Jonathan’s special invite

9 08 2017

In Jonathan‘s Inbox this morning:

Screenshot 2017-08-09 18.22.27

New research on antibiotic resistance

27 07 2017

A new and iconoclastic analysis of antibiotic resistance got a lot of media coverage today.

And it reminded me of one of my very favourite scientific stories of all time. At the start of WWII, a team of Oxford biologists were working as fast as they could to extract and characterize the anti-microbial compound they had discovered in some moulds.  The very day that they finally had their first real breakthrough, finding that this compound could actually keep bacteria-infected mice from dying, team member Norman Heatley’s diary mainly focused on…

…the fact that he was working so hard, he’d accidentally come to the lab with his underpants on back to front.

Kinder Scientific? Blunder Scientific.

24 07 2017

This error message should have been my first warning, when I emailed Kinder Scientific for help at the end of March. It was the truth: support is not really to be found at this company.

Screenshot 2017-07-24 11.38.55


When I finally tracked down someone to talk to, I should have heeded the second warning: twice we failed to connect by phone because she did not understand time zones.

But I already had startle equipment purchased a long time ago from Kinder, and wanted to upgrade it for Emma (and then I needed it mending, too, as it started to malfunction). I was *trapped*.

Over the next few months (during which Emma’s mice aged and lost their hearing: the very thing we had wanted to assess), Kinder would take 4 weeks to answer my original question about retrofitting an airpuff facility to my tone-only boxes (and send the answer to the wrong person at UoG, so I didn’t see it for another month); send us the wrong dimension copper tubes for the new airpuff facility; resend us new tubes but accidentally have Fedex pick up the wrong parcel, so that the pipes took yet more days to arrive; argue with us when these tubes didn’t work either (they leaked at the connectors); and send us air regulators that didn’t function properly.


We were only saved from insanity and despair by a great plumber from local company Jim L, who was a whizz with solder, and also spotted and corrected the misassembled air regulators.

It wasn’t all bad. Kinder didn’t charge us for the repair, and they did send us this mug (which made Emma and I weep bitter tears of laughter; ah yes, if only we could actually use their equipment to GET data). Technical expert Kolby Severns was also a great help to Emma, always willing to Skype.

But would I buy equipment from them again? Never, ever in a million years.



Dogs sniffing out Parkinson’s

24 07 2017

Fascinating, useful for class next semester, and slightly creepy:

Screenshot 2017-07-24 11.09.37


“Selfish, shallow and self-absorbed”

24 07 2017

Nice programme on childlessness by the BBC’s “The Why Factor”:


Women in the news

23 07 2017

Not watched Dr. Who since I was a kid, but this new morph is a damn good thing.

Screenshot 2017-07-23 08.33.05


It’s caused a lot of reaction, this being my favourite:

Screenshot 2017-07-23 08.36.40Let’s hope she’s paid as much as the male ones!


Spam of the week

13 07 2017

Academics get a tonne of spam these days, such as invites to submit to joke journals or present at bogus conferences.  Here are some favourites this week.

One was to Jonathan, or “Newman”, as he prefers total strangers to call him:

Screenshot 2017-07-13 09.05.08

This was to me, from a journal that even vampires don’t cite, apparently:

Screenshot 2017-07-13 09.12.40

And this was to Carole. You’d think it’d be funnier…

Screenshot 2017-07-13 09.08.54