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Russian Roulette: The patented Orac NIH R01 distraction open thread

It just occurred to me that it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done this, but how about an open thread to while away the time until the NIH R01 grant application is submitted, and that gloriously irritating and outrageously beautiful not-so-Respectful Insolence that you all crave can come roaring back with a vengeance? Come on, you know you want it. If we’re lucky, maybe Jake Crosby or even Dr. Jay will come out and play.

Grant writing has that effect on me.

In the meantime, I think a video from a most excellent 1980s band sums up the situation when it comes to grant funding these days:

And maybe there’ll even be a nice little blast from the past later. And if you’re really nice, I might even tell you how things went before I collapse in a pile of gibbering scientist in the evening.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

66 replies on “Russian Roulette: The patented Orac NIH R01 distraction open thread”

Something incredible has happened this year. A new vaccine (Prevnar 13) was approved by the FDA and Health Canada which covers some of the pneumococcal serotypes that are increasing in prevalence. It’s been around for 7 months now and still nobody is claiming that it causes autism. Is there possibly a change afoot?

So, I must ask. How long in advance does your sponsored programs office insist on having the files to submit? We’re at 3 full business days, so with weekends figured in, it can be 5-6 days before deadline. So they can hit ‘sent’. Drives me insane, esp. with the new rules limiting supplemental data and no more A2 submissions.

The SGU team is coming to Australia for TAM and to help me throw eggs at Meryl Dorey. It is going to be EPIC

Here’s something that makes me grumpy – in my current incarnation I’m an EFL teacher. In our textbooks there is a recurrent theme in the “medical” sections – alternative medicine. So after a whole pile of vocabulary associated with bodies, illnesses, and doctors we get acupuncture, chiropractic, and (no doubt elsewhere) homeopathy.
Gah! You know, they treat the “whole person”…..
Well I won’t teach this stuff with a straight face, and it’s not really a discusssion I could have with the students without getting (to them) inexplicably angry, so I just skate over it entirely and get them to read about something real, such as malaria.
On the other hand, perhaps I should just STFU, get over myself, and accept that (possibly just possibly) the language of woo might be useful.

“Can we discuss rhubarb?”

only if it involves custard as well…

yum yum!

Don’t know if anyone has posted this,but the AoA anti-vaxxers have descended on David Sterling at The Brown Daily Herald in response to…..

Last Friday, we had a good crowd at the Brown University Bookstore in Providence, sponsored by the National Autism Association (that’s us with NAA President Wendy Fournier). We’ve already started making waves — David Sheffield, a columnist for the Brown student paper, says here we should never have been allowed to speak! Banned at Brown — has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Click on over and let the author know your feelings if you’re so inclined.

I find the formatting at The Brown Daily Herald rather strange…unfamiliar to me at least.

Arrgh…itchy finger hit submit too soon.

I wanted to add that the posts one AoAer, Beth, are especially amusing for her effort to appeal to Brown science students by attempting to come across as intellectually and scientifically savy… all emphasized with random capitalization.


After months of treatments on GOLD SALTS, the patient’s brother describes Donald T as having “A MIRACULOUS RECOVERY FROM AUTISM.”
So the chem students at Brown will enjoy this connection the authors make- which I think is quite logical:
The GOLD SALTS bound to MERCURY and the toxic mercury load in Autism Patient #1 was lessened during the course of treatment.


“have descended on David Sterling”

Ummm…that obviously should have said David Sheffield!

Time for some strong coffee!

So, I must ask. How long in advance does your sponsored programs office insist on having the files to submit? We’re at 3 full business days, so with weekends figured in, it can be 5-6 days before deadline. So they can hit ‘sent’. Drives me insane, esp. with the new rules limiting supplemental data and no more A2 submissions.

Today, which is only two business days. (It’s also why the end is at hand, and I’ll have this sucker off my desk, so to speak, by early afternoon, not to mention why I was up until around 3 AM last night.) However, this is for cancer center members, because our cancer center has its own presubmission people. For university faculty who aren’t affiliated with the cancer center, it’s a full five business days, which sucks.

Being able to go a bit later on grant submissions is one of the advantages of being cancer center faculty at this university.

@ Sauceress

Re Beth’s comment on the site you mentioned: I know several people who actually believe that autism did not exist before 1943 and that this is due to the fact that “around that time” we started vaccinating our children.

At first I could not believe that people could believe such a thing, until I found out that there are also people who genuinely believe the earth is flat, that there are “universal” laws of nature which only “work” if you believe in them and that they are being abducted by aliens on a nightly basis.


I saw a good bumper sticker a couple weeks ago.

Fasten Your Seat Belt
It Makes It Harder For The Aliens To Suck You Out Of The Car

Ongoing rhubarb saga.

I visited our state fair last week and enjoyed a very good slice of raspberry rhubarb pie sold by a local fund raising group. The raspberries and rhubarb gave it lots of flavor, but there was enough sugar for balance and having it a la mode made for a creamy, tasty combination.

Good luck on the grant application. After being solicited for a proposal from an organization and I spent an entire weekend preparing, they haven’t even acknowledged receipt of the proposal. I’m beginning to wonder if, once again, an organization has asked for a proposal and then plan on using the submitted protocols internally. Argh.

@ squirrelelite

I saw a good bumper sticker a couple weeks ago.

Fasten Your Seat Belt It Makes It Harder For The Aliens To Suck You Out Of The Car

I want that!!

Ah yes, raspberries go very well with rhubarb. The amount of sugar is of vital importance, too little sugar can ruin it but so can too much.

I made a rhubarb dessert the other day with homemade vanilla icecream – with cream that is – and strawberries. Was very nice too.

I have a great fondness for gooseberries as well. The’re so pretty I think and have the same wonderful sourness that rhubarb has too.

2 or 3 business days! What luck we are FIVE, minimum, and they prefer 10 calendar days in advance (although if you suck up, you can squeeze a few extra days out).

What pisses me (the old fart that I am) is that THEY send it & push the button, not me. Ah for the old days in front of the xerox machine & waiting for the FedEx guy. (Or better yet, driving to DC!).

Are you guys using Coeus, or PDF’s into the SF424?

Hmm…raspberries and rhubarb. Never really thought of that combination. Always rhubarb along or rhubarb with strawberries.

Are we going to turn this blog into Rhubarbful Insolence?

I’ve had two work computers get slammed by Scienceblogs’ latest malware-installing advertisements…PZ knows about it. Does Orac?

I have a feeling this will either get the IT people at work to 1) install an adblocker system-wide, since we’re stuck with using IE, or 2) just block from network access…

Open thread, hmm? Good place for this…

Joseph Paul Random-Last-Name was born last Monday, Sept 27, at 13:25. He was 8 lbs 2 oz, and got his Vitamin K and Hep B shots on that day.

He is mostly well, although they detected a faint heart murmer yesterday. Probably vaccine related (they didn tfinf it Monday or Tues, and suddenly it showed up! We all know that is the classical sign of vaccine damage)

He is sleeping pretty well – during the day. Nights have been a bear already.

Offspring the Elder (the Gurg) has basically flipped out. He is generally psychotic anyway, but this is nuts. Then again, what to expect from a 22 month old

The one and only time I ingested that which is known as rhubarb pie but which I refer to as chunder chaser, I spent the entire night puking. So I will have a slice of the rhubarb and raspberry pie hold the rhubarb, please

Congratulations Pablo, welcome to the world of tag team crying and daily diaper pail runs.

Just have to vent here! Just read an update on a friends blog, she was diagnosed with cancer of the intestines about seven months ago. After the first round of chemo they operated but had to close her up as there were too many tumors. They advised another round of chemo. She however tried a whole scala of alternative procedures (positive thinking, food supplements, something with dendrites etc). It didn’t work. The tumors just grew. Now she started chemo again a few weeks ago and unfortunately quit because it made her feel too sick. She is going to follow ‘Dr’ Young’s diet to alkalanise her body instead. I know this road must be so hard for her, but it just makes me so pissed off to see a 28 year old throw away the only chance she has at survival just because some quack can make her promises that sound better than the honest truth laid out by her oncologist.

Pablo & Mrs Pablo! Very big congratulations & welcome, Joseph Paul RLN!

If I were closer I’d bring you several meals, all without rhubarb.

The Gurg will get over it all in about…10 or 15 years. But it will improve quite a bit when The Gurg starts school. Now you see the value of preschool

I wanted to promote a survey I saw chez PZ, since I think there are quite a few “contingent faculty members” reading this blog.

Coalition on the Academic Workforce is running a survey to gather data on the working conditions of what they’re calling contingent faculty: people who teach at the college level but aren’t tenured or tenure track. If you’re one of those unfortunate slaves of the system, help them out and take the survey.

Here’s the survey link:

@ Pablo: Congratulations to you and Dr.Vet!…( actually, we should also convey felicitations to the *bebe* for his good fortune in the parental sweepstakes)

Thanks all.

Liz – in fact, the Gurg starts three day a week daycare (up from two days) next week.

Having a bad – the combination of the worst and best experiences one can have in life. The entire day of our first son’s birth is almost a blur – except for the actual birth & the massive hemorraging that my wife suffered two hours later (turns out redheads have a tendency to bleed more during the delivery process & the nurses were waiting for something to happen to my wife – SOOOO glad they decided to tell us – NOT!).

Luckily, all is well & we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. And our second is well on his way – with a mid-December delivery date. My wife and son are touring the hospital tomorrow (the Big Brother tour) & everyone is getting so excited.

Congratulations once again.


The SGU team is coming to Australia for TAM

And on their way they are stopping by UBC in Vancouver!

I figured out that the train from here gets there before noon, and the Skytrain goes directly from the station in Gasworks to UBC. Now I just have to figure out where to stay and if I want to take the bus home the next day so I can get some sleep before Monday morning.

Or if my family can live without me for a weekend.

Congrats to Pablo and Mrs Pablo! Glad to hear he arrived safe and sound and is doing his best to remind you of his presence at night. Gurg will survive; Child #1 often tried to smother Child #2 (didn’t like to hear #2 crying so thought that would make things quieter!) Daycare helped a lot!

As far as season here now. But if anyone wants my mom’s awesome rhubarb custard pie recipe (which, next summer, I am going to try as just the custard and not put in a pie shell), I’ll be happy to email it.

And our second is well on his way – with a mid-December delivery date.

Lucky bastard.

Our second is well on his way too, with a mid-January delivery date.

Which means a fresh insurance deductible. (And since our employer keeps switching to shittier insurance every year, the ultrasounds were applied to the deductible this year — I’m going to just barely max out my deductible, and THEN my wife will have a baby right after it refreshes)

Which also means I don’t get to declare him as a dependent until 2011.

We are talking literally thousands of dollars that will be saved if I had just made it past the goalie one month earlier. Sucks… 🙁

@ Julian Frost:

Not to worry — only one of the malaria vaccine candidates failed. The RTS,S candidate is in Phase III trials.

MI Dawn, yes rhubarb is now in the past… but tree fruit are coming. I just harvested my first set of pears from my 4 in 1 pear tree. The remaining pears and the apples will be ready in about two weeks.

The apples get cut up and ready for pies through the year, with some becoming applesauce. The applesauce is great for throwing into muffins, other quick breads, cakes or eating.

The pears will continue to ripen in the fridge, and I’ll have some lovely Bosc and Comice up until New Year’s.

A couple of random thoughts: 1. NaturalNews had an article on (Siberian) *rhubarb’s* _remarkable_ effects on Menopause ( 9/14/10)- Consider the possibilities (estrogenic?) for our “Autism=Lack of rhubarb” “theory-builders”!!!. 2. Someone above brought up space aliens…. I venture that space aliens have something in common with alternative medicine: imagine that you want to be a ( financially) successful writer and are decidedly *not* an expert in any field- your education is not up to snuff, you have not had any earth-shatteringly-interesting experiences or an internationally-relevant career. You try writing fiction- and fail abysmally. Next, you confabulate your wildest dreams- wouldn’t it be nice if eating say, mushrooms, would confer immortality (tone it down to *increased longevity*); what if *you* were asked by the Intergalactic Council about *your* ideas to “increase the peace” ( tone it down to “alien abduction”). Books like these sell because *many* people have the same “wildest dreams” and aren’t always self-critical enough to label them as “wishes” or “folktales” or “fiction” or “day dreams”.

This was just what I needed today – a hilarious (and sadly spot on) template for news articles about scientific research:

“To pad out this section I will include a variety of inane facts about the subject of the research that I gathered by Googling the topic and reading the Wikipedia article that appeared as the first link.”

“This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.”

Can we discuss rhubarb?

Do the toxins in rhubarb cause your life force to be out of balance? Discuss.

Pablo- congratulations and condolences.

MI Dawn – I would like your recipe! Pie is awesome.

I’m doing a movie quote contest for my Facebook friends. If anyone has favorite quotes they want to post, I’d be much obliged for the ideas.

@ MI Dawn

I’d love the recipe, you can mail it to: [email protected]

@ Mr & Mrs Pablo: many congrats with the new addition to your family. Babies are so irresistible – well, except when they keep you awake at night of course.

My mum used to poke her head into every pram we passed and make silly noises, which annoyed my no end but now I’m doing just the same.

@ Just Saying

Do the toxins in rhubarb cause your life force to be out of balance?

It is a universal law of nature that they do, but thankfully only when you actually believe this.

Calling all Coloradans! Well, the reality-based ones, anyway.

Andrew Wakefield (St. Andy, Fakefield, etc.) will be speaking in Boulder on October 20th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Charlie Tucker Phone: 303.953.8240 Email: cbtuckerjr@gmail. com

WHO: Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield WHAT: Speaking in Boulder WHERE: Boulder Public Library Auditorium (on Arapahoe between Broadway and 9th Street) WHEN: October 20, 2010, 6:00 pm, Free


Boulder, Colorado (September 25, 2010) U.K. author and gastroenterologist, Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield, will be at the Boulder Public Library on October 20th at 6 p.m. to discuss the heated controversy surrounding his research, which posits a link between vaccines and autism.Dr. Wakefield, whose work on vaccine safety has now been replicated numerous times, stands squarely and resolutely at the heart of what is probably the largest medical controversy raging in the world today.

It’s been posted on various anti-vax sites — for the full press release, just do a search.


I think they should tack on “No, really!” to the end of that title.

@Beatis: I’ll be happy to email the recipe; probably Sunday since all of a sudden life has gotten hectic.

LovieAnjel: if you will email me at triskelethecat at gmail dot com I’ll send it to your email.

Re Wakers talk:

Dr. Wakefield, whose work on vaccine safety has now been replicated numerous times

It has? By whom? And why haven’t we heard about it? Or did our evil Pharma masters hide the studies and I didn’t get the notice? Darn it. I KNEW that changing my email address was a mistake; I’m not getting my checks either. 🙁

Dammit. Sciblogs strikes again with the signin junk. triskelethecat is me.

MI Dawn

Jack: You’re behind on your antivaccination woo. Prevnar doesn’t cause autism. Prevnar causes superbugs. Except it doesn’t work anyway. And all it does is prevent ear infections. Clear as mud?

The Secret Lives of Big Pharma’s ‘Thought Leaders’

“But what the study actually reveals may be something closer to the opposite. If medicine were simple and transparent, pretending to be a medical expert would be very difficult. An audience could spot incompetence right away.”

“Medical audiences trusted Dr. Fox partly because he played the part of an expert so convincingly: white coat, gray hair, and a complicated lecture, delivered with authority. But they also trusted him because they had no reason not to trust him. Dr. Fox was not selling a product or pitching an idea. The very implausibility of his charade is part of what made it so persuasive. Dr. Fox appeared to be impartial.”

“Why do so many academic physicians want to be Dr. Fox?

“It strokes your narcissism,” says Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University.”

“But the real appeal of being a KOL is that of being acknowledged as important. That feeling of importance comes not so much from the pharmaceutical companies themselves, but from associating with other academic luminaries that the companies have recruited.”

Re: Boulder,CO. There probably *are* a few boulders strewn about town but there is a distinctive rock formation in the nearby foothills called the “Flatirons”, that rock climbers adore and of course, Boulder Creek and Boulder Canyon. Boulder is woo-drenched to saturation: Pearl Street- a pedestrian mall, features alt med practitioners as well as herbalists and proponents of eastern religion and yoga. Not to mention the tie-dye and galleries. Celestial Seasonings tea is based there, as is U. of CO.

Jack: You’re behind on your antivaccination woo. Prevnar doesn’t cause autism. Prevnar causes superbugs. Except it doesn’t work anyway. And all it does is prevent ear infections. Clear as mud?

We do PDF’s that we prepare from the various files.
I guess what annoys me is I can’t see the useful purpose the 3-5 days sponsored demands serves.
I ride myself and my lab hard in the months coming up to a submission-we want it to be as good as possible. I’m responsible for the data, the writing, the .pdf conversion, and routing/signatures/etc. All I can see them doing is hitting ‘send’. I think the extra days are a CYA incase the internets glitch on them. I just imagine them sitting around for 3-5 days, sipping coffee, eating donuts, and waiting to press a single button on the keyboard.

When I sent in my K08 years ago, the research building I was in lost power as I was last-minuit printing everything. I had to use an inkjet printer and computer hooked up to a battery backup. It was a very long night.

PZ is making another mistake here. He is assuming that O’keefe’s boat isn’t always stocked like this. More than likely, O’keefe is a not unusual GOP operative, someone like Limbaugh who is into some weird BDSM stuff.

And where in the hell did he get a huge boat anyway, so young? I didn’t know being a GOP slime mold paid so well.

This may be a stupid question (as in, the answer’s right under my nose and I missed it), but I’m in a discussion with a young mother about vaccinations. We got over the autism hurdle with no problem, but now she keeps giving me the “Can you point me to a peer-reviewed, long-term study on aluminum in vaccines?” gambit. Is there one, or is the 80-year track record the equivalent?

I have looked, but I don’t turn up any. I’m probably looking in the wrong place. I thought one of you would know.

Well you can start here, especially noting that not every vaccine has adjuvants. Also to the fact they have been used for decades, and it is alum (which is used in pickles). Also that aluminum is a major component in soil, and is in the food she eats and her breast milk. A kid scraping his/her knee in dirt containing feldspars probably gets more aluminum in the cut than is in a vaccine (oh, yeah, I want to see that mother prevent her kid from ever scraping a knee or playing in dirt!)

I should have known. I’m glad the antivaxxers are around to enlighten me – here I thought that kids were dying from invasive pneumococcal disease. Turns out all they had was ear infections! I assume that the “issues” with the old Prevnar will carry over to Prevnar 13?

Jack, “sikis” is a common spam bot that stole a comment from elsewhere. Ignore.

Scientists fear MMR link to autism
Oct 4, 2010

“The study appears to confirm the findings of British doctor Andrew Wakefield, who caused a storm in 1998 by suggesting a possible link.

Now a team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina are examining 275 children with regressive autism and bowel disease – and of the 82 tested so far, 70 prove positive for the measles virus.

Last night the team’s leader, Dr Stephen Walker, said: ‘Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles.”

“The study appears to confirm the findings of British doctor Andrew Wakefield, who caused a storm in 1998 by suggesting a possible link.”

So the MMR vaccine is the etiological culprit and not thimerosal? Do you have a link to the published research paper augustine?


That article is four years old.

Can you tell us when Dr. Walker’s alleged findings will be published in a real, credible medical journal?

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