Coming Up for Air

It seems everyone is still busy going down the rabbit hole of what happens after the Dawn of the Red.

I don’t really like to write about politics here, mostly because I don’t follow politics as closely as many and don’t think that my understanding of the events is either complete or sophisticated enough to be worth inflicting upon my readership. But I did get ticked off last week and broke my no-politics rule (well, it’s more of a general guideline).

For the record, I am still very angry, and I plan to remain angry. As John Oliver says, this in NOT normal, and we should not forget it for a second.  And we need to stay very, very angry.

But there is also the rest of life, and I have no intention of not living it.

DH and his brother, my brother-in-law (BIL), Skyped the other day, and the BIL sagely said, “Why are you guys upset? You’ve seen and lived through worse.” And he’s totally right. I have been in the US for 17+ years and have become soft. The fact is, I do come from a country that has faced its fair share of shitty politics and economic turmoil. Based on experience, I assure you that — absent wars or other mass mayhem — people do find ways to live their lives and be happy and take care of their families and friends even in societies that are far more dysfunctional than  the US will be after 4-8 years of Trump/Pence/Ryan (oh, how I hate that guy and his evil, evil ratlike mug). This is not normal for the US, no; but political turmoil is far from uncommon, it appears to be a rule rather than an exception in today’s world, and most places have it far worse.

I don’t want to sound like I am normalizing this stuff, as it is not normal — for the US. But, to me, remembering that, yeah, not only can things be much worse and people deal and adapt in an abstract and amorphous sense, but that I have in fact grown up through worse, that it’s not really abstract or amorphous for me, and that I was fine, am fine in the now and the here.  Speaking of here, I think I want my money back. This country is not like what the brochure promised. 😉

Anyway, we can and should be pissed. I certainly repurposed some money towards charitable liberal causes (20,000 donations were made to Planned Parenthood in Pence’s name — tee-hee), and if you are so inclined, the lists that John Oliver and nicoleandmaggie offer are certainly full of worthy recipients.


But now I want to talk about something else. Blogosphere, what do you want me to write about that is not politics-related and that would entice you to read and comment, perhaps even passionately? Please suggest topics that fall loosely within the blog’s repertoire and I will do my best to address as many of them as I can because I want us to not go collectively nuts reading about Trump, and the only way I can do that is to provide content that is not Trump-related. We have all wasted enough mental CPU cycles on this crap, and it won’t do us much good unless we somehow figure out to connect into a hive mind and telepathically fry the noggin of our PEOTUS.

So, suggestions! What do you want to read about that would divert you for a little bit? Heck, I will even draw what you suggest, within my abilities!


  1. I would like to see a drawing of an octopus that is performing an important science-professorial task with each of its eight tentacles. It should wear glasses. And a lab coat, with its name embroidered on the pocket over its third tentacle (from the right). And it should be tenured, but not yet promoted to full professor.

    Now hop to it!

  2. I want to see a comic of a grad student trying to be a postdoc when science is under attack. Also, a humorous list of errors made in grant proposals. Also, advice on writing a paper piecewise. Should you write the intro first? When is it better to create figures and write the paper around it? Do you go back and do analysis after writing and coming up short? Thanks for the request for suggestions!

  3. I love your “how to” posts (how to write a paper, how to poke a colleague that asked you to give a talk verbally but you never got an invite, etc). An aggregate page of them would be awesome, as would more posts of that type.

    And the octopus.

  4. You mentioned off-handedly mentioned once something along the lines of how you have certain principles about how you set up figures in a manuscript/paper. (I think it was around the time when the book came out and you were thanking Melanie Nelson for working with you and your detail-orientedness (if that’s a word) about the book layout). That’s the kind of thing that makes me consider for a moment going to grad school, with the hope that I would have an adviser like you who would train me in things like that and thinks along similar lines like that.

    So, maybe a post on your personal guidelines on setting up a figure/graph in a manuscript? I’m kind of curious about the things you teach the PhD students you advise.

  5. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes good scientific software. I strive to write correct software thats intuitive to use, but would love examples of useful tools youve come across.

  6. I am late to the conversation, but I read “tenure hacks” that you reviewed awhile ago and I am wondering what you think about staying in a niche area — after you have tenure.

  7. Not directly politically related, I would love to hear your thoughts on hiring, specifically of women and minorities. Recently (at a conference) I encountered some scientists who expressed concern as to having women on hiring shortlists because the “administration would force them to hire the women, not the top candidate”. Would be interested in a long range perspective, as I am relatively new to my field.

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