Secui XVII… “Why did you choose to study science?”

Did you know that the numbers of students selecting school science subjects (and at universities) is falling in many developed countries? Did you study science or a science-related area after leaving school? And do you live on Earth and were born here? Would you like to let everyone know why you chose to study in this area? Would you like to interest more young people in studying science and provide governments worldwide with information on how to address declining science enrolments?

Well, don’t lie awake at night wondering how you can do this, because here is your big chance. No more than 15 minutes of your time and all on-line too! Just click below and then bask in the sun, feeling satisfied and slightly smug on achieving your wishes so easily.

Survey – Why did you choose to study science?

This is an international survey and part of research being conducted in Science Communication at the University of Western Australia.

The overall results will be statistically analysed and published, so you can see what the outcomes were. Just check at Science Communication later in 2011 for the PDF.

You can be a recent graduate, a retiree, a disillusioned and unemployed scientist – no one will be turned away.

No post is complete without a pretty picture, thanks for reading…

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Secui XVI. And “God bless us, every one”

The Christmas rush is upon me. We have had our family traditional stealing of a pine tree from the bush – nothing like a strong tradition! I have been brewing ginger beer especially for Christmas Day – mmm!

The responses from various organisations to the imminent survey have been overall very positive. Some people seem to care about science even if politicians don’t seem to – Sheep!


A little more refining of the questions and we’ll be underway (hopefully later this week). It should be very interesting to see the responses, dear reader. And I trust that you too may respond as appropriate.

And so we come to the end of today’s post. No sunset this time, I decided to go with … a crusader castle!

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Secui XV. Been busy, blogging ignored, felt guilty, started typing.

Well a lot has sort of happened (or perhaps not much has definitely happened) since I last had a whinge. Several weeks ago my former employer (or he who acts on a large government department’s behalf) rang me up to see if I was interested in some short-term work doing what I did for them before. And guess what? No one there has any time to do this particular job and now they don’t have anyone dedicated to the job. I was tempted to say I would do it for double my old pay but I guess I’m not that mean.

I have been working half-time for a university on a project very dear to my heart – why did people choose to study science and secondarily why did they stay in or leave? The hard part is remaining objective when you have your own axe to grind. However, very shortly the on-line survey will be ready to go. It is aimed internationally and will be publicised far and wide – so if you have studied in science or science-related areas watch this space. My dedicated readers (i.e. my sister and one academic) take note!

Another very interesting thing came to my notice today – a poll of 1200 people in Australia concerning science. This is not my work, it comes from a report just released by the Australian National University (http://news.anu.edu.au/?p=5931). If this is your thing then happy reading to you. See below (click on figure for enlarged version)…


Poor old priests didn’t fare that well against us jubilant overpaid and underworked scientists on the ‘Nothing at all’ category. Oh well, if you believe and peddle bullshit, then what do you expect? Lawyers didn’t do too well either. Smirk.

I like to finish on sunsets, they’re so poetic and inspiring. If you don’t agree then you obviously know nothing!

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Secui XIV. I go back to my old work and gloom pervades

I went into my old workplace to visit some of my friends. Things haven’t improved there; apparently of 1000 employees there are 400 earmarked to go (I’ve already done my bit for you, guys – solidarity, comrades). Once they’ve come to the end of shedding contract workers and giving redundancies I can only see them encouraging suicide or even better murder/suicide and suicide pacts (think of the cost savings per capita) – then the budget bottomline will look good, and that’s all that matters.

What I can’t wait for is when things improve, the Government will then be squealing “We can’t get qualified staff, we should have kept people on, it was the previous government’s fault, it was short-sighted, it’s not our fault.” In a society where we increasingly expect citizens to take responsibility for their actions isn’t it funny that the people at the top of the pile seem to take less responsibility than ever? What happened to the captain going down with his ship or the general falling on his sword? The ‘buck stops here’ is only musical chairs, when you get caught without the chair then you get the buck (or do you get bucked? I’m not sure on this grammatical point).

And so the sun sets in God’s own country…

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Secui XIII. The economy is on the way up, or was it down? They’re so much alike you know

Well, been busy but not much to show for it. Several job applications have gone suspiciously quiet for over a month – some of them have the cheek to say that if you don’t hear anything for a certain period then consider yourself  ‘unsuccessful’, a euphemism for unappreciated and unloved. In these days of email, how hard is it to compose a list of emails and send a bulk one (with bcc’d addresses of course) out to all the weepers and gnashers of teeth? For Christ’s sake give me a contract to do it and I’ll do if for you, you lazy bastards!

I got a definite knockback for a lower level job from my old employer. I could do the job, as it is directly related to my old job, but they had 180 applicants and interviewed 8 who had done the exact job before (all this for one definite job and maybe two more later). We keep hearing the economy is mending but that doesn’t sound too promising to me – perhaps it’s mending from a heart transplant, so it’s technically alive but still a trifle seedy. God help us if China really does have a double-dip recession.

I have made an observation about economics; I don’t know more than the very basics but a lot of people either in charge or making pronouncements in public either know even less than me or are lying more outrageously than I ever thought possible. When the economy was booming along, it was all “this is the best it’s ever been and there is no end in sight, property prices are booming and blah blah roses, wealth, early retirement”. Then suddenly it went to shit and we find that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men had no bloody idea what was going on and Humpty Dumpty fell off and broke while they were all scratching their arses and congratulating themselves on their wisdom. Even I had thought this can’t last for ever, and I don’t see any offers for me as Treasurer.

Things are such that I’ve even applied for a job in Afghanistan, it’s only for 2 months so what could go wrong? So if the blog goes permanently quiet, look for me on TV for my 15 minutes of fame.

On a more positive note, my wife has finally applied for a job pool she has been waiting to reopen for the last 18 months. When the global financial crisis hit they stopped running this pool every six months (as they had previously been doing) and just shut up shop. Now fingers crossed again.


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Secui XII. Agricultural research in crisis! Sky falling! Waters rising!

Look, look, an official crisis in agricultural research in Australia, who would’ve thought? (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/31/2860908.htm)

It’s simple really; try letting people stay in a job securely for longer than three years! Doesn’t require much education to answer that problem. Eventually people wake up and see that their job prospects are insecure and leave.

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Part, the eleventh. In which I get tired of part whatever and switch to Latin…secui XI

Well, one job application should give me an answer early next week. Will I get an interview? Will Batman escape? Tune in next week and find out.

Looks like the job I applied for in Switzerland won’t pan out as they want someone who already has a work permit, as they want them to start ASAP and they said that rules me out. The choices are narrowing but chin up etc.

I did lodge an application for the job in Samoa, just before the closing date. Now this I could live with, but I think I raved about that earlier, so I won’t bore you again.

Just in time to cheer me up P.Z. Myers used a photo I took of an armoured ground cricket in Botswana for his Mary’s Monday Metazoan (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/marys_monday_metazoan_armored.php); who needs a job anyway! Fame at last! If this cricket wasn’t so fucking ugly I could kiss him/her/whatever.


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