About Daniel Bull

What follows is a brief bio of Daniel Bull (that’s me) as of August 21, 2023

Born and raised in Detroit, I never realized my family was not wealthy. We always had food on the table, we always had a roof over our heads, and I was healthy. These three are still the only sine qua non elements for a productive life.

Since money was not a surplus commodity for us, and since I had acted out in high school, ending up in the bottom half of my class, college for me meant either a community college or a land-grant college. I chose the latter, and I chose one of the standard “upwardly mobile” careers, engineering. After two years of this, my grades were sufficiently good to allow me to attend one of the world’s best state universities. This marked the beginning of the transformation of my life, although it turned out to be a painfully slow process. Still, it was in Ann Arbor that I apprehended how performing arts, music, and literature were keys to an examined life so cherished by Socrates, or at least so says Plato.

Trained as an engineer, I received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering (Biochemical Engineering) from the University of Michigan studying under the tutelage of the late Prof. LLoyd Kempe. My thesis was on enzyme kinetics in bacterial systems, especially related to oxygen utilization. I was the first National Institutes of Health Bioengineering Trainee, and the stipend paid most of my graduate school expenses.

Although I had a few opportunities for an academic career, my first job, believe it or not, was with a multinational oil company. Even though I was involved in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) all through the sixties, I was sufficiently naive to think I could do good work within the system. My putative task at this oil company was to study the use of certain yeasts to produce protein from paraffins, undesirable in gasoline and relatively useless byproducts of certain waxy crudes. The hype was that yeasts could metabolize these paraffins, thereby producing protein from petroleum. Although true in principle, it would be very problematic economically. And in any case, since we are running out of petroleum, such a product would not be sustainable. I very quickly realized that the program was “window-dressing” and a useful topic for the CEO to mention in his speeches, and fostering the illusion that the company could be counted among the good guys.

This deceptive practice continues to this day, and many, many still foolishly believe this sort of baseless propaganda. When you hear about giant corporations becoming “green” be sure you have a great deal of salt on hand.

Anyway, I still had not learned my lesson. Forsaking the oil industry (the company was glad to see me go – my hair was too long for Oklahoma, and so on) I took a research position at a giant pharmaceutical company. At least it got me close to New York. Now I was screening microbes for elaboration of pharmacologically active compounds. A laudable endeavor one would think. But no, this too was a miasma of greedy profit-seekers at the top and narcissistic egomaniacals in the trenches.

On one occasion I went to my Director and proposed a project based upon certain observations I had made in my labs. My Director pooh-poohed the idea, and I decided not to push the matter. In less than a year he and a colleague published a paper based directly on this idea. When I confronted him, he denied that there was any connection at all. This paper became, for a couple of years, one of the most cited papers in the field.

I recount this tale not because my tender sensibilities had been violated, but because my eyes were opened. The operations of major corporations pursued either pecuniary greed or a quest for fame and notoriety or both.

Still mired in my own stupidity, I thought perhaps a small company would be better. I became an officer in a small manufacturing company, and quickly became disabused of any notion that acting as a positive influence in the world guided this company in any fashion.

By this time, I had formulated many of my anti-capitalist views, but I saw no way to operate outside that world. My last, best hope was to form a company on my own and try to run it the way I hoped all corporations might operate: with compassion toward all and with community to bond the participants. By the time we had eighteen or twenty employees and a couple of million in annual revenues, this too fell apart through the embezzling activities of my partner who “loved me like a brother” and the drug habits of his spouse.When I tried to dissolve this company in an orderly fashion, I found to my dismay that all of the employees just thought of me as the boss with infinitely deep pockets. Nearly everything of value, including manufacturing machinery and computers was stolen before I had the good sense to change the locks.

One final experience before I gave up the corporate world for good. With many bills to pay, I took a position as Director of Engineering for a firm that made parts for armaments, that is missiles, in one division, and pollution control instrument systems in another. The owner of this company agreed that I would not be called upon to work for the military division (it was just a part of a minority set-aside in any event), but I was soon fired because I refused to sign off on use of non-explosion-proof instruments in a hazardous plant, ironically being made for the same giant pharmaceutical company I had left in disgust some years earlier.

All of these accounts are anecdotal, but they compelled me to educate myself about how the modern financial capitalist world operates and I realized how so many destructive forces at loose in the world could be laid at the doorstep on the corporate/capitalist model of economic activity. I am now, among many other things, hard at work on a manuscript about why many of the more salient aspects of this model must be stopped. So here I am. I am trying to live out the remainder of my life writing what I hope to be works of at least moderate literary quality. This writing is what gives me joy and fulfillment.

I have deliberately confined these paragraphs to my professional experiences, leaving out my personal life almost completely. Suffice it to say that after losing my first wife at age 34 to an auto-immune disease, I have been married for over thirty-six years to a woman I love dearly. I have three beautiful daughters, a result of a merged family, two wonderful grandsons aged 15 and 13, and the most beautiful granddaughter on the face of the earth eleven years old.