October 26, 2010
cross posting from Scientopia:
The Society for Neuroscience has announced the bloggers which have been selected for official recognition and promotion during the 2010 Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego (Nov 13-17).
Theme A: Development
www.functionalneurogenesis.com/blog/ (Twitter @jsnsndr)
http://geneticexpressions.wordpress.com/ (Twitter @geneticexpns)
Theme B: Neural Excitability, Synapses, Glia: Cellular Mechanisms
www.hillaryblakeley.net (Twitter @hillaryjoy)
Theme C: Disorders of the Nervous System
http://houseofmind.tumblr.com (Twitter @houseofmind)
Theme D: Sensory and Motor Systems
http://blog.pascallisch.net/ (Twitter @Pascallisch)
http://neuromusings.com (The Neuro Dilettante – Twitter @neurodilettante)
www.davidderiso.com (Twitter @davederiso)
Theme E: Homeostatic and Neuroendocrine Systems
www.dormivigilia.com (Twitter @Beastlyvaulter)
Theme F: Cognition and Behavior
http://neurosci.tumblr.com (Twitter @aechase)
http://neuroblog.stanford.edu (Twitter @stanfordneuro)
Theme H: History, Teaching, Public Awareness, and Societal Impacts in Neuroscience
http://khawaja-sfn2010.blogspot.com (Twitter @thekhawaja)
I encourage you to check them out, comment, read and put them on your list for the week of the meeting. Especially if you cannot attend in person.
Ed relates the sad tale of a kid who brings his parents’ pot to school and rats them out to the po-po.
It’s pretty obvious, right? Getting kids to turn their parents in to the authorities is pretty, well, 1984 . Fascist.
Yes, yes it is.
but how is discourse served by this stupid gotcha journalism of the absurd?
It is not. and this is why Ed irritates me when he spews out this nonsense without a single bit of perspective beyond the kneejerk civil liberties position.
A questioner brings the right point to the table.
So where’s the cutoff? Is armed robbery reportable but burglary not? If the parents were running a meth lab, would that be enough of a risk that you’d support the child informing? How about a marijuana operation where Mexican drug cartel personnel were in and out of the house constantly?
Exactly. What is the principle at stake here? Should children not be informing on their parents for any type of legal infraction? That actually makes sense to me as a workable principle, akin to spouses not having to testify against each other.
How would this work though? Would a bust that originates with a child of the suspect be ruled out of the courtroom evidence? That would seem to be a remedy.
Or are you asking children to pick and freaking choose what represents a beyond-the-pale crime versus a wink-wink, we-disagree-civilly-disobediently?
That is a bullshit principle, to put that sort of burden on children.
Ed, you can do better. There are complexities here in terms of the application of principle to public policy. You often do better with similarly complex issues. Just not when it comes to the drug laws that you don’t like.
October 21, 2010
I’m sort of curious about those of you who don’t see the appeal in Donor’s Choose. Don’t get me wrong, I pick and choose my philanthropy efforts too-we can all only do so much. So I’m not criticizing, just wondering.
Are your philanthropy dollars being spent elsewhere? On what sorts of causes?
Are you too poor to spare $10?
Do you have a philosophical problem with having to raise funds for what should be public funded education?
Are you not seeing the value in the projects that are asking for your support?
We’re all anonymous here so be honest.
October 20, 2010
…but have you donated? All it takes to feel all warm and fuzzy inside is to throw down $5 or $10, maybe $25, in support of a classroom that needs support for science-related activities.
It’s a battle of the Biologists, a clash of the Chemists, a grapple of the Geologists, an opposition of the Oceanographers, a face-off of the Physicists!
October 10th through November 9th, science bloggers from far and wide will compete to see who can deliver the most supplies to students across the country.
Want to throw your hat in the ring? Create a Giving Page!
The Leaderboard has Scienceblogs.com at the top with $5,259 raised from 78 donors. The readers of Discover Magazine Blogs clock in second with $4,203 from 46 donors. Scientopia is breathing down Disco’s neck at $4,172 from 60 donors. Ocean and Geo Bloggers ($2,199; 47 donors) are outpointing Lab Spaces ($1,884; 38 donors ), but I look for LS to make a strong run- the bloggers have been getting after it for this year’s drive. WIRED science blogs ($262; 3 donors) and a collection of independent bloggers ($221; 8 donors) are contributing as well.
I encourage you to click over to the DrugMonkey Blog Challenge and donate. Seriously. Every $5 makes a difference. Every donor counts. Even if you don’t like the ones I’ve selected, browse the other challenges or just browse the whole Donor’s Choose project list. Kids need to be excited about science, learning and education. This is one small way we can make a difference folks.
October 19, 2010
October 18, 2010
…and this is a story about political attitudes and behavior.
First, the bottom line from PalMD:
While many may cringe at the paternalistic nature of public health laws, few complain about the availability of clean water and the notable absence of open sewers.
I lived through the smoking ban enacted in bars and restaurants and I couldn’t be more delighted. Although I was never particularly bothered by the smoke, no more than most that is, I certainly noticed the lack after the bans went through. No more smelly hair and clothes. No more changing the pillowcases after a night out because the smoke smell went from hair to the pillow like clockwork.
Since I’m not a smoker there was no problem.
But oh, you should have heard the caterwauling. Personal liberty was being infringed! (Never mind the liberty of others to be free from annoyance of smoke, eh? Why do the libertarians always forget that?) Business will be AffEcTed! Bars will close. Nobody will buy alcohol anymore! Nobody will go out to dine.
Naturally this never came to pass in my region of the world. Nor did it in a myriad of other jurisdictions that passed smoking bans.
And here is a tale from a bartender who was practically on the ramparts to oppose the smoking ban. Changing. His. Mind. Based on the results of the policy as he personally experienced it.
And it was at that moment, silently of course, that I grudgingly had to thank old Mayor Bloomberg. For regardless of what his motivation was and regardless of the fact that he did it with an iron fist, the son-of-a-gun when it’s all said and done was right. The good, as it all turns out, outweighs the bad. And not just because of the major things, of which we are all aware, but the minor things of which you’re about to read…
Test out a policy change, evaluate the outcome. If you are originally opposed to the policy….what do you do? Do you leave your ego at the door and really look at the data? Or do you stick to your guns no matter what the evidence?
Scribbler is a standup guy for admitting he was wrong. May we all be able to do the same when public policies have results that are demonstrably better than our initial preferences.
October 13, 2010
Some cancer researcher named Scott E. Kern, M.D. published one of those grouchfestos about how scientific trainees these days are lazy and don’t work enough at the bench. Of course normally these types just content themselves with a letter to their lab which occasionally, hilariously hits the Intertoobs for everyone’s enjoyment. Of course, these screeds are almost always dripping with the privilege of having been a trainee at a time far removed from the present. A time when a single scientist’s salary supported a family life and the American Dream, when female spouses were much more likely to pick up the slack on the homefront, when it was acceptable to be an out-of-touch Dad because PraiseTheLord this science stuff was….important!
There is another angle to this story and it has to do with worker protections. I’ll direct you to this excellent reminder of why we have labor laws that protect all of us from the completely obvious logic that we should work 80 hrs a week at our jobs, whatever they may be.
Let us return to the days before May of 1918. Young children can be trained to run gels and staff the centrifuges of our nation’s cancer research centers. Piecework and child labor made this nation strong once before. Let them be wielded once more as mighty weapons in the War on Cancer. A beneficial side effect is that many children, like the slate pickers, will likely be exposed to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances, since the little dickens just aren’t always so careful and clever as they think they are. So they can work for us while simultaneously serving as de facto research subjects, and think of the cost savings with that kind of vertical integration!
This brings me back to the fact that a couple of commenters have been going at it in the comments here this week over whether Americans are lazy and deserve to be outpaced by eager beaver immigrants.
Well, turns out the idea of being overworked is as American as apple pie.
According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.
This analysis couldn’t possible apply to St. Kern’s screed, could it?
Someone is profiting, it just isn’t the average postdoctoral trainee in American labs.
Is it the cancer victim that is profiting? or is it the PI who heads a large lab group that is profiting from the overworked scientific trainee?
October 7, 2010
There is a huge amount of confusion floating around out there about the relative advantage of the Early Stage Investigator or New Investigator status when it comes to applying for NIH grants. This status, that of never having been the PI of a major NIH research project grant before, currently results in special consideration of your application. Study section is supposed to make special allowances. There are structural review issues such as the order in which applications are considered and the obligation not to disproportionately triage these applications at play.
Most importantly, the NIH ICs have been adopting various policies with respect to their funding decisions to advantage applications from ESI (and NI in some cases) applicant PIs. Most understandably, by adopting a different payline. So, e.g. if perhaps the regular payline is 10th percentile, the ESI payline might be 15th percentile.
In our current climate of dismal success rates and low paylines, people are clinging to any hope of advantaging their case. Unfortunately, there is a little bit of missing-the-forest-for-the-trees that emerges when it comes to ESI/NI status.
Gerty-Z is only a handy and recent example.
Now, maybe the n00b status isn’t a big deal, but I am consistently told otherwise by my mentors (as an Asst. Prof). I just wonder if these young investigators wouldn’t be better off in the K99/R00 program, which does require a tt appointment and doesn’t take away your new investigator status.
October 7, 2010
Scienceblogs.com was the entity that got me hooked on reading scientific blogging. Truth be told, the entity that got me reading blogs at all. I somehow missed the ascendancy of the tech blog and the political blog.
Now, they are dying. Swirling the drain, just waiting for the plug to be pulled.
and by “they”, I mean “we”. Yeah, I’m still blogging there. More or less to-rule, but I’m there.
By my count they’ve lost about half of the traditional blogs over the summer. Nothing has emerged to replace that content. I click on my old favorite, the last-24 hrs feed and all I see is Pharyngula, Ed Brayton and Greg Laden. Not that I don’t still enjoy the content they provide now and again but…it has become tedious.
I don’t really understand why. I’m sure they can still find new creative meat happy to join the collective. Sb is still a big driver of traffic after all. Newbs would be happy to sign up even, as I suggested before, if they have to offer a new non-paying model to match the other collectives that emerged over the summer months.
The editorial office overseeing blogging operations has gone from useless occasional communication to radio silence. I haven’t seen a check from them in the past four months, I doubt any of the other bloggers have either. I say this not to complain, the money really doesn’t affect my bottom daily line. I say this to observe that even after losing half the blog talent (albeit not half the traffic, thus not half the payroll), things are no better financially for this operation. It simply cannot meet its financial obligations and refuses to so much as admit or address that fact.
Damn. It is painful to watch such clusterborkery.
This FOA issued by the National Institutes of Health, solicits applications for the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5) from institutions/organizations that propose to appoint and support exceptional, early career scientists directly following the completion of their Ph.D. (or equivalent) or M.D. (or equivalent) training into an independent academic research position, thereby omitting the traditional post-doctoral training period from their career path.
Sounds interesting. How about the details? My first concern is size and scope, given the bad NIH history with “starter” awards like the R29/FIRST award and study section cultures that expected an R21 before awarding a fundable R01 score.
This DP5 program is full modular R01 size- applicants can request up to $250,000 in direct costs per year for a full 5 years. Schweet! No worries on that score.
So who is eligible to be the PI?
At the time of application, the Early Independence PI must be within 12 months before or after the completion of their Ph.D. (or equivalent) or M.D. (or equivalent) training. By the end of the award period, the PI is expected to be competitive for continued funding of his/her research program and for a permanent research position.
Hmmm, “to be competitive…for a permanent research position”. That sounds a bit dodgy to me. In the part about the application being “required” to demonstrate things, the following are key.
Evidence that the Early Independence PI will be appointed into an independent research position…A detailed description of the laboratory space to be provided…career enhancement opportunities available to the Early Independence PI, equivalent to those offered to assistant professors…opportunities for the Early Independence PIs to apply for additional research funding without being required to do so.
Soooo. The University has to pony up a non-permanent position that does not have to be at the assistant professorial rank and they have to let the person apply for additional funding. They have to do the usual claim about making space available and that yes, this is an independent position, blah de blah. It’s okay. But c’mon. The NIH is planning on handing out what amounts to an R01 and couldn’t be bothered to hold the University to an Assistant Professor appointment? When they can just deny the person tenure if they don’t like them after the 5yr award interval?
Well, they only plan to hand out 10 of these this year and a local University can only submit two applications….get your requests in