Friday, November 30, 2007

Only in America...

1. can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
2. are there handicap parking spaces in front of the skating rink.
3. do drugstores make sick people walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
4. do people order double cheese burgers, extra large fries and a diet coke.
5. do banks leave the vault doors open, but chain pens to the counter.
6. do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and fill our garages with worthless junk.
7. do we use answering machines to screen calls and have call waiting so we don't miss calls from those people we didn't want to talk to in the first place.
8. do we buy hotdogs in packs of ten and buns in packs of eight.
9. do we use the word "politics" to describe the process so well. In Latin "poli" means "many", and tics are bloodsucking creatures.
10. do they have drive up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Biomedical science consternation

Today I attended a seminar where the presenter, a fairly well-known, very well funded professor from another university talked about his work on a disease. Most of it consisted of describing animal models for this disease. Basically, that means genetically altering animals, in this case mice, the most common models, to show symptoms of a human disease. You then study the animal, comparing it to "non-diseased" animals, to try and learn something about the disease. It's a reasonably common approach and one that can be quite useful (but not one I use - I don't, and won't, work with animals). Anyway, the ideas behind this guys work were okay, but the actual experiments were shoddy. Full of holes. And yet he has three large grants from the NIH (the government agency that funds most biomedical research in the US). I commented on this to a colleague after the seminar. He agreed that the work was shoddy, but noted that "an animal model for a human disease is almost guaranteed funding nowadays." He's right. And it, really, really irks me. Why? Because shoddy science is pretty much worthless. The data and interpretations have a high likelihood of being wrong. And work done with animal models is very, very expensive. So much of this is wasted. At a time when funding rates (ie the number of grant proposals being funded) at the NIH are at almost historic lows. There are good young academic scientists not able to get funding and consequently being forced out of science. And yet shoddy science can get funded.

Sometimes the system really sucks.

And yet I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Am I going to become one of those bloggers?

You know, one who simply posts videos and stuff, but doesn't really say anything himself?


Still, this is worth watching.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Somebody remind me...

...why this guy is counted as an ally!?!?!?!?!