I keep telling my students about what I call Fly Time — the idea that these genetic experiments we’re doing require that we carry out the steps on the fly’s schedule, which may sometimes be inconvenient for the human experimenter. We’ll be flexible, but the work does require doing things outside the formally scheduled class time. That’s about to bite me in the butt.

We had this minor fire yesterday that canceled labs for the day. But we’re on Fly Time! They don’t care about our lab schedule! I’ve got a big plan that requires starting on time, and if we don’t begin the experiment this week it won’t culminate before spring break. I can’t compel students to stay and do lab work over their break, so if it runs over…I’m the guy who has to do all the final fly counts in the experiment. The students need to start the cross this week!

To accommodate our students’ busy schedules, I get to spend today in the fly lab helping a string of students coming in on Student Time to learn fly husbandry. All day long. Parked in a lab as students dribble in. Except for the time I get to spend lecturing them in class. And then I come home and put the recording of the lecture together and upload it. I also have to assemble a new problem set and post it on Canvas. Maybe if there’s a gap in the stream of students I can do that during the day?

Ha ha. The flexibility I’m trying to build into the course is coming out of my hide. There better not be any more fires this semester.

Dear god, Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are such pompous know-nothings

Behold, two idiots talking.

There is no such thing as climate. Climate and everything are the same word. That’s what bothers me about the climate change types. It’s like — this is something that bothers me about technically, it’s like climate is about everything. OK. But your models aren’t based on everything. Your models are based on a set number of variables. That means you reduce the variables, which are everything, to that set. Well, how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation if it’s about everything? That’s not just a criticism, if it’s about everything, your models aren’t right. Because your models do not and cannot model everything.

• Climate is not about “everything”. Let’s look it up on Wikipedia, since Peterson didn’t even do that much.

Climate is the long-term pattern of weather in an area, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorological variables that are commonly measured are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation. In a broader sense, climate is the state of the components of the climate system, which includes the ocean, land, and ice on Earth.

So not “everything”.

• Yes, climate is modeled. The relevant variables are assessed by knowledgeable experts, not muscle-bound blatherers or disgraced freaky Jungian psychologists.
• Models are constantly assessed against ongoing observations and measurements. Predictions are made and tested. That’s what we use to measure their validity.
• No model can include “everything”. That’s why it is a model. You can’t just make a blanket dismissal of all models solely because they’re models. That’s like throwing out psychology because it doesn’t account for every neuron and every variable in physiology.

Remember: Spotify paid Joe Rogan \$100 fucking million dollars to broadcast on their network. Peterson was getting paid \$200 fucking thousand per month for just his clinical practice, which I presume he gave up because he’s earning more from his speeches and books.

Fuck both of these guys.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another

I said I was going to optimize my classroom management for flexibility, but this is ridiculous. I’m supposed to be teaching a lab right now, but the science building caught fire.

It was more of a tiny smolder, but we did get a lot of smoke in the building. I heard that plumbers were soldering some pipes in the ceiling, and something caught fire, and now the fire department kicked everyone out of the building and are trying to make sure there is nothing else burning in that space before they let us back in. “A few more hours,” the fire person said. So I had to cancel lab.

Now the next few days are wrecked for me, because I’m trying to accommodate a lot of busy students and persuade them to come in at some other time so we can get this cross started. I’m going to have to provide supervised lab access all day tomorrow and Thursday.

I swear, this job is trying to break me, but honestly, I’m already broken.

Darwin disapproves

This little Darwin figurine I keep on my desk always looks like I’ve disappointed him.

Sorry, guy.

A lighter moment

Or is it? This is a midwest horror film.

22 years ago, I moved here from Philadelphia — which is kind of the antithesis of Minnesota. It was scary how nice everyone was when we moved in.

There are regional differences, though. That video is clearly from a Wisconsinite perspective. Minnesotans don’t talk about brats and the Packers, it’s all hot dish and the Vikings, and more purples than greens. We’re also a little less nasal and a bit more sing-songy.

Inequality kills

The pandemic has been a good thing for the rich. They’ve consolidated their power.

The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has doubled since the pandemic began. The incomes of 99% of humanity are worse off because of COVID-19. Widening economic, gender, and racial inequalities—as well as the inequality that exists between countries—are tearing our world apart. This is not by chance, but choice: “economic violence” is perpetrated when structural policy choices are made for the richest and most powerful people. This causes direct harm to us all, and to the poorest people, women and girls, and racialized groups most. Inequality contributes to the death of at least one person every four seconds. But we can radically redesign our economies to be centered on equality. We can claw back extreme wealth through progressive taxation; invest in powerful, proven inequality-busting public measures; and boldly shift power in the economy and society. If we are courageous, and listen to the movements demanding change, we can create an economy in which nobody lives in poverty, nor with unimaginable billionaire wealth—in which inequality no longer kills.

It’s only a small ‘elite’.

The world’s small elite of 2,755 billionaires has seen its fortunes grow more during COVID-19 than they have in the whole of the last fourteen years—fourteen years that themselves were a bonanza for billionaire wealth.
This is the biggest annual increase in billionaire wealth since records began. It is taking place on every continent. It is enabled by skyrocketing stock market prices, a boom in unregulated entities, a surge in monopoly power, and privatization, alongside the erosion of individual corporate tax rates and regulations, and workers’ rights and wages—all aided by the weaponization of racism.
These trends are alarming. By not vaccinating the world, governments have allowed the conditions for the COVID-19 virus to dangerously mutate. At the same time, they have also created the conditions for an entirely new variant of billionaire wealth. This variant, the billionaire variant, is profoundly dangerous for our world.
New figures and analysis released in December 2021 by the World Inequality Lab reveal that since 1995, the top 1% have captured 19 times more of global wealth growth than the whole of the bottom 50% of humanity. Inequality is now as great as it was at the pinnacle of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. The Gilded Age of the late 19th Century has been surpassed.

The good news: we’ll only need a small number of guillotines to take care of that group.

The bad news: they control the media, and have succeeded in brainwashing hundreds of millions to act against their own interests and prop up the oligarchs. It’s shocking how thoroughly they’ve convinced the mob to spurn vaccination, the most effective tool to control the pandemic. It’s as if the media moguls and politicians are finding it advantageous to promote death and disease.

Is it conspiracy thinking to wonder what the CIA is doing in academia?

Soon, the meetings will resume (I hear that phrase as “soon, the beatings will resume”). I do believe meetings at the university level have been infiltrated by CIA moles, because these instructions sure look familiar.

Our biology discipline meetings aren’t bad — we’re a small department, I don’t think we’ve been given our CIA plant yet, so they usually get down to business reasonably efficiently. As soon as we get into larger groupings, though, all of the above kicks into action, especially #2 and #5. Meanwhile, I tend to just sit quietly, thinking more productively about the work I need to get done.

I do wonder what the CIA’s intent with poisoning academia with these tedious bores might be, though.

Naked authoritarianism

The next election is going to be a doozy. The Republicans have been pulling out all the stops to claim that the last one was fraudulent, and you just know that the only time a Republican will accept an election result is if a Democrat loses. Every election is going to be surrounded with a cloud of lawsuits, and further, they imagine that victory means they get to trample over the law even more. Steve Bannon is already planning to lock Joe Biden up.

Fringe conservative Steve Bannon announced that the 2023 Republican agenda, should they win the House and Senate back in 2022, will be to impeach and arrest President Joe Biden.

Newt Gingrich went even further. He’s going to lock up every congressperson who had the temerity to investigate the 6 January insurrection.

Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, stoked outrage on Sunday by predicting members of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack will be imprisoned if Republicans retake the chamber this year.

Do they even realize these are extraordinarily anti-democratic proposals? You can dislike Biden and the Democrats, but doing their job is not criminal activity — unlike, say, using a political office to enrich themselves or conspiring to revolt if an election doesn’t go their way. Meanwhile, over on Fox News, we see the end product of this kind of thinking. Tucker Carlson Wonders Why the U.S. Would Side With Ukraine’s Fledgling Democracy Against Putin’s Russia. Charming.

“Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” Carlson asked. “They’re both foreign countries that don’t care anything about the United States. Kind of strange.”

Carlson’s comments came as Russia has steadily massed troops on Ukraine’s border over the last few months. The latest assessment by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry estimates that there are 127,000 Russian troops in the region. In response, up to 8,500 U.S. troops have been put on heightened alert for a possible deployment, the Pentagon confirmed Monday, with most of them intended to aid NATO forces.

Such countermeasures are pointless, Carlson argued, because Ukraine, a fledgling democracy, is “strategically irrelevant” to the U.S.

I remember when Republicans were fanatically anti-Russia, and they defended their position by advocating for Democracy and the American Way of Life; we were the forces of Good, that shining light on a hill, and they were the evil empire. Now Tucker Carlson declares No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine. Nobody thinks a war like that would make America safer or stronger or more prosperous. I wouldn’t suggest we should go to war, again — we’ve been rather quick on the trigger to plunge into wars — but there’s a difference between that and thinking we should side with an openly tyrannical dictator like Putin. It’s nice that they aren’t even pretending these wars aren’t about profit and gain, but that they’re even baffled by someone who’d take the side of a democratic underdog against an oppressive authoritarian invasion is revealing.

But then it’s become obvious that Republicans don’t like democracy and are eager to set up their own authoritarian dictatorship.

Even if they like that idea, though, they should look at their prospective emperors. There isn’t an Augustus among them, just a lot of bumbling poseurs and deeply stupid demagogues.

Chromosomes!

I can see my future now, for at least the next four months. I have committed myself to record all of my lectures so the students have asynchronous access to the course content to maximize flexibility in case pandemic catastrophe strikes, so what I’ve got to do is:

• Every Monday and Wednesday, record my in-class lecture, then edit it and splice in the Keynote images I use. That means I put in my regular workday, and then when I get home that evening I get to play with Final Cut Pro. Two of those a week means I won’t be doing anything fancy, just dubbing the slides and uploading it.
• Every weekend, I put together a video to describe the lab experiment for the week. The last one might be the longest of the bunch at about a half hour, once the students get into the routine it may not be too bad.
• Every week I also assemble a clutch of problems for the students to solve. Those go on Canvas, our course management system.

There are always glitches. Last week, the audio recording of the lecture was unlistenable, so I had to re-record the whole thing. That was better (but far from perfect) today. Today, though, the in-class technology threw up a whole bunch of problems — nothing worked until I called in IT to fix it, so I lost over 10 minutes to annoying problems. I intensely dislike the way the university has configured the AV in our classrooms.

So anyway, here’s today’s lecture. It’s about chromosomes.

Have you named a snowplow lately?

I voted for a few. My criterion was that they at least have some connection to Minnesota.