Purely a figment of your imagination

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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Animated Science

One of the best aspects of the the science communication-type roles I’ve had can be the variety.

Depending on where you are and how established the team is (the team ‘me’ was the best!); one day writing articles, the next editing photos/doing some graphic design, web editing, interviews, filming prep, answering questions – or something new.

I’ve been lucky to work on some digital animations with a London-based company, Phospho and will share them here – please note that I don’t own them, however (details in the credits).

I worked with Phospho to write scripts, refine storyboards, and voice these videos – with help from other cancer experts. Happy to answer questions below!
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Incels and taking online misogyny seriously

I am not happy to write this. Not a bit. There is absolutely no joy in “I told you so” when “These people are deadly” is again reality.

It’s sickening that having mentioned one murderer so recently, they been invoked in the killing of another 10 innocent people. Another 10 families inverted as misogynistic hate groups congregate online.

I do think it is our responsibility to pay attention to these elements of hate because ignoring them has never made them go away.

This is a resource for learning about “incels” and associated hate groups of the manosphere – the broiling mess of anti-women communities on the internet. I think it’s important to learn about this, so please take some time if you can.

[Content notes for sexual violence]


A great way is to follow David on Twitter and/or get email updates from We Hunted The Mammoth – a truly heroic group, started by him, that summarises what these people are up to so we don’t have to get close to it.

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You need to stop being angry at women who don’t reply to your internet dating site messages

This comes up a lot. Other people have written insightful things about it, so I linked them in a Storify, which now lives here.

As background, my profile became quite long and specific over the years I hopped on and off OKCupid. It contained web links. Someone took issue with one of them…

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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


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Warning: may contain warnings

Trigger warnings! People are still talking about them.

Edit 2016: especially when the University of Chicago does this

As I think I’ve said before, I prefer terms like “content note” or just NB/ or similar, as I have read convincing arguments that the very use of the words “trigger warning” can be kind of self-defeating, so maybe it’s better to avoid that. Although whether “TW” may have the same effect, I’m not sure. Not my point.

What warning?

I’m talking about little notes at the start of something – a piece of writing or a talk, or a post in (for example) a facebook group – that gives people a heads-up about the content. It might be “Content note: disordered eating” or “TW: rape” or similar. The point is that if people aren’t in an appropriate state to deal with that or prefer it not creeping up on them unannounced, they don’t need to -just to let them know so they’re better prepared when it comes up.

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On being a “digital academic”

It's me

It’s me

A colleague asked me why I “left science” last year. I don’t really feel like I have; my dayjob involves writing about the amazing research and related goings-on at the place where I completed my PhD. I still feel connected to science; I’m just not at the bench.

Perhaps I’m lying to myself, but I’ll run with it.

While I may not be a practicing academic, many friends and colleagues are. As I now (and, for the last 15-odd years, always have) spend a lot of time online and with social networking, I watched a Google Hangout that was run by jobs.ac.uk today: Being a successful Digital Academic.

People often fear social networks, but I’ve defended them before and will continue to do so. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without this blog, Twitter and the time I’ve spent on them, as well as the people I’ve met through them.

The hangout contained lots of useful tips for academics who are or might want to venture into the world of online chat, promotion and networking. You can find my notes here on Google Docs and the Piirus blog, too. Continue reading