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This evening I had a bit of extra excitement than was initially planned for by mine and M's trip to the cinema. We came out of the front door of my building and glanced down and saw a pair of shoes lying next to the bushes. We both thought that was odd, then noticed that there were some legs attached to the shoes and an unconscious body attached to the legs!

A man was lying in the bushes and not moving and not responding and his hands were all clammy and cold. We couldn't see his face because that was right in the middle of the plants. We were a bit freaked out so I called an ambulance. The operator kept asking if I could see if he was breathing or had a pulse so I tried to move the bushes away to see his face. I have never been so relieved to be freaked out by a sudden movement! He woke up and said he was ok, but he didn't look or sound very ok.

Then the ambulance arrived and the medics lifted him out of the bushes and discovered he was just very very drunk. Apparently he lives two floors above me and just didn't quite make it into the building. We also found some takeaway he'd dropped, and M said he'd seen it by the door when he came in three or so hours ago, but he hadn't noticed the man then. It was no wonder he was so cold if he'd been lying there for three hours already!

I was glad we'd seen him when we did, I don't know if he'd have woken up or survived the night otherwise. Its at freezing and also raining at the moment, not good weather to be lying outside in.

Scientists are...

I was just reading through my friends page and came across the latest offering from Bad Astronomy, 'Scientists are...' ( In this article Phil Plait is worrying about the bad rep scientists seem to have via Google search autocomplete.

Scientists being idiots, liberal and liars as the top three options listed. The perception of scientists and scientists perceptions of other peoples perceptions of scientists is a topic close to my heart as a scientist and a science communicator so I had some opinions on this article!

Granted, the options shown are not generally the most flattering but I wondered how other professions fared with the same test.

Teachers are overpaid and underpaid
Lawyers are liars, evil and crooks (no surprises there I guess...)
Authors are rockstars , dead and crazy, but also listed alphabetically
Chefs are arrogant and alcoholic
Actors are overpaid and stupid
Politicians are corrupt and liars
Footballers are awesome and overpaid
Sales people are scum and annoying
Mechanics are crooks and thieves
Police are useless and evil

I could go on, but you get the picture. Scientists are not alone in having their profession disparaged. Maybe it's because I interact with a lot of scientists that I see it more, but I do see a lot more complaining by scientists than other professions about how 'the public' sees them. In fact, after having carried out a study on 10 year old children and reading many other studies, I feel I can say with reasonable confidence say that most people think of scientists as people who work in science.

All professions have their stereotypes and the people in those professions are as diverse, character-wise, as any other arbitrary group.

I have mixed feelings on the promotion of science and scientists. On the one hand I think it is important for professions to be visible, so children can decide if they like them and so 'the public' can see how they affect them socially. On the other hand I don't think this persecution complex on the part of scientists is something that is at all helpful to be holding on to. Neither is the promotion of science as the perfect objective lens through which the world must be viewed. Science is important, but so is history and politics and law and all these other subjects. We are not one dimensional beings, nor is 'the public' a cohesive whole. Trying to treat people like that smacks of condescension which doesn't help anybody's cause at all.

This post is not meant as a complaint about Plait specifically, but his article is another in a long line of similar ones I have seen and pushed me to post my own thoughts on the matter. If anyone's still reading, you might like some more posts I have planned on children's perceptions of scientists. I have got my dissertation back and am now free to post it where I like so there will be some of the better extracts from it coming soon (when I am not too lazy). There will also be pictures drawn by the children, which are frankly the best part.

If anyone wants to join in with more professions do so in the comments!

Today is a good day...

Today is a good day. I got my dissertation back with nice feedback and an acceptable mark, so the last 12 months and £5000 haven't been wasted! Also my mum has finally sent her book to the publishers, she has been fretting about it for weeks so it was worth a glass of bubbly with dinner.

As well as this I have tickets to see an audience with Commander Hadfield at the Science museum in December so I'm very excited! As a bonus I have just painted my nails with a varnish called 'gold brocade' and it is just as blingy as you would expect from that name and therefore awesome.

Oh and I almost forgot, there are also new pyjamas to wear! I love new pyjamas. :D

Happy hugs to all!

(no subject)

Augh! What are you supposed to do when you're halfway through reading a story on AO3 and it suddenly becomes user restricted? I have been left at a cliffhanger and am feeling a bit desperate... :( :( :(

I'm genuinely quite shook up over not being able to finish it. Also I can't find it anywhere else either. Feeling very sad right now. :(

ETA It turns out what you do is watch some kitten videos for a while, then join AO3. Problem solved!

A cool thing I found out today...

Today I found out someone I know from school is in Homeland, Dexter and The Following. Last I heard he was acting on stage in New York, but he seems to have transitioned to TV pretty successfully! He even has a Wikipedia page. It's funny because I remember him as a kid. He did always like acting! It's pretty cool that he's doing well.

One of my best friends is another to watch out for. She's just been signed on by a major literary agent with her first novel. With the agent behind her, publication is looking like it'll be a fairly sure thing. That's also kind of cool, because I got to be one of the beta readers for her manuscript before she sent it off.

Friends are pretty awesome.

Self motivation - go Kat go!

Last push for the masters is today! 4000 words to finish it, then the dissertation will be printed and bound and handed in tomorrow. Then the year will be done! Come on Kat you can do it!

edit: dissertation is done!

43,651 words, 214 pages, 47 pictures, 10 focus groups, 4 tables, 2 graphs and 1 interview. My summer's work.

Calling Doctor Who fans...

Does anyone on my know much about Doctor Who, what his character is like? I'm writing a dissertation on what children think about scientists* and some of them said they thought the Doctor was one. I'm trying to include a short analysis on him, but as I don't watch the show it's proving difficult! Is he a scientist? Does he use science? If anyone has any thoughts at all they'd be gratefully received!

*They have drawn me pictures which are awesome. I'll pick the best to share after the dissertation's been marked :D

(no subject)

It's saddening going through old rec lists and discovering you've been too far out of a fandom for the last couple of years and the authors you loved have disappeared entirely from the net. Four or five have gone from one rec list, though admittedly that was quite a mega list.

Film = seen!

I have finally seen the new Star Trek film! Yay! I can head safely back to the awesome ST coms and read all the fics and discussions and no longer worry about lovely lovely spoilers... :D