Repost from a few years ago:

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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Thought on Tintin

December 30, 2011

Meaning the new movie. I just saw this with a nonzero number of underage children and I have a few thoughts.

Minor to massive spoiler alert so I’ll use the jumpcode…..
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Free iPad2!!!!!!

December 30, 2011

Have you ever won anything? Something substantial by any variety of opt-in “contest”? Lottery, raffle…online marketing scam scheme strategy?

Do you enter?

but not by giving up his leadership position at NIMH. At least for now. Francis Collins

In this vein of change, I am pleased to designate Thomas Insel, M.D., as the Acting Director of NCATS and Kathy L. Hudson, Ph.D., as Acting Deputy Director of NCATS. Drs. Insel and Hudson will lead the many activities of bringing the Center into being and getting its programs underway, while we conduct a nationwide search for the first NCATS Director. Drs. Insel and Hudson have already been deeply involved in establishing the Center and are natural choices to implement our plans for NCATS. Both of them will continue to serve in their current roles, at NIMH and in the Director’s Office respectively, while serving in these Acting leadership positions.

(h/t: writedit, who appears to have seen an internal memo)

Very interesting given Insel’s remarks at the ACNP meeting in which he talked about recent BigPharma moves to pull out of CNS drug development. The punch line was a graph that made out NIMH itself to be one of the few remaining entities with much interest in seeking new drugs for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, dementia associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, autism…and a number of other health problems related to the brain and behavior. This may explain his particular interest in the NCATS effort to engage the NIH even deeper in drug development and translational science.

I don’t have much of an opinion on the NCRR dissolution and formation of NCATS. The devil will be in the details of how far the dollars shift from the traditional research support role of NCRR to new ventures in the NCATS. Official NIH-dom is, of course, very interested in making out that none of the fundamental programs of NCRR will be lost. Critics observe that since no new money is likely to descend on the NIH for the purposes of satisfying NCATS goals, this is a mathematically unsound claim.

I lean towards the latter but this is a done deal at this point. So I’m grasping for bright lights. Having a clear focus on CNS disorders to fill a gap created by industry abandonment of the class would be a pretty good thing. So the selection of Insel as Acting Director is a positive step.

Some might even hope that he does a bang up job and is made permanent NCATS Director, opening up the NIMH slot for someone more friendly to basic brain/behavior science…
Background on the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences proposal, teleconference and NCRR viewpoint.

The Monitoring the Future study has added the synthetic marijuana products (see here, here, here for additional) to their annual survey. Data on annual use rates are now available for the 12th grader segment. I have taken the liberty of graphing the annual use rates for a selection of the more common drugs in this 2011 dataset.
What you can see (click on the graph to see a bigger version) is that these products are more popular than a host of drugs that have a considerably longer history. These packets of plant material spritzed with one or more full endocannabinoid CB1 receptor agonists (see dr leigh here, here for details) only really appeared on the US market in 2010 in broad availability.

Not too shabby to already be beating these other drugs, eh?

Unfortunately the full monographs aren’t available yet and the update tables for “lifetime” and “30 day” do not appear to include the synthetic marijuana category yet. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing that this drug category has been added to the survey. As we go forward it will be interesting to see if popularity continues or if this was a brief flash in the pan related to broad quasi-licit availability of these products.

These data will also provide a nice comparison to more limited investigations such as this one. Hu et al (2011) report 8% cannabimimetic use in a sample of 852 college students collected in September of 2010.
The Annual Prevalence table is here.

MtF 2011 update page

To the Maximus Foundation (@FakeWeed)

I admit I have a really, really, really hard time getting past someone who can say

I really enjoyed the HBO series, but I didn’t feel like waiting years to learn the rest of the plot. The same thing happened with Lord of the Rings – I saw the first movie, then quickly gobbled up the trilogy, the Hobbit, and even the Silmarillion.

The notion of someone who manages to miss an epic all-time great series like Lord of the Rings until the movies come out…and who didn’t start into the books of GRRRRRR Martin when first seeing the HBO trailers…. Well. I get a little faint I gotta say.

I’m a reader. I like films just fine and sometimes the adapted works can be quite good. But man. The notion that you’d have all your orientations all fucked up by directorial interpretation and Hollywoodification before you read the books makes me a little bit nauseated I gotta tell you.

Since we’re on the subject, please Dear Reader I implore you. Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books before you see the Hollywood version that is coming out. And for that matter, view the Swedish movies first too. There is no possible way the latest, glitzy movie is not going to suck in comparison with the Swedish movies and, inevitably, the books.

anyhow, the real point is that Blag Hag asked her readers to throw out suggestions for fantasy/sci fi books that weren’t quite so dismally formulaic

when you have a series that’s basically medieval Europe placed on an imaginary map, I’m not sure what you expect. It’s inspired by history, where woman were treated that poorly. I find it refreshing that the plot doesn’t accept that (like in Lord of the Rings), but rather multiple woman try to overcome it.

But I see the point. How many more fantasy novels do we need that perfectly mirror medieval Europe, with women having the roles of wives and nothing more? If it’s fiction, why not make them equal? Or why not make them the ones in charge?

…and they responded. Maybe you’ll find a tip for something you will enjoy reading.

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.
I originally did this meme, after seeing similar posted by Janet Stemwedel and John Lynch. Prior editions include 2010, 2009 and 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

This question arose on the Twitts and the person wanted to know if waiting for the first renewal was a good idea.

In short, no.

First off, the days of counting on the NIH renewal application being funded, even given great productivity, are over. Tactically you need to shoot for overlapping awards just to ensure continuity of a one-R01 sized lab.

Second, it is my continued view that it is really hard to make it as a single grant lab in the long term. You need diversity of projects because one might run into doldrums now and again for reasons outside of your control.

The third point addresses a followup concern- can newb profs handle the load of two major projects? I say yes. I can’t think of a single scientist who struggled and/or failed because they had two R01 support in the early years. I’m sure they exist but I can’t think of any examples from my experiences. I do know a few folks lucky to get two major awards early (first 2-3 years) and they did (and are doing) just fine.

OTOH I can think of several examples of folks who struggled with just one award and for whom I think things would have been vastly better with two grants.

Dog Owning Dimwits

December 19, 2011

Why is it that, without fail, whenever you say anything about how amazing children are, some dog bothering nimwit chimes in about their amazing pet?

Here’s a protip- no, your dog is not even remotely in the same ballpark of amazing, clever, loving or cute as a child.

Not the same ballpark, not the same league…not similar in anyfuckingway.

I mean seriously…get a grip people, it is a dog.

More Slow Cooker Cookin'

December 17, 2011

Why whatever are we making today, folks?


Onion, garlic…could be anything….is that puréed tomatillo? Why yes it is….


Open the bag…ah, yes, the roasted chiles are ready for peeling…


…and chopping. Add garlic and cumin, plus some salt. (real salt, not that pretentious black salt crap favored by RisottoProffe)


Cubed pork? But of course…

Sauté the onions a bit, add the pork and brown with a couple of tablespoons of flour.

Put the pork in the slow cooker with the chiles, tomatillo, etc. Add 1 1/2 cups stock and set on Low for 5-6 hours.
Chop some cilantro, add in the last hour…reserve a bit for garnish…dollop of sour cream.

….and then, as the greatest of chefs recommend….


Eatte thatte shitte!!!!!

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You lookin' at me?

December 10, 2011

HR 1254 (pdf) has passed the House.

This Act would criminalize possession of a range of compounds which activate the endogenous cannabinoid CB1 receptor. The language covers several structural classes as well as an extended list of, e.g. the JWH-xxx compounds. In essence this is another attempt on the analog front in which the DEA is not able to move quickly enough on specific new drugs that emerge within a general neuropharmacological class.

The bill also doubles the amount of time the DEA has to generate the support for a final rule, once an emergency action has been invoked.

The House Resolution next addresses 17 compounds in the likely stimulant/empathogen class, with most of them being cathinone derivatives. Readers of this blog will be familiar with the well known 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone) and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) on this list.

One assumes that Chuck Schumer will be leading the charge on this in the Senate and that it will pass in short order…opposition to this sort of legislation is not usually robust among elected politicians.