Jul 29, 2009

Life After LANL

One of my ex-LANL colleagues, Ron Minnich was written up a couple of days ago in the New York Times, and, even more impressive: in Slashdot today.

Congratulations, Ron!


Click to Enlarge


Anonymous said...

Sorry Doug, but the guy really can't be that smart. We already know that the best and brightest come to Los Alamos, and that because of it we are accomplishing the worlds best science. We know this because it's in our motto, in our mission statement, and because that's what Lab leadership directs our public affairs office to convey to the media and the rest of the world. So there!

Doug Roberts said...

Um, well...

Point taken.

BTW, Wasn't that The World's Greatest Science Protecting America"?

Anonymous said...

The old motto was "The world's greatest science protecting America". That's so 2005.

Things changed once LANS took over. We now have two lab mottos:

"Don't SLIP -- wear shoes that GRIP!"


"LOOK out for each other."

Science plays a declining part in the new LANS-inspired LANL. Proper shoe wear is now our top priority.

Anonymous said...

Now I know where the idea for the evils guys in the latest James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace", came from. The evil guys in this movie were modeled directly from the people over at BECHTEL! If you saw the movie, then this story below will sound very familiar:

Bechtel Bows to Bolivia -
Multinational Monitor, Feb 2006

The Bechtel Corporation in January formally dropped its legal effort to collect money from Bolivia in the wake of its ejection from a private water contract in Bolivia's third largest city, Cochabamba.

In 2000, the people of Cochabamba rose up in revolt over privatization of their municipal water system to a Bechtel-led consortium.

The consortium had forced through rate increases averaging 50 percent and in some cases reaching 400 percent.

When the government and Bechtel refused to reduce rates, the people took to the streets. Tens of thousands mobilized, and Bechtel's continued operation quickly became untenable. The company abandoned Cochabamba - but not its claim to compensation.

Bechtel filed a case against Bolivia at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), claiming that it was owed $50 million for lost investments and lost profits.

Anonymous said...

"When the government and Bechtel refused to reduce rates, the people took to the streets."

The big difference between Bolivia and LANL, 11:15, is that in Bolivia they took to the streets to protest.

At LANL, they just whine about losing their (bottled) water rights. Anonymously. From the privacy of their homes. After hours. Where no one can find out who they are.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear. Ron Minnich, and the others who left LANL shortly after it became clear what NNSA's new direction for the lab was are the "best and the brightest".

There rest are, well, what's left.

"Crown Jewels", my ass.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so the Bolivia thing is what Bechtel was planning when they removed all the bottled water from LANL. Bechtel's going to replace no cost water dispensers with coin-operated units that charge 400% over the going rate for bottled water. Very devious indeed. Where's James Bond when you need him?

Anonymous said...

7/30/09 5:53 PM

Didn't you mean "family jewels"?

ron said...

Hello Doug, and all the good folks at LANL who might be reading the blog today.

Thanks for the note. I am not sure if /. or the LANL blog is a higher achievement :-)

I'm reading "A Life in Twilight: the Final Years of J. Robert Oppenheimer". I found the section on the impact of Sputnik interesting. This is 1957, remember.

The Wash. Post: "In sober truth, we have driven out of our laboratories a great many pre-eminent men of science ... We have let scientists become targets of suspicion and abuse ... in the name of security, we have sacrificed security".

From the book itself: "Where were all the great scientists when we needed them, while Russia was busy getting ahead of us? Why, they were all being investigated by security boards, getting denied clearances, ..."

Worth reading.I have hope that sooner or later, the USG will rediscover its need for the Labs and what they do. I think it is beginning even now. We'll see.

Doug Roberts said...

Hiya, Ron. It's great to hear from you, and to see that you are doing well.

Regarding the state of our national laboratories -- some are definitely doing better than others. I keep in touch with a few of our other ex-LANL colleagues who went to places like ORNL, where the work environment appears to be much healthier than at our old Alma Mater.

Stay in touch!


Anonymous said...

Science in America is slowly being revived at our national labs. You are right, Doug, ORNL is doing very well these days. So are other DOE labs, such as PNNL. Even SNL, which has become almost a type of pseudo-NNSA lab, is not doing too badly due to it's decade long program of project diversification away from NNSA. LANL and LLNL, however, are the two exceptions to the rule.

It is possible for American science to enter a new Golden Age of increased funding while the weapons labs continue their slow decline. From the looks of the attitude of Congress, NNSA and LANS that appears to be the outcome upon which these two labs are headed. No official reports, no matter how dire the analysis and projections, seem able to wake the power brokers from their deep slumber into actions that might save these two labs from their decline.

Putting Bechtel Inc. in charge of both LANL and LLNL was the 'coup de grace' for these two former illustrious institutions. Some jobs may remain at LANL for the time being, but the lab's emphasis on science is rotting away as a strict culture of compliance takes hold.

Anonymous said...

Humm. Hadn't realized that Minnich left LANL and went to Sandia.

No doubt a wise choice.

Anonymous said...

In today's Albuquerque Journal--
"A September 2008 Justice Department report concluded that Domenici was the "primary factor" in the firing of Iglesias, and that Iglesias was not dismissed for poor job performance as some top department officials claimed."

I guess "St. Pete" isn't so saintly after all.

Anonymous said...

There was an interesting story and an editorial in a local paper this week about Klaus Lackner who left LANL for Columbia University long before the Nanos debacle. He's designed artificial trees that clean pollutants from the air. Although they do not prevent air pollution, at least it's an effort to clean up.

I wonder if anyone left in T Division can claim to contribute as much towards cleaning up the environment or towards anything else productive.

Anonymous said...

Life During LANL.

Just think of Bechtel/LANS as human Bot Flies.

Anonymous said...

LANS can't even seem to keep the restrooms stocked with hand soap of late. It's getting pathetic. I guess hand soap is yet another item that employees will need to start bringing in to work along with trash bags and clean water.

Anonymous said...

Science plays a declining part in the new LANS-inspired LANL. Proper shoe wear is now our top priority.

7/30/09 10:50 AM

Have they instituted a poilcy that you are required to shake two times, but no more than three because that might be construded as sexual harassment?