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Has civility on ASR declined recently?

mhardy6647

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Friend of mine who is a mechanical engineer, between 2000 and 2010 worked for three companies that were acquired by Berkshire Hathaway after he hired on with them. Of course B-H always talked about how things would improve, and things weren't changing much blah, blah, blah. Each time he and many others were let go as part of "Improving the company" right about the middle of December. Always great news just before Christmas. After the 1st two times he was really down in the dumps when his 3rd company was acquired by B-H. In each case they assured anyone asking that such was not happening and right out of the blue with no warning their jobs were gone.

There are business reasons such things happen at the end of a year, and for not letting on that any such thing is about to happen. To humans working somewhere of course, there is probably no worse time to get such news.

Only tangentially related (from me? imagine that?! ;) ) but this is a bon mot I share with students in my Introduction to Glycobiology course.

1638891654891.png


... well, I like it. :cool:

I have been on both sides of those end of the year massacres over the course of my career -- "survivor syndrome" is, as I reckon many of you know, a very real thing. :(
 

JayGilb

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I wonder, are Americans aware that stuff like this only happens in the States? Most other countries have laws that don't allow these kinds of practices.
Some are aware, but mostly words like Socialism are tossed out and flags are flown until talk of job securities fade.
Several of my neighbors have No Socialism signs in their yard.
 

q3cpma

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I wonder, are Americans aware that stuff like this only happens in the States? Most other countries have laws that don't allow these kinds of practices.
These laws aren't without inconvenients. Here at least (France, "real" programming), this means low productivity incompetents can continue without worries and that salaries are quite lower than in the states (even when considering the way higher taxes on stuff like fuel or VAT).
When you consider our very generous chômage (don't know the English equivalent) that takes a significative part of your salary but allows you up to 60% of your mean salary during the next N unemployed months (N being the time your worked, capped to 24), I'm not even sure it's needed.

I'd rather see some laws saying "to fire for economical reasons, no decision-making post must have more than 100+Y% of the fired employe's salaries" or so, to be sure that mass firing was actually necessary.

Among those fired was the company's diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team.
Good. I've seen enough "PC police" officers being paid (sometimes outrageous salaries) to produce nothing of value.
 
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SIY

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This reminds me of my father (an MD) asserting that MDs were de facto scientists and causing a rather large family argument.
Some years back, I was dating an ER physician. When we were at a social event with her physician colleagues, she introduced me as "Dr. Yaniger." When asked what my specialty was, I answered, "Physical chemistry." "Oh, so you're not actually a doctor." My response was, "True, unlike you, I had to do something original for my degree."

Relationship didn't last long.
 

Anmol

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These laws aren't without inconvenients. Here at least (France, "real" programming), this means low productivity incompetents can continue without worries and that salaries are quite lower than in the states (even when considering the way higher taxes on stuff like fuel or VAT).
When you consider our very generous chômage (don't know the English equivalent) that takes a significative part of your salary but allows you up to 60% of your mean salary during the next N unemployed months (N being the time your worked, capped to 24), I'm not even sure it's needed.

I'd rather see some laws saying "to fire for economical reasons, no decision-making post must have more than 100+Y% of the fired employe's salaries" or so, to be sure that mass firing was actually necessary.


Good. I've seen enough "PC police" officers being paid (sometimes outrageous salaries) to produce nothing of value.
Not sure if this is accurate or reflects fuller picture.
I am sure france has its own set of problems but France is doing ok.
 

preload

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Some years back, I was dating an ER physician. When we were at a social event with her physician colleagues, she introduced me as "Dr. Yaniger." When asked what my specialty was, I answered, "Physical chemistry." "Oh, so you're not actually a doctor." My response was, "True, unlike you, I had to do something original for my degree."

Relationship didn't last long.

Who needs physicians nowadays. Anything you want to know about medicine is available via Google, and you can easily get medical advice on internet forums.
 

Anmol

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Friend of mine who is a mechanical engineer, between 2000 and 2010 worked for three companies that were acquired by Berkshire Hathaway after he hired on with them. Of course B-H always talked about how things would improve, and things weren't changing much blah, blah, blah. Each time he and many others were let go as part of "Improving the company" right about the middle of December. Always great news just before Christmas. After the 1st two times he was really down in the dumps when his 3rd company was acquired by B-H. In each case they assured anyone asking that such was not happening and right out of the blue with no warning their jobs were gone.

There are business reasons such things happen at the end of a year, and for not letting on that any such thing is about to happen. To humans working somewhere of course, there is probably no worse time to get such news.
US financial year gets completed by Oct. Nov is spent balancing books by accountants, December follows with this activity. I dont know what is a perfect system. Using people like machines or objects is out of date.
 

ahofer

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Friend of mine who is a mechanical engineer, between 2000 and 2010 worked for three companies that were acquired by Berkshire Hathaway after he hired on with them. Of course B-H always talked about how things would improve, and things weren't changing much blah, blah, blah. Each time he and many others were let go as part of "Improving the company" right about the middle of December. Always great news just before Christmas. After the 1st two times he was really down in the dumps when his 3rd company was acquired by B-H. In each case they assured anyone asking that such was not happening and right out of the blue with no warning their jobs were gone.

There are business reasons such things happen at the end of a year, and for not letting on that any such thing is about to happen. To humans working somewhere of course, there is probably no worse time to get such news.

I suppose I’d rather be acquired by Berkshire than, say, Carl Icahn, but Warren Buffett has absolutely cultivated an image that is not entirely true to the reality. When he visits your firm he really does get chummy with the receptionists and doormen, and he really does go outside and hail his own cab, which is all very charming. At the same time, he drives a pretty mean bargain and watches the bottom line just like everyone else. Increasingly, his secret to adding value is what Berkshire’s imprimatur can do for the entree and value of a company more than actually creating more cash flow or better underlying fundamentals. And of course, sometimes a strategic investment from Berkshire can literally mark a company as a survivor (like GS in the financial crisis). So he gets much better terms as a result.
 

Blumlein 88

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I suppose I’d rather be acquired by Berkshire than, say, Carl Icahn, but Warren Buffett has absolutely cultivated an image that is not entirely true to the reality. When he visits your firm he really does get chummy with the receptionists and doormen, and he really does go outside and hail his own cab, which is all very charming. At the same time, he drives a pretty mean bargain and watches the bottom line just like everyone else. Increasingly, his secret to adding value is what Berkshire’s imprimatur can do for the entree and value of a company more than actually creating more cash flow or better underlying fundamentals. And of course, sometimes a strategic investment from Berkshire can literally mark a company as a survivor (like GS in the financial crisis). So he gets much better terms as a result.
My friend was a real engineer. By this I mean he designed objects that were made. In the US at least most engineers are actually doing only a little engineering or mostly just used as tech competent managers or so it seems to me. In the three case of my friend, basically the engineering departments were gutted and actual engineering was moved to other countries.
 

JayGilb

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US financial year gets completed by Oct. Nov is spent balancing books by accountants, December follows with this activity. I dont know what is a perfect system. Using people like machines or objects is out of date.
I've watched dozens of engineering colleagues get laid off in an effort to balance books and deliver maximum returns to shareholders over the decades.
 

SIY

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I suppose I’d rather be acquired by Berkshire than, say, Carl Icahn, but Warren Buffett has absolutely cultivated an image that is not entirely true to the reality. When he visits your firm he really does get chummy with the receptionists and doormen, and he really does go outside and hail his own cab, which is all very charming. At the same time, he drives a pretty mean bargain and watches the bottom line just like everyone else. Increasingly, his secret to adding value is what Berkshire’s imprimatur can do for the entree and value of a company more than actually creating more cash flow or better underlying fundamentals. And of course, sometimes a strategic investment from Berkshire can literally mark a company as a survivor (like GS in the financial crisis). So he gets much better terms as a result.
I worked a lot of M&A for a large blue-chip conglomerate. We were all about streamlining and optimizing. Yes, there were often some changes made in staffing, but after acquisition, the companies were far more efficient and profitable. And net employment could grow, with revenue, market share, and margins growing even faster. If managers could hit their targets, we left them strictly alone. If they couldn't, we'd work with them to do so. Not all could, but that's true in any endeavor, there's a distribution of skills, ability, and willingness to work hard.

The worst part was having to shut things down or scale back because of idiot regulatory practices foisted on us by economically illiterate politicians.
 

Rottmannash

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I wonder, are Americans aware that stuff like this only happens in the States? Most other countries have laws that don't allow these kinds of practices.
The high price of "freedom".
 

mhardy6647

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Some years back, I was dating an ER physician. When we were at a social event with her physician colleagues, she introduced me as "Dr. Yaniger." When asked what my specialty was, I answered, "Physical chemistry." "Oh, so you're not actually a doctor." My response was, "True, unlike you, I had to do something original for my degree."

Relationship didn't last long.
One of my professors liked to refer to MDs as "real doctors", his voice dripping with sarcasm. :)
I also had a colleague in grad school whose father was an MD. She liked to make a point (albeit good-naturedly) of saying that, in social settings, MDs were "doctor" but not PhDs, so, to this day, I address Christmas cards to her and her husband (both PhDs, although he went on to get a JD as well) as "Dr. and Dr. xxx xxxx ". :)

On the other hand, at my wedding, the wife of one of my groomsmen, who is a fiercely independent and uncompromising emergency medicine/Trauma MD, and of an era where such behavior made her a "feminist", introduced herself to people at our wedding as "Mrs. [her husband's name]". I had never heard her do it before, nor since. I think she took a pretty hard line in matters of etiquette, too! ;)

Oh, I should mention, her husband's an MD PhD. ;)
 

mhardy6647

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a final thought on the degree thing. I suspect most folks here know that degrees are listed hierarchically, from "lowest" to "highest". An honorary [doctoral] degree is the highest, and is listed last.
Note that MD PhD degree holders are called just that, and not PhD MD.
Just sayin'.

In all seriousness, I don't begrudge the MD his/her/their being called "Doctor" -- but I earned my "Doctor", too, you know? ;)

As an aside, I have had a few students who referred to me as "Professor Mark", which I think is precious as all get-out. Seriously. :)
 

pseudoid

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So, if you have a PhD in [say....] Philosophy or a Master's in Socio-Anthropology are you more of a 'scientist' than the lo-life sparky with a Bachelor's of Science in [say...] EE?
 

JJB70

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I hope this doesn't upset anybody but the precious attitudes to academic titles has always amused me and kind of undermines the idea that scientists and academics are more rational than the riff raff. Many years ago I worked for British Antarctic Survey as a lowly ships engineer and remember firstly how bitchy some of the scientific crew could be about which of them was worthy of being in the officers lounge and dining room, and secondly how much more bitchy they could get about their titles. I regularly attend engineering conferences (or did before the unusual circumstances of the last couple of years) and one of the joys is watching the cat fights when someone's precious idea is challenged. And then there is the outrage towards anyone with lesser educational credentials who is paid more than them without considering skills or economic value. I used to work with a guy who was a real engineering snob (we were both doing engineering analysis for new warship designs) and he was properly outraged when I told him that in electricity generation I had issued purchase orders to pay welders over £5000 to do a single weld (this is 15 years ago). He really couldn't comprehend that if there's only one or two people anywhere with the approvals for a particular weld to a turbine, and which has a track record of passing the radiography exam every time and when each day a turbine is offline it is losing telephone number figures then those people can pretty much name their price. He went nuts when I told him to go and learn how to weld if it was so easy and he wanted to make more money.
 

pseudoid

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Science as a weapon has been much brandished about in the past few years and the act appears to be coming from none other than scientists and politicians alike.
I don't think there is any profession that is immune.
If applying small events as generalities is not a crime yet; then, the only conclusion is "Damn Humanoids!":cool:
 

mhardy6647

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So, if you have a PhD in [say....] Philosophy or a Master's in Socio-Anthropology are you more of a 'scientist' than the lo-life sparky with a Bachelor's of Science in [say...] EE?
No, but you've achieved the level of education required to propose a thesis, prepare a dissertation and defend it. It's not quite a trivial task. :rolleyes:
There's a spectrum of "science", too. Much of the 'science' touted here (at least when it comes to, e.g., loudspeaker preference models) is of the "soft" (or "social science") kind. Devising a test of some sort, collecting data from test subjects and using statistical methods to glean trends and correlations. Not saying it's easy, meaningless, or unimportant -- but it's different than, say, measuring c or establishing a fundamental reference for, e.g., the kilogram :)

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/13/6663...metal-in-france-that-has-defined-the-kilogram.

IMG_7795.jpg


 
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