Friday, April 28, 2006

The Book - Prelude

I was recently asked to be editor of a book on my specific area of research by a small science publisher (Nova Science). This would involve planning the scope of the book, finding authors for the chapters, getting those authors to actually write and submit their chapters, editing the chapters where necessary, and finally compiling them and sending them to the publisher. In a fit of insanity I agreed... In my defense, I had just finished a project where I co-edited a journal issue dedicated to my postdoc advisor. That project went fairly smoothly and really wasn't that hard. Of course when I agreed to do the book I completely forgot that for the journal issue I had an energetic co-editor plus the help and backing of the journal's editor-in-chief and the journal staff. The book? Well, the publisher will handle everything once it's written, but the rest is up to me... Oh, and the monetary benefits for this kind of thing range from pitiful to non-existent. Then again, I'm not doing it for the money.

So anyway, I thought I would chronicle the progress of this project here. Each post will be under the heading The Book. I will keep you abreast of things ranging from obtaining authors, to wrangling with authors, to wrangling with the publisher, all the way up to the book appearing on This may take a while...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My new hero!

First some background:
Here in good ol' Kentucky the state legislature passes a budget every two years. This was a budget year. After much wrangling the Republicans and Democrats managed to cobble together something they could agree to vote on (in this state that qualifies as a minor miracle...). Anyway, before they voted, the Democrats, who hold a sufficient majority in the House to override any vetoes the Republican governor might make, decided they needed a break. Of course the break lasted long enough that when they got back and rewrangled over the budget (without really changing anything), they had just enough time left in the legislative session to vote on the budget before it ended. Of course once the session ended they couldn't do anything about any vetoes...

Early this week:
The governor, concerned about the level of State debt in the budget, decides he's going to veto some projects. So he gets out his big red pen and crosses out a few things. About $370 million worth of a few things. He wanted to veto more, but, gosh darn it, everything left was just so worthwhile (he actually used words to that effect). So, what did he veto? Well, about 75% of the $370 million that he vetoed was for construction projects at various State universities (including this one). You know, for stuff like classrooms, science buildings, a nursing building* etc. Of course most of that money wasn't coming from the State - it was going to be raised by selling bonds that would be paid off by the universities using funds they raised through things like tuition etc., so it wasn't really State debt... He also vetoed money for a "community center" kind of project for orphans who are wards of the State. Now one may wonder what kinds of projects he considered more worthwhile than higher education and the well-being of orphans. Clearly the $75 million slated for a new basketball arena for the University of Louisville was considered more worthwhile... Also $10 million for a new pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands (a private Baptist college).**

My new hero:
University of Louisville President, Jim Ramsey! He has come out and said he would prefer the money for the various vetoed projects to the new basketball arena. Good lord, a Kentucky university President who puts academics ahead of athletics!?!?!?!?! This is very much a major miracle folks. Alas, Ramsey has probably signed his death warrant. Kentucky has some of the world's most rabid basketball fans. I suspect that, even as I type this, groups of fans are gathering their pitchforks and burning torches and are marching on Ramsey's house for a good ol' fashioned lynching... If he manages to survive that, I'm sure the University of Louisville Board of Trustees will find some way to fire Ramsey within the year, especially given they are no doubt all rabid basketball fans since that seems to be the only qualification required to be on a university Board of Trustees in Kentucky...

* Did I mention that this country has such a critical shortage of nurses that some hospitals and health organizations are poaching nurses from other western countries (which have their own nurse shortages)?

** You may wonder why the State is giving $10 million to a private, church-run college. It's simple really. The Kentucky Senate Republican leader comes from the area where the University of the Cumberlands is located. He inserted this appropriation into the budget because it will buy him a bunch of votes. The governor, wanting to stay on the good side of this guy, left the money in the budget despite the majority of the Kentucky public being against it. But, you ask, given the supposed separation of church and state, surely this is an unconstitutional use of State funds? The Senate Leader says it isn't. Most law scholars say it is. The governor? In a remarkable display of his weasely nature, has said the funds are contingent upon the courts upholding their constitutionality. That way, the Senate Leader can't get mad at him when the courts say no...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Addiction alert!

I made my first purchase on eBay yesterday.* It was on behalf on my mother-in-law. It's a very simple process to sign up and start bidding on things. Too simple. Dangerous in fact. One could very easily become addicted to buying and selling on eBay. It's amazing the stuff available there. As someone once said to me, you could put a pile of dog poop on auction and someone will buy it. Don't believe it? Check out this or this. Or see what this genius has managed to do on eBay. Hmmmm, perhaps I should aim for a small island in the Caribbean...

* Alas, not an exciting bidding war. My bid was the only one on the object, so I got it for the reserved price. My mother-in-law was prepared to go significantly higher, so it could have been interesting.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Diversity 101

Last week the governer of this fine state declared April 11 as Diversity Day. As part of his announcement, he went on to say that gay and lesbian state workers would no longer be protected under State hiring anti-discrimination policies...

Oh yeah, this guy also supports the teaching of "intelligent design". I'd say he's living evidence of a lack of intelligent design.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I'm back from vacation. We managed to drive a little over 1000 miles over the last week and a half which gave me plenty of opportunity to observe the various types of drivers we get on the interstate highways. Here's a sampling:

1. Mr. I-Have-To-Be-In-Front:
This is the guy who will go screaming past you, pull in less than half a car length in front of you, and then slow down so he's going slower than you were. God forbid you pass him - he'll just do it again...

2. Mr. But-I-Might-Get-Stuck-Behind-Someone-Slower-Than-Me:
This one likes to drive in the left hand lane going 5mph under the speed limit (remember we drive on the right here).

3. Mr. I-Have-Too-Much-Testosterone-Truckdriver:
He tries to pass another truck... while going up a mountain. Consequently both he and the truck he's trying to pass are doing about 10mph in a 65mph zone.

4. Mr. But-I'm-Going-Faster!:
This is the guy who passes people because he's going 0.001mph faster than they are. And he doesn't speed up to pass. On average it takes him about 10 miles to pass a small sedan. You're really unlucky if you're behind him when he tries to pass an eighteen wheeler...

And finally,
5. Mr. God-Is-My-Co-Pilot:
I swear, people with "God is my co-pilot" bumper stickers are some of the worst drivers in the world. I think there are two reasons for this. First, I don't believe there are any cars in heaven. Therefore God doesn't have a license! Secondly, pilot is the term used for the person flying a plane or guiding a ship into harbor. Not for someone driving a car. So people with these bumper stickers are leaving the driving to a being with no license who thinks the car is a plane or a boat...

We survived anyway.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

See ya!

See ya! Part 1:

See ya Tommy boy! Mr. DeLay has finally realized he's not going to get away with his illegal, manipulative ways and is making a run for it. Good riddance.

See ya! Part 2:
I'm heading off on vacation tomorrow and will be gone for about a week and a half. That means no sparkling repartee from me for a while. If the withdrawal becomes too much, amuse yourselves by reading my archived posts. Of course I can't imagine anyone actually missing my blather that much...

Ponder this: The House of Representatives is neither a house nor representative. Discuss amongst yourselves.