Showing posts from March, 2015

Suicide is Funny

Obvious triggers for suicide and depression are obvious.

People get really, really angry when it comes to making jokes about depression, suicide and mental illness. You could make a case that they're right to do so; after all, mental illness is rarely presented honestly. It's usually romanticised or stigmatised. Why would trivialising it be any better?

My honest answer is that trivialising it doesn't help. But my honest answer has a second part to it: I'm fed up of well-meaning but annoying people yelling "you're trivialising mental illness!" every time I fail to get out my handkerchief and cry over the great tragedy.

Look, it's no big secret that I'm a suicidally depressed mental patient. I don't hide it online, because I have no reason to. If anything, I have several good reasons to talk about mental health openly and honestly. And it's no big secret that learning to manage your illness involves coping mechanisms. As a long-time fan of g…

How Not to be a Male Ally

This blog post will mention and tangentially discuss things like sexual harassment and assault, particularly towards the end. Some links may also be triggering.

I've been thinking.

This is by and large considered to be a bad thing. It's an even worse thing when I'm being frustrated with male allies, because I end up stuck somewhere at the intersection of frustration, confusion, and emotions that threaten to boil over at any minute. Don't worry, there's logic in there too. Somewhere. I hope.

I fully believe that there are good men out there, that there are men who really do want an end to sexism and misogyny. If I did not believe that there were good men out there I would not condemn the bad ones so harshly. I fully want the help of men to end sexism because struggles are easier when you struggle together. I'm very much in favour of building broad coalitions to get things done; while they sacrifice ideological purity, which as far as I can tell is like sacrifici…

How Depression and Suicide Gave Me a New Lease on Life

If discussions of depression and suicide trigger you, I suggest you don't read this post. If you find flippant quips about depression and suicide offensive, I also suggest you don't read this post.

Hey, internet people! Instead of looking at cute cat video #364736463 or addressing the gnawing insecurity about how you think you've fucked up your life and are stuck doing something you hate, why not read something inspirational about how a really, really bad thing actually turned out to be a secret gift?

Yeah, why not?

Well, for a start, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not very good at doing this inspirationalthing at the best of times.

This is just about the best of all possible times and I'm still being a grumpy little dipshit, which tells you something.

I'm not going to tell you the story of six years of depression and five attempts at killing myself (I should really stop, I'm rubbish at this suicide lark), or of being in and out of therapy and navi…

Things I learned in Paris

So, like any good Francophile (and one half of a couple - come on, we've been together for three years, it was bound to happen, and yes we did walk down the banks of the Seine) I've been to Paris. In fact I've just come back from a lovely jaunt there with my partner (thank you!). And like any good traveller, I've learned some things along the way - just they might not be the most conventional ones...

1. If in doubt, set herbs on fire. They give steak a lovely smokey flavour. Omnom.
2. Everything is better with sauces. The creamier the better.
3. If in any more doubt, grab some spirits, set those on fire and pour them over a dessert. Et voila, one boozy sweet treat with added depth, richness and possibility of intoxication if you're as much of a lightweight as I am!
4. Despite being of Eastern European descent (I can't really give you more specifics than that because I'm all mixed up) and having never lived in France in literally ever, people assume I know P…

The phantom of political correctness

I thought political correctness was a term that died out some time in the late 2000s. Apparently the right-wingers who co-opted the term stubbornly refuse to let go of it - or maybe it's just twitter being stupid again. Either way, we're halfway through the 2010s and people are still proudly labelling themselves as un-PC. I use this as a dickface litmus test - if you describe yourself as un-PC on the internet, where Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory already applies, I've already written you off as an asshole.

And no, this isn't because I'm a PC Nazi, a tumblrina or a social justice warriorwankerthing. It's to do with definitions, or rather how rigid those definitions are.

So I'm going to quote the first two definitions I found by googling "political correctness". Admire my scientific rigour!

First up, we have Merriam-Webster's definitions for "politically correct" (which seems to turn up more often than "political correctness"…

Another hiccup for Mars One's mission to the Red Planet

Another hiccup for Mars One's mission to the Red Planet

Via New Scientist

I'm disappointed about this, to be honest - but Mars One always looked overambitious and flimsy considering the time frame.

Still would have really liked to go, though. Still would really like to do a proper trip to Mars, even if it would take longer and be far, far less sexed up than Mars One.

Electricity and Magnetism

There is magic in this world. We call it electricity.

OK, before everyone yells at me, I don't actually believe that electricity is magical. I do, however, believe that it's not exactly easy to get to grips with how it works, especially when you get to things like flux and Gauss's law and the idea of shielding conductors. This is based on my personal experience and the fact that out of 300 people in my year, a good proportion of us are having trouble with our electricity and magnetism course.

My year isn't stupid; in fact, we're probably the brightest cohort in a while according to the metrics my university uses.

I go to the university where they invented graphene and where Rutherford overturned the "plum pudding" model of the atom in his famous experiment. Not too shabby. It's not like we're a degree mill.

Anyway, the point is that even very intelligent people get confused by electricity and magnetism. In my opinion, this is because the concepts …

Inherently Evil

I never did like the idea of inherent evil. I grew up annoyingly strong-willed and a passionate believer in the idea of free choice; I really don't know why either should be the case. I don't think anyone's managed to break my strong will out of me yet, which is really a shame, but through twists and turns of life and most importantly through evidence I've been rethinking my ideas about free will.

Anyway, those two things set me in diametric opposition to the kind of people who believe that some people are inherently good and some people are inherently evil, and never shall they change. After all, people being able to make free choices and then having the will to carry them through sort of puts the kibosh on some people being predestined to make Jesus look mean-spirited, while other people are stuck with just being awful human beings. I have less of a problem with people who think that we're all inherently good; firstly, they're quieter, and secondly, they don&…

The Beautiful Thing About Waves

As pseudoscientific woomongers will never cease to remind you, waves are everywhere.

For once, they're right.

Fundamentally, a wave can be defined as a disturbance that travels at some velocity v. These can be travelling waves (which are self-explanatory because, you know, they propagate from one place to another), standing waves (the usual example is a plucked guitar string - the string is fixed at 2 points and so the wave produced ends up interfering with itself), transverse waves (the wave oscillates perpendicular to the axis of propagation, as in a light wave), longitudinal waves (the wave oscillates along the axis of propagation, as in a sound wave), mechanical waves (the wave travels through a medium, as in ripples on a pond) and nonmechanical waves (for example, light again - it doesn't need a medium to travel through).

In other words, waves are all around us, from light to sound to pressure waves to ripples on a pond. I might sound like a five-year-old at this point, b…

Gauss's Law - The Physics Hypertextbook

National Student Space Conference 2015

Well, the last day of February was one hell of a day! As I write this, I've now been awake for over 20 hours. Every single one was worth it.

The early bird catches the worm, but the late one misses the coach
I stupidly stayed up despite knowing that I'd have to get up at 3. Great decision, Osnat. Really great decision.

Anyway, I was woken up by my dutiful (and very annoying) alarm at stupid o'clock in the morning. Now, anaemia is a wonderful thing capable of making you faint and someone hasn't been taking her tablets regularly for various reasons. Guess who passed out sitting up in bed?

Yeah, that was a smart move. But in the end I managed to drag myself out of bed, get dressed, eat and somehow not faint on the way to the Students' Union - the sugar boost (and the caffeine from the Jaffa Cakes) probably helped. I was pretty hyper.

Not even 5 and already space banter from a bunch of sleep-deprived nerds
— Osnat (@AsViewedBy) February 28, 2015 Pretty much the only lo…