Various Lies

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Year Resolutions

Hello Reader,

Well, I'm on my last day of work before taking a few days annual leave and then our Administrative Closing. My institute is very good to its staff (probably because they pay us so badly), and with just three days annual leave I get almost 2 full weeks vacation. I'd love to be going somewhere or doing something, but a combination of no money and no travel visa mean I am stuck in this city I call home for those 2 weeks. I likely will be bored out of my fucking mind by the end of the week.

Anyway, time to think about New Year's Resolutions and so on and so forth. Mine are easy, and one has been a constant for the last few years, which shows how successful I've been at keeping it.

1. Quit Smoking.
I am a smoker, and have been on-and-off for about 20 years. Like most addicted and habitual smokers I love and hate it with equal measure. The long term health implications are horrifying though, and as I expand into early middle age I really REALLY need to quit/stop/cease & desist. So, wish me luck, Dear Reader. This one is tied into #2 on my list and I hope they go together.

2. Get back training.
I've been training/playing at Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing, for almost three years, but recently due to work and family I had to take a break. I meant to take a break for a couple of weeks and it has stretched into almost three months. I've lost nearly 10lbs (4-5 Kg), and it's not healthy. Because I'm not training I'm also more inclined to go for a pint (or two or three) after work, and obviously I'm still smoking. Muay Thai is famous not only for being one of the most brutal martial arts, but also one of the most aerobic, so getting back into training should help me with #1. And, of course, give me more stories of brutal and painful injuries to share. So far the list is 2 knockouts (with resultant concussions), two broken noses, four broken ribs, one dislocated finger, one cracked shin, one cracked foot, one dislocated fracture of the toe. Fucking brilliant!

3. Time Management
One of the reasons I had to take time off from training was that I was getting seriously behind in my non-direct work duties. Like most scientists I don't stick to the 40hr work weed. When I was a labrat I did more, but I still put in 50+hrs each at the day job. On top of this I'm taking a few graduate level courses to get a Certificate in Clinical Project Management. My training is in molecular genetics and neuroscience (with a light dusting of electrophysiology/biophysics), but now I'm an Administrator (ooh that cursed word) in a Clinical Science Institute, I need to pad the old resume out a bit.

Last semester was Biostatistics (excellent fun, but very time consuming with homework), and Fundamentals of Clinical Investigation. Finals have been taken and I'm happy to say I passed Biostats, and should have passed FCI barring a complete fuck up on the final exam. It was to critically evaluate a clinical study (using Zoledronic Acid (a bisphosphonate) post-operatively to reduce re-fracture and mortality after traumatic hip fracture, if you're curious) and I hope I did well. Seemed like a good study, and they certainly stuck to the CONSORT review outlines.

Anyway, on top of this I am on the Board of Directors for a national charity. We represent a very substantial number of people and have been taking a little heat recently for focusing too much on the small/procedural issues, and not the "larger" picture. Well, that's partly because the charity is young, and we've been working very hard on getting the organisational aspects of the charity in place, and now we're looking to expand. This position is time consuming enough, but I have been nominated for one of the Governance Chair positions on an internal committee and it is going to take a amassive amount of my time. I really struggled with getting everything done this year and got some stick for not keeping up woth everything I needed to do. Things are going to be tougher next year. I thought about resigning my position, but then lookerd at some of my fellow Board members. Without doubt they are excellent, motivated and talented people. Some are in the middle of mid-career job transitions and one of our more senior Board members just accepted a Chair at a very prestigious medical school.

If they can do all this and keep up, why can't I? no excuses Dr. Tideliar.

So, between my Board duties, and classes in Epidemiology and Legal & Ethical Aspect of Clinical Research, I am going to be very busy. Quitting smoking will add an hour a day, or so, on to my work week. And getting to the gym will keep me out of the pub and bring some focus back into my life. And that focus i can reflect in my job and extra-curricula actives.

Fuck, there's a certain, beautiful symmetry to my plan huh? I must be a genius or something.

What are you planning for next year? Maybe we can all encourage each other in 2010.

Merry Christmas, Dear Reader,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2 weeks?

Dear Reader,

Fuck. Sorry. Really busy right now.

Building webpages

Forgetting to sit finals for biostats

Sitting (late) finals for Biostats

Sitting Clinical investigation finals

Getting my house ready for the Grandmother Invasion in a couple of days (actually failing at this, because we don't have a bed for her sleep in yet...)

Being generally fucking awesome (although in desperate need of a haircut)

...normal service will resume when I once more have to write 500 words of filth laden detritus upon you. Next week, probably.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What a bunch of wankers!

Thanks to the Lay Scientist and their new Carnival of History I have discovered 'mongst other Things, a most won'drous new Blog. Hi thee at once, nae, sooner, if thou canst to:

Georgian London

As a Londer myself (albeit, barely), and an avid amateur historian I can think of no finer way to pass my idle lunchours than exploring Georgian London (and often, by extension, Britain) than Lucy Inglis' blog.

And to make matters better, the first post I arrive at is something near and dear to my heart, and furtive scrabbling hands...


Anyway, go check out A Frotted History... in church Mr. Pepys? Good grief!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are you taking the piss?

I'm all about cultural sensitivity and stuff, and I try and bit a politically correct to respect my fellow man. However, I do not subscibe to the rampant PC and CS bullshit that goes around and is used as an excuse to promote any old bollocks that any old bloke wants because it's his/her "right" to a certain belief.

Fuck. Off.

So, I was bloody surprised to find out that thanks to "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month" we're having a "Informative Session & Presentation" (WTF does that mean? As opposed to a what?) on...

"Medicinal Plants and Backyard Herbs"
Natural Healing Remedies Inspired by the Native American Culture (Cherokee)

Are you having A FUCKING LAUGH?!

We're a medical School. An accredited Medical College!!! FUCKING HERBALISM? ARE YOU TAKING THE PISS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!

From the speakers' bio: "Her early training in herbalism came from walking the fields and woods of west Tennessee as a child."

What the ever-loving fucking pisswank does that mean? I walked the fields and woods of South Hertfordshire as a child, but at no point have I thought that it entitled me to some motherfucking herbalist shamen-like knowledge, other than how to avoid stinging nettles and badger shit.

I've been warned about making waves about this because I'll be construed as a racist and "hater". Thankfully my girlfriend is 25% Native American & 75% Africa American.

And the best defence is a good offence...

Statistics Don't Lie!

New rankings for the most dangerous cities, and even neighbourhoods were released out today. Delightful Memphis is the 10th most dangerous city in the US, which is nice.

Our local douchebags hoodlums screwed up this weekend though, when we had a full FIVE murders; but they were too late to affect our national rankings. Poor timing lads, I mean that 19 year college kid you shot to death outside the library: wasted (literally). Although with murders regularly committed by teenagers (the youngest arrested in the aforementioned shooting was 16, the eldest just 19) , maybe it's an inexperience thing. a few years in the FedPen, and the advanced training this provides, should ensure a better result next time.

New this year were neighbourhood stats too. And although we made only a poor 10th place nationally, it was great to see Memphis ranking up with Richmond, VA; Dallas, TX and NY, NY as having multiple neighboorhoods on the crime-map. Our two neighbourhoods have an average risk of 1 in 7 for someone passing through (although I think they mean living there) of being a victim of a violent crime.

Fucking hell.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

See it IS normal!

From today's edition of Nature, about an article in the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

Research Highlights

Nature 462, 14 (5 November 2009) | doi:10.1038/462014b; Published online 4 November 2009

Animal behaviour: Fruit-bat fellatio

PLoS One 4, e7595 (2009)

Libiao Zhang of Guangdong Entomological Institute in China and his colleagues have documented what may be the first case of regular fellatio in adult animals other than humans.

They report that female short-nosed fruit bats (Cynopterus sphinx) licked their mate's penis during 14 of 20 observed copulations. Matings that involved licking lasted significantly longer than those that did not.

Possible functions for this behaviour include stimulation to prolong copulation and assist fertilization; mate guarding; antibacterial effects; and the detection of chemicals assisting in mate choice.

The authors say their observations could suggest a possible adaptive benefit for the activity in this species.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


How fucking good is that song? Seriously?! What the ever-living buggeration!

The whole motherfucking album just makes you want to go fucking run and punch someone/thing a hard as you can in the face with your other hand raised in the motherfuckin DEVILS SALUTE!

Fuck Yeah!

Here on the stage the Marshall noise
is piercing through your ears
It kicks your ass kick your face
Exploding feeling nears
Now is the time to let it rip
To let it fuckin' loose
We are gathered here to maim and kill
Cause this is what we choose

Adrenaline starts to flow
You're thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac

The show is through the metal is gone
It is time to hit the road
Another town Another gig
Again we will explode
Hotel rooms and motorways
Life out here is raw
But we will never stop
We will never quit
cause we're Metallica

Adrenaline starts to flow
You're thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Proof!

I am slogging my way through the User manual for our Clinical Database management tool. This is the version incorporating all edits from three non-native English speakers since the last review of Document version 2 earlier in the year. The team have done a wonderful job, but this is a long and hard process and I need more coffee. It was 42 pages long when i started, I am on section 2 (of 7) and it's over 50 pages already.

However, it could be worse...They have to double check the documentation on the source code.

All 1,000,000 lines of it...LOLz

Oops I did it again!

Damn this fucking internets!

All the debate and chat about anonymity. Prof Like Substance mentions he has deleted posts after realising he was too close to revealing something. Professor in Training has been worried and self-edited. Damn Good Technician was outed in her previous lab, leading to acrimonious...acrimony. Grand Inquisitor was identified by disgruntled persons (un)known, who hacked his blog. Female Science Professor has some interesting posts on the topic. And Comrade Physioprof said Fuck, a lot, about this very issue.

I used to have another Blog, with the same title, that ran for several years until I was outed on a web-forum I moderate. Not a big deal, and a lot of my readers knew me anyway, but it necessitated closing and locking the blog once I'd made a few life changes and certainly, before I changed jobs and had to pretend to be a grown-up.

Now, I'm no technophobe, but like Stephen Fry said recently, I have the terrible habit iof acting without thinking, of opening my mouth and letting whatever (to me) witty aphorism, or apt riposte is curdling in my brain, slough out of my cakehole with nary a thought for the consequences. I tend to do the same thing with my actions: I am desperately impulsive, which gets me in no end of trouble.

I opened a Twitter account, and promptly, without thinking, linked my user name to my meatspace moniker. That was dealt with quickly, and I think indexing has buried any knowledge of my true identity. However, I was pottering around on Posterous, replying to a post on Brain Gym, that bedevilment of woo-science that infiltrates schools, universities and now medical Schools (seriously! What-the-ever-buggering fuck are you doing A) believing in Brain Gym, if you have an MD, and B) doing teaching it to your Med Students?). Well, the option came to post my comment to Facebook, so without thinking I said Yes! Share my thoughts with the world, for I am nothing if not vain & opinionated, and that is why I invented the internet.

And thus it came to be, my post, linked under my user name, Tideliar, linked to this page, has just been flashed across my Facebook page, which is under my meatspace moniker. And subsequently flashed across the homepages of all 400+ of my "friends", a lot of whom are work colleagues, who will be appalled to find some of the filth I've vomited forth on this site.

Let the editing begin...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I don't fucking believe it.

I want a death match between gates and jobs right now.

Why oh why oh why oh why do little things like keyboard shortcuts have to differ between Mac & PC?

Like "jump back one word" vs "jump back one page"?

I only ask, because, say, for example, you're taking an online test, and the system is set for a single attempt. So, when you hit the wrong combination and it jumps back a whole motherfucking page, the system locks you out as if you'd submitted the test.

Imagine doing something so unutterably fucking stupid when you were only halfway through the test.

Imagine what a complete fuckwit you would feel like. Especially if you were the Project Manager for the office that oversees and administers the system.

Just imagine how stupid and irritated you'd feel right now. And what a bowel-looseningly cringing and fawning email you would have to send to the Head Instructor begging to be let back in over the weekend so you could finish said test.

Goddamned, motherfucking son of a fucking bitch.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What the everliving F*** is your problem? Part III

To the ignorant, shit-kicking, fucktard behind me line at the deli today:

So they don't have iced-tea. Big fucking deal. Was it really worth a ten minute rant at the poor cunt standing behind the counter, who quite clearly cannot do anything about the fact that his employer doesn't carry iced-tea?

Oh, wait! They DO have iced-tea, just not the brand you want to drink! Oh, well it's fine to launch into a fucking ignorant, race-fueled rant about "them damned foreigners" in the middle of Einstein's Bagels then. Of course. We all wanted to know your views on "everything that's wrong with this country nowadays" because they don't have Lipton Fucking Iced-Motherfucking Tea.

"I don't drink any of that foreign muck. This is America, and we don't like foreign muck!" Was a work of rhetorical genius, made doubly ironic by the copper tint to your badly permed hair proclaiming your European ancestry. I, as a foreigner, felt especially welcomed to your city, as did my Nigerian colleague, and I'm sure the two Indian students in front of us were overcome with joy too.

"When I was in Boston they didn't even ask if I want sweet, or unsweetened, or even offer me any NutraSweet...that's why I won't live nowhere like that. They don't understand how things need to be done in the South."

Awesome. You geographically challenged fucking bigot. You predicate your entire, godforsaken, blighted existence on the basis of the availability of fucking Iced Motherfucking Tea? Seriously? You need to go fuck yourself. Really, you do.

You define, sum up and personify everything that is wrong with the racially charged Southern US. I know you, and I know your type. Making comments at them damned uppity coloureds, and never mind the Mexicans or the Jews. All things foreign are to be feared and reviled, and everything that is white and good lives here in the South. And is decorated with Confederate flags, and maintained by white folk. God fearin' church-goin' hypocritical lazy motherfuckers like you.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dr. Ruth Kirschstein has died...

A sad day indeed. From NIH Director Francis Collins:

Dear NIH Family,

We are all deeply saddened by the news of Dr. Ruth Kirschstein's death last evening. She died peacefully, after battling a long illness. Our hearts go out to Ruth's husband, Dr. Al Rabson, and their son, Dr. Arnold Rabson.

Ruth embodied the spirit of the NIH. She was an icon. She was loved and admired by so many at the NIH, across the medical research community, among hundreds of members of Congress, and around the world. Knowing Ruth, she would cringe if she heard us praise her--modesty was one of her strongest suits. Dr. Kirschstein couldn't, however, argue with the facts about her service to the NIH that spanned more than 50 years. She was the first female Director of an NIH Institute, NIGMS. She was the Deputy Director of the NIH, acting NIH Director, and senior advisor to multiple NIH Directors. There are few at the NIH who have not been touched by her warmth, wisdom, interest, and mentorship. She worked diligently on breaking the mystery of polio and developing the Sabin vaccine. Her many other accomplishments are too numerous to list. We will have an opportunity for the NIH family to pay tribute, reflecting upon the life and lessons of one of our greatest leaders, according to her and her family's
wishes, at a future date.

Ruth worked up to her last days. Last week, in fact, I was on a conference call with her, and her insightful contribution made it clear she had not missed a beat.

I know I speak for all of the NIH and our entire community, when I say that the world has lost one of its dearest, most dedicated public servants, one with a huge heart and brilliant mind. We will miss her always.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.,
Director, NIH

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sod this for a game of soldiers!

I'm on vacation as of......NOW!

Albeit, a stay-cation. With family in town. Including a screamy 3 year old.


I'm out of the office until Wednesday. Hooray!


I will have my laptop, be on email, working on my biostats homework. And I keep my G1 powered up and active, so I'll be getting the daily minutiae and bullshit.


I suck at vacationing!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What the Everliving F*** is Your problem? Pt. II

For a resolution to Part I: he was helped to understand the error of his ways and chose to forgo his poorly timed vacation.

To part the Second!

I am going out of town for a conference in a few weeks, to a city I love from afar: Chicago! now, I know we're in a time of budgetary woes and so forth, so I have gone out of my way to cover costs and reduce expenses as much as possible.

Firstly, I am traveling with two colleagues from work (two of the co-authors on the presentation I'm giving) and we are driving for fucks sake. It's a 10 hour journey. We are not flying we are fucking driving. We are not taking a 2 hour jaunt aboard a modern sky-liner to get there, because it is expensive. We are fucking driving for ten goddamned motherfucking hours to help save money.

Secondly, I am sharing a room with another colleague (from a different institute) when I get there. I could have got my own motherfucking suite at the motherfucking Hilton, but I did the right thing, and called up a friend and we figured out a room share.

Thirdly, I got pre-approval from the Executive Management Board of the Institute I work for to go on this conference. I wrote a memo to the Board, I drew up a budget and justification and I plead my case. They were so swayed by my rhetoric and oratory that of course they approved. It's only costing $2000 (that was before we decided to drive for fuck's sake. It's even less now).

So, I would say I've done pretty fucking stand up job of Doing My Bit, or being a Team Player, if you will. So now you might understand my frustration that I find out just three weeks before leaving, just AFTER the cut-off date to get the hotel booking fee re-funded that they won't cover my motherfucking hotel room!

Corporate, in their infinite fucking wisdom have canceled all purchasing and advance privileges for everyone, everywhere in the whole goddamned System. This arrives on top of my partner not getting paid for two goddamned, camelwanking months by the inept, corrupt and thoroughly fucking useless local City Government. So, I have killed my credit cards (and credit), and emptied my savings (not that she gives a good goddamn, but there you go, that's a rant for another day), and now I'm told I have to fork out $800 for a fucking hotel room, and I might not get it reimbursed!

Which bit of "work related expenses" do they not get? Do you really think I want to sit in fucking car for 10 fucking hours and get up at 6 in the fucking morning to give a presentation? Do you think that after working non-stop for a year trying to get this fucking Institute funded and efficient I wouldn't rather go on a fucking vacation?

I am told that the only option is to write a begging letter to the VP Finance and essentially beg for a...payday advance?

So, they'll cover my expenses.

With my salary.


Can someone, somewhere explain the logic behind this please? Anyone? anyone? Don't be shy, don't raise your hands, just shout it out?......




No. Me fucking neither.

The Institute has already approved the funds from their budget. So why the everliving fuck are Corporate being dicks about this? Why must employees be treated like conniving, thieving little children out to have a jolly on the company dime? Why must I beg for something that has already been given to me?

I haven't yet decided on my approach, but have no fear, it will be extreme, and will share it with you too Dear Reader. Just what I fucking need. More fucking work.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sartorial Inelegance

One has a nice blog post brewing about hats at the moment, but that must wait, for I am in the middle of putting on another hat.

Suffice-it-to-say right, now, that is raining, heavily, still. Has been for days. I am wearing khaki slacks with a nice, full cotton French cuff shirt, replete with silver treble clef cuff-links. I look FANTASTIC.

However, I had to rush outside to grab something hat related and an unfortunate gust of wind now renders me sartorially inelegant. The problem with khaki is that it shows moisture. I must now attend a seminar on genetic research into the underlying etiology of Parkinson's disease in Drosophila melanogaster, followed by a poster presentation hosted by our Research Technology Unit, looking like I need potty training...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So very fat and very rude...

Alcoholism runs deep in my family's veins. Alcoholism and it's concomitant risks of suicide. Straight down through the Scots blood on one side of our family tree is a thick vein of violent alcoholic depression and suicide.

I have faced those demons myself; both as a child with the terrifying spectre of a drunk and violent person, much larger and much, much stronger than I lashing out wildly with no regard for who or what gets hurt. Until later, when it's far too late to heal the wounds sustained. The constant fear of doing, saying, or even looking wrong, always wondering how bad it might be this time.

And, because like-breeds-like I have faced it from the working end of bottles of whiskey, cheap and dirty scotch flooding my belly and my brain with fire. And loving it. Feeling such rage and hatred for everything that all you can do is lash out.

And I've stood on that precipice, literally and figuratively, wondering if it wouldn't just be easier to let go and drop. Knowing that no matter how painful the landing, it will at least be a brief pain compared to the constant pain and torture of the present.

A long time has passed, but memories like that don't fade. And I still lie awake at night thinking and wondering and regretting. But now, as an adult, I can recognise symptoms and signs and heed warnings I was too naive, or too fucked up to notice in the past. There is no "slippery slope". That's a fucking scapegoat fallacy. There is just a step. One too many without care and it's too fucking late to back to where you were.

So, recognising those steps those feelings and those emotions, I made a resolution. Stop, before you look down and see a familiar, well trod path beneath your feet. Stop before it's too late; because it will be one day, far to late. And you don't have nine lives anymore old son. You've burned too many bridges, too many times to keep thinking that it's "gonna be OK".

I've been trying to keep it on the quiet, like. Publicity doesn't help. I assumed everyone would figure it out soon enough anyway; I mean, all I hear from acquaintances and drinking partners is "are you here every night?", or "Shall I see you next week? Oh, of course, you're always here."

I thought it should be pretty obvious why I'm not around as much. Enjoying a weekend with my girlfriend, but avoiding certain places, and people, like the plague during the week. Leaving early from events, canceling dinner plans, or returning concert tickets. I didn't expect much in response, but I certainly didn't expect the levels of disrespect I'm receiving from some quarters.

In the last couple of weeks I have been called, even to my face, a loser, a drunk, a failure, a quitter and been told in no uncertain terms by a couple of folks that I can "fuck off then!". And I have. That's the point.

Curiously, other people have been more supportive. "Good for you,", or "No problem. Let me know if you fancy a quiet beer at the weekend", or even "How about a coffee then".

To those then, Thank you. To the rest, Thank you too, for helping me open my eyes. I suggest you try the same thing one day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So, you wanna be a star, huh, kid?

Dear Dr. Tideliar. Can I call you me? OK,

Dear Me.

You wanted to be a Faculty member, and just like all postdocs who aspire to that lofty perch upon the alabaster tower of academe, didn't really believe all that was expected of you could really be So. Much. Fucking. Work.

Well congratulations sucker, welcome to the nest. You might not yet be full Faculty rank, but you're doing your damnedest to get there, and you're as close as you can be without actually having to teach as well.

Find attached the Internal Funding Opportunity grant application you have been volunteered to review. Because this is your first "study section" be sure to have plenty of sleepless nights panicking that you're screwing it up somehow. Try and have two copies of the review at all times, so if you feel you've been to kind you can work on version A, if you've been too harsh, version B. Also, make sure that your self-confidence is at an all time low, and personal paranoia is at an all time high, when you walk in that review room.

Yes son, they *are* all talking about *you*!

OK. Crack on then. And don't forget about the grants you need to write, and the staff you need to manage. And the meetings that need to be arranged, and the supplies that need ordering. Don't forget to keep an eye on your position on the totem pole (watch for splinters, and try not to slip).

Stop sitting there feeling proud/sorry for yourself son! You've got a 1PM meeting to prepare for! (and you'd better get over to PubMed and start reading those references...)

best, and warmest regards,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grow Up!

God damn it all to ever-loving fuckeration! Why do people insist on acting like children?

My programmer just asked if he could go back to India; he hasn't been back for 2 years. Well, for a start, just ask, don't add stupid qualifiers. I have gone 4 or 5 years without visiting my homeland, so i don't care about this supposed hardship. Suck it up. You chose to work in the US, and with that come "responsibilities". Because you've added a qualifier to your question you're assuming or expecting a negative reaction and this concerns me. It means there's more to the question than meets the eye. At first listen.

Fuck you. My blog. My metaphors.

We are busy as all hell at work right now. Summer is drawing to a close and students are turning up en masse, Faculty are making the usual outrageous demands of our systems, and Admin are just cluttering the place up and slowing down meetings. The summer was blissful, quiet and almost boring.

I greet the question with a raised eyebrow, this is mistaken for a suggestion for him to continue.

"If I don't go now, I will be unable to go for one and half more years because of my visa status..." Once more stumbling to halt.

Still making excuses, and still not giving me all the information I need. I point out that I can't stop him, and of course I don't want to be mean (in public).

It transpires there is just a little bit worse to come. The "now" in the above sentence means, almost literally, now.

"I found a flight for just one thousand dollars..."

For fuck's sake. Act like a man and make the fucking request!!!

"It leaves on the 25th."

that's 6 days. Less than a week's notice that you need three weeks off at the busiest time of the year. Timed perfectly to coincide with us renewing your contact and picking up your tuition.

Godamned, selfish bullshit. And coincidentally his supervisor is off until the end of next week and also off the grid, so i can't double check his workload and schedule.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Injury Post. Come laugh at my misfortune...

This post is a redux of a post from the old “Some Lies”, now locked and hidden for many good reasons. This was first published in April 2006. I’ve neatened it up, and added a couple at the end. The re-post is for two reason. One, is I promised Microbiologist XX more of the old tales. The other is the sickening realization I’m back at year 1 of the cycle…

What cycle…oh, dear reader, read on…


…So last night after band practice, me and my good mate and bassist William “The Beast”-“Lefty” Wallace (a man whose nickname is now almost as prodigious as his bass-work), were having a chat down the pub. Somehow the conversation steered to broken bones. We were likely talking about all the blokes we’ve beaten up and all the birds we’ve shagged. Cos, as rock stars that’s what we do. Or at least, we tell outrageous and grandiose lies about it.

Anyway, it occurred to me that this is year1 of my ‘about 3 year’ cycle. And that sends a shiver through me bones…cos they’re about to break.

See, ever since I was a nipper I have managed, through sheer bloody minded incompetence, clumsiness and stupidity, to break a bone on average every three or four years. There have been in betweenies too, and I thought once or twice I’d broken the cycle (along with my nose) but, alas, no. It might, however, make a nice blog post…


1986. Age 11. Broke: left wrist. Backwards running race at the school sports day…yeah. Which fucking genius thought it was a good idea to have a bunch of skinny and uncoordinated 11yr olds sprint backwards? Walked home after school carrying my school bag (briefcase…fledgling geek) in the bad hand (fledgling idiot).

(in betweenie: “dislocated” elbow and (unrelated) eye surgery)

1989. Age 14. Broke: left wrist. I fell off my bike. Funny thing is, the day I got the cast off, I was chasing my brother to give him a bit of a hiding for something, when I slipped on a comic book and fell back on the arm and tore all the tendons in the wrist. How I laughed as I went back to the emergency room less than an hour after leaving it.

1992. Age 17. Broke left wrist and hand in 5 places. This time I fell down some stairs in Cham, Holland while on a youth hostelling tour of Europe. They had a brand new hospital and I was the first patient in X-ray. Which really made up for everything. Funny thing that tour…me and few of my mates on a church led trip. Priest in charge (and no he wasn’t a kiddie fiddler, so don’t ask), but I fell down the steps and by this point in life had a fairly good idea of what a broken bone feels like. I landed and yelled and then went into shock and started muttering, “I’ve broken my fucking arm. I’ve fucking broken my fucking arm” (being in a great deal of pain, you see). Priest tells me off for bad language. Cunt.

in betweenie: two major concussions requiring hospital stays, gashed hand requiring micro-surgery. Gashed forearm and elbow requiring blood transfusion (nice humeral arterial tear), and microsurgery.

1997. Age 20. Can’t remember. I did a lot (I mean a fucking LOT) of drugs in college. Sorry. Three or four years are completely gone. Bit of a bummer really cos I was too stoned to take photos. I did break my nose a couple of times, I remember that…

2000. Age 25. Broken tailbone. Fell off my mountain bike. I was riding standing up on the pedals going down hill and slipped. Dropped right onto the pommel of the saddle. Went camping in the woods two days later and forgot my sleeping mat.

in betweenie: broken finger. Boomerang related injury. Say no more.

2003. Age 27. Broke 4 ribs, two major concussions and my right knee. This was a good year for The Tideliar.

I broke two ribs in a snowboarding accident right at the start of the season. Both breaks were on my left side. A couple of weeks later, me and my good friend Shar get in a massive fucking car wreck a few miles outside Pittsburg. I knocked the passenger-side window out with my head. I’m really that fucking hard. I drove the rental car back home (4hr drive) cos poor Shar was too freaked out. It really was a very bad accident. The witnesses said they figured us for dead, for real. Anyway, I was nearly blind in one eye and completely uncoordinated two days later. About three weeks after that I’m at a party and a fight kicks off. Being the Super Ninja of DeathRock that I am, I waded in and got another two ribs broken.

Thankfully they balanced me out, cos they were on my right hand side. About two weeks after that I was snowboarding again…It was perfect, two maybe three feet of fresh powder. Your beloved Tideliar (albeit with perhaps one too many beers in him…it hurts to snowboard with broken ribs) finds the one patch of ice on the whole fucking mountain. It was right as I came out of a turn and my weight was on the toes of my back leg. I dropped my full weight at high speed onto my right knee. Ouch. I tried to stand, but the pain was quite amazing. I collapsed, but fearing landing on that knee I gracefully broke my fall with my head. Good job son! I was re-concussed and stuck a thousand feet or so up a mountain.

in betweenie: Broke a rib. My mate Big Jay gave me a bear hug. He isn’t called Big Jay for nothing. My band went on tour that summer and I had to play with a broken rib. See. Told you I was well hard.

2006. Age 29. Things accelerate now. I started Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). Broken ribs. Again. I got my ass badly whooped in the parking lot outside our “gym” and managed to pop a rib or two. I may have torn my diaphragm, but I have been known to exaggerate…

Also, whilst goofing during Muay Thai training, I also demonstrated my advanced training in clumsiness. I went to Thai-kick the kick-bag, for that is it’s purpose in life; it looked lonely, I was bored. You know how these things go…I now train in bare feet because my shin-pads have an instep guard that makes wearing shoes uncomfortable, and training in bare feet makes me concentrate on my kicks more.

However it also makes one’s feet slippery because of the dust. I didn’t check my stance, swung my right leg up and out, rotated at the hip and then my left foot slipped and allowed me to finish my rotation with the addition of a rather cool double back-salco onto my arse. Unfortunately the middle toe of my left foot stayed firmly planted and I rotated around it.

Looking down it was immediately apparent why my foot was numb. My toe was pointing off and to the left at a decidedly too jaunty angle. I have a fair amount of medical training and knew there was but one recourse. I sat down and used my hands to force my toes into a “fist”. I felt the toe slip back into its “socket” with a satisfying click. Being a super-hardcore motherfucker I just taped my toes up and finished training, which thankfully involved loads of kicking.

Stupidly I didn't go to the Doctor about this one. It's healed OK, but looks nasty still. The joint are misshapen and it still points to the left. It also aches a lot. Twat.

In betweenie: dislocated finger (this time I did go to the quack), broken nose (twice), a couple of mild concussions.

It’s now 2009. We’re halfway through already…do the math.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something painful this way comes.

After 23 years of The Curse, I know there is no fighting it. I’m hoping the constant stream of violence and aggression I enjoy is keeping me mildly injured to the point where those beings from another astral pain plain, those behind this Curse, accept my sacrifice as worthy. I somehow doubt it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What the everliving F*** is your problem? Pt.I

Why does my professional society keep changing their goddamned log-in instructions? It has changed again, from having just been changed just before they organised our annual meeting, and from when it was changed again at the end of last year around the time we all had to fucking renew our goddamned membership.

My username has gone from my Firstlife Surname, to my work email address, to my Firstlife full name, to my work username. My password has wandered from my 9 fucking digit membership number, to my email address and back again, as well as being, briefly, something of my own choosing.

Every time you get a new CIO you do NOT need to overhaul your fucking User Interface system. Fucktards.

Goddamn your fucking idiocy. And now I'm getting emails because they have the wrong motherfucking address on file! The quarterly newsletter, that had been coming to my NEW OFFICE THAT I'VE BEEN IN FOR 8 MOTHERFUCKING MONTHS is now being returned undelivered.

Two questions. Or statements. Your choice.

1. My old department know exactly where I am, so why don't they send it over? I am in the building next door you mentally crippled, ignorant fucksticks. Literally, laterally, 400 feet from where I was for four fucking years.

2. Why has my "address on record" suddenly reverted to my old lab address? Not three weeks ago I registered for the annual meeting. I had to confirm my current address and re-enter it three fucking times during the entire, overly complicated, marketing-dollar driven, miserable fucking experience. You shouldn't even have my OLD ADDRESS on file you fucking morons.

What the everliving fuck is your problem?

Sci-Blogs NFL challenge! (aka WE LOVE STEELER NATION)

From my esteemed blog-colleague, Prof-like substance, whom, I assume, 99% of my readers read anyway. Contact him, not me. We'll let PlS coordinate the mayhem. as he's actually a yank and everything...


The NFL preseason starts this Sunday. I'm not kidding, you can look it up. That means that we are little more than a month from the NFL regular season, which also means this summer has flown by way too quickly. However, rather than focus on the pending doom that the school year brings, I am inviting my fellow bloggers to join in an NFL pickem' pool. For those who have not been involved in something like this before, the rules are simple - pick which team will win each game. To make it a bit more complicated, we will be picking which team will when when the spread is taken into account, but the idea remains the same - if you give the team expected to lose an XX point handicap, who will win the game? The weekly results will be posted here on Tuesdays during the regular season and we will come up with some way to recognize both the overall and weekly leaders (like the Tour de' France... but different).

Now, in order to keep the numbers reasonable and to facilitate the shit-talking, let's start by limiting the participants to those with running blogs. If this motivates a couple of regular commenters to start up a place of their own, great. You've got a month. So, I've started a yahoo group for people to login and enter their picks. Email me (proflikesubstance at the gmail) for the login info and let the shenanigans begin.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ur doin it wrong!



Shark Tanking?

Undove Tailing?


What buzz word would you use for the fact that my Unit now has a manager:employee ratio of 1:1?

For a total of 8 people.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I fart in your general direction!

You silly English knights! Which, unless,you've seen The Holy Grail and can pronounce it in John Cleese's loodicruuus Eeenglish Aaacent! isn't as funny as it should be.

I just saw the Summary Statements from the NIH grant we submitted back in January. Oh fucking Jeebus on a pogo stick did "they" not like it. They fucking hated it. Everything about it. I think the highest numeral I saw for any of the criteria (approach, innovation etc.) was a 3 (out of 9, but not 1 or 2 = don't fucking bother. most of ours were in the 5-8 range). reviewer (we had three) said "None that I can see".


I'm kicking myself a little bit for not fighting harder to get it postponed, but at the end of the day I only have so much clout here.

I tell you what. Given the level of engagement round here recently, there is no way on God's Green Earth I am doing the two proposed for the next round of submissions (October). There is too little drive, too little writing, too little help, too little...of anything. I've written grants before, and I've been a scientist (albeit a lowly one) for over a decade. I know what needs to go into this, and I'm not seeing at tenth of what we need. There is way too much, "oh I had an idea, go write me an R01 on that."

After reading this review, my "suggestion" to my Overlings will be to avoid having your name mentioned around Bethesda until you can be sure of submitting something fucking gold-plated. 24 karat, diamond encrusted, bejeweled and bewitched by good fairies.

I now have a massive headache and I'm going for a beer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mental Health Day

I had a cold this week. Got to work Monday morning, feeling a bit dozy. By 10am I was sniffly; by 11 I was feverish, so they sent me home.

I went home.

I think I died around 3PM. Thankfully I'm like The Highlander, so I came back alive again. Just to feel shit for the next 36hrs.

Today I feel better, but dozy.

So, went through my LIST OF THINGS TO DO. It was 40 THINGS long.

It is now only 12 THINGS long. Unfortunately, all the easy THINGS like, "Ask Brad & Rebecca about new logo", are gone, and I'm left with THINGS such as, "Write JAMIA paper", and "Write AFSA Grant".

That kind of sucks. But at least they stand out on the page now, y'know?

And I was going over my mailbox limit. Again. I used to fight to keep my inbox down to 50 emails, then it was 100 emails. Then 150. Then I noticed that I had hundreds upon hundreds of emails stored in 15 folders and 35 sub-folders. No wonder I could never find anything! So, I instituted a new regime: be more brutal, and cut the crap. Plus, stop saving every wack-a-loon dumb email funny people send me. And, relax the inbox quota to 200.

Well, it hit 300 today. So, a fresh cup of coffee, and an hour's dedicated administrative brutality clearing later I'm down to 207...shit...208 in my inbox, and had the unfeasibly satisfying experience of deleting 5 folders and 700 old emails. Ahhhh...damn near 75-100MB of shite off my account I hope.


now what... 3hrs to go.... what gets cleaned next...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A quickie

The building I work in is an old, attractive 5 story brownstone, replete with "turrets", and carved archways, mounted Saints etc. Because it was built in the 40s and 50s, it has but one elevator, and the bathrooms/toilets "alternate". Ladies and gents are on the ground floor, but then alternate on the way up, so men's rooms are on the third and fifth floors, the ladies on the second and fourth.

I work on the fourth.

My floor houses my unit/Academic Office, and the Postdoc Office for whom I also "work". Below us is finance & accounting, above is alumni affairs & development. The second floor is marketing as well as the executive floor for the various Chancellors and bigwigs, poobahs and grandees. The ground floor is payroll and student affairs/admissions.

I'm an unrepentant smoker, so I'm outside "having a quick fag" as we say in the old country, a couple of times of day. Because of this, and because of needing to go to the bathroom/toilet a couple of times each day (depending on how much coffee I've had) I've got to "meet" a lot of people in my building. 99% are middle aged, and of that 99% I'd say 65-75% are female, of which 60% are African American.

So, there's a brief demographic overhaul of my immediate work environment.

So, if there is about 1% of "young" people in my building, where are they? Some are on my floor: my programmers, coders, assistants etc. The rest are scattered around. And because the ladies room is on my floor, I occasionally get to see the females of species (in the corridor, I'm not lurking in the loo, you perverts!). And, very occasionally, like just now, I pass by a stunningly attractive young woman, and I can't help but think,

"Who the fuck are you?!"
"Why aren't you on my floor?!"

Now, I hope I'm not coming across as a perv or a predator. I am a human male and I like to see attractive women. Simple. Biology. But as a geek I do analyze my motives and I came up with a reason: it's not just that it's nice to see pretty girls/women. I miss hanging out with young people from work.

If they worked on my floor, or nearby at least, I could strike up a conversation. I would quickly establish that I'm not a perv or a predator, just a co-worker. We would likely then be chums, and maybe go for beers or something. I know a few of the young(ish/er) folks down on the second floor hang out and go for drinks, go for lunch together.

I guess I'm just lonely, and seeing a pretty girl in the corridor who gives me a quizzical smile, makes me wonder if other people are lonely too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's a Dirty Job, but I gotta do it

We have just run an internal grant "competition" for a small Pilot Program to help provide running cost funds for faculty doing translational research who are close to submitting full scale grants. These folks need a bit of cash to help defray, for example, lab costs, or equipment costs to generate the preliminary data for a full NIH R01. The grants are a nice of bit of emergency cash, especially if your start-up funds are running low, or your grant got bounced for the old bullshit of "not enough preliminary data".

Competing Faculty had to outline a mentoring plan (to be mentored if junior, to mentor if senior) and a Letter of Intent. My institute is hoping to fund a handful of these depending on our final budget for the year. Competition was quite fierce, with over forty Letters of Intent being submitted. The selection committee threw darts worked diligently and selected over twenty to invite for full submission.

It of course fell to muggins here to send the notification emails. I did the wise thing (natch), and sent mass BCC emails. I was careful to have only 10 names/email so as not to irritate the email server. I used my address in the "To" field so I'd know they were sent correctly. and, of course, I have OCD like any good geek, and I know I did it right. I have since triple, quadruple, quintuple checked...because, needless-to-say, not everybody got the damned email!

At first it looked like a couple of our adjunct faculty were the only ones because they don't use the same email address as the rest of campus, and the wrong email addresses were listed in our Faculty Directory (natch). Then a couple of days ago (8 days after initial notices were sent) I found out that some of our on-site (and unfortunately, very senior) faculty were wondering about the status of their application.

Quintuple checking my original emails I saw that there was no rhyme, nor reason, for these non-deliveries. Nothing had bounced back from the server warning me of full in-boxes, for example. Of the ~10 names/email there was a randomness to delivery failure that precluded, say, the last three on each not being delivered. Some times Dr. Cxxxx would not receive the email whereas Dr. Txxxx did.

So, here I am, some ten days after the emails went out, frantically trying to contact everyone, by phone yesterday and email today.

"Dear X
please confirm receipt of the Pilot Project email regarding your Letter of Intent. Please confirm regardless of application status,
Dr. Tideliar"

And, as of now I am only waiting on 12 more responses. Thank fuck only one has indicated that he didn't get the message. Unfortunately, he is also one of the Super Senior Faculty and a Core Director. Ho Hum. My ass, see that fire over there? Yeah. That's for you.

Anyway, everyone who was approved who's replied to me has sent a brief note, "Hi, yeah, got your email saying we've been approved."

I have also had to contact, by phone & email, those who didn't get asked to submit, and that sucks. I don't want them to get a message from me and think, "Oh! Maybe I am approved after all!". Some responses have been very abrupt;

"Yes. I got your email saying we were rejected."

...ouch...sorry mate. But I didn't make the call. However, as Professor in Training wrote a while back, and as did Stephen Curry on his blog "Reciprocal Space" on the Nature Network, it's a kick in the balls to be rejected. I know. I too have written/am writing grants and been rejected more times than I have succeeded.

Some have however, taken it with...let's just say, have taken a different tone:

"Dear Dr. Tideliar
Yes, (unfortunately) we received your email. :)

Of course, we are looking for other
sources to study these needed areas since no evidence-based suggestions currently exist in treating these patients.

I look forward to future interactions.

Have a great weekend, Prof. Mega"

Just getting one like this made this scuttlebutt gig OK. Thank you Prof. Mega, even though you don't it. Sometimes it sucks to be the messenger.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A (not so) secret code?

I am not a programmer; I'm learning Python (slowly) and dabble in HTML. I have to an increasing amount of web design & maintenance though. Thankfully we have a nifty little custom built web-builder that uses a WYSIWYG editor to write the code for you. Except it's a bit shit.

I have a couple of monstrous documents I need to get up on our Postdoc Office website (that I'm also building) ASAP. I have spent a couple of hours today with various HTML tutorials open, but none of them have had examples of exactly what I want.

But, I finally figured out how to do ordered lists with indented, bulleted unordered lists embedded in them! An ugly, but functional combination of

with the odd

  1. text
  • text 2

seems to work. s long as you remember where to close the tags. I know this naughty and I'm supposed to use CSS, steps...

So, to me, w00t!!11! as we say in 1337 speak.

Now, as long as the next part of the list starts at "4" and not back at "1" we might be in business!

Corey Doctorow was right. It is addictive commanding your computer what to do, even when it's something simple as rendering dodgy HTML.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

They get their money's worth

More of a "I'm not dead yet" (INDY) post than anything else.

I'm gradually transitioning over to our Office of Academic Affairs. This is more in line with what i wanted to do when i decided to leave bench science, so I'm happy. The Vice Chancellor seems to like my style, and I think I'm doing OK. My mottos of "don't believe the hype" and "work harder, you lazy cunt" seem to be paying off.

Academic Affairs are supposed to be taking over part of my salary too. Seems only fair, seeing as I work for them anyway. It was initially going to be 40:60, with my salary staying the same. Thankfully my boss fucking rocks and pointed out that I'm paid less than someone of my rank should be. I concur completely! So, hopefully the Academic Affairs cash will act as a "bonus" (there's a name for it, I forget): if I do my 40hrs a week for the Bioinformatics crew, then anything on top of that for Academic Affairs should be paid as bonus by Academic Affairs.

Sounds A fair deal (see what I did there? Clever huh. That's a pun, kids).

only it isn't. I work around 50-60 hrs a week, so the Academic Affairs would have to pay an added 50% of my salary, and without going into details, even though i don't make that much, another 50% would be too freakin' generous by Human Resources standards.

So. Here we are. An impasse. As it were. I don't know what bonus, if any I'll be getting this month. They don't know how much to spare, or how to pay me, and no one knows for how long this might last.

Is there a moral to this tale I can't spot?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

(Un)Happy Anniversary

Ah. June 24th. My Wedding Anniversary. Would have been 9 years today.

Bollocks. What a fucking disaster that was.

Plan for today:

Do not cry, or start a fight.

Finish work as close to 5PM as is legally possible.

Hit the gym. Hard.

Do not cry or start a fight.

Do not go to the bar.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MailBots, Apnea & Hit Men...

The following is an email I wrote a friend of mine just now (edited slightly, obviously). I realised it also made a nice, random blog up date. But here's the issue: I was using my Gmail account. Google let you have this vast, free account, but they advertise on your email page, right? No probs. But, they are obviously "reading" your email too. My friend is an academic at a large university in the SE of the US and reading one her emails the other day I noticed adverts for Large Univ entrance exams "Large Uni: pass your MCATs!" etc.

Mail content specific advertising. Now, my friend is a woman, or "female" as Americans insist on saying, so sometimes our chats get a bit raunchy, more for shits and giggles than anything else (he says, nudge nudge wink wink.) I'm not sure I'm comfortable having them read, y'know! I know that email is as secure as a postcard sent through regular mail, but at least the Royal Mail, or the USPS don't tailor the junk mail you recieve to the contents of your outgoing letters!

I was writting this update, and noticed the adverts on the sidebar were already content specific. So, the Google mailbots are scanning As I Type? What The Everliving Fuck? This feels like a step too far in the invasion of my privacy, and I'm aware of the obvious cognitive dissonance in that statement.

Anyway. What to do? What to do? Double check I'm being scanned as I type (I my be wrong, I'll be the first to admit I jump to conclusions too readily. Some skeptic, huh?). Then...Plan C!

(Plan B, of course, is to figure out what Plan C is, so I can implement it).

Anyway, that's the Mailbot part of this post, here's the rest....


I went to bed at 10. It was great! I've trained Muay Thai everyight this week, and haven't had any alcohol. So, I was sleepy and very ready to crash after watching the UK win AGAIN in the Ultimate Fighter. Except I've developed this weird behaviour in the last few weeks... I'll be lying in bed, dozing and sleepy, only my mind is spinning super fast. I start dreaming, kind of, as my brain is trying to parse all the information spinning in there and so the "dreams" can be quite surreal. Suddenly, as I fall asleep I twich, often violently, back awake. As if my body and hindbrain want to sleep, but my cortex needs to stay awake and process data; so in a last ditch effort to keep the CPU running it sends a command to all my muscles at once.

Over and over again.

It's so strange. I wondered if it was some form of sleep apnea and I was jerking awake as my breathing slowed too far, but I don't think so. I need to figure this out and find a way to shut my thoughts down abit. Too much on my mind, and too much new information to process every day. Any advice is most welcome...

And on that note, looks like my job is getting better and stuff, finally. My boss talked to her boss, (the Vice Chancellor), who is excited about me wanting to move over to the Academic Affairs side of the business. Wanta me on board because she's seen how I cleaned up my current Unit. This would make me a deputy of some sort I guess. Full on Senior Attack Dog position >:) Hit man in the upper eschelons of power!

And hopefully more $$$. please god more $$$. I did my finances the other day. After bills are paid and factoring $300/mo for lunches & drinks ($10/day!) I have something like $400/mo to live on :( not good. How exactly does one pay down vast amounts of credit card debt or save for emergencies/car repairs/vacations on a couple of hundred bucks/onth? Am I being cheap? Is that normal?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

your an idiot

Srsly, if you wanna make a name for yourself in the real world, run a fucking spellchecker on text before you try and go global.


Monday, June 8, 2009

define hypocrisy please?

Journalist and author Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over allegations that he made libelous statements in article he wrote for the Guardian newspaper. His statements referred to BCA claims about chiropractic benefits to pediatric disorders amongst others (asthma etc.). Singh maintains there is no evidence for them to be making such claims, and that furthermore it seems inherently dangerous and negligent to be manipulating the spine of a young child who is still growing. This latter would seem to be common sense to me...but what do I know. I'm just a scientist.

Anyway, an English judge ruled against Singh in a pretrial hearing saying that he had made defamatory statements. English libel law is a fucking joke to the rest of the sane world, and one hopes that this added attention and the 4000+ signatory petition being sent to MPs will help the government and the "legislature" try and address the issue.

In response to Singh's article the BCA, as I mentioned, sued him. They didn't present their case with peer-reviewed scientific literature and clinical studies. In the face of claims of being unscientific, they acted unscientifically. Surprise surprise. There is fuck all evidence for their claims, but of course, now they have proverbial egg on their faces. They can't back-down and admit they're wrong (or indeed, charlatans and snake oil salesmen), so they sue. Thankfully (for someone) Singh is wealthy enough to fight back. Poor fucker, to be. The BCA by acting so utterly deplorably have likely ruined the financial future of Singh and his family. I can't understand why a supposedly "service body" would do something so dickish.

The BCA have now entered the media fray with a statement saying the libel-suit was a last resort. Fucking bollocks, as Singh explains in his article for Sense-about-science; the Guardian offered them a 500 page piece to put their counter argument forward. They also now attack science, science-communicators and writers,

"The brief statement notes that “to stifle scientific debate would clearly be wrong,” but that “scientists must realise that they cannot simply publish with impunity what they know to be untrue and libellous.”"

Go. Fuck. Yourselves. The nature of scientific debate is attacked by this selfish, childish bullshit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

English Libel Law, moral cowardice and the stiffling of scientific discourse.

Below is a copy of a Blog Post written by Prof Stephen Curry of Imperial College London, over at Reciprocal Space on the Nature Network. The lawdogs at Nature Network demanded he take it down because of the potentially libelous nature of the post. Fucking bullshit. English libel law is a fucking joke and farcical at best; protecting no one but homeopaths, chiropractors and other fly-by-night snake oil salesmen by stifling argument, discussion and scientific discourse.

If you're a reader and the UK, I strongly urge you to write to your local MP and demand he or she look into the growing voice for overhauling English Libel Law. Look at Dr Evan Harris MP for more information on this.


I had been working on this post last week when all this Singh business blew up. But in a way it is allied to the topic that I wanted to write about: the meaning of scientific authority. The British Chiropractic Association, rather than relying on the authority of peer-reviewed scientific evidence, has decided instead to throw the law at the unfortunate science writer.

By scientific standards their recourse to law just doesn’t seem right. In part, the BCA may have taken this action because they don’t fully understand the origin of scientific authority. But perhaps we should be sympathetic because there are plenty of supposedly well-informed people out there who don’t seem to have an entirely firm grasp of it.

Karol Sikora, “one of the UK’s most-quoted cancer experts and arch-critic of NHS cancer care” has just been found out for claiming a professorial affiliation with Imperial College that he does not have. On one level, as an Imperial prof myself, I am gratified that such a claim might be perceived as an effective way to boost your authority on weighty matters of medical science! But only if you are the real deal. And even then, how are people to know you can speak with authority?

There can be little doubt that Professor Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution, is in a position of scientific authority. And she is very good at engaging the public. Judging by the number of hysterical headlines in the UK press of late, fed by her commentary on the possible negative effects of computer use on the developing brains of the young, she is certainly getting her message across. But as Dr Ben Goldacre has pointed out on his excellent Bad Science blog, there doesn’t seem to be too much substance to it.

According to Goldacre, when pressed on the matter she concedes to “a lack of evidence and an excess of panic, that these are merely ideas, speculations, hypotheses”. Though a neuroscientist herself, Professor Greenfield seems to have no program to tackle these potentially important questions. One has to wonder if part of her motivation for keeping such issues before the public is due to her endorsement of a expensive ‘mind-training’ computer game, the benefits of which have not been published in any peer-reviewed journal, as far as I can tell.

I can see two potential problems here. Firstly, whatever her motivation, the product endorsement seems to me to undermine her scientific authority on the question of the impact of computer usage on brain development. And secondly, what is the director or the Royal Institution doing endorsing products that claim a scientific legitimacy but have not passed the gold standard test of peer-review?

George Monbiot is a polemicist, not a scientist. As such, he is perhaps allowed more license to pontificate but I find his output in The Guardian a little wayward and in several instances lacking in authority. A recent outburst, sub-titled “Science research in Britain is now all about turning knowledge into business, rather than the beauty of exploration”, is a case in point.

Like any good polemic there are a few kernels of truth. But unlike sound scientific writing, those truths are so cherry-picked that the piece becomes fairly worthless. He has picked up on the fact that the UK research councils all have former industrialists have as their chairs and connected it to the recent introduction of an ‘impact statement’ on all grant applications that, according to Monbiot, requires researchers to “describe the economic impact of the work they want to conduct”. From this he has spun a tale of woe about the corrosion of universities in the UK and the death of the wonder, insight and beauty that comes from science.

Not quite, Mr Monbiot. True, every government of every hue has made noises about making sure that science funding ultimately benefits the UK economy. There is a real debate to be had about this subject. But even a cursory glance at the web-site of the BBSRC (the research council I am most familiar with), would have brought him to this part of the FAQ on the new-fangled impact statements:

Does this focus on impact and benefits imply a shift away from blue-skies to
applied research?

No, we acknowledge that “blue-skies” research is essential to underpin future
advancements in science and will continue to fund high quality basic research. The
scientific excellence of the research proposal will remain the primary criterion for

I can confirm that these are not empty sentiments since I recently sat among my scientific peers on a BBSRC funding committee scoring grant applications. It was very hard work, especially given the breadth of the science emanating from all corners of the UK. But I am happy to report that UK science is in rude good health. Not only was there a wealth of superb applications but the first, foremost, primary, and predominant consideration in judging each application was: is this good and exciting science?

And it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of committee members for the scope and genius of the applications that excited them. For sure there were sometimes tensions in the room, arguments to and fro, forthright debate. But at the end of the process I sensed that most people were happy with most of the applications that ended up at the top of the pile. The process is by no means perfect and this was itself the subject of our deliberations at the close of the meeting: what steps could we take to enhance the judging process? Again the discussion was robust, informed, open.

Simply put, this frankness, this readiness to critique and be critiqued is the not-so-secret foundation of scientific authority that, strangely, remains a mystery to many. I have this on good authority, ladies and gentlemen. But please feel free to disagree.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Call to the Academic Blogosphere

Dear Academic Blogosphere,

I work with a junior, non-tenure track assistant professor. He has been faculty for a couple of years, and comes from an engineering background. He is from South East Asia. He is an incredibly talented programmer with a marvelous imagination, vast amounts of tenacity and drive. He is also completely lost working in an academic biomedical environment. The politics, the power plays, the rules & regulations are basically beginning to crush his spirit.

Our boss is aiming to get him on the Tenure Track by the end of the year, and I know he can succeed with a little guidance and pushing. He won't get this from his Chair though, nor is likely to get much support from his "colleagues".

I am working on him as hard as I can, but I only have limited time. I've got him whipped into some sort of shape (yeah, I'm being hyperbolic) with regards working with his postdoc and research assistants. But... I need help getting his head around American Biomedical Academia in general...the mind set, the politics...the...J'ne sais quai of the whole issue.

So...dear Academic Blogosphere...suggestions. including books I can treat him too. I thought of "The Prince" by Machiaveli, and "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, but that's more my line of work than his...

Twittering? Twatting? What?

Utterly, utterly fucking incomprehensible technology.

It's official. I am an old fart. I can't figure out how to tweet...or if I am, are they going anywhere or am I tweeting into the aether?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We AAAAAAARE the Chaaaaaampyyyyuuuunnss!

I was planning on a groovy long blog post about the utter ineptitude of senior academics + teh technologyz, but then I found out the UEFA Champions League is on ESPN2 video.

So, Weeeeeeeeeee Arrrrrrrrrrrrrre The Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaampyuuuuuuuuuns!

I fucking hate Man Yoo, but I'm an Englishman through and through, so if an "English" team can stick to the Spaniards, I'll celebrate like its 1588!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Through Hell & High Water

I fancied posting a little introspective piece as we (in the US) approach Memorial Day.

Memorial Day started in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania (home of Cmdr. Ryker from Star Trek: TNG; or the actor that plays him anyway) many moons ago as way of honouring fallen soldiers. The UK has November 11th for something similar. At 3PM on the Monday of Memorial Day we are exhorted to stop BBQing, slurping Bud Lite and jaw-wagging and pause for a moment's silence and thought for our fallen service men and women.

I hope we all remember ot do so this year. As we struggle the death throws of a pointless, illegal war, we would do well to remember all the servicemen and women who have volunteered and been volunteered to serve on our behalf. Don't tell me the draft never was reinstituted...tell that to the Alabama National Guard.

On June 11th 2006 my good friend and childhood companion, Capt James Philipson was killed in Afghanstan. He was the first UK soldier to die after the Brits took over from the Yanks in Helmand Province. The offical inquiry into his death blamed poor/lacking equipment. The .45 calibre round to the head that killed him would have been stopped had been wearing the right helmet.

I'm not sure much has changed.

When I lived in DC I knew a lot folks who worked at/through the Pentagon, many were servicemen.

  • Rachel (Navy) had been shot and blown up patroling near the coast
  • Jay (Marines) had broken his back parachuting with an M-60, also shot in Bosnia
  • Nolly (Army national guard) had been shot patrolling in Haiti
  • Shuba had been shot down whilst parachuting behind enemy lines before the Second Gulf War; she was also shot through the shoulder in a "friendly fire" incident by one of her own corpsmen. Since returning from the gulf she has had to deal with leukemia, potentially from exposure to chemicals in her role as a chemical weapons expert.
  • Matt (USAF) deals with PTSD after serving on the frontlines during the First Gulf War

I am a proud navy brat, the son of a sailor and brother to a cop.

So, I will be remembering everyone who serves, has served and epecially those who gave their lives serving their country, which ever country that may be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Once more unto the breach, Dear friends

Today is R01 grant submission deadline day. We have to get our grant to our Office of Research Administration as soon as we can so they can over the fucker with a fine toothed comb and:

A) make sure the routing numbers, DUNS numbers etc. are correct

B) make sure I haven't utterly fucked up the budget (a little over a million bucks here)

C) pick on my spelling.

last time the administrator was actively, as far as I can tell, try to not send my grant in on time. At the very last minute before the deadline was closing she sent it back to me with apparent "major problems and flaws" in my budget. It wasn't wrong, and besides, she had tripled checked it already. but no, she apparently found fault at Zero hour. I had to get the Dean of the College of Medicine to yell, doing my reputation no fucking good, before it got sent.

It is beyond frustrating having to deal with administrative assistants who think that their job is to actually stymie the research endeavor. this is not unique to my current institution; one glance at any of the academic science bloggers sites shows you everyone goes through this. It really drives me crazy. The indirect costs (i.e. the bit the institute charges on top of the money we need to do our jobs) pay for a lot of things around the wages of the administrative staff.

We have to charge the Feds 48% on top of what we need just because the institute has decided that this makes sense to cover admin salaries, air conditioning (that rarely works), security (someone stole a shotgun from them last year and then robbed the cop shop with it).

This bastard of a grant has died and been resurrected three times in as many days. After I had a nervous breakdown on Friday my boss finally decided to help. She wrote the research part over the weekend, which is remarkable and infuriating. Why have I been bashing my head against a brick wall of silence trying to get my colleagues to help me for weeks now when she knew what to do all along? And no, it's nothing to do with hazing, or testing or trial by fire. It's just the way of the world.

Anyway, once you've written the fucker you have to go the joy of compiling dozens of PDFs into a fucked up form the Feds give you, so the whole shebang can be submitted on line. It is nerve wracking, almost infinitely complex and almost as annoying as writing the grant in the first place (hyperbole: I actually like writing grants - when I have the support I need). Well, my boss is trying to put the finishing touches on this beast while I prepare the forms. last time I had to do all of this on my own and it nearly killed me.

I am taking a sick delight in pestering her for biosketches and letters and cover forms and mutiple PI decision making plans and inclusion enrolement plans and women & minority protection plans and bibliographies and...and...and...and...

when I last went into her office she was literally vibrating with stress at her computer with a fixed grin...a rictus you might say... She turned to me and said, "Now I understand".

That's all I needed to hear.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Politics: by liars, for idiots.


this is why I hate politicians, government and anything to do with the whole fucking shower of them. I have no doubt things are as bad in the U.S. Fuckers.

And now they've "fixed" the fucking rules, there's no point in my running for office to make a buck or two. Bollocks!

Friday, May 15, 2009

ow. ow ow owoowowowow

I didn't get drunk last night

I stayed hydrated after kickboxing

I went to bed before midnight (or tried anyway)

I ate

So why the fuck does it feel like a 2 tonne hog took a shit in my skull?


I haven't slept properly for about 10days now and I'm starting to get delirious.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Houston, we might have a problem

I am watching NASA TV and the live coverage of the Atlantis maintenance trip to the Hubble Space Telescope.

It is absolutely fucking amazing. They've got the HST in the shuttle payload area, by the looks of things, and with the earth whizzing by in the background (they're orbiting once every 36 minutes...that means they're traveling at a relative velocity of about 50,000 miles and hour!!) the astronauts are on an EVA playing with the telescope.

One of the astronauts just came on his radio mic, "Atlantis, Houston I have a tear, approximately 8 inches long and one quarter inch wide in the outer skin of my right glove."

"Houtson copies, Atlantis you have a tear, approximately 8 inches long and one quarter inch wide in the outer skin of your right glove. Just checking. That's the outer skin only right?"

"Yes. Proceeding with wide-camera repair."

Holy. Fucking. Shit. That's gotta be practice and experience right there. Talk about remaining calm under pressure.


"Ah, Houston copies, Tideliar. To confirm, you're gutless whimpering faggot flying at 50, 000 mph?"

"Tideliar confirms first extra-vehicular pants shitting is complete. Carrying on with replacement."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summer is here...

My office overlooks a very busy four lane road, but the landscapers and gardeners round here do an awesome job of making our little campus look nice. It's very landscaped and flower-gardened. It's starting to get warm and muggy, although the temperature is rarely above 25C. But...there is a cicada sitting in a tree somewhere nearby, singing away, marking territory from unhatching rivals and courting as yet unhatched lovers.

Spring has sprung and the summer has arrived... ahhh.

Within a couple of weeks it'll be pushing 90F/35C everyday. Within a month or two it will sit at around 40C/100F, day and night for the next six months. Shit. I fucking hate summer.

Oohh! Fame & Fortune surely follow!

I've been BlogRolled! It's *so* exciting I just shit!

I'm not a new blogger by any means. I've been doing this in various locations since late 2004 (fuck me, that is a long time...). I write because I need to. Whether that translates into a woefully introspective and narcissistic "need to get teh voices out of my head", I'm not sure. I think it might be.

Anyway, I write because I enjoy it and because sometimes I need to get some shit off my chest or out of my, already crowded, cerebrum. And I don't strictly care if anyone reads it or not, but it's kind of flattering to find out that some people do. On my old blog, also known as Some Lies, I got several thousand unique hits and page reads each month, and that was flattering. It also lead me to apologise constantly if I didn't write anything for a couple of days. That seems to defeat the purpose of the exercise somewhat. Anyhoo, never getting any comments here I wondered if any body read this blog. I leave scattered comments around on other sites, when I was a n00b that was how you got traffic. I'm sure there are some cool interch00b devices that do it for you now.

So, yesterday I installed a StatCounter; it's down there, on the right, near the bottom. Yeah, that's the one. I was pleasantly surprised to see a dozen or so folks had meandered past between bloggings. And then, as if predestined, I happened to be catching up on some blogs over lunch and wandered to Professor in Training, and name....on her blogroll!



I've been blogrolled, y'all. By a popular, fairly hard nosed, academic blogger. I don't know why, but that really cheered me up. So, cheers PiT.

To reciprocate, I did my blog roll, so much easier than it used to be; typing in reams of dodgy Blogger/Google pseudo-html and hoping you didn't royally fuck up your blog template whilst doing so. I expect no reciprocity for my kind actions, but I did notice: I follow a lot of blogs. No wonder I never get any fucking work done!

(...and sincereish apologies to any reader who has blogrolled me without me noticing...)

Time fugits

I have decided, but have yet to clear with the powers that be, that my R01 grant submission to the National Institutes of Health, is the FAIL and is no way getting submitted by Monday.

My unit is involved in an RC2 "Grand Opportunity" grant for several million, and I need to edit text and get writing done for that. This is a brilliant project I wish I'd been more involved with from the start. Unfortunately one of my bosses works for a different institute and he is consolidating his powerbase and has effectively shut us out and we (me and my boss) are in the "testing staff" section. Not so bad for me, I'm the new kid and very junior, but not great for her. I'm kind of pissed, but the chance to do some great science makes it worthwhile if we get funded. Anyway, that's due at the same time as my R01, and I need to work on it for a couple of days to get our section water-tight.

Another poobah has approached us and wants text for P20 grant, a multi-site clinical trial "tester" grant. Again, there's not much money for us, but the exposure is probably worth it. He's got 40 years of successful funding from the NIH and is "not used to being turned down for funding," so hopes are high on this one too. But he needs text by tomorrow for submission in a week.

And there's a conference at the end of the year I really want to go to and the deadline for abstract submission is tomorrow. Needless-to-say I've got a draft of an abstract that is complete shite that I need re-write and get submitted in the next 36 hours.

I've written the background, aims and preliminary studies section of my R01, but the important part, the real meat is the Research and Design bit and it doesn't fucking exist right now. I work with a lot of non-biomedical computer scientists and they love to write code and develop cool new applications for our software and database, but I can't get them to write for me. I'm fucking biomedicial scientist, I cannot write a 15 page software development proposal. Maybe if we try again in September i can get these people working for me on something concrete to the Feds.

Everyone seems to think that some fucking wishy-washy "oh wow man, what a cool idea dude" grant is going to work. no fucking way. The NIH want to see fixed experimental details, back-up plans, alternative interpretations. They want to know *exactly* where they are investing their money. This pie int he sky bullshit stands no chance of even being scored. It will bounce back, un-graded and we'll be fucked submitting another substandard grant next May. Maybe if I can get these folks to help me over the summer we can submit a decent proposal in September. If we do a decent job we should get scored at least, and then adopting reviewer comments puts in a good position to re-submit next summer.

This is how the system works. Explaining this to my boss is not easy however, because all she sees (rightfully so in some ways) is that the money is not coming until mid 2011. I need to convince her that a good chance at funding in 18 months is infinitely better than no chance in 2 years...

Fuck. bits of my job like this I hate. I have to go eat shit for generalist "failings". I guess I should have bullied harder, but I figured after having gone through this once at the beginning of the year, they would have understood the need to help me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nerd Alert. Apparently.

Thanks to the delightful and nerdiliscious Christie over at Observations of a Nerd, I found the NerdTest, which is plainly biased, silly, and unfortunately true...

I am nerdier than 94% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!

Dear Facilities

I know you're busy watching the place fall apart around us. But it's cold outside so WHY THE FUCK IS THE AIR CONDITIONING ON?

I thought leaving the lab meant leaving the world of shonky A/C behind... I fear not.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Martin Turner, DSc., CBE

Much loved and respected, a wonderful man who vicariously transformed my life and directly transformed the life of someone I love very much.

Sleep well, Martin.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I want to see, for a change...

I emailed our budget for my latest grant submission to our business manager. This is the reply:

Dr. Tideliar:
I checked the budget and found only $1 off in year 2 in the total and $1 in
total salaries & fringe. Both of these are due to rounding in the excel
spreadsheet. Looks good to me. Let me know if we can help.

Thank fuck. A human reply! i am so used to assinine requests for more information, or blank looks I am feeling really happy right now! If only the co-authors were being as helpful...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

new hair day

There is something wonderful about getting a new, excellent hair cut. It's not a new style per se, more of a new take on my 'traditional' faux hawk. See stylists, like the rest of us, are human. And Tideliar's Law #3 states Humanity breeds complacency. After a while the usual 30min cut takes only 20, and not long after that it starts to look like it only took 20 minutes. So every 6 to 8 months I change stylist. Sometimes within the same salon.

You'll note I'm refering to stylists here. One of my many excellent qualities is vanity. I am almost as vain as I am humble. That's pretty fucking vain.

So today I went to a new stylist at my favourite salon. I've not been there since November due to trying out other salons, but the high turn over of decent staff (a purely visual judgement) forced me to return to my old stomping ground. And lo and behold, going in blind with nothing by expectations and ego to sustain my hopes, but what am I confronted with but a strikingly attractive young woman, with the requisite piercings and tattooes. If she was a little older I would be harboring more sinful thoughts. For me pederasty starts at around 25 or so. Sad but true... young girls reek of inexperience and misplaced expectation and I need to be feeling evil to take advantage of that.

Anyway. She proceeded to work wonders with the Boris Johnsonesque mop on top of my head. And give me rather sin-inducing goosebumps whilst doing so.

So here I sit, live blogging with a pint of Dos Equis (feliz cinqo de mayo), beautiful new hair and an urge to get thoroughly sinful...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cooler than Fuck "Geek moment"

I am currently working on writing an R01, which to the fortunately uninitiated is a large research grant for the National Institutes of Health. The R01 is "The Big One", usually in the range of a million bucks or more, to pay for research for 3-5 years. Ours is somewhat smaller in scale, but still pushing 7 figures for 2 years support.

This behemoth is a bastard to write and an even bigger bastard to get funded. Most of the NIH institutes have low funding rates, and unless you're in the top 5-10% you can't guarantee funding. Although you do get to re-submit one time so a savvy investigator takes the comments from the Study Section that reviewed the grant and re-writes *very* carefully.

The body of the grant, the real meat, if you will, is a 25 page research proposal. I don't even want to talk about that. I have two weeks to go till i have to have this fucker submitted and the last one was a fucking nightmare (see earlier posts in January). But the sauces that decorate the meat are the supporting documents. In our case, because of the nature of the proposal is to secure funding for continuing software development we need to show that we are being used and that our Faculty have need for continued development, testing & deployment.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, for roundabout I feel right now, to my point. today's Geek Moment.

One of the Faculty-users I approached for a Letter of Support asked for a draft she can modify and send back. Groovy. but the best, richest, Letters I have are scanned PDFs of word documents. What to do...what to do...waste time retyping in generic format or send her the Letter and hope she can re-write to my satisfaction (note; she goes out of town and is off email for ten days later this week. I need this done right and done first time).

So I was pottering around the Adobe toolbar when I remembered my Postdoc muttering something about Adobe having OCR technology. OCR is Optical Character Recognition. It's what, for example, your computer uses when you scan a document into MSWord, or Mac Pages. I looked, and sure enough, there it is in the Adobe Pro toolbar, in the Documents section: OCR Text Recognition.

I asked it to scan my patchy scanned photocopy and before you could sing all 16 verses of "American Pie" I had a Word document containing 99% correct text. All is did was cock up words like Pharmacogenomics and that I can forgive. Importantly, it didn't scan the borders, or signatures, or header either. Just the body text.

Fucking Brill. Absolutely fucking brill! All I need to do is remove the added carriage returns, clean it up and email it out. Saved me at least 45 mins of my precious time which I was able to waste writing this blog post!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rock Boner

I just downloaded Disturbed's new album "Indestructible" on iTunes. It's fucking awesome. SO nice to see some bands still have the balls to release decent heavy rock.

The intro the "Haunted" has a beautiful off-beat double-bass/China cymbal intro that gave me a fucking woody. It was almost Dream Theater-esque. Briefly, until the scrotal buzzsaw begins and we're off to the races.

Excellent and well done boys. I remember when "Down with the Sickness" came out back in 98 (well, I heard it in 98) and I had just moved to the States. I was so sick of most of the music I was hearing in my Homeland, tweety, weak-ass, teenie bop techno-bob shit. And then this very novel aural assault by a very obviously, very angry man.

Fuck me!

Said I. And I bought the album. And I saw them when they came through the small town I lived in at the time. There was maybe 500 people in the audience and they were fucking brill.

A year or so later they came back through our area, only this time their meteoric rise to fame had occurred and they played the local sports stadium. To 25,000 people. How fucking cool is that?

Apparently they're a bunch of arrogant tossers, but I don't care, I would be too, and I don't have to hang out with them, I just have to appreciate their music. And I do. and I wanna go shin-kick someone in the throat in celebration!