Treadmill for sale, shrimp not included.
November 15, 2014 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Of shrimp and senators. My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry.
posted by bitmage (48 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Sometimes these dollars they go to projects having little to do with the public good, things like Fruit Fly research in Paris France -- I kid you not!"
posted by weston at 10:09 AM on November 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Republicans in Congress don't do "facts" or "research". If government money is not going to buy bombs, tanks or drones to drop on brown people in the middle east, or being handed out as subsidies to multinational oil companies or banks, then it is per se wasteful, as those are the only legitimate functions of government. They don't need nuance or study results about shrimp immune system to climate induced bacteria increases, climate change is a hoax anyway and real Muricans don't read. They need a youtube clip of a scientist doing something that looks stupid to play in the background while Huckabee and Tom Coburn scream about wasteful spending and the government passing out your money to egghead liberals.

See also: social science funding.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:11 AM on November 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


Am I the only person who's totally okay with dropping $3 million on shrimp treadmills provided we get more videos out of it?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2014 [36 favorites]


This is a very good, very important article. I am constantly amazed by the political maneuver of describing science in the dumbest possible terms in order to make knowledge sound like a useless frippery.

My favorite example of this came in Bobby Jindal's response to the State Of The Union speech:

$140 million for something called volcano monitoring. Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.

Which blew my fucking mind, when I saw it live. "WHAT. WHAT ARE YOU. WHAT-" I sputtered at the TV, gripping my hair in my hands. Like, volcano monitoring? You have a problem with keeping tabs on LITERAL MOUNTAINS FULL OF FIRE? That does not seem worth checking out to you? The things that have LITERALLY DESTROYED WHOLE CITIES IN HUMAN HISTORY AND UNPREDICTABLY RAIN BOILING LIQUID ROCK ONTO THE SURROUNDING LAND is somehow NOT SCARY ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BE WORRIED ABOUT?

I feel like I've mentioned this on mefi before and will likely continue to mention it because jesus fuck, it's crazy, it's fucking crazy, what the fuck dude
posted by Greg Nog at 10:20 AM on November 15, 2014 [190 favorites]


Oh come on, who could resist that "eruption of spending" line? Rhetorical doozies like that don't come along every day you know!

And, anyway, Pompeii was probably put there by Satan to test us or something.
posted by sobarel at 10:29 AM on November 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


I would assume that when Republicans mock research, they are somehow threatened by it and are just hitting at it like any politician. I recall the time they mocked some modest research on cow flatulence, on those AM radio talk shows that eventually took credit for taking over the government. The study was ultimately measuring methane sources to the atmosphere and was needed to make any calculation possible. Progressives need to always run their ideas past their crazy uncle in overalls before doing anything, just to see what they say.
posted by Brian B. at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am constantly amazed by the political maneuver of describing science in the dumbest possible terms in order to make knowledge sound like a useless frippery ... The things that have LITERALLY DESTROYED WHOLE CITIES IN HUMAN HISTORY AND UNPREDICTABLY RAIN BOILING LIQUID ROCK ONTO THE SURROUNDING LAND is somehow NOT SCARY ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BE WORRIED ABOUT?


There is a strain of politics which thrives on ignorance and catastrophe. It's called feudalism.
posted by clarknova at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh come on, who could resist that "eruption of spending" line?

I dunno, if you're going to be buried alive, better cash than ash.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


The video in question, in case you haven't seen it.

The music may not be original to the footage.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:37 AM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


There was actually a paper published in my field a few months ago giving biologists tips on what you should do if the media and/or Congress seizes on your work as an example of "wasteful government spending." It was written by some of the people involved in the corkscrew-duck-penis work.

I read it and it was useful and all--I've been getting weird looks when I explain my research and why since I was in undergrad--but it was also so goddamn depressing. It's not enough that grants submitted have a 6% chance of getting accepted or that we're all routinely reminded during our PhDs that there are no jobs in academia, you also have to plan your media defense against attack too? Jesus.
posted by sciatrix at 10:40 AM on November 15, 2014 [32 favorites]


Understanding how our fisheries work is definitely a thing that is "Good For Business."

The Republicans are insane to oppose research that's tied to an "actually important" part of the economy and food supply.

I'm actually kind of surprised that one of their big agricultural bribe givers lobbyists didn't quickly shut them up about this particular talking point. You certainly don't see Republicans opposing huge agricultural spending bills very often.
posted by schmod at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am terrified that James Inhoffe is the soon to be the Senate's top man on the environment.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:14 AM on November 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, "Volcano monitoring" probably should have put this meme to bed forever, but here we are. If only plans to drop bombs met the same level of skepticism from Republican lawmakers we would be so much better off.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:32 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am constantly amazed by the political maneuver of describing science in the dumbest possible terms in order to make knowledge sound like a useless frippery.

Every time some smarmy conservative starts waving their ignorance around like an aggro drunk with a baseball bat and sneering about "so-called experts" I always remember this magnificent meltdown over climate change denial.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:34 AM on November 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Kind of a shit comment, honestly. But I do miss OC for some reason.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:35 AM on November 15, 2014


And, anyway, Pompeii was probably put there by Satan to test us or something.

Obviously it was righteous punishment for their decadence.
posted by graphnerd at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2014


"The treadmill was, in fact, made from spare parts—an old truck inner tube was used for the tread, the bearings were borrowed from a skateboard, and a used pump motor was salvaged to power the treadmill."

In my field (animal behaviour), this sort of scavenging for parts to conduct experiments is so widespread as to be unremarkable. I just returned from a lab visit in the US, and their most useful piece of equipment were repurposed makeup applying sticks (I don't even know what they're called) that they could get cheaply in bulk.

The side effect of this sort of bad faith skepticism is that when asked by laymen about my research, I never tell them the really interesting stuff, and instead resort to a safe/bland/easy explanation that is likely to be non controversial.
posted by dhruva at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The lie was blasted all over the major media. The truth is in a blog on a relatively obscure website.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:56 AM on November 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I always remember this magnificent meltdown over climate change denial.

That was delicious. Cheers for that.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:07 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now make a teeny one for brine shrimp!
...Because Sea-Monkeys need cardio, too.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:25 PM on November 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Republicans started getting pissed when they found out NIH has been researching if women drink more alcohol during PMS.

That's something that's pretty important, but Republicans bitched about it all week like it wasn't.
posted by discopolo at 12:27 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm actually kind of surprised that one of their big agricultural bribe givers lobbyists didn't quickly shut them up about this particular talking point. You certainly don't see Republicans opposing huge agricultural spending bills very often.

Considering the bad news that's going to be coming out of the gulf fisheries for the next half century, this is exactly the sort of research I'd think lobbyists would want to shut down.
posted by clarknova at 1:03 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved how Jindal phrased it as "something called volcano monitoring". Gee, Bobby, I wonder why they call it that? I'm guessing it's for the same reason I call you an idiot.
posted by uosuaq at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2014 [19 favorites]


The more I think about it the more I wonder if he knows that volcanoes are real things that exist in the real world which have caused hundreds of thousands of years worth of historically recorded natural disasters. This is an actual thing that I am seriously contemplating and it disturbs me that this is a valid suspicion in 20fucking14.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:33 PM on November 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


he probably thinks obama has a bunch of switches in the white house basement labeled "tornado in red state lol" or "ha ha tidal wave near oil platform" or whatever
posted by poffin boffin at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Republicans started getting pissed when they found out NIH has been researching if women drink more alcohol during PMS.

That's something that's pretty important, but Republicans bitched about it all week like it wasn't.


That's because Republicans know ladyparts best.
posted by maryr at 1:38 PM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jindal serves in a state whose largest city was built on a river delta below sea level on a flood plain in the hurricane belt. I think he knows how to spend disaster preparedness money, thanks.
posted by maryr at 1:41 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, we have a Democrat to thank for a lot of this.
posted by TedW at 2:59 PM on November 15, 2014


I live near a volcano (Hood) and I can't believe Bobby Jindal thinks it's wasteful to monitor them. Doesn't he remember St. Helens? Evacuating the area before the eruption saved thousands of lives.
posted by foobaz at 3:26 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's just more big government intrusion into the free market. If we would just stop this socialist artificial undermining of the fair market price of warning paying customers when a volcano is about to erupt, everything would naturally work out just fine.
posted by Flunkie at 3:31 PM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


That makes me so sad. I am a government scientist, and every time I write a paper I have to submit an "interpretive summary" written at a level that congressional staff people can understand. Every year I am scolded for using words that are too big. It's supposed to be at a 6th grade level of understanding, but I guess I overestimate 6th graders.

For the record, I spent $500 of my own money on research last year.
posted by acrasis at 3:43 PM on November 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


As someone who's worked in the arts, I keep having to resist the urge to play who's-more-hate-by-the-taxpayer. (You think the senate was up in arms about this, check out the constant uproar over the NEA. At least the shrimp on a treadmill is more safe for work than PISS CHRIST was.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's supposed to be at a 6th grade level of understanding

totally unsurprising yet not at all comforting
posted by poffin boffin at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


A related tweet that struck me the other day:

"In DC. In an Uber driven by an NIH scientist who's thinking of quitting his day job to do Uber full time. He makes more money from Uber."
posted by weston at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


$140 million for something called volcano monitoring. Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.

This from Jindal, a guy who was really into being part of an exorcism squad in college
posted by Bwithh at 5:09 PM on November 15, 2014


The best part about Jindal's remarks is that a major eruption two months later grounded flights all over Europe. We, of course, knew the volcano would go because of something called volcano monitoring.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:49 PM on November 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


I had my eruptions mixed up. The Alaska eruption was a month later, diverting some flights. Still people were prepared because of that wasteful volcano monitoring.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:20 PM on November 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


acrasis, I'm in the same boat you are. I also worked as a Senate staffer for a year, so I know something about the level of scientific knowledge in the institution. I'm sorry to tell you that it's actually far, far worse than you might imagine.
posted by wintermind at 7:41 PM on November 15, 2014


The music may not be original to the footage.

Probably not. I know it had this soundtrack when I first saw the clip years ago.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2014


Last time I recall politicians doing this was about freezing rat sperm. The problem was that rats and mice are frequently bred to produce knock out variants with specific genetic traits. Being able to store rat sperm with those traits is a much better and cheaper option than say, having to keep breeding them. This is why academia is packed with articles on it.

Although I'm sure their are some poor studies out there, seems like often when politicians criticize scientists, they end up exposing the shallow degree of their own knowledge.
posted by Jernau at 8:24 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


...Because Sea-Monkeys need cardio, too.

They get their cardio from dancing.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:07 AM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved how Jindal phrased it as "something called volcano monitoring".

Politics goes awry in the usual way. One side says it's crazy to spend millions of dollars on these so-called "volcanoes", the other side responds as if volcanoes are so crucially important to us all that they're clearly worth spending $140 million on monitoring and you get the impression that if the figure were ten times larger they'd be fine with that as well.

So I search the web and find that the money in question apparently wasn't all going to volcano monitoring, maybe a tenth of it was. But it's mostly just a one-time cost to upgrade USGS equipment, so they say, it's not as if it's an annually recurring cost in which case it would seem quite large -- millions of dollars per active volcano in the United States. So how much do they actually spend on monitoring volcanoes? Is it a reasonable amount? Is it a nationally significant amount, in the hundreds of millions per year? Is it too much or too little? None of the dozens of news stories, editorials, blog posts, and insane rants that fill the Internet shed any light on the matter. Nobody seems to know or care. Not that there's any reason to question it specifically out of the zillions of things the government does, but when it does come into question, meaningful facts are curiously absent from the public discussion.
posted by sfenders at 5:19 AM on November 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


At least the shrimp on a treadmill is more safe for work than PISS CHRIST was.

Oh man. Think of the uproar if the shrimp on the treadmill had been made to carry a cross!
posted by yoink at 7:53 AM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


wearing a tiny crown of stabby urchins
posted by poffin boffin at 9:54 AM on November 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


sea urchins, not grimy children with knives
posted by poffin boffin at 9:55 AM on November 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Think of the uproar if the shrimp on the treadmill had been made to carry a cross!

While submerged in urine!
posted by bendy at 11:33 AM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Think of the uproar if the shrimp on the treadmill had been made to carry a cross!

Actually, now you've got me wanting to see the shrimp video with a cross added in CGI running on a continuous loop as an exhibit at MOMA. Something suitably operatic as a soundtrack.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously though how much can a lobster bench?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:39 PM on November 16, 2014


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