Our old friend high-school debate-team champeeeeeeeeen is not only acting like a ridiculous douchebag again, but he seems to have also lost his moral compass.

Thought For The Day

January 22, 2010

If you’re gonna be a narcissistic asshole, at least have the fucking decency to be a fun one.

Thought For The Day

January 20, 2010

The Democratic Party is that hapless skinny fucking dweeb on the beach getting sand kicked in his face on the inside back cover of the comic book by the smirking muscle-bound dumbfuck.

Militant Atheism

January 20, 2010

There is a striking paucity of corroborative evidence for the existence of leprechauns lolling in pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, but you never see eleventeen fuckjillion leprechaun enthusiasts banding together to kill, maim, oppress, and otherwise fuck with people who don’t give a flying fuck about leprechauns and just want to be left the fuck alone.

Here’s the deal: As soon as the motherfucking jeezus-, abraham-, mohammed-, and other-fucking god botherers shut down their fucking churches, shut the fuck up about their fucking stupid deities, stop maiming, killing, and opporessing, and otherwise leave decent people alone, then I assure you, the “militant atheists” will concern themselves with them to the same extent they do leprechaun enthusiasts.

Civility In The Blogosphere

January 20, 2010

One of the attendees at the recent ScienceOnline2010 posted the following re-enactment of an interesting exchange that occurred during a session on civility:

Left-Leaning Academia

January 19, 2010

Conservatives are objectively, demonstrably wrong about everyfuckingthing.

The corollary to this is that they either lie to themselves and/or others for their own perceived gain–think David Brooks, Bill Kristol, and the like–or are abject dumbfucks–think teabagger “morans”.

The single most severe political problems of our time is that the mass media–for a variety of reasons–simply refuses to point this out, and rather fetishizes “balance” and false equivalence. The reason that academia “leans left” is that fewer liars and dumbfucks are attracted to academia than they are to other professions, because they correctly intuit that a human enterprise aimed at (while certainly not always achieving) figuring out the nature of actual reality is not as conducive to their lies and dumbfuckery as are professions like law, business, “journalism”, and the like.

Foot In Mouth?

January 18, 2010

My suspicion is that Coakley will win the Massachusetts special senate election handily. Reasons for the media polls/buzz being that it is ZOMFGCLOSE!!111!!ELEVENTEEN!!11!!! are as follows:

(1) Coddled rich media scumbags have multiple orgasms when Democrats “get their comeuppance”, and every single fucking bit of their narrative efforts anticipate and are aimed at achieving total splooge all over the fucking place.

(2) Normal human beings–i.e., non-wingnut-fuck-ups–would rather stab their eyes out with a hot poker than spend time on the phone answering the questions of some sleazeball political polling operative.

Choosing Labs/Mentors

January 17, 2010

Mentors who make it clear that they care deeply about whether their trainees “like” them should be considered highly suspect. You are not looking for a drinking buddy. You are looking for a mentor with two key qualities: (1) the ability to create an intellectual and physical infrastructure that will be sufficient to support your research and (2) sufficient attention and scientific judgment to guide you away from fruitless efforts and towards fruitful ones.

I hear stories all the time about “fun” labs where everyone is always dancing around to rocking tunes with the PI, but where no one’s projects ever pan out and students flee for other labs after two, three, or even four years.

Another big red flag is if in discussing projects with the PI, you get some really inspiring story about how X molecule, mechanism, or pathway is like totally the key to everything and we are just on the cusp of proving this totally awesome hypothesis and we are gonna be famous!!!11!!!eleventy and revolutionize our field. 99% likelihood is that you are dealing with someone who is *way* too enamored of their own ideas to be sufficiently critical to effectively guide trainees away from fruitless and towards fruitful efforts. This PI phenotype is frequently coupled with the “fun” lab one.

Don’t be fooled by this kind of shit. You want a lab with a good set of established methodological approaches and an interesting system within which to deploy those approaches.

Yeah, it’s great to have hypotheses so long as they are used to guide exploration. When someone talks in terms of “proving” a hypothesis that they consider “theirs”, run away.

(h/t Isis the Scientist.)

Other than that at the highest levels–presidents and provosts and deans–universities do a shit job of accommodating the fact that effective administration requires two quite different things, the personal and professional traits that make one good at also being quite different: leadership and implementation. This is why corporations have CEOs and COOs.

Way too few departments and programs have both a chair and a vice chair, with the former responsible for leadership and the latter responsible for implementation (i.e., getting shit done). This means that most departments and programs end up either saddled with visionary leaders who can’t be arsed to actually do shit like filing the forms to put people up for promotion, etc, while other departments end up with bureaucratic functionaries who dot all the is and cross all the ts but have no idea why they are doing so or what the big-picture goals are.

It is rare that one person has the ability to excel at both these aspects of administration, and it is fucking stupid to expect otherwise.

(h/t Dean Dad.)

The notion that universities are not part of the “real world” is a mainstreamed right-wing anti-intellectual lie. Yeah, university faculty are elitist egg-heads living in a an ivory tower far removed from the “real world”, but corporate oligarchs with marble bathrooms in their offices flying around in private jets and telling the fucking United States government what to do are living in the “real world”.

The fact of the matter is that university faculty are at the heart of the bourgeouisie (or however the fuck you spell that), no different from shopkeepers, mid-level corporate managers, non-flag level military officers, elementary and secondary school administrators, white-collar civil servants, and all the rest. There are obvious interests served by convincing the rest of the bourgeouisie and, particularly, the working class and poor, that university faculty are something different, which any schmo with half a fucking brain can easily discern.

(h/t FSP.)