December 17, 2010
The goodbye post is here, stop by and drop a note of thanks.
I’ve certainly enjoyed reading her perspectives over the past several years and I know many of you have as well. Whether you’ve agreed, disagreed or had other reactions it has been a quintessential life-in-academia type of blog….and a good one.
As my reader’s know, I’m all about the differing viewpoints. I feel quite strongly that none of us gets more than a tiny pinhole of a window on so-called objective reality. It is through listening to the experiences of others that we best broaden our view and especially when it comes to academic careers, this is a very good thing.
Personally, of course, I’m grateful that MsPhD getting all angry about this blog post of mine at my original WordPress home really accelerated my audience.
My post was published at the end of August, 2007 and hers appeared in early September so the data are relatively clean. Naturally her fellow disgruntledocs came over to beat me up and, well, …you know how much PP and I enjoy that sort of discussion. I think you can see the sustained effect, not atypical for new blogs.
Getting back to the question of perspectives and “truth”, MsPhD’s current post includes this comment:
Between being completely sidelined by other bloggers who act like I’m just too crazy to be right,
At least from my point of view this is not the issue. I am familiar with at least one PI out of whose lab a person could easily have the experiences as described by MsPhD in the course of her blogging. The question is rather whether these situations are common to all of science or are relatively rare. I certainly come down on the side of rarer-than-described-by-MsPhD and that has led to numerous of our disagreements. I also feel that there are always steps one can take to advantage oneself in a bad training environment and I clearly have a lot of company in this among the science-blogs and associated commentariat. Therein lay much opportunity for discussing common problems in academic careers and we should all be grateful to MsPhD for being the focal point for so many good discussions.
Although I’m a latecomer to YFS, I still regret that the commentary, particularly on her blog, was at times fairly personal and also that MsPhD appears to take every generalization of her scenarios as personal. Personally, I tried to make it clear where I was generalizing the situation but that doesn’t always work, particularly when one perceives that one is a target. Clearly she’d been having similar discussions long before I even found science blogs, so it isn’t like it is anyone’s fault in particular. Ultimately there is only so much generalizing one can do when launching from a personal anecdote. Still, it is important in all of this to recognize and extract the general career advice that emerges from the various discussions. I would advise all readers, old and new, of the various excellent discussions sparked by MsPhD to try to view debates as a contrast of experiences and viewpoint, rather than a contrast of personalities or individuals.
Happy trails, MsPhD. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
December 14, 2010
The Monitoring the Future epidemiological survey of drug use in the US has announced some of their updated data today. As always, you can go to their website and look at the figures yourself. The monographs with expanded data tables and summaries can be found here, the current year’s data will be published in June, I think, so until then you’ll have to be satisfied with the selected figures on the website.
December 9, 2010
A bunch of refugees from the Nature Network blogging outfit have set up shop as Occam’s Typewriter. Very nice. Been waiting to hear about this since the mutterings over at Nature Network turned ugly a few months back. Okay, maybe it was several months back. Anyway, we can consider this part of the great 2010 science-blog-collective asplosion.
The lineup includes our good blog friend Cath who brought VWXYNot? aboard. Also Stephen Curry (Reciprocal Space) who I’ve usually found to not only be readable but a decent conversationalist on blog, you know, as a relative matter. Of course they also have spittle boy, but whatevs. whatevs.
Overall I think you will find that this collective contains most of the chatty in-crowd from the glory days of Nature Network so if that’s your kind of thing, you will find yourself quickly at home over there.
Powered by WordPress- Brilliant, as the British types would have it. Should allow them to act like a real blog community and view their stats and referrals and stuff. Big ups there.
They seem to have brought over some of the more conversation-stifling aspects of Nature Network (see community guidelines) which seem to boil down to “no sockin’ and no swearin’”. Can’t say I think that’s positive but given the lineup I’m unsurprised.
At least they have ditched the registration-to-comment millstone. So a bit of a win there.
The Irregulars will be a guest column type of blog, pretty good idea. In fact such a good idea that one wonders where they came up with it? Hmm. Well, since another one of their community guidelines is “No stealin’ (without attribution)” I’m sure that isn’t anything like what it looks to be…
One stylistic element that is unusual for a collective is that once off in the sub-blogs there is not a lot of navigational help in getting to the other ones. There’s a small text link at the top to get back to the collective main page but otherwise we’ll be left up individual sidebar choices, I guess.
Latest comments feed is a good idea and will help with cross-blog integration and navigation if you make use of it. Always a tricky thing because if you have a firehose of too many comments it gets unwieldy. But they should stay small and focused for a good while I would think.
December 8, 2010
Graduate school does have formal coursework, as most new to the process assume. It just doesn’t last very long, not much beyond the first year or two in most cases that I am familiar with. It can be excellent or dismal, depending on the degree to which the faculty as a whole think it is a waste of time better spent on running experiments. For both students and instructors.
Compromises are struck in the professoriat’s unending quest to shed teaching responsibility so that they can focus on the only thing that makes or breaks their careers- scientific output.
One such compromise is the team-taught course in which a number of profs are rounded up to do a lecture or three. This leads to the following scenario, hilarious distilled by Samia of 49 percent blog:
Each unit of every course is taught by multiple instructors from various departments, so each exam is really a bundle of mini-tests that are graded separately and using entirely different (and sometimes mysterious) criteria. Since every professor is lecturing on their Favouritest and Most Special Part of Science THAT NO ONE ELSE RESPECTS *rips shirt off*, we get about 100000000x more information than most of us will probably need.
Guilty as charged, Your Honor.
December 7, 2010
Seeing how it is December, it is time for a year in review. There is no better bloggy way than this meme.
The rules for this blog meme are quite simple.
-Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.
For your browsing pleasure, I’ll round up…
Twelve Months of
- The Prodigal Academic
- Deep Sea News
- The Spandrel Shop (Prof-like Substance)
- The Urban Ethnographer (kdcosta)
- Genomic Repairman
- Pondering Blather (Odyssey)
- Anthropology in Practice
- Thus Spake Zuska
- The Thoughtful Animal (Jason G. Goldman)
- It’s a Micro World after all (Thomas Joseph)
- Denim and Tweed (Yoder)
December 7, 2010
dying of a compound fractured leg- totes natural
assorted infections and pathogens- the human species has survived them for millenia, they are TOTES natural!
Black Plague death of millyuns- NATURAL!
Myopia is motherfucking NATURE talking to your ass!
I am not truly ALIVE as a motherfucking MAN of the Homo sapiens (hear me fucking ROAR) unless I make it without any fucking sissy ass trappings of modern life that make it less risky to be…ALIVE!!!!!!
YES! Natural F. T. M. H. W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Oh, and if you need a motherfucking “doula” to assist with the birth you’ve crossed that bescumbered rubicon of the uNnatUral already—-GET THEE TO YON THICKET, O GRAVID-PERSON!!!!)
the current argument seems to be that if you get some perfectly manicured “low risk” pregnancy and you have a “birth center” (with well trained staff*) right across the street from an emergency room than everything comes up roses in the data. And nevermind at all that this carefully constructed argument is going to be used to extend to homebirthing and high-risk or medium-risk pregnancies. nevermind low incidence “we didn’t see THAT one coming” emergencies, etc. and then they have the the chutzpah to compare to average or worst-case in-hospital situations as far as I can tell. Or point to anecdotes about fuckups as a triumphant argument.
You have to be kidding me.
*and I am certainly more about the specific training then I am about a MD.
Go Read The Tragic Deathtoll of Homebirth.
There is a long tradition of Congressional members trying to whip up a little support from their base by going after federally funded extramural research projects of the NIH. I have described some of this here and here.
You will note the trend, this has by and large been an effort of socially conservative Republican Congress Critters to attack projects that focus on issues of sexual behavior, drug taking, gender identity, homosexuality, etc. We know this is their focus because despite talking about “waste” of federal money they make no effort to realistically grapple with cost/benefit. No doubt because in their view the only necessary solution to behavioral health issues is “Stop it! If you can’t then you must be morally inferior and do not deserve any public concern”.
You will also note that they don’t really mean it in many cases. You’ll see this blather when they know they have no chance of getting the votes. In a prior case I reviewed, the complainers identified cancer as being a “real” concern worthy of funding, and then picked on a cancer-related project. A long while back when I first got interested (and I can’t remember the specific details- it was a psychology type grant on beautifying dorm rooms or something), the Congress Critter’s amendment specified an existing specific grant year- there was no way that I could see that the funds can be retrieved in such a situation. So you could see where much of this is just naked political posturing with no intent of actually doing anything. But still…it continues the anti-science environment and political memery. So we should address it.
Cackle of Rad has tipped us to a new effort by Rep Eric Cantor (R; VA) and Adrian Smith (R; NE) to invite you, the public, to identify NSF projects that irritate you. One assumes they think the public should be allowed to vote the projects out of funding.
Now, admittedly, I find the specific examples to be refreshing and new
December 1, 2010
Since we’re in the holiday season between Thanksgiving to Christmas, I’m thinking a little more than usual about cooking. So I posted a couple of recipes for people that don’t have time for recipe war extravaganzas like Dr. Isis* and PhysioProf** did. Thought you all that haven’t made it over to Scientopia yet might want a look.
If I have any talents in the kitchen, I describe them as being a cook. I’m not a gourmet chef like MarkCC of Good Math, Bad Math (I mean seriously? get out!) and the two aforementioned recipe warriors. I mean, I can handle a complicated recipe and all and I do like that style of food smithing now and again. But where I really come alive is in opening the fridge, finding whatever is in there and trying to make something tasty based around the basic starches. Pasta. Rice. Potatoes. Or from a hunk of insert-meat-here. Or even from “There’s nothing to eat in here honeee!”
My spouse bakes. Oh, this is fantastic because if there is one thing I really don’t do in the kitchen it is bake. I can manage to not screw up a cheesecake too badly but… yeah, the oven and I do not get along. The range is my friend.
My spouse, OTOH, isn’t much of a cook. Recipe’d meals, no problem, and it all comes out tasty. Some of the signature work from that part of the household is awesome. But there just isn’t the same love there that I have for cooking. For having a basic knowledge of how you cook particular ingredients and throwing them together as variations on the basic themes for decidedly unfancy meal preparation.
I wonder how many of you all have this division of talent when it comes to food preparation? It isn’t like we did this by design but for the most part this balance of preferences works out well.
Hey, how ’bout a little poll? Select all that apply…
Whoa, that was a diversion. Anyway, back to the point. Recipes for the rest of us.
Slow cooker split pea soup
*mmmmm, carnitas. another recipe from Namnezia.
**credit where due, this recipe single handedly put me back on brussel sprouts. I hadn’t eaten them in probably two decades or more.