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Oct 01 2013

Republicans hate science

The Republican-led government shutdown has also shut down the NSF.

National Science Foundation: Pretty Much Screwed. The NSF is the organization in charge of doling out government dollars to valuable scientific research that could cure fatal diseases, improve quality of life, or create new amazing things. Lest you forget, the MRI machine, voice control, multitouch displays, the internet, GPS, and many, many more advances were funded all or in part by the NSF. This isn’t frivolous. This is important work that will grind to a halt. The NSF will stop making payments to researchers, and government-funded programs the researchers need, like websites and document downloads, will not be operational.

They’ve also sent NASA and all of their active projects off on a vacation.

That now includes the Mars rover Curiosity, which has been shut down, taking a furlough in safe mode like 97 percent (!) of NASA employees. (Safe mode, which Curiosity has gone into for technical glitches before, means it won’t be completely turned off, but won’t be collecting new data, either.) More or less everyone who isn’t working on keeping the International Space Station astronauts safe will be receiving an unexpected vacation.

And have you seen the banner on PubMed?

Due to the lapse in government funding, PubMed is being maintained with minimal staffing. Information will be updated to the extent possible, and the agency will attempt to respond to urgent operational inquiries.

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at http://www.usa.gov.

Thanks, you bastard shit-sucking dumbass Republicans!


Oh, and how about the USDA?

Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.

After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again.

This is embarrassing.

ransom

66 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    And W. C. Fields enjoyed a drink now and again.

  2. 2
    holytape

    Also ARS, the crop research branch of the USDA is closing down.

  3. 3
    Seize

    I work 50% on Federal and 50% on commercial clinical trials. I investigate new drugs for type 2 diabetes. While we still have some of our grant in pocket I am billing all of my hours to my commercial sponsors until the government starts back up. My colleagues at NIH are out of the office and are not available to consult with us, though some are clearly intending to provide us with unofficial guidance during their furlough.

    This is garbage.

  4. 4
    gsciacca

    Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.
    —Albert Camus

  5. 5
    unbound

    I disagree. They don’t hate science in general. They only hate science that doesn’t immediately result in profits for their masters. They just happen to be completely clueless in how work from NSF and NASA (to name a few) has resulted in their masters making lots of profits over the years.

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Seize – I’m on the community advisory board for the HIV Vaccine Research Unit in Seattle. Between the sequester, which is still in effect, and this, vaccine research has ground to a complete halt in the United States. Our network helps to fund HIV research in South America and Africa, and that support has dried up.

    The Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass how many people die because of their selfish tantrums. But we already knew that: it was obvious around the 10th time (out of 43) to prevent Americans from being able to get health insurance. Looks like the Republican dreams of death panels are finally coming true.

  7. 7
    JohnnieCanuck

    Treason.

    Maybe they can’t and probably shouldn’t be charged with it, but it sure seems like it to me, doing direct and substantial harm to the country.

    Also racism. I wonder if they would have pulled this on a Caucasian president.

  8. 8
    mattand

    At last count, I know at least 7 people (including my sister-in-law) who are now either furloughed or working without pay.

    What’s really frustrating is that in my little corner of the US, everyone I know has gone Magic Balance Fairy (it’s both parties’ fault); are conservatives masquerading as “independents”; or just straight out conservative.

    So many people are absolutely refusing to put the blame squarely where it belongs: the Supervillian Party, formerly known as the Republicans. I think part of the GOP plan is that the splash damage from all of the shit they’re throwing will cover Obama, and a good portion of the American voting public is too stupid to recognize that.

    To end this nonsense, it’s going to take a good chunk of the people who voted for these GOP lunatics to apply major pressure on their representatives. I just don’t see that happening. I hope I’m wrong.

  9. 9
    gussnarp

    In other words, they won. All they have to do is maintain a slim majority in the house so they can block all legislation (even legislation that could pass if brought to a vote) and let the Republic crumble. We really have reached the point where a minority of outright Randians are enacting their fantasies.

  10. 10
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Unbound, #5:
    That is hating science. Science isn’t just a collection of statements where if you endorse more than 51% of them you “like” science. Science is a process whereby your statements about the nature of the world and how it will respond given X input are examined critically and where contradicting the evidence dropped.

    If you keep all the results you like, “I can see because light reflecting off objects strikes my retina,” but deny all the results you don’t like, “This theory about light reflecting off CO2 in the atmosphere changing the energy balance of the earth resulting in a new thermostasis is bunk,” you aren’t being a good scientist half the time. You’re being a disingenuous jerk full time.

    ======
    as for the OP, I’m thinking more and more lately that an unqualified, “Republicans Hate” is a good enough descriptor for far too many elected Republicans and official Republican organizations.

  11. 11
    dmcclean

    #7

    This is a pet peeve of mine.

    The founders went well out of their way to make it clear that this type of bullshit is not treason. It is bogus when “they” accuse “us” of it, and it is bogus in this instance.

    Article III sayeth:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

  12. 12
    nich

    Repubs love science! What makes a bullet more accurate? A drone more effective? A stealthier jet? A better drill bit? A bigger battleship? If it increases profits, makes it easier to exploit the environment, or makes it easier to kill something, Repubs love them some motherfuckin’ science.

  13. 13
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Actually, survey after survey has shown that the majority of the country will blame the Repubs for the shutdown (which must include people who voted for them).

    Although my financial issues with school are right now, 2014 is going to be a fascinating election year. To be frank, I’m not sure the Republicans can survive it. I can only think a small handful of states where they might actually win, and even then, it won’t be without a huge fight. They’re losing their own base, now. I already know that Florida will, if not go completely blue, then turn a bluer shade of purple. The frickin’ Tea Party down here hates Rick Scott. There is no way he’s going to win if he tries to run in 2014, and I’ll be surprised if Repubs remain in control.

    For the Federal Government, the situation is looking pretty similar. Seems to me the Repubs have used up their welcome, finally.

    Of course, I could be completely misreading the situation, in which case I’m totally wrong. But that’s how it looks to me…

  14. 14
    nich

    In light of Crip Dyke @10, I retract my snark @12.

  15. 15
    Jen

    At least NSF fellows are still getting paid…got an email yesterday reassuring us that we’d get out paychecks despite any shutdown. Don’t want to contemplate if they had stopped that too…

  16. 16
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Fuck the GOP
    Fuck all of them.
    Fuck their partisan terrorist bullshit. Fuck them holding an entire country hostage to get what they want after they lost an election.
    Fuck every single person who says “I’m a republican and I don’t agree with them” but still fucking votes for anything with an R beside their name.

  17. 17
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Johnnie Canuck, #7:

    Treason is the only crime defined in the constitution itself. There may be other theories out there for this, but at least one major reason (if not the major reason) is to prevent treason prosecutions for just this kind of thing. It’s defined as giving aid and comfort to the enemy – not as hurting the US. One can hurt the US [or be believed to be hurting the US] without giving “aid and comfort” to any specific enemy. If it was defined as doing damage to the US, then any time one party was alleging that another party’s policies were hurting the US that would amount to an allegation of treason. We can’t have policy fights end in executions.

    Even your suggested test: “direct and substantial harm” is wide open to interpretation. Did Malcom X do direct and substantial harm to the US? Dr. King? How about Bull Connor? George Wallace? Nathan Bedford Forrest? What about the drafters of the 18th amendment? What about the stupid New London city council?

    The zone of protection extends to even such childish and irresponsible actions as passing a budget saying, “Please spend this much money on these things,” and then coming back and saying that you won’t pay the bill. It’s ridiculous, but the problems with making it treason outweigh the advantages of so doing…by quite a frickin’ lot.

  18. 18
    Doug Little

    Tashiliciously Shriked @16,

    Yeah, lets hope they are held accountable for once.

  19. 19
    Doug Little

    Can all the publicly funded scientists out there contact the media and let them know how the shutdown is effecting research into things that people care about. It the damage that this shutdown is doing can see the light of day maybe it can help drive the republican terrorists into extinction in the next election cycle.

  20. 20
    Arren ›‹ neverbound

    @ Crip Dyke

    You churn out tours de force with terrifying regularity.

    After so long enjoying your posts, this time I simply had to express my appreciation. Carry on.

  21. 21
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    They may be! A poll I saw has people generally blaming the GOP more than the Dems for the shutdown bullshit, but considering the heavy gerrymandering… ugh

  22. 22
  23. 23
    penumbra

    Terrible and unconscionable behavior. I am truly outraged and have called, written and stated as much as an angry constituent and citizen. Frankly I think this should be considered a treasonable act — to shut down the government because they can. This is a minority; finagling a slight majority in the house mostly through gerrymandering.

    This will hurt us all at the very least because it will serve to weaken our already poor economic recovery. They will want to weaken Social Security and other forms of support for those weakest amongst us as well as defund scientific research and will continue to privatize as much as possible, because they view the value of the commons only as dollar signs. They confuse an economic system with one of governance.

    So, please exercise your right to participatory government in the smallest way: Call or write Boehner and your own representatives now. Oh, and vote these guys out of office.

    I will step off the soapbox now.

  24. 24
    ibbica

    So… Belgium recently was without a federal government for a full and relatively uneventful 589 days, and they did alright…

    Oh, I know! America need a monarchy!

    (ducks)

    Alright, seriously: how exactly did it come to be that a bunch of greedy whiners can effectively hamstring entire industries? And what can/should be done about it?

  25. 25
    Martin Wagner

    Republicans have even hurt their own most ardent supporters with this shutdown!

  26. 26
    Scientismist

    Can all the publicly funded scientists out there contact the media and let them know how the shutdown is effecting research into things that people care about.

    Maybe publicly funded scientists can; government employed scientists cannot. That would be lobbying, urging policy decisions that would benefit our own government department, and we are forbidden to do that.

  27. 27
    magistramarla

    Like Jen, my daughter is a fellow at NSF, so she will still be paid, since her grant money isn’t controlled by congress. However, she is effectively furloughed with pay and can’t get any work done. What a waste of time and talent!
    The hubby is one of those federal workers that the GOTP loves to make into scapegoats. We’re looking at no income at all while this goes on. It’s going to hurt even worse if they get their way and he isn’t able to recoup the lost pay.

  28. 28
    Gregory Greenwood

    And I thought the UK Conservative Party were a bunch of self-serving arsehats – they clearly still have much to learn when it comes to throwing innocent people under the bus in pursuit of your own agenda from the Republicans, who seem to be masters of the art.

  29. 29
    tomfrog

    I’m so pissed!!!

    This kind of things influence the world at large, not just the USA… (which would be bad enough in itself —I have empathy)

  30. 30
    alwayscurious

    @24:
    Refresh my memory: what’s similar about Beligium’s lack of government & our government shutdown? It seems to me that Belgium’s caretaker government kept many of the things active that our present government is shuttering.

    I sincerely hope that the average voter remembers what happened here come next November.

  31. 31
    Travis

    What depresses me is that as I float around online today I keep coming across people that ardently support the Republican position and that are blaming the Democrats for this, complaining that they just won’t budge so it is their fault. You’d think that they rammed this healthcare law down Republican throats and refused to water it down. I get the feeling that many Republicans do not understand what the word compromise means, it definitely does not mean one side sits there and never changes and the other does all the moving.

  32. 32
    busterggi

    Its not so much that Rethugs hate science so much as they hate anything invented after the 11th century which just happens to include science. Honestly they’d love to get rid of WMDs because it would give them the pleasure of seeing death close up.

  33. 33
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    All that money and effort to get Curiosity on Mars and now it’s just sitting there doing nothing, exposed to the elements and getting older.

    The Republicans don’t just hate science. They hate humanity.

  34. 34
    gillt

    Don’t forget to add NOAA to the list

  35. 35
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    OT

    @Arren, #20:
    :blush:

    /OT

  36. 36
    David Marjanović

    So… Belgium recently was without a federal government for a full and relatively uneventful 589 days, and they did alright…

    For every one of those days, the previous government remained in office “provisorially”. No financing ever was in question.

    Also, what you call government here is called administration in the US.

    Republicans have even hurt their own most ardent supporters with this shutdown!

    *mad cackling with glee*

  37. 37
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    Being very close to action, I am one of those who is feeling the pinch right now. As @gillt above notes NOAA and National Weather Service have been repeatedly targeted by the GOP. I was quite a bit upset when I could not access historical climate data from NOAA today morning and I was directed to http://governmentshutdown.noaa.gov. Despite knowing the GOP so very well, I am still surprised by their extremism. Hopefully that party either disintegrates completely or raises it’s integrity in the coming years.

  38. 38
    Trebuchet

    Don’t worry PZ! The NSA is still on the job keeping the world safe from cheating spouses of NSA employees!

  39. 39
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    I’m really, really hoping that people know where to point the finger during elections.

  40. 40
    dianne

    The whole Tea Party wing of the Republicans needs to be eaten by a horde of angry tribbles. Preferably in an invasion that could have been stopped if NASA had been operating normally.

  41. 41
    dianne

    And what can/should be done about it?

    Redistricting. Increased voter involvement and accountability of the house to voters. Guess who’s against those two things.

  42. 42
    mattand

    mouthy@39 wrote:

    I’m really, really hoping that people know where to point the finger during elections.

    Republicans have either had a major hand or have been at the center of every financial disaster this country has had over the last 30 years.

    Republicans shut down the government in 1996 and within less then 10 years had both the Executive and Legislative branches.

    Republicans were in charge for the 2008 financial meltdown, and then retook the House in 2010.

    I see one flaw in your plan: the memory of the American electorate.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    frog

    NOAA’s shut down, as are chunks of FEMA. Anyone know if there’s a hurricane headed this way?

  45. 45
    Reginald Selkirk

    The NSF is the organization in charge of doling out government dollars to valuable scientific research that could cure fatal diseases, improve quality of life, or create new amazing things. Lest you forget, the MRI machine, voice control, multitouch displays, the internet, GPS, and many, many more advances were funded all or in part by the NSF.

    Do they have citations to support that? Teh Internet was the child of DARPA, and most research to cure fatal diseases is funded by the NIH.

  46. 46
    dianne

    Anyone know if there’s a hurricane headed this way?

    Not as of last time NOAA made an update.

  47. 47
    Pteryxx

    NOAA’s shut down, as are chunks of FEMA. Anyone know if there’s a hurricane headed this way?

    That reminded me of something…

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/02/18/207538/gop-cuts-noaa-satellite-weather-forecasting-and-hurricane-tracking/

    In fact, NOAA has been making great strides in hurricane tracking. The average margin of error for predicting landfall three days in advance was 125 miles in 2009″”half what it was 10 years prior. This data translates into a higher degree of confidence among the public in NOAA’s forecasts, which means individuals will be more likely to obey an evacuation order. Further, since evacuating each mile of shoreline costs approximately up to $1 million, greater forecasting accuracy translates to substantial savings.

    The United States needs these satellites if we’re to continue providing the best weather and climate forecasts in the world. The implications of the loss of these data far exceed the question of whether to pack the kids into snowsuits for the trip to school. The concern here is ensuring ongoing operational efficiency and national security on a global scale. In some cases it can literally become a question of life and death.

    [...]

    So here’s the choice: Spend $700 million this year for continuous service or $2 billion to $3.5 billion at some point in the future for the same equipment and a guaranteed service interruption.

  48. 48
    Gregory in Seattle

    @dianne #46 – Is NOAA still updating national weather? I vaguely recall the GOP calling it a complete waste of money, so I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone has been put on involuntary furlough.

  49. 49
    dianne

    Gregory, I don’t think they are now. The forecast I saw looks like it was put in prior to the shutdown. There is a tropical storm out there, but it is predicted to go out to sea rather than coming inland. If that changes or a new storm forms (as it will), we may be completely screwed and not be able to see it coming at all unless Mexico warns us.

  50. 50
    Julien Rousseau

    For all that the Republicans claim that they didn’t want a shutdown, a shutdown is actually pretty close to their policy goal: a much smaller government spending a lot less money, except on the military.

    So according to their hypothesis this shutdown should offer a boost to the economy as a lot of money will not be spent inefficiently by the government but efficiently by the magical hand of the market.

    Anyone want to bet that such a boost will actually happen? … Bueller? … Bueller?

  51. 51
    Pteryxx

    National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

    Due to the Federal Government shutdown, NOAA.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable. However, because the information this site provides is necessary to protect life and property, it will be updated and maintained during the Federal Government shutdown.

    Last update Tue, 1 Oct 2013 19:30:32 UTC

  52. 52
    Pteryxx

    Details on the USDA shutdown:

    http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/21778/

    No additional federal funds will be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)’s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spend-forward authority, to continue operations for a week or so, but states would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period. Contingency funds will be available to help states — but even this funding would not fully mitigate a shortfall for the entire month of October.

    [...]

    No additional federal funds will be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program administrative funding, and the WIC Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Program.

    Similarly, no new funds will be available to support the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. While there will be some inventory available for use in food packages, no carryover, contingency or other funds will be available to support continued operations.

    [...]

    Food Safety and Inspection Service

    Meat, poultry and egg product inspections will continue, and 87 percent of the agency’s 9,633 employees will be still on the job.

    Foreign Agricultural Service

    About 404 of the agency’s 944 U.S. and foreign national employees are expected to remain on the job but the situation is complicated by the fact that FAS officers are posted worldwide.

    Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration

    GIPSA will continue to provide inspection and weighing services that are supported by user fees.

    Of the 743 total GIPSA employees, 528 will stay on the job, including 100 positions that are partially funded by user fees. These positions will work each day in accordance with their user fee funding.

    [...]

    Natural Resources Conservation Service

    All activities will cease except for the protection of life and property.

    Risk Management

    Closed. “There will be no activities continued. There will be no employees reporting to work.”

    Risk Management is devoted to crop recommendations and advice, crop and livestock insurance for farmers.

    Natural Resources Conservation used to be known as the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Program areas include farmland protection and grazing lands conservation.

  53. 53
    sarah00

    You can add Genbank to the list.

    I know it’s low down the list of importance, particularly in the short-term, but it’s used by scientists around the world.

  54. 54
    timberwoof

    Republican tools keep telling me that the Democratic Party is just the same as the Rethuglicans. If that’s the case, I reply, you won’t mind if I support the Democrats. (Of course, given how forcefully the Rethuglicans have remodeled the house that the Overton Window is in [they had to build an extension on the right side], the Democrats have become right wingers.)

  55. 55
    Pteryxx

    from a commenter at Shakes:

    For any scientist getting funded by a grant, the awards promised have been given out, so anyone currently on a research grant, to my knowledge, will be paid since the money’s already paid out. But NIH is closed, grant review sections have been cancelled, and the review process, which is already slowed down from the sequester, is only going to get worse. For professors and scientists who depend on federal funding for their livelihood and those who need renewal, the situation becomes more and more tenuous. This is also cutting off a new generation of young scientists, as I’ve heard that several openings for post-doc positions via NIH have also been closed, and that awards that have not yet been paid out may be delayed. These things are becoming increasingly necessary for advancement, for those interested in science at research institutions.

    also noted…

    http://www.loc.gov/home2/shutdown-message.html

    Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government,
    the Library of Congress is closed to the public and researchers beginning October 1, 2013 until further notice.
    All public events are cancelled and web sites are inaccessible
    except the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and beta.congress.gov.

  56. 56
    gregcook

    Well, science is just a theory anyway.

  57. 57
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Not to worry. The NSA is still funded. And they use science to make our lives better.

  58. 58
    ck

    CIA.gov is still up, too, if anyone was worried that some spooks might be going without pay.

  59. 59
    mothra

    When I get completely frustrated with assinine behavior of elected offocials, I am left with humor.

    How the Kochs and their GOPs stole Congress

    People in hometown like health care a lot,
    But the Kochs and their GOPs up in DC, did not!

    They hated Obamacare for more than one reason,
    “Free Enterprise only,” they said, “or it‘s treason!”
    What Free Enterprise means to a Koch or a GOP:
    I’ve got mine, I’ll get yours and you can’t make me stop!

    The Kochs and their GOPs, they know nothing of poor.
    You get what you pay for and not a thing more!
    Not thing one, not thing two, you don’t get a break,
    As far as we see, all you do is take!
    The only investments they saw were their own.
    But they missed the whole point, that the country had grown!

    Up! From homeless in slums, on roadsides or park benches!
    Up! From grief, child labor, or dads working in trenches!
    Up! From poverty, sexism, bigotry, hate,
    It’s no longer that type of a country, it ain’t!

    But GOPs don’t want women to have their own life,
    Proper role for a female is a stay-at-home wife.
    Affordable health care would loosen the reins,
    ‘Why, they’d be free in the world, to use their own brains!’
    And those GOPs had a deep darker secret, its true!
    The said of our President, “he’s not the right hue!”
    Yacht clubbers, law scholars, stock brokers by sight,
    and presidents surely should be lily white!

    Now the Kochs and their GOPs, were in it quite tight,
    they needed some help since election night.
    Back in ’oh 8 and ’12 it was people who spoke,
    No one wanted to live in a country that’s broke!
    No one wanted their daughters or wives with a yoke!
    All one wants is a chance both to work and to grow,
    To choose whom they marry, have families and so,
    Affordable health care was then passed as a law,
    So if sick and/ or injured, you’ll not lose it all.

    But the Kochs and their GOPs, had a plan in the night,
    they were in it for profit, and they thought that’s their right!
    To succeed, they’d need puppets, they’d need puppets who would,
    fool just enough folks with a wink of their hood.
    For this plan to work as they hoped that it might,
    the found people whose heads weren’t screwed on quite so right.
    They named ‘em Tea Baggers (Tea Party they’re called),
    and they send ‘em (with strings) up to Washington Mall.

    The Koochs and their GOPs now with Tea Party puppets,
    they got on the stump and they blew loud their trumpets.
    To drown out the facts and to generate hate,
    they’d start each day early and end each day late.
    The plan from the start was by hook and by crook,
    to protest every policy, plan or outlook.
    To stifle all growth, to grandstand, and what’s more;
    to lay blame for their acts at the president’s door.

    Now congress must work, up on Capitol Hill,
    to formulate laws and to pay every bill.
    This takes agreement and often debate,
    tempers can flare and folks get irate.

    So the Kochs and their GOPs, they saw their big chance,
    they pulled strings on their puppets who then took a stance.
    Tea Partiers screamed “shut the government down!”
    We’ll have our own way or we’ll wreck every town!
    We don’t want poor people with medical needs,
    to have access to healthcare- it’s against all our creeds.
    You get what you pay for, and not one thing more,
    ‘cause profitability is our only score.

    But Obamacare came, despite puppets and strings,
    despite ‘state’s rights’ law suits and Tea Party dings.
    The Kochs and their GOPs are now in a real fight,
    perhaps they will realize that healthcare just might,
    for people in need mean a little bit more,
    life, joy and liberty, these things are not scores.

  60. 60
    mikee

    What I find difficult to believe is that the politicians continue to be paid for not doing their job while hundreds of thousands of Americans who would quite happily work, cannot and are not being paid.
    The conceited privilege and self absorbed behaviour of these politicians stinks.

  61. 61
    Jadehawk

    I’m not sure the Republicans can survive it.

    They will. Even if you ignore the gerrymandering and the extreme disinformation that the Republican base feeds on, you still have all these “moderates” who vote not based on policy but on the belief that the U.S. government needs to be balanced between the two parties, no matter what.
    In a two-party state with parties as entrenched culturally, structurally, and financially as the Democrats and Republicans are, nothing short of civilizational collapse and/or open revolution would kill one of them off.
    The best you can hope for is a single election that the Republicans may narrowly lose (and I don’t know the numbers for the 2014 election in terms of who’s up for re-election, so if the wrong ppl are up for re-election even an impossible 100% Democratic win might not actually be able change shit).

  62. 62
    Silentbob

    @ 33 Ibis3

    All that money and effort to get Curiosity on Mars and now it’s just sitting there doing nothing, exposed to the elements and getting older.

    The report that the Curiosity rover has been shut down was not true. PZ’s link has been updated.

  63. 63
    ibbica

    @30 & 36: I wasn’t seriously suggesting that they were the “same”. I was living in Belgium throughout the federal ‘strike’, and you’re absolutely right that it had zero effect on federally-provided services (and no, that wasn’t thanks to their having a monarchy). But in both cases the underlying problem boiled/boils down to little more than political squabbling, however the politicians themselves would have us dress it up. The Belgian federal politicians managed to carry on their squabbling (yes, it was over different issues) without causing their citizens undue suffering, or even inconvenience. I was wondering aloud at the extent to which the churlishness of some subset of federal politicians is permitted to dictate the state of one’s nation (or its industries or its population).
    Let’s assume the worst: that politicians everywhere only every act to gain enough votes to keep their jobs. What is it about the US system or citizenry that seems to make (at least some significant subset of) US politicians so keen to threaten or outright punish their constituents like this? Are US politicians not beholden to the will of the people? Is this what US voters want in their politicians? Or is this sort of thing really more common than I think, and we just don’t notice because it doesn’t get the same media coverage elsewhere?

  64. 64
    amylacc

    State employees are being furloughed as well. We have some 400 positions funded by federal grants, some of which are on multi-year cycles, so those people are not furloughed. But others are. In addition, we work closely with federal agencies and right now that work is not being done.

  65. 65
    Pteryxx

    Interview with an anonymous furloughed scientist:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/government-shutdown-affects-biomedical-research/

    I’m sitting here, the only person in the whole wing of this building, alone. The lights are off in my office. It’s very depressing. It’s very sad.

    I don’t think the public realizes the devastating impact that this has on scientific research. Scientific research is not like turning on and off an assembly line. Experiments are frequently long-term and complicated. They involve specific treatments and specific times. You can’t just stop and restart it. You’ve probably just destroyed the experiment.

    You also can’t necessarily recover. You can’t begin an experiment all over again. If you do, you’ll be set back months — if there’s even time and personnel to do it. But often, science moves rapidly, times change, and you can’t re-initiate the experiments. It’s an enormous loss to scientific research, an enormous loss of time and personnel.

    Scientists are hardworking people. They work long hours, on weekends, and they do that because it’s necessary. The schedules they follow aren’t like an industrial plant’s. If you interrupt them, they can’t pick up and start again. It’s an enormous waste of money and resources to interrupt this and have it abandoned.

  66. 66
    Pteryxx

    via this ThinkProg article, a Reddit discussion among scientists affected by the shutdown.

    Example, I have 2 ongoing federal grants. One has already been delayed for months by sequestration, and due to that we already had to completely scrap the entire 2013 field season. (The animals are only study-able in August & September; the funding was delayed 6 mos but you can’t just go tell the animals “could you please postpone your breeding season till February? thanks”.

    [...]

    nyway, in my case, both my postdoc and my research assistant will run out of salary in a couple months if next year’s funding doesn’t arrive. So this morning I went to my boss and basically begged for our home institution to cover my salary for a few months so that I can bump my salary money to my postdoc and my research assistant, and thank god he agreed, which is only possible because my home institution happened to have a good year for gate receipts this summer (basically, a lot of people brought their kids to our aquarium. THANK YOU, EVERYBODY WHO LIKES AQUARIUMS!!).

    Ha, I work at XXX institute at NIH and we spent all morning putting banners on our sites that they “may not have up to date content and are not being maintained due to lack of budget appropriations”.

    If those sites go down, expect them to stay down. We aren’t even allowed to troubleshoot or restart anything. They made us lock our BlackBerries in our desks when we left.

    Civil servant scientist at NASA here. I’m working on the next mission to Mars (MAVEN). It is designed to investigate atmospheric change at Mars and its effect on the climate over time. The spacecraft is at Kennedy Space Center now and is basically totally finished and was about to be loaded on the rocket for launch to Mars in November. Last I heard yesterday, it was instead being moved into hurricane resistant storage since we don’t know how long the shut-down will be. If we don’t launch in November then we will have to wait until 2018 when the orbits of the planets again properly line up. As you can imagine there are a number of steps in putting a finished spacecraft into storage and a number of steps to load it into the rocket. As of right now, we can still probably make it but we’re definitely anxious.

    On the plus side, my newborn daughter and I spent the day hanging out.

    I work in a forensic lab. We just heard CODIS is effectively out of commission during the shutdown. That’s the national DNA database. I don’t have confirmation on the fingerprint and ballistic databases, but a lot of cases will go on the backburner until those comparisons are available again.

    During the 1995 shutdown I remember my grad school advisor telling me “The lesson here is to always have a cheap back-yard project that you can do out of your own pocket.” His go-to emergency project was backyard songbirds. For marine work I like intertidal… there’s always gonna be tide pools! And you don’t need any boat fuel.

    The last few years (with final budgets not coming until April/May) have been murder for field-work. Ever try to convince your procurement office to rush through a $350K+ charter in two weeks? On the plus side, at least we got everyone back from the Arctic in time last week…

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