I was running a little late because I dawdled through the front of Trinity College but I was in no hurry. Which meant I missed the first half of a short talk by one of the department's more successful graduates. They couldn't do name-badges maybe, but they had arranged for two (2) chaps half my age to give career advice in the guise of outlining an autobiography. Fairy 'nuff, even I was just yesterday suggesting that a young woman-of-science was a better mouth-piece for advice that an old silverback who has never snapped a chat or insted a gram. Nevertheless, on the principal that it's not over till it's over, I thought I could give an overview of a career in science which wasn't still wet behind the ears. For starters, it might be disheartening to have both barrels of career propaganda loaded with the super-successful young buck-shot: there are more, and necessary, careers in science than just The Winners. The prima ballerinas need people to do the heavy lifting: technically competent and tolerant of boredom.
portrait of James "Double Helix" Watson by Robert Ballagh which looks over the atrium of the Genetics Department [R] like The Lord offering his works to communicants. "That man is a racist" intoned our young speaker. Yes yes, we know that: Dr Watson in his declining years has become less and less able to button his lip about the deficiencies of people other than straight white males who have won a Nobel Prize aka SWMNPWs. Young feller next had a go at sexism in science, citing the scandal in Rochester U with alleged serial sexual predator Florian Jaegar and asserting that nothing like that was going to happen in his new ERC- and SFI-funded lab. These two broadsides caused a certain amount of discomfort in the room: racism and sexism happens elsewhere. We don't like having them shoved down our throats when we are parched to get access to the drinks table and shove down a mince-pie or two. But I don't fault him for bring up an edgy subject in Christmas week - you would have a heart of stone to walk past a homeless person as you do your Christmas stuff-shopping. And we know that a lot of sexual predation is going on in the stationery closet during year-end office parties across the world.
aNNyway, after the speeches, the mince-pies and gargle, the catching up and the networking and the chit-chat, I met up with Dau.I and we drifted off to skull a few pints. I tried to give her the gist of the polemic on cleaning up science that I had just heard. I also noted that we-of-the-atrium didn't have to travel as far as Rochester NY to encounter an egregious example of continually tolerated misogynistic bullying. I wrote that last link 4 years ago and the perp is still in place, still treating people, especially young women, with contempt. Harrumph, Dau.I snorted, if that young feller wanted to make a stand against sexism in science, then, rather than sounding off as a SWMERCSFI, he could recuse himself and ask a female colleague to give the career-advice holiday pep-talk.
Errrm, true dat!
After a couple of pints we decided to order some pub food of which there was a copious choice. One of the interesting items on the bar menu was a Full Irish Chicken Baguette. What the hecken can that be? Sounds like 75cm of french bread filled with the meat, white and dark, from a 1.6 kg chicken, with two fried eggs, three sausages, one grilled tomato and a generous ladle of baked beans. That sounds like mother of all sandwiches, a LDL-cholesteroll for the end of times. But I went for roast loin of pork with stuffing; roast, mashed and boiled potatoes; red and green cabbage; a side of carrots; and, because there was no more room on the enormous plate, a gravy-boat full of apple sauce. Let the Christmas over-eating begin!