Friday, May 06, 2005

This blog would not have even come to existence

In my humble opinion, this blog would not have even come to existence, were it not for a poor decision by Jim Fallin last summer (whether he was under instruction from Nanos I couldn't tell). There is a lot of good stuff in this blog, along with the dirty laundry and the whining -- not so different from the Newsbulletin (except the spelling and punctuations are better in the Newsbulletin). I was shocked a few years ago to find that some of our high-level managers were "too busy" to read the Newsbulletin -- but that was how you find out what employees were thinking!However, should the bloggers take credit for Nanos's departure? I doubt it. His biggest limiting behavior is the lack of discipline: there is no check of his temper, his language, his thoughts; this lack of personal discipline would have gotten him sooner or later. I expect the wiser managers to find out what employees are thinking. Do not dismiss this blog as the whining of a few malcontents. Many loyal LANL employees have contributed to this blog with good intentions. The biggest lesson here for the wiser managers is this: do not try to take away anyone's freedom of speech. You can't, and you'll lose. Karen

Hi Karen,

Since you responded to my recent post, I thought that returning the favor was in order. Believe it or not, I agree with your views here. While I doubt the Blog is directly responsible for Nanos’ departure, it certainly has contributed to exposing the situation internal to the Laboratory.

Finally, I second Doug’s request that we turn our attentions toward positively contributing to solving our problems. There has been a great deal of positive dialog over the months; it would be good to dredge some of the better stuff up. I remember some very good discussions regarding the role of science, LDRD, the Weapons’ Program and other serious topics.


p.s. To test the waters, I sent this question to the Newsbulletin yesterday morning. All of you who read the “Reader’s Forum” can see whether it is accepted. This would certainly be a signal that something inside the Lab has changed.

I have a simple question: what is the purpose of the Newsbulletin and Reader's Forum?

The stated purpose for the Reader's Forum on your webpage is “The Letters to the Editor section of the Readers' Forum is designed to encourage constructive dialogue among University of California Laboratory employees and retirees. It is a mechanism for conducting reasonable discourse based on fact or informed opinion.” I could not locate anything similar for the Newsbulletin. I would propose that it should be something to the effect of providing a reliable source of news of interest to the employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the case of the Reader's Forum, I would submit that this purpose has not been achieved in recent times. My proposed purpose for the Newsbulletin has not been met in recent months.

My question is prompted by an observation that this Newsbulletin has ceased to be a reliable or timely source of news regarding the Laboratory. The recent article about a Blog's impact on the Laboratory,, is a sterling example. The Reader's Forum does not provide any reasonable dialog on the issues most pressing to the Laboratory and its employees. The phenomenon of the Blog, LANL the Real Story (, is a direct consequence. When employees are not given the opportunity to read the news in a timely fashion or discuss issues internally, these functions went outside the Laboratory.

William J. (Bill) Rider
What's ironic here is that this very blog has been greatly censored. Doug Roberts has removed many posts thoughout the history of this thing. None for very clearly articulated reasons other than apparently he didn't like them. Freedom of speech is not a halfway thing. It either exists or doesn't. Let's not kid ourselves. It doesn't exist here. So don't laud this blog too much for its bravery or freedom. It's keeper is as much of a tyrant as anyone mentioned in it (you just don't see the posts that talk about that, keeping in tradition with other dictators.)
The censored posts did not conform with the paradigm that Pete is the devil incarnate.
The decision to minimize openness and elicit institutional replies to readers' letters before they could be published was not a unilateral Fallin decision. Fallin, since he's come to this lab, has attempted to carry out his job with the utmost in integrity. That was, until McCumber showed up on the scene and removed Fallin's access to offering candid advice to sr. managers. Can anyone, quite honestly, point to any communications accomplishments the lab has experienced under McCumber's watch? I agree that a better approach to the lab's PR department is in dire need. But put blame where blame belongs. If you're not a chronie of McCumber's, you're buried and eventually blackballed. Too bad that happened to Mr. Fallin. And as for this blog being censored, Roberts' only attempts to clean up peoples' acts are to protect the very nasty expletive name-calling against the very people who you occasional trollers write in to defend in the first place. So there!
I have to echo the thoughts of the 5/7/2005 09:34:40 AM post. From what I've heard from very good sources, Jim Fallin seems to have done a lot of this damage on the direct orders of David McCumber. Yet his (McCumber's) name is rarely mentioned in the blog. I bet McCumber is sitting back thankful that Fallin (and his cohort Roark) has been taking the hits, while he escapes scrutiny. Perhaps it's time to bring some of the true culprits out into the open for them to explain themselves.

As for pointing to any communications accomplishments the lab has experienced under McCumber's watch I saw an awful lot of science press releases and stories go out last year and a former PR person I work with says it could be the most that they've put out in several years, although she can't verify that.
This is a test...only a test

Pete Nanos is not the devil incarnate.

This was only a test...

(But he sure wasn't a very good leader.)
Wasn't a very good leader? How can you say that? Oh that's right, Nanos was a terrible, horrible, mean, crabby, crappy (you can pick the expletive) leader.

I hope you’ll pardon by French, but the last part of Anonymous’s 5/7/2005 10:25:24 AM is bulls**t.

I know for a fact from a Public Affairs person, although in the current environment I’m likely to deny I know her, that almost all of the science stories that came out last year were the work of one guy in the Strategic Research directorate office and David McCumber had nothing to do with it. I know for certain that the guy worked for Tom Meyer, and maybe still works for Terry Wallace. I also know that I’ve listened and talked to McCumber on several occasions and he doesn’t seem to give damn about telling the world about our science successes. Hell, he probably doesn’t even know this SR communications guy was putting out the science news. I’ll try to remember who the guy was. Maybe he can take over McCumber’s job!
It sounds like McCumber needs to be added to the "wasteful activities" list. I would rather somebody with more first-hand knowledge of McCumber do, if deemed appropriate. I would not be too hasty in removing Fallin from the list, however. Fallin was a willing participant in implementing the LANL PR policies of censorship and deceit.
12:25:28: Done.
Interesting that Fallin and Roark were telling everyone including the New York Times that it was only a rumor that Nanos was leaving. Either they were ignorant or lying. There is no in between. In both cases they now have no credibility with the media and with the staff at this institution. The truth will carry a heavy load for miles. A lie will stagger under the weigh of a feather and die within the length of its own shadow.
It would be absolutely hilarious to see how any single one of you critics of public affairs would fare if you actually had to be the ones to have your name out in the press on a constant, neverending basis. I don't envy the public affairs people one bit and I'm glad they are there to put up with the ignoramuses in the press so I don't have to. It would be really humorous to see the communication gap that would result if any one of you had to sit down with a reporter and talk about your project. It would be even funnier to see what the reporter turned your story into afterward. I know this because I have had to suffer through this very indignation. After that I appreciated what some of my overhead funded. Leave science to the scientists and leave publicity to the publicists.
Thanks for your input Mr. Rickman.
I just read the homily to Jim Fallin being David McCumber's scapegoat and it does not match what someone in PR told me. As a matter of fact it almost reads like a post from Fallin, himself, doing his own damage control.

More than one PR person at the lab has quietly told Fallin is a micro-manager who has been called on the carpet too many times for shooting from the hip without his brain engaged. From what I hear, Fallin is just another retired Navy puke sucking up to the admiral out of pure reflex.

If McCumber has been pulling Fallin's strings then both of them as hires of Rich (I like women) Marquez should go back to where they came from.
Fallin is airforce not navy. Rickman how do you have time to post here I thought you were still whinning about losing everything to the fire.
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