Skip to main content

Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

Science and innovation: Where is NZ's master plan? - NZ Herald

This is the Research Science and Innovation (RSI) strategy document that I have been poking at since last year. Thankfully, they have not released a final version. My research has clearly demonstrated that MBIE has not done a proper consultation, the process lacks a discoverable plan, there is no transparency and certainly no responsiveness.

I respect the Honorable Doctor Megan Woods and the hard yards she is doing on behalf of my fellow kiwis. I am completely sincere in this, but if she is correct that people are happier with the second go with in depth consultation for this strategy, the first effort must have been a dumpster fire. If that is the case, a bit of shuffling in MBIE's policy team might have been considered the proper thing to do.



Rob Elshire

Guidelines for human gene nomenclature | Nature Genetics

The above article came through via this news story: Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates.  The main issue here is that scientists are using the wrong tool. Just because Microsoft Excel works with data in tables does not mean it should be used for all data that comes in tables. It is bad enough that making manipulations via point-and-click software is inherently not reproducible, but on top of that Excel changes the data automatically to suit itself.

The solution to this problem is to change the way genes are named so that researchers can carry on using the wrong tool doing science that is not reproducible. The secondary issue is that the `Guidelines for human gene nomenclature' (the standard for naming human genes) is available only to those who can afford it -- either by being part of a large institution with a subsciption or renting / buying the article if you are not.

More via MetaFilter.

Rob Elshire

From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists | Science | AAAS

Worrying descriptions of post infection affects of COVID-19 have been trickling in over the last month. This is not a get sick, get better, and go on with life situation. Long term effects to individuals and societies are yet to be understood.

As individuals, please do all that you can to avoid getting it in the first place and do everything possible to reduce the chance of spread.

More here in Aotearoa:

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

Kushner’s COVID-19 Team Ended Plan For Nationwide Testing Because They Didn’t Want To Help Blue States

This is being reported in various news outlets. If this is true, it is one of the most callous and inhumane decisions I have ever heard of.

Rob Elshire

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Responds to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) - YouTube

A powerful speech by AOC.

via metafilter.

Plus when people say 'Boys will be boys' they smear good men who don't do this shit and give permission to those that do. All this needs to stop.

Rob Elshire

Why I Won't Vote for Biden or Trump

I'm a Gen Xer that became politically aware in the 1980's. My understanding broadened and matured in the 90's when it was very clear that neoliberal economic based politics (whether from Democrats or Republicans) was hurting most of people. Racism was used as a tool to divide the working class. Sexism, just a normal part of the way the world works. It just got worse from there.

In 2016, for the first time since I became eligible to vote for president, I decided not to vote. Given the choice between two members of the "Fuck you, I've got mine" ruling class, I wasn't going to lend my support to a corrupt system. In 2020, we've got the same choice, again. Another "Fuck you" from the boomer ruling class. This is the last time that I will be eligible to vote in a U.S. presidential election. I will write in my vote for Bernard Sanders.

Rob Elshire

PhD candidate says some post-grad students should be let in as essential workers | RNZ News

Back in 2016 there was talk of international education as NZ's 5th biggest export industry. Growth was forcast to be $5 Billion per annum by 2025. This year we are reading about losses in that industry. More about University Funding.

So here, in 2020, we find ourselves in a neoliberal dystopia where everything is a business, using just-in-time methods, commoditizing everything, and just making a general mess of things. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the lack of resilience in this very, very brittle system. Nearly no one is winning here. Possibly some highly paid management types (using titles borrowed from the church centuries ago). Maybe they are still making bank and have secure positions.

So, maybe, just maybe some post-grad students should be let back in as essential workers. Well, we have been told they are students, not workers. Surely, if they were workers, they would be paid at least minimum wage like our other essential workers (e.g. supermarket checkout staff). Oh, but that would muck up the finances of the universities (not to mention the CRIs). So, we can not call them workers.

With everyone talking about the tertiary education export industry, might we suggest a rebrand to a very popular industry segment? Tertiary education is clearly a primary industry which milks and fleeces the students while externalizing the expenses to those early in their careers. What a beautiful example of neoliberal economics in action. Well done Tertiary Education Industry!

Rob Elshire

Bleak financial outlook for PhD students in Australia

I would not be surprised if this stretches beyound Australia. It certainly is not easy for post-grad students here in Aotearoa either.