Posts

February 15, 2015

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5:21 PM | William Catton's warning
William Catton Jr., author of the seminal volume about our human destiny, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, died last month at age 88.Catton believed that industrial civilization had sown the seeds of its own demise and that humanity's seeming dominance of the biosphere is only a prelude to decline. His work foreshadowed later works such as Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies, Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial […]

February 14, 2015

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1:41 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice: 50 Shades edition
Readers! Dearest readers! Welcome! And a very warm welcome as well to anyone coming from the Slate Money podcast “Exotic Fantasies” edition, where Aunt Pythia was delighted to be featured this week. Aunt Pythia is so very happy to welcome you (and your Inner Goddesses) onto the bus today. Please enter single file, find an […]

February 13, 2015

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7:57 PM | Quote of the day: "If you dinged yourself badly, it was no disgrace."
A favorite quote of mine from "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain:We considered ourselves a tribe. As such, we had a number of unusual customs, rituals and practices all our own. If you cut yourself in the Work Progress kitchen, tradition called for maximum spillage and dispersion of blood. One squeezed the wound until it ran freely, then hurled great gouts of red spray on the jackets and aprons of comrades. We loved blood in our kitchen. If you dinged yourself badly, it was no disgrace; […]
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12:15 PM | Rebellious Lawyering Conference
In a bit more than a week I’ll be on a panel at Yale’s Rebellious Lawyering Conference 2015, otherwise known as RebLaw. If you’re wondering what that is, here’s a description: RebLaw is the nation’s largest student-run public interest conference. Every year the conference brings together practitioners, law students, and community activists from around the country to […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: A few years old, but good – a story from a Blue Zone “where people forget to die”. HT: Razib Khan Another critique of modern dietary guidelines. Weight gain after a fecal transplant. And the US Government is about to drop warnings about cholesterol. Improving ‘Neoclassical man’ with a gaze heuristic. Bigger […]

February 12, 2015

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4:20 PM | Job posting: Ph.D. carbohydrate chemist, Cambridge, MA
From the inbox, a position in Cambridge:...We are seeking a PhD-level scientist with a strong background in organic/carbohydrate chemistry, analysis, and data interpretation for a leading role in the Company’s technology and product development programs. The successful candidate will be expected to design and conduct incisive experiments to test and improve the company’s technology by providing key data to support our value proposition and grow our IP portfolio. […]
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3:04 PM | What should a new small company call itself?
Let's say that you're Sarah Stewart, industry chemist, and you're becoming a contract project manager/coordinator/contractor for outsourcing, etc. Typical tasks would include writing proposals and contracts, managing multidisciplinary projects from candidate to IND, etc. What should you name your company?Should you go with Stewart Associates? XPharm Consulting? IHeartChemistry.Com? What's the best name for a small one-person corporation for chemistry? 
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2:59 PM | Glassdoor Review of the Week: PharmAgra Labs, Brevard, NC
From the inbox, a note to enjoy the reviews of PharmAgra. Worth noting that the latest negative review is 4 years old. Maybe things have changed. Also, this might be a reason that they keep posting on C&EN Jobs. 
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12:05 PM | Guest post: a survey of mathematical podcasts
This is a guest post by Samuel Hansen, a podcast producer and the director of ACMEScience podcast network. He spends his spare time listening to podcasts that he did not produce, playing soccer, and hoping more people would pitch him podcast ideas. He isn’t kidding, if you have ideas for a podcast he wants to hear […]

February 11, 2015

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7:53 PM | Your teeth-grinder of the day: The Food Babe in The Atlantic
A profile of Vani Hari in The Atlantic that, in my opinion, is skeptical but still far, far too deferential to Ms. Hari: “Cereals here in the United States contain a packaging ingredient called—God, I’m paranoid." The natural-food advocate Vani Hari paused, laughing, looking at a man standing a few feet from our table in a Union Square coffee shop. He was huddled over his phone, just waiting for his coffee—or so it seemed. She lowered her voice, continuing, barely […]
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4:22 PM | Anyone else for the Fermi question of the moment?
I am closing the contest at midnight Eastern time this Friday night for the Fermi question of the moment:Do you know how many QC bench chemists there are in the pharmaceutical industry by country?We have one comment in the lead and the stakes are a fine prize.  
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4:22 PM | Warning Letter of the Week: panicked QC analysts don't look good
Apotex has already gotten some publicity for the 483 it's gotten, but this is a pretty great little tidbit:As a result of the above observation, your firm initiated an investigation and reported that 290 [redacted] plates and 36 media tubes under testing were missing, affecting 45 product sample batches, 12 growth promotion test batches, and 37 negative control plates.  Your firm also found discrepancies between the documentation and location of samples/plates and you indicated that the […]
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12:15 PM | Women and work and housekeeping
I’ve been enjoying Sheryl Sandberg’s columns with Adam Grant in the “Women at Work” columns of the New York Times. See for example this one on discrimination at work. The most recent one, third in a series of four, talks about how women at work do lots of extra “housekeeping” tasks like training, giving advice, […]
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8:00 AM | Charts that don’t seem quite right – organ donation edition
Organ donation rates are an often used example of the power of defaults. Take the following passage by Dan Ariely, explaining this (also often used) chart from Johnson and Goldstein (2003) (ungated pdf): One of my favorite graphs in all of social science is the following plot from an inspiring paper by Eric Johnson and Daniel Goldstein. This […]

February 10, 2015

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6:12 PM | Comment experiment
This blog routinely has problems with readers attempting to comment and not being able to. Most of the time, it seems to be iOS products.If you are reading this post and you have the time, can you see if you can post on the blog? Maybe tell me your device and browser/app?If not, can you please e-mail me at chemjobber@gmail.com or DM me if you're on Twitter?
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4:24 PM | SK's guide to grad school visitation weekends
CJ here: A very interesting post by SK on "grad school visitations".Thanks to Chemjobber, I spotted the "Guide to Grad School Visitation Weekends" on the chemistry subreddit.Many moons ago, I too went through the grad school recruitment process, and there is so much I wish I had known then. I'll re-cap and expand upon some of the more salient points brought up in the reddit thread, and also include some gems that I think are important but have not yet been covered.Getting into grad school is a […]
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4:15 PM | KT": "...my love of science slowly came back"
Our latest story on leaving graduate school is from KT; it has been edited for privacy. It is longer, but absolutely worth it, with such good themes (transitioning from smaller schools to grad school, irreproducibility problems and PI issues) and worthwhile ending thoughts. 1. Why did you leave?2. Your thought process in leaving? Was it deliberate (over a period of time) or sudden? I'll answer both of these at the same time. I got started off on the wrong foot from the beginning, and made […]
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11:57 AM | Why not bored and brilliant kids?
If you’re like me you’ve been listening on public radio for the last couple of weeks to a “New Tech City” challenge called Bored and Brilliant, focused on getting people to stop checking their phones for email, twitter, and games. The idea is that “your most creative moments happen when you’re bored,” so try to […]
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6:30 AM | #HEJC for 26/02/2015
The next #HEJC discussion will take place Thursday 26th February, at 11pm London time on Twitter. To see what this means for your time zone visit Time.is or join the Facebook event. For more information about the Health Economics Journal Club and how to take part, click here. The paper for discussion is a working paper […]

February 09, 2015

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8:00 PM | A sign that all those PhRMA dollars aren't doing much good
From an interesting interview of President Obama with Vox's Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias (both politically progressive, one should note), an interesting question and answer (emphasis mine):Ezra Klein: When you talk about Medicare as a lever, Medicare tends to pay a lot less per service than private insurers by a margin. Before single-payer there's also this idea you hear occasionally of letting private insurers band together with Medicare, with Medicaid, to jointly negotiate prices. Do […]
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7:52 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of very interesting things in this week's C&EN:C&EN's obituary for Carl Djerassi, by Corrinna WuFun Andy Brunning post on aphrodisiacs -- it doesn't appear that we have many working options. Exciting news that chemists are getting start-ups funded from Lisa Jarvis. The latest report on progress towards Yucca Mountain (by Jessica Morrison)Isn't about damn time that Nevada took one for the team? (said someone who does not live in Nevada)This BASF "brainstorming tour" is […]
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2:25 PM | Where does all that settlement money go?
In the Alternative Banking meeting yesterday we kicked things off with a great visit from Katya Cohen, author of a new book called The American Spellbound, where she describes the fictional account of a women working in a large bank and learning to fit in with the mindset of greed combined with a superhero complex. […]
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12:15 PM | Health economics journals and negative findings
Recently, a number of health economics journals (henceforth HEJs) co-signed a statement about the publication of negative findings: The Editors of the health economics journals named below believe that well-designed, well-executed empirical studies that address interesting and important problems in health economics, utilize appropriate data in a sound and creative manner, and deploy innovative conceptual […]
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8:00 AM | The death of defaults?
Late last year I went to a presentation by Schlomo Benartzi on how people think differently when they are using a screen. The punchline was that many of the classic behavioural biases do not play out as expected in digital mediums. (Benartzi has a book on this topic, co-authored with Jonah Lehrer, coming out later this year.) […]

February 08, 2015

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3:51 PM | Alternate opinions: The world's energy information duopoly comes to an end
Recent developments are beginning to undermine the supremacy of the world's long-running energy information duopoly and its perennially optimistic narrative. Policymakers, investors and the public should take heed.Until now most energy price and supply forecasts and analyses were based predominately on information from the globe's two leading energy information agencies: the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the International […]

February 07, 2015

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1:42 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Holy shit, guys, it’s already fucking February, and Aunt Pythia isn’t ready for Spring at all. Spring is when things get frighteningly beautiful and distracting and the cycle of nature breaks our hearts and blah blah blah and a certain something is due, and Aunt Pythia would rather it stay mid-January for a while yet, […]

February 06, 2015

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5:58 PM | A Fermi question: how many QC chemists in the United States?
From the inbox, a question that I have no answer to: Do you know how many QC bench chemists there are in the pharmaceutical industry by country?I will offer a fine prize* to whomever can come up with the best answer (I will be the final judge).I approach this as a "Fermi question." Here's my 30-seconds-of-thought answer: find the number of actual chemical manufacturing subsector employees, the number of QC bench chemists will be no larger than 5% of that number.*most likely a T-shirt. […]
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4:22 PM | "Z": "as soon as I had that idea, the decision was made."
This entry on leaving graduate school is from "Z"; their submission has been edited for clarity and privacy.1. Why did you leave? My life in the [Professor X's] group at that time was not very pleasant. [Professor X] has a reputation as a demanding hard-ass, and it's true that he expected everyone to put in a lot of time at the lab, and let's say he was sparing with his positive feedback. I don't hold it against him (anymore) because he put basically his whole life into his work and simply […]
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4:19 PM | "W": "It was involuntary, and I was mad."
This entry on leaving grad school in chemistry is by "W"; it has been edited for clarity and privacy:Less than a week after passing my quals, my advisor came into my office, and just said, "I think it would be better for everyone if you went on to new things." He apparently had no intention of (and never did sign) the papers for my qualifiers, although he volunteered to write recommendation letters for me: the letters also never manifested. I talked with my co-advisor, and he said that I just […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Each of us descends many times over from a great many sexual despots. In every generation, we forget how much poorer we used to be. Regression and other related non-experimental pattern-finding methods of this type can sound hyper-technical and very gee-whiz (“support vector machines” – cool!), and they can serve various useful […]
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