I'm really unsettled by hearing of some nasty racist bullying in a primary school, which is so far at secondhand that it's totally outside any sphere where I can do anything about it.
Then I spent most of today finishing an experiment which also took most of yesterday, only to discover that my colleague had given me such unclear instructions I'd tested completely the wrong thing. This is somewhat of an ongoing problem, mind you.
Anyway, this left me at a loose end for the rest of the afternoon, so I decided to attend a lecture I'd thought I wouldn't have time for. It was on the topic of the effects of diet on energy metabolism in adipose tissue, which is interesting but not directly related to my work. I was a little nervous about the topic, because sometimes people working in that area tend to have a big thing about how they are going to Cure Obesity! and that annoys me. In fact, it was worse than that: not only is the speaker going to cure obesity, he felt the need to show several slides with ridiculous caricatures and deliberately unflattering photos of fat people. I understand that you need something light-hearted to engage your audience, and I would probably have let it slide if he'd just grabbed the first fat cartoon off google image search, but he really made a significant point about making offensive fat jokes at every opportunity. He even mocked the mice in his experiment for how much weight they gained when he force-fed them an unnatural diet, puffing out his cheeks and sticking his arms out like a playground imitation of a fatso and making jokes about how the mice were so fat their legs didn't even reach the ground, hahaha.
I considered walking out, but concluded I was too much of a coward; I could just imagine him mocking me for being an over-sensitive fat cow. (I think I was the fattest person in the audience, but not by a significant margin.) I think the worst of it is that as a scientist working on obesity research, he carries the voice of authority. It's easy for people to form the impression that it's an objective scientific fact that fat people are all lazy and stupid and ludicrous, when that is juxtaposed with a message about how mice fed certain foods in a carefully controlled experiment express more of a particular protein. The body of the lecture was quite interesting, and once he got on to the serious bit he was very careful not to over-interpret his results. He clearly said that once you go into any more depth than the simplest, single parameter experiment, things get unpredictably complicated, with hormone, inflammatory and genetic effects clouding the outcomes.
So I was in a pretty bad mood when I had to go back to the lab for our monthly cleaning session. The two finishing PhD students claimed they were far too stressed to take an hour to help clean, and another said she's been doing statistical rather than bench work for a month so the mess wasn't hers. That left only three of us to tackle the job, which is sort of fair but also sort of not.
This is exactly the situation for my luxury hot chocolate mix that deborah_c gave me for my birthday, I feel.