Monthly Archives: December 2006

Fair and Balanced

Did you know that 95% of all statistics reported on blogs are made up?

Not only that, but you have to be particularly careful when reading reports coming out from the media that interpret poll results. Here’s a perfect example.

Two stories came out from the Associated Press in the last two days. The first story was out on December 30,
AP Poll: Americans Optimistic for 2007.

Apparently, this was a little too upbeat and positive so the next day they offered this story,
Poll: Americans see gloom, doom in 2007.

Here’s the irony: They’re reporting on the same poll!

HT: Little Green Footballs

Ode to a Grad Student

I have transcribed an item that I though was particularly clever. It comes from the December 20th edition of the Scientific American weekly podcast . This podcast is hosted by Steve Mirsky and is posted each week on the Scientific American Website. You can listen to the entire podcast here: Science Talk, December 20, 2006.

A Phone Call from the Funder
(parody of “‘Twas the night before Christmas”)

Twas the day after Christmas and throughout the labs
All the students were anxious, all the postdocs kept tabs
On the sightings of he who would bring them their fate
Who would tell them and soon to rip up or post date
Their checks for their food and their rent and their stuff,
Because being a researchers tool can be tough.
He was there in his office, the P.I. they could see
But they daren’t disturb him. They feared what could be,
For his grant to do research which they aided, abetted,
Was up for renewal, was filed and vetted.
The assistant professor, he pulled at his hair.
He so needed the funding to buy a new chair
And some test tube holders, so high was the price,
And accordion folders and beakers and mice,
Both the kind near the keyboard that gives tendinitis
And the transgenic kind predisposed to bronchitis,
And a graduate cylinder to be filled up with fluid
By that graduate student who says he’s a druid.
The assistant professor, he rose to his feet
and he called out for mercy his panic complete,
“NIH! NSF! NCI! ACS!
HHMI! Let me see some largess.
I need research dollars, my checks I’ve been kiting.
I’m this close to selling aluminum siding.”
At that very moment, the phone started ringing
The students and postdocs, they thought they heard singing.
The assistant professor let out a low moan.
He took a deep breath, and he hung up the phone
And came out of the office, his hands slightly shaking
And straightened his knees which were still also quaking.
His students and postdocs sat still, held their breath,
Till the student who lisps said, “What’th up? What? Confeth!”
The assistant professor stood still for a moment,
Then broke into a grin and that smile did foment.
A cheer from the students, a sound sweet as honey.
For they knew that the lab would be swimming in money.
“The funding is decent,” is what the prof tells.
“No issues.” (The research involves no stem cells.)
And now flush again, the prof reverts to a jerk.
“Don’t just sit there! Go on, back to work!”