It’s all been rather unsettling but I guess that’s life these days.
Moving the blog to its new home was a bit more fraught than I had been anticipating. Though I can piece together a rationale for Nature Network’s rather precipitate decision to change the locks, I’ve not really had a satisfactory explanation from them for their actions. I have been surprised at how disturbing this has been to me over the past week but I guess it will come soon enough to be seen as a trivial episode.
In the meantime there is the physical and technical reality of moving the blog to cope with. It’s a bit like moving house. If you look down the side-bar on the right hand side you will see that I have imported my archive of blogs from Nature Network. However, as with moving house, dumping the boxes in your new living room is not the end of the job. You still have to unpack them and that’s what I’m now trying to sort out.
My more recent posts — those written since March 2010 when Nature Network switched to Movable Type 4 — were imported more or less smoothly but earlier ones are still wrapped in a heavy layer of Textile markup code, making them a bit ugly to look at. So I suggest you don’t, at least for the time being.
I am on the case but it may take a little time to sort this out. If you have expertise in Textile to HTML conversion I’d be glad to hear from you.
At the lab, where the science is supposed to be happening it has been a difficult time. Few will be unaware of the redundancies announced by the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College where I work. Though not affected most directly, those of us who remain on the staff are inevitably perturbed by events of this kind. (I hope it will be obvious that I cannot discuss the specifics of the situation here.)
In the midst of this I am trying to write another grant application. Of necessity — I won’t bore you with all the other things that I have been trying to get done — this one has come together rather late in the day and I am unsure whether I can meet the 5th January deadline. Going for it will mean a major disruption of Christmas with my family. Having messed up Easter with an earlier application, I am reluctant to put them through the same thing again. But needs must. Mustn’t they?
Petsko is a protein crystallographer (like myself) and works at Brandeis. I was already aware of his scientific output. Indeed, I suspect we probably sat in the same seminar rooms while I was working in Boston in the 1990s. I only came across his column recently when a piece (A Faustian Bargain) that he had written as a letter attacking the decision of the President of the State University of New York at Albany to close several of its humanities departments was flagged up on Twitter. It was articulate, passionate and struck a chord with many people.
From there I found my way to his back catalogue and have gone all the way back to 2000 to start from the beginning. Although I found his Faustian Bargain letter a little overblown, I have warmed to the easy style and clear intelligence of his writing. I’ve not read many yet, so I may eventually tire of articles that have to maintain some link to genomics. But so far so good.
A column entitled Perpetual Motion of the Worst Kind seems particularly relevant to some of the malaise I am experiencing:
“If I could change one thing about modern science, it would be this constant busyness. It robs us of so many things: the peaceful contemplation of our results; the time to get to know our students better; the challenge of planning an experiment carefully instead of just rushing to get more data; the simple joy of working with our own hands. It exhausts us, emotionally as well as intellectually and physically. And genomics is only going to make it worse, if in no other way than simply by increasing the pressure for more results, faster. If we don’t do something about it soon, we will wake up one morning to find that science has become work instead of fun. (And personally, I’ve never wanted to work for a living.)”