Red in tooth and claw

This video has been around for a while, but with a nod to Thanksgiving, this surely makes me thankful that all I have to do is negotiate traffic on the Boston-Providence Highway to stalk the wily strip steak at Whole Paycheck.

About 8 and a half minutes long.

Feels like a Friday Frivolity

There are many little quizzes and bits out there in the ether that are about as accurate as a Magic Eight Ball or astrology, but nonetheless fun. Here’s the result of one I indulged in this morning. Surely with tastes that favor Islamic art, I will be put on someone’s list of Enemies o’ the State.

Edited to add: Jim, as he so cavalierly manipulated the quiz to obtain different results, pointed out that such quizzes rarely yield negative results, e.g., from Jim

But the real question is, how come these descriptors are always positive? I’ll bet that I if used a random number generator to create the responses, it would never come back with: Irritating, Back-biting, Dullard.

So, have any Chimp Refuge readers (all 10 of you) stumbled across a quiz that will parse one’s assholishness?

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test…

Traditional, Vibrant, and Tasteful

21 Islamic, 19 Impressionist, 8 Ukiyo-e, -27 Cubist, -29 Abstract and 9 Renaissance!

Islamic art is developed from many sources: Roman, Early Christian, and Byzantine styles were taken over in early Islamic architecture; the architecture and decorative art of pre-Islamic Persia was of paramount significance; Central Asian styles were brought in with various nomadic incursions; and  Chinese influences .  Islamic art uses many geometical floral or vegetable designs in a repetitive pattern known as arabesque.  It is used to symbolize the transcendent, indivisible and infinite nature of Allah.

People that like Islamic art tend to be more traditional people that appreciate keeping patterns that they learned and experienced from their past.  It is not to say that they are not innovative personalities, they just do not like to let go of their roots.  They like to put new ideas into details and make certain that they will work before sharing them with others.  Failure is not something they like to think about because they are more interested in being successful and appreciated for their intelligence.  These people can also be or like elaborate things in their life as long as they are tasteful.  They tend to prefer geometric patterns and vibrant colors.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

Well, I love that dirty water…Oh, Boston, you’re my home!

Or rather it will be soon (again).

Hello there. Doc Bushwell, effectively erstwhile bonobo-matriarch here with a bit of good news. Last Wednesday evening, I signed the written offer for a new job: that of regulatory medical writer at a major biotechnology company in Cambridge, MA with a tentative starting date of July 26. On Thursday, I quietly scuttled off at lunchtime to go pee in a cup for the pre-employment drug screen. On Friday, I gave 2 weeks notice to my current employer.

When I moved to New Jersey in 2004, I told myself that my long-term plans included moving back to the Boston area. So this is happening just a bit sooner. The family is gung-ho about returning even if the move will be a freakin’ nightmare. Well, most moves are like that.

I’ll miss certain things about Jersey: martinis at Mediterra in Princeton with my friends, ripe tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches (oh, those Jersey peaches!), the ability to visit NYC easily, and walks through the woods that border my home. My current employer, a small CRO that focuses on oncology clinical trials, provided excellent training for me, and I have considered these past two years with the company to be much like a post-doc. Nonetheless, whenever I left Boston after visits over these past six years, I always felt melancholy as if I were leaving my hometown to return to a place where I really did not quite belong. But now? Well, it feels like I am going home again: I’m shipping up to Boston!

How’re they hangin’, guys?

While in the throes of working on my first investigational new drug (IND) application with its sketchy preclinical studies (and under a tight deadline), I happily distracted myself this evening with Jesse Bering’s Why do human testicles hang like that?

Continue reading “How’re they hangin’, guys?”

Congratulations, JoAnne Stubbe!

An e-mail this morning from one of my former Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison classmates informed me that JoAnne Stubbe, Novartis Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and who was the first woman to achieve tenure in the biochemistry department at the UW-Madison, received the National Medal of Science from Barack Obama yesterday.

JoAnne is a fiercely brilliant woman who intimidated the bejeebus out of me when I was a fledgling grad student and later as a callow post-doc. She was one of five professors (including my advisor) who raked us over the coals during student research seminars. I also faced her wrath when I overtightened the valve to her lab’s French press. But later, when out and about in the real world, my encounters with Professor Stubbe were nothing but good. She’s funny, intense, and passionate about science. She’s a superb intellectual role model, and even though she was not my advisor, she nonetheless influenced me along with many of us in the biochem. department at the UW-Madison. Her award is a such fantastic and well-deserved achievement!

She was at the vanguard of women entering academia and industry in disciplines like chemistry and physics which were long dominated (and still dominated) by men, but these awards as well as the Nobels with 3 women winners in the sciences this year, including Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider for telomeres/telomerase, indicate that “an old girls” network is forming at last.

Here’s a link to the article in the Boston Globe about JoAnne.

Her picture receiving the medal is here in the White House blog (scroll down) and below the cut is the press release (see bolded type a ways down for JoAnne’s award).

Continue reading “Congratulations, JoAnne Stubbe!”

“Creation” (the movie) and Idiot America

For me, Creation, a much anticipated movie about Charles and Emma Darwin (based on Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, his Daughter, and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great grandson) is — or rather was — a must-see flick. It premiered this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Paul Bettany is cast as Darwin. Bettany is a versatile actor whose performances have always impressed me, e.g., his roles as Dr. Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and John Nash’s imaginary friend in A Beautiful Mind (John Nash cinematic fan fiction at its most “interpretative”) among many. Jennifer Connelly (Bettany’s wife) — a lovely actress (Pollock, House of Sand and Fog, and A Beautiful Mind) is cast as Emma.

Darwin the man (as well as Darwin the naturalist) has long intrigued me. A few years ago, the American Museum of Natural History in NYC (where my great-great uncle[1] — a paleontologist — had been a curator for a time) had a special exhibit of Darwin’s collections and notes, including a replica of his study. I took my kids to see it on February 12 — Darwin’s birthday a.k.a. “Darwin Day.” To see the notes that he had written with his own hand was marvelous and truly sent shivers down my spine.

And my favorite passage from The Origin of Species:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely. the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

That is poetry.

Olivia Judson wrote a wonderful essay on Creation in her blogThe Wild Side, hosted by the New York Times. Judson’s eloquent essay further reinforced my desire to see the flick.

So yesterday afternoon, when my spawn and I were on our way to see Ponyo (a feast for the eyes: gorgeous color and images, all dream-like with those delightful characters and weird touches I have come to expect from Hiyao Miyazaki), we talked about the upcoming Creation film with no little excitement. However, my 18 year old daughter wondered aloud if the film would be released in all markets in the United States.

Prophetic pondering that. Today, Co-Chimp Kevin sent the link to this article from the Daily Telegraph:

Charles Darwin film ‘too controversial’ for religious America.

Excerpts from the article by Anita Singh:

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

And…

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

“That’s what we’re up against. In 2009. It’s amazing,” he said.

“The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it’s because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they’ve seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

“It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There’s still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It’s quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

“Charles Darwin is, I suppose, the hero of the film. But we tried to make the film in a very even-handed way. Darwin wasn’t saying ‘kill all religion’, he never said such a thing, but he is a totem for people.”

Unbelievable indeed.

When I was growing up, I was a member of the United Methodist Church. My favorite minister was “Reverend Mac,” a gifted speaker and a scholarly man (almost rabbinical!) who was also the substitute science teacher at my public high school. He embraced the theory of evolution and the entire concept of a universe that is billions of years old. As one of the Faithful, he did not see such concepts as incompatible with an Abrahamic God. In his mind, these added to the mystery and glory of God rather than negating the idea. He even brought beautiful scientific imagery into his sermons — for example that laws of physics that govern an atom’s motion and that of a galaxy.

So that is what I grew up with as well as a household where evolution was considered fact. That is what I thought was theologically “normal.” Many of my Roman Catholic pals were taught much the same way. In essence, we (as kids) were already experiencing what the late Stephen Jay Gould called “separate magisteria,” that is Faith and Science in parallel — not overlapping but co-existing.

Now, as an atheist, I respect the beliefs of the Rational Faithful — like Rev. Mac and many others I know for whom science poses no difficulty in their faith in God and who honor the concept of non-overlapping magisteria — even if I have no need for belief in the supernatural. Again, I (naively) tend to think that is what most believers are like.

Apparently that is not the case in the United States.

The lack of balls on the part of US distributors is appalling. I had anticipated the possibility of limited distribution, that is, the film would not make it to markets in certain areas of the country, but I fully expected it would show in venues like the Angelika in NYC or the Garden Theater here in Princeton or the Kendall in Cambridge among many of the independent US theaters in the Northeast, the West Coast and certain areas of the Midwest. Maybe in Houston, too. But not distributed AT ALL!? Does the Christian Right have that much power in this country such that US film distributors cave into their lunacy? That smacks of an especially horrific censorship.

Yet Mel Gibson’s bloody Passion of the Christ was A-OK.

Here’s a trailer for Creation. Enjoy it. It may be the only bits we idiot Americans will get to see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] My great-great uncle was told to resign from the faculty of Butler University because he embraced Darwin’s theory. He went on to work at the AMNH in NYC and the Carnegie Institute in Washington DC. He published a number of monographs on the vertebrate paleofaunas of North America, and a big tome (800+ pages) on fossil vertebrates of North America and the Pleistocene of North America.