Sunday, April 03, 2005

Downsizing and Degrading

At Atrios's Haloscan comments this very interesting exchange happened the other day:

Nur-al--when my husband started out in programming, he shared an office with a door and a roommate. Then he had an office to himself. Then an office with a locking door. then a window and a locking door.

And then, Bush took office.

He then had a cubicle of his own. Then a cubicle he shared with someone else. Then a cubicle he shared with three others, but with a window. Now he shares a cubicle with three others, no window, and right next to the electrical closet.

He feels your pain.
Sallyh | Email | Homepage | 04.03.05 - 12:11 am | #allyh

When I went into IT I had a corner office with two windows and a private cubicle. Then they decided I was a support function and I got buried in the middle of the building. I have not had a window or a hint of one since '85 anywhere. If I didn't smoke, I would never get anything close to a tan.

EkCenTriK | Email | Homepage | 04.03.05 - 12:14 am | #Ah yes, Sallyh, I share your husband's pain. I've gone the route from cubicle to office and back to cubicle again. The ones I hated the worst were when it's not even a real cubicle, walls on only one or two sides, or only 3 or 4 ft high. You feel so exposed.

But since I got laid off from my last IT job my worries are over.
Karin | Email | Homepage | 04.03.05 - 12:19 am | #

Shit, Karin. That seems to be a constant refrain in IT. We know more people laid off in IT right now than we do working in it.
Sallyh | Email | Homepage | 04.03.05 - 12:22 am | #


One of the posters there, Sallyh, is a reader of this blog, too. We exchanged e-mails and chatted on the phone. She is a very interesting person, by herself as well as an icon for what is happening to us all. With her permission, I wish to share some of what we talked about, minus the personal stuff.

Her husband is one of the pioneers in computer programming. He has been continuously employed all his long life doing this. He became one sort of helter skelter, like many early programmers, from other science fields, back then, you had to do your own programming to do any computer work.

His life was on a rising trajectory and up and up he went, better pay and better conditions. Then everything began to contract. The computer world in America shrank more and more, faster and faster and he fell one pay grade after another, the office shrinking to near nothing. What is worse is his wife's story. She is a rare bird indeed---a professional numbers cruncher, medical statistical studies! Call her "Professor"! I read just last week in the Wall Street Journal how women must stop being scared of the sciences and join the scientific community. Well, guess who was just expelled?

Sallyh!

Surprised? That Harvard President must be literally scratching his pointy head over this puzzle! Geeze. Maybe she is stupid?

This really burns me up. The press tells us "we need more women in the sciences especially mathematicians" and then they fire a University woman mathematician. It is a very hard row for women scientists to hoe, motherhood and marriage and trying to make a mark in their fields and teaching. And then they get kicked in the shins! Bang. Instead of supporting women like Sallyh, they go after her and hunt her down. Take that!

Aside from this obvious issue of "let them eat academic cake" we have a dual earning family of PhD scientists both of whom have sterling credentials being ground to death economically by the contraction of the American research/teaching/innovation community.

It is statistically proven that America is spending less and less each year on hard core research. What research we are doing is for things that don't really matter. The serious stuff like how to deal with infections becoming immune to the effects of antibiotics, for example, is declining. Money is spent on improving the sheen on toenails instead! The torch for top notch computer research is being handed over to other nations. Microsoft "spends" a tremendous amount on computer programming research only to produce a mouse-sized result.

As we merrily roll down this road which I detail here on the blog and many other fine blogs detail, we pass one sign after another. A very nasty warning sign is "Dual married couples with PhDs can't hold down jobs anymore". This is a NIGHTMARE for it points to very dire secondary effects. As each person at the top of the economic ladder steps backwards, someone of lesser skills has to step backward and this ends up crushing the very poor. Not to mention suicide and despair as the ones at the top, nearing 50 or more years, see no hope and despair.

Meanwhile, I stand at the sidelines, yelling. No! No! Just this year, my sister-in-law went to a NYC hospital for an exploratory surgery to see if her cancer was spreading. Within 12 hours she was in intensive care because of a new lung disease that infects sick people in hospitals and which is nearly untreatable if you have cancer therapies that weaken your ability to fight off germs...she died 24 hrs later. She was only 58 years old. Scared me a lot. To hear Sallyh talk about her wonderful terminated research caused me to tremble with fear and rage. How many people must die before we do the right thing?

This is Culture of Life News. I want the ecosystem to flourish. I want my readers to live. I wish my sister-in-law, whose death was not attended by hordes of screaming press and headlines, I want her alive again. We are on the wrong road here. In future postings, we will talk about what to do. Just remember: you are not alone! We can do something if we work together!

Love you all, Culture of Life News II reporting.

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