Monthly Archives: September 2008

The sky is falling

Okay, I’m freaked out. Congress is officially unable to forget about politics for a few days and get something done to stop the banks from collapsing. Whatever your view on the current crisis, hopefully it is evident to all that something needs to get done. Quite clearly the Rethuglicans are willing to let the ship sink. No surprise. Democrats, you want to lead this country, sack up and do something. To quote myself from over at PP’s place: “700 billion vs. 3.something trillion in losses in stock prices in one day and who knows how much Wachovia is going to cost with no regulatoray rules or guidelines in place. And how many more banks will go tomorrow (local papers say Phoenix — of housing bubble fame — is ready for local banks to start falling)? And how long till the credit spread starts to mean no payrolls? I’m sorry, but I think we’re fucked.” Continue reading

McCain is scared of Jim Lehrer

DailyKos has a post up (by Scout Finch) wondering exactly which portion of McCain’s campaign has actually been suspended. I think Scout Finch has hit the nail on the head, he’s looking for an out for the debate. Here’s why: Jim Lehrer. Lehrer is no bully when it comes to moderating debates; however, Lehrer is not beholden to any ratings demons and the McCain campaign cannot control his lines of questioning with threats of withholding interviews or any of the other nonsense they are pulling on the major networks (Jim Lehrer is on Public Television for those that don’t know). They know what’s coming… even though the topic is supposed to be Foreign Policy, Lehrer is going to venture into economic policy, especially how it impacts foreign relations. They are completely unprepared to talk about this sort of thing (cause the only foreign policy they know is war) and they are scared to death of what Lehrer will throw at them (and they cannot control him). The illusion of a suspended campaign is a desperate attempt to get out of it. Chickens.

A clear answer

We knew it already, but here’s Obama on creationism and intelligent design (from the Nature feature):

Obama: I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.

McCain, some crap about the hand of god in the Grand Canyon.

EEG, coming to a court near you?

A friend sent me a link to this article asking me what I thought about this new technology. I was completely unprepared for what I read in the article. Apparently a scientist in India claims to have developed a technique using EEG (you know, electrodes on your head to crudely record some brain activity) to determine if a suspect committed a crime or not. From the article: Continue reading


Yesterday was not a good day. Scientifically it was great. We’re working on 4 grants with Oct deadlines and the data continues to pour in. Its exciting all around and the grants are looking very good. Couldn’t be more pleased with the progress. We had a meeting about a big collaborative grant for a Jan deadline and the group has come up with what I think is an incredibly creative outline for the work we want to do. Again, very exciting stuff… and then came the phone call.

You see, Juniorprof is hobbling yet again. This time its my knee. The first diagnosis was a bone bruise but that was 2 months ago and I still can’t run, jump or ride the bike faster than about 5 mph. I went back to the doctor about 2 weeks ago and they diagnosed torn meniscus this time. They think its of a nasty variety, that will need surgery, but the MRI has to come first. So when I called to see why the MRI appointment is taking so long to get ordered they tell me that my insurance company turned it down. Unnecessary. Did I mention it hurts to walk? Continue reading

Could Sol be right?

Sol, of course, is the ever loveable S. Rivlin, creator of many comments on DrugMonkey deriding Physioprof’s views on authorship. For the record, I agree with PP broadly on what constitutes authorship in the modern biomedical sciences. Sol has; however, raised some valid points in the debate, including what he has called “honorary authorship” — if I could find his comment on this again I would link it but I cannot find it, but I’m sure it was Sol. While Sol goes a bit further in describing this than I would, he has raised the issue of honorary authorship by dept heads as a particularly bad example of this practice. I have to say that I was skeptical that this ever actually happened anymore. I would have been wrong, and Nature has a particularly egregious example as a news feature this week. Continue reading

Science communication in the 21st century

My main man AbelPharmBoy points out a most excellent slide show from Chad Orzel on effective science communication in the 21st century and what it means for science funding. I agree emphatically with Abel and Chad’s points. Check it out!

UPDATE: That was fast, Chad has posted the video presentation.

Henry (Hank) I. Yamamura, 1940-2008

Pharmacology has lost another giant. Hank Yamamura died last night after a long battle with cancer. It is hard to imagine that there is a pharmacologist alive today that is not familiar with the work of Dr. Yamamura. He is the author of nearly 500 papers, countless books and book chapters and a mentor to a generation of pharmacologists. Hank did his PhD at University of Washington and then headed to Sol Snyder’s lab for postdoctoral work. Hank played a major role in the original descriptions of muscarinic pharmacology while working with Snyder. In 1975 he moved to the University of Arizona where he eventual became a Regent’s Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. At the University of Arizona, Hank practically wrote the book on opioid receptor pharmacology with especially strong contributions to the area of delta-opioid peptides. Hank was an active and cherished member of the Department of Pharmacology from 1975 until the day of his passing.

I first learned about Hank Yamamura, like most pharmacology PhD students, from his book “Neurotransmitter Receptor Binding”. His contributions to cannabinoid pharmacology played an important role in my PhD work. For the past 9 months of my life I was lucky enough to work in the same Department with Hank. When I first arrived here he was one of the first to greet me. Hank made a point to come visit my office (which was in a separate building) at least once a week and he was always eager to hear about what we were working on. He read all of my grant applications and gave me incredibly detailed comments. He shared advice on navigating the varieties of channels at the University and we eventually developed a small collaboration (which will continue). In other words, in 9 short months Hank became one of the most important mentors I have ever had and became a dear friend. I am just one of hundreds of trainees and faculty who have been positively touched by Hank’s never-ending enthusiasm for science and boundless generosity. I think I can speak for the entire field in saying that we will all miss Hank.

Hank’s obituary and guest book

The problems of this country writ large, in my house, last night…

About a month ago Mrs. Juniorprof and I decided to go just a bit greener by replacing our outdated house cooling unit with a top-of-the-line, super energy efficient, brand spanking new, air conditioning and duct system. Our house isn’t so big, so it didn’t require a ton of work, but several ceiling areas had to come down to put in those beautiful highly insulated ducts. The majority of the work has been done for about two weeks, but some leaks in the roof were discovered in the process so the ceilings have stayed down just to make sure that all the leaks were completely patched (its monsoon season here so its easy to discover if a leaky area has been corrected).

The dry-wall guy who is putting the ceilings back up came to do some work last night (around 7PM). This was actually supposed to happen about a week ago but the contractor (who is related to the dry-wall guy) informed me that Mr. Dry-Wall had fallen from a faulty scaffold at another (unrelated) job and that he had broken a few ribs. The injury had slowed him down but he was still working, I was told. This surprised me very much. I have also broken ribs before (playing football) and I can quite vividly remember not even wanting to breathe after that injury. Continue reading

This is crazy…

So, I got this email from Obama for America this afternoon with a nice little video asking me to donate. Today is my donation day anyway, so I clicked the link to go on over and give some money… After trying for hours now, I cannot get through. I’m gonna guess the site is too busy.

Looks like they’ve already got 8 million in donations since the Palin speech last night. I can’t imagine what that total will be by the time McCain gets up there to speak. I hope I get through (and PP, don’t come around here raining on my parade, I need to feel good after last night).