It’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a real vacation. Most of my “vacations” are spent traveling back and forth to relatives’ and friends’ houses, and this Christmas holiday has been no exception. After a jaunt to Ohio to visit family, I’m currently in the metro D. C. area visiting a friend, and hooked up with fellow Sciencebloggers Janet of “Adventures in Ethics and Science” and Evil Monkey of “Neurotopia” recently at an Irish pub here in the area (photographic evidence can be found here). I’ll be traveling back to Ohio tomorrow for some more family time and to work on a house I still own back in Toledo (anyone interested in a 5-bedroom, 100-year old house in a historic district, cheap?), and then back to Iowa after the new year. And in between all the driving, it’s still a working vacation; this semester has been crazy, and I have a new course next semester as well, so it’ll be equally busy. No rest for the wicked, I suppose…hope the rest of you out there had a good holiday.


Apologies. I scheduled this post to appear this morning, and it’s drawn a few comments. However, it also double-posted for some reason (we underwent an upgrade last night so things have been a bit wonky), and when I unpublished the duplicate, it also took the comments from the site. (I can see them here in the back end, and they say they’re published, but they’re not showing up to readers). I’ve alerted our technical guru, because unfortunately I don’t have time to deal with this today.

NY Times on women and science

After the discussion here and elsewhere in yonder blogosphere about women and stereotyping, Cornelia Dean in the New York Times writes about recent meeting aimed at helping women advance in science, where bias still rages.

This fall, female scientists at Rice University here gathered promising women who are graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to help them learn skills that they will need to deal with the perils of job hunting, promotion and tenure in high-stakes academic science.

“The reality is there are barriers that women face,” said Kathleen S. Matthews, the dean of natural sciences at Rice, who spoke at the meeting’s opening dinner. “There are circles and communities of engagement where women are by and large not included.”

Instead, they talk about what they have to know and do to get ahead. They talk about unspoken, even unconscious sexism that means they must be better than men to be thought as good — that they must, as one Rice participant put it, literally and figuratively wear a suit and heels, while men can relax in jeans.

They muse on the importance of mentoring and other professional support and talk about ways women can provide it for each other if they do not receive it from their professors or advisers.

And they obsess about what they call “the two body problem,” the extreme difficulty of reconciling a demanding career in science with marriage and a family — especially, as is more often the case for women than men in science, when the spouse also has scientific ambitions.

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Tripoli Six update: found guilty

Libya to execute HIV medics

(Previous posts on the topic)

A court convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor Tuesday of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers came to Libya.

The United States and Europe reacted with outrage to the verdict, which prolongs a case that has hurt Libya’s ties to the West. The six co-defendants have already served seven years in jail.

The sentence brought cheers in Libya, where there is widespread public anger over the infections. The Libyan press has long depicted the medical workers as guilty.

After the sentence was pronounced, dozens of relatives outside the Tripoli court chanted “Execution! Execution!” Ibrahim Mohammed al-Aurabi, the father of an infected child, shouted, “God is great! Long live the Libyan judiciary!”

But the ruling stunned the defendants. They were convicted and sentenced to death a year ago, but the Libyan Supreme Court ordered a retrial after an international outcry that the first trial was unfair. The case now returns to the Supreme Court for an automatic appeal.

“This sentence was another blow, another shock for us,” Zdravko Georgiev, the husband of one of the nurses, Kristiana Valcheva, told the Associated Press in Bulgaria.

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Grand Rounds has gone to the dogs

…okay, dog. A certain beagle and his friends are featured in this week’s Grand Rounds, hosted over at Nurse Ratched’s Place. And, while you’re in a Christmas blog carnival mood, don’t forget to drop me a post for this month’s belated edition of Animalcules–send them to aetiology at gmail dot com by tomorrow night for inclusion. They’ve been trickling in, but I’m hoping for a few more…