UMM is hiring a biologist

You can read all the details, but the short version is that we’re looking to fill a full-time two-year position for someone to teach microbiology and molecular biology to undergraduates. You might not be enthused about a temporary position like this, but UMM is very highly regarded as a teaching institution, and if you’re looking to improve your prospects for biology teaching at the college level, our name will look really good on your CV…and we’re also committed to helping our hires improve their teaching skills.

Beware of snakes in your ovaries!

The Abolitionist Society of Fort Worth is one of those organizations that encourages the vicious goons who stand outside of Planned Parenthood, screaming and waving placards of photos of bloody embryos at women trying to get medical care. They are going to be distributing a pamphlet that is the graphical equivalent of their incoherent shouting, and here is one of the informative illustrations from it.


You’ll probably have to click to get a larger size, and even then it’s going to be a difficult read: who thought that a wall of small all-caps sans serif text would be readable? Probably the same people who thought their hate tactics were rational.

Hey, maybe those women aren’t going in for abortions, but to take advantage of Planned Parenthood’s ovarian snake removal services, did you ever think of that, huh?

(via Beth Presswood)

Baby steps, everyone

All right, there was another Democratic debate last night between Clinton and Sanders. Both of them revealed different strengths and weaknesses, and make no mistake, both of them have weaknesses. I think it’s because they’re both human beings, and not gods.

And now today I look out at all my friends, who are also all human beings, and I see their weaknesses exposed: it is not enough to favor one candidate, you have to divide them, so your favored person is the candidate of Heaven, and the other is Satan’s representative. Just stop it. Please. Here’s what I want you to do instead.

Vote your conscience in the primaries. It’s going to be between Sanders and Clinton, so just pick the one you like best. You can even write in a different candidate! It’s easy!

After the primaries, the party apparatus will be working to promote the winner, who will face off against the Republicans, who actually are the Evil Party. Maybe your favorite did not get the final nomination, but that’s the nature of politics, compromise. Hold your nose and vote for the non-Republican, whoever it is. It’s OK. You have to refocus and get a job done, and it is the nature of American politics that trying to stick with your ideal candidate who does not have the consensus of the party is futile, and can only aid the opposition.

But, you are saying, you are an idealist and want to see your philosophical and social utopia implemented in government now, and the official candidate falls short! This is true. But, I will point out, the president is one person, and has limited power to implement your goals while in office, and if your dreams are all so narrowly aimed at that one office, you’re never ever going to see them come true.

If your candidate isn’t the final nominee for president, vote for the nominee in the election anyway, and before the election, pay attention to that mob of rat-fucking assholes in congress. Are you for Bernie, but Hillary gets the nod? Work to get more progressive socialists into congress right now. Are you for Hillary, but somehow Bernie rides an unlikely populist wave to the White House? Buckle down and get more pragmatic women elected to represent you. Run for local office yourself! Don’t forget that there are also these midterm elections that always have reduced voter turnout.

I’m just saying that if your ideological position doesn’t get the White House, the best response is to then turn your passion to those other branches of government, congress and the courts. If your hero doesn’t snag the national office, get more heroes into state and local government.

Also, please, pay attention to the media. They want to see the spectacle of Bernie fanatics battling Hillary fanatics. They are intentionally feeding that antagonism, because they don’t want to see the electorate focused on fixing problems — fixing things never gets the goggle-eyed viewership of ongoing catastrophes. Don’t let yourself be used.

Bring back OP!

In some ways, it’s a shame that language is organic and evolves, because it means you really can’t roll back pronunciation to an earlier state. It’s still interesting to hear, though, and here’s a story about an effort to reconstruct the pronunciation of Shakespearean English.

The accompanying article explains some of the difficulties and ambiguities in trying to work out the way language was spoken — some are saying it would have sounded more like American English, others talk about Scots/Irish accents. In my ignorance, I’m going to lobby for a more Northern Minnesota version of Shakespearean English. I want to hear MacBeth in those Fargo accents.

Inequities breed arrogance everywhere

Paul Campos commits a really good deconstruction of the NY Times article on Jason Lieb’s resignation for harassment. He teases out all the understated assumptions in the article, and exposes the biases that minimized the consequences of Lieb’s actions…and the culpability of the institutions that have been hiring him.

But this is also a case where I’ll tell you to read the comments. They’re entertaining. The audience seems to be lawyers and the so-called softer side of academia, and they’re all talking about how the sciences get so much more money, and how so many scientists are dismissive of philosophy and the liberal arts and think the humanities are worthless, and how STEM is hostile to women.

As someone imbedded in that STEM community, I would just like to say that they’re completely right. It’s a serious problem.

I have a brand new perspective on my class this term!

I’m teaching genetics. It’s pretty much 15 weeks of pushing flies around in the lab, although I have to say I do lecture about plant and bacterial genetics, so it’s not all animal stuff. But I have learned from Cell that I’m thinking about it all wrong.


I’m now trying to figure out what kind of class this is. Am I teaching botany now? Or microbiology? Maybe flies are just ambulatory fungi now. I can never keep up with the taxonomy.

(via Björn Brembs)