Category Archives: social

On dating

So it may sound a bit weird coming from a dude who’s turning 29 next week, but I have no idea how to date. Consider, I was with the same woman from circa 20-21ish until (technically) 28 and missed the entirety of what would be considered a prime dating time of my life.

Fuck it, I’m making up for it with… INTERNET DATING!

Seriously though. Best. Thing. Evar.

If you are even moderately attractive (which I consider myself to be) and slightly more intelligent than retarded (also me) and you send out enough messages then you’re bound to get some great replies. I’ve been at it for a little over two weeks and Chicago has turned from work and school city to fuckin’ date city overnight. I am nothing special and I’ve had dates for the past 5 days. Well, technically, 4 since I had to reschedule one, but I could have had one a night for the past 5 nights. And these chicks aren’t just randos, but seriously intelligent and attractive women.

I think some of ’em have gone well so far. I do feel bad for the first few ladies though considering how awkward I probably was, but I’d like to think it’s not so bad now. The last two dates were actually pretty good and I’d like to see both of them again. The women couldn’t be more dissimilar though (an exaggeration, but whatever, fuck you). Wednesday night was a 23 year old shorter, curly-haired brunette nursing master’s student with a rack almost as amazing as her music taste (and it was an AMAZING rack). Tonight my date was a 35 year old, tall, thin, redheaded graphic designer who was clearly just all kinds of awesome. The date went really well and I’d like to see her again too, but this is where my inexperience comes in. I have more dates with other chicks next week, and considering how I’m only getting better at this I’m not sure what to do anymore. I barely know how to handle one woman, let alone multiple at any given time and I feel as though I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

You know what? Fuck it, this is what being (relatively) young is about. Ladies. Ladies all over the place.

This year is going to FUCKING ROCK!


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Filed under dating, life, social

On loneliness

Coming back into the fold of single life has been relatively easy for the most part. I’ve been living in my new place for a month now and that time has been a relatively novel experience. However, the novelty has begun to wear thin and the loneliness associated with being single has begun to set in. It’s an alien feeling that I had not fully anticipated and have yet to understand what to do with.

Spending time in lab and with friends has thus far kept me sane and happy, but I know that this cannot last forever. At some point I’m going to have to deal with this. Sooner would be better than later but I have no idea how to begin to deal with this problem. It’s clearly not just my problem since I’ve been talking with a few other friends about the very same issue, and they’ve been single for years.

The question becomes: what will I do when true loneliness comes? Stemming the tide with exercise, cooking, work, and hanging out with friends will only take me so far. At some point the only thing I feel that can keep me from going crazy is some sort of relationship and I fear that desperation may take hold at some point and usurp reason, leading me down the path to another divorce. I realize there are two people involved at that point and it’s reasonable to think that the other person wouldn’t let that happen, but I’m a realist and know that even though the other person is likely to have more experience dealing with loneliness it doesn’t mean a bad decision won’t be made.

Oh well, I guess it’s all theoretical at this point and I shouldn’t really concern myself with it.

I’ll just drink instead.


Filed under divorce, grad school, just sad, life, marriage, relationship, sleep deprived, social

The gay gene

I was having a discussion with a friend at the bar the other night and the topic of personality came up. We were mainly discussing how much of it can be/is determined by genetics and I began wondering about the genetics of homosexuality. In particular, I just wondered if being gay was genetic or not.

In reality, I don’t really care if being gay is genetic. Gay people ARE people and therefore deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as anyone else, but my question still remains. I’m merely curious about how much of someone’s personality can be considered “genetic.”

I’m of the belief that genes don’t determine, but clearly influence, aspects of personality. (See what I did there? Being vague is what I do best) I’m still not sure of how to proceed with clearing this up in my own head. Any of you have legitimate ideas?

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Filed under social, Those Other Sciences

Happy with my decision

Of all the good that has been done to my life by the exclusion of cable TV in its entirety and limited access to the internet the best thing to come from it is my increased faith in humanity.  However, this is not a good thing.  You see, I’m simply fooling myself that Americans, and humans in general, are more intelligent than they truly are because I’m not exposed to their incessant stupidity on FOX News and similar programs.  They’re just as stupid as they ever were and arguably getting worse by the day.

This latest freak-out over Obama addressing the nation’s students made me want to scream.  It also made me happy that I don’t own a TV.  Ignorance is bliss.


Filed under crazy, just sad, news, pet peeve, social

Funding science

As a scientist I have found that funding is everything.  To do good science you need  money and lots of it.  Everything is expensive.  People, equipment (dear lord…), consumables, time, everything is much more expensive than pretty much anyone outside of science would think.

So how should the government decide which scientist should be funded and which shouldn’t?  It’s not an easy issue and it’s one that has been debated for a long time, but it has recently ended up in the NYT and it really began to piss me off.  Essentially, I believe people don’t have a realistic view of what scientific progress is: slow and steady with the occasional breakthrough.  Those outside of science (and some idiots within our own ranks) seem to think that only breakthroughs are worth the money and that we should then fund all the people who think way out of the box and have radically new ideas.

However, there is a reason these people don’t get funded by governmental agencies very often.  While the work COULD POTENTIALLY be high payoff, such research is characterized to be very risky.  Why?  This could be for any number of reasons: little background data, implausible mechanism of action, little to no experience in the field, etc.  These are, in my opinion, very good reasons for not funding scientific research because the very nature of science is extremely CONSERVATIVE.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Conservative?  But I thought Conservatives hated science and did everything they could to undermine it.”  In that sense you’d pretty much be on point, but I’m not speaking of conservative in a political sense.  Science makes slow and steady progress because by it’s very nature a lot of data must be backing a certain idea in order for it to be accepted by the scientific community.  This makes it much more difficult (but not impossible) for incorrect ideas to take hold.

This is why I don’t feel bad for the researchers spotlighted in the article as being “ahead of their time” or “revolutionary” or whatever term you want to use.  Take Dr. Jaffe for example.  Here is a woman who has been dealing with the grant system for two and a half decades and she thinks it’s unfair that her grant was rejected out of hand because she had no preliminary data?  Pardon me, but she’s a fucking moron if she actually believes that.  “Of course I don’t.  I need the grant money to get them [the preliminary data].”  Fuck her, that’s not how funding agencies work and she knows it.  She’s just trying to be the victim here.

How it really works is that you use grant money that you already have to do quick, exploratory pilot studies to see if your ideas actually have any merit.  If they do then you write up a grant and include your pilot study as the preliminary data and submit it.  Funding agencies will then decide if your work looks promising or not and decide your grant’s fate.  But to submit a grant with insufficient (or nonexistent) preliminary data and then blame the funding agency for not giving you money is absolutely fucking ridiculous.  Sure, the funding situation is far from perfect, but you know the rules so you have to play by them.  If you don’t then you have no room to complain.

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Filed under animal research, cancer, social, Those Other Sciences

The abuse of “theory”

Few scientific concepts are regularly abused as much as the scientific concept of a theory (I’m pretty sure the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is up there, but not quite reaching this level). What confuses most people is that the colloquial usage and the scientific usage are completely different.

The everyday usage typically hovers somewhere between “wild-ass guess” and “what kind of drugs are you on?” For example I have a theory that one of my neighbors is a serial killer and keeps the heads of his victims in his freezer and another one about how Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. Of course, I have no proof of this, but that’s not what the colloquial usage is all about. No proof is needed because it’s not something that is taken very seriously (or at least it shouldn’t be).

A scientific theory is about as far removed from the everyday usage as it could be. Essentially, it is an explanation based on a large amount of accumulated empirical evidence that is then used to future results. It is also the greatest honor that can be bestowed on a scientific idea. Atomic theory, the germ theory of disease, gravity, special relativity, and, of course, evolution are all well respected theories. While very few people will question the first four examples there are many who speak of evolution being “just/only a theory.” The reasons for this are legion and I don’t even want to begin to go into them since they mostly center around religious idiocy, but it just goes to show one thing: most people can’t tell a scientific theory from a pile of cat shit in the corner (my cat just pooped in the corner).

Part of this may be due to the way most people think about science. Lay people I have talked to give me the impression that they believe scientists to be dogmatic conservatives (not in a political sense) who are incapable of giving up their cherished theories. This definition is only partially correct. Science is extremely conservative in nature due to the relatively common false positives that plague all facets of scientific exploration. So, in order to supplant an accepted theory a scientist must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that their new theory is better than the previous one. There are many theories out there, but not all of them are created equally and that’s why we don’t teach all of them in schools and this “teach the controversy” shit that’s going on right now is pure bullshit.


Fucking crazy creationists piss me off.


Filed under Biology and Evolution, christianity, just sad, pet peeve, religion, social, Those Other Sciences

Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science debuted in 2003 (my sophomore year) to an overwhelmingly supportive scientific community.  It’s important not only to scientists but lay-people as well because it’s one of only a few open access scientific journals that is held in generally high regard (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences being another such journal, but most of its material has a 6 month delay before becoming open access).

The reason why this journal has become so important to the biological scientific community is that it embodies what science is about: access to knowledge.  Up until open access journals began popping up the flow of knowledge was controlled by large publishing houses.  These publishers would review and publish manuscripts in their journals and then university libraries, or anyone else who could afford them, would buy subscriptions to the journals so that the researchers of their institution would have access to them.  Unfortunately, there are some problems with this setup.

One common problem that has been occurring all over the US is libraries dropping certain journal subscriptions due to budgetary constraints and the exorbitant subscription fees.  Since good science can only occur when scientists openly share their findings these actions are directly infringing on humanities ability to scientifically advance.  Not good.  Not good at all.

The second problem deals only with money, and this is where US taxpayers should get very pissed off.  The vast majority of biological research done in this and other countries is funded directly from taxpayer money mainly through the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Researchers use those grants to fund their research and publish their findings in journals (because what good is it to find something out if you don’t tell other people about it).  Then, as I described above, to see those journals you must pay more money.  So, even though you, the taxpayer, gave your hard earned money to some researcher to carry out your research you must then pay again to see the fruits of those labors.  You’re essentially paying twice for the same information, and many people can’t afford that.

Not so with open access.  It’s a streamlined and cheaper process that has the researcher paying a fee for editing before publishing.  More important than all else is the fact that the research is available to everyone.  It was important enough that last year the government enacted a law forcing all research funded by the NIH must be made freely available to the public within one year of publication, but even that keeps being challenged!  Fucking bastards just want money.

I encourage all of you to check out these sites and further your knowledge.

Bora’s blog and Jonathan’s blog – Two people heavily involved in PLoS

PLoS Biology – Synopses are a great way to quickly learn some cool new biology you can pull out at parties and impress people!

PLoS Medicine – The Editorials, Debates, and Perspectives are all worth checking out and easy(ish) reads for lay people

A list of current open access journals

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Filed under social, Those Other Sciences