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Thursday, June 30, 2005

I... Hate... Journal... Club...

Grrrr. I am sooooo bored right now.

This week it is my turn to present Journal, club having successfully skipped it a few weeks ago.

For those who are unfamiliar with journal club, it is rather like brussels sprouts. Your boss insists that it is good for you - but you would rather feed laxatives to a constipated cat sitting on your head.

Basically, each week a member of the lab chooses a "topical" paper, published within the last few months. The paper is distributed in advance to the rest of the group before Friday when, armed only with a laser pointer and a copy of Powerpoint, you then dissect the paper in minute detail, discussing the importance of the work, its relevance to our work, where the authors have been innovative and where the work could be improved. Coworker's are encouraged to ask questions throughout the talk and then debate it afterwards. You have one hour.

What actually happens is that on Wednesday evening, you realise that it's your turn to present on Friday. You frantically search PubMed for a vaguely interesting paper which might have some relevance to the disparate group of 30 or so research group members. Having chosen one with an impressive-sounding title, you may read the abstract. More likely, you will simply attach the PDF to an email and send it to the group. Having left it so late, you probably have a full day's work planned for Thursday, so you have to frantically re-arrange your timetable.
You then sit down to read the paper. It is at this point, that you realise that not only have you chosen a frighteningly dull paper - actually the work is a bit crap and you only understand about a third of what they are talking about. Even worse, buried in the middle of the results section are 2 full pages of mathematical equations composed of letters that don't even appear in the greek alphabet.

Having manfully read the paper, you now have to read it several more times because you will actually be quizzed on this. You also have to compose a powerpoint presentation, and be familiar with the author's previous work, because (as you quickly realise) the author has saved space by simply repeating the phrase "using the methods previously established by author et al", requiring the reading of at least a dozen other papers to familiarise yourself with the methods used in this study.

When it comes to presenting the paper, the projector usually doesn't work properly. Once it is finally setup and most of the lab are in there, drinking tea (you by the way haven't had time for a cup of tea yet) it is time to start. 5 minutes in, the door bangs open as the Italians arrive, apologising profusely and loudly, before asking everyone to move across a seat. Having restarted, you get 10 minutes in before the eminent Professor arrives. Being the boss (and thus the man in charge of writing references), a chair in the center of the room is promptly vacated and everyone shifts position again. During this, at least one cup of tea is usually spilt.

Restarting, you get to the bit you don't understand. Emminent Prof, who has until this point being snoring quietly, sleepily raises his hand and asks 3 rapid-fire questions regarding why, where and how. You fumble slightly, make a bad joke then admit you have no idea what the paper is even about. The atmosphere is a soporific combination of sympathy and abject boredom. The silence is broken by a soft snore as eminent Prof goes back to sleep.

Finally, you get to the end of the paper. You repeat the authors' conclusions, and ask "any questions?" in your most discouraging manner.

The Spaniards stir. Spaniards are funny buggers. Not only does Spanish itself sound like French spoken by an Italian snake with a speech impediment, (th th th thhhh), both of my Spanish collegaues are borderline autistic in that they actually enjoy Journal club. Seriously. All week they can be heard asking "who's doing Journal Club this week?" and "Have you chosen a paper yet?" and even more scarily, an hour after you have emailed it around the group and 24 hours before you have read it "What did you think of the paper? I thought...". In fact one of them doesn't even have to come to our Journal club - he just turns up because we "pick really good papers".

"How did they normalise their datasets?"

"I don't fucking know! And why do I even care? You've got the bloody paper, and you've read it in far greater detail than I have - why on earth do you think I would know?"
Is what you would like to scream.
"They don't say. I think it is in the supplementary data" you say confidentally.
"It's here on the bottom of page 3" says the other Spaniard. Hijo de puta.

Finally it's over.

We traipse morosely out the door, like Gunatamo inmates stripped of all will to live.

"Put the kettle on" suggets the person who split their tea.
I drag the Powerpoint presentation to the Recycle bin, never to be seen again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

Naughty Sanescientist! No updates for over a week. Unfortunately life happens, weddings, job applications, meetings, away days and journal club, so just a short one. Still, I'm going to fiddle the date on the post form heh! My Blog my Rules.

No. 23 Coldplay's Chris Martin.

Why are Coldplay so fucking miserable? I've just heard some of their latest album, and I want to slit my wrists. Sure it's a pleasant enough ditty but I'd rather play it at my funeral than my wedding. What gets me though, is what does Chris Martin have to be miserable about? He's making babies with Gwyneth Paltrow for fuck's sake! I would be grinning from ear to ear and doing cover versions of WestSide Story's "I feel pretty".

On a related note - who the fuck, outside of La-LA land, names their kid "Apple"? And more to the point, what are they going to name the next one? Pomegranate? Pineapple? Kumquat?

So I am proposing a new wrist band - the "Make Coldplay Happy" bracelet. It will be yellow and pink with smiley faces on it. None of the profits will benefit charities for poor people - instead it will be placed in a trust fund to pay Apple's legal aid when she sues her parents because their gross twattery has guaranteed a lifetime of bullying.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 22 The UK Pro-Gun Lobby.

This was composed at the request of Lascivious, who was discussing this on his blog a few weeks ago.
All references and figure are taken from The Gun Control Network.

We in Britain are in a rare and enviable position. Since the Dunblane Massacre in 1996, in which 15 children aged 5 and 6 were gunned down by legal gun owner Thomas Hamilton, our gun laws have been systematically tightened, making handgun ownership a serious criminal offence in its own right. The latest figures for 2003/2004 show that 68 people were murdered in England and Wales by guns (35 by handguns). This is down on 2002/2003 (81) and the peak of 2001/2002 (97) (records began in 1989 and a new method of monitoring incidents introduced in 2002 has inflated some figures). No police officers were killed between 1997 and 2002 and only 9 seriously injured (in only 3 of those 6 years).

The number of injuries caused by guns (shooting, bludgeoning or threatening - the distress caused by being threatened is recorded as an injury) has increased from 3767 in 2001/02 to4762 in 2003/04. BUT the number of offences using shotguns has remained constant (111, 107, 104 respectively) and the number using handguns have decreased (648, 640, 590). The increase is mostly attributable to rifles, "imitation" guns, air rifles and unidentified weapons. None of those three classes of weapon are as tightly controlled as handguns.

Overall recorded gun offences have risen over the last few years, however it is worth noting that the biggest increases have been in both imitation weapons and air rifles. It is also worth noting that the gradual tightening of gun laws means that at least some of those recorded offences are simply for the possession of weapons that would have been legal previously.

Yet despite this, some fools believe that what British society needs is more guns, not less. In the US there are approximately 2-300 million privately owned handguns and their police officers are invariably armed. In 1999 a staggering 28,874 people were killed by gunshots. That's over 80 a day - in just 3 days, more American citizens were killed by guns than were killed in the UK that entire year.

The pro-gun lobby trot out a number of naive and dubious arguments in favour of allowing private gun ownership.
For example:

In Switzerland all men are required by law to own a gun, and they are hardly known for their crime waves.
True enough, but the gun-related murder rate in Switzerland is more than 4 times that of the UK (0.5 deaths/100,000 population vs 0.12/100,000 for both England & Wales and Scotland). Furthermore, all Swiss men undergo national service where they are trained in the correct and safe use of firearms - a weekend course in Montana with a group of overweight men in second hand fatigues who shout "Yeeah!" and "Go git 'im boy!" does not compare.

Having a gun in the house will make me safer.
The research disagrees however, with most studies showing that keeping a gun in a pivate house increases the risk of violent death. Children killing themselves whilst playing with firearms is all but unheard of in the UK - it is a sadly regular occurance in the US. When a husband in the UK comes home to find the missus in bed with the milkman, he might be quick enough to give the milkman a kick in the bollocks on his way out the door, and the wife a slap for taking liberties. In the US it is all too common that the husband grabs the shot gun, kills the visitor, then gives the wife one between the eyes. He then realises what he's done, and goes into the next room to kiss his kids before killing them and shooting himself. Having easy access to a gun makes it easier for you to "solve" your problems there and then with a red haze covering your vision. Do I even need to mention that most school and workplace massacres in the US were commited using legally owned weapons?

Suicide is also a whole lot easier with a gun. Many suicides are a call for help. But when a person is determined to do it, there are few better ways than a gun. Slicing one's wrists is actually quite difficult and unless you know what you are doing rarely works. Similarly, taking an overdose of pills is also harder than it seems on TV. Paracetemol is extremely hard to overdose on - it instead destroys the liver and it may be possible to save the victim. And the contents of most people's medicine cabinets are pretty crap. Jumping from a tall building is also quite a feat of daring - the old joke about the suicide victim looking over the side of the building and exclaiming "I'm not jumping off there, I'll break my neck!" has more than a grain of truth in it. Every time a suicide victim fails, there is a second chance to save that person. There are precious few second chances when you swallow a bullet. A selection of references at the GCN.

The majority of weapons used by criminals are obtained illegally.
The argument here is that criminals will obtain guns illegally on the black market, whilst law abiding citizens will be left defenceless. Thus increasing legal gun ownership will favour the honest citizen and not the criminal. This is a flawed argument on many levels. Perhaps most importantly, it fails to address the hand ordinary law-abiding US citizens have had in creating this black market. The term conjures up images of bandidos and smugglers sneaking across the border late at night with lorry loads of handguns which criminals will use to terrorise suburban soccer moms. The reality is rather more mundane - burglars simply steal them from the houses of soccer moms and the guns stores where said moms bought them. In the UK, when a house is burgled the thief makes it over the garden fence with a TV, VCR, DVD Player and some nice jewellrey if he is lucky. In the US, the criminal can end up with all of the above plus a handgun, a shotgun and enough boxes of ammunition to retake Baghdad. If they are really lucky and break into the house of a "hobbyist" they can walk out with anything short of a fucking surface to air missile. That's where the guns are coming from - not some mythical 'plane drop in the Nevadan desert. As you increase the numbers of guns in society, you increase the numbers of gun-related incidents. QED.

Burglars are less likely to break in if the owners may be armed.
One of the strongest arguments against arming Joe public is the danger of threat escalation. At present in the UK, very few burglars or "petty" criminals carry guns. In the US the same cannot be said. In the US, only the criminally insane would attempt a break in without some sort of weapon. In the UK, we still get people trying to rob banks with knives! Granted, nobody wants to be confronted with a knife wielding criminal - but I sure as hell prefer it to being confronted by a gunman. After all, if I can keep more than an arm's length away from him, I'm probably safe and if it's a choice between a stab wound and a gunshot wound - I know which I'd rather take my chances with.
Returning to the subject of break ins - I certainly believe in a person's right to defend themselves and their property in whatever manner may be necessary, however I feel that I am far more able to do so if the criminal hasn't come armed. Even if I am armed also, at best it comes down to who will shoot first. And if we are talking about reducing the number of break ins - well a large sign outside proclaiming that "This house is insured by Smith and Wesson", may well make it a juicy target for burglars when you go on holiday. Free guns for all!

There will always be cases where, with hindsight, we can say "if only they had been armed, it would never have happened". However, the risks of becoming a society like the US are far greater than the extremely minor and rare risks that we in the UK face. A good analogy I think is the case for X-raying young women for breast cancer. At present, post-menopausal women, in addition to regularly inspecting their breasts for lumps, are offered X-rays to look for cancerous growths. Although breast cancer predominantly affects older women, there are a rare number of cases of the disease in younger women - Kylie Minogue is 37 for example - in even rarer cases there are women in their late teens who suffer from it. In still rarer cases there are young women with no familial history of the disease, for whom it is a bolt from the blue. Screening all young women for cancer using X-rays would unquestionably save lives. However, it would also expose these women to dangerous X-rays, thus increasing the likelihood of diseases as dangerous as that which they are trying to prevent.

The point is, that in life we accept an element of risk (i.e. assuming that young women with no history of breast cancer are unlikely to develop the disease, or will spot it by doing a breast test. Or that we in the UK are unlikely to be placed in a situation where a gun will be necessary) to avoid the far greater risks associated with over-compensating (exposing a young woman to regular powerful X-rays. Or increasing the numbers of handguns in society and increasing the desire for guns and the ease with which criminals can obtain them).

There is a good argument that a sloppily worded second amendment and years of lobbying and glamourisation by the gun lobby in the US has left them pretty much fucked. There is probably not a lot that that Americans can do to to put the genie back in the bottle. However, we in the UK are in a priviliged position. We have exceptionally low rates of gun crime, and tabloid fear-mongering aside, serious gun crime is actually falling, with imitation guns and air rifles now accounting for most incidents. It would be sheer twattery not to learn from the mistakes that the US has made over the years and arm our citizens. Once we do that, there can be no going back. There are only so many raids that the police can conduct to remove these guns and gun amnesties are only good at removing unwanted guns from the streets.

If anything, we in the UK need tighter gun laws. Powerful air rifles have killed or seriously injured a number of people recently, incluing children. Imitation hand guns are, as the figures show, an increasing danger. Not only are they used to threaten, many imitation guns can be converted to real guns using basic tools. And of course it is impossible for police officers to tell the difference, forcing them to assume the worse and drop the aggressor.

Loosen the gun laws? You must be fucking kidding.


Twat Postponement

This week's Tuesday Twat has been written, I promise. However my bosses' unreasonable expectation that I do a full day's work means that it has not been proof-read. A cursory glance reveals more spelling and gramatical errors than even the most loyal Twat fans are used to, so I shall be posting a day late.


I'm crap.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 21. Michael Jackson.
(apologies Lascivious - so many Twats, so few Tuesdays... I'll do it next week, I promise).

Wacko Jacko - BBC Online

Haven't you heard Sane - they found him NOT guilty, I hear you cry. Absolutely true. Michael Jackson was found NOT GUILTY by a jury of his peers, who found that there was not enough evidence to convict him of any of the 10 charges he faced. And that's all I have to say on the subject. But frankly, he was getting a Twat award either way, just for getting himself into that position.

Quite aside from looking and acting like a Twat, he really has done some twatish things whilst surrounding himself with Yes Men and "friends" worthy of a Twat award themselves.

After the Jordy Chandler affair, it must have become apparent to him that he was wide open to allegations of abuse due to his lifestyle. Yet did he do anything about it? No, he still shared his bed with little boys and admitted to it. And that is where his decisions regarding his friends and advisors come in. His Yes Men just told him what he wanted to hear. So who else was there to tell him that he was acting like a fruitcake? His family? Jesus look at them - it probably seems perfectly normal to them. His friends? That would be Lisa Minelli/David Guest, Liz Taylor and Uri Geller - most of whom regard planet earth as a nice place to do lunch, but they wouldn't want to live here.

And what about his actions in court? He turned up wearing jackets adorned with medals that claimed he fought on behalf of obscure European countries in WWII. I mean for fuck's sake, even Premiership football players can put a suit on for a court hearing. And what about his repeated turning up late and being "rushed to hospital" with the flu? Surely one of his "advisors" should have took him to one side and said "Michael - try not to look like a twat in front of the judge and jury. There's a good boy".

Oh well - it seems that the prosecution's star witnesses were even bigger twats - so he was found not guilty.

I'm still not letting him babysit though.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Do gentlemen no longer wear waistcoats?

As I have mentioned before, I don't "do" shopping. Nevertheless, there are times when I have to simply grin and bear it and make that trek into town. Grrr.

First stop was the library to pay off my £18 fine. I didn't have the money on me last time, so they kindly said I could pay it next time I came in, although for obvious reasons they weren't going to let me borrow any more books. The thing is - I could have gotten away with not paying. For reasons known only to themselves, in order to change one's registered address, they insist on seeing 2 bills with the new address. Since I do pretty much everything by direct debit or by online banking, I don't have a lot of bills floating around and frankly I couldn't be arsed to find one. So the address they have for me is a student house, 2 residences and 3 years out of date. Good luck tracking me down suckers... Sadly, I was born with what my Dad sarcastically calls "God's gift of a conscience" so I paid it in full yesterday.

The next stop was to try and find a nice smart waistcoat for the wedding I am attending in 2 weeks. Being a summer wedding, I think its nice to be able to ditch my jacket for when I hit the dance floor to strut my stuff. However, since I don't like white shirts (too many years of school uniform and working in a major highstreet department store have left a deep seated loathing of them), but will nevertheless be wearing one to the wedding, I need a waistcoat. I already have one, but it is looking a little tired these days and is a little, how shall I put this, circumferentially lacking. Lets face it boys, waistcoats can hide a multitude of sins if you buy them baggy enough.

Anyways, off I go. First stop NEXT, hopefully to offload the £35 of vouchers I have been sitting on for the last year - no waistcoats in stock, but "You could order one online, sir". Is he having a laugh? I couldn't tell you my shoe size, let alone what size waistcoat I need. And the point is that I want to offload these sodding NEXT vouchers.

So next it was M&S - nada. BHS (figured I might be able to spend my highstreet vouchers) - florally jobs suitable for the groom and best man, but not boozy best mates. River Island - nope. TopMan - nowt. Littlewoods (yeah yeah I know, but I was desperate by now) - what do you think? Selfridges - not a thing ("You could always travel to Manchester and try Harvey Nicks, sir - WTF? My suit only cost £100!). Finally Debenhams - 2 choices. One bright purple for £45 or black for £55. I am NOT wearing purple (for a start I'd have to buy a tie to go with it) and I am NOT paying £55 for something that only comes out the wardrobe every 2 years (and doesn't always fit, ahem).


I'll try Oxford street in London next week, when I visit some friends.

Related Rant.
Why are men's departments never on the ground floor? This isn't because I am lazy (although I am), but because of the way women shop. Slowly and in herds, like grazing wildebeast. Men, on the otherhand race into the store like it's supermarket sweep, and if you see 2 men together THEY ARE BOTH BUYING SOMETHING. I can guarantee that one hasn't simply dragged the other into town to follow and nod whilst the other makes his mind up. Surely it would make more sense to shove the women's departments out of the way, so that people could actually navigate the ground floor easily? And what is even more worrying - teenage girls shopping with their mums. Girls should only shop with their fathers until they turn 21. Thus they will learn etiquette and efficincy. By letting them go shopping with their mothers the bad habits are simply passed down the generation. When my Mum, Nana and sister last went shopping I had to give firstaid to my Dad, when his heart stopped through boredom.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Twat Update!! Bellamy backpedals!

A few weeks ago, I reluctantly awarded the botanist and famous environmentalist Professor David Bellamy a Tuesday Twat Award, for his stance on global warming. In complete opposition to every other reputable climatologist (which he is not by the way), he claimed that global warming was a good thing. Worse than that, he kept on asserting that many of the world's glaciers are actually growing, when in fact the World Glacial Monitoring Service claims that most are in fact shrinking. His reputation as a prominent environmentalist has been exploited by those opposed to the Kyoto treaty and is being used by lobbyists from the oil and car industries.

Well, according to this week's NewScientist, Bellamy has finally backed down and recanted his assertions, admitting in a letter to The Times that his figures were "plain wrong" and promising to "draw back from the debate on global warming". The damage to his reputation is done however, with two prominent conservation organisations, Plantlife and The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, deciding not to renew his long-standing Presidencies. He has yet to reply to NewScientist's request for an interview.

It's a sad end to an otherwise sterling career, however I shall not be withdrawing the award, since I suspect that his original claims will be used as ammunition for the oil lobby et al for many years to come.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Oh, what a perfect day...

Well the day started great... not!
Today was yet another "progress" meeting with SWMNBN. She was her usual charming self, having already distributed my "progress" report, she was well aware of the problems I'd been having, so when it came to my turn to present the data she started with
"Lets hear what Sanescientist has been doing... or rather not doing".
That really pisses me off. Last week, as I mentioned, I worked stupid hours and cut short a weekend to get back in the lab. Rather annoyingly, my other supervisor didn't feel the need to mention that Friday morning, when he arrived shortly after 8, I was leaving with the promise that I'd be back later in the evening. Cheers, mate.

I bit my tongue, knowing that a protracted argument would just extend the meeting still further. And after only 3 hours sleep, I really wasn't in the mood.

The afternoon got even better. I finally got an email confirming what I suspected - I hadn't got the job I was interviewed for last month. Gutted.

Still, sitting around feeling sorry for myself isn't terribly productive and I believe that if you fall of a horse, you should get straight back on again. So I downloaded some papers written by the lab I applied for last week. Just to make myself feel better, I also downloaded an application form for a lab run by 2 Nobel prize winners. Actually, reading the job description, I'm not sure I am actually qualified so I probably won't apply - but still, it made me feel better.

Anyway, I figured "fuck it", and went home early (well I say early, 1830h which still felt deliciously naughty). Just to finally round off the day in style, I took my heavily overdue library books back. I have set a new personal record - £18.24 in fines. I have really got to get into the habit of making time to take the books back. On the plus side, I reckon they will probably name a shelf after me.

Oh and by the way - its 0100h, and they are still digging the road up outside my bedroom window with a pneumatic piledriver.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No 20. Racial Bullies.

This is something that really pisses me off. My research group at work has always been famed for it's diverse members. I estimate that I have worked with at least 40 nationalities over the past few years. Consequently, at any one time at least half of my coworkers don't speak English as a first language. They are all competent in its usage of course - after all they are expected to read and write complex scientific reports in English and they have to live in an English-speaking country and work in an English-speaking workplace. Neverthless, to many English is definately a foreign language.

For most of us, it is great fun. The literal translation of foreign sayings and proverbs can be extremely amusing, and the whole lab shouting "Happy Birthday" down the phone in (very bad) Mandarin to one of our student's mothers resulted in fits of giggles from our Chinese contingent. I will remember the look of concentration on an Egyptian student's face as he tried to pronounce "Bullshit Baffles Brains", until the day I die.

But some people take advantage of this in the most unpleasant of ways. Although we have a very pleasant lab generally, it is inevitable that when 20+ people try and share a communal space and use the same equipment and chemicals, friction and conflict will occur sometimes. Voices will be raised, opinions will be aired - and in the case of one unpleasant individual whom we shall call "Jim", rapid fire colloquiolisms and a suddenly impenetrable regional accent will emerge from nowhere.

I have seen "Jim" reduce a Chinese student almost to tears over the most trivial of matters, simply by shouting incomprehensibly. The student kept on apologising and saying that they didn't understand. "Jim" simply spoke faster. It later emerged that the student wasn't at fault and that perhaps if they had been able to defend themselves it could have been resolved. This isn't a one-off-event. On another occassion, they made one of our overseas students look like a total fool at a conference, by simply asking rapid-fire questions and refusing to understand the answers they were given. The student became completely flustered and tongue-tied and eventually had to give up and claim they didn't know the answer. I sat in the front row of that talk, knowing full well that the student could write a 10,000 word essay on the topic at the drop of a hat, but was unable to give any form of help for fear of making the student look even more foolish.

So perhaps emboldened by my (hopefully) imminent departure, I have started to take a stand against "Jim". When he goes "off on one", I interupt his flow. When he is needlessly rude I "jokingly" ask if he's left his manners at home today. When he starts to shout about some unwashed glassware, I make a crude joke about masturbation that has the whole lab laughing. Following my lead, other workers (including one who is unfortunate enough to share "Jim"'s bench - and thus is in the firing line if he is being an arsehole) have started to back me up. I am the pointman (fuck it, I'm gone in 2 months - I'm pretty much untouchable) and they will laugh etc on cue, thus defusing the situation and/or humiliating "Jim".

Humiliation is the only way to deal with these sorts of twats. I hope to reportray "Jim" as the lab "loon", rather than the lab "dragon" - think of it as my leaving present to all of my overseas friends.


Friday, June 03, 2005


Tonight is an all-nighter, joy of joys. I have another upcoming "progress" meeting on Tuesday, and it's the usual mad dash for results. The frequency of the meetings has increased so that I now officially have meetings faster than I get pay cheques. That is fundamentally wrong in my book, but what can you do?

So the last thing I need this weekend is an unexpected stag do. Some old school friends are getting married, and after months of saying he didn't want one, the groom rang me up to say he was holding one in 5 days time. Fortunately the stag do will be a quiet affair (the bride's father is attending, so strip clubs are probably out. Although having said that...). The plan is a few beers, a nice meal, then a few more beers until closing time. Rather brilliantly, my best mate is teetotal and is driving from my parents' home town to the stag do and back the same evening. So I am simply catching the train to my parents' house on saturday, and will be picked up sober, and dropped off less sober that same night - no clubbing or foolishness - and I'll be back in the lab, hopefully feeling moderately chipper, exactly 26 hours after I left.

Unfortunately, the only way this can possibly work is if I run all of the stages of my experiment back-to-back, hence me staying here until at least 7am. I'll be back in early afternoon, to finish off, then back in saturday before I catch my train. Sleep? What's that?

The waiting continues.

I still haven't heard back from that job. Today I sent an email politely enquiring when I could expect to hear back from them. No reply this afternoon, although someone did point out that it is school half-term week at the moment, so they could be on holiday with the kids (if they have them).

In the meantime, I have applied for another position. I should at least get an interview since the interviewer actually knows me from that conference I attended a few months ago. They grabbed me after my talk, insisting that I come and see the poster describing their project. So they remembered me well when I emailed informally for more information about the post. So it was application form time again - 7 pages this time!

Unlike the last form that I filled in, this one actually requested information usually found on your CV, such as exam results etc. Bugger. To be brutally honest, my A level results were shite, and when I got my PhD I quietly dropped them from my CV. It's a cliche to blame the teachers, but it is telling that my grades went from straight As all the way through secondary school, down to bare passes for my A levels, before I went on and just missed out on a first in my bachelor's degree. Hmmmm. The poor A level results are probably why I didn't even get a reply from Oxford and Cambridge when I applied for a PhD there, when my references etc from Universiy were first-rate.

Anyways, there is fuck all I can do about it now, and hopefully they'll chalk it up to a bad day on the exam.

More annoyingly was the need to "state why you applied for the job, why you are suited for it and what you feel that you can bring to the organisation". That's an interview question surely? Not only that, I also had to fill in a load about my current job, the practical skills learnt and my managerial skills. WTF? I'm a junior postdoc! I have no authority whatsoever. I have no one to manage. So the best I came up with was my need to balance workloads and liase with people in multiple labs etc etc. I also mentioned that I used to divvy up work between me and another postdoc and that I help clueless students occassionally.

Oh well, I should at least get an interview. And the minimum salary advertised is more than I am on now, so no worries on that score - although looking at the location I would probably need a car to get to work.

What's up with Haloscan? It seems to be unable to count the number of comments left. For last week's Twat, the counter read 5 comments for about 2 days - I logged in and found 8. And it's not just my blog, or that post. Weird. Touch wood, it's behaving now but it is a little annoying.

How Conservative/Liberal are you?

Shamelessly pinched from Lascivious' blog (Daily Propaganda), this is an interesting quiz from Blogthings. It's rather US-centric, so some questions are a little irrelevant, but if I lived in the US this is how I'd answer them. It's broadly right, however since US society is by and large skewed to the right of civilization Europe, I do come across as more of a lefty tree-hugger than I probably am.

Your Political Profile

Overall: 15% Conservative, 85% Liberal

Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal



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