Sunday, March 18, 2007


Letter to Pat: The Future, Elsewhere

Dear Pat, The Dog,

I agree with your assessment of the state of LANL, its management, its sponsors, and its staff. I applaud you for the efforts you spent in trying help LANL help itself, but the collective wherewithal at LANL just doesn't seem capable of rising to the occasion.

I believe the term for what we have observed in this latest LANL-focussed web interaction is called "Darwinism," evolution in action, survival of the fittest, etc.

There will soon be RIFs. LANL's science mission will continue to erode. In a few years those of us who once worked there will not recognize the place, nor will we want to.

Thanks again for trying to help undo some of the damage that the ill-conceived corporatization process has done to LANL, but it is now clearly time for those who wish to participate in a healthy, productive work environment to move on.



Dear Anon:

You have the true Force with you. You can make it in other, more productive environments -- even "campus-like" environments -- of that I am sure. May you, your new colleagues, and your students prosper. Urge them to think for themselves and stand up for what is right. It'll be a refreshing thing for us somewhat older people to watch as a new day dawns. (As for me, don't worry: I plan to move on beyond all this LANL misery in only a few more months. Things are progressing nicely to a new, more friendly place for your canine pal. And you don't even have to go very far from here ...)

--Pat, the forward-looking Dog

I'm afraid that those who remain will, by definition, be those who simply don't have what it takes to find work in a healthier environment. There is a range of reasons that will explain why some of the staff will remain, even as the work environment, not to mention the budget at LANL continues to deteriorate.

In no particular order, here a few of the of the reasons why some of the remaining staff will have trouble finding gainful employment in the real world:

1) Some are too old.
2) Some are too specialized.
3) Some (ok, quite a few) are too mediocre.
4) Some (ok: again, many) are too decoupled from the real world.
5) Some don't want to leave their home community.
6) Some (the majority?) have never had to function in the real world. They went straight from academia into staff positions at LANL. Just goes to show the perils of a too-narrow life perspective.

Whatever the reasons, those remaining will be the core of an increasingly discontent, dysfunctional, and extremely unhappy work force. Did I mention mediocre? If you haven't been at LANL lately, you simply have no idea how the LANS bureaucrats have fucked up the ability, much less any desire, to get work done.

Put a happy face on that, Kevin Roark. Let's hear you cheerlead this, Terry Wallace. Come on Mikey, how about laying off with the congratulations you've been handing out to your LLNL cronies for having 'won' the RRW for a minute so say a few words to your remaining ever-faithful at-will troops?
But Mike repeatedly says there will be no RIFs.
"But Mike repeatedly says there will be no RIFs," bleated the quivering voice of a reality-decoupled, over-specialized, possibly mediocre, and somewhat fearful at-will LANL employee (possessed, no doubt, of a somewhat narrow perspective).
There will be RIFs, regardless of what Mikey has promised for FY07. As another poster stated, expect to see a reduction in the workforce of around 15% over the next two years. This will have a particularly nasty effect on the already depressed housing market on the Hill. The fear factor of LANL staff will be increasingly by leaps and bounds in the near future, especially for those who own houses in Los Alamos.

LANL will likely become NNSA's center for plutonium science and plutonium production. If you work in this area, consider yourself lucky. The weapons design and stockpile work at LANL, however, is in for some hard times. Same goes for those who do WFO or basic science, where ridiculously high staffing costs are killing the ability to secure funding.

If you only need a few more years until retirement, then you might find it worthwhile to see this mess through to the bitter end. However, if you're a young or middle age scientist at LANL, you will probably be much happier looking elsewhere to finish out your career, especially if you don't own a house on the Hill and can sell it.

LANL is clearly on a downward spiral. You can see it all around you. And the saddest part about all of this is that neither NNSA nor LANS seems to give a damn. Given past statistics, we are probably only a year or two away from yet another Congressional whipping and the addition of yet more policies that further erode the morale of the remaining staff. Everyone should know the routine fairly well by now.

Thanks for hosting the blog for the last few months, Pat. I don't agree with the recent emphasis on politics, but without this blog, many of the lies being passed out by both LANS and NNSA would go completely unchallenged.
I would hate to see Pat go. I like the blog for both the information on LANL and how what is happening at the lab fits into the bigger picture of the what is happening in the United States overall.

Maybe we cannot save LANL, however
we can still vote in the upcomming elections. The past six years has been one of the darkest periods in US history. Will greed, corruption,anti-intelectualism, superstition, christian fundalmentalism, and irrationality win or will the people finally wake up. We should never give up the good fight.
You fought The Man, and The Man won.

Happens that way sometimes. Good Luck.
"The Man won."

Hardly an unexpected outcome when a grand total of 5 or 6 people stood up to fight the new, corrupt corporate management "team", while the other 9,995 LANL staff retreated in denial.

The good news is that Darwin wins again. 500 years from now we will either be stronger as a society, or no longer around.
You hung in there longer than I would have, Pat.

It became clear to me some while ago that LANL staff, in general, were too afraid of management 'authority' to put up any kind of a fight.

While I also applaud your efforts to correct, or at least bring to light some of the incredible acts of corruption that have resulted from this whole corporatization process, I don't really think LANL staff, on the whole, were deserving of your efforts.

Let it go. Take a break, go on vacation, drink a beer or three. Thanks for trying.
Pat, you disabled comments on the discussion over the increase in political posts by you. If you want your blog to stay relevant you need to keep the discussion focused on LANL rather than national conspiracies.

I strongly agree with what are apparently your political views, but if you want to do the LANL community a service with this blog, keep it focused on LANL and collect inside information that is relevant to LANL workers in deciding their own future.
The so-called "political posts" I put up on this blog were meant as a wake-up call to the sleepy, but severely abused staff at LANL. It's all connected; we are not alone in this morass of modern American political corruption; it affects the practice of scientific research everywhere, at all governmental institutions, not just here at Los Alamos.

The wake-up call "worked" insofar as getting some kind of response, mainly denial. I never cared much about gathering approval for these posts, but the level of discussion was surprisingly weak and defensive of The Corporate State.

For the last couple of weeks of this blog's existence, comments will be allowed on RRW, LANL retirement issues, and management problems. There will be no more "political" posts, since you all can go to (or, or wherever you like to browse) to see how we're sinking into the mire, nationally and internationally.

I won't rub your noses in it.

--Pat, the Dog
From: "Jack Pera"
Subject: Sicko Society.
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 09:23:38

Thought for the day -

News Headline 2/26/07: Lacking Grant Money, Scientists Shift Research To Defense And Security

Comment: That reminds me of a story I haven't forgotten. About 16 years ago there was a young kid named Jay Holt fresh out of college living here who apparently was a particle physicist and mathematical whiz. I was told by his girl friend he made exceptional grades in college on such hard subjects. One day I was talking to him and I asked him: "With a background such as yours and with so much potential, why are you living in Telluride?" His reply was that about the only place he was going to be able to pursue his career as a particle physicist was with the government working towards developing weapons. He said he didn't believe in war or doing that so he gave it up. Too bad most people don't possess the same conscience that Jay does.

P. S. It's obvious that under the buSHITes any scientist of any type that wants to keep his job had better keep any anti-republican ideas zipped and his mouth shut and promote war and anti-environment economic expansion.
[This was sent to me by an anonymous contributor, who got a message from an anonymous LANL staffer. -Pat.]

"Thank you for your kind thoughts. I'm relieved to be away from the toxic workplace that the privatized LANL has become." (-Anonymous LANL staffer)

In the SFNM this morning, page 4, the Washington Post divulges the privationization of

Walter Reed . . .

A no-bid contract for the maintenance, security, public works and management went to IAP Worldwide Services.

IAP is owned by a New York hedge fund whose board is chaired by former Treasury Secretary John Snow * and led by former executives of Kellogg, Brown and Root *, the subsidiary of Halliburton *, the oil services firm once run by Dick Cheney *.

* These insidious leaches never go away but just move and attach themselves to some other disreputable area that is doing damage to our country and/or citizens.

-Anonymous (non-LANL) Contributor
Pat, I hope will still run the blog from your new place. I'm also moving on to greener pastures right before June 1st, but would love to keep up with what's going on here. (kind of like not being able to keep your eyes away from a car accident site when driving by...)
re: 3/19, 9;17am

C' folks didn't know the "K" in KSL (Home of the $5000 whiteboard) is KBR (Kellog-Brown and Root)? Not to worry, rumor is that KBR and Shaw (who brought you Mike Bagale and Dave Whitaker: the penultimate "carpetbaggers") are pulling out and leaving the "L" (LATA) to run site support services....same $45/hour custodians being billed to LANL (who get paid just under $12/hour)..same "deputy associate director" job titles and huge salaries in their management structure for making sure the roads and commodes are properly managed.

Wanna snapshot of LANL's future: Take a look at KSL...Such a fun place to work...mismanged into the ground, most of the good sharp people gone, the lowest paid targeted for the layoffs while the management structure enjoys high paid jobs AND bonuses for their sterling delivered product...
BS If your still here and not happy , you are "Stuck" for whatever reason you can dream up...bottom line ..get unstuck there is life after the lab, I know I bailed out in June of last year, and it's the best decision I have ever made. I feel better, nmy outlook is "positive" and Im making about as much $$$as I was putting up with all of the unnessary bull-shit.
Hey people if you want a blog relevant to LANL then start your own. Jeez it's easy to post anonymously and complain about content. I suggest you take the time and effort to run a blog. It is a blog and its Pat's to run. (Or not). He truly exercised freedom of speech. But I don't expect to see anything done as a replacement or even an alternative. And no I am not volunteering. I think I just proved my own point. Things that make you go "Hmmm". Anyhow, Pat if you continue or not, then the decision should be based on your enjoyment of it. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Oh yeah sign me "Anonymous" case it's so easy.
Yeah, right, 5:09 PM.

Take a look to your left.

Now, take a look to your right.

Did you see anybody not completely covered in curly sheep's hair?

Me neither. There is nobody left at LANL with sufficient intestinal fortitude to run a LANL blog. When you say goodbye to Pat's blog, you will truly be on your own.

If you remember to say "Yes, sir!" and "No Sir!", and don't miss when you pee in the cup, and you will probably do just fine, until the next RIF.

You folks up there on the Hill really are a bunch of gutless bastards. No wonder Pat is throwing in the towel.
I am a gonna open a store in Los Alamos, and I am a gonna sells a lot of balls cause none of you guy's got any..they have turned you into a bunch of sheep, most of the good people have left, the ones that remain, either are afraid that they won't or can't be hired, or are afraid of the real world , where you might have to really work, meet deadlines and produce...and compete. Well friends the Gravey Train is about to get de-railed and your gonna have to do something, might a wanna stop by my a store and pick up a "set"......
I will miss your blog.


I got out about 1.5 years ago; after having been here for 35 years. I used to be very proud to work at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.

I have always regretted that I missed one of the sponsored Tuesday talks given in the 1970s by Jiddu Krishnamurti. LASL used to be a really neat place to work and to have someone like him come and talk to all the cone heads was apparently very thought provoking.

Good luck in all that you do.

So you wanna know what's happening in the news that's relevant? Here it is, suckers:

"Support for Gonzales appeared to be collapsing under the weight of questions about his truthfulness and his management ability. White House spokesman Tony Snow offered a tepid defense when asked if Gonzales would stay on the job until the end of President Bush's term.

"'We hope so,' Snow said. 'None of us knows what's going to happen to us over the next 21 months.'"

Well, shit! We know what's gonna happen here at Corporation LANL:
Sometime in the next "21 months" (hah! try 6 months!) there'll be 1000 RIFs. While you're at it, try out Mikey's "truthfulness and his management ability," or NNSA's, if you like them better. (They're Bushits, ya know.)

-Sign me, Sick of This Shit, and Heading for the Door.
I also will miss this blog. I left about 2 years ago, and (sadly) keep up with the goings on.

I was also very proud to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. There is life on the outside. It is not the end of the world to move on.

Good luck in all that you do.

OK, Pat, dammit! If you won't post news that's relevant to LANL, how about letting me post this one as a comment?


Former White House official defends editing of climate papers

H. JOSEF HEBERT | AP | March 19, 2007 05:47 PM EST

WASHINGTON — A former White House official accused of improperly editing reports on global warming defended his editorial changes Monday as reflecting views expressed in a 2001 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

House Democrats said the 181 changes made in three climate reports reflected a consistent attempt to emphasize uncertainties surrounding the science of climate change and undercut the broad conclusions that manmade emissions are warming the earth.

Philip Cooney, former chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acknowledged at a House hearing that some of the changes he made were "to align these communications with the administration's stated policy" on climate change.

The extent of Cooney's editing of government climate reports first surfaced in 2005. Shortly thereafter, Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist, left the White House to work at Exxon Mobil Corp.

"My concern is that there was a concerted White House effort to inject uncertainty into the climate debate," said Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the Government Reform Committee in the House of Representatives.

Cooney's appearance before Waxman's committee on Monday marked the first time he has spoken publicly or was extensively questioned about the issue.

Cooney said many of the changes he made to the reports, such as uncertainty about the regional impact of climate change and limits on climate modeling, reflected findings of a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report on climate.

Waxman's committee also heard from James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the country's leading climate scientists, who said the White House repeatedly tried to control what government scientists say to the public and media about climate change.

"Interference with communications of science to the public has been greater during the current administration than at any time in my career," said Hansen, who was one of the first to raise the problem of climate change in the 1980s.

Hansen's battles with NASA and White House public affairs officials are not new and resulted in an easing of NASA's policies toward scientists talking to the media about their work.

But that was not always the case.

Hansen said that in 2005 he was told by a 24-year-old NASA public affairs official he could take no part in an interview with National Public Radio on orders from senior NASA public affairs officials. Instead, three other NASA officials were offered for the interview.

The young press officer, George Deutsch, now 26, sat next to Hansen at the witness table Monday and told the committee he had simply been "relaying" the views of higher-ups at NASA that Hansen was not to participate in the interview.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa suggested that Hansen was not being muzzled at all, and there is nothing wrong with government scientists being subject to some limits in what they say.

"You're speaking on federal paid time. Your employer happens to be the American taxpayer," Issa lectured Hansen. He said a Google search had shown Hansen cited on more than 1,400 occasions over a year in interviews and appearances.

Hansen said he accepted only "a small fraction" of the requests for interviews and appearances and that, as a matter of free speech, government scientists should not be restrained in their remarks or have public affairs officers listening in on interviews.

"It doesn't ring true," said Hansen. "It's not the American way, and it's not constitutional."
I let that one through by Son of Oppy because I hope that one or more of the LANL RRW team get to testify before Congress. Government scientists should be heard from, like any other American citizen with special knowledge, not muzzled by Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa.

I know a lot of extremely good TSMs who are close to accepting well paying jobs outside of this pathetic place.

The exodus is going to accelerate in the next few months, not that either NNSA or LANS really gives a damn.
It's easy to say no one has "balls" to say or do anything on the blog. Yet whenever there is an all hands or all managers meeting and the Q&A come strange how not even you who say you have "balls" get up and say or ask anything. Where are all you "with balls" wonders. You sure aren't up there at the forefront either.

Based on the last all managers meeting there is an all hands coming very soon to discuss Lab goals, PBIs, and job classification restructuring. There will be a Q&A. Let's count how many of you take the microphone and shoot your mouths off.
While I appreciate the effort Pat has put into this, I won't be sorry to see this blog closed. I have worked with a few people like the readers - they were typically about 10% in the group I worked in - always seeing the negative, always expecting the sky to fall, and berating all of those who "refused" to "see" the gloom and doom they claimed to view.

Maybe there will be RIFs. Maybe LANL will go away. I very much doubt it, and I certainly won't base my actions on such unfounded pessimism.

Good luck Pat, thanks for trying...
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