Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A lot of writing ...

... but very little blogging. The push is on to get my latest manuscript ready for submission. All the figures and tables have been polished to a nice sheen, and now the text needs to be brought into line. Add to this that mid-year evaluations need to be submitted by the end of the month and I'm a busy fellow. Which means a drop in my blogging rate.

I'm sure I'll blurt something out now and again, but it won't pick up in earnest until this paper is out the door.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You ever have ...

... one of those moments where you do something (it was harmless, honest) you were probably better off not doing, and then following it up with saying something totally stupid because you were then massively flustered?

Yah, that explains the first half of my weekend. The second half was spent kicking myself.

Antibiotics ... Bueller?

They are no longer the "cure all" people think they were. Illustrated by this article.
By late March, Mr. Armbruster, then 78, was dead. After a series of postsurgical complications, the final blow was a bloodstream infection that sent him into shock and resisted treatment with antibiotics.

Not until the day Mr. Armbruster died did a laboratory culture identify the organism that had infected him: Acinetobacter baumannii.

The germ is one of a category of bacteria that by some estimates are already killing tens of thousands of hospital patients each year. While the organisms do not receive as much attention as the one known as MRSA -- for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- some infectious-disease specialists say they could emerge as a bigger threat.
Also ...
Meanwhile, New York City hospitals, perhaps because of the large numbers of patients they treat, have become the global breeding ground for another drug-resistant Gram-negative germ, Klebsiella pneumoniae.
For Gram-positives we need better drugs; for Gram-negatives we need any drugs. - Dr. Brad Spellberg, author of Rising Plague

Smart Cookie

This post isn't as much a rag on Tim Tebow, as it is a brag on Sam Bradford.
According to The Palm Beach Post, Tebow scored a 22 (out of 50) on the Wonderlic test, supposedly a barometer for intelligence. The average for NFL QBs is 24, though expected starters in 2010 averaged out close to 28.5. The last seven Super Bowl winners? They come in at 30.1
Bradford? A 36.

If anyone claims to have had ...

... West Virginia, Butler, Michigan State, and Duke in their Final Four, I'd say you were a liar.

Who did I have?
Kansas (winning it all)
Kentucky (in the Championship against Kansas)

Yah, I was close!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Two words ...

... why I'm stoked to be getting my NetFlix disc for my Wii today.

Lucy Lawless

NetFlix has a Starz channel with instant view. Already saw the first episode of Spartacus, and it's alright.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

See! I told you Facebook is not good for you ...

Use Facebook, Get Syphilis.
Professor Peter Kelly, director of Public Health for NHS Tees, said: "There has been a four-fold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected, with more young women being affected."

He said staff had found a link to social networking sites among those infected.

Prof Kelly said: "I don't get the names of people affected, just figures. And I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.

"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex. There is a rise in syphilis because people are having more sexual partners than 20 years ago and often do not use condoms."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The site which allows you to replace* the memories of your youth that your parents callously discarded.

*For a fee.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

But what are we going to eat?

In two years, you won't be eating Atlantic Bluefin Tuna.

Unworkable and unfair? In two years lets revisit the issue and see how unfair it really was ... to the tuna.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Athabasca depends ...

Don't you want to see how it ends?
An expert on the fate of the cosmos and co-author with Greg Laughlin of The Five Ages of the Universe (Touchstone Books; 2000), Adams predicts that all this dead matter will eventually collapse into black holes. By the time the universe is 1 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years old, the black holes themselves will disintegrate into stray particles, which will bind loosely to form individual "atoms" larger than the size of today's universe. Eventually, even these will decay, leaving a featureless, infinitely large void. And that will be that—unless, of course, whatever inconceivable event that launched the original Big Bang should recur, and the ultimate free lunch is served once more.
Bummer, huh? It gets better ... as the universe is 30 times more "run down" than previously predicted.
Dr Lineweaver said that the next step in the research is to out how close we are to maximum entropy, how much entropy is being produced and how much time we have left before the universe and all life in it dies in the inevitable heat death.
That quote was what led me to the originally cited/quoted article in this blog entry.

Of course, as mentioned ... we're still a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years from this happening. Then again, we could always sterilize the Earth a few trillion years ahead of schedule making the universe a very empty place for all that remaining time.

*Blog entry title is a hat-tip to the Tragically Hip and their song "The Depression Suite".

The stupid ... it still burns.

Woman wants to weight 1,000 pounds.

Read the following quote, and at first I omitted the first "and" in the quote, which sort of made things a bit humourous and caused me to stop at "people" (but honestly, at her weight, it's quite feasible).
“I love eating and people love watching me eat,” she says. “It makes people happy, and I’m not harming anyone.”
Oh, it gets better ...
Simpson’s main source of income to support herself financially is by appearing on a Web site where men pay to watch videos of her gorging on food and showing off her hundreds of pounds of extra bulge in a bikini.
I think I may lose a few pounds after I barf.

The article does a good job ripping into her. Too bad it won't have an effect on her weight.

ETA: Yah, I guess I need to add the link.

ETA: Oh sweet Jesus ... whatever you do, do NOT click on the slideshow. Damn you FOXNews!

PS: What's the over/under on her remaining lifespan? I'd say we put it at 6 years. Now who's going to remember to check?

Box plots

So I am in the process of putting together a manuscript my lab has been working on over the course of the past few months. We've done a lot of quantitative PCR to get at an integral question about an environment we've (the royal 'we') been interested in for years. So, the first order of business I do is put together all my figures and tables. The tables were easy peasy, and most of the figures were too. I've come to the qPCR data however and I had a couple of options. I could do the data as tables or I could do figures. The journal I'm sending the manuscript to has no problem with an excess of tables (I've seen manuscripts with up to nine tables and no figures) but I don't like them.

Now, if you look at a lot of qPCR manuscripts, people use columns, which I suppose is fine because you'll see the mean and standard deviation ... but you also lose a lot of data. I mean, say your Y axis goes from 1 to 100, and the mean goes to 65. You know, probably for a fact, that you didn't have a reading of 0, or 1, or 2 ... but there is that area ... shaded out as a part of your column. Not really accurate, right?

So I've become enamored with box and whisker plots. They really do give you more information than your traditional columns graph. Just take a look at the figure below as an example.

Which one gives you more information?

Now, there are ways to make the box and whisker plot even more descriptive (I'm using the Analyze It! plug-in for Excel), but on the face of it, I think the box and whisker plots are a great tool for presenting qPCR data. So I looked to see who presents their data that way ... and almost no one does.

So, what am I missing here? Is it really a good way to present qPCR data, or isn't it? If it is, why isn't anyone else doing it? If not, what is the best way to present the data?

So much for those ...

... relaxing walks on the beach.
The man was walking or jogging along Palmetto Dunes when the Experimental Lancair IV-P plane hit him Monday evening, said Hilton Head Island fire and rescue spokeswoman Joheida Fister.
What a way to go.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Currently ...

Listening To

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If this school district really is worried about ...

... student safety, then I hope they don't plan on having a prom next year, or the year after, or the year after that. You know, to be consistent.
"However, at this time, we feel that it is in the best interest of the Itawamba County School District, after taking into consideration the education, safety and well being of our students."
There are lots of articles detailing after prom tragedies, so it's only prudent that this school district ban proms henceforth.

I went to the prom my junior year. It stunk. I skipped it my senior year to run in our sectional track and field championships (200m, 800m, 1600m - a very strange combo, I admit). I don't regret it for a second.

I seriously doubt my dogs ...

... would appreciate traveling with me in this fashion.

Whatever it takes?

Why can't politicians give a straight, honest answer? Have recent scandals not taught Pelosi anything? Just say you knew about things in October when asked. No need to lie and say you didn't find out until February. I'm sure Pelosi will try to wriggle her way out of this little jam, but it just goes to show ... Congress isn't about doing the ethical thing, it's about doing the agenda thing.

Could this be a good thing?

Campaign finance reform, lobbying reform, and clean-up of governmental corruption key to 2010 elections.
He came to the White House on Wednesday for a quiet meeting with the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod, to express a fear that Republicans are seizing the high ground on cleaning up Washington, on issues such as the ethics probe of Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York.
Having both the Democrats and Republicans working on this issue is a "Good Thing" if you ask me. My hope is that they can put together some bipartisan efforts to enact real reform instead of delivering us nothing more than soundbytes and worthless legislation.
Pressed on whether the president is doing enough on lobbying and campaign finance reform, Hildebrand said, "I don't think anyone in Washington is doing enough on this."
You got that right.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Furor over milk-aholism.
Lindsay Lohan is suing New York financial company E-Trade, insisting that a boyfriend-stealing, "milkaholic" baby used in its latest commercial is modeled after her, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
I've seen the commercial, but until I read this story, I never linked the baby milk-aholic named Lindsay to the trainwreck that goes by the name Lindsay Lohan.

Of course, now that Lohan has made that connection for me, everytime I see the commercial, I now will make that connection.

Good job!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Food for thought

How to monitor your diet.


Similar items?

I wonder ...

... how easy it would be to cut China out of the internet. They're obviously a bit of a problem. Perhaps a month or two of being cut out would force their hand to crack down on the issue (or as the case probably is ... of decreasing their cyber-warfare).

Friday, March 05, 2010

Get Over It

by: OK Go

Lot of knots, lot of snags, lot of holes, lot of cracks, lot of crags.
Lot of naggin' old hags, lot of fools, lot of fool scum bags.
Oh it's such a drag, what a chore ... oh your wounds are full of salt.
Everything's a stress and what's more, well it's all somebody's fault.

Get, get, get, get, get over it!
Get over it, get over it.

Makes you sick, makes you ill, makes you cheat ...
Slipping change from the till.
Had it up to the gills ... makes you cry while the milk still spills.
Ain't it just a bitch? What a pain...
Well it's all a crying shame. What left to do but complain?
Better find someone to blame.

Get, get, get, get, get over it!
Get over it, get over it.

Got a job, got a life, got a four-door and a faithless wife.
Got those nice copper pipes, got an ex, got a room for the night.
Aren't you such a catch?
What a prize! Got a body like a battle axe...
Love that perfect frown, honest eyes...
We ought to buy you a Cadillac.

Get, get, get, get, get over it!
Get over it, get over it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Currently ...


A fun RPG. In my opinion, the NDS seems to be one of the best ways to present RPGs*, though I really did love the Baldur's Gate and Champions of Norrath games on the PS2. Heck, IMNSHO nothing beats a well done RPG on any platform.

*Of all the games I've played on the NDS, for me the NDS is best suited for RPGs and turn-based tactical games.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


When you multi-task, you become dumber.
The cult of multitasking would have us believe that compulsive message-checking is the behavior of an always-on, hyper-productive worker. But it’s not. It’s the sign of a distracted employee who misguidedly believes he can do multiple tasks at one time. Science disagrees. People may be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, but they can’t do two or more thinking tasks simultaneously.
I have dual monitors on my desk (well three actually, if you count my linux box that I use for bioinformatics) and one of them has Outlook open on it essentially 24/7. Perhaps I need to rethink having constant access to my email. That would also mean shutting down my BlackBerry Bold 9700 -- a truly sweet little device -- but it may be a sacrifice I need to make for the sake of productivity.

According to a study done by Oklahoma State University (PPT, 28 slides), checking email four times a day, at prescribed times (regime C4, see slide 19), led to the most efficient handling of email and work.

That Chilean earthquake ...

... really made a mess of things!
“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross told Bloomberg in an email. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 3 inches.”

If my university ...

... decided to make Admiral Ackbar its mascot, I have no idea what I'd do.

Making asparagus a choice for mascot also isn't high up on my list either ... and it doesn't appear to be high up on the school's list either.


I do not get.
Two Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon jets were scrambled to assist an American Airlines passenger plane shortly before it landed at London's Heathrow airport on Tuesday after a woman attempted to gain access to the flight deck.
How exactly do air force jets "assist" a commercial plane? Or by assist do they mean "hang around to see if they have to shoot the commercial plane down in case the cockpit is breached by a crazy" type of assist? Got to wonder how much it cost to scramble those jets, and if having an air marshal on board would have been the better -- and more economical -- option.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Totally ...

... hilarious.

PS: May only be funny if you're a Mets fan.

Mr, Klein gets it wrong ...

... right here. At least where it pertains to the cost of freedom. I agree with his assessment that we're putting too much of a burden on our soldiers, and this is at least a factor -- if not the most important one -- in the increased suicides of those in our military. Where he runs off the rails though, IMO, is with this comment:
... there is no way that a democratic Iraq can be worth the losses that we, and the Iraqi people, have already sustained.
Really? If the citizens of the United States suddenly were stripped of all their freedoms, Mr. Klein would argue that the cost would probably be too high to regain those freedoms? Or does it only apply to Iraqis?

What are you reading?

Effects of plant and influent C:N:P ratio on microbial diversity in pilot-scale constructed wetlands (pdf, 9 pages)

Microbial processes within the rhizosphere of constructed wetlands are crucial to wastewater treatment, but the relation between microbial community diversity in rhizosphere, plant growth and water quality are unclear at present. The effects of plant growth, water C:N:P ratio and their interaction on microbial diversity in the rhizosphere were studied in synthetic wastewater in planted and unplanted wetlands during three different seasons. The physiological profile of microbial community-level in each wetland was assessed using substrate utilization patterns gathered via BIOLOGTM ECOplates. Plant had a significant effect on AWCD parameter, since the planted wetlands usually had a higher the total microbial activity than the unplanted over the study period. The Shannon, Simpson and McIntosh indices in the planted wetlands were apparently higher than those in the unplanted wetlands under any C:N:P ratio influent condition especially in summer. It was also shown that the unplanted wetlands have a greater shift of the interstitial microbial community than the planted at different seasons, since plant rhizospheres produce a more ecologically stable system in order to resist against shifts in microbial community composition in response to C:N:P ratio change in wastewater. Principal component analysis and clustering analysis indicated that influent C:N:P ratio would induce similar microbial species in the planted wetlands and detach them from the unplanted wetlands.


Companies have an obligation to the people who surround their holdings. The government has an obligation to the people to make sure the company honors its obligations. Unshackle the EPA.
Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.
Totally unacceptable.

How did this happen?
The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters” of the United States. For decades, “navigable waters” was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.
However it's being argued that ...
But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be “navigable waters” and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.
Bold emphasis mine. This pollution will still make its way into sources of drinking water.

I repeat again: HSUS is a farce

I'm on record as saying before that the HSUS is a farce. They're a lobbying group, they are not a humane society. Any money you give to them, in the hopes that it will improve animals lives, will be completely wasted.

h/t: GrrlScientist