Monday, March 21, 2005

Nanos legacy looks bleak

(Another noon-time post from the Los Alamos public library -- Doug)

From Anonymous:

And with this on-line letter posted in today's Los Alamos Monitor, I say we begin a campaign to hire Bruce Norman as the Laboratory's new PR Director. NO, WAIT ... New DIRECTOR, period!

Here's the post:

Monday, March 21, 2005
Letters
Nanos legacy looks bleak

Dear Editor,

In less than a month, I will celebrate 30 years of living in Los Alamos. I arrived with my two tennis racquets, the clothes on my back, less than $1,000 in my pocket and the dream of making a living as a tennis teacher in this beautiful community. I've been fortunate during my time here and after running several different businesses have sunk deep roots in Los Alamos. I have two wonderful boys at the High School and still love Los Alamos as much as the day I moved here. But this is not why I am writing this letter today. I'm writing to express my grave concern for what is happening to LANL, the heart and soul of Los Alamos. In particular, I am concerned about the leadership and the extreme negative effect it is having on our community and LANL's employees.

When Pete Nanos was first named director of the lab it seemed like a good decision. From my perspective, the lab needed some shaking up and he seemed like the man to do it. Now, however, I've heard too many stories to maintain that opinion. The picture my friends who work at LANL paint is that of someone who is rude, isolated and arrogant. Now, I've never met the man and perhaps everyone whose opinion I've solicited is wrong, but one thing is for sure, morale is at its lowest point in the 30 years I've lived here and it's largely due to Pete Nanos. Sure, the uncertainty due to the management contract being put out to competitive bid hovers overhead like a storm cloud, but I've never heard so many negative remarks about a LANL director.

The employees at LANL are by and large dedicated to their jobs and while not perfect, deserve a whole lot more respect than they have been shown. So please, Mr. Nanos, come down off your high horse and show some humor and humility. The next time someone comes up to you, introduces themselves to you and extends his or her hand, please smile, shake their hand and say, "Hello, so glad to meet you" instead of turning your back on them and walking away like you did to one of my friends. And while I am sure it would be difficult for you to do, I think an apology to LANL employees for possibly overacting in your "cowboys and butthead speech" and to the business community for the extremely adverse effect the lab's standdown has had on them would go a long way to strengthen your support. These are but small suggestions and more surely needs to be done on your part, but it would be a start. Otherwise, your legacy at the once-proud laboratory will be that of its most divisive director and of one who has led to its demise instead of its advancement and in the process did further damage to our community. This Admiral needs to steer his ship in a new direction before he runs her aground or faces a mutiny!

Bruce Norman
Los Alamos

Comments:
My program for fixing LANL:

1. Immediately fire all H1Bs, with urgency given to those with passports from countries like the PRC, Russia and the like.

2. Conduct a deep diving,aggressive, no-holds-barred audit regarding operational security, breaches of controlled data and information, inappropriate communications and contacts by employees, etc.

3. Benchmark the best of (and avoide the worst of) the DoD security clearance system. Every employee, manager, or other person entering the facilities must have a clearance appropriate the the work they do and what they get to see. Once in place, every employee to be reinvestigated (if previously investigated, and initially investigated, if not) versus their clearance. In other words, everyone needs to reapply for their clearance.

4. Don't like it? Too bad. This is critical for national security.

Steve
 
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Paraphrasing "Steve", lets become a xenophobic closed lab like Arzamas 16. That way, we'll be doomed to the same guaranteed lack of future... (except thet Nunn and Lugar won't step in to save us).
 
Under such a regime, Ulam and Teller would never have worked here. That would possibly have cost us our liberty.
 
Good points Steve!

I keep hearing whining and moaning about how unfair Nanos is and how Nanos wasted so much money shutting down the lab. What I haven't heard about is who grabbed all of those barcodes for media that hadn't been created yet, and didn't turn the unused barcodes back in. First of all, this was a poorly thought-out process. Second, someone didn't even follow it!
 
I have a counter-proposal for fixing LANL:

1.) Seeing that the Pentagon is not the first organization that comes to mind when people think of efficiency and policy compliance, and in the spirit of a civilian-led democracy, permanently bar current and former high-level military officers from serving in high level Laboratory management jobs.

2.) Recognizing that scientific discovery is vital to the future security of the nation, and that slowing down the mission work at the Lab disarms the United States relative to aggressor nations and stateless terror groups, statutorily bar DOE from imposing any security regulations that are not shown by hard data to contribute to (more than impair) national security.

3.) Given that the current confrontational attitude in Congress, DOE, and LANL management is driving away the best and brightest scientists from serving their country, recognize that continued assaults on LANL staff are unpatriotic and inimical to the continued peace and security of the United States.

4.) Because of CBS's terrible reputation as a news organization and its disreputable smear campaign against the Lab (What kind of objective reporting refers to LANL security as "a joke"?), conduct a "deep diving, aggressive, no-holds-barred audit" into CBS attacks on LANL.

5.) Owing to the fact that foreign nationals currently employed by LANL might otherwise be working for the weapons programs of non-allied countries, conduct mandatory sensitivity training aimed at creating a non-xenophobic culture in the complex.

Don't like it? Too bad. This is critical for national security.

-A Neocon
 
I suppose that it’s useful to have the advice of the sports shop owner but the LANL problem goes way beyond local opinion of Nanos. The lab is known outside as an unproductive sink of research money, with a budget supported only by a powerful senator. Has anyone wondered why the big programs that seem to mark big labs are conspicuously absent? Big lasers and big fusion have been horrible and predictable failures. The exploitation of a Soviet-invented ion source led to a sequence of sad programs; NPB, APT and ATW, all based on models that would bear no open, intelligent scrutiny. (APT gave you a director!) The repeated failures of financial control, security and safety are just symptomatic of the failed science. I believe that Nanos understands some of this history of flops but sees no way out without shaking the place up. Imagine dealing with a bunch of failures and finding no humility! It’s almost past time to admit a need to make big changes like writing real proposals that submit to peer review. Act fast, it’s base closing time again and there’s talk of putting LANL on the table!
 
Regarding the 4:47 PM comment:
NPB was a success. The BEAR Project contributed to peace breaking out.

The APT Project was a success in that it developed and demonstrated the important technologies. These technologies are applicable to ATW and are being implemented throughout the world.

ATW is the enabling technology for disposal of reactor waste. Other countries (People's Republic of China, Italy, South Korea, France, etc) quite sentibly have ATW Programs. ATW is the bane of the anti-nuclear crowd because with it they lose their arguement about dealing with reactor waste.
 
Hooray for Bruce Norman! And thank you for your support of LANL's fine, upstanding employees and the recognition that we deserve to be treated with respect by the director, our supposed leader. This community does indeed rely on the Lab, which relies on its own reputation--one that Nanos has be-smirched without an ounce of fact!
 
If any other Los Alamos citizens like Bruce want to comment, I would like to hear what you think about this issue which is most important to our community.
 
Ordinarily I’d be offended at the 4:47 posting but it reminds me of a conversation I had with another engineer in Albuquerque. I was bragging about all the R&D 100 awards that LANL won that year and he gave me a funny look. He said that R&D magazine was a throw-away with no real scientists on its staff and that LANL essentially just pays for the awards by overwhelming the junk magazine with expensive presentations. As proof he claimed that LANL brags about all their great science and makes less than a third of what the other labs make out of their intellectual property. I got very mad when he said that all those LANL beam projects were hammers looking for nails. “Stolen Russian hammers”, he claimed. I see a comment, full of crude spelling, at 5:47 that doesn’t explain why all those programs disappeared without so much as a whimper. Can’t someone defend the R&D 100 awards? I’m starting to wonder about all those LANL claims of “Great Science.”
 
Ordinarily I’d be offended at the 4:47 posting but it reminds me of a conversation I had with another engineer in Albuquerque. I was bragging about all the R&D 100 awards that LANL won that year and he gave me a funny look. He said that R&D magazine was a throw-away with no real scientists on its staff and that LANL essentially just pays for the awards by overwhelming the junk magazine with expensive presentations. As proof he claimed that LANL brags about all their great science and makes less than a third of what the other labs make out of their intellectual property. I got very mad when he said that all those LANL beam projects were hammers looking for nails. “Stolen Russian hammers”, he claimed. I see a comment, full of crude spelling, at 5:47 that doesn’t explain why all those programs disappeared without so much as a whimper. Can’t someone defend the R&D 100 awards? I’m starting to wonder about all those LANL claims of “Great Science.”
 
Regarding the Steve post at 1:33 PM

One of the oldest ploys of holders of indefensible positions is to create even a worse one in the hope that a retreat to the latter will be proclaim a great success.

These are the facts: Beginning in 1943, HIBs have made more contributions to the security of this Nation than a million xenophobes. In the beginning, the secondary language in the dining hall was German. Today the dialects and skin tones are different but the contributions are none the less significant.

Indeed, Steve sounds like someone running for the Presidency of the Aryan Nation. I cannot believe that even Director Nanos, or any other civilized person, would tolerate the position exposed by the this individual. See Steve's bigotry allows us to collapse to that retreat position.
 
Man, wake up!

Without foreign nationals, howm much "great sciience" LANL left?
 
Hey Pal, without all those people
with passports from PRC, Russian and
Isreal there would be few good scientits at LANL. Also LANL is indeed the top science lab in the DOE. We
publish more papers and generate more
citations than all the other DOE labs.
LANL is the ranked 11th in the world in terms of physics papers and impact.
I do not know what the R and D thing
is. It really should not apply to LANL. We are a science lab not one
that makes patents. LANL has some of the top physics people in the world.
This is simply a fact. Where are you
going to get good people to do
work the nation needs if tear down LANL. The United States will be delt
a huge blow. This will also send a
very bad message to scientists in the United States. If they very best
DOE lab goes down what would you think?
 
Amazing how this thread has wandered.. but that said, two thoughts...

LANL science would never have achieved its reputation or excellence without international thought -- that means foreign nationals...frankly, I think it has helped LANL be what it is, GREAT!.

Second thought-- a lot of our current security problems are rooted from the decision to decontrol classified info a long time ago by folks that should have known better--this decision was made by DOE -- many of us fought it and failed-- without pointing fingers, this was the start of the demise that, I think, led to the posting I am responding to...

Those that do not know their history are bound to repeat it....
 
Wow!! How did Mr. Xenophobe (“Steve”) get that all stuff into his head? Looks like he’s one of those for whom simply hearing a foreign accent stirs up most primitive, irrational instincts.

What do foreign nationals have to do with our problems here?? Our problems stem from incompetent management, where the level of incompetence rises the higher up the ladder you look. Our problems stem from the grotesquely overgrown bureaucracy, which imposes its illogical, incomprehensible rules on us. Our problems stem from UC, which has left us in a state of utter neglect, and which has been completely gutless under political pressure. Our problems come from dishonest, malicious Washington politicians and special interests, who try to appear patriotic by attacking the very people who actually work to protect this Great Nation.

How many foreign-born scientists are there in the LANL upper management? What about DOE management? US Congress?

Trying to stir xenophobia during the time when our Lab is under a vicious attack – both from outside and from the inside – is very irresponsible and dangerous.
 
I suspect "Steve" of the "fire all the foreigners" post is "Steve Sadlov" of the immediately following (deleted) post. If you check out his blog, you'll see it's called "The West's Last Stand." Googling for his name brings up some choice comments like:

"The intrusion of foreign influence into the heart of American culture is an abomination and one which I and others will oppose with all means at our disposal."

Nice. What is it about Nanos' style that attracts Klanners and Skinheads?
 
Steve, while your at it, why not get fire all of our women, minority, and naturalized-citizen staff members? They might pose as security risks, too.
 
An interesting prior incident related to less-than-kind usage of the word "butthead" to describe scientists that some here might find an amusing precedent.

https://ideotrope.org/index.pl?node_id=18672
http://ifaq.wap.org/computers/bha.html

To quote part of the page :

"One does not seriously attack the expertise of a scientist using the undefined phrase 'butt-head.' - Judge J. Baird, 1994"
 
Bruce has one impression that is wrong; Nanos did not call ALL LANL employees "Buttheads" or "Cowboys". He was specifically addressing those that he thought were constantly breaking the rules. Why is it that people here keep trying to make it sound like he called all employees "Cowboys" and "Buttheads"?
 
To 9:35 AM
I think most of the people who were there got the impression that Nanos meant everyone in DX-division. It is clear to me that he did because the division has not restarted after eight months.

Others I talked to felt that he meant everyone, but it really does not matter. He should never have used language like that, and what is worse he used the words in press releases and speeches.
 
"... it really does not matter. He should never have used language like that, and what is worse he used the words in press releases and speeches." THANKS, LARRY -- COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER!!!!!!!!
 
There are some 12,000 employees here at LANL. (Approximately the same number now as when the Vice Admiral yelled out the words "buttheads" and "arrogant cowboys".)

The Vice Admiral then said that if he had to restart the Lab with 10 people, he would do it.

12,000 - 10 = 11,990 buttheads and cowboys, according to Satan Pete.

The math is clear; Nanos' intentions remain clear, even though he has tried to backpeddle and talk nice--well, maybe every other day.
 
I don't care if he called only one person a butthead. That language is not appropriate in an institution supposedly dedicated to doing GREAT SCIENCE. Why can't we have GREAT SENIOR LEADERS who say GREAT THINGS?

We have a tin-horn tyrant that berates with words intended to dishearten and denigrate.
 
Wow. I was looking over this thread and was shocked at what I read. "Steve" published a recommendation that, for the critical work in the USA's weapons labs, only those in the US permanently ought to be permitted to be involved. Note that the cannard of "Teller" is illogical as Teller was a refugee not an expat from a rival country.

Make note of the fact that none of the other nuclear armed powers allow any foreigners to work in their weapons labs. Therefore, Steve's proposal constitutes a middle path - one which would allow refugees (such as Teller), Green Card holders and of course, any qualifying Citizens, to work in the labs.

One final point. I noticed that none of those attempting to smear "Steve's" excellent proposal had the courage to tackle any of the other points he made. Instead, they dug in their talons with their cries of "racism" and "xenophobia" to discredit, ad hominem, "Steve." Also, I must point out that, I believe, the surname "Sadlov" is one that likely meant that this poster's own flesh and blood likely perished in the Holocaust.

Oh, but of course, anyone calling for greater operational security must be a member of the KKK. And Bush is Hitler. /sarcasm

Moragod Sinkultawongrit
 
Anyone who thinks that the employee pool at a high-security entity like LANL should represent the cultural demographics of America at large doesn't appear to me to understand enough about the topic of national security to make any worthwhile comments.

If some aggressor nation-state (fancy phrase for "enemy") wanted to benefit from stealing national security secrets and/or technology, with the intent on doing the United States harm at some future point using said stolen information, they have only two options. One: send someone from their own country over here to "assimilate" into our culture, and obtain a job at one of many places where they would have access to sensitive information; or two: bribe someone who is already a U.S. citizen to feed them the information.

In the PC-crazed, culturally ambiguous state in which American society currently operates, option number one would appear to me to be the preferred choice of our enemies.

This is not to say that foreign nationals do not contribute to our society - they do. They have also contributed to making our nation more secure. Most of them. But not all.

Those countries who were once the bulwarks of Western Civilization and all the good things that sprang from it (the abolition of slavery and a great many scientific/medical advances, to name but a couple) now find themselves participants in a war of civilizations. Enemies exist; dangers abound. Can it be called xenophobic to keep a watchful eye on those who hail from nations and regions of the world who are bent on our destruction?

According to my dictionary (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary), a xenophobe is one who is "unduly afraid of what is foreign and esp. of people of foreign origin." I do not think that LANL exercising heightened caution in who is employed there constitutes being "unduly afraid."

-M-
 
No more ad hominem comments from the no borders lobby. They have nothing to say.
 
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