Various Lies

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The American Heart Association Responds

Anyone who followed the discussionThomas Joseph and I had in the comment thread on my last post saw that we both concerned that there wasn't enough interaction between Societies and other funding agencies when it came t lobbying Congress. I thought I'd contact the Advocacy group at the AHA to ask what their tactics are.... (I have been in touch with them previously about helping in local advocacy and lobbying here in TN)...

From: Tideliar
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 11:39 AM
To: Rick - ; Advocacy DC
Subject: Re: American Heart Association Follow-up

Dear Clarissa & Rick,

I have received several emails in the last day or so from different societies asking for “my” help in advocating against H.R.1

So far The Society for Neuroscience, the AHA, FASEB and the National postdoc Association have all contacted me via email. I am an active “academic/science blogger” and have noticed some of my colleagues also posting about the emails calling us to action.

A discussion has also started about possible inter-agency communication; does it happen, are we coordinating across societies effectively etc.? An issue that is raised time and again by pro-science advocates is the difficulty in combating well funded and well organized anti-science lobbyists. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this issue and the opportunity to share them with my pro-advocacy colleagues.


From: Advocacy DC
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 3:35 PM
To: Tideliar
Subject: Re: American Heart Association Follow-up

Dr Tideliar
thank you so much for your note and apologies for the delay in responding. Your message went to our general email box so it didn’t make it to me right away.

AHA is part of a coalition of like minded groups that meet regularly to coordinate on the messaging and collective ask for NIH research funding. Members include FASEB, ACS, ACC, etc.  Lobbyists from the various organizations meet regularly so we can come together as a research community and have a more powerful voice in the process. I can share that we expect to have a common budget request in the coming weeks. We also coordinate on engaging advocates during a similar timeframe and when possible coordinate on DC based events. Over the years we have found this to be an effective approach and AHA is proud to play a leadership role in the group.

If it’s helpful to share insight as to messaging and strategy with your colleagues I would be glad to put you in touch with the appropriate lobbyist at AHA. Your ability to help spread the word via blogging and through colleagues is so valuable. It sounds like you already have it but I am also sharing the link to our current call to action on the issue. We appreciate all you do as an advocate and please let me know if there are any additional questions I can answer or resources I can provide.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ZOMG do something!

Hi Reader,

I know you love science and shit cos you read this blog right, and I am, nominally at least, a scientist. Right now science in the US is directly under attack from a deliberate and cold-blooded anti-science cadre in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The BadAstronomer has written a series of posts (for e.g. here and links within)  about how anti-science (and usually, pro-evangelical) business interests are damaging many of the important committees in Congress. Climate change is held to be a lie, teaching of evolution is attacked in public schools and now the National Institutes of Health budget is under seige too. Inspired by m'learned Collague the deliciously shoetastic Dr. Isis, I urge you to help in the fight.

Anti-science politicians want to cut the largest healthcare research budget in the nation, and at the same time ruin the careers and research of hundreds, if not thousands of hard working academic scientists. Most of the scientists affected will be younger and more junior academics, either just starting out their own independent careers after a decade or more of servitude, or else it will effect those still in servitude - postdocs.

The vast majority of postdocs in the US are paid from "R01" research grants, and it is these that will take a hit. if the NIH bugdet is cut then contuning funding amounts will be cut too. This means there will not be enough money to keep folks employed in many situations.

I'm not arguing about jobs though, I'm arguing about lives. the lives of these dedicated and exceptionally taltened young mena dn women and the invaluable research they perform. Most of the top quality biomedical research conducted in the US is performed by postdocs. Already over worked, under paid and in many cases without any benefits or even health insurance, these tens of thousands of dedicated scientists *do* the research that makes *your* world a better place.

This email arrived today from Dr. William Talman, a jolly nice chap and President of the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology (FASEB). Among many other things FASEB is an active and vigorous advocate on our behalf. I urge you to read Dr. Talman's email, then click the link and find out how to CALL your local representative.

Don't be scared. They work for us. We voted them in. Do it. As soon as you can. Please.

$1.6 Billion Cut Proposed for NIH: Call Your Representative TODAY!
Dear Colleague,
For months the new House leadership has been promising to cut billions in federal funding in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Later this week the House will try to make the rhetoric a reality by voting on HR 1, a “continuing resolution” (CR) that would cut NIH funding by $1.6 billion (5.2%) BELOW the current level – reducing the budget for medical research to $29.4 billion!
 We must rally everyone – researchers, trainees, lab personnel – in the scientific community to protest these draconian cuts.
Please go to [THIS LINK]  for instructions on how to call your Representative’s Washington, DC office today! Urge him/her to oppose the cuts to NIH and vote against HR 1. Once you’ve made the call, let us know how it went by sending a short email to the address provided in the call instructions and forward the alert link to your colleagues. We must explain to our Representatives how cuts to NIH will have a devastating impact on their constituents! 
William T. Talman, MD
FASEB President

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Call me Frankie

He walks into the apartment, kicks the door shut behind him, drops the bag of groceries on the kitchen counter. He takes out pork chops, butterfly cut and thick. Fat rind. Her favorite. He puts the broccoli next to the chops, the mushrooms. She loves broccoli. He’s standing, looking at the food. Puts the butter in the refrigerator, but leaves the food out. Opens a beer instead.

Frankie stares at him. Seems to shrug. You knew it was coming, she tells him. He tells her to fuck off and takes deep pull from the beer. An India Pale Ale. Her favourite. He takes an ashtray from the cupboard. It’s dusty, hasn’t been used for a couple of years. He pulls a Marlboro from the pack and lights it, deep inhale. Pulls smog deep into his lungs. He watches the smoke, blue from the cigarette, grey from his mouth, curl up towards the ceiling. There’s a pang of guilt but it’s quickly and deliberately pushed back down where it belongs. There’s a lot of guilt inside and it should all be together. All the guilt. Safe, tucked into the darkness where it belongs. What had she called it? The black hole. Where all his darkness lived. It lived there breeding, fucking, growing, rutting on itself in the darkness. There’s going to be plenty of time to enjoy that guilt, a bad enjoyment, like using your tongue to pick at a sore and rotten tooth. It’s going to be painful, but you’re going to do it anyway. Might as wait and do it properly. Wait till you’re really alone and no one can see and really fucking make it hurt. You make it hurt because when you dig into that dirt and pain you think it’ll make it all better.

“She’s gone Frankie.” There might be tears pricking at his eyes, but might be the smoke. Frankie shrugs again. So what? I’ll miss her later. Did you bring food?

“Fuck you Frankie.” She shrugs again and smiles at him. “Will you miss her? I do. I think I do. Part of me is glad, but so much of me is just empty. I don’t know what to think right now.”

Frankie sighs, stretches, and looks at him. Looks him in the eye the way she sometimes does when he’s holding her front of the mirror. It's like those times when she stops looking around, enjoying the change of perspectives, and actually looks at him reflected the mirror. Not at his reflection, but at him. It had always made him wonder what was going on in her head.

“Why are you so concerned about thinking about what you think you should be thinking about?” Her voice is high pitched, but not squeaky like he thought it might be. Her accent is impossible to place and as he thinks of that he laughs, hard. Of all the stupid things to think about, you think about her fucking accent?

“Do you know why this happened? Do you know why she left? Do you understand what you did in this?”

Surprisingly anger flares, “Yes I fucking know!”

“I doubt it,” She laughs. “But you will. Eventually. You’re all so complicated with those big fucking brains. That whole neocortex, useless because everything is run by The Hind. The Hind. Heartbeat. Fighting. Fucking. Eating. You do all of that, and yet you have this big stupid useless mind that messes everything up.” She emphasizes the word ‘mind’, accenting it deeper, as if the word is alien to her, and laughable in it’s strangeness.

“What the fuck do you know about eating, fighting and fucking?” He demands it of her, but the words sound impotent as they leave his mouth.

“How much do you watch? How much do you know? How much do you listen to the silence of life? Everything with you is noise, rushing and doing and moving and motion.”

“Don’t avoid my question. What the fuck do you know of love and life?”
She laughs then. There's a high pitched, uncontrolled freedom in her laugh that makes him uneasy. There’s madness in there. Something waiting to be let loose, and the feeling that if it got loose it would a wonderful glorious freedom that might not want to stop.

“Fuck you,” She laughs again. “Oh, don’t look so hurt. Am I supposed to worship you and your Big Useless Brain? We are so alike. We eat, we drink. We love, We fuck. We shit. We mourn our losses and celebrate our victories. But you…you are so much weaker by your ‘gifts’. Supermarkets, processed foods, airplanes, cell phones, cures for cancer (for humans at least). You have all these wondrous gifts your Big Useless Brains have given you. But the only thing that really matters is each other, and you can’t do that, can you? You can’t even fucking talk to each other.” She laughs again, a genuine deep laugh. “You can’t even fucking fight without wanting to kill each other!”

“So what do I do?”

She stares at him. “How the fuck should I know. It’s your brain my friend. You’ll find a way. It’ll likely be much more complicated than it needs to be. It’ll take too long, and really, it probably won’t help. But you’ll do what you feel you should. All of you need to spend more time feeling, instead of thinking. Trust me. It works.”

He’s suddenly tired. The conversation is not only a surprise but seems to be going in the wrong direction. “I’m drunk. Fuck dinner. I’m going to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better.”

“No, it won’t, but at least it won’t be tonight. Go to sleep. I’ll sit here on the edge of the bed and keep watch. I’ll keep your demons away tonight. Just sleep.”

He lies down. The room is dark, the moon is a thin crescent on the horizon and the street lights can’t reach into the room. The beer bottle is empty and he drops it on the floor. He sleeps, glad she’s there to watch over him.

Frankie smiles to herself, curls up by his feet and falls asleep.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do Not Open This Door!

No matter how much I beg. No matter how much I plead. No matter the screams you might hear!

The greatest movie ever made!

Do not open this door, or you will ruin all my hard work!

Yes, Dear Reader, we're going for another attempt at stopping smoking. Not quitting; no one wants to be a quitter. So, I'm just...stopping.

Those of you who've followed my Meanderings over the last year or so will remember I last tried to stop in August 2010, and I wrote about it over at LabSpaces. I think I stayed clean for a month or so before slipping back into old habits. A ciggie here, a ciggie there, all OK cos it was just a trip to the bar with mates. Nothing bad. I wasn't really smoking again, seriously!

And then eventually buying a pack because I felt bad about stealing off my friends (a habit I despise in others' and which I will not tolerate in myself). Of course rarely can I smoke an entire pack in one evening, no matter how late I stay up, so there's a few cigarettes left in the morning. Just one to help me get the day started. Just to take the edge off the craving and the hangover.

And then, well I might as well just keep this half pack in my pocket, seeing as it'd be a shame to leave it laying around at home where the cats might eat it (a drug addict's internal logic is a wonderful thing).

Then a bad day at work, exacerbated by writing our CTSA grant with little to no guidance. High stress, pack in my pocket, just one smoke...

An endless litany of excuses and weakness. My dad once said I had the willpower of a hobby horse and I fear he's right (he quit cold turkey in 1979). However, as Cervantes said, "Faint heart ne'er won fair maid". And thus, here we go with another attempt.

I want to stop. I really want to stop.

I hate smelling of smoke
I hate being broke because I spend upwards of $200/month on smokes
I hate having to plan social events around smoke breaks
I hate being breathless
I hate being a demographic that dies young
I hate being an addict

Wish me luck Dear Reader. Feel free to leave messages of support and admonishment. Feel free to check up on me. Feel free to bully me on Twitter.

02/02/11...WILL be known as the day I stopped being an addict.

I am Dr. TIDELIAR!! (non-smoker)