Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ode To My Peer Reviews

AKA: The Manuscript Tracker Lament

O my dear Peer Reviews,
There you are! I can see you!
I logged on, and glanced inside,
And despite your efforts to hide,
I can see the dates within,
Next to each as they turned you in.
Since then, three long days have passed,
And yet, still nothing, so I ask.

What's taking so darn long?!?

Alas, I cannot help but continuously look.
Hour after hour, I return, but still forsook.
For me, now an obsession, an unsatiable drive,
My need to know your status, eating me alive!
Please lovely peer reviews, arrive at last.
Fly through the intertubes, pronto! Fast!
Give me respite, knowledge that my work is approved.
That what gave you birth is true, behooved.

Humane Societies

Saw this blog post over at Golden Thoughts (gotta love the name).
Part of Michael Vick’s restitution is working on a dog fighting prevention program with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS is not the human society in your community; it is primarily a national organization that seeks to eliminate animal use for food, research, and recreation (pets, hunting, etc). Most of its budget is used for lobbying and publicity, not to save dogs and cats in communities. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also quoted in the NPR piece. This is another group with extreme views, promoting humane live insect traps after Obama swatted a housefly on television.
Pascale ends by asking the ten thousand dollar question:
How do you fight a machine?
I've blogged before about how HSUS stinks. So how do we keep getting the message out? We keep blogging about it, we write to people (like the judge who may have ordered Vick to work with HSUS) about how HSUS stinks, and we promote the organizations which really do deserve our dollars. Like the ASPCA.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Whirlwind final three days at work prior to my vacay. Trying to wrap up the last of the reviewer comments for my 100+ day peer-review manuscript. Why must they suggest removing the most difficult figures/tables to replicate in the text? They're big because they condense a lot of information into a single figure/table! Like they say, a picture says a million words (or a million data points as the case may be), no? Of course, that's the worst of the review, so I should be thankful. Here is hoping this is accepted by the time I return from my lighthouse gazing! Then received a rough draft of a paper I'm doing with a collaborator in which my lab performed a fair number of RISA's. It was the first time we used this particular RISA protocol, and we're publishing results done with the protocol a couple of times this year, but I have to admit ... despite my reasons to use RISA over T-RFLP to begin with, we're switching to T-RFLP, which seems a whole lot cleaner. I'm sure my lab appreciates me having them perfect this RISA protocol over three or so months only to change directions nine months later. Besides, using a designed pair of ligated linker ends, getting sequence on these fragments is now possible. That sort of eliminates RISAs main "pro". Anyways, have to modify a couple of my figures, which is no biggie now that I've finally managed to nail down Photoshop Elements (thanks confocal microscopy class!). Good thing I saved the TIFs with their prospective documenting layers.

And I want to do the Isis transcript meme! I just need to find a copy of my undergrad transcripts. Wonder if HR will give me a copy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Currently ...

Listening To

Friday, July 24, 2009

The X-Files brought to life?

Weird. Just got done watching the latest X-Files movie and then came across this article. Life imitating fiction?
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum called himself a "matchmaker," but his business wasn't romance. Instead, authorities say, he brokered the sale of black-market kidneys, buying organs from vulnerable people from Israel for $10,000 and selling them to desperate patients in the U.S. for as much as $160,000.
Very disturbing.

Scarcity ...

... for the next few weeks my blog posting is probably going to be a bit more sporadic than usual. There are a couple of reasons for it. The first is that I'm going on vacation. Not going to tell anyone where, but this picture I took the last time I was there should serve as a hint:

Caption: Guess where I'm going!

The second is because ... I'm coming up for tenure by the end of the year! This means that I need to get my packet together and sent to my review committee by the middle of September. Obviously, for me it's a big todo, and along with trying to get two papers revised, and another written, I've got to buckle down.

So, keeping my job is pretty important ... at least to me. More important than blogging. So, while I'll probably blow off steam here and there and make a post or two, I will probably be more scarce than present until things settle down.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A two foot long, folding knife?

Seriously. Why do they even make those things? What's the utility to them?
In the video, which was posted Tuesday, the Republican governor is sitting at his desk in the Capitol admiring a 2-foot-long folding knife before looking up to thank followers for their budget-balancing ideas.
I think the over-reaction to the video is silly (lighten up folks!) but I'm still amazed about the knife. I mean really ... wtf can you use it for?

I've been tagged with a Book Meme ...

... I thought I had dodged this meme over at VWXYNot? but then DuWayne Brayton sic'd the meme on me anyways. So, here goes:

The Rules: List fifteen books that had the most profound impact on you - ones you can think of in fifteen minutes or less.

1. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander - Ok, so this is really a five book series, but I loved them as a child. These books were my Harry Potter growing up. These books, along with the series I'll mention in number two, were responsible for instilling in me an eagerness to read and a fondness for collecting books.

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle - The first three books of this series were also books I read, multiple times, growing up. By the time the fourth book was published I was already moving up to larger fare (see book #3) so it didn't factor as heavily in instilling in me a desire to read everything I came across.

3. Shogun by James Clavell - Believe it or not, I first read this book back in fifth grade at the age of ten. This book was responsible for giving me the "history bug". I've always been a fan of other cultures and this historical fiction book helped cultivate that. I have yet to get to Japan, but my agency does work over there, so I am hoping that one day I will get there.

4. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe - Read this book in high school for a report I need to do on "frontiersmen". Most of the kids did reports on Lewis and Clark and the like, I decided to steal a line from Star Trek and do my report on space, the final frontier. Got an "A" of course, both for originality and also for writing a damn fine paper. I think I still have that paper around somewhere. It's also the first (and last) time I ever used a typewriter! It planted one of the first early seeds of interest in Astronomy for me, and it's now my #1 hobby.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke - I've got to admit, it took me awhile to get into this novel, but once I did, I was hooked. It got me interested in space and science, which always looked like glamorous places to visit or do. I still dream that one day I can get up into space and do some experiments.

6. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - I like a number of Michael Crichton's books, but this one and Eater's of the Dead are my favorites. This first turned me on to microbiology as a career possibility, and I actually keep it on my shelf at work along with my other microbiology-related texts and books.

7. The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett - I read this book when I was doing my first M.S. degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. I think this book played a role in legitimizing my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Microbiology (actually I was sorta thinking Virology at the time, but that changed soon enough).

8. The Great Divorce by CS Lewis - This book showed me, in a very dark time in my life, that we make our own hell, and then we lock ourselves into it.

9. Dare We Hope "That All Might Be Saved"?: With a Short Discourse on Hell by Hans Urs Von Balthasar - This book helped form my Catholic faith as it is now, and while I was never in danger of becoming a raving fundie this book showed me the dangers of the "We are good and heaven-bound, they are bad and hell-bound." line of thinking and why it needs to be combated vigorously. It is this mentality which lies at the root of a lot of our problems today (IMO).

10. Expectations: Teaching Writing from the Reader's Perspective by George Gopen - This book has changed the way I approach writing manuscripts. I take great joy in getting back reviews (and acceptance letters!) which say that the manuscript was extremely easy to read. This book is part of the reason why.

11. Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean - While the list is in great part, in chronological order, I'm now trying to recollect some additional works to add to the list. This book historical fiction book spurred my early interest (7th or 8th grade) on WWII history. I can't say I'm a huge history buff today, as other things have occupied my time, but if I'm going to grab a history book, I'll go for the WWII stuff first. This book is part of the reason why.

12. Barney Beagle Plays Baseball by Jean Bethell - The first book I ever remember reading. It probably helped set me down the road to literacy.

Others which make the list, but I'm not going to describe in detail:

13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
14. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
15. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Whew! Done! I tag ... anyone who wants to do this meme.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dirt! The Movie - Additional Info

It appears that the website for Dirt! The Movie has been retooled. I know at least one person asked about screenings of the movie, and I'm happy to announce that they do have some screenings at a few locations lined up through the first week of August. Check them out here. Basically it's restricted to Los Angeles, CA and Woodshole, MA. Then again, the DVD arrives in September 2009, so you won't have to wait too long to buy it, or get it from Netflix.

Universal Health Coverage - Part Deux

And this article out of FoxNEWS is what I don't care for in Obama's health care plan.
America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 would create a public health insurance alternative and require coverage for most Americans and from most employers
Bold emphasis mine. I'm already on record with being agreeable to requiring people to have health insurance. What I'm not ok with is the need for the United States government getting into the business of health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid are already total messes (I'm purposely avoiding profanity in describing them, but it's apt, and you get my point when I say they're totally FUBAR'd). Why the need to come up with competition to the already existing insurance companies? It makes no sense. To pull a quote from the article:
"The government takeover of the practice of medicine will destroy the private health insurance companies, and will result in rationing, long lines, and loss of access to physicians in the patient hour of need ..."
... and ...
The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization and internationally renowned medical practice group, took issue with patient care quality that will result if the president's bill becomes law:

"Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill -- including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects -- the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients."
So, mandate everyone have health insurance? Sure thing. Create more bureaucracy to undercut legitimate businesses? Heck no.

So, am I off base? Am I missing something?

Universal Health Coverage

This article on MSNBC has, I think, a very good article explaining the basis for the proposed health care plan. If these ideas are what is being discussed through the House and Senate, I can get on board with it. Here are some reasons why:
Just as drivers must purchase auto insurance, the medical system of the future would put responsibility for health coverage first and foremost on every adult.
This analogy seems pretty reasonable to me. Auto insurance doesn't just protect me from other drivers, it protects other drivers from me. I can safely go out on the road knowing that I won't be driven into bankruptcy because some uninsured yahoo crashes into me. Yes, there is still a risk, but it is decreased greatly. Likewise, if everyone buys into health care coverage, not only will it help them, but it helps me. Here is how:
Nearly one-third of the uninsured in the United States in 2007 were between the ages of 19 and 29, and 42 percent were between 30 and 54, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A fair number of young, healthy workers choose not to purchase insurance, believing they do not need it.

Advocates of universal coverage want to lure that group into the insurance pool because they tend to use fewer medical services and help keep premiums down. If only the sick buy coverage, premiums will be high. And visits to emergency rooms by uninsured patients increase premiums for the insured — by $1,000 per person per year, according to some estimates.
The last figure mentioned, the $1,000 increase in premiums for the uninsured visiting ER's. That's a pretty powerful figure. I hear horror stories, all the time, from my friends who remain in the medical profession, about people who go to the ER for all sorts of non-ER related issues ... because they don't have health care. That sort of wastefulness needs to stop. Perhaps this can help.

Another reason to think this is workable is that there is precedent:
The concept is modeled after a requirement instituted in Massachusetts three years ago as part of that state's broad health-care overhaul. And like the Massachusetts law, the individual mandate proposed by congressional Democrats would be paired with a much more controversial new requirement that nearly every employer contribute to the total cost of care.
This has worked before, in Massachusetts, a law that was put into effect during the governorship of Republican Mitt Romney. Say what you want about the man, but I think he's demonstrated that he has been a shrewd business man, and I've got to think that he thought this would make good financial sense otherwise he would have opposed it. Currently, only about 3% of the citizens of Massachusetts are uninsured. I'm not sure how closely the new plan matches up with what was presented in Massachusetts, but hopefully Congress is smart enough to take a working model and use that as their template.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why are we debating this?

Congress wants to keep producing the F-22. To purchase 7 more planes will cost the taxpayer 1.8 billion dollars. That's a hefty chunk of change. The question is, is the plane obsolete in this day of modern warfare where the battlefield isn't so much a field as it is an urban setting?

Seems to me that if we're going to produce any warplanes, perhaps we should revive the A-10 Thunderbolt which has played an integral role in both Iraq and Afghanistan. For some reason, I don't think we'll be going to war with Russia or China in the near future, and we really should focus on our more immediate needs. For comparison, the A-10 costs ~$11 million per plane, the F-22 costs $135 million per plane. So we save (even majorly perhaps) by providing planes which have an immediate practical use ... and then we bank the savings to pay down the debt. And we keep jobs because we're still manufacturing warplanes.

Of course, I may be oversimplifying things, and initial startup costs will be expensive ... oh whatever, just cancel all the damn projects. And if China invades ... Wolverines!

Monday, July 20, 2009

If Franken ...

... is going to keep doing things like this, I have no beef with him.
Franken wrote in an opinion published Monday in the Star Tribune that his proposed pilot program will train "a statistically significant number of dogs" to measure the benefits to veterans living with devastating injuries sustained on the battlefield.

The dogs' companionship, Franken said, provides invaluable health benefits -- both physical and emotional -- to veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders. The service dogs will help "reduce the suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations, and lower the cost of medications and human care," he said.

Manuscript Tracker

It's such a groovy thing. So two of the three reviewers have already finished their reviews of my latest submitted manuscript. Turnaround time of less than 20 days. So now we're waiting on reviewer #3. This is a pretty cool process, the only problem is ... I'm now probably going to drive myself mad watching that third reviewer to see when it is turned in!

Carl Sagan

The Lab Lemming ponders on whether Carl Sagan was really "all that". He fails to see it, and so do I. I grew up watching NOVA, Nature, and Wild Kingdom, not so with Cosmos. I opined as follows:
I'm not sure there will ever be one single individual who will be universally cited for inspiring a generation to seriously consider scientific pursuits.

Interestingly enough, today the US is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. One would think that projects such as this, and not single individuals, would be more suited as inspirational devices.

The problem is, when will we have our next "scientific revolution"? The economy and political state of the world, clearly seem to be hampering such endeavors at the present time.
So, do we need an "individual" or is the "project" more important? To me it seems that projects can capture the countries/worlds imagination more aptly than any single individual can.

The Eagle Has Landed!

Today is the 40th Anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in all of human history. On this day 40 years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. Caption: Picture of Buzz Aldrin standing next to the US flag planted on the moon.

To celebrate this outstanding scientific achievement, here is some link goodness celebrating it:

1. Apollo 11 Fast Facts (FoxNews)

2. Phil Plait writes what Apollo 11 meant to him (Bad Astronomy Blog)

3. A 10 year old played a role in getting Apollo 11 home (CNN)

4. Remembering Apollo 11 - The Big Picture (Boston Globe)

5. NASA's 30th Anniversary Page for Apollo 11 (NASA)

6. NASA's 40th Anniversary Page for Apollo 11 (NASA)

7. Wired Science Article on next 40 years for NASA (Wired Science)

8. A list of the Apollo 11 Science Experiments (LPI)

9. A PDF to the Apollo 11 Preliminary Science Report (NASA)

And no linkage list is complete without a link to a Top Ten List:
10. Ten Things You Didn't Know About Apollo 11 (Popular Science)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Public outreach ...

... so there is a huge hubbub occurring amongst quite a number of science blogs across the internets lately. As part of their focus on the state of science in the United States of America, Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, the bloggers on The Intersection, speak to the issue of better outreach to the public by the scientific community. The question is, what form should that outreach take?

Obviously this is not an either/or type of question ... there are any number of things that can be done, and some of them should obviously be done in concert with others. As a government scientist, I am always being asked to present my ideas in a manner which would be accessible to a non-scientist. They're called "interpretative summaries". Over at DrugMonkey, neurolover mentioned that PLoS Biology has a similar concept which is called "author summary", and is defined thusly:
Distinct from the scientific abstract, the author summary is included in the article to make findings accessible to an audience of both scientists and non-scientists. Ideally aimed to a level of understanding of an undergraduate student, the significance of the work should be presented simply, objectively, and without exaggeration.
I see no reason why NIH could not make this a mandatory component of scientifically published manuscripts. Then, these "author summaries" are made available on PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar and the like. So when people look for scientific information and are led to PubMed, instead of an abstract filled with technical jargon, they get an easy to read summary.

Granted, it is not a "cure all" for the problems we have, but it is a supremely simple thing to implement and IMO, every little bit helps.

So ...

... I changed my template again. Hope the colors aren't glaringly annoying.

No doubt the boy named Sue ...

... wound up in jail.
Writing in Social Science Quarterly, Shippensburg University professor David Kalist says giving newborn males oddball, girly or strange first names may just help land them in jail.
Sue wasn't exactly on the list, but if you're named Alec, Ernest, Garland, Ivan, Kareem, Luke, Malcolm, Preston, Tyrell, or Walter, you have the deck stacked against you.

Of course, I always thought Luke was on the right/light side of the Force ...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Currently ...


Listening To

So that's who to blame!

For everyone who hated, with a white-hot, searing passion ... the movie Titanic, it seems that our loathing should be directed at the TV show Growing Pains. The last two slides explains it all.

Alaska attacked!

Brower said it wouldn't necessarily surprise him if the substance turns out to be some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon, but the borough is waiting until it gets the analysis back from the samples before officials say anything more than they're not sure what it is.

"From the air it looks brownish with some sheen, but when you get close and put it up on the ice and in the bucket, it's kind of blackish stuff ... (and) has hairy strands on it."
Hairy strands? Oh no, it's the Morgellon Monster!

UPDATE (07/20/09): It appears to be simple marine algae. Bummer.
"We got the results back from the lab today," Ed Meggert of the state Department of Environmental Conservation told the Anchorage Daily News late last week. "It was marine algae."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Say what?!?!?

NASA plans on dumping the ISS into the Pacific Ocean in 2016.

Well, there's another portion of our tax dollars completely wasted. I'm not sure the cost ($100 billion dollars when everything is counted up) will be recouped in the next six years or so. Surely the ISS needs to remain in orbit well beyond 2016.

Medium Rare? Perhaps Not For Much Longer

MRSA in our food supply? The article cites a study done by Tara Smith, who blogs on Aetiology.
Then in 2008, a new source and strain of MRSA emerged in the United States. Researcher Tara Smith, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, studied two large Midwestern hog farms and found the strain, ST398, in 45 percent of farmers and 49 percent of pigs. The startling discovery — and the close connection between animal health and our own that it implied — caused widespread publicity and much official hand-wringing. To date, though, the government has yet to put a comprehensive MRSA inspection process in place, let alone fix our problematic meat-production system.
This is pretty disturbing news, and cooking food properly is only half the battle. Handling of raw meat is the time when individuals will be most exposed, and it requires that proper sanitation methods be utilized to clean up food prep areas after the meat has been prepped.

If you ask me, when I'm done with a cutting board, I'd soak all the utensils which came in contact with the meat, and the cutting board itself in a 10% bleach solution for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Only then would I thoroughly clean them with soap and water. As for cooking meat, the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) has a handy chart listing their minimal recommended temperatures. Oh, and always wash your thermometer between temp takings!

Dirt! The Movie

So as I mentioned in my last blog post one of the filmmakers of Dirt! The Movie, Gene Rosow, attended the annual SWCS meeting to preview the movie for us. It was recently shown to the Sundance Film Festival and is still being worked on, but we got to see a mostly finished product (If I recall correctly, I think they're extending it a bit for release to the public).

I'm sure the use of the word "dirt*" annoyed a fair number of the soil scientists in the room, however in defense, the movie is inspired by the book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by the journalist William Bryant Logan.

So with popcorn in one hand, and a beer in the other, we settled into the Hyatt's Grand Ballroom to watch the movie. As I said earlier, the trailer was a bit off-putting, giving us an anthropomorphic earth, talking to us about all the good times and then the bad times that he and humans have shared, and getting really angry when humans started doing things like strip mining ... going all postal with volcano eruptions and the like. I hope they don't keep using that trailer. If I recall correctly, they do use the anthropomorphic ploy in the movie, but it's less over the top, and only occurs in the very beginning. NOTE: I did have to skip out to use the restroom once during the film, and if the volcano stuff was used during that period, I missed it ... but I don't think it was. The movie is narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, though it's not a heavily narrated film.

The film is, instead, largely full of interviews with various experts and people who are otherwise involved in awareness and conservation. Some of the interviews include:

Bill Logan - Author of the book which inspired the movie.
Andy Lipkis - Founder of TreePeople
Dr. Vandana Shiva - Physicist, Environmental Activist
Wangari Maathai - Nobel Laureate and Founder, Green Belt Movement
Miguel Altieri - Professor of Agroecology, UC Berkeley
Peter Girguis - Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

This is a very short list of the people interviewed for the movie, the rest you can see by clicking on the link above. The interviews are all well done, and except for one gratuitous f-bomb (it's not necessary at all and that part of the interview is sort of pointless) by one of the interviewee's it is a movie which can be seen by the entire family. For demonstrative purposes when explaining microbial processes, the authors rely on cartoons shorts which are rather cute if simplistic. At this point I should note, if you're looking for a scientific treatise here, you're not going to get it. For example, while the word "soil" is used a handful of times, people (even the scientists) do play along by calling it "dirt". Things are presented in broad terms and concepts, but I think they're presented in such a way as to be easy to comprehend, which will most definitely appeal to a much wider audience.

In addition to the science, the film also spends time highlighting conservation efforts such as TreePeople, The Edible Schoolyard, The Greenhouse Project at Rikers Island, and Sustainable South Bronx, all grassroot efforts to increase awareness of our most important natural resource, soil. As Secretary Vilsack said in his speech given earlier that day, there is a great need to bring understanding to the public, especially those in urban areas, that our food does not come from the grocery store. He spoke to the plight of "food deserts", and how not only does it highlight a need for better nutrition, which in turn will result in better health (lower obesity rates as one example) but hopefully greater public awareness and enhanced conservation efforts. I think this movie, though it does not (as far as I can remember) mention food deserts directly, can help in this effort.

Overall, the movie was very well done. As a documentary I think it does an excellent job in raising awareness and understanding of an area where they is very little knowledge by the public. If this movie can reach a wide audience I think it will do a lot of good, and overall I think it was received quite favorably by those who attended the showing. Personally, I will be purchasing a copy, and if it does not contain the f-bomb, I will be sending it to my sister who show to her science classes. I certainly hope the filmmakers have success with this movie, and hopefully this will open doors for further awareness projects along these lines.

As a documentary, I give this film 4.75 out of 5 stars. The only detraction really is the single gratuitous curse-word, which will hurt the ability of teachers to show this movie to their science classes. If that can be removed, I think this becomes an extremely valuable tool in the hand of conservationists.

*I've made the mistake of calling it "dirt" a couple of times (still trying to get the medical microbiology out of my veins) only to be rejoined with glares and looks of major disapproval.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dirt! The Preview

So I'm here at the Soil and Water Conservation Society annual meeting. Listened to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, give the opening lecture. The meeting organizers then mentioned that tonight there will be a screening of the new documentary Dirt! The Movie, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. They showed a two minute clip, probably to generate interest. I'm a bit conflicted (I know it's based on a book, also named Dirt!, but couldn't they name it Soil! The Movie ???) but I'm going to watch it. It clocks in at about 80 minutes in its current version. The final version will not be released until next year, from what I gathered.

At any rate, I may blog about it later.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Lego Star Wars

This game totally rocks.

Total play time: 20 hours
% of game completed: 30%

Definitely worth the $20 price tag.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's shaping up to be ...

... another disappointing year to be a Mets fan.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Boo hoo

Not to be outdone in the histrionics category, P.Z. Myers gets his nose bent out of sorts because he didn't get a copy of Chris Mooney's new book as quickly as some others had. Oh noes!
I received Chris Mooney's last two books as review copies, before the simple folk could get theirs, and I also gave them positive (and sincere!) reviews. I'd noticed that he's got a new book out, but strangely, I hadn't been sent a copy this time. I was wondering what was up with that ...
Oh, I don't know ... maybe Chris thought it was time you actually paid for your damn copy? Of course the complaining resulted in his being sent a copy, so all is well in Myers world now, we suppose. At least until he reads all the chapters, because then he may "... have to be brutal." in his review. Oh good Lord, what will we do then?

Summer Camp!

Here we have free-thinker Richard Dawkins, who is so supportive of free-thought that he wants to indoctrinate children to think exactly as he does. Of course, he also argues that teaching children religion amounts to child abuse. Atheism is, of course, just fine and dandy, and it's the sort of indoctrination which is, I presume according to him, not child abuse. There is nothing hypocritical here folks, not at all. Move along.

Of course, Dawkins jumped the shark years ago with his horribly researched book* The God Delusion, which was summarily destroyed by Alister E. McGrath.

*Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. - Terry Eagleton

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What the?

So my collaborator on a recent co-first-authored paper informed me that they received their reviews back today. Sweet Jimminy! It took exactly 30 days for the submission and return of the reviews. Here in agriculture-review-land, I had to wait over 100 days for the reviews of my submission to be returned to me (which I now need to address). My current submission has been in for 8 days. Wonder if I'll hear anything back in the next 22?

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Finished up statistics training this week. I swear, it's like the summer of lost productivity. Between meetings and training, I'm surprised anything is getting done! At any rate, we went through this statistics training. Blergh. When the instructor started getting into SAS, my mind turned to goop. Sure, I can do most of my stuff on Excel, but I'm afraid that when I write up in my M&M that I used Excel, I'll get laughed out of review. So, SAS it is (besides, it's provided to us for free). At any rate, if anyone knows of a good SAS book, drop me the tip in the comments, I'd be most appreciative.

So I'm putting together ...

... my opinions on the whole "science and religion" hullabaloo which has made the rounds across many blogs lately, most notably (by me at least) on the blogs of Chris Mooney and Jerry Coyne. I've tried to follow the main players as much as I could. This of course means I've completely ignored the hanger-ons, the ones who can be likened to those annoying kids who would shout "Yeah dude, take that!" after someone else did all the hard work (be it providing a beat down, insult, what have you). I always wondered what it took to become a well known science blogger, and after reading some of the tripe across the net lately, I've decided that it doesn't take much. Probably just kissing enough of the right posteriors. Anyways, look for the entry to be finished in the next few days. I'm trying to equally offend both sides of the issue, so I want to get enough sources* together to ensure I do it justice.

*I'm going to do some serious Richard Dawkins scholarship here. I'm looking up as many websites as I can.

I'll pass ...

... on visiting "The Ledge" at Sears Tower. I live thousands of miles away, with both feet firmly planted on the ground, and it still makes me uncomfortable.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Yeah, uh, ummm ...

... I may skip the Transformers movie. The review is totally friggin hilarious. One of the commenters sums it up best when they say: Wow. I wish I could not see this movie more than once.