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What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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On gender-neutral language

Despite being a relatively small issue, this one’s important to me. Hopefully I’ll explain why and what you can do to address it too.

An (imperfect) example that fellow nerds will be very familiar with is:

To boldly go where no-one has gone before

You’ll recognise that as part of the Star Trek: The Next Generation opening credits. In a previous iteration, it went thus:

To boldly go where no man has gone before

Split infinitive pedantry aside (you’re wrong, anyway), unfortunately this change was less about including women and more about including non-human species, but, hey. Take what you can get.

There are far more examples, though, and since whenever we discuss this some men will tend to get very angry, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

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#MeToo, Sex Ed, 50 Shades, Abuse & Consent

#MeToo has led to a lot of questions about what healthy interactions look like between people where at least one of the parties wants something sexy to happen. Unfortunately, a very widespread lack of understanding (and in many cases coupled with disregard for the safety or feelings of others) means that a huge number of people have been subject to painful experiences.

Sometimes men’s fears about ‘being labelled a harasser or rapist’ are absurd and absolutely should be met with derision (also, try living in fear of actually being assaulted) – if you can’t understand the difference between flirting and harassing, please get yourself some help. This is your problem to fix. Also watch this video!

But there is also a deeper problem in that we get a lot of bad information and there are vacuums that are filled with nonsense when it comes to sex and relationships, while we grow up. I recall chatting with friends around the time that the original 50 Shades film was announced (wtf?! we exclaimed – then last year brought us the second) and our discussions of abuse, relationships and sex education in schools; how bad it all is.

50Shades is Abuse

I don’t know who wrote this; please add in the comments if you do and I can amend!

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QEDcon 2017

Rhys boyo and me! Ah, old now.

My 7th QED in a row came around in October 2017. The usual mess of train snacks and a bit of celebratory boozing on the train up, a different (bizarre) hotel – thanks, The Britannia! – and straight into catching up with old friends.

Volunteering last year was enjoyable, but there is always a great team managed by organiser Nicola so I felt OK giving someone else a go this time around.

Another brilliant event with lovely people and if I don’t make it in 2018 (due to being on another continent – more on that later!) – have a great 8th!

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QEDcon 2016

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Part of this year’s goodie bag – a QED sticker to adorn whatever you fancy

After about 13 hours of sleep post-QED, I started to write some words about it!

6 years in a row. A strange feeling walking back into a hotel room like one I stayed in 3 years ago, but quickly settling into familiarity, largely because of all the friendly faces to see and hugs to give/receive.

I haven’t been to many conventions in my time, but of those few, this skeptical event has to be the best by a long way.

Not just because the organisers are very talented and kind people I’m proud to call friends, or the consistently excellent, approachable and affable speakers, or because fellow attendees are a joy to be around (in all states of sobriety and so far from it). All of that and more.

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International Women’s Day

I haven’t written for ages, many reasons for that, but I thought I’d jot down what I was thinking about on the way to work this morning. It’s longer than I expected, as usual.

Before getting to that, I’ll reflect on going to work – something many women even a generation ago did not get to do, so I’m grateful for that and always have been. This is no slight on anyone who does not have a contracted-to-do-things-for-others, leaving-the-house type job. Or two.

There are many ways to earn a living, and many forms of work that are unpaid and undervalued. I don’t refer to that, but to the option and opportunity I have been afforded that many were – and are still, globally – denied.

Let us not forget the women who are forced to work, lucky if they earn any wage, risking their safety and their children’s. Women in poverty. Women faced with false choices of abuse or homelessness. Women living under legal systems that deny them basic rights.

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Science is as vital as ever- fighting cuts again

Science is Vital is a campaign group that was set up back in 2010, the last time UK science was threatened with big budget cuts.

What’s the problem?

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It’s happening again, now – the Research Councils have been asked to predict what could happen if 20-40% cuts are imposed.

That is huge. Last time campaigning achieved a freeze, the ringfence or flat cash – no cuts, but after inflation takes its toll, science funding has still decreased over time, to the point we’re now last in the G8.

Head over to scienceogram to interact with these numbers more fully and see how little we spend on things like preventing cancer, heart disease and stroke – currently the 3 biggest disease killers.

How can I help?

  1. Send George Osborne a post card!

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Poster advice for MSc and PhD students (and beyond!)

Originally collated via Storify

Designing a poster to showcase your work at conferences and similar events can be a challenge – from a big, blank page to something that looks impressive and comes with a clear explanation from you.

Here are Twitter’s top tips! Continue reading