Aug 28, 2009

Comment of the Week

I noticed this also, but didn't quite know how to put it into words. A commenter from the Crasher Squirrel post did so succinctly with this contribution:

LANS and NNSA seem to have launched an intense PR campaign to convince the weapon complex employees, media and Congress that they're not the total fuck-ups that they appear to be.



Anonymous said...

Frankly, I haven't seen any 'intense PR campaign' from LANS or LANL in ... ever.

PR is quite obviously not a 'core competency' here and not something they hire in either. (Sorry to break it to you, Mr. Rhoades or whomever's lips are moving this week.)

The efforts that have been evident include:
- silence on issues of importance
- obtusification when clarity is needed or requested
- smug and arrogant babbling on and on when there's nothing to say or when providing the merest of tidbits, scraps really, of information
- the appearance of ineptitude to cover the reality that the whole direction LANL is heading in is intentionally downward and spiraling with impressive speed

Anonymous said...

7:27 PM, you are a fucking manager managing up. What do you think the recent "oh, Harper is pleased with the high kudos from NNSA" shit is all about?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget how ADs abuse their people until they die of stress-induced strokes or heart-attacks, right Dr. Neu?

Anonymous said...

"Incredible progress" marks information security audit, say DOE auditors (LANL Today headline)

With cheesy headlines like these, it's clear that LANS and DOE feel they are under pressure and are trying to fight back.

Anonymous said...

8/28/09 8:55 PM,
"What do you think the recent "oh, Harper is pleased with the high kudos from NNSA" shit is all about?"

You mean the "LANL Today, August 27, 2009" posting mentioned in the Crasher Squirrel post?

It's not really PR (PUBLIC Relations) when it's posted internally and directed at gleefully gloating about dodging scrutiny while stroking managerial egos with a teeny bone tossed to the underlings who have jumped through countless hoops to meet the demand. It qualifies as "smug and arrogant babbling on and on when there's nothing to say", in my opinion.

And no, I'm not a manager. Not by a long, long shot. In fact, if I was 'managing up', I'd probably be building an incredible reputation for wounding the coddled egos of a bunch of folks who only know about hoop jumping when it comes to safeguarding their piece of the action, i.e. bonu$, title, power, reputation, # of days till retirement, etc.

What may have not been taken from my earlier 7:27pm post is that I was advocating for the people in the trenches. Sorry if you missed that.

Anonymous said...

There is a great article over at Slate Magazine today that will strongly resonant with many LANL employees:

Unchain the Office Computers! (Slate Magazine)

...Computers, like airplanes, can be dangerous things—they can breed viruses and other malware, they can consume enormous resources meant for other tasks, and they're portals to great expanses of procrastination. So why not lock down workplace computers?

Here's why: The restrictions infantilize workers—they foster resentment, reduce morale, lock people into inefficient routines, and, worst of all, they kill our incentives to work productively. In the information age, most companies' success depends entirely on the creativity and drive of their workers. IT restrictions are corrosive to that creativity—they keep everyone under the thumb of people who have no idea which tools we need to do our jobs but who are charged with deciding anyway...


Are you listening, Tom Harper?

Anonymous said...

The progress has indeed been "incredible", because it was hard to imagine any organization could do so much damage to itself, in such a short period of time, and do it deliberately. But you should remember that neither Mr. Harper, nor the DOE auditors stand to lose anything if you can no longer get your work done as a result of their "incredible" security measures.

I bet we haven't seen the end of it. Just you wait! A couple of years from now, your new laptop will arrive to you from Holmans with its screen glued shut to the keyboard. Your office workstation won't have a keyboard at all, or a mouse - only a screen, which will be set to loop through the various training videos. This setup will be ultimately secure.

There will be an impossibly complicated "keyboard exception process", requiring you to collect signatures from your division leader all the way up to Tom D'Agostino. The exceptions will be granted mostly to managers, so they could continue typing their memos and new rules.

We are progressing to that state of affairs, evidently with "incredible" speed.

Anonymous said...

The progress has indeed been "incredible", because it was hard to imagine any organization could do so much damage to itself, in such a short period of time, and do it deliberately. But you should remember that neither Mr. Harper, nor the DOE auditors stand to lose anything if you can no longer get your work done as a result of their "incredible" security measures.

You've forgotten that passing audits and winning awards for enhanced bureacracy and crippled productivity IS the Lab's mission now.

"Compliance Serving Society" is our new slogan, read first elsewhere on this blog.

We do not have any other mission than to comply with regulations.

Who cares if the yellow network is slower than home dsl?

Who cares if DCS and NIE have put so much remote-management software on LANL computers that all one has to do is hack SMS and they own the whole Laboratory?


If the mission didn't get in the way of the Lab's hobby of maintaining 80% of the nuclear stockpile, developing non-proliferation and counter-proliferation technologies and plans to handle the ultimate nightmare of an improvised nuclear device, we wouldn't have anything to do.

Anonymous said...


That picture is the *perfect* new logo for LANL: crippled AND fucked up.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from coworkers that have scrapped their Windows PCs and gotten alternative desktop resources. About to scrap one - I only boot it up every few weeks upon request so that "support" can install the latest bandaids and patches to make it appear secure to the cybergods and the auditors ("oversight") from NNSA. Then I switch it back off. It just holds down my desk anymore. It is useless junk, many of the 'links' that the LANL news posted are now inoperative, the new homepage is far less useful and a high percentage of searches for work-related items from the internet are blocked. Anyone had good luck with the latest "Harpoon", the requirement to encrypt all laptop hardrives with a commercial solution that often fails?

Would like to know what cost cybermanagement at LANL is to Taxpayers. Indications are of an exponential surge over the past year, and it appears that confusion and ignorance is the best way to pass it on the workforce.

Anonymous said...

LANS has instituted a new rule for software. Orders for any software that is not on the CIO approved list (which is small and mostly contains things like MS Office) now requires you to submit 'exception' paperwork that must go all the way to the CIO for sign off. For a scientific lab, this is completely nuts!

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing we should soon expect to see headlines like this one on the lab's front web site:

"Glorious Director Anastasio Miraculously Boost Lab Morale to New Heights after Latest All-Hands Meeting"

...or perhaps...

"Bechtel's Amazing Lab Managers Find Possible Cure for Cancer"

Anonymous said...


LANL is now a construction company that doesn't build anything. MS product is *all* you need these days.

Anonymous said...

Doug, those recent pictures you have been posting are fantastic and right on point. I strongly second the opinion of 11:26 am. Good work!

Anonymous said...

The whole IT infrastructure and support is a joke. Centralized control of everyones desktops and laptops are centrally controlled. We all know that I am not talking about Macintosh systems here but that is about to change. The overlords now want to centrally manage ALL Macintosh systems as well. This way they can screw them all up with one stroke. Make matters worse is that if a hacker breaks in to the centralized system (which has happened) they have the keys to the Kingdom. The Macintosh OS is one of the best OS's out there and now centralized IT is going to screw that up as well.

I think that the CIO and cohorts DCS all have their heads up one another asses. There is zero care about the end user needs and productivity. They all hide under the cloud of cyber security and then just break stuff or take away capabilities without letting anyone know until after the fact. Then the software or tools they come up with are all broken or do not work. Give em a medal. Also the mentality is one show size fits all. Maybe at Bechtel or Pantex thats true but not here at LANL. DCS is now shoving half ass solutions down our throats and making policy. We have finally reached the point of insanity.

Anonymous said...

Either get into a management position or a support position at LANL as soon as possible to protect your job. There is no future for scientific work at LANL. It's being increasingly squeezed out by LANS from all sides using extremely high costs and burdensome rules.

LANS is only interested in supporting the "easy money" at LANL (i.e., the block funding that comes in like clockwork every year from NNSA). This money doesn't require much in the way of actual results or productivity. Most of it goes to help with things like security, support and facilities upkeep. Sadly, the LANL you once knew is gone.

Anonymous said...

It's all part of the plan.

Anonymous said...

Given the recent cheesy headlines on the lab's front web page, I suspect will soon see things like:

* "Glorious Director Anastasio Raises Morale to New Heights After Latest All-Hands Meeting"

...or perhaps...

* "Bechtel's Brilliant Lab Managers Discover Cure for Cancer"

Anonymous said...

How about these headlines for LANL daily news email a year from now:

"NNSA congratulates LANS management for reaching incredible new lows in an incredibly short amount of time"

"Called for Random Flogging? Know the procedure."

"Still able to do work? Use form 4321.2 to self-report."

"The Lab phases out fortran in favor of MS Excel."

"Mandatory all-hands meeting on leadership and innovation with T. Wallace and T. Harper."

Anonymous said...

12:29PM, hope you aren't serious about this:
"The overlords now want to centrally manage ALL Macintosh systems as well."

That would call for a revolution! I've dreamed of the day that I will pull that 100BaseT plug and go back to using paper and telephone for communication. The mail room would appreciate the surge in activity, they'd have to staff up. And we'd get a lot of scientific productivity back in the labs, except we wouldn't be able to publish it. Managers would be sunk as they couldn't use Meetingmaker. On-line training ("plan de jour") would shrivel up. Think about the savings.

What an incentive! What would the overlords of NNSA say? Unfortunately, its only a dream, as we're all addicted to desktop computers and, after all, CIO and DCS are pushers. They supply what we need, or so they say.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe "Crasher Squirrel" given AD job.

Anonymous said...

12:29PM, hope you aren't serious about this:
"The overlords now want to centrally manage ALL Macintosh systems as well."

Yes I am. It is being deployed as we grumble. Its called STOM (Secure Desktop on Mac) and Puppet. And the puppet masters are going to be able to do ANYTHING they want with your system.

I REFUSE to load this crap on my system or any other systems that I support. It is a disaster waiting to happen and a major cyber security hole.

Anonymous said...

don't fear, supreme ruler Obama will soon take control of the internet. This blog will finally be shut down!!!

Anonymous said...

God damn! am I glad that I moved to Sandia!

I never thought that I could easily (I do mean easily) say that Sandia's computer support for Mac is Worlds better than LANL, and LANL is getting worse.

I say this fully acknowledging that Sandia is a PC shop and there's plenty to gripe about, but at least they let us use Mac in a productive way. Let me be clear, this computer support thing is one of the signs of the apocalypse, its time to abandon ship.

Frank Young said...

I doubt anyone upset with this blog is going to bring it to the attention of the president. He might actually read it.

Anonymous said...

"I REFUSE to load this crap on my system or any other systems that I support. It is a disaster waiting to happen and a major cyber security hole.

8/29/09 5:29 PM"

You must comply!! You are a cowboy from hell. COMPLY!!!! It is not up to you to decide, it is up to you to comply!

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that Mikey should have been named SKANKY SHARK? From a blog in town:

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Leisure/Kiddy Pool Deluxe Edition

OK, Now before I take this to council and collect my million dollar payday, I want to know what you think.

Does it need more water obstacles? More slides?


The Leisure/Kiddy Pool Deluxe Edition will only use the the best triple-filtered water to prevent the spread of influenza maybe even the gill flu.
Because, according to our School Superintendent Eugene Schmidt, "...the healthier lifestyle our students live in Los Alamos, the clean air and good nutrition..." obviously prevents the swine flu.

Posted by G-Zilla at 8:51 PM

Anonymous said...
There needs to be more water obstacles like the shark pictured in the kiddie/leisure pool and we should name each one after an esteemed individual in the community. I will start JAWS = Vince Chivarelli. SNEAKY SHARK = Tony Mortilaro. SHARK TALES = Mike Wheeler (for his Email recent Email on how everything is on track for a lifestyle center.) SPORTY SHARK = Nona Bowman. SMOOTH SHARK = Kevin Holsapple.

August 30, 2009 9:29 AM
Anonymous said...

August 30, 2009 9:44 AM

Anonymous said...

For a number of years LANL has been committed to eliminating all "shadow" organizations. One of its most egregious efforts has been to centralize computer support. The justification has been yammering about standards, doing the work more efficiently (if you have problems on the weekend and have centralized support who comes in to help you?), tightening up computer security, etc. One could almost say that the security problems with windows hastened this venture.

When this ugly concept first reared its head (before some readers were even in grade school!), it was sold internally as a money maker for what was then C (Computing) Division. C Division had employees without jobs because of the spread of distributive computing. Encouraging the use of distributive computing, or distributive processors (DPs) by divisions not closely connected with weapons design was fostered by X Division and C Division. There simply were not enough computer hours on the large mainframes in the CCF for everyone because we were in a cold war crunch mode.

As more and more moved to DPs, first Vaxes, and then Sun Microsystems hardware, SGIs, HPs, PCs running BSD Unix, Linux, etc., it became obvious that folks would have to be retrained to provide centralized support or they would have to be fired. There was also a push to place non-C (Computing) Division servers in the CCF and charge rent for the space and the support, another money maker. This flopped because the computer networking group was unable to provide decent networking to connect those servers to the workstations in offices.

Those efforts have brought LANL computer users to the position they are in today, in part because too many up the management chain had no guts. They did not push back several years ago because they felt they had no choice. They were too interested in protecting their jobs, not the work their employees were doing. Supporting centralized computer support has opened the door for incompetents to extend this foolishness to bolster their importance at LANL, not only at the top, but down the IT support chain.

Centralized computer support is a horrible idea simply because next to the group secretary/admin there is no one who knows as much about what a group of scientists needs than the people who support computing within the group. Group employees have a loyalty to the group and its needs that is impossible to generate in a centralized support model. This concept can be easily extended to the division since there should be a coherent purpose within a division, but certainly not any farther away than the division. Moreover, you can not hire someone who has a experience in a multitude of hardware and software so you are forced to the least common denominator, whether or not it is appropriate for the job. Lack of experience should not drive decisions, but in large part that is what is happening because people graduating with AA degrees in IT support are not trained in many areas.

The idea of a CIO is not wrong, but the implementation is ridiculous because the CIO is depending upon advise from people who have no loyalty to the divisions/groups for whom they work. Their only loyalty is up the IT chain.

I realize that there has been a lot said about no science at LANL. As with all sweeping statements, I imagine there as some exaggeration and that there are pockets of scientists who are working in spite of all the hurdles. Those using Macs will now face the same overbearing restrictions as those who use other hardware/software unless someone important pushes back.

Bonne chance!

Anonymous said...

I heard from a friend in the public affairs office that several PR folks from North Korea have been contracted to spearhead a new PR campaign for the Lab. That's why there was a North Korean contingent visiting Governor Bill Richardson recently. He's the one that came up with the idea. The idea is basically to portray Mikey as the "Supreme Director" of a new and improved "Laboratory of the new Millennium." Apparently that's going to be the new lab motto. So beginning next year Mickey's photo will be displayed strategically across the Lab. As you cross the Los Alamos Bridge the first and last image you'll see will be Mickey's. Right now, as you read this blog, his leadership team (headed by Sir Knight Richard of the Sexual Harassment Order) is in the process of recruiting hundreds of volunteers (loyal Lab employees and spouses of course) to become part of a synchronized dance troop they want trained to perform every June 1st (anniversary of the LANS takeover). They will receive hands on instruction from experienced Olympic event dance choreographers. Dignitaries will be sitting on stands placed on in front of the National Security Building facing the open area between the Resource Library and the Otowi. That area will formally be christened next spring The Sheeple's Mall. The children of loyal Lab employees will be carrying long polls with long colored streamers tied to them, waving them back and forth in the wind as their parents dance for the Supreme Director. There will be many political dignitaries on hand to pay homage of course. Displays of mockups of every warhead design ever developed at the Laboratory (whether they worked or not) will line the mall. St. Pete will provide the keynote address of course. Imagine the cheering roar of the masses! Well if you can’t imagine that, that’s the way my PR friend is imagining it. Sounds a little farfetched but hey, he’s a PR guy. And you they never lie.

Anonymous said...

I think that what we should do is cut out small photos of Mikey and put one in each urinal.

Anonymous said...

"Centralized computing" has been a horrible failure. We've seen countless proofs of that during the last year. Imagine now placing the same incompetent bunch who can't even deliver emails in complete control of your workstation. Scary sh*t!

I understand they have to continue doing something to keep their jobs. Everyone else is showing activity, right? The policy people keep typing new policies and rules, the benefits people keep yanking the health plan from Blue Cross to UHC and back, the facilities people keep digging up the pavement and paving over the holes they dug up.

What I don't understand is why don't they try to do something useful for a change? Something that helps people, rather than further depresses productivity. That would also count as activity, right?

For example, take the Lab's mail servers. It is completely obscene that they have that ridiculous 1 gig quotas. This is 2009, not 1995! Nowadays Google offers 7 times as much for free! And how about that ancient web interface, circa 1990's? Now that they blocked all other clients via VPN, that dinosaur is all we have left for off-site access.

So, why not instead of continuing to mess things up at least try to improve something. Buy some disk space (dirt cheap now compared to the ancient times when the 1 gig quota was set) and license a decent web mail interface, from Google if you must.

The last time I asked about this, I was told that they don't have people or resources for it. People or resources in the lab with the 2 billion/year budget?! They sure have people when the time comes to screw up with every aspect of my computer environment! Just shows you how horribly misplaced their priorities are.

Anyway, I challenge the computer people, starting at the top with Tom Harper himself: Can you do something good for a change? Just one thing that helps people and increases productivity between now and Christmas? Just one?

Tom Harper said...

"Can you do something good for a change? Just one thing that helps people and increases productivity between now and Christmas? Just one?"


Anonymous said...

10:24 has it right. Central control leaves out the accountability to the customers that are being served. It’s great if you want to build fiefdoms that have a command and control element in it. And don’t forget the most important KA (kissass) element. Now down to the group level. My email, for some reason (bring on the paranoid feelings), my email has been totaled in the last month. E.g., email embedded within email. And this is after central control “fixed” it. I am now very very very scared to pick up the phone or email central control for help.

Anonymous said...

Really Tom? Not even going to try to do something useful? If not for the reasons of conscience, at least for the novelty of it.

Anonymous said...

LANL is now the most f*cked-up lab in the whole DOE/NNSA complex under LANS' leadership and NNSA dearly loves it that way.

That's all you need to know as you contemplate the future.

Anonymous said...

It's all part of the plan.

Anonymous said...

"It's all part of the plan." - 8:14 PM

What plan? You think I actually have a plan given the results of this evolving LANS cluster-fuck! Planning is too hard. We just take the money and go for the easy ride!


Anonymous said...

"I think that what we should do is cut out small photos of Mikey and put one in each urinal."

why not also put them in each of the stalls, mr. male? they could be placed above the myriad non-working "automatic flush" toilets.