The web side of The Oklahoman reports that the president of Oklahoma State University has blocked some studies on anthrax from going forward:

Veterinary medicine researchers were told by e-mail last month that OSU President Burns Hargis wouldn’t allow the National Institutes of Health-funded project, even though an internal faculty committee had spent more than a year setting out protocol for the care and use of the primates.
Veterinary scientists say the decision was sudden and arbitrary, and now they fear the president may call for ending other projects involving animal research.
OSU administrators declined to comment for this story, but released a statement through OSU spokesman Gary Shutt stating “this research was not in the best interest of the university. The testing of lethal pathogens on primates would be a new area for OSU that is controversial and is outside our current research programs.”

ERV, in her inimitable style, called shenanigans.

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November 30, 2009

“Your pumpkin pie slice skin, your caramel corn nice skin, your toffee wrapped, ginger snapped, cinnamon spice skin!”

A Twitt from occasional commenter @szvan alerted me to this blog post pointing to an AP story about the recent State Dinner hosted by the President and First Lady. The blog post was updated to say the AP story had been subsequently edited to redact the offending bit [ edited version ] but I was able to screen capture what seems to be the original version. Anybody spot the problem?


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A recent bit in the Vancouver Courier touts another clinical trial for MDMA as adjunctive therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you haven’t been following along some of my prior observations are here, here, here. If you want everything I’ve opined on this drug, click the MDMA link under the archive.
I was just talking about main stream media accounts and how they generate an inaccurate impression by making comments that are, in isolation, more or less true but add up to an incorrect impression. In this case it was two quotes from the psychiatrist in charge of the Vancouver clinical trial.

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Our good blogfriend DrJ&MrsH has prepared a manuscript for your review. It contains such observations as:

Despite no obvious size disparity, Righty consistently delivered more product than Lefty. Across all observations (n = 50), Righty matched or outpaced Lefty (Fig. 1).

Our data were consistent with this finding (Fig. 3), although the fucking ANOVA is only 0.07. I went ahead and ran the T-tests anyhow… Disregarding the ANOVA made me feel naughty.

Happy Reviewing!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

To you DearReader, whether in the US or not. This is our day for reflecting on that for which we are thankful in our lives.
I am deeply thankful to you all for stopping by on occasion and reading what we have to say. I am especially grateful for those who bother to comment, whether it be to deliver a quick agreement or a lengthy smackdown of Your Humble Narrator.
Have a fantastic vacation if you are in the US and have a great normal day if you are not.

Okay people, now that you are all fired up about the plight of the poor undergraduates of the UC system, let’s get to work. What would you do to keep the undergraduates from having to pay more for tuition and fees?
How about this proposal from some UCSD faculty to close a campus or two?

We suggest, more generally, that in discussions systemwide, you drop the pretence that all campuses are equal, and argue for a selective reallocation of funds to preserve excellence, not the current disastrous blunderbuss policy of even, across the board cuts. Or, if that is too hard, we suggest that what ought to be done is to shut one or more of these campuses down, in whole or in part.

You have to come up with anywhere from $100-$300 million dollars folks so get creative!

Regents board Chairman Richard Blum and Yudof placed the blame on state government, which is expected to cut UC’s $3 billion in general revenue funding by at least $115 million next year and not cover an additional $200 million or more in increased salaries and other costs.

It may have escaped your attention but every so often we try to provide some practical career advice. Grant writing, job applications and interviews, that sort of thing. The posts by PhysioProf are usually particularly well received.
Today, he has agreed to supply a video of how he plots a response strategy with his co-authors after receiving a typical set of reviewer comments. (We ask that you keep any speculation as to his actual identity to yourselves.)
I think you will find this instructive.

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UC undergraduate whiners

November 24, 2009

The University of California undergraduates have been protesting and complaining and generally whinging about the recent decision of the UC Regents to up their fees by 32%, making tuition and fees about $10,000 per year. The national average is about $7,000 but that source has no range info.
Well, I was around one of the UC campuses during a rather long-distant prior episode of this sort of thing. The students were unjustifiable whiners then and they still are now.

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As we reach the pinnacle of the drinking season (Thanksgiving through New Years) many people not in the business are thinking about addiction. It may be a concerned reflection on our own behavior over the past* coming month or so. It may arise from unusual levels of contact with our distant relations or family friends. Even though drinking, even to excess, is socially approved sometimes one starts to ….wonder.

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I am amused.

I am grateful to occasional reader and commenter Klem for putting me on the track of an older story. Klem was trying to argue that the authorities in Canada have long been issuing warning about non-MDMA content of “Ecstasy” and about the methamphetamine in particular. This is not news to me, of course. I am not unaware of the problem of non-MDMA psychoactive content of putative “Ecstasy” obtained on the illicit market. What I attempt to address, of course, is the seeming default assumption in the news reporting and subsequent reader comments that every case of Ecstasy fatality must have been caused by something (anything) other than 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine.
Klem cites some 2005 reporting out of Vancouver and I was struck by this comment in the story.

A 13-year-old girl died in September when she took what she and friends believed was ecstasy they bought from a street dealer in Victoria.
Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Island, said an amphetamine overdose was suspected in Mercedes-Rae Clarke’s death.

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Canada. Again. This time in Whistler:

A 20-year-old male had been found unconscious by friends. When police arrived, Whistler Fire Rescue Service and Emergency Health Services personnel were performing CPR, but failed to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead a short time later at the Whistler Health Care Centre, Wright said.
A second male who was at the same home was hospitalized after he, too, suffered an apparent overdose of MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). He is expected to make a full recovery, Wright said.
Both men had ingested the drug in powdered form.


Earlier last week, a 17-year-old Fernie male who had also ingested MDMA in powered form almost died, Wright said, emphasizing that there was no connection between the two incidents.

Three overdoses requiring medical intervention, one death.

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The NIH rolled out a new plan* to make the lives of investigators who serve on study sections slightly easier about two years ago. The plan permitted appointed study section members to submit their own grants after the standard receipt dates for R01, R21 and R34 applications.
My prior thoughts were enthusiastic:

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The #retweetFAIL

November 19, 2009

I know, I know. A diversion from our usual. I’m actually not making fun of WEb2.0AwesomeszEleven!!!w00t!!! for once.
This thought connects, however, to a frequent problem I have with software companies. See this complaint about a cockup pulled by my favorite reference manager software, EndNote.

Endnote version X2, however, pulls a Microsoft-esque blunder in screwing with one of the fundamental features dear to this user. And they have the nerve to tell others who complained that it is the user who is just not giving this kewl new approach a chance! ‘sclowns…

Now Twitter is pulling the exact same crap with their #retweetFAIL debacle.

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This, my friends, is a medical marijuana providing doctor. She is doing very little to reassure that this is a serious area of care. Starting with the website, You know, 4:20.
The jezebel article concentrates on the sexy pictures of the good doctor.

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