…then don’t say anything at all. I live by those words. Or rather, a variation: if I don’t have anything nice to say, then I can’t and won’t lie and say nice things anyway. I won’t say bad things about you as long as you don’t put me in a position to. That’s why you’ll never hear me telling my sister-in-law, “Nice haircut” if I really think it makes her look fat. I prefer to say nothing instead of some insincere attempt at a lie. That just means that when I do say something nice, it just means that much more because I actually mean it.

Well, of course, my evil major professor has to go and turn my little way of doing things upside down. You see, he’s being honored for something or other tomorrow and a bunch of people are saying nice things about him. You would think that it’s his funeral given the fuss that’s being made over this whole thing. Since these people are all old professors, he wants a student to toot his horn. And since every other student of his was smart enough to run for the hills, I’m the only one around who can do the job. But doesn’t he know that I can’t stand him? Doesn’t the fact that I routinely ignore him and make snide remarks make it clear that I am definitely not the person for the task? Of course not, because in his own egocentric world, he thinks that I love him and that when I’m acting out, it’s because of “trouble at home” and never because of him. So he asks me to say something about him. I tell him no as nicely as I can while thinking all sorts of sarcastic things in my head. My excuse was that I’m no good at such things and I am definitely no good at speaking in front of a large group of people. Valid enough. But he continued to push me and even dared to use the Chair of the department as an excuse: “I can guarantee you that the Chair will ask you to say something.” Uh, right. He’ll ask me because my major professor lied to him and said that I would say something. Ugh, how I hate him. Not the best way to get someone to say something nice to about you, especially me.

So here I am, in the middle of my intense studying for my quals having to write a stupid little speech about the man that has single-handedly caused me to become a complete failure at this whole becoming a scientist thing. I have to say nice things about someone that I do not have a single nice thing to say about. I think I’m going to spontaneously combust if I actually have to go through with this—it’s just so completely against my very being. But what choice do I have? I am but a puppet.

I keep trying to think of what to say, but all I can think of is that episode of House (season 1, episode 6: role model) where he has to give a speech about how great Vogler’s new drug is to save his team and he just can’t. Wouldn’t it be funny if I did the same? I can see it now.

For those of you who don’t remember or don’t watch House, here’s what he says.
HOUSE: Eastbrook Pharmaceuticals’ extraordinary commitment to research excellence is exemplified by their new ACE inhibitor, a breakthrough medical approach that will protect millions from heart disease.
VOGLER: That’s not a speech.
HOUSE: I thought it was pithy. You got enough for a press release anyhow.
VOGLER: Foreman or Cameron.
HOUSE: A few things I forgot to mention. Ed Vogler is a brilliant businessman, a brilliant judge of people and a man who has never lost a fight. You know how I know that the new ACE inhibitor is good? Because the old one was good. The new one is really the same, just more expensive. A lot more expensive. You see, that’s another example of Ed’s brilliance. Whenever one of his drugs is about to lose its patent, he has his boys and girls alter it just a tiny bit, patents it all over again, making not just a pointless new pill, but millions and millions of dollars. Which is good for everybody, right? Except for the patients, but who cares? They’re just so damn sick. God obviously never liked them anyway. All the healthy people in the room, let’s have a big round of applause for Ed Vogler.

And here’s what’s going to happen when I try to say something nice about my major professor tomorrow:
ME: My major professor is a great guy who has helped me and others a lot.
MAJOR PROFESSOR: And?
ME: That’s it.
MAJOR PROFESSOR: I’ve done more for you than that. You want to get your PhD or not?
ME: Okay, so I forgot to mention that he’s also an egotistical ass who purposely kisses the Chair’s ass so he can get what he wants. He doesn’t help students as much as he makes them his slaves and then takes all the credit for what they have done. Really, you know all those talks that he gives all over the place? Yeah, I made those Powerpoints, not him. You didn’t know that, did you? Of course not, because he never gives anyone any credit except for himself. Not only that but he then continually rubs in his students’ faces what he supposedly did for them, which was nothing really that the students didn’t do for themselves. And God forbid you ever disagree with him—I did and look where I am now, stuck in his lab with his pompous ass continually pestering me to continue working on the thesis project that he pulled out of his ass that I have already proven without a doubt does not work. He is also a man with no ethics considering the morally outrageous stunts he has pulled to get his friends’ kids into fellowships and even medical school. Isn’t he just great? Hooray for my major professor.

I would be so screwed, but at least I wouldn’t have to live with the fact that I betrayed my own principles. Ah, if only there were no consequences. I can dream, can’t I?

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» The 10 dirtiest jobs in science.  Hey, they forgot to include being your major professor’s bitch.  Okay, I guess that isn’t quite as literally dirty as those on the list, but it sure feels like it is. # 0

» Yum!  Now that’s something I can live with: eating curry to stave off cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers in Singapore found that people (aged 60-93) who ate curry even only occasionally scored higher on the Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) than those who never ate curry.  The curry spice, turmeric, contains curcumin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  And the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly in India is fourfold less than that in the United States. # 0

» There’s a great article today about how the MIT Dean of Admissions wants to reduce admissions anxiety in teenagers.  How about parents getting off of their kids’ backs?  That would help.  But I do admire her for trying to create a friendlier system that might just ease the pressure enough to not give parents such reason to push their kids so hard.  Too bad it probably won’t happen any time soon.  And go ahead and try to tell Asian parents to stop pushing their kids to the point of insanity.  I dare you. # 0

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