Draft post cleanup #22: Fun emails for another Jonathan Eisen

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #22.  Written 5-5-2007 …
I have decided to start posting some of the more fun real emails I have gotten relating to some of my scientific work or supposedly related to it.

The best I get are usually not related to my work but instead are related to another Jonathan Eisen out there. There is this other person with my name who has written some off-kilter books about conspiracy theories. And every once in a while I get an email means for him. For example, here is one (with some personal information about the sender removed)

Dear Jonathan:
My name is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. I am writing you from Ontario, Canada. The purpose of this e-mail is to gather information from you for the book I am writing for the World! The book is entitled “XXXXX.” The book’s purpose is to expose to the world, World Peace and how to achieve it – free energy and how to harness it, along with many government coverups, e.g. Who really killed J.F.Kennedy (the driver!)? and who is really behind the attacks of 911?, along with cures for AIDS, cancer, and a long list of other diseases that you have written about in your book that I intend to expose to the world!

I would appreciate a response via any means necessary…..a phone call (xxx) xxx-xxxx, e-mail, with a contact number I can get in touch with you personally!

The world must be made aware of what’s really going on and, along with your help and others, WE CAN SAVE THE WORLD!!!!!

I am one who is aware that anything I type and send to you will be read by not only yourself – but by others (the Government)! These people will go to any great lengths to prevent us from speaking or having contact, because, we, in fact, know what’s really going on, and we know who is responsible for suppressing all the information that the world must know. I will leave the rest of the conversation for, hopefully, a face-to-face sit-down, or any future conversations that we MUST have.

Your new best friend,

Draft post cleanup #21: Tracking progress on the vertebrate tree of life

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series. Here is #21; from March 2010:

A very interesting paper came out recently from colleagues of mine at UC Davis:  Rapid progress on the vertebrate tree of life.  I did not know they were working on this but perhaps should have.  It has some fun/interesting analysis of the accumulation of phylogenetic knowledge over time.  For example see Figure 1

Cumulative phylogenetic information amassed for the last 16 years. The accumulation of sequences for vertebrates in GenBank (a), papers using the term ‘phylogeny’ or ‘phylogenetics’ in the Web of Science database (b) and phylogenetic resolution (measured as the proportion of nodes with at least 50% bootstrap support) in the vertebrate tree of life resulting from these research efforts (c). In all cases, the data are cumulative from the start of each analysis. Phylogenetic resolution is calculated as in Table 1. Trend lines are exponential in (a), and second order polynomial in (b) and (c).

The rest of the paper is worth a look.

And alas I stopped there … I think I wanted to get Brad Shaffer and Bob Thomson’s comments on the paper but never got around to it.  Two years later the paper still is worth a look …

Draft post cleanup #20: Retaking the biology GRE

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #20:

In 2008, I had this idea that it would be interesting for biology faculty to retake the Biology GRE and see how they do.  I never got around to trying to register to take it and thus never wrote about it …  Any Profs. out there who have gone back and taking the GREs?

Draft post cleanup #19: Spam and biased spam at that

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #19 from September 2011:

I am sure many others out there who blog have gotten this kind of message:

We at Onlinephdprograms.com recently came across your blog and were excited to share with you an article “15 Fictional Professors We Wish Were Real” was recently published on our blog and we hoped that you would be interested in featuring or mentioning it in one of your posts.


Either way, I hope you continue putting out great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.

Thanks for your time,
Liz Nutt

I assume that these posts that are written for this, and various other sites, are all about driving up Google Search ranking somehow.  So I normally avoid writing about them.  But I thought I would in this case because, well, their post annoyed me because of the 15 functional professors they wrote about, only one is female.  Really, that is the best they could do?  In three minutes of web surfing (e.g., browsing this site and this one) I have come up with a list of fictional female professors who certainly could have been included in their list.  And many are much more interesting than some they wrote about.  Here are some examples:

  • Eleanor Arroway – Jodie Foster’s character in Contact
  • Susan Calvin – character in Isaac Asimov’s I Robot series
But then I stopped because I was disappointed I could not find more functional female professors to add to my list.  I do think the list posted by the OnlinePhD site could certainly have had more women on it … but I never posted the post because I had a hard time coming up with a lot of examples … but now that I am trying to revive draft posts … well … I will put this out there even if it is an incomplete thought

Draft post cleanup #18: Epernicus

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #18, from July 2008.

Well, was going to write about Epernicus in 2008 as an interesting tool for networking scientists.  I still have an account there which I just updated a bit.  But I am not sure if Epernicus is being used much anymore.  I have focused a lot on a similar system: Mendeley though they have differences.

Draft post cleanup #17: Obama overqualified for application to be president

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #17 from October 30, 2008.  I note – I never posted it because I tend to avoid politics here on the blog — but three+ years later I think it is OK …

Dear Mr. Obama

Thank you for your application for the position of 

President of the United States

Unfortunately we are unable to consider you for this position because you have been deemed overqualified.  
We believe that hiring people into positions for which they are overqualified can be damaging both to the person being hired and to morale of others working here at The White House.  Examples of your overqualifications include your rhetorical skills, your intelligence, the nearly limitless number of endorsements you have received from all sides of the political spetrum, your fanatical followers, the distinguished collection of advisors with which you have surrounded yourself, etc. etc.  Consider in contrast the qualifications of some of the other people who have applied for this job: poor rhetorical skills, bad taste in selecting assistants, lack of endorsements even by friends, etc etc.  Also consider the qualifications of the person who you will be replacing in this position.  

Given this, we believe that hiring you for this position is simply not wise.  Most likely you will be bored with carrying out the duties as established by the current 

President of the United States

which include mountain biking, meeting celebrities and athletes, attending dinners, and signing papers as instructed by the Vice President.  In addition, if we were to hire you into this position, it would have profound effects on the morale of other personnel currently in the White House who have tried to maintain a low qualification appearance in the face of the qualifications of the current President.  

Therefore, we are writing to ask if you would kindly reconsider your application to be 

President of the United States

and wonder if you would be interested in any of the other open positions which we have posted all of which by recent precedent require someone with more qualifications than those possessed by the current President and the other candidates. If a need arises for us to contact you in the future, we will do so and you have our continued good wishes.

Very truly yours,

The White House Staff

Draft post cleanup #16: Science and Title IX

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #16 from July 2008.

I had seen an article that surprised me: Findings – John Tierney – Science Has Become the New Frontier for Title Nine – NYTimes.com

In the article Tierney discussed how the Title IX statute which forbids discrimination based on gender in education and has been applied extensively to athletic endeavors was beginning to be applied to science.  Not sure what has become of this over the last 3+ years — if anyone knows more please post …

Draft post cleanup #15: Now this is how to write a scientific paper

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #15, from May 2010.

I had written:

Just found an old fax I received from my brother of a paper published in 1974 in Scientia Sinica. “Studies of the insulin crystal structure: the molecule at 1.8Å resolution.” Sounds pretty straightforward right? But then you read the paper: Here is the abstract (could not find a PDF so scanned in the fax I got).

I note, I stopped here because I could not figure out how to upload a PDF here.  But I did figure out how to upload it to FriendFeed.  But I think in the end it would be good to have a version of this post on my blog.  So, well, here it is.  And now I have included scans of the fax:

Draft post cleanup #14: Video of Talk of mine from 2005

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #14 from July 2010.

Embedded here is a video of a talk I gave in 2005 at the NIH  entitled “More Questions Than Answers Insights into DNA Repair Processes from Genome Sequencing Projects”


Draft post cleanup #13: Twisted tree of life award: MSNBC, Aliens and Photosynthesis

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #13 from July 2010.

I wanted to give this article a “Twisted Tree of Life Award“:

How to find aliens: Follow the photosynthesis – Technology & science – Space – Space.com – msnbc.com

It is pretty painful to me.  Basically the people they are quoting argue that since “complex” life on Earth requires oxygen and since oxygen only comes from photosynthesis, therefore we should look for planets where photosynthesis is possible as the place where life is most likely to be interesting.  Uggh.  So many things in the article I did not like … but just not enough time I guess to bitch about it then.  I will leave it to readers to decide for themselves I guess …