succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, December 10, 2005

'Tis the Season - for the 12 STIs of Christmas! (probably not safe for work)

Cleveland News (sort of...)

Less than a week after his videotaped lambasting of Merck was played in a Houston federal courthouse, Dr. Eric Topol, a prominent cardiologist, has lost his title as chief academic officer of the Cleveland Clinic's medical college.

Of course, they're denying that the one has anything to do with the other. I meant to research this better at the time, but frankly, if any number of the things that came out during Merck's first trial in Texas, which they lost, turn out to be accurate, then they're pretty screwed. The New England Journal of Medicine has stated that "...Merck improperly withheld information from an article that was published in ... November 2000," and that they "...undercounted the number of heart attacks suffered by patients in a study of Vioxx to play down the drug's heart risks." So far it sounds like there are a number of internal documents floating around from scientists involved in the studies worried about the cardiac risks who were pressured to minimize their concerns. And people wonder why I don't want to work for a pharmaceutical company....

And yes, in the grand scheme of things, it's a shame, because Merck does a lot of really good things too, not the least of which is its dedication to the elimination of river blindness (they've pledged to donate Mectizan until the disease is completely eliminated). Nevertheless, I can't personally justify going to work for a company when I have no real way of knowing/controlling whether I'm working on a Mectizan-type project or a Vioxx-type project.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Birthday

Was fabulous, many thanks to everyone! Started the day with therapy, then a little 'shopping therapy,' the departmental holiday party (spiked eggnog!), school mixer at Twains (free beer!), and too many mixed drinks at Limerick Junction. Yeah, by now I should clearly know better than to mix so much, but it was my birthday and people were buying me drinks, so what's a girl to do? I remember that I chugged my car bomb like a champ, and managed to finish off a Long Island Iced Tea, but pretty much everything after that is fuzzy. Fortunately Anna and Lindsey made sure I got home ok and left water by my bed, which is where they left me, but I still woke up at 5 this morning curled up on my bathroom floor. The only advantage to puking your guts out - the hangover the next morning is much less brutal. I won't say I'm getting too old for this, because I love birthdays, but will it be sad if I'm celebrating in the same fashion ten years from now?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Academic Integrity

So two of my students (allegedly) cheated on last week's homework assignment*. And I got all worked up and cranky about it, but what's made things even worse is the number of my colleagues who've responded with, wow, I'm glad you're not my TA, you're a hardass, you're totally overreacting. And yes, it's 'just' a homework assignment. But cheating is cheating and I find it deeply offensive. Not to mention incredibly troubling how many of my colleagues are not bothered by it. In high school I was taught that cheating and plagiarizing were like the 8th deadly sin and my freshman year of college I had a 'plagiarism scare'** which resulted in me thinking that I would lose my scholarship and maybe get kicked out of school. So, yeah, I take these things personally. But shouldn't we? When my students cheat it offends me as their TA because they thought I was too dumb/careless to notice and it offends me as their colleague because it means the degree we will one day have in common is worth less to them than it is to me, thus devaluing mine. We're in fucking graduate school people! Supposedly, we're all grown-ups here, and we can make decisions. So if an assignment drops too low on the priority list, just don't do it! Or do some part of it! But take responsibility for your own work! Care enough about the thing you're pouring $35,000 a year into not to print out some other student's work and slap your name on it!

*the homework assignment was a computer program, and two students handed in, literally, the exact same program. down to the typos and formatting. even if you're going to work together, which is allowed, you should turn in your own work, featuring your own commenting and coding style.

**freshman physics lab, my labmate turned in my lab report with her name on. claimed she didn't know that was 'wrong.' We both got zeros on the assignment and letters in our files for the remainder of our time at Case saying we'd been caught cheating.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Geeky Mom started a dissertation blog. Carrie - I thought this might be of particular interest to you since it's about composition and pedagogy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A few weeks ago I looked at Anna and said, um, you know, we have room, maybe...maybe we could get a Christmas tree? You know, just a small one... And she replied, Oh no, we're getting a big one! So yesterday was perfect Christmas tree shopping weather, all grey and cold, and Anna, Lindsey, and I set out to find one. We set up the tree, strung some lights, had a couple classmates over for a psuedo-fancy dinner party, then drank hot chocolate and wine and listened to Christmas music and finished trimming the tree. I couldn't think of a better day.