Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/9/15 edition

A few of the academically-related positions at C&EN Jobs:

Berlin, Germany: Freie Universität Berlin is looking for what seems to be an assistant professorship in fluoroorganic chemistry.

Princeton, New Jersey: Interesting to me that Princeton is looking for an experienced lecturer in chemical biology, among other subjects.

Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University desires a lecturer in general chemistry and biochemistry; 47-50k offered. Probably a decent salary for the area? Relo offered - w00t!

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University is looking for a "preceptor in chemisty" - is that a fancy way of saying "undergraduate laboratory coordinator"? No educational requirement, which is interesting. Renewable for up to 8 years!

Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University wishes to hire a M.S./Ph.D. chemist to be a director of instrumentation. 

36 comments:

  1. Since I was passing through Flagstaff I stopped by to see a friend who is a faculty there: their chemistry department is miniature, and my impression was that it would be difficult to do any meaningful research there, in synthetic chemistry. It may still be an alternative for someone with two body problem. But it does feel little isolated over there. Los Alamos it is not.

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    1. Look on the positive side: it may not be Los Alamos, but at least it hopefully won't be so crony-istic in its hiring practices!

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  2. Flagstaff isn't a bad place to live in terms of weather. Think high-elevation pine forests. Nice summers. The winters now and again can be a bit harsh, but nothing compared with much of the rest of the country.

    HOWEVER, real estate up there is expensive. Not sure how far your $47-50K would go, especially if you needed something close to NAU.

    And no, Los Alamos it is not. It's the "good" undergraduate campus of a somewhat mal-oriented three-university state system. The other two universities have better facilities, but of the two, one has idiocy and intra-university politics up the yin-yang, and it looks as if the other is going to get starved out of its former reputation owing to institutional politics and geographical placement.

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    1. Should also note - the whole state (AZ) is suffering from an advanced stage of Democrat-spenditis. As it was Janet Napolitano's former romping ground, prior to Janet's ascension via incompetence to head of DHS, the former governor spent literally all the money in the room and then some - and in the process depleted the state's "rainy day" emergency fund. At the same time, Dem crony Michael Crow (ASU president) asked for and received a number of "special circumstance" appropriations from the state budget to ASU in order to grow the institution. All just in time for the real estate crash and the Great Recession.

      The state is now routinely $1 billion in arrears even after selling off state gov't buildings and renting them back. *There is no foreseeable recovery.* This naturally has had a decided impact on basic government services (including administration of the state's water resources) and *apropos to this forum* higher education. Hence the 50K/annum PhD. Incidentally, this did not stop Crow and the Board of Regents from paying the $500K speaking fee to the Clinton Foundation earlier this year.

      ...and look out, Janet's been appointed head of the UC system (at a mere $570K/year, plus housing, plus refurbishing, plus relocation), where her first act was to raise annual salaries for the university chancellors by $90K.

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    2. Of course, it is objectionable to see that the university admin is rewarding itself so nicely, while student enrollment fees continue to increase, not only in Arizona, but also throughout the US (that's why I support Bernie Sanders). But to blame it on "Democrat-spenditis" is knee-jerk reactionary capitalism. The world is more complicated than that.

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    3. Actually, it's based on decades of observation - it's clear to me that one of the main strategies pursued by the Democrats is to spend all available resources (and all available resources going out into the distant future), then paint the GOP as "the party of 'no.'" As a strategy, it's great - the spending party gets to dictate the agenda, spend (or misappropriate) the money, and then blame the opposition for the (usual) failure and for the inevitable "lack of commitment" created by an inconvenient shortage of spending money.

      Part of the issue with this is there is *no* prioritizing of spending (or realistic allocation of other resources, as we're seeing with California's water debacle) which inevitably (yes, inevitably) results in a state of continuous financial disaster. So Crow can give $500K away to the Clinton Self-Enrichment Fund (what is their slogan anyway, 'People Helping Us to Help Ourselves?' 'Tax-Free Or Die?'), while lambasting the state legislature - which is over a financial barrel for the foreseeable future anyway - for failing to fund higher education.

      Frankly I believe fully that Napolitano was rewarded precisely FOR destroying the finances of the state of Arizona. Well, she's UC's problem now - last I heard she had proposed a 05% year-over-year increase in tuition for five years for the entire UC system, and when students protested the tuition hikes, said "We don't have to listen to this crap," on a live mike. Jerry must love her.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with Bernie Sanders. Several months ago I heard a pundit describe him as a front-runner candidate and I was inclined to scoff, but now after the Clinton debacles and Warren refusing to run, he looks like he could be the favorite - and he's got more on his resume than Obama did, suggesting that he could carry the general. If this occurs, as a "knee-jerk reactionary capitalist" I am seriously considering moving somewhere that will be considerably less problematic, such as the PRC, or Brazil.

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    4. Wow! That is some dire situation. If I didn't read the name of the state I would guess you were writing about Illinois.

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    5. Nah, AZ is pretty podunk compared to IL. The scale is smaller. Fewer people, lower budgets, less corruption. Hell, even with significant federal intervention we can't organize those weekend shooting galleries that Chicago has - not that Holder didn't try real hard to make it happen.

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    6. The Clinton Foundation slogan is "It takes a village... of cash."

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  3. Actually, in late 2013, I was interviewed for a position with an excellent university in Brazil. Came in second place. The job however went to an insider candidate. Have job applications currently pending in Canada, the UK, Germany (selbstverständlich) and Norway.

    The way I look at it, US capitalism is a losing game for the majority of its citizens. In saying so, some of you might even term me a "traitor". But the way I look at it, it's the capitalist system here which has been a traitor to its citizens. Capitalism without a heart. An example of this relates to education: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32821678
    Was this reported in the commercial US media, e.g. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox?

    It doesn't matter whether it's the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Soros or Onasis.

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    1. The US economy in no way can be described as capitalist. Most areas of economic activity in the US are massively affected by government intervention - housing, agriculture, medicine, transportation, industry, finance, mining... The degree of government intervention in the US economy has been increasing for decades and recently the rate of increase has accelerated.

      If anything has failed, it's been the across-the-board takeover and regulation of the economy by a government whose employees have primarily been co-opted by a single party - which has already illegally sought to maintain its dominance through abusing the power of government agencies (IRS, EPA, DHS) and abandoning the rule of law.

      There's a word for this, but capitalism ain't it.

      ***

      That said, I have heard that about Brazil job searches. Personal connections count for a great deal there.

      Not sure how things would work out in Norge. They have lots and lots of money but I gather that the academic pipeline is perhaps generally over-full:

      The "Academy Epidemic" (some people have this as "The Academic Epidemic" but my opinion is that "akademi" != "akademisk")
      http://morgenbladet.no/samfunn/2014/akademiepidemi#.VXn1MflVhBe

      A Land of PhDs
      http://morgenbladet.no/samfunn/2014/eit_land_av_doktorar#.VXn1RvlVhBc

      Also that money doesn't necessarily translate into a higher standard of living, in my admittedly outdated and limited experience.

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    2. When there are more jobs then people to fill them, capitalism is great for employees but not so good for employers.

      However, the opposite is now true in the US (for the most part), and so now capitalism is great if you are an employer, and it stinks if you are an employee.

      If you want to win in this country you have to become an employer instead of an employee. Not enough good jobs and the fact that companies don't give a damn about the life of its employees make capitalism a crappy proposition in this country right now for most people who are not quite creative or powerful enough to become employers.

      The reason why I want to restrict immigration is simply to improve things for employees so they can a decent job, salary, and life in this employer-controlled economy.

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    3. I don't think your problem is really with capitalism. Most of what's driving the behaviors of today's employers is reaction to the impressive and increasing costs imposed by increasing government regulation. It's hardly a holiday for employers or employees when, for example, small businesses choose to shutter their operations because the increasing cost of operation exceeds any prospect of profit:

      https://shiftwa.org/more-seattle-restaurants-close-doors-as-15-minimum-wage-approaches/

      ... or when poorly considered regulation forces closures...

      http://www.offthegridnews.com/current-events/obama-regulations-to-shut-down-40-percent-of-nations-electricity/

      Alternately, there's the issue that you're discussing, *the abdication of the federal government of immigration law enforcement.* One of the few legitimate functions of government is immigration and border enforcement. Then we also have *the federal encouragement of large-scale immigration violations* at massive and ongoing cost to all of us. Somehow I doubt that just asking for immigration law enforcement - which would reduce immigration levels and associated costs substantially - makes one a restrictionist except perhaps in the eyes of the one-world types and the Democrats. I don't think it's any secret that the recent lack of illegal immigration enforcement is a transparent attempt to fundamentally alter the American electorate.

      As for those (comparatively few, but prominent) employers who misuse jobs-related immigration, it is a ridiculous thing when it is claimed, "we can't find the people" in a nation of 320 million, at least 16% of which are un- or underemployed.

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    4. Hi Anon 4:59 PM,
      I'm prepping for a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow at 10:30 AM, so must keep it short. I did, however want to check out the articles which you refer to in "http://morgenbladet.no". However, (a) there is a paywall and (b) they are written in Norwegian. Am curious not only about their content, but also if you have read and understood them.

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    5. Anon 6:23 PM,
      You wrote "the recent lack of illegal immigration enforcement is a transparent attempt to fundamentally alter the American electorate."
      You are paranoid. Your argument only makes sense to members of the John Birch Society.

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    6. Good luck with the interview, GC!

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    7. Generic Chemist -

      Ah, so now the labels come out, in the absence of any actual argument. Can't resist the little boxes, can we?

      Here's a Politico article from 2013 that makes the same point I did.

      http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/immigration-reform-could-upend-electoral-college-90478.html

      ...and here's one from the "Daily Caller":

      http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/26/obama-immigration-will-reshape-americas-politics/

      Of course, they could also be 'paranoid John Birchers.' But I doubt it.

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    8. Generic Chemist -

      *Democrat strategist* Patrick Reddy made this statement, in *1998* ("Immigration: The Real Kennedy Legacy" The Public Perspective, Oct./Nov. 1998):

      "The 1965 Immigration Reform Act...has resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party."

      http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/public-perspective/ppscan/96/96018.pdf

      I guess he must be a paranoid member of the John Birch Society, to advance the idea that US immigration policy could (and should) be about developing new constituencies for the Democrat Party.

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  4. @Generic Chemist 6/12/15 1:49 AM -

    I think the paywall has gone up since I last referenced these a few months back.

    "The Academy Epidemic" has the subheader: we often see a banal appreciation of theory over practical knowledge. The article goes on to say that the Central Bureau of Statistics has signed the writing on the wall: society needs a million skilled workers (electricians, plumbers, etc.) and a million professionals (doctors, veterinarians) in 2030 - and naturally some academics - but only 318,000. Predictions on Norwegian employment have for a long time sounded along the lines of, "We employ ourselves in accordance with what society requires." The article goes on to discuss growth in PhDs (10,000 in 10 years) along with the explosive increase in masters' degrees (an increase of some 64% since 2003). "Eit land av doktorar" projects as many as 40,000 PhDs in another decade and questions not only whether this is too many (in a nation of five million) but also the practical value of some of the minted PhDs (some of which, naturally, are involved in 'cultural production' of one kind or another). A third article published around the same time ("De har ikke den praktiske erfaringen vi ønsker" - You Do Not Have the Practical Experience We Would Wish") discusses the somewhat unhealthy trend of medical professionals (also growing in number) less interested in the "ordinary work" of providing medical care than pursuing further studies and research for their own sake.

    Between these some trends were evident:
    1) There is an increased interest in higher education in Norway - with numbers of graduate students increasing dramatically since the early 2000s;
    2) There is some question as to whether relevant employment is available for all of these graduate students (probably not);
    3) There are other (more "practical" but perhaps less celebrated) societal needs that may not be met as a consequence (I find this to be a somewhat characteristically Scandinavian fear - there is a common thread of what I might term 'light ridicule of academicism' in Danish/Swedish/Norwegian culture in favor of more 'real-world' pursuits).

    Of course, in any given field your mileage may vary depending on available specialties, available expertise in a given area, the level of demand for that expertise, and the (local) popularity of the field in question - but the overall message from Norway is "we have more academics than we need or want."

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    1. Hello Anon 12:56 PM,

      Morgenbladet is a fairly well-respected newspaper in Norway. Well, if if that's the complete story and consensus there, then the Norwegians are doing a better job of portraying the over-production of doctorates up there than we are doing in the US. On this side of the Atlantic, I can only recall a few NPR broadcasts, as well as one from the NYT.

      However, as we all know there is still a lot of nonsense being published over here:
      1. I wrote an open letter to Obama in response to his interview claiming "STEM shortage.
      2. Also called up an NPR reporter in Pittsburgh who broadcast some more BS on that.

      Ironically, the Norwegians advertised a 3-year faculty position in alternative energy at the NTNU, for which I applied after grilling them with some serious questions. Am a little skeptical if they have thought it all out. On the other hand, they, too might have an internal candidate lined up, who knows?

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    2. Actually, I don't know that Morgenbladet is thought of all that well there. It's mostly a 'culture and society' type publication. I gather that its online readership is actually less than Vårt Land (which despite the nationalist-sounding title - "Our Country" for the curious - back in the day was thought of as 'a newspaper for Boy Scouts with socialist leanings' or words to that effect) which could mean it's somewhat marginal. On the other hand, it enjoys a tony address on Karl Johansgate, which is the main drag in the main city.

      Among newspapers I personally always preferred Aftenposten which some of my hosts regarded as insufferably conservative, but the writing was much more articulate (although somewhat Danicized) and it was a Newspaper (with a capital N) rather than something that looked like it came as an insert in a shopping freebie. Of course, now most of the US newspapers look like the latter. I can barely stand to look at the WSJ anymore.

      You have to remember, the Norwegians have a small and relatively literate population. The US has a much larger and more fragmented population. You can find a great deal of opinion about overproduction of doctorates in the US (and in fact, such opinion has been encountered since the 1970s) - but you may have to dig a bit to find it. You also increasingly have to consider the sources involved - US journalism simply does not enjoy the reputation it used to have, *with ample reason.* Also these debates in the US are much more heavily politicized with the result that they tend to get discounted (the degree to which this is true has increased dramatically, in my opinion). So it is much more difficult to have a rational and effective discussion of whether or not there is a STEM shortage because this leads immediately into immigration policy, whether one party or another is 'declaring a war on science' and because it upsets various institutional, government and corporate apple carts to acknowledge that there in fact might be a problem.

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    3. Given the sheer quantity of local expertise in alternative energies (Iceland for geothermal; Iceland for hydrogen fuels; Norway, Iceland and Sweden for hydroelectric; Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland for wind) somehow I doubt that there's a great deal of interest in recruiting from too far outside the neighborhood.

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    4. Why Scandinavia doesn't hire alternative energy expertise from the US - in one succinct article:

      http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2015/06/11/exclusive-tesla-snaps-up-former-solyndra-building.html?ana=e_sjo_rdup&s=newsletter&ed=2015-06-11&u=qckJ/YGsV9qYyfmlxPzg5w04aee1a1&t=1434060404

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    5. re: Anon 4:19 - I've read "Onion" stories that weren't as funny.

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    6. Regarding Solyndra, yes I personally know some good people who worked there. They are now having to work for the same quack start-up where I was earlier this year. I suspect that they are, however not mobile. The article however doesn't mention that Solydra's business model was simply undercut by Chinese competitors.

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    7. Not sure why it should, seeing as it's about Tesla's purchase. Tesla buying *that* particular building after receiving 30% of CA's subsidies for employment... I mean, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. When you can't out-parody reality, there's something seriously wrong with what's happening in the world.

      Pretty sure the fact that the Chinese manufactured cheaper panels wasn't the *only* issue with Solyndra's business model - but it was a great excuse to run a shell game on US taxpayers and get them to make good on a political contribution after the fact. DOE must stand for "Donating to the Obama Economy," or maybe it's just "Dollars for Obama's Election."

      ...and it never hurts to skim a little off the top, either, when it's only other people's money.

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    8. Dear Anon 3:50 AM, et al,

      If I had as much free time as you appear to, then it would be straightforward to look up examples which discredit your assertions. That is, however not the case, and it most likely would not succeed in changing your mind. I will nevertheless ask what your employment situation is: are you working in the chemical industry or elsewhere? Are you looking for work, or have you either given up or retired?

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    9. Now what assertions would these be? That Tesla bought the Solyndra building? That Tesla received an *unduly large* proportion of CA employment subsidies? That a disturbing quantity of taxpayer dollars was funnelled to Solyndra without due oversight and promptly vanished? Or is it the assertion that the top brass paid themselves bonus money while Solyndra was tanking?

      As for your personal questions, suffice it to say that I have a legitimate professional interest in the forum.

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    10. Dear Anon 1:07 PM,
      Let's compare you to me:
      You: comment anonymously, while my pseudonym is well-know to several people, including CJ, on this blog.
      You: are not a career-active chemist, nor do you appear to have any intention of striving towards that goal. I am a (unfortunately) unemployed chemist and scientist, but am devoting serious, current efforts to change that situation.
      You: quote selective, fringe internet sources bemoaning the fact that forward-thinking US industries were subsidized by the federal government. I: note that not only photovoltaic industries, but also big oil, big pharma, big agriculture and very big banking industries in the US have been subsidized by the federal government for many, many years. This is also the case for many, many countries. Do you know the names of those companies and those countries?
      You: more interested in selective politics than science. I: a scientist. Here are the results of a study done which correlates the interests of the 1% financially elite US-Americans with their political preferences. Please note the sources for the information presented in the following URL (found below the associated table):
      https://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/29/1302820/-Someone-finally-polled-the-1-And-it-s-not-pretty

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    11. @ Generic Chemist -

      Let's unpack your assertions.

      I comment anonymously, whereas you comment using a pseudonym. Vive la difference.

      "You: are not a career-active chemist, nor do you appear to have any intention of striving towards that goal." This is inaccurate.

      "I am a (unfortunately) unemployed chemist and scientist, but am devoting serious, current efforts to change that situation." You have my sympathies, and you've already had the benefit of my advice - free of charge - on one of your efforts. You may choose to dismiss or ignore said advice, but I took some time and energy to try and be helpful to you. In return you have questioned my competence in several areas, my politics, and my participation on this forum. I guess I'll know better next time.

      "You: quote selective, fringe internet sources bemoaning the fact that forward-thinking US industries were subsidized by the federal government." No, I quote a number of sources - hardly selective or fringe - that strongly indicate that one *company* - not industries - wasted a large amount of money on political contributions and bonuses *in a way that did much to discredit the pursuit of alternative energy technologies and scientific R & D in general.*
      It is ludicrous for a company in financial trouble to issue bonuses to its top management, shortly before declaring bankruptcy:
      http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/as-solyndra-faltered-top-executives-collected-big-bonuses/1199760
      The original article ran in the San Jose Mercury news.
      Even ABC News talked about the black eye suffered by private investors in Solyndra.
      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/feds-visit-homes-solyndra-ceo-execs/story?id=14476848&page=3
      These are your "fringe" sources?

      A billion dollars, flushed away. How do you think this is going to impact alternative energy investment in the future? a) no change, it's all good; b) brief decline followed by massive reinvestment as investors realize they were scammed by the Koch Brothers into thinking a billion dollars is much more than they thought it was; or c) long-term negative effects on R & D credibility and investment in alternative energies. You will not be graded on your answer, however, the collective response may have an impact on your future salary.

      I also can't help *but* laugh at the fact that yet another heavily subsidized company involved in commercializing alternative energy - which *was* able to pay off its DOE loan, but apparently only through the receipt of a billion dollars in tax credits and issuance of nearly that quantity in stock, and which defrays purchase costs for the wealthy by screwing non-customer taxpayers - has bought the old Solyndra building. I'd talk about people doomed to repeat history, but I fear the irony would be lost for some.

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    12. (continued)
      "I: note that not only photovoltaic industries, but also big oil, big pharma, big agriculture and very big banking industries in the US have been subsidized by the federal government for many, many years. This is also the case for many, many countries. Do you know the names of those companies and those countries?"
      I certainly know some of them - but I'm sure not going to blow out the afternoon trying to list them all. I also happen to believe that in many instances - but certainly not all - these subsidies have harmed the industries they were constructed around, have paradoxically led to higher rather than lower costs, have restricted development rather than expanding development, and have generally not led to the ostensible goals of the subsidies. In a few instances they've been national-economy-wrecking exercises in party politics. I believe strongly that *it really depends on the implementation and who's involved.*

      "You: more interested in selective politics than science. I: a scientist."
      Is this accurate? Or are you allowing your politics to interfere with your speculation?

      "Here are the results of a study done which correlates the interests of the 1% financially elite US-Americans with their political preferences. Please note the sources for the information presented in the following URL (found below the associated table):
      https://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/29/1302820/-Someone-finally-polled-the-1-And-it-s-not-pretty "
      First, one of us has lost the plot, and I'm reasonably certain it's not me. What are you trying to say here?
      Second, this material apparently all comes from OurFuture.org. That's *one* source, not sources. I tend to distrust people of only one book, and I have a very hard time taking anything seriously that only comes from one source.
      Third, that source is a transparently partisan political site operated by the "Campaign for America's Future," which bills itself as the left wing of the Democrat Party. I for one don't believe that these are credentials for quality of impartial analysis. No matter how you vote, neither should you.

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    13. (first part - I posted this before and it disappeared within a couple of minutes)

      @ Generic Chemist -

      Let's unpack your assertions.

      I comment anonymously, whereas you comment using a pseudonym. Vive la difference.

      "You: are not a career-active chemist, nor do you appear to have any intention of striving towards that goal." This is inaccurate. Guess again.

      "I am a (unfortunately) unemployed chemist and scientist, but am devoting serious, current efforts to change that situation." You have my sympathies, and you've already had the benefit of my advice - free of charge - on one of your efforts. You may choose to dismiss or ignore said advice, but I took some time and energy to try and be helpful to you. In return you have questioned my competence in several areas, my politics, and my participation on this forum. I guess I'll know better next time.

      "You: quote selective, fringe internet sources bemoaning the fact that forward-thinking US industries were subsidized by the federal government." No, I quote a number of sources - hardly selective or fringe - that strongly indicate that one *company* - not industries - wasted a large amount of money on political contributions and bonuses *in a way that did much to discredit the pursuit of alternative energy technologies and scientific R & D in general.*
      It is ludicrous for a company in financial trouble to issue bonuses to its top management, shortly before declaring bankruptcy:
      http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/as-solyndra-faltered-top-executives-collected-big-bonuses/1199760
      The original article ran in the San Jose Mercury news.
      Even ABC News talked about the black eye suffered by private investors in Solyndra.
      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/feds-visit-homes-solyndra-ceo-execs/story?id=14476848&page=3
      These are your "fringe" sources?

      A billion dollars, flushed away. How do you think this is going to impact alternative energy investment in the future? a) no change, it's all good; b) brief decline followed by massive reinvestment as investors realize they were scammed by the Koch Brothers into thinking a billion dollars is much more than they thought it was; or c) long-term negative effects on R & D credibility and investment in alternative energies. You will not be graded on your answer, however, the collective response may have an impact on your future salary.

      I also can't help *but* laugh at the fact that yet another heavily subsidized company involved in commercializing alternative energy - which *was* able to pay off its DOE loan, but apparently only through the receipt of a billion dollars in tax credits and issuance of nearly that quantity in stock, and which defrays purchase costs for the wealthy by screwing non-customer taxpayers - has bought the old Solyndra building. I'd talk about people doomed to repeat history, but I fear the irony would be lost for some.

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    14. These link heavy posts are triggering the spam filter.

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    15. Thank you, I thought perhaps I was being repressed. Still, there were only two links in the first part, and an additional one in the second.

      Truly sorry about the duplication.

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  5. "Harvard University is looking for a "preceptor in chemisty"..." Chemisty n. a messy hood or workbench area.

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