Jeffrey Epstein’s Harem Of Scientists

Jeffrey Epstein liked to believe he was a big thinker and collected scientists in much the way he collected young girls, although he seems not to have considered them quite as disposable. Some names are surfacing again and again – Stephen Pinker, Martin Nowak, Lawrence Krauss, and the whole MIT Media Lab. (With the exception of Ethan Zuckerman and Nathan Matias, who have quit the Media Lab because of Epstein’s funding.)

BuzzFeed has a list of scientists in Epstein’s collection – largely older white men (you are surprised?). I was not entirely surprised to see another theme that has always annoyed me.

I’ve always thought that bringing ideas together and thinking across disciplinary lines is important. It can make information more accessible to non-specialists and, in theory at least, promote new thinking and new solutions. So I’ve been attracted to attempts like the Edge website. I checked it out early on and was disappointed to see that the innovative thinkers featured were the same people who are known for being innovative thinkers but have never actually produced what I would consider innovative thoughts.

[It’s Edge.org. I’m not linking to it because Google says it may be hacked.]

Rather, they piddle around with what they consider to be Big Ideas, from which not much has flowed, other than praise from other certified innovative thinkers. A closed system.

IIRC, there was a provision at Edge to include some of the great unwashed, but the process looked like a lot more than I wanted to go through to join a group I was doubtful about.

And guess what! It was one of Jeffrey Epstein’s creations!

The BuzzFeed list is very much like that – I think that several of them were part of Edge.

The problem for those not properly certified is that this bunch clogs up the opinion pages and book publishers and, most importantly, soaks up funding. That was undoubtedly the reason some of the scientists clustered around Epstein – he gave them money.

It’s another argument for taxing the inordinately rich back down to extremely wealthy and using the taxes to support activities that benefit all of us and are shared through a formula that is more equitable than a pedophile’s ego.






126 replies
  1. 1
    Tata says:

    Xeni Jardin has been all over this on Twitter, calling people out.

  2. 2
    germy says:

    Epstein’s interest in science was to invite a bunch of scientists to a party, ask them questions like “What is gravity?” and then get bored if the answers were more than two or three sentences. Then he’d ask “What does that have to do with pussy?”

    His real interest was spreading his seed. A huge population of Epstein offspring!

    The famous photo of Epstein as a young man, grinning in front of a blackboard. It seems his name is misspelled on the blackboard behind him? Was he distracted by the pretty girls in the front row? Sometimes blood rushes away from the brain at moments like this.

  3. 3

    It’s another argument for taxing the inordinately rich back down to extremely wealthy and using the taxes to support activities that benefit all of us and are shared through a formula that is more equitable than a pedophile’s ego.

    Honest question, are there any good arguments against this? All I ever hear is “but they earned it!” and “this would disincentivize hoarding piles of gold!”

  4. 4
    germy says:

    @Tata: Xeni has had interesting things to say about her interactions with Assange. He was really vile with her, and she quotes him on twitter.

  5. 5
    germy says:

    Lately I’ve been seeing a flurry of news items about how terrified Graydon Carter was of Epstein. They claim he felt threatened. I’m so skeptical I wonder if these stories are being planted by friends of Carter, trying to move him from the “complicit” column over to the “he was a victim, too!” column.

    In response to the PR stories, someone found a photo of Carter hugging Maxwell. He looked calm and happy, not scared. (In the back of the photo, Weinstein looks on smilingly.)

  6. 6
    dm says:

    Edge is just a forum for John Brockman (literary agent) to showcase his clients — writers of popular science books, primarily. Many of them science academics. There’s always been a bit of a stigma in scientific circles for writers who try to make science accessible to the public (as in, “Why are you eating your time with that, instead of doing the Real Thing?”)

  7. 7
    Sab says:

    Isn’t all of current American science funding a white boys club? It makes me shriek with frustration when people try to get girls to study STEM. Why condemn them to a dead end? Study something else where you have a future.

  8. 8

    @germy: There have also been several stories from scientists in this list and other men, including Prince Andrew, about how their interactions with Epstein were just because of his brilliant mind, and they had no idea…

    I think that many, maybe most of the folks who interacted with Epstein were not involved in his abuse of girls. But “had no idea…” After 2008? Really?

  9. 9
    germy says:

    Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was a teenage victim of Jeffrey Epstein, claims she was ordered to give an in-flight foot massage to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, but was repulsed by having to handle his "crusty" toenails https://t.co/dbhNXeol99— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 29, 2019

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    A very interesting and thought provoking post. I had no idea what this Edge thing was, or what it was trying to accomplish.

    I kinda like the idea of the MacArthur grants, a no strings award to a range of people who have done Interesting work. Of course, this is still private money.

    It’s another argument for taxing the inordinately rich back down to extremely wealthy and using the taxes to support activities that benefit all of us and are shared through a formula that is more equitable than a pedophile’s ego.

    I believe in general support for the arts and sciences, but a government system can be gamed and abused.

    ETA. The Epstein connection is creepy. It seems that everything he was involved with was foul. But flash and money and a veneer of respectability is a powerful lure.

  11. 11

    @dm: And Brockman seems to have been Epstein’s procurer of scientists.

  12. 12

    @Sab: It’s getting better. Certainly not as bad as you make it sound.

  13. 13

    @Brachiator:

    I believe in general support for the arts and sciences, but a government system can be gamed and abused.

    Like any other system devised by human beings.

  14. 14
    Sab says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: 30 somethings I know in STEM beg to differ.

  15. 15
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    This sort of up there with Stalin was a good poet. I would have expected Epstien to be one of those loath science types.

  16. 16
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Brachiator:
    So many of the so-called “big thinkers” in science are no better than political pundits, surviving on past recognition and big egos.

    Give me a Steve Wozniak over a Steve Jobs any day.

  17. 17
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The thought I had is rich creeps might be so common that Epsiten didn’t really stand out.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I don’t know what to consider a good argument. The chief serious arguments are that it would discourage private investment, increase the cost of capital, and harm the parts of the economy supported by spending by the wealthy (which may or may not include the child sex trade, apparently).

  19. 19
    dm says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

    The Buzzfeed article mentions Brockman offering to introduce Evgeny Morozov to Epstein, an offer Morozov was wise enough to turn down.

  20. 20

    I hadn’t seen this, Cheryl, thanks. Agree with the proposition that being a creep is so common among ultra-wealthy men that those attracted by the allure of funding and publicity could easily choose to ignore it. As for “post-2008”, yeah, that’s… less defensible.

    @Baud: if idle wealth is taxed at 1% a year it will spur investment in things that return more than inflation+1%. Theoretically. However it is you calculate ‘idle’ and ‘wealth’.

  21. 21
    noncarborundum says:

    @Sab: And it will continue not to get better as long as people follow your advice.

  22. 22
    debbie says:

    Wasn’t Epstein interested in protecting select bits of his body cryogenically?

  23. 23
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Baud: I read in the WSJ that the yacht industry is the primary driver of the US economy.

    Ok, I don’t actually read the WSJ since Rupert bought it, but I could totally see this argument made on its editorial page.

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    @Sab:
    The endless, relentless pursuit of billable hours can take its toll on the psyche. Salaried STEM jerbs are out there, but my observations from working at yuge engineering firms is to either get on the management track or keep your suitcases packed.

  25. 25
    germy says:

    @debbie: His head or his penis?

    It should have been his check-writing hand. That was the most important part of his body.

  26. 26

    This is not quite the same issue, but related via the money question. Think tanks have been quiet about the sources of their funding. In foreign policy in particular, some of the funders have interests in pushing particular policies. Looks like the BBC is going to make that more public.

  27. 27
    Brachiator says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    It’s another argument for taxing the inordinately rich back down to extremely wealthy and using the taxes to support activities that benefit all of us and are shared through a formula that is more equitable than a pedophile’s ego.

    Honest question, are there any good arguments against this? All I ever hear is “but they earned it!” and “this would disincentivize hoarding piles of gold!”

    I don’t know. Some Americans (and Brits, I think) seem to be find of a kind of resentment socialism. We don’t want to impose some tax on everyone and fund essential and useful activities. We want to especially tax the wealthy, because they are bad people with too much money. This seems more the focus than the good social use of any revenues.

    Almost as bad are excessive sin taxes on products we don’t like. And currently, in California, the taxes on cannabis are stupid, and keeping the illegal market flourishing.

    Every now and then I tease out a little thought experiment. Andrew Carnegie funded a large number of colleges, libraries, and cultural institutions with his tremendous, and arguably plundered, wealth. Would government been able to use the money as wisely had it been able to tax him?

    ETA. I am in favor of progressive taxation and significant taxes on estates, and think that the recent tax law changes are largely an abomination.

  28. 28
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @trollhattan:

    Salaried STEM jerbs are out there

    When you’re salaried, they get the same hours but don’t generally pay you for them.

    Being pushed for billable hours stings less if you see it in your paycheck.

  29. 29

    I find Steven Pinker seriously creepy. He has been promoting white supremacy on his Twitter feed. Retweeting free speech activists like that horrible Jordan Peterson. Singing the glories of western civilization etc..

  30. 30

    @Sab: I can’t disagree with 30-somethings whose experience I don’t know. They may be in a particularly white-male dominated place. But that doesn’t necessarily mean all of science is that way. There are indeed problem areas, but many places are making positive efforts to diversify.

    And I would disagree with your advice – science is too cool a profession to leave it to the white men.

  31. 31
    prostratedragon says:

    more equitable than a pedophile’s ego

    Or need to purchase secular indulgences (see also David Koch )

  32. 32

    @Brachiator: I’m fine with pigovian taxes that are used to remediate negative externalities (e.g. cannabis & tobacco & alcohol taxes for youth drug prevention & addiction treatment). But you have to set them at a rate that also minimizes black market allure. Places are still figuring out what that rate is for cannabis. Canada didn’t get it right either.

    Carnegie’s philanthropy is of course legendary. I used to work at a think tank he endowed. He probably made better use of it than the government would have at the time, but a tax on idle wealth wouldn’t have prevented philanthropy, since the whole point is to incentivize using said wealth.

    But the “eat the rich!” motivation does tend to obscure the issue and lead us away from actually effective tax proposals.

  33. 33
    Brachiator says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    Give me a Steve Wozniak over a Steve Jobs any day.

    I think you need both. The history of technology seems to often include innovators who come up with ideas and equally brilliant showmen who find a way to make the product or idea successful.

  34. 34
    Bill Arnold says:

    @germy:

    His head or his penis?

    Since nobody answered, both:
    Jeffrey Epstein Wanted to Freeze His Head and Penis After Dying: Report (Shane Croucher, 8/1/19)
    There’s more Weirdness if you look for it, about what he funded. The distorting influence of too much money especially coupled with a pathological personality.

  35. 35
    Brachiator says:

    @Sab:

    Isn’t all of current American science funding a white boys club?

    I hope it’s getting better. There seems to be a generation of brilliant women at Caltech and JPL. They need to be supported in their work. The same with women and other under-represented people in STEM everywhere.

  36. 36
    germy says:

    Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz is Mexico’s most talked-about inventor right now.

    She’s also 8 years old.

    But that didn’t stop Mexico’s largest university last month from giving Xóchitl its first award recognizing women in science. The young indigenous girl from Chiapas state in southern Mexico built a solar-powered water heater from recyclable materials – an invention that promises to do more than just give folks in that poor rural region better access to hot water.

    “People won’t have to chop down trees to heat their water anymore,” Xóchitl told Mexico’s Imagen news channel, demonstrating the box-like glass-and-wood device and its impressive arrangement of hoses and bottles.

    https://www.wlrn.org/post/meet-mexicos-new-famous-inventor-shell-finish-third-grade-year

  37. 37
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Major Major Major Major: “government is inefficient blah blah don’t you hate going to the DMV? Run science like a business!”

  38. 38
    germy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: My experience with my DMV: they were efficient and quick. Very competent.

    Compared to my experience dealing with my cell phone provider or any small business contractor I’ve dealt with in the past year: a fucking nightmare.

  39. 39
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @trollhattan:

    The endless, relentless pursuit of billable hours can take its toll on the psyche.

    I’ll drink to that! Over and over and over….

  40. 40
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Brachiator:

    I think you need both.

    However, society values the showmen/woman more.
    Also, related, introverts are about 2% of US top CEOs.. For reference women are about 6%.
    (Note: I have found the source for the WSJ graphic but haven’t verified that the graphic represents the tables in source.)

  41. 41
    Bill Arnold says:

    Help, comment in moderation due to citation of a article headline with a wordpress-banned word.

  42. 42
    Another Scott says:

    @Sab: There’s a lack of sustained STEM funding of any sort these days. And there’s too much of a “boom” and “bust” quality to it overall. I don’t doubt that it’s difficult for women and minorities as well, but there’s far too much of a crab-bucket aspect to it as well.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    “government is inefficient blah blah don’t you hate going to the DMV? Run science like a business!”

    Government is often staggeringly inefficient. But it is not that business is necessarily better. It is that ideally, a bad or ineptly run business goes bankrupt. And that customers have more options and can go elsewhere if they are unhappy with the service that they are getting.

    Of course in the real world, businesses seek to corner the market, and often are so big that they don’t care whether or not they provide good service.

    I’ve had great service at the California DMV, but by any reasonable measure, they are terrible, and hobbled with aging and inefficient tools. And we recently found out that Sacramento politicians had special speedy access, and never had to deal with problems and delays.

  45. 45
    catclub says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Retweeting free speech activists like that horrible Jordan Peterson.

    Check out the WAPO article on ‘conservatives-say-weve-abandoned-reason-civility-old-south-said-that-too’
    Peterson is mentioned as one of the beneficiaries.

  46. 46

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    There have also been several stories from scientists in this list and other men, including Prince Andrew, about how their interactions with Epstein were just because of his brilliant mind

    Which I’m sure in practice meant he was a skilled flatterer. Any man who thinks he’s a genius will think you’re a genius too if you flatter him properly.

  47. 47
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Sab: Depends? We have a LOT of female engineers at my company. Like, a whole lot. And a majority of the entire employee base (in California) aren’t white, either.

    White dudes are still overrepresented in the senior levels of the company, though. There’s an argument that this just takes time for the diversity to filter up (which is true) but we white dudes still have an easier time than others.

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    However it is you calculate ‘idle’ and ‘wealth’.

    That’s a big issue, of course. Frankly, it’s impossible to construct an effective tax system that only taxes bad things. There’s always a trade off.

  49. 49
    germy says:

    @Brachiator:

    Government is often staggeringly inefficient.

    My experience has been that Government has been inefficient when outsourced to independent contractors.

  50. 50

    @MisterForkbeard: Our women engineers are great, and my favorite supervisor I’ve had was a woman too. But it’s still not a high percentage of the workforce. I imagine things are different in every STEM field, though, lord knows software is an edge case in many ways.

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:

    @catclub:
    That was a remarkably useful piece, and eye-opening.

  52. 52
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Manipulators gonna manipulate. Even Trump knows how to cajole and flatter, so long as there’s something in it for him.

  53. 53
    Juice Box says:

    It’s another argument for taxing the inordinately rich back down to extremely wealthy and using the taxes to support activities that benefit all of us and are shared through a formula that is more equitable than a pedophile’s ego.

    This!

    The ultrarich are really bad at choosing good causes. Of course, for the most part, they’re just bad at doing much besides being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

  54. 54
    Oklahomo says:

    @Bill Arnold: Freezing, no. But I would be cool with tossing them into a peat bog for mummification.

  55. 55
    trollhattan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    About dang time. RW “think” tanks are far too adept getting their opinionbots on the air w/ no scrutiny of why they “believe” what they say they believe.

    “On the Media” did a terrific show on the creation of RW think tanks awhile back–July I think.

  56. 56
    trollhattan says:

    @Juice Box:
    The go-to cause seems to be space travel.

  57. 57
    TenguPhule says:

    @Brachiator:

    Government is often staggeringly inefficient

    Procurement is a PITA.

    But private businesses are worse. The main reason government services suffer tends to be A)outdated equipment B)Political appointees making a mess by interfering instead of letting the civil service do their job.

  58. 58
    zhena gogolia says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    He has always given me the heebie-jeebies.

  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    @TenguPhule:
    Having ample time in both, I’m happy to do a compare-and-contrast. “Ain’t nobody got the secret sauce” will be my opening statement.

  60. 60
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @trollhattan: That might just be generational/subcultural. A lot of these people are GenX tech nerds who grew up on NASA’s 1970s-80s promises that the Shuttle would make space travel cheap and open it up to the masses. Since that didn’t work they’re all convinced government was the problem and they can be Delos D. Harriman and do it themselves. I grew up steeped in that too, I just don’t have a billion dollars to pay with.

  61. 61

    @Brachiator:
    I think a big motivator for heavy taxation on the ultra-wealthy is a look back on the post-War era. It turns out that ruinous tax rates on extreme wealth tend to result in fewer people getting exorbitant incomes and more money going to ordinary workers. Meanwhile, the need for capital is met by investments by mutual funds, pensions, and other ways of aggregating the investment interest of those ordinary people who now have more money. It all seems like a very desirable outcome even if the government never gets much of an increase in tax receipts.

  62. 62
    matt says:

    @germy: No kidding! I recently had to spend approximately 36 hours of phone conversations to get Samsung to make me whole on a $350 TV that failed in month 3.

  63. 63
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I was under the impression that some of the things Musk was doing actually did improve the efficiency of deploying commerical payloads.

    Other things sound looney though.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Sab: Yeah, why couldn’t that nice Ginsburg lady just be happy with a secretarial position?

  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    @trollhattan: Every private business I worked at suffered from the owners dipping into the tills one way or another. And then there was the nepotism.

  66. 66
    Baud says:

    @TenguPhule:

    And now the federal government is being run like a business.

  67. 67

    @Baud:
    My impression is that Musk is smart enough to have a genuine long-term plan. He understands that as rich as he is, he can’t afford to pay for a trip to Mars out of his own pocket. The only way he can do it is if he drives down the cost of space travel, and he needs lots of other people’s money to pay for it. So his best bet is to build a space company that’s dedicated to lowering launch costs and can get people even richer than him (e.g. NASA) to pay for his R&D.

  68. 68
    Oklahomo says:

    @TenguPhule: Small doctor’s offices where the wife or daughter is the office manager. One of the most horrifying examples.

  69. 69
    Baud says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That’s how a lot of investment works. But the end result is a genuine advancement in efficiency and productivity, AFAICT.

  70. 70
    trollhattan says:

    @TenguPhule:
    Was one of five laid off at a 501(c)(3) due to budget problems. My first FT jerb out of university. Found out later the director had been skimming money to fund his new side gig–a hot air balloon company (those cost a bundle, donchano). Naturally, he was ushered out but no charges or lawsuits came forth because the board of directors might have been held responsible themselves (mismanagement/nonmanagement, same difference).

  71. 71

    @Matt McIrvin:

    A lot of these people are GenX tech nerds who grew up on NASA’s 1970s-80s promises that the Shuttle would make space travel cheap and open it up to the masses. Since that didn’t work they’re all convinced government was the problem and they can be Delos D. Harriman and do it themselves.

    To be fair, the shuttle is a classic example of tech-spec-by-political-committee creating truly awful design decisions.

  72. 72
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Also a little ironic he has a possible customer in NASA because the Russians gouge the hell of us for the ISS crew launches. SpaceX is already cutting into the ISS freight bidnez, and good on them I say. (Did they ever manage to dock the Soyuz supply ship last weekend? I never heard.)

  73. 73
    Martin says:

    @Baud: Oh, massively improve the efficiency.

    Musk is a pretty good example of a good rich person in the sense that he uses capital efficiently. His money isn’t buying yachts or sinking it into negative yield bonds – he buys and build companies that are intended to be revolutionary. SpaceX can be viewed as a vanity project to get to Mars, but it’s a radical improvement over conventional state-dominated space ventures. He’s lowered the cost of launch by at least a factor of 3, increased the frequency of launch, and opened up a direction of space development (reusability) that had been closed because it was seen as complex to the point of failure because the last implementation of it was the wildly expensive and fragile space shuttle.

    Tesla has sought to do similar things to get the auto industry over the EV hurdle, which it has done to some degree, but not as dramatically. Solar City which he bought solved the problem of renewable deployment by changing how it was financed. People don’t realize that the greatest innovation to automaking that GM ever made, and the thing that put them as the #1 automaker was GMAC back before 1920. The ability to finance cars is what made them ubiquitous – at least as much as Henry Fords assembly line did.

    I don’t think Musk would object to a wealth tax because his investments likely would be exempted, because it’s capital at work. And that’s really the argument to pull out with any self-professed capitalist. The argument against socialism is that individuals are assumed to better be able to deploy capital efficiently than governments, so you let people keep their money so they can invest it well. But with $15T in negative yield bonds, that’s a lot of capital that is doing no work whatsoever. And capital that isn’t doing work should be seized. That’s the point of taxation – that some fraction of our capital earnings should be steered toward infrastructural investment. And that’s the point of progressive taxation, that the more excess money you have, your efficiency with putting it to use goes down – because it takes work to use capital efficiently.

    Capitalists should be pointing to the negative yield bond pile and arguing for increased taxation. They don’t because they aren’t really capitalists, despite their claims.

  74. 74
    Martin says:

    @trollhattan: Yes, it docked quite smoothly. Sounds like it was a problem on the ISS side of the dock they previously tried to use.

  75. 75
    StringOnAStick says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Yes. When I worked for engineering firms it was all salary, which meant that weekends and long, long days spent doing field work paid the same as a 40 hour week (and working only 40 hours meant layoffs were coming), plus you didn’t get the weekends back or and PTO to replace them; I had one boss tell me that getting to do field work was an honor, so stop complaining about lost spare time.

    My last job in STEM was hourly, which made watching a drill rig for 16 hours a day much more tolerable! That job paid off all my debts just as the industry was falling into a severe recession in the early 1990’s, and I retrained to do something else. I don’t have to cancel vacations and eat the lost airfares anymore, which happened twice when I was in that field because we got a new contract on a tight deadline. Being told “yes, but you are a professional now” didn’t do much to pay stuff like that back.

  76. 76
    Raven says:

    @StringOnAStick: I’m goin fishin off of one of them rigs soon!

  77. 77
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Major Major Major Major: The cannabis taxes in Colorado seem about right, but a black market still exists for people who can’t afford (or are too paranoid) to use their name and ID when purchasing legally because you have to present our legal ID and your name is checked against a list of some kind and who knows if the state is hanging onto the names of all legal buyers (yes, I know they aren’t supposed to, but…). I know someone who sticks with black market because he can’t keep his precious concealed carry permit (insert eyeroll gif) if he buys legally. Registering for a medical card is something I quit doing once the Orange Menace “won” because I carry a professional license and though they haven’t gone to the trouble of cross referencing such files, you know that if they were slightly better organized this would have happened.

  78. 78
    Martin says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Yeah, among other things. The payload bay was mandated to be a certain size to accommodate the KH-9. NASA struggled to shift from purpose-driven design with the Apollo program to commodity design with the shuttle. Apollo had one goal, and once achieved it was ill suited to turn toward efficient operation. The shuttle was proposed as an efficient lifter, but wasn’t designed as one, mainly because the tech wasn’t ready. It simply wasn’t possible to build the Chevy Suburban of spacecraft with 1960s tech, but NASA was tasked with doing it anyway, and the NRO had unfortunate influence on their budget.

    SpaceX is freed from all of that. They could see the technology was ready, they understood the practical aims and didn’t bow to the ‘we need to show the Soviets we’re more advanced’ attitude. They are building the Suburban of rockets, and iterating in a direction that most of the industry disagrees with. But NASA can’t ignore the results. NASAs IG just threw down the gauntlet to Congress that they want to skip SLS for Clipper because they can get there with a Falcon Heavy for literally 1/50th the cost. But Congress had mandated that Clipper fly on SLS, because reasons. In the amount of time that Congress spends fighting over this issue, SpaceX will move from their hover test to probably their first suborbital flight of the rocket that will supercede Heavy, and quite likely SLS as well.

  79. 79
    germy says:

    @Martin:

    Musk is a pretty good example of a good rich person in the sense that he uses capital efficiently.

    The Journal reported that Musk was touring the factory and noticed that the assembly line had stopped. When he asked why, managers reportedly told him it was because of sensors triggered as a safety precaution when people interfered with the line. Their answer made Musk angry and he started to headbutt the front end of a car, according to The Journal.

    “I don’t see how this could hurt me,” he reportedly said. “I want the cars to just keep moving.”

    https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-reportedly-head-butted-car-at-teslas-factory-2018-8

  80. 80

    @zhena gogolia: I am glad that I am not the only one. When I found that he was one of Epstein’s scientists I was not surprised.

  81. 81
    AThornton says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Until we figure out how to keep people alive in zero-to-low gravity living in space, i.e., getting to a planet is a pipe dream. In theory Neptune or Saturn are possible (1.1 and .9 earth gravity.) Both have horrendous problems, one being they are really far away and another is there’s no discernible purpose to be in either place.

  82. 82
    Starfish says:

    @germy: Those stories and the stories about the head of The Limited being scammed and not knowing anything are the way I get my eye-rolling exercises in every day.

  83. 83
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Raven: Not off the ones I was babysitting – all were on dry, dry land! I did environmental work from the hydrogeology aspect and worked at civil engineering firms. We did get to do a lot of walking in dry river channels in MS once, with mud pit traps that were impossible to detect until you were crotch-deep in them. I did like the work I did (I’m a complete outdoors weirdo) but I hated the boom and bust nature of that industry plus when I graduated put me into a long cycle of slight booms with hard busts. I don’t know any hydrogeologist that I worked with who is still in anything close to that kid of work, necessity forced us all to move on.

    On days when I deal with a complete PITA of a dental hygiene patient or two, I wish I was back dodging water moccasins; fortunately complete PITA’s aren’t that common and my boss backs me when it is a complete PITA and I have to throw down some rules regarding acceptable behavior.

  84. 84
    Starfish says:

    @Sab: I feel this so hard with all of my being. I have an advanced engineering degree, have been out of the workforce for eight years when my child was young, and there is no way to get back. I am not exactly sure what to do next, but “encourage girls in STEM” is one of the most heartbreaking things that I am deeply skeptical of. These folks want to encourage girls and not making space for women their own age are not interested in inequality. I have to go to event after event talking about how employers can’t find a tech workforce when their hiring practices have gotten more and more ridiculous.

  85. 85
    Starfish says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Computer science is getting progressively worse while pretending it is trying to improve.

  86. 86
    raven says:

    @StringOnAStick: Ah, well I’m gulf bound!

  87. 87
    Starfish says:

    @Martin: He is still a union busting asshole with crazy hiring processes for SpaceX.

  88. 88
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Starfish:

    He is still a union busting asshole

    Hey, that’s not fair! Oh, you’re not talking about me? Carry on then, and happy Labor Day weekend!

  89. 89
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Martin:

    His money isn’t buying yachts

    Haven’t read the whole thread, but this is at least the second “nyuk, nyuk, buying yachts” comment. But, you know, people have to build boats in order for rich people to buy them, and for some areas of the country that’s a damn good component of the local economy – and of a type (craftsmanship, skilled custom manufacturing) that tends not to get outsourced to cheaper countries. A multi-million-dollar sailboat can pay lots of people’s car payments and orthodontist bills.

  90. 90
    Starfish says:

    Look at this thread. The named people that people look up to in science here are Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk. There are no women that any of you mentioned looking up to besides an eight-year-old girl in Mexico. That girl in Mexico proves the point. People are excited when someone young and not-a-threat-to-them does something cool, but is she going to be able to become an adult in science that you look up to?

    Here is an article in what I am assuming is an MIT newspaper asking Joi Ito to resign from the Media Lab for taking Epstein’s money and covering for him.

  91. 91
    David Evans says:

    @AThornton: Zero gravity needn’t be a problem on long trips. Split the spacecraft into 2 more or less equal halves (something Apollo got a lot of practice at doing), connect them with a 2km cable and rotate around the center of mass at 1 rpm. Presto! – 1g artificial gravity.

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Starfish: What is your solution? Should young women and girls choose to go into fields that are perceived as welcoming to them even if their talents and interest lie elsewhere?

  93. 93
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Major Major Major Major: How much of that “tech-design-by-committee” was the military & IC demanding ruinous design changes as the price of their participation in the program? E.g., IIRC the Spaz Shmatte ended up with delta (& not cruciform) wings is because the IC refused to fly its stuff on it unless it had sufficient crossrange capability to avoid emergency landings on airstrips in, shall we say, less-than-kneejerk-subservient-to-Uncle-Sammy nations?

  94. 94
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Starfish: Yes, that is the MIT (student-run) newspaper.

  95. 95
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: home ec, sewing, and shorthand are always useful!

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Starfish:

    Not to bring you down any further, but that problem isn’t unique to STEM fields, unfortunately. If a woman or non-white person takes any extended time off from their field, they’re totally screwed regardless of what that field is.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Starfish:

    I think the fact that the three “scientists” mentioned are all dudes who sell consumer products is more notable.

  98. 98
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Mnemosyne: it’s not easy for white men to bounce back from that either. Most companies don’t want to hire anyone who’s been out of the workplace for a while.

  99. 99
    JustRuss says:

    @Brachiator:

    Andrew Carnegie funded a large number of colleges, libraries, and cultural institutions with his tremendous, and arguably plundered, wealth. Would government been able to use the money as wisely had it been able to tax him?

    According to the google, Carnegie funded 2509 libraries, which is impressive. There are currently over 116,000 libraries in the US. You do the math.

  100. 100
    Starfish says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You are so close to getting the point!

    Basically, STEM fields want to be perceived as welcoming, and a lot of girls are not interested in those fields. We should not be trying to attract more girls into STEM where they are going to be chopped off mid-career or sooner.

    The women who are more likely to stick it out in STEM are immigrants whose families are relying on them for financial support or other forms of stability. The book Unlocking the Clubhouse is about computer science at CMU and why women stayed or left the program, and it highlights this trend.

    There are several issues going on here. One is discarding mid-career women and not creating paths back. We should quit paying boatloads of money for senior-level tech people who are not training one or more junior people and locking the door to people trying to enter the field. All the awards that go to people under 40 are designed for men because the awards are being granted right around peak childbearing years when women’s careers can go off the rails. If the demand is so strong for people in STEM, companies have to train up the people they need. Entry-level jobs must exist, and we cannot patch all of that with code schools and junior colleges.

    We should also pay women better in fields that we see as “women’s work” like K-12 education and nursing. I think gynecology and obstetrics may be losing some clout as the field becomes a more woman-dominated field as younger women prefer to have women doing that job than men.

  101. 101
    AThornton says:

    @David Evans:

    Nope. Won’t work.

  102. 102
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @David Evans: Not to mention that we really don’t know just what fraction of earth’s gravity is enough to avoid the negative effects of microgravity – it might be as little as 38% (Mars or Mercury) or even 15% (Luna, Titan, Galilean moons).

    Potentially a far more severe issue is radiation outside of a planetary magnetic field – primary cosmic rays as well as solar emissions.

  103. 103
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @AThornton: You intend to show your work, or should we just take your (probably unreliable) word for it?

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Starfish: I don’t think that we should be pushing people toward or away from STEM. If your talents and interests lie there, then you should be able to do it. Or if it isn’t your favorite thing but you can do it and you need to support your family, go for it.

  105. 105
    AThornton says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    How ’bout Go Fuck Yourself?

    And then learn something.

    I recommend Artificial gravity: head movements during short-radius centrifugation as a start

  106. 106
    Starfish says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Or if it isn’t your favorite thing but you can do it and you need to support your family, go for it.

    This group gets screened out in the interview process by being asked things like “How many open source projects have you contributed to? Do you eat and sleep tech?” and then being handed a take-home exam that takes hours to do.

    A lot of professors that can keep crazy professor hours have some type of support from someone else in their household.

    When I was an undergrad, a Ph.D. student that I knew had a pre-mature baby. Our advisor, a childless man, was trying to get his other graduate student to call her and tell her that if she did not come back, she would be out of the program.

    Dr. Tara Smith has written a little about being a single parent either late in graduate school or early into her first job, and I cannot imagine how hard that must have been.

    There was someone the other day writing that early-career people must “pay their dues” where they mean that early-career paths must be reserved for people who have no financial responsibilities or who have family financial support. That type of stuff shapes the fields to be what they are.

  107. 107
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Brachiator:

    I don’t know. Some Americans (and Brits, I think) seem to be find of a kind of resentment socialism. We don’t want to impose some tax on everyone and fund essential and useful activities. We want to especially tax the wealthy, because they are bad people with too much money. This seems more the focus than the good social use of any revenues.

    This is a joke, right? the malign influence of wealthy on democracy is widely- and well-documented. That wealthy people get a different system of justice than ordinary people (who again get a different system of justice than poor people) is again widely/well-documented. Jesus man, get a convincing schtick at least.

    Every now and then I tease out a little thought experiment. Andrew Carnegie funded a large number of colleges, libraries, and cultural institutions with his tremendous, and arguably plundered, wealth. Would government been able to use the money as wisely had it been able to tax him?

    Where to start? Land grant colleges? NIH? NASA? (even) DARPA?

  108. 108

    @Omnes Omnibus: You should listen to Starfish. Being a woman in STEM is difficult. There aren’t fucking enough restrooms for women in engineering and physics buildings. That’s how welcoming STEM is to women.

  109. 109

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    How much of that “tech-design-by-committee” was the military & IC demanding ruinous design changes as the price of their participation in the program?

    Everybody had their random ruinous design requirement for the shuttle. As the military & intelligence communities are part of the government, I don’t see this as a strike against my point.

  110. 110
    trollhattan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Yeah, I’m neither pro nor anti-STEM, just don’t buy the notion that kids should be shuffled into it or that, contra current wisdom, an actual liberal arts degree is a waste of time and money. (“Because, ‘liberal’ means no math and science, duh!”)

    My kid did the “Girls Who Code” program and hated it, and she’s super advanced in math and science. Go figure.

  111. 111
    Martin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: No, that’s true, but it’s still a poor use of capital. That yacht will not appreciate in value or in terms of economic opportunity, so that labor is basically a one-time benefit. That’s why I am consistently flabbergasted that cities will give tax benefits to get construction jobs. Nothing against construction workers, but once that datacenter is built, its lights out. Its ongoing existence doesn’t help the construction workers any more, nor anyone else really.

    Efficient use of capital is anything that produces economic output. A yacht doesn’t produce output. It’s got a massive opportunity cost.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Starfish: That shit is not unique to STEM.

  113. 113

    @trollhattan: I don’t like to code either. I will only do it if I have to.

  114. 114

    @Omnes Omnibus: Not unique but it is worse in STEM. Because the # of women in these fields is minuscule.

  115. 115

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I don’t like to code either. I will only do it if I have to.

    But being able to do it when you have to is a valuable skill.

  116. 116
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I do not doubt that what starfish is saying is true. If you scroll up you will see the comment I made about Ginsberg being offered jobs as a secretary and not a lawyer. I’ve seen how female soldiers can be treated.

    I am not sure how suggesting that people avoid STEM jobs fixes the situation. Litigation and legislation would do more good IMO.

  117. 117
    trollhattan says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @Roger Moore:
    I tried “think of it as a second foreign language that will come in handy sometimes” to no avail. Plenty of time to change her mind, if need be.

  118. 118

    @Roger Moore: True.
    @Omnes Omnibus: Agreed. More research funding from the government agencies like the DoD, DoE, NSF and NIH would help too. Sequestration which Biden thinks was some great achievement, killed many a scientific career.

  119. 119

    @trollhattan: She can learn if she has to. I took a couple of programming classes and am mostly self taught.

  120. 120
    Barbara says:

    Slate Magazine talked to some of these scientists, before Epstein died. The results weren’t very pretty for a lot of them. Source

    Yes, it was mostly but not exclusively about funding and a few are willing to admit that there were always girls around. He even got massages from young girls while they were discussing “heavy” subjects, an image that might be funny if the girls weren’t minors.

  121. 121
    RSA says:

    @Starfish:

    Computer science is getting progressively worse while pretending it is trying to improve.

    I used to be an academic, and I think the consensus was that CS was terrible for women but slowly improving, at least in terms of graduation rates. I can’t speak for how things are in industry, after graduation. Taulbee survey results for women receiving a B.S. in computer science:

    2014 14.1%
    2015 15.7%
    2016 17.9%
    2017 19.0%
    2018 20.9%

    Pathetic, I know.

  122. 122
    JR says:

    @Sab: It’s improving. Not fast enough, but if you just wash your hands of the thing it doesn’t improve. Plus, there’s the whole contributing to the welfare of humanity aspect.

  123. 123
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @RSA: We have about a 50-person development/programming staff. It’s about half women, and they are more than half of the leads and project managers. May be atypical, but we are in a pretty stable industry and there’s not that insane go-go mentality of a startup – people work 40-hour weeks generally.

  124. 124
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Martin: Show me an 8-figure boat that costs nothing to run and maintain. Tell me that Oracle Team USA contributed nothing to the economy in terms of materials science, advanced composites, engineering… Larry Ellison might be foolish in how he spends his money (in your opinion) but his obsession genrated a lot of downstream economic activity.

  125. 125
    RSA says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I’m happy to hear about such environments!

  126. 126
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Crap. Sorry if this thread is dead.

    I think a big motivator for heavy taxation on the ultra-wealthy is a look back on the post-War era. It turns out that ruinous tax rates on extreme wealth tend to result in fewer people getting exorbitant incomes and more money going to ordinary workers

    I don’t think this is true, and it is probably not correct to look at the tax system as a way of redistributing incomes.

    First, people keep looking at top marginal rates instead of effective tax rates when erroneously talking about ruinous tax rates. Also, until relatively recently, the proportion of GDP that went to wages compared to capital didn’t change much.

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