I’m browsing banks for a new savings account, and I found this on the Skipton Building Society application form.  I have no idea if other banks do this, but I find it pleasing that the title ‘Mx’ is available on their form:

non-binary banking
non-binary banking

More info on gender-neutral titles is available here.  I find it really interesting that in the UK, the only non-gendered honorifics are related to occupation or level of qualification.  But we still get that wrong, sometimes.  Oops.


At the moment, I am having really bad problems with my sleep. I go to bed tired, but my brain is having absolutely none of that. I lie awake with thoughts, sometimes of worry, sometimes of excitement, and sometimes of inspiration. And they will not shut up! And the cruel irony is that I seem to need more sleep than most people, and yet I still have to struggle out of bed early in the morning (yeah, it’s a struggle). My body clock seems staggered by about 3 hours from the norm (or from what I would like), but in reality I can’t even remember what normal is. I’ve not had a proper sleep routine for over a decade and I spend most of my waking hours fighting the urge to nod off for, oh, just a quick nap.

Which is another thing that doesn’t exist in my world: a quick nap.  Once I finally do get to sleep, it’s for the long haul.  It’s all or nothing with my sleep.

The thing with sleep problems is that they have to be tackled at the source.  Mine stem from a thyroid disorder and mental illness, for which I do receive treatment.  But both are lifelong and difficult conditions, and I’m sort-of-just-about-managing them, but they can be too much sometimes.  And my sleep is one of those things that is more broken than others.

So when things have really slipped, I try to reset the clock by popping a sleeping pill.  But this isn’t a sustainable solution, for a few reasons:

  1.  It gets you off to sleep this time, but it doesn’t solve the long-term sleep issues.
  2.  They can be addictive, so it’s not a good idea to rely on them.
  3.  Doctors know that they are addictive, and so will only prescribe a very small number at a time.  So it’s impossible to rely on them.

So for me, it’s really a last resort, to restore normality for a short while.  But maybe there’s no such thing.

More on sleep in SLEEP – PART 3


Context: PubhD Manchester is a public speaking event that I co-organise, for connecting Manchester researchers and interested residents.

I posted about PubhD back in February, and with a few successful events under our belt (barring the odd logistical nightmare), we decided to take a break for the summer due to work and academic commitments, and the population slump that Manchester suffers every summer.

And now it’s back!  Three events are already scheduled for the new semester; you can find out more and register your interest on the website:


A skeptics group that I’m a member of has recently been the victim of a sneaky digital coup, and a summary of the events can be found in the link below at Violetta Crisis:

Violetta Crisis: They didn’t build this – The “new” Manchester Skeptics group

I have some thoughts on the motivations of the wrong-doers (and there is absolutely no doubt that claiming another group’s identity and hard work as your own, and then changing the ethos of that group to fit your own aims, is wrong), and on the reactions of those affected, but that is definitely something that I won’t be blogging about until long after all this has blown over.

And it will, because:

1. is only one of the tools used by the group to engage with members. This individual hasn’t destroyed the group, just gained access to some of the group’s contacts, and is (rather annoyingly) passing off past successful events as their own.

2. Since we started talking about what had happened (privately, publicly and online), interest in our group picked up and the “other” group started haemorrhaging members, who flowed straight back to our new and improved Meetup group. Mwahahahahahahaaaaaa.

3. This is a tech issue. It’s highlighted a flaw in the way manages the ownership of groups, and it should also serve as a warning to group organisers that if you don’t keep an eye on your subscription status, you could face a similar problem.


As promised, here’s a graph of my typical coffee-drinking habits.  In July 2015, I drank a total of 95 cups of coffee (wow, that is a LOT), only one of which was bought in a coffee shop.


And here’s the spreadsheet with the results.  I assumed a value of £2.20 for a shop-bought coffee, and calculated my ‘potential’ savings (obviously wildly inaccurate, but kinda fun).  I mean, sure, if there was a branch of Starbucks in my kitchen, I’d probably go there every morning.  But there ain’t, and so probably at least half of my coffees would be instant anyway.  But let’s imagine that a multinational corporation has indeed leased a franchise in my flat.  I’ve made a saving of £197.40.  I’m filthy rich!


The University issues a weekly newsletter to postgraduate students, with articles on research and events happening on campus, and in the city.  It’s in a magazine format, and also sometimes includes advice and general interest stuff.

One of their features is a sidebar with tweet-style synopses of candidates’ research topics.  It’s unsurprisingly difficult to condense 3 years’ worth of research into a tiny soundbite, but mine was good enough to be used this week.  Yippee!

Here it is:



I submitted my end of first year report last week, and while it requires minor alterations, my tutor is very confident about my progression to second year.  I’d been so nervous, thinking I’d not done enough, or not researched the right things, and having to juggle my studies with a full-time job didn’t help.  But they’ve got such high hopes for me that they’ve booked it in for the end of the month.  I’m both terrified and excited.  All year I’ve been looking for opportunities to present my work and defend my academic abilities.  And this is the biggie.


“Corporate Feminism” is a term I only recently encountered. It succinctly categorises some of the things I’ve seen in my professional life, so it’s useful to have a word for this feeling that I couldn’t quite pin down. But the term also makes me uneasy, because I really don’t like telling people whether or not they are “real” feminists. In its simplest form, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). And that covers a huuuuuuuuuuge range of opinions, individuals and movements. When someone asks me about Feminist Theory, my default answer is “which one?” There are so many people with some broadly similar aims, but other, more specific and sometimes separate ones (this Wikipedia article is a good synopsis, but even that doesn’t cover every eventuality).

It also feels a bit off being a feminist criticising other feminists, but feminism is unbelievably introspective anyway, and so I’m not going to sweat too much over that one.  One danger though, is that anti-feminists use criticisms of some aspects of feminism to denounce the whole thing.  And I don’t want to contribute to that, thanks.

However, corporate feminism seems to be about paying lip service to feminism without embracing the spirit of equality.  It’s espoused by women who have reached the point where they are able to compete in “a man’s world”, and they no longer have time for those women who haven’t got to the same stage as them.  It’s frustrating, because the success stories actually cause harm rather than encouragement.  There are people who think that feminism has solved all our problems, or that inequality only happens in other countries.  And this just fuels that feeling.  So when a woman does describe her experience, or injustices are pointed out, it’s so easy to dismiss: “well, those women are successful, so there is obviously no problem”.  And it’s a double bind.  We need female role models, but when they get there, they don’t always offer a hand to those lower down the ladder. Sometimes those same women actually do harm, by embracing the Old Boys Network and undertaking actions that damage other women’s opportunities.

Here are some good articles on this: | Corporate Feminism: Rich Women Congratulating Each Other for Being So Inspiring (this reminds me of a few events I’ve been to, more on this in a future post)

Why corporate feminism is convenient for capitalism | Dawn Foster | Comment is free | The Guardian (Clue: because it’s the kind of feminism where you don’t have to do anything, and can sit back and pretend you don’t have any prejudices)

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Feminism Puts Women Issues at Risk | The New Republic (On how not all women can afford to “lean in”)

And I will leave you with this brilliant cartoon from Radical Splurge, summarising the issue nicely:

Radical Splurge: Breaking the Glass Ceiling and the Wonders of Corporate Feminism