Archive for: October, 2011

In which I offer my thanks

Oct 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Thank you all, each and everyone of you, that gave to Donors Choose.  Not just my projects that I selected or the ones chosen by Scientopia, but anyone who gave at all.  It reinforces to me that amongst all of us on this rock flying through outer space there are some good and caring folks, and that makes me strive to be a better person each day.

So thank you for your generosity, your caring, and your goodwill towards science and humanity.

One response so far

Sometimes you just want a little peace and quiet...

Oct 31 2011 Published by under Food, Uncategorized

and this video about sums it up.  Can a man just eat his sandwich in peace.

h/t:  RoosterTeeth

One response so far

Thinning the herd but not putting them down...

Oct 28 2011 Published by under Lab, NIH

We all know biomedical science funding is woefully not enough to support all of the science going on right now, what with funding levels hitting some all time lows. Some of us believe that this is the NIH intentionally trying to thin out the PI ranks, in hopes of decreasing the number of PIs so that you end up with less labs, albeit better funded ones hopefully.

No matter how right or wrong this motion may be, we cannot sustain the level of science (#s of research institutions, PI's, projects, etc) with the current set up and funding that we have. So what are we to do with these lost PI's that don't survive The Great Purge? Flip burgers at TGI McFucksticks? Scoop Poop? Sell their organs?

My thought on the matter is based around those teaching universities that decided to dive into the biomedical research game when the NIH budget doubled. I have friends that worked at more than a few of those and when the floodgates of federal money opened they were told to go chase the money or chase another job.  Previously, research was really a secondary focus for them if that, their jobs were to educate young minds and they did just that.  The institutions emphasis became less on teaching undergrads and more on them securing grants, and more importantly for the institutions, that sweet sweet overhead on them. Maybe its time for these places that may be faltering in the grants game to change their viewpoint. If everyone is having such a hard time securing these grants and the institution really doesn't have the funds to run with the big boys, then don't do it. Don't try to race a CPP's Maserati when you are barely rolling in an AMC Gremlin.

Let some of these people who were just focused on teaching before go back to just you know, focusing on teaching students. If they can't secure enough funds for research, make them focus on education, pick up another course section to teach. Sadly though this plan may have an unintended consequence of squeezing off employment of adjuncts too though.

What are the other options for these PI's who are going to get knocked out the game?

One response so far

How BikeMonkey deals with the competition...

Oct 27 2011 Published by under Evil

If you can't beat them, entice mother nature to do it for you...

2 responses so far

Go easy on the herbs, for your kidneys...

Oct 26 2011 Published by under Alternative Medicine, Food, Uncategorized

So I know that Chinese herbs are all the rage these days as some people are turning to alternative medicines.  Here is a little something to be aware of:  aristolochic acid.

Here is the backstory,
Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN) was first described in the 1950s affecting areas of the Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Serbia that were in close proximity to the Danube river. BEN is a chronic kidney disease that progressed to renal failure and is associated with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.

So what the hell was causing it? Believe it or not it was a native plant, Aristolochia clematitis, that got into the wheat fields. Bread being a major staple in the daily life of these Eastern European villagers, they would harvest their wheat and Aristolochia. Since these weren't exactly the 1%, they had primitive milling machines so while they were milling the grain, they also milled the Aristolochia seeds into the mixture as well. Well it turns out the aristolochic acid in the seeds could survive the milling and baking process.

How does aristolochic acid give you cancer? Easy after being digested and metabolized the aristolochic acid reacts with DNA to for aristolactam adducts with deoxyadenine or deoxyguanine (your DNA). After extensive research the adducts can exist for indefinitely in the tissue and evade detection of conventional repair mechanisms.

So what if you don't repair the adduct? The adduct is mutagenic, the aristolactam adduct causes A:T --> T:A base transversions in the DNA, commonly seen in p53, a tumor suppressor gene. When you loose functional p53, you are in what the first President Bush would call, deep doodoo.  Also this lesion, can regularly escape repair based upon the strand selectivity of transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair.

Okay okay, so how does this relate to Chinese herbs? Aristolochia, is a very common ingredient in many Chinese herbal remedies. So you've got to do your homework and check out the natural "safer" alternative medicine.

We know that China has an elevated rate of urothelial cancers, is it related to Chinese herb usage, particularly those containing aristolochic acid? Who knows but it deserves some further study.

Grollman AP, PNAS, 2007
Cosyns JP, Kidney Intl, 1994
Nortier JL, NEJM, 2000

6 responses so far

Scibloggers Fantasy Football: Week 7

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Holy Shit people, we got us a new champion this week. All hail to the Hermitage.

Hermie is getting it done this week!

2.  Alyssa's Not Yo Mamma's Pick (Nice jump up the standings)

3.  Arlenna's Lollena (Powerful Arlenna, powerful)

4.  SugarScientist's Tumorators (Winning seems to be a malignancy you can't get rid of)

5.  Jade Bio's Defending Champion (You and I are duking it out for the top overall spot)

6.  Chall's Hopes (are no longer fantasy, she is posting a strong showing each week)

7.  PLS's Substanstowski's Seven (I should probably say something nice about you, but I won't)

8.  GertyZ's The Gert (I will say something nice about you, your picks were better than mine)

9.  Dr. O's Boys (I will never say anything nice about Tony Romo)

10.  Me.

11.  Odyssey's Sure Losers (Whichever of you or the kids is making these horrendous picks, please stop)

12.  Biochem Belle's K(eq) (I expect better than this from a meticulous biochemist)

13.  Tideliar's Tidy's Liars (I shouldn't say anything nice about you, but since you have incriminating photos I feel that I must.  I'm jealous of your hair.  Fuck you.)

Tideliar takes the last spot this week.  He earns this week's Fail of The Week.

Next time pay attention and make your picks...


2 responses so far

2 for Tuesday morning book review

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Losers:  The Road to Everyplace but the White House by Michael Lewis

I think it was about 5 or 6 years ago that I sat down and read Moneyball and Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life.  But enough of Lewis's baseball themed books.  In Losers, Lewis chronicles his all encompassing press coverage and behind the scenes of the Republican presidential candidates from the 1996 elections.  Lewis gives you his impressions of meeting with everyone from Bob Dole to Forbes to the more obscure candidate Morry Taylor.  He even follows Green Party darkhorse Ralph Nader.  The book gives you great insight to each candidates shortcomings, triumphs, and of course gaffes.  Its a good read.

3.5 out of 5 base pairs



Medium Raw:  A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

Anybody who knows me knows that I love Anthony Bourdain, I religiously watch his TV show, No Reservations.  Most people don't know that besides being a TV host and chef, Bourdain is actually a really, really good writer.  This is the follow up to wildly successful book, Kitchen Confidential, where Bourdain recounts his checkered career and past, why you shouldn't eat fish on Sunday, and the inner workings of the New York City restaurant scene.  Medium Raw picks up where Kitchen Confidential left off, Bourdain explaining his hatred of vegans, sparring with Paula Dean, Rachel Ray, and the giraffe of a TV show host, Sandra Lee.  Bourdain tells you of his highs (TV show, finally not sweating the bills, etc) and his lows (failing marriage, drug usage).  You get to see the daily life of Justo Thomas, a prep chef who does nothing but prep hundreds of pounds of fish each day to with precision that would simultaneously make a German engineer soil his pantaloons in glee and shed a tear of pride.

So check out this book and Kitchen Confidential if you haven't read it either.

5 out of 5 base pairs

3 responses so far

Dear lady at the RedBox machine...

Oct 24 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

tap out and go to Blockbuster, so I can use the machine.  You have shown your absolute noobness by camping out in front of the damn big red machine for almost 15 minutes.  Listen I know these things are popping up everywhere live damn Curves franchises but its not alien technology.  I'm see you click over Love and Other Drugs three separate times, I'm sorry they don't have it.  Now pick something else.  I'm getting fucking tired of waiting behind you as you pull up the movie description for Something Borrowed four separate times, oh but wait they are out of that too.  Please just click on Bridesmaids and get the fuck out of here.

I'm just trying to rent Limitless so I can butter up my wife to watch another Bradley Cooper, A-Team, at a later date.  This is my secret to somehow getting her to watch shitty movies, I show her a good movie that the actor is in and then, next time around its the shitty movie.  But you know what, if they didn't have Limitless, I'd rent Stepbrothers or Thor again from the RedBox.  I wouldn't be molesting the touch screen for, checking my watch now, 14 minutes.

Just click on Bridesmaids.  For the love of all that is good, click on fucking Bridesmaids.

Oh no, you fucked up and rented When in Rome!

Oh well, at least I can use the machine now.

4 responses so far

Welcome Cassandra's Tears

Oct 23 2011 Published by under Blogging

who is our new guest blogger.  I really dig his blog, especially the Timeline on Creationism and Science.  Go read him here and at his original blog home.

No responses yet

Time to start jamming again

Oct 21 2011 Published by under Blogging, Meetings

Just got back from my society meeting.  Met a lot of really cool readers of Scientopia and Canadians.  I'll be making a series of posts on the meeting next week but this is all I've got for you right now.

Enjoy some Ram Jam


2 responses so far

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