Feb 22, 2013

If my house was on fire, I'd leave the cat behind

Because that is exactly what she would do. A dog would rush into the blistering heat of the burning bedroom and drag you into safety. A cat would grab her favourite rotten rat and run - long before the smoke-detectors even bother to do their job.
For some years I was wondering why I am attracted by the seemingly bloated ego of cats but at the same time don't really feel at ease when they are around. The attraction is clearly justifiable. Arrogance, if perfected, just tastes great: the sound of inflating egos, the circulation of hot air, the crackling noise when it fills the room wall to wall - priceless. But it has to be done well. Cat-like.
More often than not, professional ego-inflation is traded in for a substitute. A puppy-dog dressed up as a kitten.
If you are a scientist and kind enough, you might sometimes answer questions thrown at the servers of ResearchGate. Asking and answering questions there supposedly builds your reputation - and leads to too many questions asked and too many answers given. There is always a good reason to jump on the bandwaggon, to gesticulate wildly and promote oneself (as flight attendants so kindly remind us again and again:"a whistle is attached to attract attention" - what more could you ask for in case you are kept from drowning by a brittle life-west? Be it in the waters of the southern seas or academic dispute.).
If you are not from the field you might not be able to grasp all the detail of the discussion about trickery of superconductivity here. But if you scroll down you will recognize how the topic is suddenly highjacked for self-promotion.This can be quite tiresome. But fortunately, as soon as the lecturing is interrupted, the hot air escapes with a burping sound and the badly masked puppy dog stands exposed - hissing a tenacious "meow!".
The unease (with cats as well as scientist-lookalikes) is to be found in the patronizing. A cat always seems to suggest "you have no idea what you are doing - and you are really annoying at that". But I keep it with Mark Twain, who clear-sightedly stated: ‎"Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use."
Which is also true for scientoid debates.

Feb 11, 2013

I love Cindy!

When I fire up my web-based email account late at night, I get a predictable selection of 'consumer suggestions'. Today it got scary.
"One million singles are waiting for you!" - it doesn't get more frightening than that! Imagine, one percent of them camping out in front of your house. It's hard to explain to the neighbours, let alone your spouse - and outright unforgivable to the omnipresent neighbouress, who has her eyes everywhere and her thoughts dependably focused on the worst. It made my rant-in-progress (whining about the abusive way of oversimplified popularisation of science by Michio Kaku - again) collaps and left me stunned, occupied, worried.
As advice-literature is the straw to hold onto in difficult situations, I recall what always helps me to activate the neurons in times of blank: adrenalin. I am not too fond of externally adding chemicals to my body - and my love to syringes is limited - so I fall back to sports: 5 chin-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats - repeated as often as possible for 20 minutes. Yep, that's cross-fit, it's called Cindy, it will bring your heartbeat up to the maximum rate (220 minus your age = obviously close to zero in my case) and it will flood the system with adrenalin. Why am I saying this? Because of the amazing stupidity of internet-ads after 9 pm, the troubling popularity of bad science-communication and because 
I love 'Cindy'.