Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I got tagged by another young female scientist. It feels a bit like a chain letter, of which I've never been a fan, but I'll do it partway and generally ruin the whole point of a chain letter by helping it die a slow, pathetic death.

Heh heh heh.


* I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
* Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
* At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
* Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog" (I'll probably skip this, if they're not reading, they won't do it, but that's okay by me).

Okay here are my eight things:

Like Image Goddess (great name, btw), I always wanted an older brother and never took any time off of school.

Okay that's two.

Opposite of Image Goddess, I love hardwood floors and have managed to always have them.

I probably pay too much rent for a place I love, and constantly feel guilty about not sacrificing to own a house, even one I don't like.

The thing about the tomatoes that she writes? I'm not a huge tomato fan. I like them, but I won't eat them by themselves. The closest I will get is heirlooms with mozzarella and balsamic. Mmmmmmm. Surprisingly I'm not picky about how chunky my tomato sauce is, so long as it tastes good.

I generally like a variety of textures. That goes for everything.

I still have my real hair color, almost all the time, but I won't tell you what that is. IG's confession of brown made me laugh, though!

You couldn't pay me enough to get me to golf. Maybe if you gave me a huge chunk o' cash to just swing the club once, I would do it. But probably not because no selfish laziness goes unpunished. That's the saying, right??

Anyway I tag my blogroll, whoever wants to and didn't have a better idea for a post today, have at it. I was surprised to learn recently that the actual meaning of Meme is idea. I'm not sure if this qualifies, but it's a good way to meet new bloggers. Welcome to IG! I'll add you to the list.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


This was written as a response to this post over at Science Professor. Then I noticed that she's apparently taken me off her blogroll.

Interesting. I wonder what that's about.


Briefly, in this post she writes about what to do when someone she's pretty sure is a competitor sends an email asking for help on a method her own lab has struggled with but eventually solved (and hasn't published yet).

This is one I can see from both sides... sort of.

In my field there is a lot of perceived competition when, in reality, personal tastes strongly influence what actually gets done.

That means two different groups can be working on "the same thing" and do totally different experiments. There's plenty to do and everyone has different skills.

So it's really rare that two groups are doing exactly the same experiments exactly the same way.

Then you might as well help each other, advance science, and all that? Right?

Except that I have been on the other end, trying to ask people for tips, usually not on unpublished work (I'm usually too out of the loop to know to ask until the paper comes out). More often I'm asking about things they've published... with necessary details lacking.

Hard to know if it's deliberate or accidental when people publish sloppy & incomplete methods sections??

I've witnessed both- the PI who is distracted and doesn't read the manuscript carefully, and the PI who tells the student/postdoc to omit certain particulars on purpose.

But sometimes I write to the authors asking for clarification, and I can't get an answer out of these people.

I've gotten all kinds of excuses, my favorite of which is "I can't remember how we did that, it was so long ago."

Yeah, there's this amazing invention called writing it down???

I can only guess that they

a) think I'm trying to scoop them?
b) think I'll find out they faked all their claims?

Why else act that way?

So invariably they're paranoid (for whatever reason) or lazy about sharing, and I end up moving slower than I'd like, reinventing the wheel and wondering how we can enforce adherence to the scientific method (write your paper so that ANYONE can reproduce your results COMPLETELY).

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

More long-winded responses, continued.

Re: the Ben Barres comment, I’m wondering how respect and opportunity are measures, if people crediting you for revolutionizing a field and getting tenure at Stanford are on the low end of the spectrum.

I think the point is, she wasn't happy until she became a man. How's that for a measure? I think it's safe to assume most of us don't want to get a sex change, but I find it especially interesting that someone who has switched sides, as it were, finds it easier on the other side, confirming all our suspicions that the grass doesn't suddenly get greener over here when you're looking back at it!

Dear Physics Anonymous,

I'm pleased to say that other fields are bigger, and that does help in some ways (and hurt in others). On the one hand, your chances of getting the same people to review both your job and grant applications are nowhere near 100%, unlike in your field. On the other hand, it's easier for people to curry favors and assume that if they're the only ones cheating in a giant crowd, they'll never be caught trading politics rather than evaluating ideas on their merit.

Where the hell do you get the 1:20 pyramid? It's more like 1:300.

Dear Anonymous of the many publications,

You sound a little bit bitter about all that slaving away. Was it worth it?

I think my personal achievements are very respectable, but almost beside the point.

I've checked, and of the people I know who got jobs in the last year or two (male AND female) in my field, my publications are equivalent despite the fact that I've had a LOT more independence getting there and a LOT more obstacles put in my way.

Does any of that count for anything? Apparently not.

In my field it's pretty clear who are the candidates, male and female, but choosing among us based on scientific ability is difficult, so they use politics and good old-fashioned sexism.

Some fields are worse than others, politically speaking, but I've spoken to faculty in other fields who are familiar with mine and they agree, mine is among the worst in terms of being inbred, snipey, and hierarchical (with only men at the top).

Bad choice on my part? Shouldn't I want to work on what interests me scientifically and not have to worry about factoring in the assholes who work on it?

You do sound like a chauvinist, by the way, because you're missing a key point about publications even while you're bragging about yours: they're not completely objective measures.

If you read the archives of this blog, you'll see many posts detailing all the ways in which men climb over women in publishing, not because they work harder or more hours than the women do (despite your perceptions that you're the only one who's working hard!) but because their PIs give them more opportunities, more credit for the work they do, and because even just having a female first name on your paper will make it harder for you to get your paper accepted.

Studies have been done, with statistics and everything. You seem to publish a lot, but maybe you should read more before you go around complaining there isn't a problem with sexism in science. See the links on previous posts. I put them there for people like you, who should know better.


Oh, and thanks Rosie, Propter Doc, and person who pointed out that some labs are collaborative. A breath a fresh air is always a good thing.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Response to a variety of comments on last post- Keeping up with the jonesing

Anonymous 1 writes: It is interesting to note (and I dont mean this as a dig at you) that all the FEMALE scientific blogs do not really cover science at all but are generally full of moaning and bitching about people in the lab colleagues etc. Whereas the majority of male scientific bloggers concentrate on science issues. Strange!

This is a very astute observation, though not strictly correct. Grrrlscientist, over at ScienceBlogs, was one of the first blogs I found when I started reading ~ 2 years ago, and she writes a lot about her scientific love of birds. Not my field, but I admire her passion. So that's one exception. Perhaps we can amend it from "all" to "most"?

Nevertheless, you have noticed something that reflects one of the central problems of discrimination that many people have pointed out here.

Perhaps we spend too much time reflecting on how gender works against us, when we should just be reflecting on our science? I have received many comments that basically said just that.

Or perhaps all the discrimination prevents us from being able to do our science, so in order to clear our minds we feel compelled to at least vent about it before we can move on and pretend like it's not a major problem even though we know it is?

I for one have considered, for a while now, starting a separate blog with my Real Name where I would write about scientific issues that I find interesting, but for a variety of reasons haven't (yet?). Unfortunately I do not feel that I can combine the two without getting majorly burned for it. So, there you go.

I write this blog because I have to. It's as much for me as it is for what I think of as "giving back."

Scientifically, I don't know. I guess I was surprised to find that, when I started this blog, people started writing comments and thanking me for it. I was surprised to learn that people really do care what YFS thinks. Or are at least entertained by (arguing with) it.

Scientifically, under my Real Name, I don't know if anyone would care to know what I think. I certainly get mixed reviews when I speak up in lab meeting. I know some people really wish I would just shut up, even when I'm trying to be helpful the way I wish other people would be helpful to me.

Here, anonymously, I can afford to occasionally piss some people off, whether I mean to or not, and who cares if they don't read my blog anymore?

Scientifically, under my real name, I can't afford to annoy any more people than I already have. =D

So in some ways there's a lot more risk in putting my scientific views out there. As a woman, I already have more strikes against me without getting slammed for that, too.

Brian Haugen, Amen on the catch-22. And there is more to it than that, but yes, I would definitely talk to my SRA if it were sufficient for me to write a grant and send it in. Unfortunately, as the catch-22 points out, it's not.

Anonymous re: the Ben Barres article, YES, THAT IS MY POINT EXACTLY. IT SHOULDN'T MATTER, BUT IT DOES.

Almost-done anon asked: If you had to identify reasons for your current predicament, how far back would you go? I guess what I am trying to ask is 1) are there things you wish you had done differently in grad school, or while looking for a post-doc or during your post-doc and 2) are there things beyond your control that you wish were different.

Oy, this is a good one. Would I go back so far as to whether I should have done science at all? Yes. Though, I said this to a friend the other day over lunch and she said, "But you're pretty good at this science thing." (she's a scientist, too). And I looked at her and said "Apparently not good enough by most objective measures."

Yes, I am bitter that I don't have a faculty position yet. But I do have to admit that scientifically, I am pretty happy with my choices.

If there is one thing I would have done differently, scientifically speaking, it's to never ever doubt myself.

The few times when I thought I was doing something wrong, I wasn't, and I wasted a lot of time that way. Every "weird" result I've gotten had a scientific explanation, and chasing those down has always been worth my time. Even when my advisor(s) told me not to. It's hard because we're taught to second-guess everything, to always be skeptical. But so far I've found that scientifically, my intuition (or whatever you want to call it) is usually right, even if I can't always articulate why until I actually have all the data in hand to prove it.

Number one thing I would have done differently in grad school: I would have tried hard to get and keep political allies, starting from day one.

I think if I had more people (faculty of the right sort) willing to act as a safety net, just because they liked me and not because, ethically they should have seen it as a moral obligation, I would have been better off and had a much easier time. I think you get more and better help from people who genuinely like you than you do from from people who feel it is part of their job (because most people don't).

As for choosing my postdoc lab(s), I don't know. Scientifically things are going pretty well for me lately and it is tempting to look back and pretend this is how it was "supposed to be" because there's no other way I could have ended up getting the nifty results I have now.

Could I, who I am now, have done things differently? Sure.

Could I, as I was then, have done things differently? I think it's safe to assume I couldn't possibly have known then what I know now. So if I had to do it all over again, still not knowing, I would probably do the same stupid things.

I guess for me one of the hardest parts has been realizing how poorly my parents prepared me to function successfully in the world.

I have a student right now, and she is so incredibly mature for her age, she fundamentally understands how much appearances matter, that you have to kiss ass sometimes, and how it's all bullshit but you have to do it. I really admire how she always talks about her mother and I think her family has really taught her a lot about how to be ambitious and make things happen for yourself.

My parents are not like that, they were always very unrealistic and told us that if you're good enough, people will notice, so you just have to work really hard all the time.

Well clearly that's not how it works and there's a lot of other stuff involved. It's that stuff, that likeability factor, that never came naturally to me and I never learned. What some of us cynically call "playing the game."

This same person also asked "what do you think of advice that is given in a certain popular sci-career forum." I'm not sure which one you mean. There are so many, and most of them are remarkably useless, so far as I can tell.

Amazingly Patient Anonymous (and yes, that is a compliment, not sarcasm) asks how I define luck.

I read an article by Jim Watson years ago who said you make your own luck (though I don't think he's the only one to have said that as such, I can't remember who said it first). I think it is true in the lab, that, as he put it, the more times you spin the centrifuge, the better your chances that you will eventually get something useful out of it.

This is also true to some degree in politics, in the sense that if you're nice to the right people and bite your tongue at the right times, eventually you build up enough good will that somebody will pull some strings for you when there's an opening, and that's a "right place, right time" sort of luck.

But there's definitely another component that is made up of having the right things in common with the right people, and that's out of our control and largely influenced by the same cultural norms that create discrimination.

I don't have that. I have the opposite of that.

I have this friend, he's an extremely successful young PI, and he's just one of those people. He's easygoing with everyone at work, he likes all the right hobbies and makes all the right sorts of very academic conversation at cocktail parties (wine, books, etc.). That's just who he is, and it's who the academy has been for a long time and still is right now.

I usually feel like I was born either way too early or way too late, but this is just not my time. I wouldn't want to be a man, but most days I still think being a woman sucks.

Maybe I've been reincarnated a lot and will be a few more times before I get it right, I don't know.

As a kid I always felt displaced, like I'm not supposed to be here, in my life, right now. Like I'm the result of some kind of cartoony time machine accident.

That kind of detachment has never really gone away, despite trying to find people and places where I feel like I fit and occasionally having moments when things do seem to click. They're few and far between.

My point being that I have to work really hard to have things in common with the right people. Because deep down, I don't really care what people think of me so long as I get to do my job and be left alone.

Being that kind of person doesn't get you luck, it gets you in trouble.

I was thinking about this today and how it's probably not normal for little kids to imagine themselves living alone when they grow up, but I did. That was my dream. And I did live alone all through grad school, and I loved it.

I sometimes wonder if, things being different, I should have been a writer. I deal very well with being alone and most of the time I crave it. According to all the career tests, this is a prerequisite for being a novelist or a poet.

So the point of all this rambling is, sometimes I worry academia is too social for me and that people can sense that when I am trying to schmooze at meetings, that it doesn't come naturally at all.

It seems more socially acceptable- warning, generalization here- to be a loner if you're a man.

So I guess I'll sum it up like this: I think a lot of luck has to do with knowing yourself, your abilities and needs, well enough to choose the right career/partner/place to live, etc.

Otherwise you can easily spend your life feeling cursed, like the answer is somehow hidden and no amount of self-reflection, writing, meditative journeys, or hallucinogenic drugs could possibly get you there (though I haven't actually tried that last one, maybe I should?).

ena7800, Tell him exactly what you think might be wrong with his samples and what he should do differently next time, and then tell him that while you're flattered that he obviously thinks you're good at running gels or he wouldn't have asked you, that you simply don't have time to rerun this gel for him, and you wish him the best of luck on his grant. That's all.

If he gives you crap about it, tell him you don't feel you can afford to take time away from your thesis. See what he says. Perhaps he will offer to help you in some way in return. Perhaps not.

If he gets mad, don't worry about it. What he's asking you to do is totally inappropriate, but if you don't tell him that, you're a doormat. Don't be a doormat.

Do be polite about it, and give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he knows he sucks at running gels and it just didn't occur to him that, you know, you have your own stuff to do. Some people are just like that, living in their own little bubble.

Or perhaps he's just going to push you until you push back. Most people will push you until you push back.

Push back.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Response to comments from two posts ago (leapfrog blogging)

Dear Noah, Bill and others,

I think I've written about this before, but it was before I started tagging on blogger and I don't have time to search for it. I'll tag this one for future reference.

To make a long story short, again, I applied for the K99. I got a good score. If you check the records, very few are awarded each year, a lot fewer than R01s by ~two orders of magnitude (compare ~35 K99s funded to ~3000 R01s per year).

I was told by several people that I would probably get it if I applied again. But when I spoke to my SRA, the excuse for why I didn't get the funding had nothing to do with the science and everything to do with politics. They don't write that in the reviews. And it's a lot harder to fix with minor revisions.

So yes, I have enough data, I do know how much you need, and no, I can't apply again for a K99. So I will have to wait, whether I want to or not, until I have a faculty position.

Having said that, Amazingly Patient Anonymous makes an interesting point about not applying ahead of time. Why not ride the system a little longer as a postdoc? Isn't that what most people do?

Isn't that one of the things that's wrong with the system? All the rotting postdocs not worth the (measley) salary they're paid to sit on their butts and surf e-bay all day? Some of the shit I see in lab would make you really, really thankful that your grad students are at least futzing with their protocols, because at least they're doing something.

For all your complaining about the idiot asshole female PI who ran your postdoc lab, you still got "three top teir [sic] papers", so she must have been pretty good, eh?

I know what you mean about going out and complaining all the time. I've done that. I'm over it. That's why I have the blog. This is my replacement for going out drinking whenever the urge hits me, whenever I get that feeling that I would rather black out or have a bullet in my head than try to rationalize why I'm still doing this. So, sorry if sometimes it's a giant wash of negativity. That's just how I feel a lot of the time. I try not to, but there's nowhere else I can do my work, so I'm stuck for now, until I finish and get what I want, or give up.

I'm not ready to give up yet. So for now, I blog.

My point is, I'm not that person who complains constantly, I'm really not. I don't have time or energy to sit around recounting the latest "You won't believe what X did this time" stories. I know because I work with people who do, and I nod and laugh and then go hide from them. I don't go for long lunches or coffee breaks because most of my peers are those people.

And I have stories worse than all of them put together, but they don't know that because I don't want to hear myself tell them. There are a LOT worse things than negative labs where people publish a lot of papers and then get jobs after only 3 years of postdoc .

Amazingly Patient Anonymous, don't take this as a bad thing, but I think you're one of the luckier ones, whether you realize it or not. And kudos on your 3 percentile grant. Somebody must have mentored you along the way, because nobody is born knowing how to write grants that get scores like that.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Hiding in my office.

I am feeling frazzled. So even though I have bench work I absolutely have to do today before I go home, at the moment I am more or less planning to wait until everyone leaves.

I'm not returning phone calls. I should. The phone will certainly ring again before the day is over. Lord only knows what I'll do if someone knocks on my door. Hide behind the file cabinet?

I have barely any email to deal with, but what little I got today makes me want to throw things and break windows. So I'm avoiding dealing with it at all.

I've realized what it was that kept my thesis advisor incommunicado so much of the time. And why I got so much done in college.

I cope with stress by working. Quietly. I like books. I like reading and writing. I really do. It seems so simple and soothing compared to all the crap beyond my desk.

So I am hiding. I have plenty of things to do, so I'm getting things done, but you know it's bad when you're afraid to even microwave your lunch, for fear that you might get caught having to talk to someone and pretend like everything is hunky-dory, because nobody actually wants to know the real answer to "how's it going?"

Today is just one of those days, I'm just not in the mood for getting anyone's advice.

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Response to anonymous from two posts ago

"You seem to willfully put yourself in situations where you will be exploited, and then wase [sic] a lot of energy complaining about it"

Based on the first part of this comment, the commenter is clearly trying to be helpful, but doesn't quite understand the use of hyperbole in (or the general point of) blogging, but this part seems (willfully?) clueless.

Nevertheless I must agree, insofar as:

Attending grad school = willfully submitting to exploitation

Postdoc (with anyone, anywhere) = willfully submitting to more exploitation

Since neither of these is at all optional for becoming a PI (my stated goal), then yes, strictly speaking, you are correct.

I think the number of PIs out there who hire postdocs with anything other than exploitation in mind is very, very low. It's not as if there were, as many people have suggested to me here and in the Real World, a centralized directory with complete reviews of PIs, scientific and psychological.

Don't we all wish that such a thing existed? I would love to know what your grad students would say about you.

"If you get to be a PI someday"
Oh, and thanks for the vote of confidence.

"the way you interact with people will be a huge determinant in how you do. Just wait until your graduate students, with mids [sic] of their own"

I hope I'm lucky enough to have graduate students with minds of their own, and that I never need to force my graduate students to rush around at the last minute because I might be trying to, as you say, "stick one more peice [sic] of preliminary data in your grant proposal."

I hope you're duly embarrassed to actually have written that, anonymous or otherwise, because that's pretty pathetic.

I currently have enough preliminary data for at least two grants, but I'm not eligible to apply for one until I get a faculty position. How's that for backwards?

Dear taxpayers, if you want your loved ones cured of disease, write to your congresspeople and tell them to restructure research in this country so we don't have to waste our lives agreeing to be exploited by idiot assholes, in the hopes of eventually getting some actual work done.

I actually had a cancer survivor say to me the other day that she wants me to be funded, because my work is actually relevant to her disease and I actually want to get things done, unlike most of the crusty old professors at the university where she works.

Oh yeah, and blogging. Because all this cathartic complaining is just a waste of energy? Tell that to my hit counter on this site. I wonder why they would want to read this, if it's all a waste?

Does it occur to you that I have so many readers because everyone is in the same position as I am? I'm not just complaining, I'm saying what lots of people think every day.

And if we're all being exploited, not willfully so much as that we have no other choice, doesn't that support my ongoing point that the system is broken? Why else would we choose to live this way?

We actually want our own labs. And some of us actually want to change the system when we get there. So, you're just wrong. I'm not wasting energy complaining. Sometimes I think blogging, and having things to blog about, is the most important thing I can do, because it's one of the only things I can actually control.

What's the point in willfully putting yourself in situations to be exploited if you aren't going to document all the abuse?

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thinking Blogs Award Meme

Thanks to Andrea for tagging me with the Thinking Blogger Award. I'm very pleased to have an excuse to post an actual image!

And here are my awardees (insert gleeful "tag! you're it!"):

1. Science Professor, who is more or less (maybe minus the kid thing) who I want to be.
2. Propter Doc, who is more or less exactly who I currently am.
3. Academic Secret, which always has me wondering who these people are, since some of the things they write are downright strange.
4. Jenny F. Scientist is a relatively recent addition to my blogroll.
5. Average Professor, who I'm not sure is average at all.

Ok, should get going here, will preview this and hope all the links work


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Impress Them With Your Arrogance.

Today I had lunch with a friend who got annoyed enough with an arrogant HR person from Big Academic Company (you can guess which one) and decided to try fighting snotty, stuck up bullshit about You Need Three Top Tier Papers with... arrogance.

Et voila! HR Person backed down and started treating her like an equal, or even better, someone worth hiring.

So maybe it's not that I'm not nice enough.

Maybe I'm nice to the wrong people (the ones who are more impressed by arrogance, like certain admins around here), and being "arrogant" with people who can't appreciate it (people who are threatened by smart women, for example).

I am tempted to test this out. Perhaps instead of turning on the charm, I should just start intimidating the hell out of people. If you can't make them love you, you can make them fear you, right?

I've always wondered if maybe I'm not self-promoting enough in that really obnoxious way that works for a subset of people whom no one can stand but everyone is impressed by anyway.

Like the story about the grad student who stopped all the classmates in the parking lot, one by one, and asked them how many papers they had published yet, as an excuse to brag.

I mean, that takes balls.

Maybe I just should go around bragging about what I've done, drop names, and so on.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

No more MsPhD nice guy.

Yup, that's it. I'm done. I'm no longer going to worry about helping certain people, because there will always be some of them.

You know, the ones who ask for your protocol, and ask you questions about it, and then don't follow it.

You find out they didn't follow it when they have a problem, and when you ask what they did, they say they did it a different way.

But they still want you to troubleshoot it for them.

Here's my answer:


Yeah. There's a special place in hell for those people.

It might, in fact, be time to make an updated version of lab hell. I may have to try to dig the old one up and optimize it.

Other than that, it was a perfectly decent day, except that...

I found out that despite having a calendar for a specific piece of equipment, nobody remembered that someone had apparently booked this thing I was planning to use later this week... on the day I was planning to use it.

It wasn't on the version of the calendar I had, so I'm wondering if it was really just an honest oversight, or if I got bumped. Either way, it screwed up my day today and more or less screwed up my whole week.

People who can't write on calendars get their own level of hell, too.

And the advisors who are always out of town and never reply to email? They get a nice toasty spot at the bottom, right next to the coals.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Vote On Issues, not Founding Fathers

Okay, I admit it. I get pretty excited about Presidential elections.

I love the idea of Hilary or Barack, even though I'm still torn about which one I like better.

I love thinking about it. Even though I think it's time for a smart, strategic woman to be president, I would be equally happy to have a black president who is young and incredibly articulate.

So this election really has me on the edge of my seat, even though I keep hoping, unrealistically, that the Iraq mess will somehow end without our having to elect someone new.

I'm the sort who really enjoys the run-up to the election the best. Because by the time the primaries are over, inevitably I'm disappointed with my options, and by the time of the actual election, I'm sick of all of the candidates and the usual mudslinging.

But oh, until the primaries, it all seems so optimistic!

I watched Meet the Press this morning and thought,

Wow, the Democrats should recruit Mary Matalin to their side.

Because I just don't get it. Female republicans are like gay republicans. You must really hate yourself.

And Mary Matalin seemed like she might actually be willing to flip. She couldn't bring herself to say that Hilary would be a bad President, or that she doesn't deserve to win. What she said was, "You go, girl!" And that Hilary might be very hard to beat.

In general I think Mary is a great example of a Republican woman who has her head in the sand. She actually tried to justify the war with the excuse that Iraqis stone women to death.


Um, hey Mary? Have you noticed that Afghanistan is actually WORSE NOW FOR WOMEN than it was before we invaded? I'm sure you haven't even thought about that.

Yeah, I don't think you can pretend any of this is about liberating women.

So for all you republican Marys out there, don't fall back on this bullshit - what the Founding Fathers intended about having a small government? Bush has not exactly been a poster boy for that party line.

So get your head out of that outdated, chauvinistic textbook and vote the issues. Then at least we can agree to disagree on substance.


Friday, June 01, 2007

It might all be moot.

Things have been going pretty well in terms of experiments. I've been getting enough data that my ideas are advancing... that's the fun part, what keeps me going despite all the s**t. In fact, I am downright excited about the science.

But this week I have had this awful feeling, like something really bad was about to happen and I wasn't sure what.

Today I got an inkling of what it might be, and realized that it probably doesn't matter how good my science is, if politics are really so important.

Which is really too bad, since I think I'm onto something of potentially wide interest, but if I can't finish it, nobody will ever know.

So I'm having that feeling again, like I should just try to hang in there until I can finish this project and get it out there, since I think other people would benefit from knowing what I did, even if it doesn't get me a job or any accolades whatsoever, it might save someone else from wasting time and effort reproducing what I've been doing all this time.

But I think it can't be coincidence that everyone always seems to be putting obstacles in my path, making everything harder than it needs to be. At some point, it's too much to be unintentional, it must be deliberate.

They are never acknowledging how hard I work, both on my own experiments and to help everyone around me get their experiments working.

You'd think they would appreciate it, but instead I get nothing for rescuing their grad students, saving them money by troubleshooting BEFORE expensive mistakes are made, calling the repair people to maintain the equipment, everything.

But no. Instead I am getting into trouble.

First I'm in trouble for spending too much time helping other people when I should be focusing on my own work.

Then I'm in trouble for not helping people as much as I used to, even though I still try to make sure everything is taken care of, and everyone knows I have my own work to do.

I don't know if it has to do with being female, maybe it has nothing to do with that. But I do think that male scientists can, and do, get away with personality quirks and flaws, and a lot less generosity, than female scientists can right now.

In fact, I have NEVER seen a male scientist, of any level, help his coworkers as much as I've been expected to help mine, while still getting all my own work done. If I fall down on either of those counts, I must be a failure.

But maybe I'm just playing the game all wrong. I'm sure I did something stupid along the way, but it's too late now to go back.

Yes, this is probably all my fault. Too bad nobody ever gave me the keys to the club, or the location of the manual of unwritten rules.


I was thinking of this guy today who started his own lab a couple of years ago, and how it's amazing that anybody would want to hire him, much less want to work for him.

This guy was not a team player. He was not liked by anyone. His science wasn't even that great. And he was among the most arrogant people I've ever had the misfortune to meet.

I can think of plenty of examples of people like that, who are not likable at all, whose science is mediocre, but who have somehow managed to what, dodge the politics? Blackmail someone? How does that even happen?

Because I'm wondering if I should change my strategy. Maybe, instead of trying to be liked by the right people, and do the right thing, I should just figure out what people do whom nobody likes. How those people are successful despite being selfish jerks.

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