Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another smart woman murdered

A student of one of my much-loved chemistry professors was murdered back home. She was chilling out in la calle San Sebastian at Old San Juan when a 15- year old kid from La Perla (a nearby black market slum) opened fire trying to get some dude that was hiding behind her.

La calle San Sebastian is part of the tourist areas, and everybody hangs out over there. I have cousins that live in that street. Usually the bichotes know better than to mess with the tourist areas because that means the cops will be all over their asses. But apparently the bichotes are now recruiting minors as shooters because they get served lighter sentences.
Puerto Rico, like Miami and NYC, is one of the biggest drug ports in the US. However, the resources it has to deal with the drug market are minimal. And every year the violence related to drug traffic gets worse.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Science research extravaganza

I finally had enough time to go through my research rss feed. Here are the links to the posts I find the most interesting and/or important for everyday living. Enjoy!

  • Jonah Lehrer (remember cute guy pic from a recent CEFAD post - him) explains the Endowment Effect - or why I paid a ridiculous amount for a gorgeous ring I bought impulsively after my A exam.
  • The first group of Bonobos is being relocated from the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary and into the wild!
  • Dave explains a model of how we perceive maps, directions, and finally - video games.
  • Isis's husband receives a very serious warning over eating the last ice cream sandwich - that's cold, man.
  • Your stomach is a lying bastard. Dave explains a curious study that measured satiety when the control group was served by waiters and the others had a self-refilling bowl.
  • Neuroskeptic has a very thorough post about the marketing of some antipsychotics when they are new, and just about as effective as previous treatments.

Hidden beliefs in science stereotypes predict size of gender gap across 34 countries

Please go read Ed's excellent piece on how biases and the gender gap in the sciences feed off each other.
Among the findings:
So the more a nation believes in the stereotype of the scientific male (even unconsciously), the greater the gap in performance between boys and girls in both science and maths. In fact, these hidden biases were a better predictor of the gender divide than what people actually said about science stereotypes. These explicit opinions accounted for about 2% of the international variation in the science sex gap, while implicit associations accounted for a much larger 19%.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh fuck it's on...

War has come to my laboratory, and although the root of the problem is my advisor's lack of boundaries regarding data and research ideas the blame is (of course) being slung about among the original parties of the problem (2 research associates) and the gossipy idiots that egg-on the people involved.

It all began in a groupmeeting. Research assistant 1 (RA1) gave a groupmeeting in which he discussed crystallographic data and some subsequent analysis of it. The problem? That crystal data was gathered by RA2, and the idea for the analysis was his as well. RA2 had not been notified and had not given permision for anyone else to use that data. Scooping someone else with their own data in the same lab = not cool.

RA1 is a young American, and RA2 is a senior researcher that had already retired from his professorship at the university of his country, and has been working under my PI for many years. His move to this "lower" position was mostly done to provide better opportunities for his kids . RA1 is from a segment of the lab that believes that RA2 doesn't know jack, and that everything RA2 does has to be, by extension, trivial and easy to do. This, of course, ends up showing in the interactions RA1 and RA2 have while working on a collaborative project. A lot of the projects in my lab overlap, exacerbating the 'lack of boundaries' problem our PI has.

After the groupmeeting, RA2 sent a very strong-worded email to RA1 stating that what he did was unethical, disrespectful, and illegal according to the university's code of conduct. RA1, instead of talking it out with the PI and RA2, proceeded to complain loudly and indignantly to everyone at the lab about the horrific and preposterous email he received from RA2.

And then everyone and their cousin had to stir the fucking pot.
An incredibly arrogant grad student went on to say that RA2 had to be 'put in his place'. A visiting scientist stated that all data belongs to the PI and he doesn't have to say anything to whomever acquired the data if he chose to share it (said visiting scientist almost scooped another labmate with her own data last year). RA3, who had serious issues with RA2 at the beginning of his post-doc in the lab, insisted they all go bitch about R2 to the PI with the hopes of having him let off.

Suddenly, when I didn't know anything of what was going on, RA3 and Arrogant Grad Student popped into my side of the lab, which is (due to my unwillingness to deal with their constant gossip, prejudices, and bitching) a very strange thing. They were trying to convince me of going to the PI to bitch about the problems I've had with RA2. I have made myself as scarce as possible after that.

Yesterday one of the non-gossipy grads, who shares the office with RA2, told me to skip the next groupmeeting because some serious shit was gonna happen. It's gonna be RA2' s groupmmeting. It's on and it's gonna be pretty bad.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unexpected Violence

Early this month, a postdoc who was part of my umbrella program was murdered by her husband, also a Cornell grad, near Taughannock falls. I took a couple of classes with her, and we had friends in common. This was beyond unexpected. She was upbeat and outspoken, and her husband was a quiet grad from information sciences.

If you go by general descriptors, there was little difference on how would an acquaintance describe them and Mr.B and me. Yet he went at her throat with a knife and she died from blood loss in the woods. Most of us are just horrified and confused. It's like conceptually I totally get that some abuse victims do go on with no visible signs of their abuse. And maybe he was good enough at it that not even her close friends noticed. Or did he suddenly go insane all of a sudden? But my mind can't really wrap itself around it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Caminante, no hay camino.

Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre el mar.

Nunca persequí la gloria,
ni dejar en la memoria
de los hombres mi canción;
yo amo los mundos sutiles,
ingrávidos y gentiles,
como pompas de jabón.

Me gusta verlos pintarse
de sol y grana, volar
bajo el cielo azul, temblar
súbitamente y quebrarse...

Nunca perseguí la gloria.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar...

Hace algún tiempo en ese lugar
donde hoy los bosques se visten de espinos
se oyó la voz de un poeta gritar
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Murió el poeta lejos del hogar.
Le cubre el polvo de un país vecino.
Al alejarse le vieron llorar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar.
Cuando el poeta es un peregrino,
cuando de nada nos sirve rezar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso.

- Antonio Machado

No Control