Academic job in Kazakhstan: take it or leave it?
April 3, 2013 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I was offered an academic job at Nazarbayev University, a new English-medium university in Astana, Kazakhstan. I am in a STEM field. Help me decide whether I should accept it.

The contract is for three years, extendable, but there is no tenure in Kazakhstan.

Salary and benefits: $75k a year + performance bonus, free on-campus housing, full health benefits, two paid flights home a year, relocation. This is significantly more than I would be making in the US, especially considering the free housing and 10% flat income tax rate.

Research funding: $25k start-up funds + $50k targeted funding for equipment (ok in my field). Then there are 3 rounds of grant applications a year. Proposals are sent to the US for review and awards are contingent on recommendation by their partner universities (see below). Recent grant amounts are in the range $500k-1m (comparable to US). The success rate is not published, but the competition is likely smaller than in the US. Some travel funds are also available.

Teaching load: 2+2 (subjects I would actually enjoy teaching, all at junior and senior level). The student body seems exceptional: the acceptance rate is 10%, the average high school GPA is 4.8/5.0. All accepted students receive a full scholarship (covers tuition costs and living expenses).

The university: founded in 2010. Its official mission is to be the first Western-style university in Kazakhstan. The university is not subordinate to the Department of Education, but governed by a special act of parliament that gives it a degree of autonomy unprecedented in former Soviet republics. All instruction is in English, 75% of the faculty obtained their doctorates in the US, and about 40% are American-born (the rest come mostly from Europe, Russia, Japan, and Kazakhstan). Even much of the staff are Americans: librarians, HR personnel, etc. The university president is Shigeo Katsu, formerly the World Bank VP for Europe and Central Asia. The provost is Anne Lonsdale, formerly the pro-vice-chancellor for external relations and president of New Hall, Cambridge, and an experienced international education administrator. The chairman of the board of trustees is Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev, for whom this is a pet project. The university has partnership agreements with UCL (School of Engineering strategic partner), Carnegie-Mellon (School of Science and Technology strategic partner), U Wisconsin-Madison, U Penn, U Pittsburgh, Duke, Cambridge, NUS, LBNL, Argonne National Lab. Partners are involved in curriculum development, funding decisions, faculty recruitment, quality control, exchange programs for students and faculty.

I can't complain about my interactions with them so far. They have been surprisingly efficient at organizing my interviews, reimbursement and such.

The country: Kazakhstan is the fastest-developing economy among former Soviet republics, sometimes referred to as "the Singapore of Central Asia". The country is authoritarian, but the president is less eccentric and more intelligent than most authoritarian leaders; he is an admirer of Lee Kuan Yew. The standard and cost of living in major cities is comparable to Europe and the US. The capital, Astana, was largely built within the past 15 years (its population tripled since the capital was moved there) and seems a bit similar to Dubai.

My concerns are: 1) Would going there be career suicide? Would it be very difficult to get a job (say, at a smaller university in the US or EU) afterwards? 2) The undergrads may be really great, but the best grad students and faculty are probably hard to lure to Kazakhstan. I wonder if the environment is at all stimulating. 3) What is the country like? I have never been to Central Asia. I have been told, Astana is an ok place to live, but would like to hear more opinions. What should I be aware of? I speak enough Russian to get by there and don't mind the cold :)

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
posted by auctor to Work & Money (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like an awesome opportunity, but if your career goal is to teach in the States your time over there would likely postpone that process. And that's assuming there really is a future in post-secondary education in the States.

On the other hand, it could lead to other opportunities you haven't even imagined.

I think expats need to be thinking in terms of 5 year plans, and making sure you're doing everything possible on a day to day basis to achieve that five year plan.

I've met lots of expats who don't plan longterm, and end up stuck in a dead end - crossing cultures and continents is not easy, unless, of course, your skills are transferable and are in demand, and you have great personal networks.

However, like I said, if you keep your eyes open for opportunities you've never considered before, and if you are proactive about managing your career (and if you understand that you're not really helping get an academic track job back in the States) this might be an interesting launch pad.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:08 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are a couple of threads over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed forums on this university. Put "Nazarbayev" in the search box.
posted by LarryC at 12:14 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

3) What is the country like? I have never been to Central Asia.

Full stop.

Central Asia is one of the few places on earth that is still rugged and frontier - this means both land and in mind. This makes it a special type of place. The people are tough, noble, and can be warm, but just remember they have spent generations under Soviet communist rule. Nothing is for granted when it comes to understanding. Contrary to a lot of Borat joke making, there's a lot of intelligent people and wisdom within the land.

I would suggest taking a trip before you commit, unless you have the flexibility of just taking the next flight home if you don't like it.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

KokuRyu: at this time, my options in the US are limited. The academic job market isn't great. Realistically, the only thing that has a real chance of improving my career outlook in the States is another good postdoc (I could probably get one, but am not particularly excited about that). My other options include lower-tier state universities or teaching-oriented liberal arts colleges, but that's kind of a dead end...

LarryC: yes, I have seen those and some other internet discussions. I also privately contacted a few current employees. Opinions seem to vary.

Kruger5: I have spent some time in former Soviet republics (Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), as well as in a few Asian countries (China, India, Nepal). How does Kazakhstan compare to those?
posted by auctor at 12:41 PM on April 3, 2013

I have spent some time in former Soviet republics (Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), as well as in a few Asian countries (China, India, Nepal). How does Kazakhstan compare to those?

Nepal and western regions of China are closest. Fastest growing means the country is starting from a pretty deep level of basic.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:45 PM on April 3, 2013

For a non-CIS-specialist's view of life as a Western expat in Central Asia, Stacy Dallman's blog was pretty entertaining, until it ended.
posted by lily_bart at 12:54 PM on April 3, 2013

I would go for it.

If the other option is for 'another' post-doc, I would go for actual teaching experience. I can't imagine it being 'career suicide', in that you are teaching in vastly different circumstances, helping to build an institution. You are showing that you welcome personal and professional challenges. At worst, any future employers would not have heard of the place, and would be unable to assign a value to it, positive or negative. Someone going for another post-doc would be less impressive in that it's a far more conventional route to take.

Besides, with the diversity of the staff that's there, who knows what connections you would be developing, and where they could lead?

As with any international transfer, there's going to be good bits and bad bits. With a three-year contract, you can always reevaluate. With an end date in sight, three years can go by pretty quick -- if that's what you end up wanting.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd visit and check it out before accepting, but I'd say that if it's between this and a post-doc (or even this and a CC job), take this job. I'm a current grad student in the humanities and if this opportunity came up, I'd be inclined to take it, assuming I liked Kazakhstan. Do check out the stuff on the Chronicle fora, though; there's helpful tips there.
posted by naturalog at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2013

Good advice I think about having a five year plan for a return to the States and sticking to it.

The trick with returning as an academic is that it will be really difficult to arrange campus interviews. Not just the multiple days of travel each way, but the fact that many universities will not have the budget to pay for your travel. In a tight job market with dozens of strong applicants, it is too easy to say "This Auctor looks pretty good, but is located in Kazakstan--no way the dean will pay for that plane ticket. Let's interview Larry, who is in Chicago, instead."

If you are applying strictly to big research universities it might be much less of an issue.

Overall, this sounds like a grand adventure. I'd go for it.
posted by LarryC at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2013

Kruger5: Really? From what I gather, at least the infrastructure in Astana is incomparably better than Nepal or Western China.

lily_bart: Interesting, though not encouraging. Thanks, will read more of the blog.

mumimor: Why, may I ask?

Capt. Renault: That's pretty much my line of thinking. But how about if it's a really good postdoc with someone famous in the field? Or, say, a postdoc with a teaching component?

naturalog: Thanks for your opinion. And yes, I have read the Chronicle forum.
posted by auctor at 1:18 PM on April 3, 2013

Central Asia is a great region. Interesting from many different perspectives. Speaking some Russian is really helpful (though most countries including Kazakhstan are putting emphasis on their indigenous languages). If you have the chance and it works for your career and life, I'd go for it.

Couple of comments: (1) Kazakhstan is expensive. Especially Astana. $75k with housing and other benefits is fine but for practical purposes middle class in KZ. There's serious money sloshing around. (2) Astana is not exactly cozy. Its a built-from-scratch city built in high totalitarian-Vegas style. (3) The association with Nazarbayev has its risks. He's certainly spending money to build his reputation but will always be tainted by a history of repression, political manipulation and corruption. Of course plenty of academic institutions have been built on worse (hello, Cecil Rhodes), but it takes a couple of decades for that to go away. That shouldn't be an issue in STEM but it'd be an awkward place to be a political scientist interested in democratic development. (Unless you're Fredrick Starr.) The independent charter from parliament means little; parliament is just as accountable to the President as the Ministry of Education. (4) That cold. I know Russian cold. That high steppe Siberian cold - especially on clear days in winter - is more like an actual physical force of its own than just weather.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 1:30 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you going to be publishing, how often and where? Are you going to be supervising PhD students from an internationally recognised programme? Will you be building international collaborations with well known researchers? Most importantly, will you be eligible for whatever funding you need to get your next job, wherever that will be? Those are the questions you should be asking and care about at this stage of your career regardless of where you work.

(I'm a STEM post doc that changed continents for my career, seems to be working so far)
posted by shelleycat at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm really fascinated by central Asia, and I shouldn't be this brash when I haven't been in Kazakstan yet. But, I have plenty friends who have, in many different roles, and it seems everyone who went there for a job was somehow put in a really, really uncomfortable place. The stories are different, but they all end up with people coming back way before time.
I can relate to the adventure of getting out of here - and I look at positions in exotic countries all the time. Also, I agree Central Asia has a lot of potential. I just don't see it's a good career option yet. Turkey would be better for entering Central Asia slower.
posted by mumimor at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013

Is your goal to eventually return to the academic market in the US or EU? If so, how extensive are the travel funds you mention? IANAAcademic, but I am married to one, and we've done the whole job market tilt-a-whirl a couple of times. In my experience, networking plays a significant role in the academic job market, much larger than I think many junior scholars realize. Moving to a country where the academic community will be small and the visitors few will hinder you on that front. The burden will be on you to both maintain the connections you've already made while also seeking out new ones, which will probably mean being very proactive about conferences, workshops, etc., which can be tricky on a limited budget.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:43 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would be pretty worried about hitching my wagon to a funding process where I was a complete outsider, without any real understanding of the politics. Are there already other foreign faculty in place in the department, and have any of them received grants through this process? Can you try to get some frank details from them about how this really works?

At worst, any future employers would not have heard of the place, and would be unable to assign a value to it, positive or negative.

I don't think this is how judgement works in academics -- a place you've never heard of is going to be viewed as a definite negative. But I think it's only career suicide if you 1) definitely want a research-oriented careers, and 2) if you can't get funding for research, or make do with your startup for three years. I don't know your field, but I would want to be able to hire a postdoc on my startup, which you obviously can't do on $25k.

Still, sounds kind of exciting!
posted by inkfish at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Astana is a weird place. Make sure you visit. The Western China or Nepal comparison is probably fair for parts of the country not touched by oil wealth, but most of the cities are touched by oil wealth. Almaty and Astana are def developed. Seconding that the autonomous charter is basically meaningless.
posted by JPD at 1:55 PM on April 3, 2013

More grist for your mill.
posted by lalochezia at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2013

Really? From what I gather, at least the infrastructure in Astana is incomparably better than Nepal or Western China.

I was responding to specifically your question about the comparison of the country of Kazakhstan to those other nations. Astana, as others have pointed out, is an exception in more ways than one, good and bad.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2013

On further reflection, if you want to stay in the field on a research track, I have to imagine that a good postdoc would be more beneficial for your career, because that's a known quantity. Even if Kazakhstan ends up being fantastic for you, potential employers are going to view it in the same (or possibly worse) light as a teaching gig at a liberal arts college in the U.S., not as a stepping stone to a tenured research position. As inkfish rightly points out, an unknown university is almost always seen as a negative, not a neutral.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:00 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify, in terms of a five-year plan, you don't necessarily have to plan to return to the United States. You just have to make sure you are ready to transition to something else, and avoid getting boxed in.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:26 PM on April 3, 2013

Countering Diagonalize: If you want to stay on the research track, you should be confident that you can accomplish and publish quality research at this university. I think publishing and grant-getting with a 2/2 teaching load will be challenging but not impossible. The biggest 'risk' is in assessing how "realistic" is it for you to land one of the 500k-1M grants you referenced. With robust funding you can surely maintain a research program that will give you the option of 'moving your lab' to the USA, if that's what you choose to do once you're established.

If you're not able to establish a productive independent lab there (and I think this hinges on the external funding more than anything), then it is where your research career goes to die.

So I second inkfish's comment-- as an 'outsider' are you really competitive for their 'internal' funding process? If you are, then this might be worth it. Perhaps the worst case is that you return to the USA and do yet another postdoc stint.
posted by u2604ab at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2013

I know very little about Kazakhstan. I'm here just to warn you against giving much weight to one expat's blog in making decisions about a place.

I'm an expat in a "developing" country and the complaints and perspective that I saw in the blog linked above are utterly typical of an isolated "westerner" who doesn't learn the language. My experience of my host country is vastly different from the experience of the isolated, English-only expats who write blogs. Visit and talk to some longer-term expats who speak Russian and Kazakh to get a more nuanced picture.
posted by ceiba at 3:00 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

RandlePatrickMcMurphy: Nice analysis, thanks!

shelleycat: Yes, very important questions. I will be publishing, that's for sure. I have a good international network of collaborators, both in the US and in Europe, and there are ongoing projects I could take with me wherever I go. Building new collaborations with top scientists is certainly easier at a top US school. The graduate program is in the process of being set up, no telling how it will turn out. I would guess that the best grad students will tend to go abroad, but some reasonably good ones may stay. As for funding... tough question. Going abroad always limits funding opportunities in your country of origin, but there are also always options. That alone isn't a good reason not to go abroad, IMHO.

mumimor: ok, makes sense. Although some people I talked to seem to love it. Go figure...

Diagonalize: Excellent point! Yes, networking is supremely important and difficult to maintain in remote location. One of the things I plan to do, though, is to regularly visit my current institution (a major research university very close to where I'll be going for home visits). This is a start. Plus, any conferences I that I can get to. Also, I am not 100% set on returning to the US, although I'd like to have that as an option if things don't work out too well.
posted by auctor at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2013

My brother teaches there and I will memail you about the two of you talking it over.
posted by hala mass at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2013

inkfish: Most faculty members over there are foreigners and I have talked to a couple who received funding through their process. It seems legit. I view the review of applications in the US as a huge plus, since it is likely to (at least somewhat) reduce cronyism. Obviously, hiring grad students or postdocs for 3 years is not possible with $25k. But from what I gather chances of getting funding there are ok - at least, not worse than in the US. Yes, I agree - a little-known place is going to be viewed as a definite negative. (There may be some bonus points for being the flagship university of the country, though.)

JPD and Kruger5: ok, thanks. I should have specified, the university is in Astana, so I'd be there most of the time.

Diagonalize: My objective is not necessarily a position at a major research university. I went to grad school at one and did a postdoc at another. There are multiple things I am not thrilled about when it comes to this career path. I would much rather end up at a decent liberal arts college that gives an opportunity to do some research with undergrads.

u2604ab: From my experience, publishing is much easier when you are at a well-known Western university. Editors and reviewers do care where you are at, that's just life. The funding process is taylor-made for that university, is different from the rest of the country, and most of the faculty at the university is foreign. So I think I would have a fair shot, at least. As for returning to the US and doing another postdoc, many universities and national labs require that your PhD be "recent" (within the past 5 years), so that may not be an option.
posted by auctor at 4:35 PM on April 3, 2013

ceiba: Yes, I am aware of this and I realize that the ways of different parts of the world differ. I have been to former Soviet countries: there are definitely problems, but the picture that the Western media gives of them is one-sided and less than accurate. I mentioned that I speak reasonably good Russian and that should be a major advantage for settling into life over there.

hala mass: Amazing! I love AskMeFi! Whatever the question, there are always those with first-hand experience! Thanks a lot!
posted by auctor at 4:42 PM on April 3, 2013

[OP, cool that you're excited but you don't have to reply to every comment individually.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2013

I would much rather end up at a decent liberal arts college that gives an opportunity to do some research with undergrads.

My other options include lower-tier state universities or teaching-oriented liberal arts colleges, but that's kind of a dead end...

If your goal is to end up at a liberal arts college and you have a job at one as one of your options, why aren't you taking it? I'm not trying to be combative, it just seems like you haven't defined clearly for yourself what your career goal is and how much you're willing to give up in order to achieve it. I think you need to figure that out first and then figure out where and if a job in Kazakhstan fits in with those goals.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 5:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

If I weren't Jewish, and I was freshly minted with limited job prospects, is do it. Blog about you experiences, write about the culture, etc. this corner of the world is exotic and interesting and it could be the best experience of your life.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you know very little about the quality of work there. Can you talk to some of the people who have visited from those solid american universities who partner with them? (Preferably somebody in your field. Maybe they could even answer this question you've post in a mentorly sort of way.) Very important for me would be to have rich contact with the faculty and students before deciding---and it seems you won't even know what the grad students will be for a few years.

I have a bit of experience visiting a law school in Almaty (really more of a law-focused high school) that had an exchange with a big 10 American law school. I can't say anything about Nazarbayev University, but I've got a nervous vibe based on the limited amount of information you've got to work with so far, and I take the name-brands of the partnerships with a big grain of salt. I'd guess a PD would wind up a better bet.

Ruthless B, I don't think anti-Semitism is too bad in Kazakhstan. In fact I just googled and found this:
According to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, "Anti-Semitism is not prevalent in Kazakhstan and rare incidents are reported in the press,"

posted by spbmp at 8:11 PM on April 3, 2013

matildatakesovertheworld: Let me clarify. 4-year colleges greatly vary both in selectivity and in teaching/research balance. Yes, all of them can be described as "teaching oriented", but that can mean anything from a 2+2 teaching load and taking pride in carrying out and publishing meaningful research with undergrads to a 5+5 teaching load (including some online classes) and little time for anything else. My current options tend more towards the latter category, my dreams - towards the former. If NU were an American university (or if I were sure that it actually is what it makes out to be), I would probably go there without a second thought.

spbmp: The university is very new. The department I applied to is hiring more faculty this year than they already have. I would be the first person working in my field. I would say, it is a bit premature to judge the university's research accomplishments and/or potential at this point. That automatically means that the risk of going there is high. The question is whether the risk is worth it?
posted by auctor at 11:17 PM on April 3, 2013

If you want to go, go.

Make an exit plan, but other than that: don't think about it, do it.
posted by tel3path at 6:45 AM on April 4, 2013

That automatically means that the risk of going there is high. The question is whether the risk is worth it?

This is the fundamental question, but only you can answer it because only you know your own tolerance for risk. Consider the following possible outcomes:

Scenario 1: By the time you hit the job market again in 3 years, NU has built itself into an internationally-respected university that people who read your apps will have heard of and understand. During those three years, you are able to get grants, do independent research, and publish in your field; you travel to workshops and conferences that give you the opportunity to successfully network; you have stimulating colleagues and students; and you have an Excellent Central Asian Adventure.

Scenario 2: At the end of three years, NU is still an unknown quantity. You find it difficult adjusting to a new culture, new bureaucracy, and new academic environment, which makes carving out your own research agenda difficult, and your publication record suffers. You aren't able to travel to the conferences and workshops you want to because of distance and lack of funding, and your networking potential suffers. Your colleagues and students are disappointing because, to be blunt, they are the kind of people who take jobs or go to study in Kazakhstan. You are lonely and isolated.

Scenario 3: The whole thing implodes. The government pulls funding for some obscure reason. Your are stuck in a bad (or no) job in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunately, no one can tell you which of these scenarios (or some other one) is most likely, because NU is a completely unknown quantity at this point. I lean towards Scenario 2 being most likely, but what do I know? Ultimately, this decision is going to come down to how much risk you can tolerate. Are you willing to risk the possibility of Scenario 2 or 3 so that you have a shot at Scenario 1? Or does the possibility make you anxious? Try taking an online risk tolerance quiz and see where you fall.
posted by googly at 7:17 AM on April 4, 2013

It sounds like you're pretty stoked about going, and if you're looking for an adventure, this will definitely be one!

But as a stepping stone to another academic STEM position, I think it's a very dicey proposition:
  1. Even in the US, I'd be very cautious about joining a new department/uni because of the inevitable "growing pains" (getting curricula running smoothly, attracting students, &c.), the sparse intellectual environment, and the unknown quality of the institution's research (both to you and to the broader community when you decide to leave). All those concerns are orders of magnitude worse when the country itself is in transition.
  2. There are lots of warning bells in the Chron fora (cronyism, incomplete pay/reimbursements, faculty crowding, poor library/lab facilities). To those I would add the general caution that not everything in Russia & the Republics is as it appears, and the more specific note that there are rampant cheating/bribery problems that are really shocking by US standards. I'm NOT saying that NU has a cheating problem -- I think we'd have read about it if it did -- but I want to caution you that "average high school GPA is 4.8/5.0" may not be especially meaningful.
  3. Even with a couple trips per year, you will be isolated from your peers in the field: the distance and the time difference will make any sort of collaboration (particularly with the US) burdensome. You'll also be at a university that is pretty much a complete unknown, so your visibility in the international research community (which, to be blunt, really means "western research community") will be nil. Combined with the fact that the uni is new and the department is small, you will likely be completely isolated both globally and locally.
  4. For those same reasons, it's going to be harder to find a job in the US if you decide to return. As LarryC pointed out, interviewing will be hard. To that I would also add that evaluating you will be hard. Your success in getting grant funding in Kazakhstan doesn't necessarily imply that you'd be competitive for grant funding in the US, for instance. The quality of NU as an institution will be unknown to those on the search committees. And the number of people who would know your work and could recommend you will be hampered by your geographic & academic isolation.
All things considered, if your primary goal is to end up at a decent liberal arts college with research opportunities, I think you will be much better served by taking a postdoc, VAP, or a faculty position at a lower-tier/teaching-oriented college than by taking this position. But if that's less important to you and you're OK with finding a plan-B, go for it!
posted by Westringia F. at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also... I noticed that in a previous AskMe you mentioned being in the physical sciences. The physics dept at Nazarbayev has a reputation for having severe issues. Personally, I'd recommend avoiding it even if you are looking for an adventurous opportunity -- you don't need the shadow of that dysfunctionality hanging over you & your work! There are more rewarding adventures to be had.
posted by Westringia F. at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2013

googly: I think Scenario 3 is unlikely, so long as Nazarbayev does not die or retire. He has a long-standing interest in international education (Bolashak program). Scenario 1 is also unlikely: it takes more than 3 years to build a major research university. Scenario 2 is realistic, but it may not be as dark as you paint it. My interaction with faculty and students (granted, limited) suggests that they are enthusiastic about this venture. Also, I am not the kind of person who tends to be miserable. So the real dangers are: a hit to my publication record and network. I will try to assess what I could do about those areas of concern. The likely rewards are: a decent job for at least three years, lecturing experience, experience in a startup project, foreign experience. If NU does better than expected, that would be a perk.

Westringia F.: All valid points to seriously consider. And yes, I am aware of the physics situation, but that's not the department I applied to.
posted by auctor at 11:15 AM on April 4, 2013

[OP at this point we're going to ask you to stop threadsitting. This thread is not intended to be an extended conversation. Feel free to follow up with people on MeMail.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2013

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