Tuesday, April 26, 2005

WHO ARE YOU GUYS?

It is surprising to me to experience the narrow-spectrum mentality I have seen on a blog purported to be frequented by LANL staff (and some managers). I have provided a broad spectrum of well-reasoned and well-presented discussions (which, BTW, a number of respected associates have gone out of their way to complement) of potential causes for the bitter complaints, including some that suggest that LANL and the Director could improve in some areas. Amazingly, these (with only a couple of exceptions) have been ignored, met with insults and slander, or responded to with slogans. In my experience, LANL staff are much more likely to respond with reasoned analysis like that of Brad Lee Holian, to weigh and consider arguments, to lead with their heads rather than their spleens.

Now, It is true that this blog is more likely to attract the pen of the inconsolably angry person, than a reasoned debater or analyst who could wrestle with the complexities of a difficult situation. But, still does the trend shown here not cause you at least to wonder?

I do not intend to impune the genuine distress and anger of LANL staff, who genuinely (but erroniously) think that there was an intent by management to damage them or the lab. But I have to wonder whether some of the relatively few anonymous daily posters here are ringers, planted from the normally vocal and active adversarial organizations across the nation who are set on destroying LANL. How many ringers would it take to stoke the fire of the LANL staff who have felt injured? Would this tactic provide legitimacy and reinforcement for some to harbor anger and bitterness who would otherwise have forgiven and returned to productive work? How many really inflammatory statements would it take to give the 1500/day visitors/viewers the impression that there is a deep and insoluble problem?

Some of you seem to resonate with conspiracies as the root cause of problems. Do you resonate with this one? I'm just thinking here guys. Anonymity is fraught with problems.
Gary


Comments:
Regarding the number of contributors to this blog:

There have been approx. 4,300 comments to the blog in the last 1 1/2 months. There are no other stats collected on this blog; I do not keep records on the number of post submissions, anonymous or otherwise.

--Doug
 
Just fellow sloganeers. This one is a favorite: "The World's Greatest Science Protecting America."
 
As "Comical Ali" Kevin Rourke is fond of saying, "It just a small group of highly vocal malcontents" on the blog.

Nothing to see there, keep moving.
 
Gary, why do you not consider yourself a ringer, a surrogate for Nanos? You seem to be totally unaware that the stand down cost American taxpayers from $160M to $1B. Logic moves the number toward the latter total. You seem to sweep the insults and career destroying antics of our soon-to-be-former Director under the rug of misunderstanding. You defend the abusive behavior of said Director while the consequences of his actions were alarming to almost every external advisory panel. In your naiveté, you seem to believe that the overwhelming majority of Los Alamos staff supports your Director. Everyone else, particular the anonymous blogger, is a miscreant in your view. However, what I object to the most is your contention that only you have the best interest of this Laboratory at heart. As someone who has given almost forty years of his life to this great institution and who has seen first hand the impact of the Director's abusive actions on good, hard-working people and his ill-conceived assaults on their programs, I find your statements to be particularly vulgar and heartless. But when the dust settles, I expect that you will continue to draw your paycheck and, if history is to be the indicator, continue to contribute little to making this institution a light on the hill.
 
Doug, Thanks for the data, sparse as it is.
Lets do some simple math and suppositional analysis. 4300 posts in 45 days is a little less than 100 posts a day. That seems high, but I do not follow each branch here, so I won't argue.
There are an average number of page hits per visitor documented on the site meter. On the 20th of April, a peak day, there were about 1700 visits opening 11,000 pages, which comes to about 6.5 pages per visit, which seems typical. We might assume that active participants (as opposed to tourists) will spend more time, or log on several times a day, weighting their visit count and page count participation more heavily. And someone who is either passionately involved in posting here (or a ringer trying to skew the site content) might be expected to respond to a higher number of active branches on each visit. So if we say that the average active poster comments 6.5 times a day (some of the comments are pretty short so a fractional average is probably justified), then we are looking at around 16 active posters, on average, per day.
So it would not take many anonymous ringers, operating at even the average rate of input to significantly skew the content of this blog. Note also that many of the posts are not only anonymous, but do not have content that references identifiable laboratory locations, organizations, functions, etc. Which might add weight to my speculative theory that we are in the anonymous company of outside ringers.
Also, the absence of attributed involvement in this contentious and negative discussion by the usual crowd of Los Alamos Study Group, POGO, Tri-Valley CARES, activist former lab members, etc. is conspicuous.
Again, this speculation does not in any way diminish the valid pain and anger expressed by a number of apparently legitimate posters, who though anonymous are readily identifiable as laboratory staff.
Gary Stradling
 
I find it interesting that those who object the views presented in the blog, Kevin Rourke and Gary Stradling being two such examples, respond by attacking the credibility of the blog. In both instances, the named gentlemen claim that a relatively few anonymous posters are misrepresenting the majority view at LANL. I expect that Rourke's POV is dictated by Jim Fallin and Rich Marquez. I have no idea what is motivating Stradling to object so strenuously to the fact that he finds himself representing the minority view in blogland.

Signed, Anonymous Ringer #1147
 
I find it interesting that those who object the views presented in the blog, Kevin Rourke and Gary Stradling being two such examples, respond by attacking the credibility of the blog. In both instances, the named gentlemen claim that a relatively few anonymous posters are misrepresenting the majority view at LANL. I expect that Rourke's POV is dictated by Jim Fallin and Rich Marquez. I have no idea what is motivating Stradling to object so strenuously to the fact that he finds himself representing the minority view in blogland.

Signed, Anonymous Ringer #1147
 
Who is Kevin Rourke? He is not a LANL employee. What it his standing to participate in the blog?
 
Gary, get real. The reason you identify yourself on the blog is that you have a pro management position. Thus you are serving your own career interests with your contributions. Or has this eluded you?
I don't find the other contributors at all suspect. I know a lot of witty, irreverent and cynical staff members at LANL. Don't you? The LANL "good old boy", promote your friends culture breeds cynics. Somehow you don't seem to see, or be interested in, the very profound and real source of the LANL problems. One example is that he LANL policies, which are not UC policies, and which were not approved by UC, allow for managers to pick their friends, not the most well qualified, for positions. A few rounds of this, and cynicism is the result. So, why don't you promote, to your many management friends, using UC policies, as LLNL and LBNL do? This is a bet more direct than "cleaning up Dodge".
Given the LANL dysfunctional culture, a key point is to preserve the ability to transfer within the Lab. When a real bastard becomes your boss, it is important, sometimes essential, to be able to transfer to another organization. This, of itself, is a profound reason for keeping names off comments. You won't be openly punished, but your options will disappear, and you will suddenly find yourself on a program without funding, and RIF'd. That is, after all, how LANL works, and has worked for a very long time. Many surveys have confirmed that taking problems "up the chain" at LANL does not work. When I complained about a dysfunctional Group Leader, who was destroying the Group, to my Division Leader, he told me that I "had to work it out with the Group Leader". Yeah, sure. Another Group destroyed... like so many others. Time for a transfer...
I certainly look forward to a regime where opinions can be openly expressed and openly considered and responded to, but that is not today. They won't even tolerate critical opinions in the Newsbulletin. Work on that one Gary...
Good luck cleaning up Dodge, but how about a little more honesty about the current LANL problems?
 
Gary,

Do what most LANL managers never do: go walk the halls and talk to the staff if you want to feel the "pulse" of the lab's staff. Or are you afraid of discovering something that would break your preconcieved notions of reality?
 
[One example is that the LANL policies, which are not UC policies, and which were not approved by UC, allow for managers to pick their friends, not the most well qualified, for positions. 4/27/2005 05:11] There are many issues at LANL. As I have said before, it would be excellent to have trained, qualified people in management positions who can span the range of performance needs, not just technology. It is my impression that we have not done well at this historically.
Gary
 
[Gary, get real. The reason you identify yourself on the blog is that you have a pro management position. 4/27/2005 05:11]
Doing other than identify myself never occurred to me, probably for all of the reasons I have suggested that anonymity was ineffective. It is not in my nature to hide any more it is to sidestep an issue of this importance. Certainly the standing of my comments has to be based on who I am, on the recognizablity of my sincerity and community standing. That is verifiable by those who know me.
Gary
 
"Certainly the standing of my comments has to be based on who I am, on the
recognizablity of my sincerity and community standing." - Gary

Gary, your ego has run amok. It needs repair. I have never even heard
of you until you started these asinine posts. Your smokin' your own fumes,
buddy. Lighten up a bit.
 
It's time for you to remain anonymous !
WARNING

For secure extreme privacy we recommend that you disable java scripts and do not let your computer store cookies.

Your internet provider retains a log file that shows the times your IP address was used and where it connected to. Some internet providers save these log files indefinitely and they may give these files to whoever asks with or without a court order and this would mean every website you visited and everything you did is no longer private. Your internet provider has your home address, name, phone, credit card etc. When this information is turned over to third parties your privacy has been violated big time and you don't even know it. The results of this can be stalking electronically or physically, identity theft, and other forms of harassment.

There is a frequently traveled road for abuse in the court system. An attorney suspects his client has been damaged by someone. The attorney has no idea who this person is. The attorney files a John Doe lawsuit with the court which means they are suing someone but do not yet know who it is and this enables them to use the discovery power of the courts to track down the party they are after. Now here is the abuse potential. Every time the lawyer wants to send some internet provider, bank, phone company, credit card company a subpoena they can "lawfully" do so and the person they are after of course has his privacy seriously violated without any knowledge, no attorney to protect their rights, and there is no one in the court system opposing this at all, it simply goes on unchecked. In the vast majority of internet based lawsuits this is the tactic being used. One prominent entity used this process to such a broad extent the courts told them they need to apply to the judge for subpoenas. Another big internet entity used these tactics and if that wasn't enough they would get an ex -parte attachment order against their targets bank account by telling the judge that they felt the culprit was likely to flee with their money when they know the lawsuit is in play so they would post a bond with the court and then have their targets bank account seized by the court, same for houses, cars, etc. all before the party knew they were being sued. So when they got served with the lawsuit they had no money in the bank they could use to hire a lawyer with. You gotta just love those lawyers.

The time required for an attorney to file a lawsuit, and then generate subpoenas usually runs into the months. Subpoenas typically require someone to comply within 10-30 days, depending on the subpoena. If one has no information to provide then the subpoena would be returned with notation that requested information is not in the possession of the entity served with the subpoena. Now if the entity is an offshore (not American) entity like us, how are you going to serve the subpoena and get authority over the company involved, most likely you are not and if you tried you would have to hire lawyers in other countries and try to convince a foreign court to help you. Most countries do not allow games in the courts like America. Only two or three other countries in the world allow lawyers to work on contingency fee agreements. Countries would want to see how their laws were violated and if they had venue and jurisdiction. In a nutshell historically the success rate is so bad and the expense rate so high it is not done. Remember behind the lawyers is a client who has to spend big money to chase people who if they ever find them may have no assets they can attach.

When a big internet entity sues someone their legal expenses are rarely under $300,000 and that is if the other party hardly puts up a fight, when the other side fights back the bills easily exceed $500,000. This is a game only the biggest players can play; they rarely ever recover their legal expenses. Their goal is usually to stop people in general from doing something they don't like by making examples of people. The people they make examples out of are the ones that they can easily get, the ones that did not take any measures to remain anonymous. Did these victims of litigation actually violate any laws, sometimes yes and sometimes no (in our opinion). The big law firms seem to be manufacturing internet law as they go. Some big players have influenced congress to pass legislation in their favor and yes then it becomes illegal. This is not to say that there are not a lot of frivilous harassing lawsuits on the internet because there are. If people can't find you they can't stalk you, hack you or harass you.
***
Do not be deceived into thinking Downloading only software, sites, etc for movies, music etc. will exempt you from lawsuits. This is not the case. In the past the lawsuits have mostly involved those doing uploading. One can still be sued for downloading copy protected material. In the eyes of the court uploading or downloading copy protected property is the same. If one was to hypothetically download copy protected material and the site or uploader had the real IP address of the downloader the downloader and uploader could be in for a lawsuit. Don't be deceived by false arguments.
 
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