April 30, 2010
I am going to regret this.
And yet….and yet…there is a chance that this is mission relevant for my readers.
I’m going to start off with some YouTubage to soften you up.
Okay, now on to some serious grant geekery. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
April 30, 2010
April 26, 2010
“I’m a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn’t going to accomplish anything – sometimes light-hearted mockery is worthwhile.”
Me too. But it is even more delicious that this is an opportunity to test an interesting hypothesis on a global scale. Some Iranian cleric has expressed a thought not dissimilar to ones coming from the direction of US TeeVee ministers such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell. Earthquakes, dude. Earthquakes.
“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.
Oh yes, there will be science. More from McCreight:
don’t worry, I fully plan on doing some statistics after the event. I know many earthquakes happen on a daily basis, so we’re looking to see if Boobquake significantly increases the number or severity of earthquakes. Or if an earthquake strikes West Lafayette, IN and only kills me, that may be good evidence of God’s wrath as well
For fuller background see the post by Anne Jefferson at Highly Allochthonous. Context, see Stephanie Zvan’s thoughts at sexinthepublicsquare.org. To follow along the Twitt stream today use the #boobquake hashtag.
And keep your eye on the US Geological Survey Earthquake page…
April 20, 2010
Apparently every scientist I know got this spam yesterday:
Dear Joachim Schachtner
Considering your great expertise I would like to invite you to review the below appended article submitted to Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.
Please kindly communicate your decision within 3 days by logging into your Frontiers account and selecting “My Frontiers => Review Editor => Review Invitations Received”.
If you accept, you will then have 10 days to submit your review.
From these Frontiers in ding dongs who seem to send me more irrelevant email than not.
Even worse, a few of our colleagues were a little slow to realize that the stupid Frontiers outfit allowed the recipients to post to their spam list! So every reply from helpful scientists saying “um, that wasn’t supposed to go to me..” was a reply-all!!! Aggh! I can see the first one or two maybe, but who the hell doesn’t realize what is going on after that and stop with the replying already?
April 19, 2010
I can’t make this a poll because there are simply too many options and subtleties.
The question, Dear Reader, is would you please relate how postdocs are compensated, or have been compensated, in institutions/labs/situations of your experience.
A comment from me on a prior thread lays out the NIH starting pay for postdocs on NRSA awards.
and just because…i thought I’d look up the numbers my memory being what it isn’t and all… all are starting postdocs with 0 yrs prior postdoc experience.
FY97, $20, 292
I have always stuck to the NIH NRSA scale when setting my postdoctoral trainees’ salaries. The reason* I do so is that it seems to me to be the only fair way, assuming that one’s University does not set a higher default scale, to deal with a mixed bag of NIH fellows and paid-from-grant people.
I do not supplement above the payscale. Or I have not yet done so. Within my own group, the grants fluctuate over time. There are times when I could “easily afford” a few extra thousand and times when I could not. Starting to pick and choose when/who to supplement seems to me to lead to bias. You supplement person A now but three years down the road you can’t afford it for the person B- aha, BIAS! You are discriminating because you really could afford it, technically, it would just mean a bigger hit to the research program. Sticky. Also sticky is the issue of postdocs within the department being paid more / less than the person sitting next to them just because the PI is relatively flusher at that moment in time. I’m willing to use the NRSA scale as an excuse to pay my postdocs more than the PI next door if she chooses to pay less. Not so willing to tilt departmental equity “just because”.
So have at it. What were / are you paid as a postdoc? If a PI, what practices have you adopted and why?
*To my recollection I was always paid a salary consistent with the existing NRSA payscale as a postdoc. This may contribute to my viewpoint as well.
The UK has now made the 4-MMC (Meow-Meow, mephedrone) compound illegal to possess as of April 16, 2010. It will be interesting to see what pops up next as the latest waiting-to-be-criminalized recreational drug.
Apparently MDAI (5,6-Methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane; Wikipedia) is a hot prospect in the UK drug user stakes. I dunno, the go-to user forum thread on MDAI doesn’t make it look all that promising but who knows. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Legal sourcing has a way of trumping the actual quality of the high, as we’ve seen with mephedrone in the UK in the past year. My read on the user descriptions (such as they are) sure doesn’t make it seem as if mephedrone is as fun as MDMA. The primary draw seems to be that it was a reasonably good high but more importantly it was legal and available. Hmm, now where are those cannabis fans who claim that legality and ready availability of cannabis has nothing to do with use patterns?
April 17, 2010
Do the post-docs and their supporters who are agitating for a dramatic 6% increase in the NIH post-doctoral fellowship stipend levels understand that–because this scale is frequently applied by institutions to post-doc salaries supported by research grants and because research grant budgets have been and will continue to be flat–this is going to force layoffs and/or attrition of 6% of non-fellowship (which are the vast majority) post-doc positions?
April 16, 2010
sourceA report in Popular Science (authored by Jeremy Hsu) points to a recent paper published in Academic Emergency Medicine. In this, Dawes and colleagues report on an investigation on the effects of TASER on sheep intoxicated with methamphetamine (MA). I was alerted to this by Damn Good Technician who wanted a little bit of context for what would seem to be a WTF? kind of study.
The study was conducted in Dorset sheep who were anesthetized, and administered 0, 0.5, 1.0 or 1.5 mg/kg of methamphetamine HCl (curiously from dissolved Desoxyn, the approved pharmaceutical product) in an IV infusion. The drug treatment was a between subjects factor (N=4 per group) and animals were monitored for “continuous blood pressure, heart rhythm (one-lead), pulse oximetry, and capnography… Arterial blood sampling was performed at baseline, 30 minutes after the administration of the methamphetamine, and after each exposure from a TASER X26″.
To answer the question of why?, and for appropriate background on the science try a PubMed search for “cardiac TASER“. I note a study in which 5 sec of TASER didn’t cause cardiac damage or symptoms in law enforcement trainees and another showing minimal cardiac effects on law enforcement volunteers after vigorous exercise. Also of interest are the case studies of atrial fibrillation in a previously healthy adolescent and recovery of a teen in TASER induced asystole. These, a mini-review by the Dawes group and other searched papers should give you some context and support from the feeling you might have from half-remembered MSM reports over the years that TASER is suspected of being somewhat less than “safe”.
What I’m not finding right away is very much about the drug intoxicated suspect who might be TASER’d by law enforcement. Remember this guy? My best estimate was that he was acutely intoxicated with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “Ecstasy”) although that might be one of my blog interests talking. You might also wish to consider some papers found by searching PubMed for “methamphetamine cardiac toxicity“, “methamphetamine vetricular fibrillation” and “methamphetamine heart attack“.
Together this background would seem to identify a situation crying out for additional study.
April 15, 2010
This is cracking me up today:
display_tweme_list(tweme_data, “tweet-list”, false);
April 15, 2010
The NIH now has an updated (through FY 2009) series of slides and tables depicting several key stats on application submissions and success rates. Venture over the NIH Data Book page to view the carnage. It is nice that they put up the graphs but it can be a little frustrating because they don’t seem to put up much in the way of definition of terms. Although it is relatively easy to Google out the definition of “success rate” there are also slides depicting the funding rate.
Two teaser slides for my audience, as always I apologize for my inability to easily process these into readable form but you can go to the original site.
This first one shows the funding rate for grant applications from male and female PIs.
April 14, 2010
As a bit of a followup to the poll we ran on whether or not cigarettes make you high, I offer context and my thoughts. As of this writing, btw, the votes are running 44% “Yes”, 47% “No”, the balance “other” with a fair bit of commentary to the effect that “high” is not exactly the right description for nicotine.
For the background, we might as well start with the comment from SurgPA:
This started with an email from PalMD asking why doctors react much more negatively to narcotics abusers than alcohol or nicotine abusers. I hypothesized that most people view acute use of the various drugs differently. Specifically I suspected that most doctors’ gut reactions when seeing someone light a cigarette are qualitatively (and vastly) different from seeing someone shoot heroin (or snort crushed oxycontin). In short that we don’t see the act of smoking as an acute intoxication by a neuroactive substance, even if we understand it intellectually.
April 14, 2010
April 14, 2010
A recent paper set out to examine automobile driving skills in people who had previously used Ecstasy (presumptively 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA) but were currently not using. Dastrup and colleagues (2010) used a driving simulator task in which the job was to maintain a set distance behind a lead vehicle (LV) displayed on the computer screen. The job was to stay abut two car lengths (given as 18 meters) behind the LV while accelerating to 55mph.
My Google U conversion calculation makes 55 mph out to be about 25 meters / sec. I would therefore estimate the closing time between the cars as about 0.4-0.5 seconds, depending on car length and how much space you assume between these lengths. Thereafter the LV changed speed as depicted in the Figure 2 from the paper.
The horizontal line sits at the 55 mph point and you can see that the speed of the LV varies up to about 59 mph and down to about 51 mph with the maximum change taking place over about 18-20 seconds. .