Membrane Physiology Quiz: Inhibitory Synapses

The driving force on a permeant ion–and hence the direction in which it flows when a conduction pathway for it opens–is determined *both* by its concentration gradient *and* by the voltage across the membrane (i.e., the electrical gradient). The membrane potential at which there is no net inward or outward flux for a permeant ion with a given internal and external concentration–i.e., where the chemical potential energy and and electical potential energy of the ion are equal and opposite–is the Nernst equilibrium potential.

Whether an ion flows in or out of the cell depends on the relationship between the Nernst equilibrium potential for that ion and the membrane potential. Unlike sodium and potassium–which must be regulated with very narrow concentration ranges both inside and outside the cell or else shitte goes to hell in a handbasket–cells have the ability to regulate internal chloride concentration within a pretty wide range. Thus, depending on the neuron and its physiological state, the chloride reversal potential can vary for an adult neuron between -40 and -70 mV.

If a neuron with a chloride reversal potential of -50mV is sitting at a membrane potential of -60mV when a chloride conductance is activated, chloride flows *out* of the cell and depolarizes the membrane. However, despite this channel opening event depolarizing the membrane, it can be inhibitory–i.e., it can make the cell less likely to fire an action potential.

Now see if you can figure out why this depolarizing conductance can be inhibitory!

Selling Libertarianism

Libertarianism can only be sold to people who are convinced that it is *never* going to happen and completely utterly *impossible* that their neck would ever be the one under the boot of the “free” individual actor. This is exactly why libertarianism is always bound up in the continuation of systems of oppression such as racism, misogyny, christianism, nativism, and the like. It is also exactly why libertarianism is invested in the elimination of empathy as both an individual subjective experience and as an institutional structure.

Farfalle With Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

Note: You can definitely leave out the sausage, and this shitte is still fucken delicious.

one pound farfalle
two third pounds sausage
two third cup diced onion
six hugeasse garlic cloves, diced
fresh-ground black pepper
one hugeasse pinch dried oregano
one fuckeloade crushed red pepper flakes
olive oil
three small cans crushed san marzanos
one cup dry white wine
half cup heavy cream
two handfuls chopped fresh basil
parmigiano reggiano for grating

Sautee the onions with plenty of black pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper until translucent.

Add the garlic and sautee until it is golden toasty.

Remove sausage from the casing, throw it in, and sautee until it is fully cooked and starting to brown, breaking it up with your wooden spoon.

Deglaze with the wine, raise the heat, and reduce until all the alcohol is gone.

Add the tomatoes and bring back to a boil. Then turn the heat to a low simmer, and cook for about an hour with the lid off to allow it to reduce and concentrate.

Throw the farfalle in a big pot of boiling salty water.

Throw in a handful of chopped fresh basil, stir it in, and cook for one minute.

Add the heavy cream, stir, and allow to continue to cook.

When the pasta is very molto al dente–still crunchy in the very center–remove one cup of pasta water and add to the sauce, drain the pasta and add to the sauce, and turn the heat up to medium high and finish the pasta for about three minutes with occasional gentle stirring. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to rest for one minute, and then gently stir again.

Plate, sprinkle, grate and EATTE ITTEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scientific Project “Ownership”

There is a discussion going on right now at the Scientopia Guest Blogge concerning the practicalities and ethics of what a post-doc mentor and the post-doc should respectively continue to work on after the post-doc leaves the mentor’s lab and starts her own independent lab. The basic question being addressed is the nature of the “deal” that should be struck defining the scope of work the mentor should “allow” the post-doc “take” to her new lab, and the scope of work mentor should forgo in her own lab to “allow” the post-doc room to build her own new program.

Personally, I find the entire uncritical discussion of such “deals” to be distasteful and counter to the entire ethic of science as a human enterprise. It’s nothing but a clusterfuck of idiocy from a bunch of delusional egomaniacs who see themselves as feudal lords instead of scientists.

Other than the potential issue of taking credit for something you didn’t have any role in, this whole “carving up the territory” shitte is absolutely ridiculous. Because a mentor and post-doc can do all the negotiating and deal-making they want, but they can’t prevent a third fucken party from eating both their lunches.

When I left my post-doc mentor’s lab, the only deal we made was to agree that making deals is disgusting and pointless, and to keep each other in the loop going forward about what we were each doing. As soon as I left she shifted his entire operation to work in the exact same general area as the ground-breaking work I did in her lab, and I obviously started my own lab in that exact same area. You know what happened?

The first publication that we each published not together was, indeed, reporting essentially the same finding (although the quality of data from my lab was better and the scope more comprehensive, and we published in a much better journal than she did). But after that, we naturally moved in different directions, because no two scientists see things the same way or have the same temperament.

What The Fucken Fucke???

I am no economist, but isn’t this completely backwards when inflation is too low, as it probably is now?

Lower inflation gives consumers more spending power, which boosts growth. It also gives the Federal Reserve more flexibilty to keep interest rates low and take other steps to boost the economy.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

one medium onion, chopped
two large celery stalks, slices
five slices bacon, cut up in pieces
fresh-ground black pepper
three ten-ounce cans of clam juice
six cans chopped clams (do not use Bar Harbor brand!)
one small can crushed san marzanos
two big pinches dried thyme
one big pinch dried oregano
two bay leafs
two-thirds cup genever
one and a third pound red bliss potatoes, peeled cut into third-inch cubes
salt to taste
fresh clams (if you want; we didn’t have any, and the fish market was closed)

Sautee the bacon until it is browning nicely and rendering out plenty of fat.

Sautee the onions and celery with plenty of fresh-ground black pepper and the dried herbs until the onions are starting to turn translucent.

Deglaze with the genever, turn up the heat, and reduce until the alcohol is burned off completely.

Add the juice from the canned clams–reserving the clams–the cans of clam juice, the tomatoes, and the bay leafs, and bring to a boil.

Add the potato cubes, turn the heat down to the lowest, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about twenty minutes or so (depends on the size of the cubes), salting to taste.

Add the clams (and fresh clams, if you have them), turn up the heat, and bring back to a boil to fully heat the clams (and cook the fresh clams, if you have them, until they just open). Turn off the heat.

Ladle the shitte into a fucken bowl and eatte ittee!

Guinness Lamb Stew And Kasha

three pounds trimmed and cubed lamb shoulder
one large white onion, rough chopped
three large carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
two large celery spears, sliced
six large garlic cloves, sliced
two bottles Guinness
hugeasse splash of Bulleitt rye (and copious swigs for the chef)
fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme sprigs
two bay leafs
fresh-ground long pepper
one teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
one small can crushed san marzanos
two cups beef stock
two cups chicken stock
one cup whole buckwheat kasha
extra-light olive oil

This is the beautiful lamb shoulder I got from my local butcher. It was just freshly cut off the bone, and then he trimmed most of the fat off, leaving some for flavor.

Brown the lamb pieces in plenty of hot oil, leaving plenty of space so they really brown, and don’t just steam in their own juices. The point is to generate beautiful flavor, so it isn’t necessary to brown them evenly or on all sides.

Here’s the browned lamb.

And here is the beautiful flavor left in the pan! I drained off the bulk of the oil, and the leavings stay stuck in the pan. (If you use a non-stick pan, the leavings won’t stick and will be gone if you drain the oil. So in that case, I would leave the oil in the pan and then skim excess oil from the top of the stew after you start it simmering.)

Dump in the onions, carrots, and celery, and turn the heat down to a vigorous sautee level. Season liberally with fresh ground long pepper.

When the onion is getting translucent, throw in the garlic.

Continue to sautee until the garlic is soft.

Deglaze with the Bulleitt Rye, turn up the heat, and reduce until the liquid is almost all gone.

Add the Guinness, and bring back to a boil.

Add the tomatoes, herbs, beef stock, and lamb, bring back to a boil, and then cover and simmer on lowest heat. Note that at the beginning, it is going to taste bitter as shitte, but as it cooks, the vegetables will release sugars that balance the bitterness of the Guinness. It will take between one and a half and two hours of simmering for the lamb to become tender, although it can depend on the nature of the meat. According to the butcher, this was from a young lamb, so it didn’t take as long to cook as an older lamb or mutton would have.

After about an hour of simmering, add the mustard powder.

When the meat is just about done, take off the lid, turn up the heat, and add some flour or corn starch to thicken the sauce. While it is thickening, make the kasha: boil the chicken broth, add the kasha, stir it, cover, and simmer on low until all the liquid is absorbed, about ten minutes.

YUUUUMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Note: This recipe is adapted from Guy Fieri’s stout-braised beef short ribs.)