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.

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Blogrolling: Bashir

December 13, 2010

Huh. I’ve seen the name on comments out and about on the science-y blogs but never really noticed there was a blog and clicked through.


I don’t know if you will like it or not, Dear Reader. I’ve lost touch with my audience since the move to Scientopia. Not sure why.

Anyway, I like this one. Go read.

It’s frightening to know how easily it could have gone otherwise

Take my current job as a postdoc for example: I got the position by accident. My now PI wasn’t even on my radar because he doesn’t really do anything relevant to my research area. I sent him an email because he was associate chair of the department and thus in charge (administratively) of a training grant in the department. I sent him a “What do I have to do to get a spot on this grant?” email. He wrote back “We’re pretty much full, so nothing. FYI I just got a grant from Big Institute in your research area so I need a postdoc. Now.”

why does the south lag?

Above is a map I quickly made of the “top 50″ departments in Bashirology

Distances Traveled

Why on earth would two full time teachers, with three small children (at the time), travel (by car) that far to take a few classes?

Because it was the nearest school that would take Negros.

On langauge

This person had a few interesting stories regarding dialect and academia. Particularly one researcher who apparently could not code switch out of AAVE at all. As you might imagine she had trouble landing a job.

Update: an older version of the Bashir blog.

It ain't about "deserve"

December 13, 2010

GMP has a, well, spirited post up lamenting the seeming fact that awards in science breed their own success. Creating an “Accolade Magnet”. Meaning that once some investigator is blessed with “Promising Young Investigator Eleventy!!!11!!!!” of Society for the Hopping of Bunnies, she then goes on to win accolades from her University, another three or four societies, segue into the Mid-Career Investigator (Eleventy!!11!!) awards, etc.

What aggravates me is that I know this person well and I have never been dazzled by their techical brilliance or originality. However, AM is the nicest and most pleasant person you are ever likely to meet (on the outside of course). Always upbeat, with a megawatt smile as though you just made their day just by showing up, perpetually supportive of students even when they act as procrastinating asshats, just being an annoyingly calm, collected, friendly person. I, personally, want nothing more than to punch that fake smile off AM’s face.

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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.
First look–
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.
Other notes…
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.

cross posting from

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.

First look– Read the rest of this entry »

The SMRB of the NIH has apparently recommended (ScienceInsider) the creation of a new Center (approximately the same status as an Institute) for translational medicine and therapeutics. Now if you’ve been paying attention, you will notice that there has been a great deal of trans-IC pressure for both translational research and the creation of new therapies that can be applied to humans over the past several years. So personally I’m not seeing where there is an argument for a new Center.

Now one caveat is that the solution may be that the current National Center for Research Resources is either closed or becomes rebadged and reconfigured for this purpose.

But this may not happen. The way I understand it, the authorizing legislation for the NIH currently caps the number of ICs at 27. And this casts a whooooooole new light on the NIAAA/NIDA merger which is steaming ahead.

It puts paid to the argument that having 27 ICs is too many, is too inefficient or any of that nonsense. It casts severe doubt on the idea that NIDA/NIAAA is a test case for subsequent additional mergers of other ICs.

Instead it makes it look very much as if NIAAA is being subsumed into NIDA simply to make statutory way for the creation of this new translational medicine Center.

And that is a whoooole ‘nother ballgame. Because the discussion now should be “Is NIAAA worth losing in favor of the new Center?”.

To remind my readers, my approval of the NIDA/NIAAA merger is based on the stipulation that merging ICs is a good idea, will lead to efficiencies, etc. And that there is a general will to further scale back the number of ICs. Given this motivation the NIDA/NIAAA merger is about as obvious as can be. If those goals are not a given, then I’m in a very different stance about this current merger.

And I really, really do not like disingenuous bait-and-switch arguments. This is starting to smell like one.

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.