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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation

From Newsline from an anonymous contributor: ========================================================================= Parney - Part I =================================================================================== Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation LLNL Newsline - 09/19/2012 ==================================================================================== I'd like to take a little time to discuss a subject that is a bit different from the usual fare, and I think important. The Lab has many attributes. It is the place where some of the most talented people on the planet work in service to the nation. It is the home to many unique, best-in-the-world capabilities. It is a place with a long history of accomplishment, and of advances yet to come. It is also a collection of diverse people, a dynamic social web of interactions - with each other and with the world in which we are embedded. Hence, all the trappings of being human are part of this place. As many of you probably know, there are some external websites that are open fora for commenting on this Lab and also on LANL and our government sponsors. Sometimes the postings are unintentionally funny in the level of misinformation or convoluted logic. One site that is ostensibly devoted to LLNL is, in fact, more often than not focused on issues at LANL; as one observant poster noted there, no matter what the initial topic, the discussion quickly collapses, generally along a convoluted path, into a negative comment on Bechtel or one of the other partners and/or the LANL senior management. Other pieces of misinformation that show up once in a while are that Lab directors make million-dollar salaries (I wish!) or that LLNS and LANS somehow get more "profit" by reducing costs (umm, wrong). As you can probably surmise, I read these sites on occasion, in large part because I have (as those of you who know me will verify) a pretty perverse sense of humor, a trait probably acquired in an upbringing in the DC suburbs where there were ample opportunities to laugh at people saying stupid things. Most of the time, these posts are harmless albeit uninformed. Lately, however, some have become harmful and destructive if taken seriously. For example, one poster stated baldly that he/she had seen with his/her own eyes a PAD escorted off the Lab site by security, and that he/she knew for certain that the PAD was getting fired. That post engendered a whole raft of poisonous rumors, exacerbated by the fact that the manager in question was off site for personal reasons for several days. The rumor was completely false, made up out of whole cloth, for motives unknown. Other examples have cropped up recently. Sometimes these things get sufficient momentum to get picked up by the local press, who either try to get a comment from me (I can't respond to every rumor, nor should I give these "sources" any credibility) or even, if the newspaper is very poorly edited, make reference to them in print. When these things happen, they affect not just the Lab or the individual but also their families, who endure questioning at the grocery store, their place of worship, or the schoolhouse. They affect us all. The anonymous assertion of falsehoods in public fora or social networks is a fact of life these days, but it is supremely nasty and hurtful.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Parney is misguided and misinformed. As members of senior management entrusted with important responsibilities to the nation and to the tax-payers, they are public figures who should expect every kind of scrutiny from all forums and public media, even those from "anonymous blogs" like these.

Parney is misguided and misinformed. As members of senior management entrusted with important responsibilities to the nation and to the tax-payers, they are public figures who should expect every kind of scrutiny from all forums and public media, even those from "anonymous blogs" like these.

If Parney wants to understand why certain things go viral, or why some of these comments seem "so hurtful and nasty," he should be looking inward at the organization that he inherited.

The environment and culture at the lab is the principal cause for why these pieces of information go viral. The individuals mentioned in many of these "nasty" comments are not ordinary run of the mill private citizens. They have colorful and sometimes sordid history of behavior. How many of us can name specific instances and meetings where a senior manager told a bold face like in a meeting to a sponsor? How many of us have personally observed questionable behavior by one of the senior managers? Unfortunately the answer is "many."

When the topic of fraud and embezzlement came up, yeah it was quite unbelievable. No evidence whatsoever presented. So why did that particular rumor stick? Was it because rumor mongerers are so linguistically adept and exceptionally gifted at crafting such titillating stories that the blog readers simply eat it all up and keep asking for more? Was it because "no comment" was (mis)equated to a "smoking gun?" Or just maybe, fraud and embezzlement at the lab by certain people are concepts that are within our realm of plausibility, given our own experiences of those individuals at the lab? The answer is the latter. Some things don't go viral because they are far removed from plausibility. Parney inherited an organization in which some (not all) of the senior managers have systematically invited this kind of scrutiny through unprofessional or unethical conduct over the past decade.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Very appropriate. Sandia (knock on wood) is just not worthy of reporting on in this way. People who are doing their job. Managers who don't invite controversy, scorn or ridicule. A generally healthy working environment. In relative and absolute terms, very professional compared to some at LLNL. Not all at LLNL are bad. But the bad apples do such a good job of drowning out any word regarding the good apples who keep their heads down, do their job, and do their jobs well.
September 20, 2012 9:17 AM
Anonymous said...

The agenda at play is that LLNL is fueling our frenzy and we want more. I was honestly concerned that LLNL would be a dull place after Tomas' departure. He was such a spectacularly rich source of material and you took him away from us. But thankfully the lab is still a reasonably decent source of topics and material because of all of its problems and difficulty.
September 20, 2012 10:50 AM
Anonymous said...

Ed has thick skin. He knew going into his role that he is in for hardball. He also invited the controversy because of his past reputation on AVLIS. Reputation is the the easiest thing to lose and the hardest thing to gain back. A negative reputation is considered a liability for corporate executives for this reason... They invite all sorts of controversy that readily go viral and become a distraction. If Ed was a choir boy, none of this could ever have gotten traction.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see some mature leadership at work at LLNL. It gives possibility that Parney will be able to make it. Once more this demonstrates why it is important to select a director that is capable of dealing with all aspects of the job. May also indicate that picking relative outsiders for such positions will always be superior to UC holdover insiders that carry the baggage.

Anonymous said...

It has become clear that somehow George was able to keep it all together for his leadership team and not too much spilled over outside the fence. Parney inherited a real mess and is already making progress in cleaning it up.
Even when they fought bitter battles inside, Livermore leaders had the reputation of closing ranks and presenting a united front to the outside. Very different at Los Alamos, where public fratricide was not only condoned, but even openly promoted.

Anonymous said...

Parney is an outsider. I wouldn't have thought he would have lasted for a year on the job, if things weren't in such dire condition at that lab. Though I wouldn't bet that the "insider mentality" has gone away. I bet its healthy and kicking.

Lets see how this goes.

Anonymous said...

As a regular contributor, shit disturber and former employee of one of the labs, I am surprized that Parney reads this crap that I and many others post. If you can't post with attribution, that is, if you must post anonymously, the source is not credible. Me included.

Parney, don't waste your time or energy here, it is mostly a joke, an outlet for otherwise frustrated or impotent who have too much time on their hands and nothing worthwhile to do.

Rarely is there something useful here, but sometimes there is, mostly its anonymous rambling by cowards who lack the nerve or seriousness to take a public stance.

Anonymous said...

Just cause it's the internet, doesn't make it true,


but is sure spreads the noise fast.

Best of luck to those of you working in the national interest.

Anonymous said...

The joy of slander, and the pungent satisfaction of anonymous character assassination...


Wafts through the peace like a well hidden fart.

fraud and embezzlement indeed. impossible. nonsense. without fact. baseless and base.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this only because it was mentioned in newsline. When I expect to see something about Moses, I instead find myself in content about the disconnect between employees and management, which is a serious issue. Is management actually doing something about this? The topics are highly relevant. Talent retention... equally relevant. This is important topical discussion.

Anonymous said...

"The joy of slander, and the pungent satisfaction of anonymous character assassination...


Wafts through the peace like a well hidden fart.

fraud and embezzlement indeed. impossible. nonsense. without fact. baseless and base."




Parney, you mentioned that we should come here to see for ourselves. There are some very relevant topics here, and I see these petulant responses like above. You mention how some of these comments are ridiculous, and comments like these seem to reinforce your position. Why are you ignoring the important issue that ARE described here? Why are you dismissing these as gossip? Please explain!!!

Anonymous said...

Just because Parney is looking good in comparison to his current counterparts at other sites it may still be insufficient to save LLNL. That is about the same as observing that Steve Finley, with 300 career home runs in the major league, is superior to a group of minor league players that never can have the talent to play in The Bigs. While true, it misses the mark that Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth each had more than twice the number of HRs. Time will tell if Parney can swing for the fences and connect on enough balls to endure to the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

There seem to be certain common linguistic patterns between his newsline article and some older comments. Can someone verify that the newsline text posted in this blog was really the same content in print, and not fabricated to dupe the blog readers?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with some of Parney's statements. Some of these older posts ARE quite hilarious and amusing. Even the back and forth trolling between LLNL and LANL camps.

Anonymous said...

We all have to remember that lab personnel are not only readers of this anonymous blog but also participants (management, and even possibly Parney himself). If need be, techniques in forensic linguistics by outside media reporters could be (hint: this is not 'in theory') used to attribute lab employees to some potentially embarrassing comments. So my question is why they (particularly those with management responsibilities) bother at all to participate in, let alone, read, blogs like this? Employees participating? Yeah we would expect that. But upper level management?

Anonymous said...

1) nucleation, I.e. someone tosses a rumor that could be true or false.
2) the other blog participants who have some connection or interest in the topic start commenting and furthering the discussion.
3) it eventually gets picked up by outside media.

There must have been hundreds of comments as part of step 2. You have to ask yourself why. Why him but not others. It's obvious. His bad reputation invites it. It did not help that nothing was done to present facts that would have ended the matter. In fact there is still lingering doubt about whether or not the embezzlement issue is true or not. Only anonymous posters who say that it is false but provide little or no supporting information, and in particular one who in addition makes repeated reference to flatulence essentially to discredit himself.


Anonymous said...

Step 1 came from insiders. That's also why step 2 got traction.

Anonymous said...

The same type of attacks of "iIs all falsehoods and lies" were aimed against the famous LANL Blog -- "The Real Story".

Later, it was found out that many of the things said on the LANL Blog against Admiral (Director) Nanos were all TRUE and he was kicked out of his lab position.

The lab blogs have a better "success" rate that the lies that come from the for-profit LLC managers who now run these corporatized entities for a profit.

Yes, some "filtering" of the posts is required, but inside these blogs you will find many of the "real stories" about what's really going on at the declining NNSA labs under the horrible management of NNSA and the Bechtel-ized LLCs.

Anonymous said...

techniques in forensic linguistics by outside media reporters could be (hint: this is not 'in theory') used to attribute lab employees...

think lab management/proxies.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has information regarding anyone in LLNS or LLNL management who is purposefully engaged in anonymous posting for what can be described as a disinformation campaign, should report this to the FBI. Also any other similar illegal activity by LLNS management should also be reported.

Anonymous said...

There's a generalized resentment at the lack of openness and transparency on the part of upper level management regarding big issues that are of concern to the ranks, and this has worsened in this corporate environment. Lack of transparency and timely information only leave a void that will be filled by rumors, it's part of human nature. Such a highly educated bunch wants more than corporate propaganda, and anti-blog blogs aren't the answer either.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it doesn't help when the managers are also anonymous posting, and constantly pointing the finger at LANL hoping to divert attention away from the local problems.

Too bad that this is the only relatively safe forum for lab employees to discuss these things.

Anonymous said...

Parney is missing the point. End the old boys clubs. Some of us have proof.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Parney is missing the point. End the old boys clubs. Some of us have proof.

September 24, 2012 12:14 PM

What are you waiting for ? Prove it to us.

Anonymous said...

In the process.

Anonymous said...

As an old boy, is there someplace that I can go to sign up for the club?

Does it serve coffee?

If it is now meeting in the B140 Ladies room, I decline.

Anonymous said...

Is that where the old boys remove their disguises?

Anonymous said...

Does it serve coffee?

September 27, 2012 2:30 PM

Why? Is coffee something special to you? You must be over 7572 ria if you think so.

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