Summer's here, and 'tis the season to be compiling lists. One of the most eagerly awaited is the Ten Worst Jobs in Science, issued by Popular Science magazine. This year the roster of horrible occupations has gained widespread attention because it includes "Microsoft Security Grunt".
Working at the Microsoft Security Response Centre (MSRC), according to the PopSci writers, is "like wearing a big sign that says 'hack me'... It's tedious work... to most hackers, crippling Microsoft is the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star, so the assault is relentless."
PopSci places a job on the Redmond battlements at number five, worse than whale-dung analyst, corpse-maggot expert, Olympic drug tester and zero gee health-effects guinea pig.
The only things worse than standing between Windows users and the ravening haxor hordes were being a rubbish-dump researcher, elephant vasectomist, oceanographer - because the oceans are getting so polluted - and at number one, hazmat diver. ("They swim in sewage. Enough said.")
It's possible to quibble that some of these jobs aren't really "in science". Hazmat divers, while highly qualified, don't normally think of themselves as being involved in scientific endeavour*. Elephant vets might not qualify either - or security engineers, for that matter.
The Reg would submit for your consideration the posts of Mars-mission simulator inmate, American stem cell scientist, or perhaps lizardoid sex voyeur (the lackadaisical tuatara reptiles spend 95 per cent of their time motionless, making the task of perving at them intensely dull and frustrating).
Still, we like having a poke at Microsoft, too. Putting "whale poo" and "Windows security" in the same sentence is perfectly sound journalism, we say.
The PopSci writeups can be read here.®
*Honest. Your correspondent has worked in the field. (So to speak.)