Archive for the '#FWDAOTI' category

The last resort of the empowered

May 02 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Debate and Discussion

They know they are wrong. The arguments on both sides have clarified the discussion and pointed the finger clearly at the powerful, the entitled, the entrenched and the beneficiaries. 
In desperation they pull their imagined trump card.

 "We can agree to disagree"

No, we really can't. 

13 responses so far

Second Thought of the Day

Mar 27 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI

Some weaksauce low energy muppet just tried to shame me for being "easily amused".

Is that supposed to be cutting?

The alternative is either that you are humorless or too dumb to get the joke, right?

26 responses so far

Thought of the day

Mar 27 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI

Personalized, artisanal trolling is the new twttr.

2 responses so far

In which I again punch down at some totally sympathetic character

Feb 23 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, AntiFeminist Asshole

The Washington Post tells this tragic tale of woe:

In her nearly 2,500-word letter, Ben-Ora explained the complaints she had with Yelp, including how she was required to work for a year in customer service before she could move into another position.

"A whole year answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food," she wrote.

She's 25.

In case you were wondering, yes, she did major in English, why do you ask?

She's poor*, and struggling and doesn't like it. Because the world should pay her six figures to write internet memes and shit. I guess. And this is all the fault of her employer somehow.

Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent.

Nobody with a college degree can reasonably expect to move to the Bay area and have anyone feel sorry for them about not knowing what rent costs. The internet exists. You can check on that. Beforehand.

Let’s talk about those benefits, though. They’re great. I’ve got vision, dental, the normal health insurance stuff — and as far as I can tell, I don’t have to pay for any of it! Except the copays. $20 to see a doctor or get an eye exam or see a therapist or get medication.

Benefits? A mere $20 copay? ....and this is an outrageously bad sweatshop that she works for? ok.

Naturally, after posting her screed on Medium, the inevitable.

UPDATE: As of 5:43pm PST, I have been officially let go from the company.

Wasn't that what you wanted?

__
via @forensictoxguy

*from her remarks, it looks like she is making $20K takehome, fwiw.

39 responses so far

"omg science is totally brokenz!" always, always comes back to the same thing. always.

Feb 17 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Anger

i.e., "I'm better than the riffraff and now that I feel a tiny tinge of their pain it proves the entire system is broken".

Respected neuroscientist Leslie Vosshall has joined with Michael Eisen in the latest "science needs to be torn down and rebuilt" crusades.

This time it is over pre-print archives. These two think we all should submit manuscripts to some sort of public repository before submitting them to journals for publication.

Whee! Unicorns!

Someone kindly forwarded me a link to a puff-piece / character assassination on Professor Vosshall. I phrase it like that because, well, eye of the beholder, eh?

As a teenager in the early 1980s, Leslie Vosshall spent her summers in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “My uncle is a scientist and he’d rent a lab there,” she says. “He always needed someone to come and do the glassware. It was a plum job, generally handed out via the nepotistic network...

cue privilege...

“I was widely viewed as the most pathetic graduate student. I had no hint of any success for the first 6 years of my PhD..... Two years went by, then three, then four. The more vocal people in and around the lab told me I should just give up and go to law school.” ....“The litany of failures goes on and on.... “I can’t say I was the greatest experimentalist in the world. I made great cDNA libraries and I was really good at manual Sanger sequencing. But these techniques are now extinct. So it’s probably best I’m no longer at the bench.”

umm. okay. so how...?

Then her lab mates identified another mutation, in a gene called timeless, which also alters the flies’ circadian rhythms. Vosshall found that in timeless mutants,....Vosshall joined Richard Axel’s lab ...Then the Drosophila genome was sequenced and we teamed up with some bioinformaticists, also at Columbia. They sifted through the genome looking for all membrane proteins—and that’s how we found them. It was an 11th-hour save. When we went back through our freezers, which were filled with the thousands of clones we’d made, it turns out we actually had two of the receptors in our collection......“There have been maybe three moments in my career when I knew that I personally solved something.

Wow. Like I said, quite the character assassination. From a certain point of view. I mean this paints a picture, true or not, of a person of immense privilege who admits to be a crap scientist who never figured out anything on her own, leveraged just-happened-to-be-there in high-flying and no doubt copiously resourced labs into a few nice papers and BAM, off to a career of Glamourousness. Pretty damning.

This is the relevant part though.


“When I started in this business in 2000, if you wrote a good grant you would be funded. This is not the case now. I deal with it by not writing grants. I know it’s stupid and a bit pouty, but I just can’t stand the rejection.” And she doesn’t care for the current climate of rationing. Vosshall, now an HHMI investigator, had an NSF grant turned down in 2006—despite receiving near-perfect scores. She was later told that grants with lower scores were given priority because she had other sources of funding, where the other labs did not. “That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Is that how we run professional sports? ‘Let’s let this guy pitch. He’s not as good, but he hasn’t had a chance recently.’ This may work well in elementary school. But it is not how it’s supposed to work in science.”

I was in this business in 2000. The part about writing a good grant and getting funded is, in a word, bullshit. It's a lie and a No-True-Scotsman ploy.

We've been through this before. Her success and ease of launch was based on the Glam papers and the Glam pedigree, not her grant writing. Believe me*. All that changed is that finally, at some point, she started feeling the tiniest bit of reality that was faced by most** scientists.

Those other folks.

Over there.

Who must not write "good" grants and so therefore they deserve what they get. But not her, ooooh no. If she has to face a "rejection" she's going to get all pouty. And instead of feeling grateful for a schweeeet HHMI dealio, complain about how she can't get even MORE support from the NSF (which worries about such things even more than does NIGMS or NIH as a whole if I have it right) it is an outrage. The entitlement just bleeds off this page of The Scientist.

And now, Vosshall is joining up with Michael Eisen to push pre-prints because the process of pushing her work into Glamour journals (7 Cell; 8 Nature; 4 Science of 78 pubs) is just too much work. The rejection (10 Neuron; 2 Nat Neuro tch, tch) must be really annoying. How dare anyone hold her to any sort of account for her offerings?

Clearly science is entirely broken and needs to be revolutionized.

I've convinced myself. This WAS a hit job. Nobody could possibly be this much of an asshole about science careers and their unbelievable run of self-described unearned privilege, could they? Right?


well yeah but when you come from a lab that pumps out the Glam...

too good to Edit now? hmmm.

Now, I'm going to address myself to Professor Eisen, who I think mostly has his heart in the right place. He, Bernie-Sanders-like, wishes to start a popular revolutionary conflagration that will bring his fondest desires to pass. He knows, somewhere deep down, that he needs the masses on his side to make this happen. He walks quite a bit of his talk. Great. Love the apparent intention to make science go forward faster, better and more efficiently.

But dude. Mike. For realz here. You alienate the ever loving shit out of the masses of workaday scientists when you cozy up with privileged, selfish, Glam scientists of the realm who have no intention of making science better and are only after making it better for themselves. This hit job in The Scientist on Vosshall (surely it is, right?)....it describes precisely the kind of person you don't want to hook up with. The image you don't want to hook up with, regardless of the truth in the heart of any particular person (ahem). Because it guarantees you will fail.

Just like hooking up with Glam folks to gain immediate power seduced you into creating PLoS Glams instead of only PLoS ONE guaranteed that particular agenda would fail.

Turn to the Bernie side, Professor Eisen. Do what works for the masses and burn down the entire institution of Glamour science.

It's the only way to achieve your goal.

__
*Trump voice.

**the riffraff

53 responses so far

Glam cost

Sep 24 2015 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Academics, Careerism, Fixing the NIH

How much do you think it costs to generate the manuscript that is accepted for publication at your average Glam journal?

How do you align this with your views on fair distribution of research funding?

52 responses so far

Typographical Errors

Sep 17 2015 Published by under #FWDAOTI

I have never understood this nonsense. Ever. What do typographical errors on a manuscript or grant application have to do with the quality of the science or the scholarship. The thinking?

Copy editors can catch the typos in manuscripts.

Grants? You are on your own risking a failure to communicate your points. But a couple of typos leading some jackwagon to decide they can't trust the science based on this? Please.

32 responses so far

Keen Political Insight

10 responses so far

The stuff a liberal arts college education stamps out of you (if you still need it)

Jul 08 2015 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Academics

A: "Strong assertion that this thing should be so!"

B: "What is the basis for your assertion?"

A: "hmmmina..hummina....umm WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR YOUR COUNTER CLAIM????"

I weep for science some days people. I really do.

28 responses so far

It's all just political

Jun 01 2015 Published by under #FWDAOTI, NIH, NIH Careerism

First of all, if you don't understand that anything featuring groups of humans is in the broader sense "political" than you are a fool.

The typical charge that NIH grant review is "all political" made by disappointed applicants, however, always sounds a little more...specific. Take this guy:

Nice and truthy. But what does it mean?

As you might expect I set about trying to get home slice here to define terms and be more specific about what "politics" there are that are making the decision among grant applications which survive triage. Naturally he started dodging and weaving and refused to define what he meant by "politics" save for

which is ridiculous. Yes, big scale stuff like this involves a lot of real actual political behavior. But this has very little to do with the round-by-round review of grants in study sections. In fact, the Brain Initiative folks launched their political effort precisely because they were not enjoying the success they thought they deserved in the usual NIH grant review process!

The closest our friend came to honesty was

which is nice and wishy washy as a definition. Obviously it means that he has decided that the people who he thinks should not get funded do win NIH grants. Since he has determined, in his wisdom, that it is unjustified that they are funded then clearly it is because of "undue personal influence".

It cannot possibly be that the many players in the system come with their own unique constellation of beliefs about what constitutes the most-meritorious proposals, see? It has to be politics and undue personal influence.

And this is such an important factor in deciding what gets funded out of the 40-50% of proposals that do not get triaged, that he is suggesting wholesale revision of the process to award below the triage line via lottery.

I find this laughable. Yes, there is a great deal of randomness as far as which grants get selected for funding in a given round. I continue to believe, however, that non-random factors are important and that over the entirety of NIH grant selection, the 5%ile grant is likely to be selected over the 45%ile grant for nonpolitical reasons. We may not agree individually with all of these reasons, but I think dismissal of it all being "undue personal influence" is wrong. YHN is a prickly and unfriendly customer in real life and yet is funded. I know of many really friendly and awesome scientists who struggle to get NIH funding. Time after time on study section I hear the crappy application from the highly successful PI being lauded on the basis of past accomplishments and never once on the personal influence. The vast majority of the time, people are reviewing grants from people they don't really even know personally.

I remain confused as to what this charge of "politics" really means, if it is anything other than personal disgruntlement. But I am eager to learn.

So by all means, Dear Reader, have at it.

What does it mean to you to say grant review is "political"? Be specific in your terms. How could we reduce undue influence? What changes to regular old unsolicited grant review should be made to combat this truthy sounding boogeyman?

59 responses so far

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