So this woman in South Dakota has registered a 0.708 blood alcohol level. For reference, a standard limit is from 0.05-0.08 and the LD50 (lethal dose for half a population) is 0.5. Not only that but she was caught behind the wheel of a stolen car. She was obviously hospitalized and eventually released on bond only to be picked up again drunk and behind the wheel of a stolen car. This woman is clearly a winner. I mean i've been pretty wasted before but i've clearly never been close to this woman. Furthermore when i'm that far gone i'm lucky if i can even tie my shoes much less steal a car. I guess there is the possibility that she got drunk after stealing the vehicle but i mean people do that. Is this like a normal night out for her? She didn't even steal a NICE car...she stole a delivery truck. This makes me think she must have been drunk before the theft...thats what i call a functional alcoholic. Patrick OUT!!!

New Link

Quick ...look right and click the link in the side bar to add me to your google reader so you never fall behind on my ramblings. Patrick OUT!!!

Homeopathy sucks

This article is fantastic. Its by a one, Amy L. Lansky whose CV you can find here Of course in this context when I say fantastic I really mean, its a steaming pile of unintelligent batshit crazy bullshit.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare that Amy Lansky is a "singularity of stupid." She has a PhD in computer science from stanford which goes to show you that a PhD doesn't make you smart and that being around smart people doesn't make you one. I know its the holidays but i just couldn't resist pointing out this small minded dolt. Merry Christmas everyone (even you Amy). Patrick OUT!!!  

Gifts (with links)

So its that time of year when we all try and find the perfect gift for every important person in our lives. I'm not sure if its just me but I love to give gifts but I HATE to give bad gifts. Its a lot of pressure. Also, I'm not very good at receiving gifts. In fact, I can hardly think of a more horrible person to buy something for than me. Its not that i'm unappreciative of the things its just that I often think it silly that we manufacture this sort of gift giving social contract. I suppose I always get stuck on this idea that a gift should fill a need (or desire) and if it doesn't its not worth giving. So with that little thing in mind, to give a good gift you really need to know someone's actual needs and i think that is something most people don't know. We might know someones hobbies or their favorite foods but i think its rare that we know precisely the item that was lacking in another persons life. I know that for me, there is very little that I need. If someone out there has a sweet post-doctoral appointment for the next couple of years...I do need that...and I forgot to ask Santa for it. So in the tradition of last year, i would encourage you all to look for a charity to donate to so that actual NEEDS can be met during this holiday season. Of course, I'll give you some good options if you can't decide on your own.

New Lambo

This is now officially on my christmas've all been notified.
Patrick OUT!!!

Cocktail Redefined

Awesome bartending video...i've never seen stuff like this. Patrick OUT!!!

So apparently "Gay-dar" is real and quick...but not very accurate. I would have never guessed. Sometimes science is just neat.
Patrick OUT!!! 

Hitchens on History

Great Video at the Link Above
Patrick OUT!!!

Zicam is NOT Homeopathy

Zicam is NOT Homeopathy

The above link is one of the greatest things I've seen in a long while. I'm posting it because I think that people who read this blog regularly envision that I just have a thing against religion but in reality I have a think against any sort of hocus-pocus hand waving, religion is just the most common example. Here we have homeopathy in relation to the intranasal spay, Zicam. Zicam is a suspension of Zinc gluconate which has been the focus of lawsuits because people are losing their sense of smell after using it. The beauty of the above link is that while homeopathy is a steaming pile of disingenuous shit, i can't help but agree with the majority of what these people are saying here. They are totally honest and I believe that any thinking person could read that and come to the same conclusion. 
Of course they are trying to distance themselves from Zicam (which claims to be a homeopathic cure). Of course, a homeopathic cure could NEVER cause such an effect. Why you ask? Because homeopathy, while pretty stupid, is perfectly safe. How do I know this? Because homeopathy is WATER. Its based on some pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo that claims the "law of similars." The homeopaths explain it better than me though,
"To choose the proper remedy for a given patient, one must thoroughly understand his condition, and then choose the remedy that best matches it homeopathically.  Imagine the way your eyes and nose feel when you chop onions.  If you can imagine having a case of hay fever that feels just like that, a tiny dose of a remedy made from raw onion will help that hay fever." 
Wow, that is total crap. Of course hay fever (an over active histamine induced allergic reaction) is in no way similar to the teary eyes you get from cutting an onion (caused by gaseous sulfinic acids that irritate your eyes). If you yourself are a homeopath devotee let me put it a little simpler, "ONIONS DON'T CAUSE HAY FEVER."
But it gets better, you see the principle behind homeopathy is that dilute solutions of toxins can cure the ailments they would cause if they were more concentrated. Again, they state,
"Yes, some homeopathic remedies are made from substances that are poisonous in large doses.  But as homeopathic remedies, they are administered in such minute quantities that they are completely non-toxic.  We occasionally get phone calls from panic-stricken parents whose children have just eaten a whole bottle of a remedy.  They taste good!  These "overdoses" are NEVER harmful.  There just isn't enough of the substance to cause chemical toxicity"
See here's the deal, most homeopathic remedies are so dilute that you would be surprised to find even a single molecule of any active component left in it.  So the problem with Zicam is that it actually has too much of an active compound to be homepathic. They would prefer it have NO active compound, at least it would be non-toxic. Little side note, my PhD advisor likes to use Zicam and was pissed when they took it off the market...I'm not sure whats more disappointing, she was using a claimed homeopathic cure or something that has been known to potentially eliminate your sense of smell since the late 1930s. This is what I deal with. 

The last part was the little author bio, where the two people claim to be naturopathic doctors. One of my favorite sayings in regards to the PhD is that, "you're a doctor, but not the kind that helps people." I would take that any day over the appropriate ND conversion that would be, "you're a doctor that fools people." Of course, they've been to "accredited" naturopathic medical schools. I had to find out where the closes one is and its close, The University of Bridgeport. Apparently it really is accredited and issues degrees of this sort. Not only that, but REAL doctors can be accredited as naturopathic medical professionals. HOW CAN THIS BE POSSIBLE. Your tax dollars are going towards accreditation programs for people who think that dilute solutions of onion-water can cure hay fever. This is CRAZY. Thankfully, Massachusetts is NOT on the list of places that currently offers such licensure to naturopathic "doctors." I can't imagine how you can go through 4 years of medical school learning the complex inner workings of the body and come out still believing that a drink of water is going to effectively cure any serious disease. Thats like going through 4 years of English literature training and declaring your favorite book to be, "Red Fish, Blue Fish." Yikes! Patrick OUT!!!

Why Academia Sucks

Had a chat with my advisor today about what i was going to do next year...yikes. Side note: don't ask me what I'm going to do next year...if i haven't told you then i don't know yet. I know you're interested or feel you should be interested but really i won't feel bad if it seems like you don't give a shit because its better than me feeling like i have no idea whats going on (closer to the truth). Anyways, back to the topic at hand. She asked and so I was forced to answer and talk about getting a position in academia. The chances of landing a position in academia are SLIM. There are way more PhDs out there than there are faculty positions (especially ones at major research universities). She encouraged me to still try and get a faculty position at some point noting that I would have an easier time because I was American...not sure i want to get a position because I'm American, rather than being the best candidate and I can't imagine that being American makes you the best candidate automatically. That's another issue though that I really don' t have the patience to discuss. 
Of course, the question in the first place I want a faculty position? For the last five years I've trained myself to say, "yes" because that's what other faculty want to hear. Its like its part of their DNA to tell people they should get a PhD and become faculty someplace. I don't get it. They encourage all sorts of people to go for a PhD and pump up their egos and never mention the fact that getting a job with that degree is tough. Doesn't seem quite right to me. I fall into the same boat, 3 years ago with my committee lauding praise in an attempt to get me to stick around for a PhD. I know for a fact now that there was no way they could have known the ability i would have to complete the whole thing or to eventually get a position. I think stuff has worked out OK but it was just as likely that I could have been a total loser who was goaded into wasting time on a worthless degree or no degree at all. That's a pretty big risk to take with someone else's life. Sure its up to each person to decide for themselves , but young folks in the beginning of grad school are easily taken advantage of due to insecurity, power issues, and fear of the real world. Faculty need to be more mindful of this and be realistic with their students. 
Back to what I want to do...faculty or not? I have BIG issues with academia today. I think the first is the type of people that academia attracts. Sure you've got lots of really brilliant people and lots of not so clever folks. The problem is that just about everyone thinks their the former even if they're the later. What this amounts to is a lot of people in a room who are so used to being the smartest one and never having to say they screwed up or were wrong. I know there are some readers out there who are right now thinking, "so whats the problem, Patrick, you'll fit right in." True. I can't argue that one much more except to say that at least i recognize the problem and don't want to be a part of it. 
The second problem with academia is that across the country the people that run universities are academics. The people that run the place should be managers. Its not accidental that the heads of big pharmaceutical companies start out as PhDs but eventually become MBAs. Universities  should be the same way. A department head is a manager and he/she should be hired not for his skills at the lab bench but for his/her ability to inspire people, bridge communication gaps, set direction/policy, and implement plans. As a cocky scientist, i don't want to work for another scientists...i want to work for someone who has a skill set that is NOT my own. 
Lastly, academia sucks because you need contrived reasons for funding. With industry the reason is simple and consistent, "we want to make more money." With academia you have a problem you want to study and the reason is (and should be) because you were curious but the reason you tell the NIH/NSF is that you want to study it because it has implications for global warming, or it will help cure a rare disease amongst the southwestern albino Eskimos. Yeah right. Big pharma scientists might be sellouts but at least they're honest about it. Don't get me wrong, industry sucks too...just not sure i'm right for academia at the moment. 
Maybe I should just be more positive. Academia is nice because you get to wear funny robes every so often and after a few years you pretty much can't be fired. Always some upside i guess. Patrick OUT!!!