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All That Is, by James Salter

In 2013 I was captured, captivated by the spare prose of James Salter’s The Hunters, a story of the tense competition between US airmen in the Korean War. All That Is is similarly spare, and like The Hunters quite a masculine book, but it is a different beast.

All That Is

Initially I was concerned that Salter’s economical style might be ill suited to the time Continue reading

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Stand Up and Be Counted

There are times in one’s life when it is important to stand up and be counted. This is a view expressed neatly in a recent blogpost by Hilda Bastian about 7 Tips for Women at Science Conferences  with her sub-heading ‘Holding back for yourself is fine – but solidarity for others is non-negotiable.‘ In other words, if you don’ Continue reading

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Moved to poetry by….OMICS

Yes, the unfunny joke of a company called OMICS has moved me. Debating between tears and poetry, I opted for the latter, writing my “Epic Omics Limmerick,” provoked by the email pasted below.

Here is my verse:

There once was a dodgy company named Omics

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Posted in BS, fraud, humor, limmerick, OMICS, Open Access, poetry, Research, science, science journals, Science research, sucker born every minute | Leave a comment

Am I a Lady?

I am of a generation that was brought up with (though most certainly not to laugh at) the joke ‘That’s no lady, that’s my wife’. Classist overtones? Undoubtedly, as well as inherent sexism: the word ‘lady’ to me is not one with which I want to be associated. Let us leave aside the question of whether a knightR Continue reading

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Conspiracy deathmatch

I realized recently that, in the best tradition of fighting fire with fire, it’s possible to counter some conspiracy theories by invoking other conspiracy theories. The best two examples I’ve come up with so far are as follows:

  • The anti-vaccination movement is just an Illuminati plot to thin the ranks of the masses via the resurgence o Continue reading
Posted in Medicine, Pseudoscience, quacks, science, Silliness, technology | Leave a comment

Let’s just call it “ideology”

The recent murderous terror attacks in Paris at the weekly “Charlie Hebdo” magazine office and the Kosher supermarket — as well as the policewoman who was killed in the street — probably elicited the same emotions in me that they did for many people around the globe. Horror, sadness, and varying forms of anger. While the hor Continue reading

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Open access and the humanities

At the end of 2013 and 2014 I wrote blog posts on Occam’s Corner (over at the Guardian) to list and briefly review the books I read in each of those years. I am trying to develop this practice into a good habit because it spurs me to read; and I hope it might also serve to flag up titles of interest to others. I am planning to do the same thing aga Continue reading

Posted in book review, martin paul eve, Open Access | Leave a comment

Science Policy and Impact: Lessons from History

REF, the Science and Innovation Strategy document (S+I) and the Nurse Review of the Research Councils  collectively mean that the UK HE world of science is stuffed full of current policy issues that matter to us all – never mind the concentration of minds arising from an upcoming election followed by a Comprehensive Spending Review of unknown Continue reading

Posted in Eight great technologies, History of Science, Royal Society, Science and Innovation strategy, Science Funding, Science policy | Leave a comment

“To generalize is to be an idiot” (William Blake)

In the 1990s, there was a serial bomber in the USA named Eric Rudolph. Rudolph bombed abortion clinics, gay bars and even the 1996 summer Olympics. To escape the law, Rudolph took to the woods of North Carolina where he escaped capture for years, allegedly aided by his nearby family. He was even, rather depressingly, somewhat of a local hero in Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Hebdo, freedom of speech | Leave a comment

MOOC review of Think Again: How to Reason and Argue

The Coursera course Think Again: How to Reason and Argue started again on Monday – there’s still time to sign up! I took the course in the second half of 2014, making me a Think Again alumnus. If you are looking to learn something new this new year, then Think Again could be the course for you. Read on for a review.

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We’ve Come a Long Way But…

When it comes to women in science, the Athena Swan ‘brand’ is well established. By now, universities up and down the country are signed up to the Athena Swan Charter and many departments are seriously engaged with the process. Nevertheless there are still many that are not, and even of those that apparently are there is the danger that Continue reading

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In which we make a splash: Fiction Lab in the papers

A perplexing start this morning: a text from the lovely Sarah Main, director of CaSE, congratulating me on a mention in London’s Metro newspaper and wishing me “luck on Monday”.

Cue breaking out into a cold sweat as, seeing nothing unusual on my diary, I am suddenly terrified that I’ve forgotten something very important. Whi Continue reading

Posted in Lablit, Stereotypes | Leave a comment

On meetings

Six years ago I found to relatively easy to tell my mother what I did for a living, if not exactly explain it. I could wibble on about actin polymerization and spaghetti, or messenger RNA export, or why I’d spent a year of my life trying to repeat an experiment that our collaborators had published only to discover that the buggers had effecti Continue reading

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In which a tale of antibiotics takes form

It’s a grey afternoon outside the study window. This morning a thick fog erased the usual twinkling lights of Tilbury Docks along the estuary, with seagoing vessels blowing their horns in long, sonorous warnings. A fitting soundtrack, as tomorrow spells the demise of a fortnight’s holiday, during which disbelief was well and truly suspe Continue reading

Posted in Science talking, staring into the abyss | Leave a comment

Going against the grain—or rather corn

For better or for worse, US College athletics are an integral part of US society. However, maintaining a spirit of good sportsmanship should be an essential part of any athletic program.

College sports have a huge impact on US universities; for example, the sports network ESPN published that in 2008, the #1 ranked US college football team, the Alab Continue reading

Posted in academia, academics, coach, college sports, Cornhuskers, education, Football, Nebraska, profane language, sports, Universities | Leave a comment