Thursday, 30 October 2008

Unemployed at the crossroads of life (and other tortured metaphors)

Not got an article in mind, so this is just a link back to here

Not really been keeping abreast of news about Science at the moment, but a quick scan reveals that we really are melting the ice-caps, frogs in Yellowstone park aren't doing too well, India's launched a moon mission, they've found an old Hebrew book and a picture of leopard won a prize. But apparently, none of this is anywhere near as important as two 'comedians' joking about having sex with a woman. I'm not a huge Brand fan, I often thought his endless claims of sexual conquests quite boring, and people complain he doesn't respect women or something. But when he makes such claims and they turn out not to be true, there's a huge outcry, so what's he to do. I found the whole thing offensive, but only because it was a crap joke. These guys are the most highly paid comic personalities in the country, and the best they could do was an inversion on the hack 'I shagged your mum' heckle? Jesus wept.

The BBC news website, my main source of self-contained stories, recently changed their 'Science and Nature' section to 'Science and Environment', perhaps because of the ever increasing number of environment-based stories, or maybe it was just an attempt to seem more eco-aware. I don't know, but if I was cynical, seeing as all things in 'nature' occur in 'the environment', I would suggest that this renaming is a way of seeming more environmentally aware doing any bloody thing differently. Not that that's a bad thing.

I'm currently experiencing a persistent low-level anxiety which I've not encountered before, and I think it's caused by the paradoxical situation of being very busy while simultaneously unemployed. Depending on how you look at it, if I were to hand my thesis in tomorrow, it's either either a month overdue, 5 months ahead of schedule or 11 months early. Again, a lot of contradictions and variables which logically shouldn't exist simultaneously. But they do. So hey ho.

It's going slower than I planned, but it is going at all, which is better than I expected. Again, incompatible scenarios existing simultaneously. My whole life seems to be in some sort of quantum superposition in which all states exist simultaneously with each other until someone observes it, a la Schroedinger's cat. So what I'm saying is, if you ask me 'how's it going?', I might be revealed to have died several minutes ago. Which is why I seem tense when people ask about my progress. Nothing personal.

Look for work at this level is another new experience. I could feasibly accept a normal job, but having a PhD means I should be aiming for higher-up positions, such as post-doctorate positions or even lectureships. I haven't had to apply for these before, so am at a loss for how it's meant to go. I have applied for 4 different jobs already, none have replied thus far. Is that normal? I don't know. It's taken this long in the past, but for this kind of job? Would the complex nature prolong the interview process, or should the assumed intelligence level of those involved increase efficiency, which would mean I get a reply on the same day? God knows. But I haven't been offered anything yet, so maybe it's just me.

I've been feeling at a loss. I don't feel as involved with the Neuroscience squad because I have more outisde interests and probably don't dedicate myself to it as much as my peers. But then I don't feel as involved with my comedy colleagues as I'm the one who's doing a doctorate rather than getting gigs and networking. Although I recently did a gig at a Neuroscience conference. It went alarmingly well, probably the time I've been most 'in tune' with an audience, which should surprise no-one, although it does suggest I only do my best comedy in front of a crowd of Neuroscientists or similar, which does drastically lower my potential success in the wider world of comedy. Pah

I cleaned the house today, that mother of all procrastination tasks, after writing blogs that is. But it did need doing. Although I still finished with many hours put aside for a serious thesis writing session, which would have occurred if the last bit of data I need for my results section of the current chapter didn't require a brief means comparison in SPSS. For those of you unfamiliar with SPSS, it's the statistics package of choice for my department. And by 'choice', I mean it's the one we get given and that's that. SPSS is much like the NHS in a lot of ways. We're glad to have it, and it is useful, but sometimes it's so bloody chaotic or downright crap you'd rather just sneak a bottle of isofluorane and a few tools out of work and remove your own appendix. And as tortured metaphors go, that ones pretty much screaming for death and will confess to the Holocaust at this point. And there we go again, a tortured metaphor about tortured metaphors. Is that a record?

Anyway, I need to compare the means of two groups of results. I say the mean of one group is 57.68. SPSS keeps saying it's 68.71. I'm right, it's wrong, but it refuses to say otherwise. There's no reason for this ridiculous claim, apart form being pointlessly bloody minded. Is it possible to cause physical harm to software? 'I'm going to seriously corrupt your core programming' doesn't really have that much of a menacing ring to it.

Although I should refrain from saying stuff about a programme on my own PC. If it is being deliberately malicious, and I'm writing this on software right now, who knows what it could 68788 **&(£%$* - - - - - - _____________ [][]{}{[][}{[}{}{][][][][][Ld££££££££------...... . . . . . . .

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