Daily Archives: July 14, 2008

I don’t find this helpful

The cracker wars, that is. You know what I’m talking about. I won’t be linking anything here cause I don’t want that kind of traffic. However, I would like to get a few thoughts off my chest. At first I thought it was a tad amusing but it is escalating into a mess that I find utterly despicable and childish. At some point I followed the evo-devo / religious right flame wars on SB with some amusement but then the whole framing thing happened and somewhere along the line I realized that there is the very real issue of educational integrity (which I care deeply about) and, on the other hand, a bunch of people with too much time on their hands going bonkers over issues that they know nothing about (philosophizing aside).

Let’s face it, there are a whole lot of people in this world that live in a world of shit. Almost none of us do and we don’t know what its like. By any measure we are lucky to have this privilege. For those not lucky enough to be born in the right place at the right time, many of them find respite in their religious belief. Some of them will survive horrendous conditions and unbelievable hardships and then credit their still beating heart to their faith. I may not agree with their conclusion but I do say you are a stronger one than I. It is one thing to point out ridiculous behavior on the part of the often silly (and frequently malicious – see birth control policies) Catholic League. It is another to openly ridicule a tradition that gives some people strength when such ridicule serves no real purpose other than to call another human an idiot (in some many words).

When I see such childish and uncalled-for behavior I often think back to stories of my grandfather in WWII. To this day he credits his continued existence to his faith. I would argue that it was something else but I cannot argue with the fact that he was driven at times to survive if for no other reason than to take communion one more time. That faith has been lost on me but it is easy to recognize that it is a lack of necessity as I have not been called upon to live through the great depression, drop out of school prior to my teens or watch thousands of good men die right in front of me. Limitless opportunity has dropped into my lap as a product of the hard work and sacrifice of others and often times I feel my success has been no more than an ability to keep my nose clean and show up on time.

So, PZ and your ilk, I think you would be well served to recall such privilege (although you may not reflect on it in such a way that I do) when you ridicule your fellow man and the beliefs that help him get through a day that you might not endure. There is the real issue of addressing political forces in this nation that would continue to take advantage of those that are less fortunate and there are the beliefs of many of those same people that deserve a modicum of respect (or at least to be left well enough alone).

PI suckitudes?

Drugmonkey has a post up about a colleague potentially bailing on PIdom for another career path. I’ve recently posted on the same topic and expressed some of the same sentiments. In DM’s discussion of this topic he raises the following point on the suckitudes of PIdom and how they weigh against the positives:

I don’t think I ever really understood where PIs who express disappointment with non-PI career path choices are coming from until recently. No, not one of my trainees, even worse. One of my science homies is thinking very seriously about taking an alternative path. I’m trying to be supportive. I know deep down that this person will make the best decision for himself and his goals/aspirations in life. Academic PIdom has copious suckitudes that can be magically relieved by taking another path. I know this.

Still. He’s been toiling on the edge along with many of us for years, trying to make it as a grant funded research-focused PI. From many measures and appearances he’s finally won! Things are looking like the PI / research path is going to work, if not just fine, at least as well as anyone else has it. He’s poised to really take off, scientifically. Apparently it isn’t enough.

This little passage can be especially pertinent for the junior PI who is currently starting up a lab and experiencing the suckitudes that come along with the current funding problems. While I’ve addressed how life changes from postdoc-hood to PIdom before, it is worth revisiting some of these issues from a fresh perspective. Continue reading