Structured procrastination (#2)

By Grant Jacobs 24/07/2011

My structured procrastinations[1] consist of rummaging through the contents my web browser, relocating tabs of mostly lighter material I’ve left open that I thought that might interest my readers. It’s a potpourri, so you should find something to suit your tastes. I’ve enboldened phrases that capture each topic.

To start off on a startling note, there is this tweet from Deborah Blum who adds to a tweet that attempts to graft monkey testes onto men, to say that it didn’t work:


OK… I’m not sure I really want to know more, but a brief google gives me an on-line discussion between Deborah Blum and Professor Anne Fausto-Sterling. While talking about AndroGel and other attempts to boost–how can we put it delicately?–‘masculine performance’ (and related topics) Deborah writes:

BLUM: I always liked the 1920s version of boosting hormone power, an experiment in which they grafted monkey testes onto aging men. The raw male power of the jungle! The scientists reported that they had to turn away volunteers. I spent some serious time wondering about those who were accepted. What did those sewn-on monkey testes look like, or, for that matter, smell like after a week or so?


I hope those interested in the ‘arsenic life’ bacterium story, or just would like to try follow science in the happening are following Prof. Redfield’s blogging of her study of GFAJ-1. Her latest post reports that she’s having trouble growing them in the media described in Wolfe-Simon et al’s papers (she finds that in that media ’the cells just very slowly die’). Update: her blog is now at Fields of Science.


Try Nerdy has an article showing some of the silly medical things we used to do and invites readers to suggest what might be laughable in the future. I mean, banishing fat with ‘sanitised tapeworms’?! (See to right; image nicked as a taster/teaser from the article.)

An article in the media suggests some of the things the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are investing in may be a little too ’innovative’. I would like to think the more exotic explorations are a small fraction of the complete investment portfolio.

Those using Apple computers will know that Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, has been released. ArsTechnica have provided a nineteen page review of the new operating system and a visual introduction. (Also note my reiterating a tip to archive the installer before installing the downloaded installation file.)

My local university is the University of Otago. They’ve announced a competition for Ph.D. students to tweet their thesis in a maximum of 6 tweets, to win $250 in book vouchers, with the first tweet being the thesis title. Follow @OtagoGRS and the hashtag #OUTweCon. It’ll be interesting to see how well the students do at reducing an explanation of their thesis to 5 140-character pitches. There’s also a three-minute thesis competition. I’m sure they mean competitors explain a thesis in 3 minutes, not do a thesis in that time.

For those who are science writers, of whatever form, there is Bora Zivkovic’s take on What is a story (don’t miss the commentary that follows).

Genomes Unzipped has written asking Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals? and drawn over 130 comments in reply. ArsTechnica has a long article on the same issue.

For (molecular) biologists and geneticists the debate over pervasive transcription continues over at PLoS One, with letters from Clark et al (with John Mattick as senior author) and van Bakel et al.


1. As explained by my first structured procrastination, the phrase ‘structured procrastination’ comes from Heather Etchever’s post Open Tabs, in which she describes her cleansing her browser of open tabs as structured procrastination. Of course, part of the aim is to trim the contents of my web browser.

Other recent articles on Code for life:

Take a summer studentship in Dunedin, New Zealand

A Geek Nation reviewed

What genetic changes make us human?

Man-made bird flies

The worm from the deep! and other stories

0 Responses to “Structured procrastination (#2)”

  • Hi Heather.

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    Good people deserve them 😉

    That dance competition… 🙂 I *think* saw someone tweet YouTube videos (or whatever other service it was). I’m sitting here wondering if Kiwi students would take to this or not… anyone? Maybe at the Queenstown Molecular Biology meetings, perhaps?

  • well, now i can procrastinate by trying to figure out how i would have tweeted my Master’s Thesis in 6 tweets – lol!

    ah, reading about procrastination while procrastinating – i have similar online procrastination habits – i’m reading stuff/informing myself – it’s just not what i’m supposed to be reading (or writing about) – 🙂

  • p.s. i am so glad there was barely an internet (as we know it) when i was in grad school. the procrastination would have been epic level! i’m too good at it!

  • Hi eviltwit,

    I probably should offer a strained defence that I’m not really procrastinating, but using the title as I like Heather’s line ‘structured procrastination’. There’s a fair amount of truth in that, although I’m sure part (some/most?) of it is procrastinating… hehe.

    I’ve been thinking about it since and I think I might shift to some other title that says what the post offers as not many people seem to have found the title appealing as relatively few have visited this post (i.e. fewer than I usually get).

    p.s. i am so glad there was barely an internet (as we know it) when i was in grad school.

    DIdn’t we have those early computer games as an alternative? 🙂