarter century ago.)

Let the quiet Revolution that Moyers speaks of begin ... with me.
To the best and brightest young people at LANL, Moyers and I (Son of Oppy, your intellectual father at this national lab) says:

"Your generation can bring about the Third American Revolution. The first won independence from the Crown. The second won equal rights for women and for the sons and daughters of slavery. This third - the revolution of the 21st Century - will bring about a democracy that leaves no one out. The simple truth is we cannot build a political society or a nation across the vast divides that mark our country today. We must bridge that divide and make society whole, sharing the fruits of freedom and prosperity with the least among us. I have crossed the continent to tell you the Dream is not done, the work is not over, and your time has come to take it on."
3/25 7:19 pm:

"To the best and brightest young people at LANL, Moyers and I (Son of Oppy, your intellectual father at this national lab) says:"

Geez. could you be a little more smug and self-aggrandizing here?

"Your intellectual father at this natonal lab" indeed! Well, speaking as a 30-year LANL employee (Ph.D. in physics), your aren't MY "intellectual father," although maybe "Gramps" applies.

Amazng how lately liberals specify how they "used to be conservatives" so as to convey some sort of legitimacy to their new-found liberal bias (aka, rabid hated of President Bush).

When I was 18, I also thought Kumbaya was the answer. That, unfortunately, is not a substitute for intellectualism, and I grew out of it.

You are a real piece of work. People like
you are such an inspiration to other people at LANL.

Charles Reichhardt
How can LANL be representative of the the "Common Man" when my manager always told me it was home to the "Best and the Brightest"?

So, is it the Lake Wobegon effect at its best, hence my manager's statement incorrect, and LANL really is highly populated with the "Common Man"? Or, is it really jam-packed with the "Best and The Brightest", therefore unlikely representative of the "Common Man"?
Dear Anonymous (3/25/2007 9:12 PM):

I am proud to say that J. Robert Oppenheimer is my intellectual father. If you have been here at LANL for 30 years, and you don't know your intellectual heritage or any history, and you really have a Ph.D. in physics, then some slip-ups have indeed occurred along the way for you, haven't they?

As to the changes that occur in one's lifetime, let me remind you that Oppenheimer himself had an idealistic youthful fascination with the Communist Party at the height of the Great Depression. But he grew wiser with age, as some of us do, discovering that the fascism of Nazi Germany and the fascism of Stalinist Russia had common roots in their hatred for non-conformist America. But our own home-grown fascists stripped him of his security clearance in the 50's on the flimsiest of evidence, even after having demonstrated his mature sense of patriotism -- not just for any kind of America, but for an America that could stand up to fascism of all stripes.

Now, we are faced with changes in American politics that make it a sign of sanity when one says, "I used to be a Barry Goldwater kind of conservative; but now, I find that Barry's party would throw him out on his ear. So does that make me a 'liberal'? Well, HELL YES!" (Do you hear Barry' baritone growl there?)

-Son of Oppy, former conservative who can tell a fascist when he sees one: Cheney, for example. (Don't think I'm sorry if I offended you, Anonymous.)

P.S. to Anonymous (3/26/2007 4:15 PM): It's a sad day when someone at LANL thinks that "the Best and the Brightest" is not "the Common Man." But that person must then be "the Corporate Man," or the C-student. (No, I'm not going to apologize to you, either, Anonymous #2.)
8:36, no apology necessary if you meant me. I'll stick with the following definition:

"9. lacking rank, station, distinction, etc.; unexceptional; ordinary: a common soldier; common people; the common man; a common thief."

Please let me know how many employees at LANL you know who are willing to take on that self-description.

Also, please let me know when you hear statements along the lines of, "I'm just an unexceptional person with a PhD in physics who has been at LANL for xx years. Even though I lack distinction, my intellectual father was JRO." With all due respect, I just don't see much of that happening.

Now, if you want to say even though you have a PhD in science or engineering from yy University, it accords you no more respect or security than the "Common Man", then I would tend to agree with you.

Personally, I am anything but the "Corporate Man". People would bust up if they heard me described even remotely in that vein.

You seem a bit slow. By "common man" it is
clear the the poster meant people who are
not the "coporate elite" The middle class
is than the "common man". Working scientists and professors fall into the middle class.
Absolutely, 12:19. That's why I put the definition that I was using in there. Unfortunately, I didn't see a definition of "Common Man" meaning middle class, but like you said, and I agree, I'm a bit slow - I work at LANL. Since I am an inquisitive person, your comment requires some research.

Since you brought up the middle class idea, I looked up middle class. Based on the discussion in Wikipedia, it appears difficult to get a definitive characterization of middle class. Focusing on education as a factor, it appears as though most corporate executives, except CEOs, are considered part of the upper middle class (equivalently, the professional/managerial middle class). In fact, it seems most all professions requiring an advanced degree are also considered upper middle class in some breakdowns. These professions include physicians, lawyers, accountants, scientists, architects, engineers and university professors.

I don't know about you, but that level appears just a bit too close to the corporate elite from my experience. Let's look for some factors that might work on getting scientists and engineers out of that upper middle class.

I'm inclined to agree with part of your apparent suggestion/intuition that working scientists (include engineers, wtf) and university profs are below this upper middle class. Perhaps more to the "middle" than this research suggests. While not scientific, several personal observations lend support.

I had a prof in grad school who I mistakenly said did "engineering". I was told in no uncertain terms that he did no such thing. Everything he did was, in fact, not engineering. He got his PhD from Caltech, so maybe he was sensitive. He considered working scientists and engineers beneath university faculty, PhD or not. His argument was that their hours were set, they filled out time cards, got two weeks of vacation a year, usually worked on what they were assigned, having a PhD in industry conferred nothing special as those with BS and MS degrees had the same titles, etc. In other words, to say you were a prof at a large university pretty much meant you had a PhD and had gone through a substantial weeding process. To say you were a scientist or engineer in industry really didn’t relay much information. (As an aside can you, or anyone else, give the breakdown by degree of the TSMs at LANL? It used to be on the HR website, but it’s not there anymore.) The fact that there can easily be a hundred or more PhD applicants for a single science/engineering faculty opening at a good university lends support that working scientists and engineers are below university profs in class. Last time I checked, most postdocs were looking for university postions over other positions. My own experience indicates it is far easier to get an industry job than an academic job. Assuming the university profs stay in the upper middle class level, I agree the working scientists and engineers can come down. A partial plus for you.

Wasn't there a legal/medical/academic downturn in the late 80s, early 90s when lawyers/physicians/profs were let go by the 1000s? Ooops, I got confused, that was the defense/aerospace industry letting the working scientists and engineers go after the US won the Cold War. Thanks, good job, see ya. LANL missed that, which in some sense is unfortunate. Yeah, being in an occupation that can get laid off en masse is a real non-upper middle class tell. Another partial plus for you.

As far as science and engineering in general go as an attractive and popular education/career choice within this upper middle class, I think most will agree that they are among the most desirable professions, no? Maybe that's why law and medical school applications and enrollments from women and minorities are perennially low, and science and engineering programs turn the same students away by the hundreds, if not thousands. It’s impressive when you have to use medical school and law school as the backup for grad school in engineering or science. Another plus for you.

Somewhat related to my being slow, I had a Prof Liepmann when I was in college who told the class that he always told people he was a psychiatrist when he traveled. He said they were far more impressed with that than if he told them he was a professor. Why he cared was beyond me. Go figure. Another plus for you.

So, I'm willing to concede that we can knock working scientists and engineers out of the upper middle class down into the middle middle class. I'm not willing to let the university profs go – and to be honest, based on most I have spoken to, they really aren’t willing to leave the upper middle class either. Something is missing though. If the working scientists and engineers are not in the upper middle class there needs to be some distinction. After all, there is still that nontrivial educational background. Maybe, “Science and Engineering – The Ultimate (Middle) Middle Class Occupation”? One of my buds in the aerospace industry used to say “Engineering is a Chump Job”. While perhaps accurate, that just doesn’t convey positive vibes.

I doubt that as a working scientist or engineer, you will ever be mistaken for anything other than (middle) middle class by university profs, politicians, the corporate elite, other upper middle class professions, the common man, or anyone else. Highly educated, but expendable in general. Plenty more where you came from. A whole world full just waiting to be imported.

Out of curiosity, do you work in one of the divisions where they peel back the foreskin of science doing work that can be done many other places for much less money than at LANL? Or, do you work on real fate of the world/mysteries of the Universe stuff, hold the presses at Nature and Science, tell the Director not to sign? I work in the former. I operate under the assumption that I’ll be RIF’d. That is based on my experience working in a non-LANL environment for many years. If you’ve never been there, you have no clue.

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