Totally open thread

I’m at the airport, about to clamber onto a plane that will drop me off on the other side of the planet, and I’m not sure when I will emerge again in a conscious and coherent state, so I leave this thread to you all. I also know that the cowardly trolls always take advantage of my absences to crap on the site, so just be aware: I will prune threads ruthlessly as soon as I get a moment and am back on the Internet. Rather than engaging with the idiots, just leave a note that comment #X must die. Keyword: rochambeau.

See you on the other hemisphere!

Things you ought not to read while trapped in an interminable faculty meeting

I’ve just gotten out of a 2½ hour faculty meeting. During one of the breaks, I read this page on McSweeney’s, and when I got to #5 and #6, I almost lost it. Then #8, and I felt a funny noise trying to rise up the back of my throat. I seized up at #9, beginning to wonder if they had a spy camera on the wall behind me.

But then I read this article and realized they must have the spy cams installed at the University of Chicago, not here. Whew. We’re only sorta exactly like that.

Jack Chick is dead


There will be no rejoicing at his death, because his poison and lies and ignorance live on. I just really can’t care much — it doesn’t help that I just got home after a 13 hour day — and I think he’s just been a malignant goofball with a team of believers doing the work for him, and the absence of one foolish man won’t make a lick of difference.

He has ceased to exist and won’t even know that he’s not going to meet a faceless glowing giant on a throne, or a horned Jewish caricature with a pitchfork. He’s just dead meat.

Further travels, to Cincinnati & beyond!

I’m planning to attend the 2017 Midwest Zebrafish Meeting in mid-June, which is, unfortunately, being held in Cincinnati. It’s only unfortunate because I’ll be tempted to make a side-trip to…Ken Ham’s goddamn Ark Park. There’s an excellent overview by Dan Phelps of what I can expect to see. I’ll also leave $40 poorer.


Just looking at that makes my brain poorer.

Well. This is going to be a fun week.

I’m flying to China on Wednesday, and in order not to be unfair to my teaching colleague in cell biology, I’m taking on extra lab sections today and Tuesday, since he’ll be covering for me on Wednesday and Thursday. So I’m going to be working long hours for a while.

And then tomorrow night, it’s Cafe Scientifique with Yuzhi Li, who will be talking about her work on animal behavior. You should come. It’ll be at the Common Cup Coffeehouse in town at 6pm.

Immediately afterwards, I’ll be zooming off to the Twin Cities because I have an early morning flight to catch. I can rest on the plane, right?

More fun! I got to zip in and get a bunch of vaccinations this morning, and boy are my arms tired.

Race for the bottom of the slime barrel!

I was horrified years ago when Fox News emerged as the shambling, dishonest, sleazy voice of conservative thought — I mean, I thought the National Review was a racist organ, but at least they put on bow ties and talked in elevated accents and pretended to be decent human beings, and William F. Buckley Jr. was clearly an intelligent man with odious views. Fox News decided that intelligence was irrelevant and that the odious views were what sold. And the Republican Party embraced it all and decided to jettison intelligence along with decency (although one could argue that they led the way with Reagan).

Brace yourself. It gets worse. Fox News is now passé. It is insufficiently contemptible for the next crop of conservative politicians.

They are all jumping to…Breitbart.

Trump is going to cash in on his electoral defeat by forming an alliance with Breitbart, creating an abomination called Trump TV so far. That may change, since the Trump name is so tainted that it isn’t being used on any of his new hotels.

And if you thought Trump was bad, wait until you get a load of the next generation of far right conservatives. Curt Schilling is considering a political career, and hitching his star to Breitbart. After all, if the primary qualifications for running for office as a Republican are a loud mouth, racism, and ignorance, he’s a perfect match.

Another guy who is trying to rehabilitate his political career by diving into the raging dumpster fire is Dinesh D’Souza. So presidential.

Obama’s dad dumped him at birth & his mom got rid of him at age 10–did they know something we didn’t when we signed up for this guy?

Just wait. After the 2020 elections, when Breitbart is branded as a loser and gets discarded like Fox News, the Republicans will go looking for an even more repulsive vehicle for their views, and we’ll see the rise of Aryan Nation TV. Then, in 2024, when that one goes bust as a medium for getting Republicans elected, they’ll have to go even lower. I don’t know what form that horror will take, though. Maybe they’ll join forces with the Catholic Church.

How is Donald Trump like the Catholic Church?

John Oliver explains why Trump bombed at the Al Smith dinner, when he should have been in his element.

It was three thousand dollar a plate fundraising gala at a moth-eaten Manhattan hotel organized by the Catholic Church, a real-estate-owning, male-dominated, sex-scandal-plagued organization with whom Trump clearly shares a uniquely unqualified interior decorator.


This is too true. Academics face a very confusing career transition.


Of course, it also varies. The post-doc chart is a fairly accurate illustration of my life before getting a position, but the assistant prof chart will depend on what kind of position you land — mine would be much, much heavier on various duties associated with teaching.

The screwy thing is that there is no teaching at all as a post-doc, so the thing we spend most of our time doing now is the one thing we got no training in.