Sci was at a conference last week. It was a REALLY good time. As Sci advances in grad school, I feel I am beginning to come into my own, and it's a good feeling, esp when you can walk around feeling like you have a posse of fellow grad students and post-docs who all want to collaborate.
It's an exciting time, learning the latest stuff, seeing the newest methods, and meeting famous people. It's the craziest thing running into some of these professors. I've read all of their papers, I desperately try to meet all their grad students and postdocs, and my only goal is to see the famous person and say something GENIUS, something that will make them remember me and think that I've got promise. And then I meet them, and I say...I say...oh CRAP. Once in a while, though, the genius does come out, and then I feel that verily, Sci has BLINDED YOU WITH SCIENCE this day.
Last year at a similar conference, I ended up compiling a list of things that one should REALLY try to avoid if at all possible when giving a conference talk. There are more to add, every single time. Behold, the bad, the ugly, and the presentations guaranteed to give your eager listeners a headache:
The 19 things (and counting) you should NEVER do in a powerpoint presentation.
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...makes you want to run and hide. Which is why Sci put off checking her Google Reader for so long...she is also CURSING those people who don't believe in putting things below the fold. I'm looking at YOU, Built on Facts and Starts with a Bang. But I'm looking at you with LOVE.
But there are things I missed. It is possible you missed them, too. (Is the comma in that previous sentence obligatory? Or is it like the Oxford comma?)
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I. After lunch, it creeps
Death of my motivation
the dread Food Coma
II. The coma slips in
Data wavers on the screen
Just to close my eyes...
III. No, foul sleepiness!
I shall not submit! Hook up
My caffeine i.v.!
Every so often, Sci hangs out with other grad students, or sometimes recent post-grads. If we are relatively good friends, there will almost always be some rendition of the conversation Sci likes to call "no crybabies in science".
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I. the lab's dismal air
mourning your unborn paper
alas, you've been scooped
II. lab mates crowd around
printed copies fly like birds
try to find a flaw
III. your data can't die
publish you must, or perish
find a new angle
(I had this whole post ready talking about flexible representations, but now my computer is borked -- stupid monitor! -- so this is going to have to do.)
Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution links to a piece by a former editor at American Economic Review</em telling all about how papers are accepted for publication. In economics this process may be slightly different, but I found the piece addressed several questions I had about the process.
I reject 10-15% of papers without refereeing, a so-called "desk rejection." This prompts some complaints - "I paid for those reviews with my submission fee" - but in fact when appropriate a desk rejection is the kind thing to do. If, on reading a paper, I find that there is no chance I am going to publish a paper, why should I waste the referees' time and make the author wait? Not all authors agree, of course, but in my view, we are in the business of evaluating papers, not improving papers. If you want to improve your paper, ask your colleagues for advice. When you know what you want to say and how to say it, submit it to a journal.
As noted above, some authors are irate about desk rejections on the principle that their submission fee pays for refereeing, or that they deserve refereeing. But in fact the editor, not referees, make decisions and I generally spend a significant amount of time making a desk rejection. I think of a desk rejection as a circumstance where the editor doesn't feel refereeing advice is warranted.
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The following poem is dedicated to my labmate, post-doc, and colleague. You know who you are.
How cruel my labmate yesterday
Upon my computer screen
played dance music, bad 80's style
"YOU BEEN RICKROLL'D!" he screamed.
At first I laughed, 'twas no big thing
And the dancing was funny and wry
but now I find, dangit, Rick's on my mind
My labmate was too sly.
So if to you rickroll appears,
Beware, it's untimely curse
All crazy now, it haunts my dreams
My own horror universe.
You been Rickroll'd!
Sings..."never gonna give you up, never gonna let you doooown..."
To the Lab Person who Stole my favorite fine-tip Sharpie,
You horrible, cruel person! How could you!?! I mean, really. Everyone in science knows the power of a really good Sharpie. We have them in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I love them all.
Really, scientists live by the sharpie. When you need to mark those really teeny vials with your initials, the date, the drug, and the concentration, Sharpies are there for you. When you have to write on something you KNOW it going to get wet, nothing works better (well, unless you get it wet with Methanol, in which case you're just screwed anyhow).
And SOMEONE, a sneaky, mean little someone, stole my favorite ultra fine point black sharpie! It was classic. It was sleek. It was LABELED. With a big note on it saying "[Sci's] Sharpie of Wonder and Might". And you STOLE IT. You went into my DESK and STOLE IT.
Well, I don't know who you are yet, but I will, Sharpie-stealer, I WILL. And when I do, I will find you. I will hunt you down. And I will write ALL over you in Sharpie. And if you're really unlucky and I'm really mad, I'll use the nasty one from the hood. So there.
All my love,
Ooooh, and for those who don't know the love: some Sharpie porn.
(Great for carrying in bags or lab coats! The top's not going to fall off and get ink everywhere)
(This one goes everywhere. Sci wore one clipped to her keys for a while. That thing came in handy.)
(Sci's favorite. Double ended means you don't have to carry two! Careful, though. Do NOT stick the large cap on the small cap. You'll be sorry and your Sharpie will die.)
Hits the spot, doesn't it!
Sci is unfortunately coming down to the wire on several projects (including approaching Super Awesome Conference at which Sci is going to BLIND PEOPLE WITH SCIENCE), and so there was no time to cover a paper this week, even though I had several in mind. Instead, Sci will show you...this:
The image is courtesy of You Suck at Craigslist (which is a GREAT site), and if I knew from whence this lizard came, I would truly like to barter...something...for it, and then I would give it as a gift to Laelaps, because he is awesome and clearly would know how to take care of a lovely mummified lizard that has "Numerous other detailed parts that you would find on any of today's Lizards" (because this species apparently died circa 1997...). In fact, I bet Laelaps and Mrs. Laelaps would find this gift pretty awesome for their anniversary. And I owe Laelaps. He's the one who introduced me to You Suck at Craigslist. I mean, it's got all these FEATURES:
Toes = 10
Fingers = 10
Tail = one complete
Eye sockets = two GOOD'URNS
No cracks, scratches or broken parts. 100% Complete!!!
Additionally, the seller asserts that he harmed no lizards in the obtaining of this mummy, he found it...in a car. An old, broken car.
Seriously, I think this thing is awesome. Sci would totally put it on her mantle. But she would be nice and give it to Laelaps. Happy (belated) anniversary, Laelaps!!!
So today, Sci has a weird science question for YOU: how would such a lizard come to be mummified by being in a car? And what kind of lizard IS it? Anybody? And who wants to send the awesome mummified version to SCI?!?!
I. O fair dopamine
wondrous molecule, so cool
even gets you high.
II. Reward, punishment
in dopamine highs and lows
a complete package
III. Tasty dopamine
the umami of my brain
why can't you hate carbs?
IV. Feel the pleasure and
the pain, wrong motivation
sad how these long science words
will ruin haikus