Slouching toward Bethlehem.
Well, maybe the stock market continuing to crash is a good thing for science.
I'm feeling more and more these days that, in my narcissistic state, I'd be a lot happier if science just went away for a while. Maybe a decade. I really do think the only way to fix it is to start with a clean slate.
I keep thinking it's so ironic how everyone in academia had been saying,
"Oh, we just need a new President, just hang in there [for four more years], funding is going to get better after that."
But look around, folks, it's getting worse, and, Obama or no Obama, it will very likely stay that way for a while.
Senior PIs are tightening their belts. They're making less effort (at least around here) to pretend like it's all hunky-dory and "training." They're telling postdocs we should consider ourselves lucky to be employed at all.
I really think the only way this is going to change is if NIH goes away, or if we have a national postdoc union that goes on strike. My guess is it will take about ten years to happen.
I'm watching what's happening with the UC unionization and I kind of have to laugh. I really do wonder if, given a little more time and bad enough job morale, scientists are finally going to grow some spine and say enough is enough?
On the one hand, I'm pretty happy with my actual day-to-day right now. It's frustrating in a lot of ways, but this week I did some things I think helped a few people:
I edited a thesis chapter for one PI's student (1 hour)
I reviewed a paper for a major journal (1 hour)
I helped another student with his thesis presentation (1 hour)
I helped a postdoc in my own lab with a fellowship application (1 hour)
I continued training my undergrad (4 hours)
And oh yeah, a few things that helped me directly:
I did some experiments.
I met a senior FSP who might be helpful as a mentor. I'm not sure yet, but she said I should come see her sometime and I thought, okay. What have I got to lose? 2 hours for another anti-pep talk?
I also had a few problems.
I spent some time hunting for reagents I need to buy and trying to negotiate a quote I could live with (2 hours total during the week) but couldn't find what I wanted at a price I was happy with, and will probably go to a different company.
I got an anti-pep talk from my advisor (2 hours) when I tried to steer the conversation to getting some actual help with my career. So much for that idea. Not going to get any help there, that much has been confirmed. Repeatedly.
I spent some time hunting for equipment (1 hour) which was broken when I finally found it.
I spent some time talking to a junior faculty friend who mentioned the hiring freezes, her own horrific departmental politics, and how her former postdoc PI is still fucking her over (2 hours).
I spent some time talking to a friend who got screwed over after writing yet another grant for his PI (2 hours).
I found out my advisor is royally screwing a former grad student on authorship of a paper. This is above and beyond what I've seen my advisor do before, it's just petty and stupid and I'm completely disgusted at how incredibly selfish Advisor is being about this.
And yet, today I am in lab for a few hours, and still feeing pretty good about reaching a few goals I have set for myself and reaching a few more in the (hopefully near) future.
After that, I don't know. I feel better when I don't worry so far ahead or care too much about all the shit going on around me. "Not my problem" is definitely a useful attitude. Or as a friend was saying this week:
What do we want?
When do we want it?