Bragging Rights Central archive, Oct 2012 – Mar 2013

The recent lack of regular updates is due to my new job: I used to update the sidebar at my desk during my Friday lunch break, but now that I work in a much more social environment and have lunch with my colleagues, I don’t do that any more and haven’t quite got into a new regular routine yet. I’m sure it’ll all work out…

As always, dates are the date of archiving, not the date of the actual comment / post.

VWXYNot? Comment(s) of the week:

Oct 15 2012: John the Plumber for “You may have heard of the plumber getting married who went to the printers to order the invitation cards. The printer asked him the time of the ceremony. The plumber said, “Well If its not in the morning it’ll be in the afternoon.”

Needless to say I don’t have a watch – but I do have a handy metal tag on my keyring stamped with the letters N O and W which I consult when occasion demands.”

Professor in Training for “It was a band from the land far, far away that never really made it big anywhere else. But to me they were everything. Everything. Sigh. It was the 80s. And I still have all of their albums on my iPod. And the poster they autographed is still framed at at my parents’ house.”

Nina for “I cried watching airport-dad. That is one amazing commercial. (proudFathers is good too). It makes me wonder if it would be better if the Tim Hortons-management became Canada’s pm.

Because on a related note, in a pubquiz the other week my friends thought Canada had a female progressive green PM, and I had to bitterly correct them..”


“sorry, I just remembered YOU are going to dominate the world soon! Please take TH as your advisors Cath …

And yet, I’m not sure how I would feel if I came to a dark snowy country and my husband would give me mediocre cold coffee in a paper cup. But then again, I am (brr) white and I grew up with mediocre cold coffee, so how could I compare.”

and Lisbeth for “Loved the proud-daddy-commercial but like Nina, I were also thinking: would I really want a cup of coffee at that moment??!
What happened to flowers, balloons and big banners of “Welcome to Canada, my loved ones” :D”

Oct 26 2012: Eva for “One of my now-Canadian friends moved there with her parents when she was 11. So both her and her parents are the same generation of immigrant, which I also find terribly confusing.”

Nina for “As for other apps, ideally I’d like one that you can use without having a smartphone to operate other people’s phones to turn them off when you start an actual real-life conversation with them.”

Bob O’H for “I agree with you on “we are a world-renowned lab”, but had never thought about it for gentle reminders. I’ve interpreted these as saying (“just a nudge, I’m not pissed off with you. Yet”).”

Richard Wintle for “My boss is fond of saying that if someone feels to write that their group is “world renowned”, it probably isn’t. As an adjective, it’s as useless as the phrase “Needless to say…”, and should never be used. IMHO of course.”

Beth Snow for “Any time I get an email with “gentle reminder” in it, I picture the person who sent it red-faced and screaming “WTF is wrong with you???!!! Why haven’t you sent me that [insert item name] that I already asked you for 17 times???!!!””

Bob O’H again for “I’ve read all of His Dark Materials, but I had to turn the light on to see them.”

ScientistMother for “traitor!!!! Oh can you give up on the starks?! I hang my head in shame.

LOVED Hunger Games. Now stop reviewing books till I’m finished my PhD damn it. I have ZERO time to read anything other than childrens books and journal articles. I do NOT need to be reminded about what I’m missing. And yes its all about me, how many times do I need to tell you?!”

Richard Wintle again for “I’ll give you my nomination for “Time Suck of the Decade” – the Lemony Snicket books. After half a dozen or so, you realize they all play to a rapidly-tiring formula. And despite the author’s assertions that the ending will be unsatisfying and disappointing, it still came as a shock to me that it was, in fact, unsatisfying and disappointing.”

and Bean-Mom for “I read Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” and it’s one of the few instances where I preferred the movie to the book. You’re right that Ondaatje’s prose is gorgeous. But I had zero empathy for any of his characters. The main lovers were a pair of jerks, and the movie was better because it made them slightly more likeable.”

Dec 7 2012:

Nina for “Brilliant! That is in fact exactly how I look in the field! Just exchange the bow for a soil corer! Now I will have to read the books. And plan that writing retreat soon to write my fieldwork-memoirs as a phantasy-trilogy.

You will be happy to hear that within the next month I have another 2 weeks of fieldwork planned (the last?!?!) with an innocent intern who has no knowledge whatsoever of my grumpy fieldwork monologues. The only thing I am looking forward to is to write the blogpost when it’s al over and done with.

More on-topic of your gigantic post: I’ve read the dark materials and absolutely loved them, and as always didn’t know of any religious references until now (I was very much protected from religion when I grew up, and as a result I am capable of enjoying overly religious children’s books without getting any of the religious hints. Even after I’d read critics on how biblical the Narnia series are, I reread the series without finding any reference to religion).”


“Yeah, Aslan=Jesus is what I read, but I still don’t get it??! I might be really easily converted to Christianity when the Day comes and all Narnia-fans are sought out for salvation.

Until then I’ll try to think of Jesus as a fluffy grandfatherly lion who is cuddly and can fly.”

Bob O’H for “The lion is one of the symbols used for Jesus. I don’t suppose Aslan the Pelican (yes, a pelican – the Church of England never got that memo, apparently) wouldn’t have worked as well.”

ScientistMother for “Like Nina my non-Christianity knowledge meant I was completely oblivious to the fact that the lion was supposed to be Jesus. Apparently its a “known” incarnation.

But seriously Lions are the symbol of Sikh men. Singh means lion in sanskrit and is the middle name of almost all Punjabi males (my hubby and son incl). Really, I grew up thinking the aslan was a kick ass punjabi sikh. Fuck Jesus. Maybe Hans Anderson needs to realize that the lion can be whoever the fuck we want him to be..”

Nina again for “oh yes, tripadvisor reads like a book/blog sometimes. When I stayed in the hostel from hell in Perth last year and only read tripadvisor afterwards, I was so relieved that I wasn’t the only one freaked out by the blood and vomit and visible bacterial colonies in the bathroom. And then I started looking for similarly bad hostels just to get a laugh out of the reviews.

In NZ I had the opposite happening once though: I had booked a hostel based on positive reviews by what I now realize were 18 year old travelling overseas teenagers who missed home: they all wrote how the hostel owner made them feel so at home like a “mother away from home”. As someone with a somewhat troubled relationship with my own mother, I really couldn’t handle this lady and her motherly attention.”

Chall for “I have noticed the same… a few years ago I stayed in NY at a hotel where the reviews were very telling. People who signed their home as “Europe” thought it was “a great hotel for the price, location superb and ok beds” compared to “:small rooms, not matching decor, staff was not superfriendly” …. I’d happily admit it was a slightly older hotel but it was also not top priced.

As for going abroad to exotic places, I tend to look at “where the place is located” since I don’t want t osave money but ending up in the redlightdrugdistrict (hello back-backing trail years!).”

and Richard Wintle for “Ooo errr missus… er… mister… um…

*runs away*”

Dec 17 2012:

Steve Caplan for “What I’ve learned from your recent blog:

1) Markers might be more fun than glue
2) You like to take a leek (or 3)
3) You work for a SWOT team


Richard Wintle for “Nanosatellite? Hm, strikes me there are a few companies around touting single-molecule sequencers that have all the characteristics of this nanosatellite, as well as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Area 51 alien (i.e., lots of people want to believe they exist, but evidence is sorely lacking). If only they’d incorporated in Bulgaria.”

Steve Caplan again for “I would have definitely gone with: Shuttle-cockpit expert backhands flying turkey…”

Chall for ““DO NOT TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT THE ENGLAND GAME” <- oh you mean like when we beat you in the last friendly football game 😉 (you know I had to. it made me SO mad that Sweden played so well in a game that didn’t really matter. At least not as much as the game in june. Ah well)

I TOTALLY agree with you on the “show real games in real time” from ANY sport. Here in the US I’ve seen more college hockey games though. Not as much – obviously – since there are those licensing and right etc but I really think they COULD do something about it, IF the powers behind the TV channel actually cared. But, tbh, I think they are doing the cheaop way and keeping reruns of old non costly games, still taking the money for the channels and probalby the commercials too…. I might be bitter (I am) but I would’ve liked to see something else than Basketball and [American] Football. Especially since there is lots of winter sports around the world – a lot of World championhips in skiing just to name one.

right now I’m having the feeling that there will be no season of NHL and my team in the NFL will fail to join in on the superbowl playoffs so….. I might need to take up watching basketball? (I’m not too much of a fan though…) Of course, there is always the possibility of stopping to care about sports at all.

yeah. right. ;)”

Richard Wintle again for “My tweet from 25 November:

“Richard Wintle ‏@ricardipus Explained NHL lockout to kids: buffoons unhappy with $ made by other buffoons. All these buffoons in league run by other buffoons.”

That about sums it up I think.”

and Mike for “I’m not on-board. Show me all the games in Dundee United’s UEFA cup final run in 1986/7 and I’ll be a happy man. I know all the results, I know all the players off by heart. I still want to watch it. I’ve even got a DVD of the classic England–Scotland game at Wembley in 1967 (crowning us the linear [boxing style] world champions).

And in general, it’s fascinating for me to watch football and rugby games from days gone by. The differences in tactics, physiques, arbitrary refereeing decisions and throat high tackles going unpunished are just amazing!

But the boring truth of your situation probably lies in the facts that (1) it’s cheaper to show reruns you already own the rights to and (2) advertisers will pay relatively more for reruns that the majority of the NAm public will want to watch compared to mogul jumping or thrill-a-minute winter ferreting.

(Oh, and cricket is only “commonly played” because each game takes a bloody working week)”

~~~~~~~~this is the cut-off for the annual comment count~~~~~~~~

Jan 20 2013: Mike for “I’ll have to observe whether I do shout at the ref in replays though. I don’t think so. I’m more likely to shout at the players. I do still get annoyed at old referee comments on my manuscripts though.”

Nina for ““spare time”??? The best (?) insult” I ever heard, after I’d said that I’d written a book chapter in my spare time, was that a scientist doesn’t have spare time. Implying that if I thought I had spare time, I was clearly not working hard enough. I was in the position to reply that if I sacrificed eating and sleeping time to write the book chapter, clearly I was working enough to justify my existence.

On a related note, the same person also told me a story how they were discussing hobbies with other scientists at a conference, and one of them asked the others: “You have time to have hobbies?!?!””

Alyssa for “I think a scaling factor needs to be put into place for the comments. I mean, sure, Richard is witty and all, but are his comments proportionally more witty than those who comment less frequently?”

Mike again for “I’m happy with a respectable 4th place on an excellent blog!

But if I weren’t, I’d ask for a new category: proportion of BRC comments per total comments. Now you’ve settled into the new job you’ve surely got enough time to calculate that ;)”

and then, in response to me saying that commenters who wish to employ this metric will be responsible for tracking their own comments:

“You’re worse than Thomson Reuters.”

Mike yet again for “I’m not sure I’m happy with the [“idiot”] summary of #6 you made for the Poll. I suppose I asked for it though.”

and Nina again for “Being at home with a massive headache and bored, like you, I remembered I still had to vote! Then I re-read bean-mom’s comment about highly educated people’s knowledge gaps, and realized I had just had a strange train-of-thought (no doubt because of the head-splitting): I skyped with a friend the other day, she in the Netherlands, me here in NZ. The friend was in bed with the flu. I caught myself thinking “maybe she infected me”. That’s how real skype is.”

Feb 22 2013: Nina for “we got emails from the US on the 21 December NZ time (20 Dec US time) to check if the world still existed in the NZ future. Must have been the first time the US realized NZ is actually ahead of them.

A handmaid’s tale is scary. I read it a few years ago and every time a political misstep takes place (pretty much every day) I look at my life and think to myself “At least I will have some happy memories when it comes the time of being a baby machine”. That book really had a longlasting effect on me.”

Richard Wintle for “She [the Queen]’s thinking “I’ve got a whole whackload of children and grandchildren and NOT ONE OF THEM IS FIT TO RULE THE EMPIRE!!!!”.


Richard Wintle again for “Is there some code in your list? Certain words are underlined in red:

Wintle – ScientistMother – Aslan – Gordons – Stieg

The best I can come up with is some anagrammatic version of “Enlightenment Toils Sorrows” or “Weightiness Torn Snot”, but I confess the online anagram tool I used had a character limit and I had to drop “Stieg” from the input.”

Bean-Mom for “It was one of the very first episodes. Robb, Theon, and Jon all take their shirts off. They’re getting ready for the King Robert’s visit to Winterfell. I saw the clip on the Internet before I ever saw the actual show. Okay, I saw that clip more than once =)”

DrMobs for “We have a super state-of-the-art PC2 facility with liquid nitrogen on tap in its own special room, with super-sucking ventilation, floor exhausts, low oxygen alarms and flashing lights. Lucky, because they’ve stuck so many SHOUTY warning stickers on the glass door that you can’t see in to look for bodies on the floor.”

and Chall for “Did I tell you about the time I accidentally smacked the oxygen alarm in the walk in fridge? yeah… exactly as embarrassing as it seems. Never seen that many people running on the floor at 4 pm on a Friday.They refrered to it as a “non-planned test”. I refer to it as “always know how to reset the alarm when you accidentally trip it” …. (one of the post docs were happy to grab me and say “I save you” with hope of some romantic ending a la movie. no such luck. i’m such a bore.)”

Mar 01 2013:

Beth for “Ooh, I hope this week holds lots of juicy Canadian news for you to tweet about, like a maple syrup heist or a well-dressed monkey walking into Ikea!”

Bam294 for “Oh Shit! This is a hockey pool? No wonder I’m sucking so bad. When is March Madness?”

Crystal Voodoo for “I just had to explain to a PI that he shouldn’t use the sentence (*censored for content) “X interacts in a *chemistry term* manner with the C beta of Leu *#* of the *cancer-related activity* domain of isoform *roman numeral* of *BFD overblown-ase* of *insert species here* similar to the interaction of the C delta of Ile *different #* of the *similar but slightly different cancer-related activity* of isoform *another Roman numeral* in *Buzzword-laden glamormag-ase* in humans.”

To quote the lady from Reasoning with Vampires “Sentences are not minivans.””

Richard Wintle for “Oxford comma FTW. I was taught in school *not* to use it, as in:

The meal consisted of apples, pears and spam.

Whereas I prefer to use it. It just reads better to me, thinking about the spoken word. I didn’t eat a meal that consisted of two courses (apples, and some combined dish of pears and spam) and that’s not how I would say this out loud. Apples [pause] pears [pause] and spam. To my mind, each [pause] rates a comma.

I realize this is a near-religious argument, however, and I place it firmly in the same category as meaningless pissing contents about Canon vs. Nikon, Mac vs. Windows, and Kirk vs. Picard. Only worth arguing about if you don’t have anything better to do… which, to bring this full circle, is pretty much what Facebook is for, isn’t it?”

Cromercrox for “The Oxford comma? Pshaw. You haven’t met the Cromer colon.”

Bob O’H for “My glasses are a bit bent, thanks to Arwen (one of our new grey parrots) getting a bit feisty when I was cleaning the cage, so I read one of those quotes there as

“His word is a rock that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicket.”

Now there’s an umpire I wouldn’t want to meet.”

Bob O’H again for “A few years ago I went on a tour of the architecture of the University of Helsinki. The most memorable part of it, though, was having a paper about testicondy in elephants and mammoths thrust into my hands.”

Bob O’H yet again for
“The Journal of Negative Results is the one sat in a corner quietly crying to itself.”

Prof-like Substance for “C/N/S are like that group of hipsters who are are always saying “Oh, you just heard of that? We though that was cool a few months ago, but now we’re over it.””

Richard Wintle again for “…and, from my own past, Digestive Diseases is that person who shows up at a party and tells anecdotes that make everyone squirm and try to leave the room. 😉

The Lancet, on the other hand, is the Oxbridge-educated, insanely wealthy neurosurgeon who belongs to a club that you can’t get into, because he (definitely a “he”) secretly blackballs your application every.single.time.”

rpg for “J Biol Chem is that old, respected prof who should probably have retired 20 years ago, but to whom everyone defers… inexplicably, because when you actually listen to what he’s saying you realize he’s been talking complete bullshit for 20 years.

J Mol Biol is the lab technician who’s been around forever and although never comes to lab parties always knows exactly where every reagent is kept and what it’s used for.”

rpg again for “Which makes Medical Hypotheses the nutter on the bus, yeah?”

Richard Wintle yet again for “And then there’s Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, the ancient forensic pathologist who works the night shift in the morgue, and mutters worryingly about encrustations, contusions, and less savoury things.”

DJMH for “Nature Neuroscience is young, overexcitable, and desperate to be considered as cool as his big brother Neuron. As a result, he frequently does inane things”

and Grant for “Loose thought: I wonder to what extent the personality of the journals and the senior editors match…? (Boy, is this going to get me into trouble…)” followed by Bob O’H yet again for “That could explain why nobody has mentioned Methods in Ecology & Evolution: they’re all just too in awe of it.”

Post(s) of the Week:

Oct 15 2012: The Blogess for “I think I’m part Vogon” (hilarious verse about over-sharing at a baby shower)

Oct 26 2012: Frank Norman for “Authorship” (what does it mean to be listed as an author these days?)

Steve Caplan for “Keeping up appearances: I’ve been boto(x)-shopped!” (what constitutes fraud when it comes to editing figures – and photos?)

Stephen Curry (writing at Occam’s Corner at The Guardian) for “What does the Higgs boson look like?” (in science, is seeing still believing?)

Eva for “Trap door conductors” (this performance sounds like SO MUCH FUN!)

Eva again for “One thousand people, six degrees” (why it just feels like there are only a thousand people on the planet)

Jenny Rohn for “In which numbers lie – except when they flatter us” (use and abuse of impact factors)

GMP for “The meet-the-speaker paradox” (why people only want to meet with speakers who are senior enough not to need the exposure)

and VanEast Beer Blog for “Behold the wine snob” (why craft beer aficionados are not just there for the yam fries)

Dec 7 2012: Alyssa for “The “right” way” (let us play with stickers and decorate cakes as we damn well please!)

Eva Amsen, writing at the Occam’s Irregulars blog for “Crowdfunding research not yet a crowd pleaser” (are we ready for alternatives to grant-funded science?)

Ann at “Breast cancer? But doctor… I hate pink!” for “O for the cure” (beautiful smack-down of a p0r n company’s offer to donate 1 cent to breast cancer research for every 30 video views)

Captain Awkward for “Friendly social coercion is still coercion” (yes. THIS. So much this.)

Don Davies for “Create Your Canada 2012 Winners” (my MP ran a competition for high school students to develop a bill, then flew them to Ottawa to watch him introduce “An Act to Amend Canadian Environmental Protection Act” as a private member’s bill in Parliament. My MP’s pretty awesome)

and DrugMonkey for “Your Republican party thinks quite a lot about rape” (some other politicians are decidedly much less awesome than my MP)

Dec 17 2012: Steve Caplan for “An age-old question” (a new wave of Republican attacks on science?)

CromerCrox for “Interpretation” (the Bible says WHAT?!)

Prof-like Substance for “Protocol evolution or a bad game of telephone” (the right and the wrong way to tweak your experiments)

GMP for “Evaluating colleagues” (how do you evaluate and compare people in different fields?)

Retraction Watch for “Tie retraction syndrome? Fat chance” and also “Math paper retracted because some of it makes “no sense mathematically””(fake papers crack me up)

and Ask A Manager for “Your email does not require a special font” (couldn’t agree more)

~~~~~~~~this is the cut-off for the annual post count~~~~~~~~

Jan 20 2013: Steve Caplan (at Occam’s Corner at The Guardian for “Coming out of the scientific closet: unapologetic about basic research” (is the current focus on translational research bad for science?)

Nina for “Political implications of fieldwork” (some people can find controversies in literally any field (pun intended) of science)

and Sylvia McLain for “Come on America, let’s talk about fear” (a sensible discussion of one of the root causes of gun-related tragedies)

Feb 22 2013: Beth Snow for “The letters of Dr. Beth” (preserving some very important scientific communications for posterity)

Nina for “That time of career again” (#OverlyHonestCoverLetters)

JaneB for “Stress and academia” (one of many excellent responses to the now infamous Forbes article – this one focuses on the importance of individual preferences and temperament on career-related stress levels)

Eva Amsen for “All the noise and the hurry” (a love letter to big city life / “why Cambridge sucks”, depending on how you look at it)

Henry Gee (at Occam’s Corner, at The Guardian) for “Hobbits and hypotheses” (just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be internally consistent, precioussss)

Richard P. Grant (at Occam’s Corner, at The Guardian) for “Health and safety gone mad” (good and bad approaches to improving lab safety)

and Athene Donald for “Undue influence?” (are the media driving trends in undergraduates’ degree choices?)

Mar 01 2013: Jenny Rohn, writing at Occam’s Corner for “Flawed forecasting – when science fiction gets it wrong” (can you smoke while checking the slide rule on your spaceship?)

Steve Caplan, writing at Occam’s Corner for “Tongue-tied? Perspectives on English as the international language of science” (balancing the preservation of minority languages with the need for clear communication between scientists from all over the world)

Frank Norman for “Candles and rings” (catalysing a new combination)

rpg for “On biological modelling”: #1: The Ribosome & #2: The Nuclear Pore (no description – these photos are worth at least a thousand words each!)

Bob O’H for “The long and the short of papal reigns” (is it true that a long papacy is usually followed by a short one?)

and CromerCrox for “It has not escaped our notice #39” (the future of maths)

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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