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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« China's Compulsory Licensing | Main | Predicting Toxicology »

June 11, 2012

Another Critical Shortage

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Posted by Derek

Here's a perfectly appropriate response to the Slate piece about needing more scientists: "Dear Slate: America Needs More Artists".

America needs Thomas Kinkades and Andy Warhols, but it really needs a lot more good artists, more expressive artists, more mediocre artists, and more starving artists.

In theory, "artsiness" has never been cooler. America sanctifies Steve Jobs (the iPod designer), and envies da Vinci (the Renaissance man-cum-robotic surgeon). There are hipster sculptors, hipster poets, and hipster, well...hipsters. There's 20x200, an entire industry devoted to finding unknown artists, and letting you buy a slice. And yet, American art is in crisis: in this economy, gigs and commissions are tough to come by. Much of our great art comes from overseas (Italy, Japan, Russia) because there aren't enough artists here at home. And many of our best visual and musical minds are snatched up by mainstream media, producing viral apps (Draw Something) or 'selling out' their musical talents (American Idol).

A crisis indeed. Won't anyone take the time to help?

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: General Scientific News


1. coprolite on June 11, 2012 12:06 PM writes...

America needs more mediocre ditch diggers.

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2. Signofthetimes on June 11, 2012 12:45 PM writes...

When the commissioning of a U.S. Monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. is outsourced, you know there's a problem. And it's spreading like a virus.

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3. Anon on June 11, 2012 1:22 PM writes...

This Friday the NIH is suppose to release information about the future of the biomedical workforce. Last summer they did the RFI (which was spoken about here), the report was released in January I believe, and now they are suppose to release their official recommendations...My bet, they won't suggest decreasing the amount of grad students or limiting foreign postdocs. They'll likely just give an administratively vague response to increase career guidance (ie have guest lectures at schools or some other BS). And hand-wave that all will be fine.

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4. MoMo on June 11, 2012 1:28 PM writes...

America needs more Kinkades like it needs more Combichem. Both cheapened versions of the fields they represent.

Luckily both have died off---for now.

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5. Curious Wavefunction on June 11, 2012 2:17 PM writes...

#2: A few days ago I visited Monticello. There was a beautiful bust of Jefferson in the gift shop...made in China.

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6. anon2 on June 11, 2012 3:07 PM writes...

Keep staring at your belly button.

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7. TOSG on June 11, 2012 5:58 PM writes...

I'm hoping that the substitution of Kinkade for Venter is intentional. In any case, pretty fitting.

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8. lynn on June 11, 2012 7:17 PM writes...

#6. I am omphaloskeptic

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9. jackgg on June 12, 2012 1:02 AM writes...

Momo: Americans need hands to work, brains to think. Unfortunately, both are in Chindia.

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10. Fred on June 12, 2012 12:14 PM writes...

Mr. Kinkade called himself a "painter of light". I guess his agent made him put that "of" in.

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11. MoMo on June 12, 2012 4:42 PM writes...

Jackgg- You are so right! Americans have no hands and brains! Only to be found in Chindia!

Remember, your kids make our manufactured goods, and when we are done with them-both are disposed of.

And I say this without a touch of xenophobia-the truth hurts.

Now get out there Chindia and throw your toxins away in the trash-so your grandparents can pick through them!

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12. zDNA on June 13, 2012 7:39 AM writes...

I'm darn proud to address the scientist *and* artist shortage. Not only am I chemist, I play in a jazz band. So there! :P

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13. Scarodactyl on June 13, 2012 10:01 PM writes...

I wonder if Brooks's Law can be evoked towards this general sentiment (though in a way sort of different from its original context/intent). Just throwing more people at a problem isn't necessarily going to help; "nine women can't make a baby in one month."

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14. Lindsay on June 14, 2012 6:27 AM writes...

What on earth? Steve Jobs didn't design the ipod.

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15. Shonkin on June 14, 2012 5:36 PM writes...

Steve Jobs didn't design much of anything. He was a marketer, pure and simple. For technical work, of which he was incapable, be used better people than himself and paid them as little as he could get away with. One of those better people was Steve Wozniak, the real genius of Apple Computer, whom Jobs cheated shamelessly.

That's not to say Jobs wasn't smart in his own way. Back when the Mac was three times as good as the PC (and cost three times as much), he developed a following of Mac users who thought of themselves as cooler than everybody else. That Super Bowl 1984 commercial was sheer genius.

Apple products today are triumphs of style over substance. That's a one-eighty from the Woz's Apple 2c and //e, which were truly great products in their time but didn't have the trendy style of the expensive i-Stuff they sell in Apple Stores now.

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16. Anonymous on June 17, 2012 6:26 AM writes...

i agree with the fact that American needs a lot more of good artist.

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