The decorative serviette
In Poland (particularly at weddings) there are those white, square and shinning serviettes (napkins) made of a remarkable material that renders them both hydro- and lipo-phobic. These marvels of material engineering look nice, sound nice and feel nice but they are totally useless to clean anything as they literally absorb nothing. Whenever I ask why they are still being used? The invariable answer is “tradition”.
A while back, the Rady Naukowe (Scientific Councils), that I call F-30 (nauki medyczne), F-20 (nauki farmakologiczne) and F-20B (nauki o zdrowiu publicznym), have been created. The roles of these councils are as clear as flaki soup – to me. One thing that should be obvious is that these bodies are allegedly going to help improving scientific research. Yet, the way they function (regulamin) has been delineated by the University’s (previous) administration. As part of F-30, I’m still wondering why administration has to tell us how do our job? We should have free hands to implement whatever measurements we consider fit to promote science at higher standards. Should not they leave this to those who know how to do so? It is like leaving the rights of women to be decided by men – likely the reason it has taken several thousands of years to undo the subjugation… and we are not yet done.
I strongly believe that F-30/F20s could do a lot of good things for the university. This is if we focus in what matters - science, not in partisan university politics nor in personal benefits or favours (tit-for-tat). I have previously suggested that to unleash the full potential to this university we need to create a culture of scientific research, share know-how/expertise and equipment (see “Where is all the equipment?”), but most importantly to create scientific excellence so we can tackle the important challenges ahead.
Yet, just like decorative serviettes, F-30/F-20s might just have become adornments for administration to say “we made a commission” – a traditional answer. How can these F##s (no, not the F word!) help improving science at this university?, well, let’s start by talking about it instead of spending most of our time in really boring and inconsequential activities. I do not know the answers, nor pretend I do, but I do know that by open discussions and a clear vision, we can do grand things. And anything is better than waiting for a “signal from above” (e.g. Ministry of mumpsimi) to bring up yet another set of turns (see “Curva Peligrosa”) that make things even more strenuous and demanding.
Note: F-30 (as so for F20s), which sounds rather like a secret service, is an acronym for “the Fantastic 30” (or fantastic-20s).
BTW, like the serviettes, I’m not only cute and useless but non-absorbent (of advice) and thus I do not give advice either.
Adolek is an agent at the Mol Biol Department and imminent ex-member of F-30.
PS. If you do not know what mumpsimus (plural mumpsimi) means, please check the origin of the word, you will soon find it among your favourite expressions.
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Check Adolek's previous articles:
ADOLEK ON BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER FLYING CREATURES
DO NOT LET ANYBODY SHATTER YOUR DREAMS
WHERE IS ALL THE EQUIPMENT?
A LIFE IN SCIENCE