Like it or not everything I say is going through my own personal filter of who I am and what I believe. In my view this is the same for every scientist, engineer, in fact just plain everyone. There is no absolute when it comes to life, that's why any good researcher looks for multiple sources that may show something contradictory to our own viewpoint. You know what I research, you know my history, here's what else you should know.

Who Pays Me?

The University of Manchester are my main employer and I do some additional technical work for the Journal of Web Semantics. I'm also paid a small amount for collaborations with Fujitsu from Manchester Informatics Ltd. All is bound up with the University of Manchester and so becomes indivisible. This is all; I receive no other payments.

What are my Politics?

I vote Labour, I'm reasonably ethical, global warming due to Greenhouse gases IS OCCURRING, all politicians are self serving and power hungry - just deal with it - we therefore have lots of control. Make changes to your own life don't complain about the things that governments aren't doing and then forget about it. You should take control of your own life.

Am I in a Union?

Yes, I'm a member of the University and College Union (UCU). The UCU trade union represents lecturers, professors and researchers, as well as administrative, library and computing staff in universities across the UK. We represent around 110, 000 academic and academic related staff in Further and Higher Education. I'm not particularly active in the union however I tend to be quite hard line (it's my NUM upbringing) in voting and industrial actions.

My 747 Theory of Life

I've come to realise that life is a bit like being sucked out the emergency exit of a 747 at 36000 feet. After the initial questions: 'Who am I?', 'Where am I?', 'What's happening?', 'What's this all about?', and 'Is there any point?' comes the sickening reality that your going to be dead in 2 minutes. Of course you're thinking you may pass out before you hit the ground, and if not, it wont be hitting the ground that'll kill you but the bounce. Apparently we all bounce when we hit something solid at speed, and its not the initial impact but the secondary bounce which liquifies our innards and kills us. So we'll have a few seconds of intense pain to consider this - unless of course we're having a heart attack in the process (turns out that heart attacks are quite common in these situations too). Experts are often quoted as saying 'Oh well if you're lucky you'll have a heart attack on the way down.' Forgive me but heart attacks are still bad things right; liquified innards, or heart attack and then liquified innards, tough choice. But hold on, remember! You've also heard of people who survive, yes that's right, they survive and live to tell their miraculous tale on TV programmes with titles like 'When parachutes go Wrong' or 'When air-hostesses go Bad'. These people end up hitting springy trees or fragile roofs - their fall is broken - they survive (Hurrah) - so maybe heading for something tree or roof like may work! It doesn't matter really, even if you do manage to save yourself you'll be doing all this again tomorrow and their wont always be a springy tree or a fragile roof - no... eventually, you'll be unconscious, having a heart attack, or getting your insides liquified while bouncing like a basketball. Getting to this realisation has taken you about 30 seconds. What's key I think now is how to live the remaining 1 minute 30. Some people are going to be unconscious - they're going try an insulate themselves with comfort, routine, utilitarian pursuits, or whatever else they can to not feel the impact. Others, will be screaming to all the Saints, their mummy, money, power, nature, and whatever else comes to mind. Still others will have teeth - they'll be fronting up, screaming in delight, touching the clouds, performing flying acrobatics, making love... but most won't. In reality I think I'll be doing a bit of everything (I like a buffet); anyhow I figure at 115 seconds (impact minus 5) we're all either unconscious or screaming for our mummy. But I really hope for most of the time I've got the strength to be screaming in delight, touching the clouds, performing flying acrobatics, or just plain making love. Bizarrely this means that on the whole for most of the time I'm super positive and upbeat.

Mod: S Harper on 11 Mar 2009