This is my last post.
Hopefully you would’ve enjoyed(?) the last twelve weeks of shenanigans. Thank you to those who commented or subscribed. I’m chuffed that you did, but now I need to go home and scream into a pillow.
Feel free to leave hilariously abusive comments below this post. Cos PhD. Or summat. So you’ll need a place to vent. And here it is.
After winning a third term, President Cruz promptly declares a ceasefire against the Franco-Russian-Syrian axis in the Water Wars. Our protagonist, street fighting urchin SuchQuantum, returns to its Croyden shelter after again sabotaging the telecommunications of Westminster. Soon this campaign comes to the attention of ambitious investigator bobby Gallagher, and a deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins. Whoever loses, pays with their life.
It is 2025. Earth’s population totals 9 billion. The Thames has swollen to twice its size. When the streets are ruled by feral Scotsmen and the Star-Spangled Banner is torn down at No. 10 to be replaced by a bloodied Saltire, the last Russian oligarch is helicoptered out of his Kensington stronghold to the warm sendoff of Molotov cocktails (you can’t ignite piss). Tory carcasses are ceremonially burned before the Sturgeon-Salmond murals in the Soviet style, and the quiet chatter of AK-47s cut through the London smog.
The enemy is everywhere. Will our young hero escape the rapidly closing net and live to fight another day? Will our hero ever find love and build a new life in the Chatham Islands? Nur Gott weiss. Was there a reason to do a PhD in the UK in the first place? Nur Gott weiss.
Hello again, world. It looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Gone are the days when you’d meet with an unconspicuous-looking man at a park bench to exchange brown paper envelopes. No more unregistered typewriters, invisible ink or secret code phrases. These days all you’d need to know is Mr. X’s mother’s maiden name to get into their Dropbox and G-Drive. Hopefully there’d be the beginnings of a groundbreaking paper, or something more titillating. Mustn’t be fussy. You need that jpeg of Mr. X in his keks to get you through those eight meetings you’ve lined up this week on iCal.
Hello again, world.
What is impact? Changing the world, one PRB paper at a time? Making a little bit of history, then pulling up the ladder behind you? Eventual false modesty and humblebragging? I reckon you STEM naifs all secretly wanna launch yourselves towards Brian Cox-levels of ubiquitousness.
He’s just so clever and big and strong and talented and yummy and brave and I’ll bet he smells divine.
I actually met him once. When I say met him, it was actually a dream in which the two of us moved into a little cottage on the outskirts of Holme Valley. We opened up a flower shop with his professor money, Brian would spend the days making beautiful, vibrant arrangements whilst I baked cookies in anticipation of him coming home from work. Then we’d cuddle up on the sofa and watch repeats of Cheers. He prefers the Rebecca years but I just don’t think it was the same after Diane left. He’s far too cool and sweet to let something like that come between us.
Hello again, world.
It must be hard, asking a physicist to cut material from their ppts. They like flogging dead horses, don’t you know. But equations don’t sell an idea or fire the imagination. Neither do graphs, unless you show why and how they exist. Presentations are a performance and must be treated like one. You can do it creatively or not.
It must be hard, sitting through another Monday morning lesson. Students dream of spitballing their profs for reading from slides, hollow and comatose. PhDs at swanky conferences lust after the canapes and schwarma getting cold in the foyer. Slides are either bullet-point reminders for the speaker, or a dissertation-type mire which tends towards ‘Katatraya stayeftika’. Unfortunately it’s usually the latter.
It must be hard, conveying that enthusiasm for cavity solitons in passive Kerr resonators. Especially when you’re still jetlagged from that Yale trip and had to finish marking test papers at 2am. It’s another presentation for another dreary PR exercise. You’re running on the smell of an oily rag. Nobody would blame you for having all the charisma of a parsnip.
Hello again, world.
Join hands with me. Let us sing, Kumbaya. Because sharing is caring. Unless they’re syringes. So it goes.
Wikipedia is free. As are TEDTalks. And MOOBs. From 30 feet away EndNote looks like a lot of class. From 10 feet away it looks like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.
Knowledge is power. So if you’re of the 1%, you’d want to nuke the proles from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. So it goes.
Hello again, world. And so the rat race begins. This week in the firing line: LinkedIn and ResearchGate.
“I am an impressionable young man/woman fresh out of uni with a heart-load of dreams and a face full of wonder, who yearns to make it big in the high-octane world of academia — at Oxbridge. I’m a hardworking team player, fast learner, and all-round people person. I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a 10-trick pony. I’ve got a whole field of ponies, waiting to literally run towards this job. I’m ‘O’ for Awesome!”
…whereas the reality is: Never sick. Dislikes workplace romance. Handles workloads like an abused donkey. Not fond of smalltalk. Will not attend workplace parties.
But nobody wants to hear that. LI and RG are your human sandwich boards. Collect as many friends on there as possible, then let the numbers grow organically. They’re your chia pets. Get away from your screen, go outside and talk to people. You’re not good enough to get that postdoc or job position anyway, so it all becomes a bit easier if you have real-life connections to lean on. Real friends are always better than chia pets.
Hello again, world.
This week I have to consider my “personal brand”. Today is the first time I will ever Google myself. As mentioned previously, I only exist in the LinkedIn universe. No embarrassing Facetwit updates from the bad old days of high school, no narcissistic selfies of a “gap yah” in Ibiza, no fat cats on Snapchat.
This week’s tasks are to set up Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I’m familiar with these tools.
But my response is, No.
I respectfully refuse.
In the scheme of things, a black mark against my blog in this programme is a speeding ticket. Small change. I want to “curate” my “brand” organically. It doesn’t involve bland Instagram jpegs or Hemingway quotes in fewer than 140 characters. So there.
If I set up some social media account for this programme, I’ll put up some words or a picture and video. Then kill it just as quickly for fear of jeopardising my real life career and friendship. Your reputation is the only currency you have in this world. I’m sure that GCHQ are, have been, and will be monitoring my internet usage, but that’s another story.
Hello again, world. It’s supposed to be our bye-week : a Wednesday morning smalltalk-coffee-biscuits affair where we meet up and compare war wounds .
There’s nothing special to note, except for a 5.7 aftershock in Christchurch (Sunday pm, NZT). By gad, Gerry Brownlee’s done enough to poor Christchurch. He really should put the skipping rope away and take up golfing.
Hello again, world. Do I attract you? Do I repulse you with my queasy smile? Am I too dirty? Am I too flirty? Do I like what you like? I could be wholesome. I could be loathsome. I’m a little bit shy. Why don’t you like me? Why don’t you like me without making me try?
The other blogs in this programme. Much wow. The PhD-ery going down at Surrey is pretty badass. Amirite? No I haven’t read them all. Of course my blog won’t be as earnest. I’m not out for self-promotion or to invite you into a world of middle-class Millennial angst. It’s just potboiler. Besides, I can’t write big paragraphs. This programme is 12 weeks long; I’ve got to conserve ammunition.