Thursday, May 19, 2005

Shocked & saddened

From Anonymous:

I grew up in Los Alamos, My father & Mother both worked at the Lab, and I still have relatives working there. I am out East in the commercial sector. I have very strong positive feelings for the LANL, So I was shocked & saddened to hear on NPR radio this morning that members of congress are reading all of the belly aching on this BLOG and are using it as ammunition to try to close down LANL.

That would be devastating for Los Alamos & for Northern NM in general. Not to mention the impact to Science & to National Defense. The comments on the radio show said that many of the writings on this forum were very poor quality, and amounted to childish bickering.

MY feeling is that if you don't have a positive Idea on how to fix a problem or improve the Lab, stop whining !, If you don't like your job, don't like Los Alamos etc. , go somewhere else where you will be happy.

On professional athletics teams, they like to keep there internal problems to themselves where they can be fixed, They realize that once you air your dirty laundry in public, conflicts are much more difficult to resolve. My suggestion to some of you is that if you have problems with someone in your organization, go buy them a beer, sit down & discuss it. don't blab it out on the internet where any idiot can read it & vote you into oblivion.

I'm sure many at LANL would like to have kept the discussion inside.

This option was effectively denied the employees by management.

If there was any hope of moving the discussion back inside with individual contributor anonymity and safety from reprisals guaranteed, it might be moved back in.

The fact is that LANL and its employees were in an abusive situation, and the inference by those in Congress (who's approval rating is somewhere in the 30% range, as reported in the Wall Street Journal today) that we should have just accepted the abuse and mismanagement without raising the issues to those outside, is unfortunate.

I would doubt that those members of Congress would advocate individuals who are victims of domestic abuse keep it to themselves, so why should employees of a Government institution?

Regardless, as citizens we have a Constitutional right to seek a redress of our grievences, without fear of reprisals.

Are these members of Congress seeking to take reprisals against the Laboratory and it's employees, who are desparate to contribute to our nation's security in the face of smothering management abuse, incompetence, and oversight?

Perhaps we should file 12,000+ whistle-blower complaints, on the behalf of each employee at LANL...
Yes, many entities like to keep their internal problems to themselves - abusive relationship partners, molesters, criminals, addicts, etc. Isolation, in fact, is often one of the first and foundational principles employed by someone who doesn't want their questionable activities to be detected by those who would hold them accountable. It is highly effective, almost always a necessary element in the type of activity that lacks integrity and honesty and allows for the next phases of the cycles to proceed.

Those who have been shocked and saddened to watch from a distance at what has been revealed have nothing on those who have been shocked and saddened to experience some of the negative effects firsthand.

If the Lab had not effectively quashed the outlet it offered earlier by censuring the Reader's Forum, the airing of issues, concerns & complaints might have been done within the organization rather than in full view of the internet population. An opportunity for a lesson learned, perhaps, but who should be doing the learning? Both sides, I think.

Actually, I have often contemplated the quality of writing that appears on the internet - here and other places. I am profoundly surprised by the lack of fundamental skills (even in myself at times) that one would assume are necessary and taught in the U.S. school systems to give the average person some level of proficiency. That said, many people who are genius in one respect may struggle in another aspect of their intellect or functional skills (Einstein's early challenges come to mind, for example.) Many minds in this community are quite occupied with higher level thinking and they readily admit that they rely upon tools (engineered solutions) to help them communicate - spell checkers and the like. If one were to eliminate all creative thought forthcoming from brilliant minds due to poor handwriting or grammar, we would've shut this place down long, long ago. Likewise for poor social skills, which may bring us full circle to the current situation where people's skill sets are mismatched with the needs and the conditions of this workplace and the dynamic becomes strained.

Looking forward with the hope that a better day will arrive is going to depend on people being able to communicate, even if struggling to do so effectively. Cloistering this problem from public view has already been identified as a problem to the extent that even LANL management attempted to launch and effort to allow some level of transparency, or at least that was the buzz word of the day back then.

Positive ideas have been flowing like rivers here, believe it or not, but many words and now many of their creators or speakers have been lost in the mayhem of recent years.
Remember that this country has a long history of speaking out against injustice. Many ideas have been posted for fixing problems at LANL. But as one who has actively tried to find the responsible persons for rules, documentation, training, etc. and who has been thwarted at every turn, I have begun to see that only by publicizing the problems and generating vocal support for change can anyone make a difference. Not longer is one person's comments or ideas important.
It is not too surprising that members of Congress are appalled at uncensored information availability, such as a blog can provide. I would like to see blogs started on Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), and the Congresswoman from Colorado, as well.
Look the statements from the congress members where simply ridicules. If you just keep going by what will please particular members of congress than you are sunk. Additionally I would add the LANL was totally doomed with Nanos. Everyone would have just left anyway so the only thing to do was to resist and the blog was one way. Now Nanos is gone and a major step forward.

Now as for how to improve LANL. First we need to get the FACTS straight. One LANL is really one of the best if not the best
lab in the DOE complex. It was shown in documentation that LANL is the safest of the labs. It was also shown that LANL has
one of the lowest security indecent rates of all the labs. They make a big thing out two non-existent disks when the Albuquerque DOE office is missing
like 12, the Idaho facility cannot find 80 and do not even know what is on them. Give me a break get the facts. Anther thing there is no proof of spying at LANL.i
Wen Ho Lee was never charged. I believe that Livermore had actually caught
a real spy. Also Livermore had to change all the locks at one point when
they did not know where the keys where. There have been numerous spies caught in the Navy, Pentagon and so fourth.
The list goes on and on. On the whole LANL is not a troubled lab by any means. What happens is the press says something bad and there is no one to defend us because they do not know the facts.
Another thing is that Los Alamos is of tremendous scientific importance in terms of the number of papers, citations
3rd in the US, and trained postocs, graduate students and undergraduates. They go on to faculty positions all over the United States including Colorado and Michigan. In fact U of Colorado has a large number of students trained at LANL and a number of people from LANL have
become faculty at CSU and U of Colorado. Perhaps the congresswomen from Colorado does not care about her state.

In fact a number of times facts where given on the blog about the true safety numbers and security incidents. I want the congress to read it. I want the congress to know the facts. The statement from
the Colorado congresswomen was just insane and reflects very poorly on her.

The staff at LANL is top notch and they do the best science in the world. However, it is a free market and the people are leaving. What was not realized is that people cannot leave instantly they
have to leave on an academic calender. One year after the shutdown you are seeing the effect. Our divisions is losing at 4 people to faculty jobs. Another 10 are very close to getting them. Next year there will be a lot more. Remember we can complain on the blog because in the end we can leave.

I ask what are we suppose to do. What constructive idea do you propose? Tell me. Be safer? We already are the safest lab.
Be more secure. We already have the lowest security rate incidents.s Be more sensible with business. There was no mustang. Our
so called incidents of theft was negligible and far far better than any company. Do better science. We are already the fourth best in the US in all the scientific institutes and universities.
What the hell is there left to do?

Well we all know the problem. IT IS THE MANAGEMENT. Why do they not get the FACTS and go out and defend this lab tooth
and nail with every goddam thing they have. Why did not the NNSA person
who was talking to the congress person go off on the fact you cannot replace LANL because it is the very best science lab in the United States. If you move some parts to another lab it would be less safe and less secure because all the other DOE
labs are less safe and less secure. Why did he not have the FACTS. Why is not every manager at LANL going out and giving the facts. We the non-management have done everything humanly possible as
seen be our outstanding record compared with the other labs. It is now up the the management. That is their job. That is what they are paid to do.

If the management cannot get the job done. Shut it down. The good people will and are finding jobs elsewhere.

Finely to the original poster I am shocked and saddened in you that you do not stand up for what is right, you do not
stand for free speech. This is the American way. If LANL is shut down because people did the right thing than so be it. It will be better than doing nothing.
In 2010, a probe will land on Mars. It will be carrying a LIBS system
for analyzing rocks. This LIBS system is called ChemCam and is being
developed here at Los Alamos.

Los Alamos Wizardry To Aid New Mars Science Laboratory -
Science Daily - Jan 18, 2005

Mr. Stupak and other clueless Congressman ask "Why do we need Los Alamos?".
Perhaps if we had an effective PR office here at LANL, that question
would never be asked. As it is, I happened to find out about ChemCam
by accident in the latest issue of Photonics Spectra. Is it any wonder
that the public questions our value to the nation when they have almost
no information on some of the outstanding projects that LANL works upon?
I work here, and even I was unaware of the ChemCam project at LANL!

Our PR office is a failure. It is partly because of this failure that
we are so easily attacked by Congress and the media. It's time to
re-think how we do PR at this lab. Our future may very well depend on it.
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