Friday, July 6, 2012

Assignment desk: 8 things that need to get done

8 things that need to happen in the chemblogosphere:
  • A NMR spectroscopist blog. 
  • A rogue Sigma-Aldrich Twitter account. 
  • There really needs to be an analytical chemist blogger, specifically HPLC. 
  • A quantum/theoretical chemistry blog -- they would have to be awesome writers, but it'd be worth it!
  • Why hasn't there been a lab reality show already? 
  • It would be awesome if a big name in synthetic chemistry started to blog anonymously, dogging lame methodology papers and bogus total syntheses. C'mon, it's not like it doesn't happen on e-mail all the time. 
  • QC chemistry would lend itself to a terribly sarcastic blog, I'd think. 
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would have nothing on R.B. Woodward: Zombie Slayer.
Speaking of which, folks, what is there that you would like me to do? All suggestions welcome. 

13 comments:

  1. There is already a very good NMR spectroscopist blog: http://u-of-o-nmr-facility.blogspot.com/

    It doesn't get updated very often these days though, perhaps because he's already covered everything? I might be interested in starting one up though. What sort of stuff do people want to see?

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  2. I've always thought a chemistry version of Top Chef / Master Chef would be awesome. But who would play the angry British judge?

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    1. I thought that was called grad school - and the angry judge was one's advisor?

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  3. David W.C. MacMillan? Ian Paterson?

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    1. I doubt either would start a Blog, especially not Ian.

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  4. Dave MacMillan actually looks a little bit like Robert Irvine, that guy from Dinner: Impossible! (Minus the faked credentials, of course)

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  5. I'd totally be down for doing a "Journal of RB The Zombie Slayer" blog, esp. collaboratively. Only fun times can occur!

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  6. henry rzepa has a very enjoyable computational chemistry blog

    http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/rzepa/blog/

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  7. The Surowiecki article in the 7/9-16/12 New Yorker (p. 36) might be of interest. Money quotes (for me, anyway): "In truth, companies increasingly want to hire only people who already have jobs - ideally as (Prof. Peter - Wharton) Capelli observes, people who already have done the exact job they're applying for." and "In 1979, young workers received an average of two and a half weeks of training. By contrast, a study last year by the consulting firm Accenture found that only 21% of the employees surveyed had received any training at all in the past five years."

    It seems businesses want a flexible labor market - they just want workers to pay for it (just like health care, retirement, etc.). Of course, this implies very bad things for specialized people - if your knowledge and (alleged) flexibility isn't worth anything, current specialists are screwed. It also implies that there won't be any future specialists - why would they bother learning lots of things for jobs that will not last long enough or pay enough to cover the cost of learning them? Since we are an economy based on specialization, where our ability to produce depends on the ability to use specialization and the scale that enables it to make useful things, this seems like a homicide note left by businesses (of all sorts) on our country's grave.

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  8. "Since we are an economy based on specialization, "

    We've never been an economy based on specialization. Scientists have specialized their own careers, but the average successful American business/industry is highly adaptable. The only constant is change. Our economy starts new industries, and just as easily discards them if something more profitable comes along. Just look at consumer electronics...

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    1. Last time I remember, (most) people don't grow their own food or hunt for meat themselves or build their own homes or cars - people who do those things for a living do it for them. That's exactly what specialization is - people do particular tasks (those that they can do effectively) and leave other tasks to people who can do them better. Our economy runs by it.

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    2. Also, via ChemBark...

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-pushes-for-more-scientists-but-the-jobs-arent-there/2012/07/07/gJQAZJpQUW_story_2.html

      As for adaptable American (or European, etc.) business - just look at autos, pharma...

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  9. I would argue that building a home is not 'specialized'. These skills are transferrable as industries change. A general contracter does not specialize in building '1980 style colonial houses with blue trim and picket fences'. Instead they learn general skills which can be reapplied as consumer tastes change.

    In contrast, getting a PhD and doing several postdocs in a very narrow field is specialized. The American economy is not created for success in overspecialization. Industries are disrupted, and those with specialized skills are left out in the cold. I refer you to any book written by Clayton Christenson or this blog to show the disruptive, destructive nature of the American economy upon specialists.

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