“I think we just ought to admit we’re broke. We can’t continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

Where were these motherfuckers when Stoopie McFuckwit was looting trillions and trillions from the Treasury and handing it over to his corporate oligarch cronies? Oh, right. When Republican Presidents steal our money it’s “necessary to protect the American people”.

I think it is very important for each of us to take personal responsibility for geothermal tectonic activity. Eleventeen fucktillion gigajoules of magmatic energy is no match for the home-spun down-to-earth common-sense ingenuity of real hard-working Americans.

h/t Jon Swift.

Sciecewoman has an interesting post up in which she seeks advice on the question of pacing of large lecture courses:

I’m struggling with pacing in my introductory class this semester. I’ll admit that I am using powerpoint, even though I’ve been told that it is evil beyond all evil. I’m sure that there are better ways to reach ~100 students at once, but I’m not sure what they are for this introductory science course.

* * *

[H]ow do I strike the right balance between keeping class moving so as not to bore the heck out of the good students, while going slow enough that I don’t overwhelm the slow-note-takers or can’t-write-while-listening people?

Here are Comrade PhysioProf’s thoughts:

(1) The good students are the ones to focus on, as they have a chance of actually mastering the material. You are making a horrible mistake by allowing less-competent students to derail the class by indulging their requests for you to return to slides you have already covered. These less-competent students are probably never going to master the material anyway. Teach to the top 25% of your class, and the rest will just have to figure out a way to get what they can out of the course.

(2) Aiming classroom pedagogy at the top 25% of students is the correct thing to do. I’d much rather have some less-competent students have more difficulty than have some more-competent students not be given the opportunity to learn as much as possible. If they are sufficiently motivated, the less-competent students can get help from the TAs.

(3) For a one-hour lecture I generally have about ten slides. None of the slides have text on them. This means that there is no issue with students derailing lecture with complaints such as SciWo receives that they don’t have time to “copy down” text from slides.

(4) My lectures are not at all a recitation of facts for transcription and memorization. Rather, they are designed to provide the students with appropriate conceptual frameworks for understanding the facts that they should be gleaning from their textbook. The actual volume of notetaking in my lectures should be very modest. If you are giving lectures that demand large volumes of notetaking, you are doing it wrong.

Baseball Shit

February 23, 2009

Pete Rose was interviewed by Michael Kay yesterday about the A-Rod situation. As usual, Rose used the platform to complain about the fact that he is still barred from the Hall of Fame. Some have argued that Rose–who was banned from baseball for betting on baseball games and, in particular, on his own teams games–committed a much more heinous offense than steroid users. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Rose ever bet against his own team, and so it could be argued that his actions never influenced play on the field, unlike the actions of steroid users.

Here’s a couple of question for Comrade PhysioProf’s readers:

(1) Should Rose be allowed to be voted into the Hall of Fame? Should proven steroid users be allowed in the Hall of Fame and should their stats in the record books be (a) disallowed, (b) adjusted, or (c) asterisked?

(2) Is it possible to draw a moral distinction between Rose’s offense and using steroids? If so, how should that distinction be drawn?

(3) How fucking degenerate a gambler do you have to be to bet on motherfucking baseball games?

Amanda has a detailed take down of a particular “evolutionary psychology” “study” yesterday that really makes clear that the motivation for this crapola is apologetics for misogyny. Here broader point–other than the specific takedown–is as follows:

[T]hese are troubling indicators that armchair evo psych “theories” about how women are biologically inferior to men have become so ingrained in our consciousness, that half-baked pseudo-science evolutionary just-so stories don’t have to be made up at all.  Gender essentialist stories are now written, and the audience is free to assume that the measured trends are DNA-based and have no relationship to social conditioning at all.

As someone whose career is based on the reality of biological evolution, this “evo psych” arrant bullshit really pisses me the fuck off! There is absolutely no fucking way that we could possibly distinguish the relative contributions of genetics and environment–including social environment–to complex social/psychological behaviors like human relationships even if that distinction were itself coherent. The entire fucking fake-ass “discipline” is scientifically bankrupt, and populated solely by loser-ass “nice guy” motherfuckers who hate women because they can’t get laid.


Comrade PhysioProf wishes all his readers a Happy Motherfucking Valentine’s Day!!!111!!!ELEVENTY!1111!!!!! He will be preparing braised lamb shank and baked potatoes for him and PhysioWife as a Motherfucking Valentine’s Day dinner. And guess what we’ll be drinking!!!!!!!!!h

Who You Gonna Believe?

February 13, 2009

As usual, Driftglass does an outstanding job of pointing out the fork in the road our nation now is faced with:

Suddenly, calamity is throwing light in all kinds of places we weren’t supposed to see,

Suddenly the armor of public delusion falls away, the Emperor’s New Armani disappears in a blast wave of unrebuttable failure, and the Great Man upon the throne is revealed to be what he always was: a half-bright, smirking fucknozzle whose private depravities — ingrained by repetition and doctrine and decades of privileged-fueled carte blanche — had become public behaviors which we were all strongly encouraged to politely ignore.

The greed and sadism, the pathological lying, the arrogance and ignorance and rapacious sense of entitlement…all now out caught in the harsh and unforgiving spotlight that real crisis brings and delivered with such reeking volume and velocity that even the Pig People can only drown it out by Turning Rush Up loud enough to induce seizures.

What we are finally getting a good, strong whiff of the gangrenous rot underneath the shiny facades on Wall Street. Seeing that, while out here in the fields, we fought for our meals, in the boardrooms, the meals are choppered in from that lovely little Italian place.

On the coast.

Of Italy.

Because why the fuck not?

When the only people you know are rich, the only America you see is served to you in one-page executive summary form and read in comfort as you jet between Sun Valley and Davos, and the only people you speak with tell you how completely you have earned every lavish perk and comfort, why not go wild?

You are a World-Saver. A Decider. A Superman.

Master of a Universe where wealth bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Where money understands all.
Forgives all.
Excuses all.

And thus we find ourselves where the road diverges once again.

On the one side, are the men and women who council reform.

(h/t Wonkette)

Who call to our better angels and ask us once again to stand against:

“…this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age—other people’s money—these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. “

Franklin D. Roosevelt
July 27, 1936

While on the other side are democracy’s enemies,

who try to gin up those old, reliable fears one more time.

It boggles the fucking mind that these depraved patriotic jebus puppetmasters of the pig people aren’t recoignized for exactly what they are.

I blame our disgraceful excuse for a national press, who pump these motherfuckers up and give them a platform well beyond what their morally and pragmatically bankrupt ideology would merit if given even the slightest real rational scrutiny. The national press are lazy scumbags who are so busy sucking-up to celebrity and power that they don’t have any time left for real investigative journalism: Is what this asshole in front of me is telling me TRUE or FALSE!?!?

This is why they just revert to “Democrats have put forward a bailout plan that they claim will blah, blah, blah, while Republicans claim that this bill is laden with blah, blah, blah”, when they should be saying, “Democrats have put forward a bailout plan that they claim will blah, blah, blah. We have actually read some of the motherfucking plan, and it does appear that it has a chance to achieve blah, blah, blah. While Republicans claim the bill is laden with blah, blah, blah and is likely to be ineffective, our analysis of the plan suggests that the Republican opposition to this bill is solely grounded in ideological bankruptcy and is completely untethered to objective reality.”

But if they did their motherfucking JOBS, “journalists”–especially the particularly odious species that is on the motherfucking teevee–wouldn’t get invited to the really high-class cocktail parties where they stuff their smug ignorant fucking faces with pig-sphincter wienies and guzzle paint-thinner box chardonnay. Until we extirpate the pathology of our Fourth Estate, we are doomed to repeat this fucking shit over, and over, and over, and over.

Why Are We Scientists?

February 13, 2009

Ambivalent Academic has an interesting post up in which she discusses the details of her ambivalent–love/hate–relationship to science. One of the things she loves about science is the “pure pursuit of truth/knowledge/information”:

Science, in it’s purest form, is a way of knowing. There are other ways to approach what we do not understand about life, the universe, whathaveyou. They also have value. But science is somewhat unique in that it precludes a particular background or set of beliefs. It requires only the ability to observe, to ask questions, and to design and conduct tests that determine the answer to those questions within the rules of logic.

While a common stereotype of scientists is of unemotional nerds with clipboards and thick glasses, AA points out that scientists are, by necessity, driven by passion:

I don’t think that fame and fortune are primary motivators for people who go into academic science. I think it’s a passion for discovery, the chance to do something that no one has done before, the pursuit of truth using a set of rules that is universally inclusive of anyone who wants to join the game.

One of my most vivid memories of grad school was late one night in the microscope room. I had been working feverishly for months to try to develop a reagent that would allow me to visualize in tissue a protein I had discovered. I peered into the scope, saw my protein in bright fluorescent color for the first time and exclaimed “Holy fucking fuck!!!!”

It was totes awesome!!!! I went running around the building trying to find someone to share the thrill with, and ended up dragging the janitor–a buddy of mine–into the room and forced him to look in the scope. That feeling is what we are all chasing.

Some wackaloon nutter has proposed that newspapers and universities have sufficient similarities that they should entertain the possibility of merging (h/t Coturnix):

Consider these parallels:

What is the purpose of a newspaper?

To establish a network of fact-seekers (correspondents) who pass information to a group of quality control processors (editors) who repackage the information for consumption as articles (and books) for a group of people (readers and other learners) eager to find out what is going on in the world.

What is the purpose of a university?

To establish a network of fact-seekers (researchers and students) who pass on information to a group of quality control processors (faculty members) who repackage the information as articles (and books) for a group of people (students and other learners) eager to find out what is going on in the world.

Then some other wackaloon nutter in the comments complained that this is TEH SUXX0RS because, get this, newspapers are much freer and unbiased discoverers of the truth operating as they do in “the free market”:

We want our biggest newspapers in the free market and miles away from a cosy endowment because we want the fear of God in each and every editor. It’s the only way you will get smart people to cut the pontification and dig up interesting material in whatever beat they are covering.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! What a bunch of fucking maroons! Nice fantasy world these two jokers are living in.

Today’s “journalists” are lazy suck-ups to corporate and government power, who refuse to apply even the slightest critical analysis to corporate and government propaganda that they dutifully transcribe and disseminate. Why do you think Tim Russert’s–favorite “journalist” of Dick Motherfucking Cheney, for fuck’s sake!–death was treated like a state funeral?

These fuckups are not “journalists”; they are courtiers! They have as much interest in “dig[ging] up interesting material” or serving as “fact-seekers” as they do in getting stabbed in the eye with a red hot poker.