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In this post: the large versions of the Education & Careers and Politics channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Politics. A Georgian man squats amidst the aftermath of a Russian bombardment. From Flickr, by


Education & Careers. From Flickr, by zone41

Reader comments of the week:

On the Education & Careers channel, DrugMonkey asks himself Should I hire a postdoc or a technician? While both will end up performing many of the same tedious tasks in a lab, they differ in relationship to the PI, eventual career track, availability and other factors.

Readers were divided in their recommendations, and damngoodtechnician naturally argued on the behalf of his profession:

You might have a harder time attracting a postdoc to your lab if it’s just you (as awesome and cool as you may be) without a tech. Any potential postdoc with a fraction of a brain could tell that it’s going to become their job to do the ordering and setting up and the scut work of organizing the lab, plus doing all the troubleshooting to figure out why the new microscope isn’t taking pictures, why the new TC hood is blowing dust all over, and why your new university isn’t letting you order syringes or ethanol.

Not that I’m knocking postdocs! The upside of a good postdoc (intellectual contribution to the lab, novel research directions, etc) can outweigh many/most of the contributions of a good tech (continuity, stability, progress on a project). From my (clearly biased) perspective, techs get things done that must be done to keep the lab moving. You can’t count on a postdoc to do these things, nor should you expect a postdoc to do these things.

On the Politics channel, Mike the Mad Biologist takes on Reverend Rick Warren in For the Next Debate Thingee, Can the Moderator Be a Member of the Coalition of the Sane. Warren, who moderated the presidential debate at the Saddleback Civil Forum August 16, has professed some wholly unscientific views, such as a belief that dinosaurs and humans once shared the Earth, and that the theory of evolution fails because it doesn’t allow for the Adam and Eve story.

Reader QrazyQat thinks Reverend Warren represents a symptom of a wider problem:

That’s why you need to go with your gut in matters like Iraq and WMDs; that UN inspector stuff with all that evidence and such is just so wrong.

That’s the biggest problem we face as a result of religion. Even for the less crude varieties, it usually leads people to think that not believing things which have evidence for them and instead fervently believing in something that has no evidence is not just okay, but far superior. The natural outcome is that you have people ignoring facts and instead “looking into the souls” of various world leaders, ignoring facts and feeling with your gut instead.

Some other Education & Careers posts we thought were cool this week were:

Is Molecular Evolution a Good Way to Teach High School Students About Evolution?

High school students use DNA testing to spot fishy seafood

Negotiating “beer with the guys” on a job interview

How do you know in advance what you will discover so you can say so in your grant proposal?

Negotiating the “illegal questions” on an academic job interview

And from the Politics channel:


Modest Proposals Regarding Underage Drinking

Occupied Palestine and mathematics

Gay Hallmark Cards Presage End of the World

Madison Avenue Creative Directors Suggest Their Own Election Images

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!