Latest posts

Do You Cope with Office Politics or Leverage them?

In academia, appraisals (call them what you will) get different degrees of serious attention. Equally, people pay more or less heed to them, depending on personal circumstances and whether anything useful is said. However, a recent study shows that, as with so much of the working world, subtle gender biases are at play. However well-meaning the appraiser may be in the feedback they give, however p Continue reading

Posted in careers, confidence, Equality, feedback, implicit bias, Impostor syndrome, Science Culture, Stereotypes | Leave a comment

Pliny

Pliny the Elder, yes, that’s the one, the author of Natural History, which got a very poor review on Goodreads at the time, one reader castigating the author as ‘that voluminous, industrious, unphilosophical, gullible, unsystematic old gossip’, who nevertheless died as philosophical a death as you please when studying the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, yes, the same that barbecue Continue reading

Posted in A very short history of sex and chocolate, ambry, galen, hetaera, incunabulum, pliny, procolophonid, scansioripterygid, Science Is Vital, Writing & Reading, yi | Leave a comment

In which we near end-game

Sight for sore eyes

January and February are always my least favorite months, but I can’t remember a winter when I longed for spring as desperately as this one. It’s the pandemic, of course, which has sucked the world dry of what little joy remains, damp and grey and interminable.

Locked down and stultifying in the sameness of life, I did what I could to appreciate what pleasures were Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Epidemics, Gardening, Joshua, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Will ARIA Sing?

The much trailed UK version of ARPA now has a name, and it’s not BARPA or UKARPA, it’s ARIA: the Advanced Research and Invention Agency. Not, note, Innovation but Invention. Is this going to be an important distinction or simply permit the old trope of ‘Brits are good at inventing but not making money’ to come to the fore again? Before this week’s formal Government announcement, the Commons Select Continue reading

Posted in ARPA, diversity, high risk, Science Funding, Women in science | Leave a comment

Cool

What difference a couple of weeks makes. Recall that earlier this month I was out in a blizzard trying to secure a tarpaulin over the hen run, all the while running the risk of hypothermia, or at the very least playing a bit part in a painting by Marc Chagall.

Much the same as then, but now.

Well, all change. Continue reading

Posted in Blog Norfolk!, Domesticrox, Gardening | Leave a comment

The Politics of White Lab Coats

Everyone knows what a scientist looks like. The species is easily identifiable because they wear a white lab coat wherever they go. It is almost as if, if you don’t wear a white coat you can’t be a serious scientist, in the eyes of the media. It was noticeable, on this week’s International Day for Girls and Women in Science, how few women (and girls) posted selfies of themselves so attired to prov Continue reading

Posted in funding, Horizon Europe, Prime Minister, Science Culture, Science Funding, vaccination | Leave a comment

Slitherin

Among the many questions that swirl around the ever-fevered Gee brain is this: how fast can snails go? They seem to go fairly fast when I chase them away from our leafy veg. But how fast is fast?

This pressing question was the subject of this effusion just out in the Journal of Zoology from M. Q. Continue reading

Posted in Cornu aspersum, furlongs per fortnight, Journal of Zoology, snail racing, snails, speed of light in a vacuum | Leave a comment

Cold

A pandemic is sweeping the nation. No, not that one – this one is avian flu. People with poultry are advised to keep their stock under cover. Chez Gee we have a number of semi-retired and fancy hens (that is, they haven’t laid any eggs for ages) but despite their largely ornamental purpose we have to follow DEFRA instructions.

The hens are kept in an area beneath the skeleton of a smal Continue reading

Posted in avian flu, beast from the east, Blog Norfolk!, cold, DEFRA, Domesticrox, emergency jelly babies, Erebus, Franklin, James Clark Ross, michael palin, North-West Passage, pandemic, poultry keeping, wind chill | Leave a comment

Who Has Authority Here?

Jackie Weaver may have become an internet sensation due to her calm handling of a bunch of unruly local councillors, but the behaviour manifest in the viral video is one that many a chair of an academic committee will recognize. Online calls do offer the opportunity to mute tiresome and aggressive members (not a tactic I’ve been reduced to using, at least yet), or despatching them to the virtual w Continue reading

Posted in bullying, chairing, committees, Science Culture | Leave a comment

On occupational hazards

(First posted over at the day job.)

On Christmas Day I received an email. It was addressed to my 7-year-old son, and it told him that his coronavirus test was positive.

There were mixed emotions. Continue reading

Posted in covid, covid19, Friday afternoon, Nonsense, science, Silliness, teachers, vaccination | Leave a comment

In Praise of Technicians

I was a very ham-fisted PhD student. I repeatedly broke a delicate and crucial piece of apparatus during the early months of my research, to the extent that I almost quit the whole endeavour and withdrew from the labs for a couple of weeks while I contemplated my future. I was to a large extent ‘saved’ by the skills of the workshop technician, who would smile as I entered the workshop holding the Continue reading

Posted in careers, Gatsby Foundation, Science Culture, Skills White Paper, TALENT, UKRI | Comments Off on In Praise of Technicians

Scrabbungulate

I’m not sure whether either of you know that I am rather fond of Scrabble. I can be found haunting the Internet Scrabble Club under the name of zedwave, (playing Scrabble online with people you know only as nicknames is, I suppose, an intellectual and therefore risk-free version of cottaging) or idly passing the time with some Scrabble app or another on my phone. A love of this game was inca Continue reading

Posted in addax, anoa, antelope, bok, cottaging, dibatag, dzho, dzo, eland, gaur, gnu, impala, kob, kudu, nilgai, nyala, okapi, oryx, ox, pudu, quagga, saiga, saola, scrabble, Silliness, topi, ungulate, Writing & Reading, yak, zebu, zo | Comments Off on Scrabbungulate

A Throwback to Years Gone By from the Government

Back in 2019 the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Advertising Standards Authority published new guidelines about the problems of gender stereotyping in advertising. The guidelines are clear: ‘These rules state that ads ‘must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence’. A wide variety of ads since then have fallen foul of the rules and ha Continue reading

Posted in covid19, Dominic Cummings, Equality, Fawcett Society | Comments Off on A Throwback to Years Gone By from the Government

Distrokering

You’ll both be aware by now that I’ve been usefully spending time learning how to record music at home, time I’d usually have devoted to live music. I’ve an album-length collection under my belt, and have even started playing music on other people’s records. One of these is now commercially available, and that got me thinking about making my own music more widely avai Continue reading

Posted in Birdland, Heavy Weather, Lockd Down and Blue, Music, These Are Difficult Times, Weather Report | Comments Off on Distrokering

DfE Deluge

As has been noted by many this week, there has been a deluge of output from the Department for Education (DfE), covering many matters that have been in the offing for months if not years. That the response to the Pearce Review on the Teaching Excellence Framework has been published with August 2019 on the cover is amusing, but it also says a lot about the way these issues are being tackled: non-ur Continue reading

Posted in Augar Review, BEIS, education, Equality, Further Education, Level 4/5 | Comments Off on DfE Deluge