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Where The Hell Is Prof-like Substance Going?

July 30, 2010 5 comments

What the hell?  Prof-like Substance says he’s moving his blog this Monday and we’ll know where to find him.

I wouldn’t be moving, however, if it wasn’t for something really exciting. I’ll be posting a link on Monday, but my guess is that come Monday you’ll know where to find me…

Well I’d lay odds he’s not going to Nature Network.

Damn.  If that blogger dude is going to some new clubhouse, I’m going to bust my hairy-legged ass in there too, you just wait and see if I don’t.

PalMD Weighs In On Dengue Fever In Florida

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Some of you are no doubt aware that the esteemed PalMD has a new blog home.  Check out this recent, and distressing, post on dengue fever in Florida: One epidemic, two problems.  I have relatives in Florida, and I might like to visit them, and, well, I just generally care about anyone who lives there, so this really disturbing.

Juniorprof’s #painresearchmatters Campaign

July 25, 2010 9 comments

Simple Pleasures and Allodynia

If you have long hair, maybe sometimes you like to pull it back and put it in a ponytail tie or a scrunchie, especially when it’s hot outside.  Or if your vision is less than 20/20, maybe you like to wear eyeglasses so that you can see well when you are driving or walking or just toodling around your home.

When I get near the end of my three-month botox treatment cycle for my chronic migraines, those things start to feel like impossible luxuries for me.  The botox treatments – the only thing that seems to work to abate the frequency and severity of my migraines – begin to wear off at about 2.5 months, and then the migraines transform into more or less constant daily headache that is sometimes worse, sometimes better, but nearly always there.  My scalp hurts.  The back of my head hurts.  My eyebrows and the bony part of my skull just above and near them hurts so intensely it feels like I have been punched in the face there.  I have found that spring-loaded clips are less irritating for bundling up my hair but even these can be too much – sometimes I just can’t stand to have anything at all tugging on my hair.  (This is one of the reasons I’m thinking of getting it all cut off short, short, short.  Mr. Z will grieve, alas.)  I use my eyeglasses for distance only so when I’m in the house I often just leave them off altogether, so that they can’t irritate me by resting on my ears and bridge of my nose.  (I can’t wear contacts because of near year-round problems with allergies.)

These problems are an example of allodynia (that link will take you to a nice post on Juniorprof’s blog explaining allodynia and its mechanisms).

I once had a migraine so severe that I could not lay my head down on a pillow, because contact with the pillow hurt my face and scalp.  All I could do was sit in a chair and cry.  This went on for three days, until some friends discovered me and took me off to an emergency room for some pain relief, an option I had not known was available.

Treating Pain and Side Effects

I am deeply personally acquainted with pain, both chronic and acute, and the list of prescription and OTC meds I have taken over the years in an effort to prevent and control migraines, and treat their pain when they manifest their ugly selves in my life, is stunning even to me:  Acetaminophen, acupressure, acupuncture, ambien, amitriptyline, aspirin, chiropracty, coffee with lemon juice, coenzyme Q10, darvocet, demerol, depakote, dilaudid, excedrin, fentanyl, fiorinal,  inderal LA, lamictal, magnesium, massage, percocet, petadolex, reglan, seroquel, skelaxin, timolol, thorazine, tizanidine, topamax, toradal, tramadol, verapamil, vivactil, vicodin, vioxx, xanax, zonergran.  I am pretty sure this is only a partial list as I did not go through my file with the information on all the meds I’ve ever taken since my stroke odyssey began in 2003 for this post. (I can’t take the various triptan drugs because of the stroke.)

Nearly all the preventives caused me intolerable side effects – one memorable combination landed me in the hospital with a heart rate and BP so dangerously low I nearly died, and another had the distinctly unacceptable effect of making me incontinent.  And not in the “I need to pee more frequently” way.  The meds that effectively treat the pain all have the same lousy side effect, too.  The pain stops, but only by virtue of putting me to sleep for anywhere from 2 to 24 hours, and leaving me with a pain reliever hangover.  Use them too often, and you are in danger of having rebound headaches, and/or developing tolerance.  Before I started seeing my present neurologist, I could tolerate a narcotic dose that would tranquillize a horse.  He got me off the narcotics, which weren’t working so well anymore, and moved me over to Botox only and non-narcotic rescue meds. These meds are extremely sedating, which I hate, but they are less likely to cause rebound, and also less likely to have tolerance and addiction issues. I’m grateful to my neurologist for giving me pain management options that don’t include the opportunity to become a drug addict.

When my migraines were at their very worst, the only pain reliever I had available to me that worked well was fentanyl. Unfortunately, one night I developed hallucinations from it.  Some people may think hallucinations are a kinda trippy, fun sorta thing to experience but this was not.  It was terrifying and disorienting and I lost 36 hours of my life – and had to be hospitalized, again.

This is why I am grateful beyond what words can express for botox, because it is the ONLY thing that has ever provided any real sort of relief for me.  It does not cure the migraines, just sort of keeps them in check but that is still major progress.

It is also why I am grateful beyond what words can express for those who do pain research.  I have relatives who also suffer from migraine, and one of them has participated in a clinical trial to help better understand how botox treatment might help potentiate the action of triptan drugs.  I would dearly love to see botox treatments approved by the FDA for use in migraine treatment, because I really do think existing evidence shows it works – maybe not for everyone, but for enough people to make it worth having it as a choice when other options have failed.

Juniorprof has started a twitter campaign on why pain research matters, and has this excellent post which I urge you to read.

pain research matters to me because chronic pain is poorly treated, poorly understood and the people that suffer from chronic pain deserve a chance at getting that part of their life that pain sucks out of you back. I hope you’ll join me with tweets #painresearchmatters

Researchers like Juniorprof are among my heroes.  Read the post, if you twitter, join the twitter campaign.  Comment here and on Juniorprof’s blog. If you are currently painfree – count your blessings and enjoy the day!

Hat tip to Drugmonkey for making me aware of Juniorprof’s post and campaign.

Things Are Getting Better All The Time…

June 27, 2010 40 comments

Female Science Professor has posted a checklist – “Kind of like Sexism Bingo, but in list form.” – and asked for additions.
I was going to offer a few additions, but I thought “all that crap happened a thousand years ago, when I was an undergrad/grad student. I’ll just read this list of new stuff to see what teh wimminz are whining about these days.” Because things are getting better all the time.
Alyssa at 6/17/2010 10:03:00 AM said:

Someone asks why you bothered getting a PhD if you’re “just going to have children”

and DRo at 6/17/2010 10:36:00 AM said:

You are told that you won’t be interested in a TT position once you have children.

Time machine, take us to…..1984! Hello, classmate! Hello, undergrad thesis advisor!
Anonymous at 6/17/2010 12:16:00 PM said:

Someone tells you not to talk about women or minority in science issues because it makes people think you are not committed to science.

Time machine, take us to…1988! Hello, thesis committee member! (And major thanks to all of you for that 4.5 hour prelim, in complete violation of university policy, while I’m back here visiting!)
Anonymous at 6/17/2010 12:40:00 PM said:

** When you are in YOUR OWN office, visitors assume you are an administrative assistant **
and then, when you point out that you are not the admin, are told “Oh, you must be the student worker, then!”

Time machine, take us to…1999! Hello, various random d00dches!
Anonymous at 6/17/2010 03:12:00 PM said:

One of my personal favorites from my graduate school was a comment by a faculty member meant as a compliment, at a reception, “Surely, you’re not a physicist”. “Surely, I am” I said.

Time machine, take us to…the entire decade of the 1980’s! Hello, every pickup artist and sad sack conference fuckwit who thought “you’re too pretty to be an engineer!” was a great come-on line.
Rachael Shadoan at 6/18/2010 06:58:00 AM said:

I feel that the more we focus on this kind of thing, the more discouraging it is for young women trying to join the field.

and at 6/18/2010 10:02:00 AM

Instead of long lists of how we’re under-appreciated and gender-stereotyped and in general discriminated against, I would like to see lists of creative, professional, appropriate ways to handle some of these situations.
Then, it’s less depressing because it provides the tools to handle this sort of thing. Over time (presumably), if we all use the tools to address these issues, they will decrease in number and severity.

Time machine, take us to…1989! Hello, contentious discussion at AWIS meeting where I was invited to speak about gender and science!
On second thought, time machine, never mind.

Follow Up to the Food Stamp Budget from Causabon’s Book

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

If you read my entry on How to Feed 4 on a Food Stamp Budget and were at all engaged in the comments thread, then I would highly recommend you read Sharon Astyk’s post Eating Poor. Her post is fantastic, informative, thought-provoking, challenging.

Dammit, You Made Me Think About Boobquake!

May 4, 2010 20 comments

Samia has a very thoughtful analysis of that whole Boobquake biz…I’d recommend you read it first before going on with this post.
I love Samia because she is witty, she always makes me think, and often helps me see when I am missing big, important issues. But I am not sure I am in agreement with all her points this time. I started out with a reaction to the idea of Boobquake that was very similar to her post…why get all het up about some Iranian cleric when we did not see as much a fuss here in the U.S. over the Christian fundies who said similar shit about 9/11 and other natural disasters being the fault of gays and feminists, etc. Why ask women to show their tits as a form of protest – what makes that so much better that some drunken dude at spring break yelling show yer tits?
And then I finally read the original post about Boobquake. Well, the semi-original – the clarification she posted after her initial joke post that got way more attention than she expected.

Read more…

Objectification Silences Women – Or, They Were Asking For It, And They Like It, And…

January 12, 2010 20 comments

Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science has a fascinating post summarizing a recent research paper that shows how objectification silences women.

As Saguy [the lead researcher] explains, “When a woman believes that a man is focusing on her body, she narrows her presence… by spending less time talking.” There are a few possible reasons for this. Saguy suspects that objectification prompts women to align their behaviour with what’s expected of them – silent things devoid of other interesting traits. Treat someone like an object, and they’ll behave like one. Alternatively, worries about their appearance might simply distract them from the task at hand.

Or, if you read the incredibly intelligent comments on the post, the REALZ interpretation of the data is…

  • Women were asking for it.

  • And they like it.
  • And it’s their fault, because they have poor self-esteem.
  • And men are oppressed, too!
  • And evolushunz means menz haz got to stare at teh boobiez.

Which pretty much sums up every stupid-ass comment you get these days whenever you try to talk sensibly in any manner about sexual harassment, sexual objectification, sexism, sexual discrimination, bias, etc. Generally you also get comments like “this is all anecdote, there is no real data” but it seems that when even a man writes a blog post laying forth exceptionally strong data making the case that objectification is harmful to women, it’s not sufficient.
The bleating hordes will still show up and cry “wah wah, no, it is all wrong! My theory, which is mine, about this data, in this paper I have not read, is much better! The next thing I’m going to say is my theory. Ready? My theory by A. Douche. All women exist to be ogled by men, and then to be fucked by men, and then to say how much they loved it. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.”
Go read Ed’s post, then instead of the comments, just watch this:

Designing Faculty Websites – Diversity Resource

January 6, 2010 4 comments

Professor in Training is working on a faculty website design and asks the following:

I’m in the process of designing my own page and also a separate set of pages for my lab. I know the type of stuff I want in both of these but I was looking for feedback from both current and prospective students and postdocs as well as other faculty as to what you look for if/when you go searching for faculty/lab pages.

Take a visit over there and share your opinion on what makes a good website. Inquiring minds may also be interested in some work done on this issue a few years ago by Cynthia Burack (and me):
Evaluating STEM Department Websites for Diversity
and by Burack, Ruth Dyer, myself, and Beth Montelone:
Designing Welcoming and Inclusive STEM Department Websites
You can also look up each of those papers in the WEPAN archives (click on the 2006 archives and scroll down the table of contents).

Crazy Optimistic Apocalyptica Joins ScienceBlogs

December 23, 2009 6 comments

Earlier this month, while I was distracted managing mom’s transition from assisted living to hospital stay to rehab and preparing to escape for my annual beachy vacation, a new star was added to the Scibling firmament. And she’s a shiny one. I’m talking about Sharon Astyk, writer of Casaubon’s Book. I like pretty much every single thing she’s written over there so far, but I really love this entry. Here’s a sample:

A lot of people are dismissive of personal choices and personal actions, and as I argue in _Depletion and Abundance_ it isn’t an accident that all the things we decide are unimportant personal choices happened to be traditionally associated with women – they are measures of our contempt for women’s traditional work (consider the attention still given to the individual vote, in comparison, which also doesn’t matter, except all the times that it does). Perhaps more importantly it is enormously profitable for industry to pretend that individual choices are unimportant. After all, if they are unimportant, there’s no reason to constrain them, no reason not to stop at Wendy’s on your way to the climate change demonstration, no link at all between all those cows and global warming…
Thus we put “agricultural emissions” in the category of *big important issues” and say we can’t do anything about it personally – of course “industry” doesn’t acually eat. In fact, I’m pretty sure that 100% of all meals are eaten by individuals ;-).
Which is all a really long way of saying that I’m definitely going to keep posting recipes, even if, as one of my prior critics claimed, he feared he’d wandered over to Lady’s Home Journal, rather than an energy blog. As I’ve argued before, we can’t change our agriculture, or improve our health without changing the way we eat – and we do that by teaching people to cook again, to make good use fo the food they do have, and by helping them make ethical food choices. And that requires small and homely things like recipes, which have their place even in SCIENCE!.

Of course, Casaubon’s Book is written by someone Known To Be A Girl, and a theist, and furthermore she is just telling me stuff I like to hear, which PZ Myers would never do, and on top of all that, she has posted recipes. So I am pretty sure that means she must be wrong or stoopid or non-scientific or maybe even a creationist so I can’t wait till the New Atheists get her straightened out.
I like Casaubon’s Book because it deals with cheery stuff like how our lives as we know them just can’t continue and how the change is coming faster than we want to admit and how peak oil has long since been reached even though no one will say it out loud. It’s all good times over there! If I hadn’t just come back from my planet-killing beach vacation, reading this blog would be a real downer.
Sharon has written three books with all sorts of handy advice on how to survive in the coming world post-peak oil. You can find links to them on her blog, and I recommend taking a look, they all seem very interesting and useful. Unfortunately, I did not see anything in any of them to indicate that she has included even one chapter on “easy-peasy painless suicide methods when the resource wars wash up on YOUR doorstep!” or “how to take yourself out in one simple step when your gas tank is empty and the running-car-in-locked-garage method just isn’t an option anymore” or even a side chapter in that preserving food book on “let one batch go bad and keep it on hand for the REALLY bad times!”
I fear she is not completely rational. Because, she outlines a future where the oceans will rise and peoples’ water supplies will be compromised and much of our agricultural production will be jacked and subtropical infectious diseases will be rampaging all over the place – and yet she also seems to think many of us will still be blithely out on some farm somewhere, raising our goats and chickens, planting our heirloom seeds, putting up preserves in the late summer and fall, and rediscovering the joys of hanging out laundry on the line. While not being gunned down by the survivalists who have been hoarding ammo for years on end and who have suddenly showed up to take our food and wimmin. Say, now, THERE’S a suicide strategy – “I’ll just take these clothes outside to hang on the line – no, no, I don’t need any bullet-proof vest! la la la la la la la!”
I guess that’s why I love that crazy chick. She has looked right square in the face of the coming apocalypse, and said “fuck you. I’m planting veggies, milking goats, hanging laundry, and nurturing my kids.” I might still lean towards the viewpoint of a friend of mine, who wonders whether getting through the coming crisis is even something to be desired, and suggests saving that 5 gallon drum of gasoline to do yourself in when the time comes – don’t be pressured to use it for a vacation, or one last run to the grocery store for supplies! But I’m glad that outlandish optimists like Sharon exist.

Can We Talk About Science? I Mean, Really?

November 6, 2009 57 comments

You should never, ever criticize something a New Atheist says about science and religion. Never tell them maybe it’s not the best idea in the world to just go on about science/evolution + religion in whatever way, at whatever time, in whatever manner, for whatever reasons. In fact, you cannot criticize the speech of New Atheists even if your goal is not to tell them to shut up, but to suggest that they might get their message across better and more effectively if they tried delivering it in a different manner than the one they’ve been using, because suggestions like that are CENSORSHIP and it is telling them to SHUT UP and that is WRONG and MEAN.
If you have no idea what I am talking about just Google any of the following in combination: Mooney, Kirshenbaum, PZ Myers, Unscientific America. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.
On the other hand, if you are not a New Atheist, and you want to speak about Science and Religion, you might want to choose your words pretty carefully. People might question why in the world you have been allowed to blog on ScienceBlogs. They might question your scientific credentials. They might call you a word-twisting intellectually dishonest buffoon. They will offer nuanced critiques of your writing such as: pathetically wrong and mind-numbingly boring.
I am amused at the outrage caused by one of my newest Sciblings, David Sloan Wilson, who writes the blog Evolution for Everyone. The dude’s not shy – he launched himself at Scienceblogs with a post on Science as a Religion that Worships Truth as its God. What’s behind all the sputtering anger? I mean, this dude is not the first person ever to posit such notions. Why are everybody’s knickers in such a knot? C’mon, you can’t pretend that idea isn’t out there and doesn’t have some serious resonance. And I’m talking about more than “high school debate team” level, as one of his commenters complained. Let’s review.

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