Who is Nurdzilla?

Adrian Blake
A disillusioned young nerd who was told that the UK needed scientists by his government, who was told to become a planeteer by his childhood hero and who ended up searching for pirate copies of SPSS and begging people still in university for papers to quench his thirst for nerdiness.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I’m Not Being Racist…. But…

In which I make hilarious satire (and am misinterpreted as being an Anti-Christian Honky Hater) 
So earlier today while waiting for my bus I overheard some guy walking past say “Nah but, look I’m not being racist or anything, but I think they’re just born different from us. You can’t blame them for being like that, it’s just how they are”.

Now I’m not being racist or anything but the guy talking was white. No seriously, I have loads of white friends and everything so I totally don’t hate white people. Some people without visual impairment and with a correct understanding of ethnic groupings might even consider me to be a bit of a “guai lo”. I just mention because as well as being white he had a cross tattooed on his arm. Yeah I know, he was one of those White Christians, so obviously I was terrified! (No, it’s cool, I can say that, I used to go out with a White Christian so it’s ok, it’s not offensive).

Anyway, being in the presence of this terrorist extremist guy (who was probably fine because most of them are it’s just a small minority who are terrorists but still it’s not prejudice to be extra cautious is it?") saying how people of a different race were genetically programmed to be different in behaviour (unless he was on about melanin levels or certain physiological ratios in which case I guess he was right although I don’t think this was the case) from his and graciously removing blame from said race made me think. I thought about all those things I overhear (or directly hear from people who apparently don’t get my stance on things like this) from total non-racists (I know they aren’t racist because they SAY they aren’t WHILE telling me that a certain race is inferior to theirs).

I come from Bradford, which has a high level of Immigrant communities from Pakistan among many other nations. It is a very multi-cultural city, which is awesome. There have been troubles but they were largely caused by right wing groups and the infiltration of our police force by those right wing groups (See Bradford Riots) I grew up with people descended from most places on earth. My dad was born in Glenties, Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. I mention my multicultural upbringing not because I’m about to say something massively racist and need to justify it (“I’m not racist, when I was a kid I used to play with loads of Asian kids”) but because as well as the good things, I also got exposed to the racial stereotypes of nearly every race on the planet.

I also noticed an evolution of racism. As I got older, people started using ways to mask their racism, not well, but enough to give plausible deniability. It’s like when the EDL say they’re not racist, they just want to protect England from Islamic fundamentalism (by warning us of the dangers of “them muslamic death rays” and then starting football riots). You know they ARE racist, but they don’t say anything that you can pin as undeniably racist.

Anyway, I thought about a few of these veiled racisms and wondered. If these people really AREN’T racist, if the comments aren’t meant to be an attack on Islam or Middle Easterners/South Asians, then how come I haven’t heard any of the same things about White Christians, now that they’re back in the news as murderous fundamentalists. So I sent out the following Tweets and posts on my Facebook.


Tweet #1: I'm not being racist, but these white Christians use our public services, take our jobs and don't even try to integrate into our society.

Tweet #2: And did you hear they banned Ramadan lights because it would offend Christians!

Tweet #3: And why haven't the Pope and Archbishop apologised for the Norway attack yet?

Tweet #4: And a woman at an airport wasn't allowed to wear a crescent moon pendant outside her shirt!

Tweet #5: And all their worship and prayers are in Latin! For all we know they could be shouting "death to the left!"

Tweet #6: My friend helped a white woman with her shopping last week and she told him not to go to Oslo!

Tweet #7: I haven't read the bible but I'm told that its all about stoning women and killing liberals.

Tweet #8: I saw a white guy near an airport so I reported him. It was probably nothing but you can't be too careful


Now I thought I was being HILARIOUSLY satirical, and that it was fairly obvious what I was on about. People justify racial targeting of Muslims because terrorists ARE Muslim (In actuality, the IRA killed many more Britons than Al-Qaida ever has, and (few) people would think I should be stereotyped as a terrorist for being Irish). Well last week the terrorist was a white guy who thinks Muslims should be racially stereotyped. I thought my point was self evident.

Apparently not.

Most of my friends replied with “What are you on about?” and similar comments. One reminded me I was white (which was a shock when I checked “OMG I’m a cracker!!!”. Another congratulated me on attacking religion. Some people I didn’t know told me where I could find bibles. In other words, they thought I was a Self hating white guy who hates Christians (those bastards with their charity work and forgiving nature!).

Don’t get me wrong, the people who I know personally that messaged me are all intelligent people. I would like to think that perhaps my upbringing just exposed me to more of those comments in their usual form than they were exposed to in their upbringing and so they didn’t know what I was parodying. (Edit: To clarify, my parents most certainly didn’t raise me with those comments, I mean the city and schools I grew up in).

My friend Mathew Wilkins, while discussing the unfolding horror in Norway told me he thought that the cunt (which btw is the only name I’ll ever give him, I refuse to even commit any other to my memory) wasn’t mad, that he was indoctrinated, that anyone could have done it with the right (read: wrong) upbringing. I disagreed, and said I thought that it was so different from any way I could perceive myself thinking or acting that there must be a difference in the wiring of people who can be so extremist (whether political or religious) that they would massacre innocents. In the end, after remembering that only 72 years ago our nation had to begin a war because a large proportion of a whole country came to a similar (and even the same) state of mind, Mathew convinced me that perhaps he was more susceptible to the indoctrination. That most people will bend slightly to such upbringings, that others will go wholeheartedly to the crazy murderous side.

It scares me to think that given different parents, I could be, if not gunning down school children, calling people Pakis or Niggers. That if I had different influences, I could be one of these people marching with the EDL, truly thinking that what I was doing was right, that I was defending my country whose values were under attack.

But I did have my upbringing, and I deplore all forms of fascism, whether it be based on race, gender, sexuality or hair colour. I’ve fought and bled for those values, which many saw as taking it too far. But I’m proud of my scars, and would fight for the same reasons again. Does that mean I have the same “susceptibility” as the cunt? Not to the level that I’d gun down a racist for saying something, but to the level that I’d punch a guy in the face for telling my friend to go back to Pakistan. I’d like to say the difference between the cunts of the world and the rest of us is that “they’re just born different from us. You can’t blame them for being like that, it’s just how they are.” but I think that’s only partially true. I think that it’s a lot to do with upbringing, and I thank god that I was raised how I was.

Monday, 4 July 2011

I GOT A MASTERS PLACE!!

Oh yeah, and I have now been given an unconditional offer to attend Manchester University to Study an MRes in Biological Sciences!
This is utterly awesome for me! I have been hoping for this for a long time. I have just moved into my new place in Manchester and am looking for work during the summer to go part time while studying (hint hint, any employers).
The degree is quite flexible, covering the topics of several discontinued courses including one that I wanted to do. I will hopefully be specialising on learning skills in molecular genetics as I want to enter the world of research in molecular ecology.
I’m going to need to get a career development loan from the Co-op to do this as the fees are £6500 for the year, plus I will only be able to do so much part time work. The loan will be about £10,000
Big investment, big goal. But hopefully worth it in the end.

A Letter to America on July 4th

I'd just like to start by saying that I don't dislike America or (most) Americans. This is very tongue in cheek and full of the British Humour Americans stereotypically fail to get/spell (IT'S A GOD DAMN "U"!!! IT'S A GREAT LETTER, USE IT!!!). 
Dear America.

Happy Birthday. I hope you're having a good day, and I don't want to ruin you're little party, but we just thought you should know. When you throw a giant party on the anniversary of our divorce each year, then everyone knows you're just overcompensating for the loss you feel.
You always were great at telling stories, (though you always seem to make us the bad guy) but I mean when you tell a story about the end of the world as we know it and call it "The day we broke up with Britain", not even a badly thought out last minute implication that somehow you won the break up because you gave us a virus will stop people seeing it as a cry of anguish. 
And I want you to stop being such a dick to Canada. Break ups are hard on friends too, and you might have felt you were closer to Canada than we were, but we share a family. You used to share that family too, but then you wrote that awful letter to George and that was that.
Anyway, it's history, you might think it's the most important thing that's ever happened to you. But you're young. When you get as old as us, you'll see that these things happen and you need to just forget about them. When we broke up with the Pope, we parted ways and that was that. No sad little annual parties to show everyone how un-upset we were about it. And I mean there was a lot more to that break up than ours. When we broke up with the Pope, he sent Spain to try beat us up, (he always was the violent type, though he made himself out to be some sort of saint). You broke up with us because we asked you to throw in a few quid to help pay the bills, and then you threw our tea in the god damn ocean! You KNEW how much we loved tea! 
We've both been idiots about it really, we call you fat, you make fun of our teeth we laugh at how you always want to pay silly amounts when you see doctors, you call us communists for not wanting to. But I don't want you to take this the wrong way America, you'll always have a place in our hearts, and we still want to have this special relationship. We really appreciate how you stuck up for us when Germany was being a dick those times. We just wish you'd stop this stupid "We're happy we're divorced" party, because seriously, it makes you look pathetic.

Love 

Britain

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Dear SPSS

This is a little thing I did in my final year of university while trying desperately to re-download and reinstall SPSS (a multiple hour process) as some sort of mass error had occurred the night before a deadline. Not sure if any non-scientists will get this, but pretty much everyone who had used SPSS or any other statistics software seemed to absolutely love it. So I thought it would make a fitting first (real) post.

Dear SPSS,
I'm writing, because I'm worried if I call you won't pick up. I don't know how this got so far, I didn't mean the things I said, and I'm sure if you could you'd take back the things you said.
I realise that the work that I put off, and moan about will, thanks to you and your wizardry, take me an hour, when the same work would have taken the scientists of yesteryear months! I'm sorry I don't appreciate you as much as I should SPSS. I love you really.... It's just.... well lets face it, sometimes you can be a bit of a soul killer. I know, I know, writing out the 20 page long equations 7000 times and working them out would be much more soul destroying, but lets face it, I could have gotten a PhD by just measuring some lizards back then too
I know you do a lot for me, but you can't say you're blameless in this argument either. You have your tantrums, you decide you've had enough and just take a day off. While I agree you deserve time off to watch shows like Numbers, giving me the silent treatment isn't the solution. I have to get task manager to speak to you, and then you ignore him too. He has to tell me you aren't responding, how do you think that makes him feel? It's not fair to put him in the middle all the time.
It doesn't help you being so pedantic all the time either. You know what I WANT you to do for me, but you do something completely different because I ticked the wrong box or didn't hit the buttons in the wrong order. It's not just me who thinks this. All my friends hate you, I can't even mention your name without a torrent of abuse about how horrible you are and what you've done to them. How do you think that makes me feel? I try to stick up for you but what they say is usually true!

I know you get upset when I compare you to my Ex Cel. I didn't mean to call you her name, its just you do kind of look alike, but you are so different in reality believe me. I'm not going to lie, when we argue, I sometimes wish you were more like her. For a start, all my friends like her. She was so much simpler to understand, I knew what buttons to press and she always gave me what I wanted. She used to do things that you won't let me, like that thing where I'd click her box and drag, she was so easy to work. With you I have to fiddle about, press every button, make sure its in order and not do anything different or it won't work. My hand often cramps up just trying to please you sometimes.


A photo of my Ex, Cel. She used to love it when I inserted my 100% Stacked Cylinder.
But all that said, I out grew her. What I have with you is on a much more intellectual level, and that's what I need now. You let me know when I'm not acting normal. You used to say a large p value wasn't significant to you, that my small p value was significant enough.

After all we've gone through? Don't throw this away!
I got your replies from my letters asking you to give it another go, you told me that this trial version is not installed properly, and now you tell me that my license does not permit this procedure to continue? You were the one who recommended we be casual, not dive into any exclusive subscriptions. And licences? we haven't even talked about getting a registry licence. Is this just an excuse? Is it because you've found someone else? Someone who can perform equations that I never could?
You'll always have a place in my hard drive. I do appreciate you SPSS. You're a wonderful program you’re the most significant thing to happen in my life (p<0.001). I'm not going to lie and say you're perfect, but then neither am I. Please come back to me.
Always yours
Adrian Blake
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UPDATE:
Today.... I got this message. It brought a tear of joy and relief to my eyes.

Nurdzilla Awakens!!!

An introduction to yours truly

So yeah, I guess this is where I say that my name is Adrian Blake, that I graduated recently with a high 2:1 BSc(Hons) in Zoology (oh please stop your applaud) and that I’m trying to break into the world of Ecology research (because hey, Old Mother Earth isn't getting any younger).

Those familiar with the current UK economic and scientific atmosphere will therefore not be surprised to find out that despite my credentials I am working minimum wage as a bookie for a pretty horrible organisation which treats both it’s customers and employee’s like morons. I also scrape away most of my meagre earnings to save for a Masters that I will hopefully be able to afford to start in Sept 2011.

I’m not too sure what this blog is going to be about entirely. It is first and foremost a science blog. I know I’m going to throw in my thoughts on any interesting papers I read, pretty standard stuff. But what I’d like to do is also throw in a bit about the experience of a newly graduated scientist trying to break into a field in which there are already hundreds of newly unemployed, very experienced scientists (and soon to be many more). I’m not too sure how well the latter part will work, I’m very aware of the danger of this turning into me ranting about the current and last government (SCREW YOU BROWN!).

But yes, the plight of the disillusioned young nerd who was told that the UK needed scientists by his government, who was told to become a planeteer by his childhood hero (Captain Planet to any LAMOIDS who didn’t get that reference! (I was always the Earth ring)) and who ended up searching for pirate copies of SPSS and begging people still in university for papers….. Sounds good!

OH! I might go a bit surreal sometimes…. but that’s me!