Comments and posts archived April 2012 – September 2012
(I missed the last two weeks due to Good Friday and then a day off last week. Oops – bad blogger!)
Comment(s) of the Week
Apr 20 2012: Michael McCarthy for “What do you call a blind antelope?
What do you call a blind antelope with no legs?
Still no idea.”
Pika for “How do you put a giraffe into a Fiat 500?
Open the door, put giraffe in, close the door.
How do you put an elephant into a Fiat 500?
You can’t, there’s a giraffe inside already.”
Prof-like Substance “I’m sure this will play out like all of these transitions do – initial screaming by the constituency, followed by screams returning to baseline levels in a year or two. The issue is that funding agencies have to do something to solve some major problems. They are not always going to get it right, but they have the money, so they make the rules. We can complain (and probably will), but it is what it is. Adapt or fall behind.”
Nina for “Come on Cath, at least you had a shower at all. Some weeks ago they turned off ALL our water at work without telling anyone and so I didn’t have a shower after cycling, no glass of water, and no cup of tea.
Or the time when the fire alamer went off when I was in the shower. Or the time we had a major earthquake and two of my colleagues were in the shower. Always bring a towel that is large enough to cover all your precious bodyparts.
The internet-thing is really realy stupid though.I suppose they will still bill you for the weeks without internet, as any self-respecting internetprovider would?”
Mermaid for “I hate the long wait time for Shaw. When they cancelled our cable two days after moving in (activating the previous owner’s disconnect request two days AFTER activating our connect request) they initially told us it would be 4 weeks for it to come back on. In the end, after a combination of complaining that we couldn’t work from home when needed and pointing out the Shaw technician who disconnected us was technically on our land without our permission, they came out in three days. Took lots of complaining though. Perhaps some whining. Might have been a spot of yelling (no, I am not proud of that).”
and Richard Wintle for “new poll result – “1 in 5 fans accurately predict Canucks playoff run!””
Apr 27 2012: Ricardipus (2011-2012 Regular Season Hockey Pool CHAMPION!!1!) for “That was really tense – 5-point margin on a total of 1,091. Quick, someone do some stats to prove my win isn’t statistically significant!
Thank you everyone, fun as always, and mod definitely had me sweating there (who gets 14 points out of a goalie in a single week?!!!!).”
Mike for “Well, as a big United fan (that is Dundee, as distinct from the wee Uniteds down south), the mid to later 80s were a time of constant disappointment for me. A string of Scottish and one UEFA cup final(s) have instilled a near permanent sense of impending doom in me. I’m still not completely sure we’ve really won the Scottish cup twice since then. Ya dancer!”
Ricardipus again “The problem is, you’ve set your sights too high. If you were a Torquay United fan (and I use that word advisedly) like me, you’d never expect to win anything. Less disappointment that way.”
Chall for “(Let’s see if I can remember how to write about anything other than hockey!)
Why? It’s the PLAY OFFS!! 🙂
and SB for “A few people from my new lab commented that they don’t attend these seminars because “jumiping genes” are very confusing to them… and I’m thinking: hold on, you expect non-stem cell biologists (i.e. most of the department) to understand your limit dilution setup on a tertiary transplant of virus transduced blood stem cells, yet you can’t get your head around a few basic molecular techniques?? Excuses.
The people I feel REALLY bad for are the bioinformaticians, because they put in ten times the amount of work into making their talks comprehensible to people outside the field, yet few people show up to actually hear them.”
May 4 2012: Silver Fox for “I didn’t know there was a way to automatically turn the font red for added sections/words and use strikeout on deleted portions, so once did that by hand for a long draft I was editing. It was impossible to read, but my boss wanted it (sodid it and kept my own clean copy).”
Nico for “We very occasionally get asked by author to track all changes in we make in a manuscript. We don’t, not because we’re all high and mighty, but because every single line of the manuscript is covered in changes when we’re done with it! eXtyles does that, it is much simpler to just make the changes and trust us (you can, really, we’re quite careful…).
I can’t stand Comic Sans, but my better half has it (or some similar derivative) as the default font on her phone. I think that’s a ploy so that I don’t touch the thing.”
Eva for “Is the answer “Download another browser”? Because it should be.”
Mike for “I rather hope the answer would be “jump in your jalopy and speed on into the 21st century.”
Or “still using IE4? Get the hell out of academia.””
and Grant for “yes, the correct fix is “for goodness sakes get a current browser for the love of everything sane”.
Besides Safari, Apple’s own browser (which is available for Windows) comes with the OS. Nothing to do – just use the existing browser.
Disclosure: I no longer know what browser I prefer as I think that while all of them render pages well, have decent user interfaces, etc., they all perform terribly under heavy loads or, in particular, low RAM. (Personally I smell an OS issue, but what gives?)”
May 11 2012: Nina for “Now I understand why there was only hockey updates for so long …! Not that I don’t like hockey, but it’s hard to connect when you’re in rugby-land.”
Richard Wintle for “The new job will be somewhat similar to my current one, but with much more emphasis on project management and much less on writing grants**.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll wait for the 5.5 year retrospective post to see just how much grant writing you *didn’t* get involved in…”
Grant for “As an independent computational biologist (i.e. a consultant), I can understand your happiness at being part of a team again. There’s that difference between working for a team, even if possibly being quite closely involved with them, and being part of the team. It’s a small difference in some ways, but a huge difference in others.”
Massimo for “First of all, congratulations. To me, someone like you is a bit the bellwether of how things are out there. If a person as talented and resourceful as you have proven to be, were one day truly unable to find employment, then we would know that things have gotten really, really bad. Fortunately it is not like that — yet.
Secondly I do not understand your misgivings and feelings of guilt, really. Where do they come from ? Why is it that it is OK for bosses to tell employees point blank “sorry your position has been/will (likely) be eliminated”, while employees have to walk on egg shells when it comes to firing their own employers ? You are on soft money, being told by your boss that at any moment your job may be no more, and you feel “guilty” about looking for something, anything to stay afloat ? I say you do what you gotta do, and if your boss should resent you (which I am sure he won’t), !@#$ them. Supply and demand must work equally in both directions, it cannot always be the employee to take the shaft.
Your soon-to-be-former boss may be the greatest person in this world, but if he cannot afford you, he has to settle for less, simple as that. The only chance to go back to a reasonable job market, in which mission critical individuals are hired as they should be (i.e., permanently) and paid as much as they are worth, is precisely by making employers realize that unless they put more on the table, they are not getting the performance.
So, you have the perfect job now. You know what I say ? Say, hypothetically, you get a phone call tomorrow from someone else — heck, your current boss, telling you that a permanent position may be available for you if you are interested — are you going to “feel guilty” about telling your new employer that you are quitting ? I sure as hell hope not.
If someone out there is willing to offer you more (either by way of better salary or stability), it means that that is what you are worth in a market economy. So, why should you settle for less ? If you want to do charity, I can name many worthy causes before either your current or past employer, believe me.
I don’t know, maybe I have gotten disillusioned with unions, but I do feel that unless employers start getting burned by employees leaving, things won’t get better.
Any employer demanding undivided loyalty of employees should commit 1) never to lay off anyone (unless the employee commits a crime) 2) always to beat any competitive salary offer and/or pay better than prevailing wage.
If they don’t, they are delusional and/or bullying thugs.”
Heather for “I like Massimo’s comment about the non reciprocity of the power structure. But I think there is nothing to be done except to be so good as to get some practice in asserting your choices.”
Richard Wintle again for “In the C. elegans world, there was for many years (and maybe it still exists now) a newsletter type of journal called The Worm Breeder’s Gazette. People would submit all kinds of unpublished things to it, in a format more or less like meeting abstracts. It was not, of course, peer reviewed. It served as a community publication so that people could know what everyone else was doing and spur discussion and collaboration, in the best spirit of the worm community, which has always been a very collegial bunch (in general).
Sounds great, right? Well, it was… to a point. It also, of course, served as a sort of virtual pissing post, so that people could essentially stake their claim to certain research areas and implicitly discourage others (or, if you like, encourage them to do something else). Yes, it kept people from duplicating efforts, thereby avoiding scoops. But it also meant that those researchers not playing the WBG game could sit back on the sidelines and keep an eye on what their competitors were (quite publicly) up to.
So – as an “open community” approach – same old same old. If everyone plays nicely, it’s great. But we all know that science doesn’t work that way.
Last related point – there are many examples where full-on competition has sped things up (public Human Genome Project vs. Celera; the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, CF and retinoblastoma genes, structure of DNA, you name it). It doesn’t stretch the imagination much to think that fully open science could actually slow a lot of discoveries down, rather than speed them up.”
Gerty-Z for “Adam, I’m sure that [if everyone is open, no-one gets scooped] is true in some fantasy world where everyone has everything in the open. And also there is no one that would see your “open” work and instead of being all warm and fuzzy collaborative decides to speed up their work in the same area to beat you to the punch. But in the real world, that is not how it works. It seems ridiculous to ignore that. Do you want to be the one that sacrifices their ability to publish (and perhaps your career)?
Open science is an interesting idea, but I’m with Cath here–I can’t really get on board. I’m a junior faculty member, so I need to publish in order to keep my job. And my grad students and postdocs need to publish to advance in the careers that they want.”
Casey for “In almost every case I know of where one group scoops another, each group could have benefited from the collaboration. If you think about it, the only way this can’t be the the case is if the final papers contain exactly the same data. Is it really a good strategy to fund two, or more, labs to do the same research? In my mind, it’s a no-brainer that the cause of science would be advanced greatly if scientists worked together.
Of course, it sucks to get scooped, and no one working on p53 in HeLa cells would be wise to do it. If the field began to recognize the contributions that each scientist made to a project, instead of characterizing them simply as “first author”, “senior author”, or “may-have-done-slightly-less-work-than-first-author-or-may-have-just-done-a-couple-ligations” it would help a lot.”
Zen Faulkes for “There’s a another issue here, which is the underlying reason why “scooping” is a problem.
We place too much priority on being first and not enough on replication.
You would think that two labs arriving at the same conclusions independently should be reason for both papers to be published as complementary findings. It would show that the finding was rock solid.
The arsenic life story was also a good example of how completely ambivalent people are to replication, even of a big, high profile claim.”
and Austin Elliot for “What Zen said -replication is important, and underestimated.
If two labs do arrive at something simultaneously, so much the better. Less chance it’s wrong.
It is also a major way fraud is uncovered, I would have said.
Re ‘too much priority on being first’ I once had the experience of publishing a idea nearly at the same time as another lab. One of our more bitter professional rivals took exception to our later being credited with ‘simultaneous but independent’ in a commentary, and wrote to a journal editor (!) who’d published the commentary, pointing out our paper had been submitted a month later than the other discoverer’s. Coincidentally, other discoverer and bitter rival were friends.”
May 18 2012: SB for “One caveat to “open science” that is seldom discussed is the importance of achieving intra-group consensus on this issue (and the consequent difficulty it poses to individuals wishing to adopt this model in practice, even if they fully back it in principle); I wouldn’t dream of posting any of my findings online because they rely heavily on other group members’ unpublished data.
Also, my gut feeling is that people who are most heavily invested into their projects have the least to lose from posting the data online before submitting to a journal; if your experiments take years to do, it is very unlikely that someone could replicate them before you submit yours for publication…”
Beth Snow for “My first few papers from my PhD are under my former (i.e., ex-husband’s) surname, with more recent papers under my maiden name (i.e., the one I currently go by). I put a note on my publication list that older papers were published under a former surname, and it’s not been a problem for people reading my CV. Without the note, however, people could not figure out why I had “M.E. Simpson” underlined for the older papers and “M.E. Snow” underlined for the more recent ones. I thought it would be pretty obvious, but honestly, people were totally flummoxed without the explanation.”
Massimo for “I am so jealous, I wish I could change my name too, and then tell everyone that my h-index is actually twice as much as it is, it is just that I have been publishing under different names…”
CromerCrox for “Modesty is an overrated virtue. Publication entitles you to a certain amount of self-congratulation.”
Elizabeth for “I got married about 6 months after receiving my PhD in 2010 and changed my last name to my husbands (which I also consider an upgrade, went from 6 letters to 9, there’s a very cool looking family crest associated with the name in Norway, and I’m the only one with my new name in Pubmed that I can find so far). ”
Bean-Mom for “It can feel strange to still publish when you’re not still at the bench, no? When I held a science writing/editing job somewhat similar to yours, I was offered authorship on a manuscript that I worked very hard on. It was so disorganized that I basically had to rewrite it from scratch–including giving advice on experimental design, figures, etc. It was a really weird position to be in; I’d been hired as a writer, not a postdoc or staff scientist, so it felt odd giving scientific input. But everyone was appreciative, particularly the Very Busy Supervisor who was too busy to supervise. When they offered me authorship on that paper, I turned it down as I didn’t feel I’d quite met the standard for authorship, but also because I thought it was an awful manuscript (even after all my help) and I didn’t want to be associated with it!
And the review that I worked on in that particular lab, which I thought I really did deserve authorship on? Not only did I not get authorship–they forgot to acknowledge me!
C’est la vie. New lab now, working at the bench and writing for myself. Okay, this comment has gone on too long. I just remember how odd it felt to be in that position, and to realize that you can still publish even when you’re not at the bench. (I guess no PIs are actually at the bench, and they all publish!)”
and Frank Norman for “Always good to see your name up in lights.
Maybe you could have put both names (CA Dunn and CA Ennis) on? 😉 ”
May 25 2012: Liz for “Oh, this is too funny! I was just talking with friends this week about how interconnected the Canadian science community is. The discussion stemmed from how many friends/lab alumni/collaborators we ran into at a conference last week. And one of those collaborators I unexpectedly ran into? You guessed it- the infamous David Kent.”
The Infamous David Kent for “while flattering re: networks, the comparison to Kevin Bacon did really make me shudder… ”
Bob O’H for “Do they indicate well organized places of worship with a church bible? And well organised speleological attractions with a holey bible?”
Nina for “Cool! That means I practically live in Canada. Christchurch, the Vancouver of Canada’s East coast.”
Richard Wintle for ““Customer Ratings: We have not received enough ratings to display an average for the current version of this application.”
Here’s one: on average, your application sucks.”
and ModScientist for “Mock away, IndyR is my brother. And a Canucks HATER! And continue to mock me too, yeah yeah you didn’t make picks and still almost beat me. My Skillz died with the Canucks season 🙁
Also, cowy is my 9 year old nephew and JasonDoc is his dad. Mock them too while you’re at it. Especially Jason, he is a Flames fan (barf)”
July 13 2012: Ian for “Einstein was born in 1879, and didn’t speak or write until many years after that. Thus, it is unreasonable to believe that he posited this riddle early in the 19th century, 60-70 years before his birth and ability to speak. So, the correct answer is that it is a trick question. Einstein ate the fish for lunch. I determined this in 12 seconds.
What did I win?”
Megan Cully for “I can’t believe I spent that much time on a quiz but I hate not getting the answer once I’ve started. Probably why I’m a lousy scientist, beating uninteresting projects into mediocre publications”
Bob: “It’s obvious that the solution in nobody. The Norwegian ran out of cigars, so he smoked the fish instead.
He nicked it off the German, who was too busy making an extension to his living room.”
Steve: “Sorry Bob, that’s a smokescreen and red herring”
Bob: “It was closer to brown after it had been smoked, though.”
Nina for “NZ celebrates “the queen’s birthday” too. But always on a Monday, because otherwise what is the fun of a dead queen’s birthday.
My Spanish colleague was equally confused when me and a German colleague tried to explain 2 long weekends to her. A few weeks back was ANZAC day, which is something like memorial day for Aussie and NZ. There is also an ANZAC Biscuit (which the girls used to sent to the boys at the front). So My German colleague said “You know, ANZAC, like the biscuit”. To which the Spanish lady answered “A holiday for a cookie, and one for a queen that is not there anymore and not on her real birthday either. It’s fine by me, but I don’t understand”.”
Bob again for “Oh, [Newcastle United] are in that state when they’ve just been doing really well, and they’re getting everyone’s hopes up, so they’re going to crash and be awful next season.”
and Michelle for “In Ontario, Victoria Day long weekend Is the weekend that signifies people can go back outside again, open up their cottages for the summer, plant their gardens, and barbecue. Hence it is colloquially known as ‘May 2-4′ weekend. As in case of beer. as in time to start partying and drinking around a bonfire whilst Lynard Skinard’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ blares out from the pickup truck’s sound system.”
Jul 28 2012: Nina for “reading this, I realize perhaps it is a good thing that my parents think NZ is too far away for a visit. Just imagining getting the right cereal and yoghurt and having prying eyes through all the cupboards makes me shiver. ”
Mermaid for “I also buy ‘special’ cereal, milk, juice, peanut butter, etc when my parents visit. I would have assumed that most of us would continue to use the same basics we were raised with, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. My parents often stay for a couple nights on their way to or from someplace else, so I stock up the fridge and then they leave without eating it all and I throw it out. Then they come back a month later and I do it all over again. I once tried to just feed them what I eat, but there were so many pointed comments and heavy sighs during breakfast that I never tried it again.”
Ricardipus for “I don’t understand the empty inbox. I suspect you Photoshopped it to look like that. ;)”
and then “First day at the new job:
“Good morning Cath. Nice to see you. Please complete this 400-page Genome Canada progress report by Tuesday morning. Thank you.””
Bob O’H for “Silence is not an option? Does that mean we all have to say someting? Anything?
Well, PTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to you then.
There. Said it.”
Beth for “I am the champion!! I am the champion!!
OK, that’s all the socialization time I’m allowed for June. See you in July?”
Beth Snow again for “I’m a little intimidated to start any book so large as Game of Thrones (let alone an entire series of such huge books) while I’m in school. But I have been watching the TV series and since Devon has read the books, I just annoy ask him what the hell is going on and who the hell everyone is. Related: did you see that tweet (I can’t remember who tweeted it) about how the Game of Thrones is just like Twitter because there are 140 characters and terrible things are always happening? So true.”
Mike for ““Some people are still getting used to the way in which us Brits speak to each other, in particular the use of insults to show affection”
No we don’t. Idiot.
Sigh, I’m all out of GoT books now. Maybe Dunk and Donut will have to fill in for a while. I suspect it might be easier for those who haven’t read the books to watch the TV series. They don’t have to keep turning round to ask Mrs F/Mr E Man/Relevant other (del as approp) “That didn’t happen in the books, did it?””
and Ricardipus again for “ust re-read the “silly signs on lab instruments” part, which made me smile – I just did a tour of our shop and was reminded again that one of our racks of thermocyclers is named after members of the Wu-Tang Clan: U-God, Method Man, RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and so forth. They used to be Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Doc, etc. – not sure quite what happened there but I’m sure there’s some profound social commentary that could be derived from it.
“Ghostface Killah”. I might start signing my emails that way. Suits me perfectly I think.”
Aug 19 2012:
Bob O’H for “Pro tip: don’t follow up Y with X by email. If someone calls themselves X then they’re probably illiterate anyway.”
Richard Wintle for “I’m glad you haven’t yet rapidly progressed to using the terms “crap” and “crud” instead of “thingy” and “stuff”.”
ScientistMother for the outstanding typo “you are free to come hang out with my demo spawn”
and Alyssa for “the picture you painted of the long weekend with no one around was heartbreaking yet funny (only because it’s in the past, and we can laugh at that, right?).”
Sep 14 2012: Bob O’H and Mike for the following exchange: Bob: “So, a grant entitled Deciphering Concerted Improvements Towards Linking Mechanisms would have a pretty good chance.”
Mike: “And it still manages to say more than some abstracts I’ve read”.
Me: “It would probably do better than Unraveling a Comprehensive Investigation of Evaluated INTERROGATION techniques, yes (depending on the funding agency, of course).”
Bob: “Wasn’t that a leaked repot about water-boarding?”
Richard Wintle for “I see an opportunity for an iPhone app that generates sure-to-be-funded grant titles based on your input keywords (or maybe just by examining your existing publications from PubMed).
Hm, Genome Canada has a bioinformatics competition going on right now… do you think developing such an app would count?”
Richard Wintle again for “Wow. That must be the fastest thing the Royal Mail has ever done!
“A fleet of 90 Royal Mail vehicles will deliver the stamps across the UK to over 500 Post Offices to be on sale tomorrow…” – which begs the question… where is this fleet of vehicles when UK denizens want a regular bit of mail delivered on time?”
“I once received a postcard from my parents, sent from Germany, overnight. I have no idea how that worked.”
Nina for “I had the exact same experience in the NL some weeks back. Everybody rapping along with some super lame Dutch song and I’m the only one thinking “WTF is this?!?! Dutch rap?!?!”.
The whole expat thing is starting to annoy me too. all these misunderstandings.”
and Pika for “And for this, You stand absolutely no chance of winning a trivia quiz in either your native or your adopted country we actually made an experiment with some local friends when I was living in Sweden with the “Who wants to be a millionare” quiz (you’re bound to have a local version of this everywhere). The locals breezed through the easier questions, which the expats had no idea about (Children’s rhymes in local language? Who was that politician from 10 years ago? No idea for someone who is not local…), while the expats aced all the harder ones, particularly the geography/world related ones. We joked that we should take two people, one local, one expat and disguise them into one person, who would then go there and win all”
Sep 21 2012:
Mike for “Pfpfpffff, give me a speccy 48k anytime over those clunky ol’ commodores. Especially as I’ve had a heated argument with my (non-British) brother-in-law about the presence/absence of rubber keys on the 48k. Apparently the designs differed between the models released in Spain and the UK. We UKites apparently have a thing for the feel of rubber on our fingertips that is not shared by the more continental.”
Mermaid for “With apologies to Willie Nelson (and to any readers offended by my butchering of classic lyrics):
To all the genes I’ve harmed before
Who traveled in and out the lab door
I’m glad they came along
This post will right the wrong
To all the genes I’ve harmed before”
Jenny and Bob for the following exchange: Jenny: “Don’t worry, it’s not really gene torture as defined by the Geneva Convention unless you also Bend, Fold and Spindle them as well.”
Bob: “That would be the Gene-va Convention, of course.”
Richard Wintle for “You swam in the St. Lawrence River? Forget creepy tickle monsters… *that’s* brave.
That salt shaker is hilarious. And what the heck is that tickle monster sign supposed to be, anyway?
Final point – if you want some fun, find someone from Montreal and someone from New York, put them in a room together, and say the word “bagel”. Instant argument.”
Mike again for “I’m pretty sure the tickle monster sign is actually a warning: “Danger! Canadians aren’t quite as good at the Gay Gordons as they think they are.”
And the next one is a warning for French breast implants.”
Nina for “As someone who notoriously refuses to incorporate any mobile device that can also be used as a phone into her life, I could write a long, long, long rant about all things wonderful in the world that are becoming obsolete to my great regret with the evolution of smartphones. However I will keep it short: it is amazing how many people forget they have a brain as soon as they get their hands on a smartphone.
Or maybe that’s a good thing?”
Steve Caplan for “The timer-trick is a “time-honored” way of extracting oneself from many unpleasant circumstances in the vicinity of the lab!”
ScientistMother for “essentially I use my smartphone for: twitter, FB, email, ipod & camera. I’m such a luddite.”
and Professor in Training for “I would comment about how sad you are but that would be the pot calling the kettle black (but with a different, much cooler band, obviously). At least you didn’t meet them in person and gush about how totally amazing they were and how much you totally loved them and how this is the very best moment of your life. Of course, I never did that. That was someone else. A friend.
Excuse me while I go and hang my head in shame.”
Post(s) of the Week
Apr 20 2012: Prof-like Substance for “In writing, your audience matters” and “Is there room in a review for grantsmithing feedback?”, and Sylvia McClain for “Why can’t we write like other people write?” (a theme, this week! Three great conversations about the definition and importance of good scientific writing)
Massimo for “Give him a chance? Sure, as long as…” (now that Canada has a new leader of the official opposition, does the end (getting rid of Harper) justify the means (a move to the centre)? Massimo and I disagree, but what do you think?)
Steve Caplan for “Accountable anonymity” (cyberbullying and the blogosphere)
and Jennifer Rohn for “In which the light bulb’s on the other foot” (last week we found out how many Belgians / Torontonians / engineers / psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb; this week we find out how many light bulb changers it takes to break into a Tab-Seal closure full of isopropanol)
Apr 27 2012: Charles Pelkey, guest posting on the “Breast cancer? But doctor… I hate pink!” blog for “Tits-on-a-boar: a male’s thoughts on his own breast cancer” (one man’s story of a disease that’s rarely discussed)
Ann, usual author of the same blog, for “This surreal life” (beautifully written post about “mourning your own life while you’re still living it”)
Stephen Curry for “What’s your favourite colour?” (I agree with the commenters who argued that X-rays aren’t a colour, but also agree with Stephen that they’re pretty damn cool anyway. Great comments section on this one, too)
Jenny Rohn for “In which necessity’s a MoFo” (excellent examples of MacGyvered lab equipment)
Richard P. Grant for “Gonna build a house” (Yes. This. SO MUCH this.)
and Eva Amsen for “Hoping they’ll lose pinterest” (does every new medium need to be used for scientific messages?)
May 4 2012: Stephen Curry for “Eyes on the prize are blind to reality” (would replacing the current impact factor system with post-publication review and prizes for the best papers be better for open science?)
May 11 2012: Athene Donald for “Conferences and courage” (the importance of women asking questions at conferences – and of everyone asking good questions)
Nina for “Noho Marae” (interesting post about Maori culture, including musings on the meaning of “home”)
and Erika Cule for “You’re turning into your supervisor” (is it inevitable that trainees will inherit some of their supervisor’s habits and even personality traits? If so, is that a bad thing?)
May 18 2012: The Excitable Scientist for “(Im)perfect role models” (on “the lack of correlation between having pleasant interactions with somebody, and that person’s ability to influence your life in a positive way”)
and Massimo for “An ordinary Sunday evening” (buying train tickets in Italy is apparently much less straightforward – but much more hilarious – than in normal other countries)
May 25 2012: BiochemBelle for “Science & self-promotion” (does science blogging cross the line between effective science communication and self-promotion? (answer: not in most cases, and why is a little self-promotion a bad thing anyway?))
and Pharma Strategy Blog for “ASCO 2012 acronym mania!” (fun with clinical trial acronyms)
Jul 13 2012: Stephen Curry for “A bill to amend the law of defamation” (good news on the British libel law reform front)
Steve Caplan for “The most important biomedical science technology advance: do we have a consensus?” (interesting discussion about the technologies that have had the greatest impact on research)
Massimo Boninsegni for “Sorry, can’t work with you” (should recruiters always reach for the stars?)
and Jenny Rohn for “In which they don’t make ’em like they used to” (“back in my day we ran our samples backwards and we were grateful for it”)
July 28 2012: Masks of Eris for “Prometheus: idiots killing themselves” (every movie review should be like this! And no, I still haven’t seen it)
GMP for “Tales of author a$$holishness” (how NOT to respond to reviewers)
Eva Amsen for “The kitsch quiche niche” ((some) Americans are so weird!)
Prof-like Substance for “A little appreciation goes a long way” (every PI – indeed, every boss – should read this post)
CromerCrox for “The Boson” (Higgsle giggles – don’t miss John the Plumber’s contributions in the comments!)
and Austin Elliot for “No passion please, we’re scientists” (“semantic bleaching, PR bullshit, and scientific job ads)
Aug 19 2012: Masks of Eris for “The real ninth Doctor: Doc Bucket” (where *was* Dr Who hiding between 1989 and 2005?)
Erika Cule for “Talkin’ ’bout my PhD work” (some excellent advice on presenting your results, from Erika and her brother Ant)
T Ryan Gregory for “But, but, we’re funding science!” (it’s not just about the number of dollars, Mr Harper)
Silver Fox for “Field book scribbles” (as someone who’s never done any fieldwork despite wanting to be a field zoologist in my teens, I find this kind of insight into the subject absolutely fascinating!)
Rachel Slatyer (guest blogging on the Beagle Project blog) for “Darwin’s Armada and beyond – are sailing and science the perfect match?” (the contributions of nautical explorers to our understanding of natural history)
CromerCrox for “Creationists – serpents in Eden” (quotemining and other despicable shenanigans)
and Nik Papageorgiou for “Short fiction: What Dreams May Come” (if your lab’s too good to be true…)
Sep 14 2012: CromerCrox for “Wilderness” (what’s a fiscally-Conservative-social-Liberal to do?)
Athene Donald for “Uncertainty is not terminal” (real-life science aint like in the textbooks, so it’s OK if your experiments sometimes don’t work)
Captain Awkward for “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” (if you haven’t already read this wildly popular post, you should read it right now. Powerful stuff about rape culture)
and Beth Snow for “I am zombie, hear me moan” (this race looks like SO MUCH FUN that I can almost ignore the fact that it includes, y’know, running)
Sep 21 2012: Chall for “I’m missing words, like ‘småpåve’ …” (the joy of untranslatable words and phrases)
and JaneB for “Why Furball had a hard weekend” (hilarious cat’s-eye view of a parental visit)