Monthly Archives: April 2019

Closing Up Shop and Preparing the Next Generation – Nick

The past four weeks have been pretty slow in comparison to the rest of the time this experiment was being carried out. If you couldn’t tell from the title of this particular post, these past weeks have pretty much been damage assessment and cleanup protocol. This is why I was not able to recover anything biological because I have reached 100% mortality rate and I am not able to continue the tests. After considering where I am in the semester and where I will have to be in the experiment, I have decided to close up shop.

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Our Blog Catalogue

Besides the blogs that we have been posting to Independent Seminar, The Girl Narrative recently launched our own blog page that includes written articles/blogs, our podcast titles UnCut: The Girl Narrative Podcast, and videos! All of these blogs will be posted on Sundays and we will be posting the first episode of UnCut this Sunday 4/28/2019! Today, I will be looking at the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of our media/blog pages! Continue reading

My Final Blog: Writing and Selling-Bess

After a semester of learning about poets, their writing styles, writing and publishing–I have finally reached the end of this (specific) project. Throughout the semester I have learned and cultivated a lot with my writing. I have also had the experience of learning how to design and publish a book. Now that I have gotten to the near end, I wanted to talk about how I plan to sell my book.

The cover of my book, Let me Grow!
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Basic Logical Expressions and Curly Brackets in R – Baiting

In the past two weeks, I went through more tutorials and learned how to select, sort, and rank columns in a matrix or a data frame. However, I am more thrilled to talk about the “if-else” logic expression as I noticed something strange while trying out myself. If you are interested in studying this topic yourself, you may find this edx video tutorial and this website to be helpful. They are both free.

The first thing I entered was:

Code 1

This is the simplest “if-else” expression. The first line means set “a” as a variable and a = 2. The third to the fifth line is the logic expression. If “a” doesn’t equal to 0 (in R, “!=” means “≠”), the output would be 1/a. Otherwise (if a = 0), the output should be “FALSE”. This is what happens when we run these lines.

Output 1

Obviously, the logic works. We have a = 2, so a ≠ 0. This matches with the condition that the result = 1/a = 1/2 = 0.5. However, if we start “else” in a new line, then something strange will happen.

Code 2

When we start “else” in a new line, the R Studio says there is an error. If we run the codes, R Console would show the following:

Output 2

This triggers my curiosity, since this is the only time that starting a new line would lead to different results. Let me explain it quickly using another example.

Code 3

In R, the two sections in Code 3 mean exactly the same thing. The only difference is the first section occupies 1 line while the second section occupies 4. They both mean read the document “oasis_cross-sectional.csv” as a data frame and name the data frame as “A”. This example is not an exception. In fact, starting codes from a new line work in most expressions I learned. However, it doesn’t work in the “if-else” expression. To figure out the answer, I did some research on the curly bracket “{” and “}” in R.

According to “R in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition” by Joseph Adler, curly brackets (braces) are “used to evaluate a series of expression” or “used to group a set of operations in the body of a function” (Adler). This hints that the curly brackets only work when there is another corresponding expression, like “if-else. ” If there is no such expressions, curly brackets would have no effects.

Why this matters? Obviously, curly brackets only work when you have pairs of heads and tails. The computer only reads the statement in between. Here is an example:

Code 4
Code 5

If you compare Code 4 and Code 5, you would notice Code 4 is missing the tail curly bracket ( } ). So, your computer would read Code 4 as a bunch of characters and Code 5 as a statement.

Again, curly brackets need to work with another expression. My hypothesis is the head bracket would find the first expression in front of itself and match with it. Then, the corresponding tail bracket will close the statement. This explains why Code 1 works when we have started the head bracket in a new line. The bracket would automatically find the “if” expression and match with it.

However, the “else” expression doesn’t do the same work. When you start “else” in a new line, it wouldn’t find the corresponding “if.” I believe this is not a flaw, but an intentional design. A head bracket always needs another expression, but “else” doesn’t always need “if”, it may match with other expressions, like “else if”. So letting “else” find its own expression would lead to many logic errors.

To test my conclusion, I used the following codes:

Code 6

In Code 6, the highlighted lines are the ones I inserted intentionally for testing. According to our hypothesis, the first head curly bracket in line 9 would find the statement in front of it. This means line 7 would match with line 9. At the same time, the “if” expression in line 3 would match with line 5, as after we give the condition (a > 6), it automatically considers line 5 as the “so what.” This is what happens when we run the codes:

Output 6

Only the first line works! The logic function “if-else” fails as the brackets can no longer find the correct expression. In comparison to Code 2 and Output 2, even though R identify both errors as “unexpected ‘else’,” it is obvious that the problem with Code 2 is the tail bracket while the problem with Code 6 is the head bracket. In addition, line 7 fails to work as line 5. Line 5, the line that is supposed to match with line 7, is now matched with line 3 (as shown by the “+” sign in the output). This means we no longer have a definition for A, so we can’t find it.

This is the end of my main topic. In this blog, we successfully found a problem and established some reasonable conclusions. Of course, these conclusions may be wrong, but the process of identifying and solving a problem was fun for me! When codes fail to run, I believe it is always important to read the error notice to identify the issue. Furthermore, it is also helpful to reflect on and identify the deeper reason that leads to the error.

Works Cited

Adler, Joseph. R in a Nutshell. 2nd ed., Sebastopol, O’Reilly Media, 2012. O’REILLY, Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.

“ifelse.” RDocumentation, Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.

Irizarry, Rafael. “Basic Conditionals.” Lecture.

Medicine in the Early 20th Century– The Pharmaceutical Industry –Yuchen

Medicine in the Early 20th Century Part 2

                                              —- The Pharmaceutical Industry

During spring break, I had the opportunity to visit a pharmaceutical company in Xi’an that produces anesthetics as their main product. During my visit at the factory, the manager showed me the many precautions taken by the company to minimize the possibility of contamination and ensure the safety of their products. In addition, the company has dedicated a significant amount of resources and space in keeping samples of every batch of past products and monitoring their status. My experience there elicited my curiosity about the pharmaceutical industry. In this blog post, I will look at the history of the pharmaceutical industry with a specific focus on its development in the 20th century. Continue reading

Fashion as Armor 4 – Bay

On my previous blog post(blog 3: Natural Armor), I explored bodily protection that has occur in nature, such as, turtle shell, armadillo covering and the colorful skin of a poison dart frog. Nature has its own way of coming up with its own perfect design through evolution, and these following design that I came up with is my perfect idea of fashion as natural armor.

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Communism in Czechoslovakia-Part II |Nina Wei

Continuing my research on the communist development in Czechoslovakia, I explored the deterioration of the national economy under Communism, emergence of reform movements, and a period of democratization that led to the final dissolution of the Czechoslovak Confederation.

A Deteriorating Economy and The Prague Spring

Acute economic problems emerged from fields of industry and agriculture by the 1960s. Industrially, the prices of goods remained high, while the supply fell short and the quality of goods declined. In addition, production from the collectivized farms started to fall, producing less in 1960 than that was produced even in the prewar era (“Czech”).

This deterioration in the 1960s led to some limited reforms.

  • A group of reformers promoted for economic reforms
    • Attempted to replace the command economy with a mixed economy (“Czechoslovakia”).
    • Introduced marketing principles to agriculture
    • But most of these reforms stayed as vague aspirations and lacked implementation (“Czech”).

As these reforms failed, leadership was passed to the Slovak first secretary Alexander Dubček, in January 1968.


President Alexander Dubček

  • Dubček took on the role of the nation’s chief reformer, yet himself we not well qualified for this role. He was a Slovak and raised outside of the party apparatus (“Czech”).
  • This period of liberation was known as the Prague Spring.
    • One of the most influential reform emerged with the achievements of the Action Program adopted by this new reformist government, which was adopted in April of 1968.
    • This program promoted ideas from preceding years that were unrealized, including overdue economic and agricultural reforms, the democratization of Czechoslovak political life, the transformation of Slovakia into a full parity within the Czechoslovak federation, a revised constitution that would ensure a complete rehabilitation of citizens’ rights that had been infringed in the past years.
    • In addition, the program also aimed for a division of powers. The National Assembly, rather than solely the Communist Party would be in control of the government, courts were aimed to become independent and act as mediators between the legislative and executive branches. Although the shared powers between the government and other non-governmental organizations (Political pluralism) was not recommended, the Communist Party would still have to justify its role and compete for authority with these organizations (“Czech”).
  • Dubček instituted program was known as “socialism with a human face” and encouraged non-Communists to also participate in the government and restored a number of civil liberties (“Czechoslovakia”).
  • The results of this liberalization movement were viewed as unprecedented by the international community. Many Christian churches, national minority associations, and groups advocating for human rights re-emerged as active components of the nation’s society.


Leaders Meeting in Poland for The Warsaw Pact

  • But the Soviet Union and other allies in the Warsaw Pact were more alarmed of Czechoslovakia’s shift to democracy. (The Warsaw Pact established a mutual-defense organization during Cold War that mainly involved the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania; and ensured the maintenance of Soviet military forces on these territories.)
    • After Dubček refused to participate in the meeting of the Warsaw Pact powers, the allies sent a letter to Dubček warning that Czechoslovakia was on the verge of counterrevolution. But Dubček remained confident that he would be able to negotiate with the Soviets and resolve the conflicts.
    • However, Soviet armed forces invaded Czechoslovakia in August of 1968 and sent Dubček and several of the nation’s leaders to Moscow (“Czech”).


       Soviet tanks arrive to crush the Prague Spring

      • Dubček witnessed his reforms to regress as the country was restored with “Soviet-bloc norms” under the reign of the communists (“Czechoslovakia”).
      • Dubček returned to Prague and noted the people of the prices they had to pay for his reformist program, and agreed with the Soviets to tighten controls over activities within the political and cultural spheres (“Czech”).
      • The communist leaders dominating the state focused on improving the productivity of the state-run economy and stifling internal opposition.
  • Husák replaced Dubček, became the nation’s first secretary and then the nation’s president, and promoted his program of “Normalization” (“Czechoslovakia”).
    • Husák at first wanted to persuade the Soviets that Czechoslovakia would still remain a loyal member, allowing the Soviets to intervene if socialism seemed to be at threat in Czechoslovakia, and repudiating the emergence of Prague Spring.
    • Under Husák’s program, purges were carried out an important infrastructure improvement projects (“Czech”).
    • Therefore Czechoslovakia during the 70s and 80s became one of the more prosperous yet repressive countries in eastern Europe.

I also found an article that offers us with detailed accounts from young Czechoslovakians on the aftermath of the Prague Spring and their understanding of freedom based on their experience during this era of reform. According to this piece, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought forth a repressive era against supporters of the 1968 reforms. For instance, many of those who participated in the reforms lost their jobs and worked under the stringent supervision of the Communist Party.

Democratization and Dissolution


The Velvet Divorce

1989, a wave of democratization “swept across eastern Europe”, encouraged by the leader of Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

  • The Polish Solidarity movement, the enactment of a democratic constitution in Hungary, and an exodus of East Germans who desired freedom spurred a series of movements against communist rule.
  • This caused the communist leadership and policies in Czechoslovakia to be challenged by mass demonstrations in Prague, this nationwide movement later became to be known as the Velvet Revolution.
  • In December, the Communists established a coalition government with non-Communists opposition groups.
  • This shaped Czechoslovakia to adopt a multiparty political system and Václav Havel became the country’s new president, who promoted free elections to the Federal Assembly in June 1990, with non-Communists winning resounding majorities (“Czechoslovakia”).
  • Havel’s government became vital in the transition of Czechoslovakia’s government from communism to democracy.
    • He privatized businesses, adjusted the nation’s foreign policy, and wrote a new constitution.
    • Soviet troops were removed in June of 1991, and the Warsaw Pact was disbanded a month later (“Czech”).
    • This “reemergence of” a multiparty democracy was later known as the Velvet Revolution.

As the communist rule gradually ended and democracy began to surface, the tension between the two portions of Czechoslovakia intensified.

  • Slovaks opposed Czechs’ preference of state-run industries and the privatization of the nation’s goods (“Czechoslovakia”).
  • The re-writing of the constitution was hindered by the differences between political parties of each side, an agreement was hard to be achieved on a federal level. In addition, as minorities, the Slovak deputies were granted a disproportionate veto power (“Czech”).
  • The election in June of 1992 highlighted the tension and disagreements among them(“Czechoslovakia”).
    • The Czechoslovak federation began to appear as fragile and separatism rose as an important issue (“Czech”)
    • Talks later in the year of 1992 between leaders from both sides “resulted in the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
    • This was also part of the “Velvet Divorce” as two new countries were created the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Jan.1.1993, ending the 74-year of joint existence (“Czechoslovakia”).

As the national economy began to regress under the communist rule, a period of reforms emerged. It is interesting to learn the development of the reform movements and understand how repercussions of earlier reforms influenced the scheme of the following reform programs. It also surprised me that Czechoslovakia endured so many subversive changes within only 50 years, experiencing the Prague Spring, the invasion of the Soviets, a challenging transformation back into an oppressive communist rule, a wave of democratization, and the dissolution. Communism in Czechoslovakia also altered and adapted different forms as the nation developed.


Works Cited


“Czech and Slovak History.” Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, edited by Lorraine Murray, Chicago, Britannica Educational Publishing with Rosen Educational Services, 2014, pp. [283]-347. The Britannica Guide to Countries of the European Union. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 7 Apr. 2019.

“Czechoslovakia.” Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 Sep. 2018. Accessed 7 Apr. 2019.

“Life in Communist Czechoslovakia: Voices of Youth: A USCSAR Symposium.” Eurasiacenter, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.


Getty Images. Leaders Meeting in Poland for The Warsaw Pact. 1955. Independent, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.

—. President Alexander Dubcek. Otago Daily Times, Copyright Allied Press Limited 2019, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.

—. Soviet tanks arrive to crush the Prague Spring. Independent, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.

The Velvet Divorce. Worldatlas, 2019, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.


Image result for money sign

I have just received word back from ATCC regarding my cell lines and the contamination issue I faced. They said they are unwilling to give a refund on my cells because the tests they had previously run showed no signs of contamination. However, they did offer me a 10% discount from the original $492.00 it costs to purchase the cell line. I am going to discuss with Teacher Margaret regarding the state of my project since this will be the third time to purchase cells and roughly a 5 weeks is in not enough time to get cells confluent and run all of the tests I had initially planned. Additionally, it is very frustrating to have ATCC not refund or send me a new cell line since the tests we ran showed no signs of contamination on our part. This was not how I expected my project to be carried out and has been a very difficult and stressful time for me to figure out logistics regarding this project.

After discussing with T. Margaret we have decided that it may be best for me to write out the cell culturing procedures necessary for the NBT-ii cell line should a student wish to continue this project in coming years.

Now You’re Speaking My Language: My story of transcribing and publishing the story of Katerina Šulková

We have recently published an article about Katerina Šulková, a young scientist from the Czech Republic who has worked across Europe in laboratories. Today, I will be talking about having a translator as apart of my process, and how I have had to translate things on my own, tying into the larger idea of me taking on multiple roles. Continue reading