Scientopia http://scientopia.org Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:01:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 History Repeating Itself In The Ugliest Of Ways http://thusspakezuska.scientopia.org/2015/07/02/history-repeating-itself-in-the-ugliest-of-ways/ http://thusspakezuska.scientopia.org/2015/07/02/history-repeating-itself-in-the-ugliest-of-ways/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:01:11 +0000 http://thusspakezuska.scientopia.org/?p=2248 Last week's Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case was barely out the door before the concerted effort to undermine and resist it got itself off and running. It was surely organized and ready to go well ahead of time. Consistent talking points don't spring up by themselves.

Nearly all the essential elements of the conservative resistance can be found in an editorial by John Yoo that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer this past Sunday.

1. The Court has overstepped its bounds. This decision should have been left to legislative acts in the political process. Instead, five unelected elites in robes with jobs-for-life forced this on us! [And where else do people have jobs for life? The academy! And we already know that's bad!]

2. Our Founding Fathers didn't intend for the gays to have a right to marry! You are changing the definition of marriage and rights! [The Founding Father weren't big on marriage or rights for the blacks. But let's not talk about that.]

3. If the gays are so entitled to marriage as an equality thing, how come we still get to discriminate against them in other ways? Huh? Gotcha! Contradiction! You can't give them All The Equalities because then you'd have to give them to any "self-defined group"! It's not like the gays are a real thing. [And hurray! We can keep on discriminating against them in housing and employment, unless your locality unfortunately specifically prohibits it!]

4. Maybe society would have gone this way anyway, but that's society's choice. If society wants to give special rights to certain special interest groups, that's society's choice. Like abortion for women. Which the Court took out of the hands of The People in Roe v. Wade. And you see how well that worked out. Nobody was happy and there was a big backlash and everything got ruined instead of fixed all nice like it would have been if the Court had left everything alone. Sure, you can point to Brown v. Board of Education as a counterexample for how things work out just fine, but really, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - legislative acts in the political process - were far more important for racial equality which we totally have now.  [And by the way the Court was totally within bounds and right to gut the Voting Rights Act last year! Certain questions just can't be left to Congress!]

Well, thanks John Yoo for laying it all out for us.

You know, it's not like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act had anything to do with Brown v. Board of Education. Or that it took any action of the courts subsequent to Brown to enforce its ruling.

You can read about the lasting effects of organized resistance to Brown in a book by Kristen Green, "Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County." Never underestimate the power of a committed and organized group of bigots to keep an oppressed group down. Just as the white Virginians founded the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties, talking about rights and liberties to defend segregation, so today the American Renewal Project is hard at work dispensing rhetoric about rights and liberties of evangelical Christians to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to marry. Or really anyone and anything they find disgusting and unholy. And even though nothing in Obergefell can be construed as forcing pastors to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, legislators are busy passing laws to "project" them from the evil overreaching Court's heinous blasphemous abomination. These are cynical ploys designed to cater to the religious right and simultaneously whip up fear and frenzy in the populace at large, to keep them from realizing that, in fact, no one's marriage has been threatened, their religious liberties are quite safe, and the world did not end.

The editorials, the websites, the organizations defending America, the Presidential candidates explaining why county clerks don't have to obey the Supreme Court - it's a very well-organized effort to undermine Obergefell and resist the expansion of civil rights for LGBT people.

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Another Problem for Puerto Rico http://whizbang.scientopia.org/2015/07/01/another-problem-for-puerto-rico/ http://whizbang.scientopia.org/2015/07/01/another-problem-for-puerto-rico/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:56:21 +0000 http://whizbang.scientopia.org/?p=4159 My recent meeting included a session with the Deans of Puerto Rico's four medical colleges. As we discussed diversity and inclusion, they presented an unexpected issue. Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, its medical schools are accredited by the same groups as those on the mainland. Their students must take the MCAT, National Boards, and Specialty Boards that mainland students do.

These exams are only offered in English.

That means only truly bilingual students can hope to get into medical school and eventually qualify to practice. For the urban population and wealthier people, this is not a huge problem. For the bulk of the island, that level of English fluency is difficult. Medical school thus becomes primarily an upper-class option, perhaps even more so than on the mainland United States.

Then, if you have that sort of fluency, training on the continent provides more options than the island. Once you move to train, it becomes tempting to stay, leading to major brain drain for Puerto Rico.

My school's problems seem less weighty now.


 

By the way, San Juan is a lovely city. You can visit the Caribbean without a passport. All of your appliances, including your cell phone, will work. OK, some Verizon customers had issues with voice calls, but my AT&T phone worked just fine. No plug adapters required. There's history, tropical beauty, and the ocean. You will eat more rice, beans, and plantains that you imagined possible, but the food is delicious. So is the rum.

So go; you can thank me later.

 

 

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Taskmastering http://genrepair.scientopia.org/2015/07/01/taskmastering/ http://genrepair.scientopia.org/2015/07/01/taskmastering/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 02:53:22 +0000 http://genrepair.scientopia.org/?p=1656 For the summer I have been fortunate to be assigned (read: saddled) with a high school intern. It turns out this kid kicks ass and has been nothing less than a pleasure, making reevaluate my dim view of summer interns. My goal from day one was to make them fairly autonomous but giving them a real project for which they have helped to collect data on. And they've done a great job helping me finish up the last few figures for a paper we are trying to push out the door soon. And its a win win for them to as they are wanting to use the work they did in the lab towards gaining an International Baccalaureate diploma.

I've been really impressed at their desire and ability to grasp not just the procedural stuff but also the conceptual aspects of what we do. This intern has been fun and really rejuvenating, I'll be sad to see them go. But we might work out some type of research arrangement in the fall.

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Apply! http://bashir9.scientopia.org/2015/06/30/apply/ http://bashir9.scientopia.org/2015/06/30/apply/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:04:33 +0000 http://bashir9.scientopia.org/?p=590 Grants, fellowships or whatever seem to fit into three categories.

I could totally get that. Maybe it's a small award. Maybe it's right in your particular area of research. Maybe it's internal money and there's not too too much competition. Not a slam dunk, but...

At least worth a shot. Most things fit here. The big government grants. Maybe NSF, maybe NIH. Marshall some pilot data and start firing some specific aims.

Maybe once I ascend to Valhalla. Often very broad calls. Maybe also limited submission (1 applicant per university). Asking for trans-formative innovating. First question of application might be to list the *other* grants you have (seen it twice). We only give money to scientist who are so innovative they no longer require currency. I don't know if these are even worth the time.

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On recruiting peers to review NIH grants http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/30/on-recruiting-peers-to-review-nih-grants/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/30/on-recruiting-peers-to-review-nih-grants/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:45:28 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8065 May 2015 Advisory Council round for the CSR of NIH.

I'll be making observations on the Luci Roberts presentation in a little while. For now, enjoy.

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Question of the day http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/question-of-the-day-5/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/question-of-the-day-5/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:00:21 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8061 What percentage of K99 should fail to transition to the R00 phase in a healthy system?
What percentage of those that go to R00 should fail to ever gain major independent funding as a PI? 

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Decimate them! http://blather.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/decimate-them/ http://blather.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/decimate-them/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:44:32 +0000 http://blather.scientopia.org/?p=1048 Lots of people recognize that the NIH/NSF grant making systems just aren't working under the current conditions of low funding and a glut of PI's. There will be a cull of PI's whether it's deliberate or not. Let's face it, it's already happening and has been for a while. That's led some people to suggests changes to the way we do business. Reform of the NIH if you will. All the suggestions I've seen essentially promote the elite at the expense of the riffraff.* And are poorly thought through at best. Frankly, I've yet to hear a suggested reform that would truly improve upon what we currently have.

So. We're being culled. How can we manage this in a way that benefits science? There are arguments - often good ones - against targeting specific groups.** And most suggestions center on "them, not me".

How about a truly democratic approach? One that's impervious to the old boys clubs?

Anyone up for decimation? Roman army style?

_______________

* I am proudly riffraff, so obviously opposed to those.

** Except maybe KILL THE OLDZ!!!!!!!!!*** Although maybe even then. How best to define the old? Are all the oldz deserving of being culled?

*** A CPP favorite.

 

 

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A Tweet which captures the problem with NIH's "pipeline" response to Ginthe http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/a-tweet-which-captures-the-problem-with-nihs-pipeline-response-to-ginthe/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/06/29/a-tweet-which-captures-the-problem-with-nihs-pipeline-response-to-ginthe/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:37:15 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8059

"We're focused on the pipeline" === "We're focused on molding people into white dudes instead of combating our bias" https://t.co/KBYn2MPixr

— Sarah Mei (@sarahmei) June 28, 2015

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The equality of pain http://genrepair.scientopia.org/2015/06/27/the-equality-of-pain/ http://genrepair.scientopia.org/2015/06/27/the-equality-of-pain/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 15:47:28 +0000 http://genrepair.scientopia.org/?p=1650 No one has the right answer! Everyone's proposals to fix the NIH funding situation boils down to give money to folks like "me" and fuck everyone else. So I have to agree with Odyssey's premise, maybe the current system is as good as we get. Maybe, the current system just cannot function properly when it is heavily taxed by an expanded investigator pool and a not enough resources to support them.

A shift to a HHMI style process is quite ludicrous as HHMI could never exist in a vacuum without the NIH and as Drugmonkey posits, the scalability of this is laughable at best. And once again you create a very insular version of science that looks more like a circlejerk amongst friends that limits the playing field even farther.

Is the answer that there is no answer and that we but here to play the game, trying to adapt and survive each day, while trying to make incremental beneficial changes to the system? Fuck it I don't know, but I know its not Germain's plan. To me there is a macabre but reassuring thought that all of us, the good, the bad, the riff raff, and (to some extent) the BSDs are all being crushed under the same terrible wheel. Maybe that is the justice of the system, when the times are tough, maybe to some extent we all bleed together.

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What I Am Reading: #GDIGFA Edition http://whizbang.scientopia.org/2015/06/26/what-i-am-reading-gdigfa-edition/ http://whizbang.scientopia.org/2015/06/26/what-i-am-reading-gdigfa-edition/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:25:47 +0000 http://whizbang.scientopia.org/?p=4151 One of the plenary sessions at this meeting demonstrated the utility of Whole Brain(R) thinking.

Now, I assumed that I tried to use my whole brain most of the time, so I got the book, The Whole Brain Business Book, and read it en route to Puerto Rico. This model overlaps with a lot of other approaches to how we humans perceive the world, but it can provide a useful new frame for the problem.

DetailedBrain

 

Four aspects of human pattern preference occupy each quadrant of the diagram. The upper left thrives on logic and facts. The bottom left craves order and process. The lower right focuses on the human-emotional facet of things. The upper right is creative and big-picture. Many, if not most, people have a dominant quadrant. This doesn’t mean that we cannot appreciate the other perspectives; they just come less easily to us.

Many people have more than one quadrant that is relatively strong. The two upper quadrants are often found in inventors, scientists, and other creative yet data-driven types. The bottom half of the diagram, with its order and emotion, often finds professions like nursing supervisors. Those who favor the left side rely on facts, logic,and order, while those on the right tend to be idealistic.

As I read this book, I thought about the pharma booths I saw at recent clinical meetings. Ad agencies certainly know how to pull all of these perspectives into the show. Each booth featured big images, most often people living good lives with their disease (because of this drug, naturally). If not a patient image, some other emotionally charged picture appeared; fish out of water seem to be favored by pulmonary products. A tag line also dominates the big stuff, often with a message appealing to those D (upper right) quadrant folks: “Imagine a world without disease X.” Less prominent, but still big enough to catch the eye, are diagrams and graphs showing study results about the drug to start pulling in the left side of the diagram; after all, you have to get them close enough to take the reprints and package inserts that have the details they need to change their practice!

Like all models, this one cannot solve every problem of interpersonal communications. It explains a lot, if you let it. And Ann Herrmann-Nehdi put on a rollicking work-shop this morning where we all learned a lot.

 

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