first, but what about the little spot that spilled on the floor that I walked in and tracked all over the campus? Oh, I forgot, nothing is ever ever supposed to spill in the lab, because we are all perfectly safe. Whew! I feel better knowing that. Let's be honest. We don't think that any of the organisms we modify in the lab are harmful, or we wouldn't be bathing in them daily when we do our five-litre preps. We count on natural selection and competition with the ‘wild type’ to quickly destroy any such organisms that might stick to our shoes inadvertently. Luckily for us, this seems to work. Otherwise, I guarantee that none of us scientist types would be around any more, and the world would be teeming with even more mutants than are already employed at my university. Of course I realise that this entire rant is a big fantasy- we will always have to deal with administrators and rules and forms, and it really doesn't matter that we find them ridiculous! In some cases, although I find this very hard to admit, some of this stuff probably does do some good. But, as always, the important question is ‘Is there anything that can be done about any of it?’ Firstly, we can at least try to take our rants out of the coffee room and say what we think to a lot more people. One of the problems with scientists is that we are so busy - we run meetings, review papers, give talks, supervise students, give lectures, and some of the lucky ones even do experiments! By making our schedules so full, and demanding so much of each other, we prevent ourselves from having the time to get involved in government or university policy. We keep our heads down and just try to avoid those committees. A few of the superhuman ones among us who don't need to sleep manage to get involved in science policy and do the rest of us a huge service. However, I don't think that we will change this pattern unless some rewards are given to scientists who make administrative and policy contributions. Those rewards could be from research funding bodies, who could fund projects to improve relations between scientists, government and administration. Rewards could also come from the government(!) to universities to promote an active role of scientists in making policy. Scientists also need some power to deal with administrators. These ‘rules’ that take away the money from our grants and make us write ridiculous job descriptions should not come into effect - they are harmful to us and to universities. Until some big rewards are offered, however, I am firmly resolved to hide in my office and avoid all “situations that require thought or choosing solutions.”

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