Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 23rd, 2012

Not a Hermit: No one wants to pay for taking me out

I am told and I read of many cases of mid-age persons ending up releasing their old friends from their “sworn life-long allegiance” and being reduced to the forced hermit life.

Like those suffering from the Old Git Complacency Syndrome, who are barricaded in their shed. Family members get calls to speak to the modern hermit, and they had to answer: “He is not to be disturbed. He is in the shed. He could be in Somalia for all we know. Three weeks ago, we saw a satellite dish installed in the shed. Otherwise, we have no evidence that he is alive…” (from Marcus Buckmann)

It is not my case: I never had close friends to call on me or propose to come and give me a lift for a day out or a night out…Why? (I detailed the causes in my Autobiography and Diary categories) 

How can you incorporated in a company of “friends” if You are the silent member, you never learned to swear, could not afford to pay your share, much less pay for the company round of beer…?

I am not a hermit: I do take baths, shave almost every day, change the design of my beard and moustaches, change my underwear and under shirt, love to eat and eat everything available and more, still ogle pretty women, and my body postures demonstrate my constant habit of hitting on pretty women…

I am not a hermit: I like to go hiking, swimming when asked to join the party, going dancing…The problem is no one wants to pay for taking me out…

Summer time is tough: It is suffocating and it never rains once during seven months. How often per day should I change shorts and undershirts to prove that I am no hermit?

Winter time is tough: A tad more manageable than summer hot season, and I don’t have to provide excuses for my hermit situation…

In winter, I have so many pieces of cloths, mostly hand-me-down, though I am the elder of the extended family members…In any case, a decent black long coat covers all, and I am ever ready to join the invitation party…

Strange, most of the invitations are last minutes decisions: “We are leaving in two minutes..” No problem, I am ready.  “But you don’t look presentable…” No problem: I shave in one minute and wear my long coat…And I know the location of the long coat in the overcrowded closet…

My real headache is: “What pair of shoes shall I wear for the occasion?  Hiking, going to wedding, going dancing, going to pay condolences…How oftern shall I keep glueing my shoes for particular occasions?” 

It is not that I am concerned with matching shoes to what I wear: They are falling apart and no replacement pairs are coming forth…

And people keep thinking of books for gifts, and I tell them: “Thanks for the thought. Cash is always welcomed. A comfortable all-weather pair of shoes is ideal…” Unfortunately, my small feet do not match hand-me-down shoes. I tell the women members that their worn out sneakers are fine with me, but they refuse to give them on the ground the shoes look feminine…As if walking discriminates on genders…


Still Marching for secular reforms? What distance the Lebanese have to travel for civil rights?

It is no longer this game of replacing a dictator here and an absolute monarch there:  The youth in Lebanon want to change the sectarian political and social structure.

It is no longer replacing a feudal leader here or a warlord there: The youth in Lebanon want to change the archaic and medieval system in Lebanon that used and abused the Lebanese since independence in 1943.

It is no longer substituting a sectarian political party in this government with another one in the Parliament:  The youth in Lebanon want to step forward vigorously into the modern age.

Alex Rowell posted on April 20 “Lebanese march for secularism

“In two weeks and two days, the Lebanese Laïque (secular) Pride activist group will hold its third annual Seculars March Towards Citizenship, a 3-hour procession from Sanayeh to Ain el-Mraisseh (in Beirut), calling for “a secular civil state founded on citizenship” and “the abolition of institutional sectarianism”.

Demonstrators carry placards at a previous Lebanese Laïque Pride march (Photo courtesy of Lebanese Laïque Pride Facebook group)

The six key demands of the Laique Pride are:

1. Enacting a unified Civil Code for the Personal Status Law (Personal Status is identified by each of the 18 officially recognized religious sect)
2. Passing the Law for Protection of Women from Family Violence submitted by KAFA to the Lebanese parliament
3. Abolishing article 522 of the penal law, which drops charges against a rapist if he marries his victim
4. Amending the nationality law for the right of Lebanese women to grant their nationality to their family members
5. Passing the Draft Law Prohibiting the Pre-Censorship [of] Cinema and Theatre
6. Withdrawing the Lebanese Internet Regulation Act (LIRA) draft law

I’m aware that some Lebanese think that it is a rather good thing that, in their country, wives may be legally raped and beaten; marital and inheritance disputes are settled by theologians; films and plays are routinely censored; and a child born to the wrong faith can’t become president.

For those who feel otherwise, however, the march starts at 16:00 at Sanayeh Gardens, May 6th.” End of Rowell post.

Long and uninterrupted waves of protests and uprising are invading the streets of this dormant lake in the “Arab” world.  It has been two months that raging and determined upheavals have been buffeting the lax and antiquated “Arab” regimes.

The youth in Lebanon have been calling for mass demonstrations to rebuilding a governing system based on citizenship vital rights for equality, fairness, and justice to all; regardless of religious affiliation, feudal mentality, genders differentiation in the public service jobs and the voting rights under a fair and equitable representation of all classes and strata in society.

The youth in Lebanon are calling to march for a modern Lebanon and the youth have been delivering under heavy rain.

This time around, it is no longer sectarian and feudal political parties calling for mass demonstrations for a political sectarian gain, for a feudal equilibrium political sharing gimmick, for oligarchic domination of one sect or one foreign influence policy.

If the old guards of the political system want to maintain a sectarian structure, the youth want nothing to do with it.

If the old guards of clerics, feudal, and comprador monopolist merchants are very satisfied with an archaic system, the youth in Lebanon want this structure down and done with.

This is a genuine uprising of a new Lebanon, tired and exhausted, buffeted for 6 decades by comfortably established sectarian and feudal “leaders’.  The old system has been relegating the Lebanese to medieval ages.

Do we have 19 recognized sects?  So what!  Do we have to be governed by the religious clerics backing feudal leaders and overseas princes and emirs?

No, the youth in Lebanon don’t have to abide by the ridiculous dictates of dinosaurs of older times.

I suggest that this determined movement be organized in every town and village.

It is not necessary to have mass gathering in the Capital Beirut:  A few supporters for secular reforms everywhere in Lebanon, marching with banners and calling for discussion on the ways to instituting such a society is far more effective to dislodge a rooted system.

Lebanon is not its Capital:  The movement has to be disseminated in rural and far distant districts that constitute the backbone of the current decrepit political system.

Lebanon has been plagued by sectarian regimes since its inception. If we cannot surmount this calamity now, should we wait another half a century on feasibility study?

This is as good a time as any other periods to raise our head as viable citizens and not chattel, to be bought and sold by feudal and religious clerics.

Youth in Lebanon are trying to displace the sectarian and feudal political parties and reclaiming the streets.  A modern Lebanon is on the rise: Archaic power composition has got to make room for new blood and determination.

Scientific Retractions: Sharp Rise Prompts Calls for Reform

CARL ZIMMER published on April 16, 2012 under “A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform”:

“In the fall of 2010, Dr. Ferric C. Fang made an unsettling discovery.  Editor in chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Fang found that one of his authors had doctored several papers.

Fang said in the interview: “Prior to that time the journal “Infection and Immunity” had only retracted nine articles over a 40-year period. The journal wound up retracting six of the papers from Naoki Mori of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. And it soon became clear that Infection and Immunity was hardly the only victim of Dr. Mori’s misconduct. Since then, other scientific journals have retracted two dozen of his papers, according to the watchdog blog Retraction Watch.

Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Retraction of papers increased 10 fold in the last ten years, while published papers increased just 44%. The chart shows the trend of the drastic increases in fraudulant scientific papers (196), scientific mistakes (235) and faulty experimental design, procedure and data acquisition (311):

Source: Journal of Medical Ethics

“Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang. To find out, he teamed up with a fellow editor at the journal, Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

And before long they reached a troubling conclusion: not only that retractions were rising at an alarming rate, but that retractions were just a manifestation of a much more profound problem — “a symptom of a dysfunctional scientific climate,” as Dr. Fang put it.

Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.

“This is a tremendous threat,” Casadevall said.

Last month, in a pair of editorials in Infection and Immunity, the two editors issued a plea for fundamental reforms. They also presented their concerns at the March 27 meeting of the National Academies of Sciences committee on science, technology and the law.

Members of the committee agreed with their assessment. “I think this is really coming to a head,” said Dr. Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. And Dr. David Korn of Harvard Medical School agreed that “there are problems all through the system.”

No one claims that science was ever free of misconduct or bad research. Indeed, the scientific method itself is intended to overcome mistakes and misdeeds. When scientists make a new discovery, others review the research skeptically before it is published. And once it is, the scientific community can try to replicate the results to see if they hold up. (All that is in theory of the procedures: How many do replicate experiments?)

But critics like Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall argue that science has changed in some worrying ways in recent decades — especially biomedical research, which consumes a larger and larger share of government science spending.

In October 2011, for example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent.

In 2010 The Journal of Medical Ethics published a study finding the new raft of recent retractions was a mix of misconduct and honest scientific mistakes.

Several factors are at play here, scientists say:

1. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.

2. Other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.

To measure this claim, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall looked at the rate of retractions in 17 journals from 2001 to 2010 and compared it with the journals’ “impact factor,” a score based on how often their papers are cited by scientists. The higher a journal’s impact factor, the two editors found, the higher its retraction rate.

The highest “retraction index” in the study went to one of the world’s leading medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine. In a statement for this article, it questioned the study’s methodology, noting that it considered only papers with abstracts, which are included in a small fraction of studies published in each issue. “Because our denominator was low, the index was high,” the statement said.

Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journal Science, suggested that the extra attention high-impact journals get might be part of the reason for their higher rate of retraction. “Papers making the most dramatic advances will be subject to the most scrutiny,” she said.

Dr. Fang says that may well be true, but adds that it cuts both ways: the scramble to publish in high-impact journals may be leading to more and more errors.

Each year, every laboratory produces a new crop of Ph.D.’s, who must compete for a small number of jobs, and the competition is getting fiercer. In 1973, more than half of biologists had a tenure-track job within six years of getting a Ph.D. By 2006 the figure was down to 15 percent.




April 2012

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