How to recognize a geek

There are occasions when I wonder if I’m cut out for the life in academia I’ve been planning for the last two years. This usually happens when I’m reading a depressing post by the grad student cum blogger extraordinaire Scicurious, or an experiment isn’t working, or I have a flareup of fibromyalgia, or I despise the subject we’re studying **cough**molecular genetics**cough**. But then something happens to bring me back.

This happened last night. I was insomniating, which happens far too often, and I decided I might as well make the skeleton of my research proposal for my molecular ecology class. I kinda hate doing field work in November, so I’m doing some modeling to try to explain the time-dependency of molecular clocks. (If you can’t understand the linked article, don’t worry; it’s not important.) I was looking over the manuals for the programs I’ll be using and papers of previous attempts (failures all) to explain it. As I read and wrote out a tentative procedure, I had this conversation with myself*:

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To the asshat in my econ class:

The Asshat

You are an asshat. When the professor says to ask any questions you have, she did not mean leading questions. Your knowledge of economics is not sufficient to perform the Socratic method on a lima bean, let alone a professor. Having read The Communist Manifesto and being, like, so into socialism does not make you qualified to comment on the interaction of supply and demand. Especially if you have your history so ass-backwards that you think that the USSR surpassed the US in military production.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey


Happy Labor Day America, fuck you Nestle

Today’s Labor Day in the U.S., and while the rest of the country is off to the beach or having barbecues, I’m sitting in front of a computer. I’ve got to finish the abstract for my presentation (how, exactly, are you supposed to explain an entire project in 250 words?) and the presentation itself. Presentations are always a problem for me because I have that horrible trait combination of procrastination and perfectionism. I finally sat down to make the PowerPoint on Friday, and discovered that I needed to make or steal 30 figures. Ugh.

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Anti-vaccine nut comes to visit

Sometimes people confuse me. I just got a comment on an article I wrote for the Collegian last year about vaccinations and autism.

Vaccines are POISON. The only one[s] who benefit from vaccines are PHARMACEUTICALS. Lots of Vitamin D will protect you from the flu and many other diseases. DON’T be fooled by paid off media hype. STOP the sickening assault on humanity.

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Dying the good death

The LA Times reported yesterday on a study that found that religious patients are more likely to consent to, demand, and recieve aggressive treatment toward the end of their lives. This includes such things as bone marrow transplants for breast cancer (which sounds extremely aggressive, but doesn’t work), life support, and ICU admission. They were also less likely to have living wills, powers of attorney, or DNRs. Given the preoccupation that many religions have with death and the afterlife, this seems a little contradictory; shouldn’t those who expect rewards in the afterlife be most eager to get there?

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Punish parents that don’t vaccinate their kids

Originally published in the Collegian on March 17, 2009 as “Why you should vaccinate your kids.”

This year has not been good to those who oppose vaccination: first one of the most commonly cited (and one of the only existing) papers claiming to find evidence that vaccination causes autism was revealed to be a complete fraud by The Times1, and then the federal “vaccine court” ruled that parents who brought a lawsuit “failed to demonstrate that … vaccines can contribute to … causing either autism or gastrointestinal dysfunction.”2 I hope their year gets a lot worse.

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Not reassuring

The oldest human hair ever discovered was recently found. In a hyena coprolite. It disturbs me a little to find out that we were more “tasty snack” than “threat to be avoided.”