back to article Damn you El Reg, Call me a Boffin, demands enraged boffin

It is with the deepest and most heartfelt concern that we here on the Register's standards and conduct committee wish to reach out today to our readers and apologise for a very serious violation of our editorial code. The error in question occurred with respect to this article, since amended: Hackers fondle boob tubes in Red …

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  1. stanimir

    Is it just "boffin" or Dr. boffin in this particular case of Dr Oren, the boffin?

    1. jake Silver badge

      @stanimir

      "Boffin" is the title. No "just". No need for "Dr".

      Nothing official, but it kinda feels nice when a peer refers to you as one.

      The Press? Unimportant when it comes to this kind of thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @stanimir

        I'm a Dr. but not a boffin... Clearly 'boffin' outranks 'Dr.', as does 'Prof.' People writing 'Prof Dr.' e.g. are clearly just either sucking up or following institutional policy.

        And don't get me started on the Germans with titles like 'Dr. Dr.' ...

        tl;dr / executive summary: Dr. > Prof. > boffin

        (and sociologist > C. elegans)

        1. Otto von Humpenstumpf
          Boffin

          Re: @stanimir

          And don't get me started on the Germans with titles like 'Dr. Dr.' ...

          "The Germans", as you like to put it, don't have a class-based society -- this was abolished by law in the Weimar Republic, if I remember correctly.

          Instead, degrees like "Dr", "Prof", etc. are highly respected, *because they're earned, rather than inherited*. Holding the title of Ingenieur (engineer, or "Dipl.-Ing.") is something to be proud of, and commands respect. In Germany, there aren't any "maintenance engineers"; they're called what they are: mechanics. And there's nothing wrong with that either, as the vast majority have served an apprenticeship of three years, and really know what they're doing.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: maintenance engineers

            lol

            Sooooo not the british way.

            We have a firm of subbies that work for us and they are all senior this and principle that (it's the higher hourly rates! see)

            even their tea-boy is a senior beverage engineer.

            wankers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: maintenance engineers

              "We have a firm of subbies that work for us and they are all senior this and principle that"

              The best (or worst, depending on your point of view) job title that I've seen has to be 'Group Operations Director'... calling yourself GOD is maybe taking things just a little bit too far!

          2. Uffish

            Re: @stanimir

            My sometime correspondant in Germany was Dr. Ing. Dipl. Ing. Reibling. Very resptectable name and titles, and very melodious.

            1. Annihilator

              Re: @stanimir

              I prefer Dr Hertz van Rental myself.

          3. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: @stanimir

            On the other hand, my wife is from one of the countries that is anal about titles, and was delighted to move to the UK where she could lose the "Dr Mgr Mgr", and not even have to use the Dr if she didn't want to - something that is akin to fraud in the minds of her countryfolk. Personally, I tend towards the attitude of "If you are not a medical doctor, it is confusing to use the title. Just use your name and PhD after it if it is relevant (which in most cases outside work, it isn't)".

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: @stanimir

              If you are not a medical doctor, it is confusing to use the title

              Only because that confusion was sown by fradulent sawbones in the early modern era. "Doctor" etymologically means "scholar"; medical practitioners who don't do research shouldn't be using it in the first place. While many clinicians are fine people and I'm glad to see them when I need my body-plumbing inspected, they're no more "doctors" than the typical lawyer or engineer is.

              If I'm going to refer to my dentist and veterinarian as "doctor", you can be damn sure I'll show the same courtesy to people who actually conduct research and contribute original work to their field.

              (By the same token, I don't share the Reg's disparaging attitude toward psychologists, many of whom conduct extensive, methodologically-sound, useful studies on difficult subjects which have helped debunk any number of dangerous myths about human behavior. But I also recognize the Reg lives to annoy and earns some credit for it by entertaining, and occasionally informing, me. Which is more than I can say for most people I've met who think "doctor" has something to do with medicine.)

              1. Hollerith 1

                Re: @stanimir @ Michael Wojcik

                Yes, Doctor is an ancient pre-medical title, and at Oxford and Cambridge, the highest form of Doctor is Doctor of Divinity. The Doctor of Medicine is a johnny-come-lately and these have to trail behind Doctors of Philosophy, Humanities etc etc.

                Most people's interactions with a doctor are with the medical breed, so to them that is the 'real' kind, just as one's own currency is 'real' money.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: @stanimir

          tl;dr / executive summary: Dr. > Prof. > boffin

          (and sociologist > C. elegans)

          Dr AC, I think you've got your less-than and greater-than symbols mixed up.

          1. cortland

            Re: @stanimir

            Elegance counts!

        3. Annihilator
          Coat

          Re: @stanimir

          "And don't get me started on the Germans with titles like 'Dr. Dr.' ..."

          Although it's fine when Robert Palmer is looking for the news about a bad case of loving you.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: @stanimir

            ""And don't get me started on the Germans with titles like 'Dr. Dr.' ..."

            Although it's fine when Robert Palmer is looking for the news about a bad case of loving you."

            Or when the Thompson Twins want you to observe that they are burning, burning, and then tell them that this is indeed love they're feeling.

        4. CPE Bach

          Re: @stanimir

          Nein 'Dr. Dr'; Herr Doctor Doctor Professor....!

        5. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: @stanimir

          Did you just say a sociologist is greater than a Corydoras Elegans? Because I, and my passle of cute catfish, heartily disagree.

    2. cortland

      A halber nar...

      Say, a khokhem boffin (back-of-the-throat Hebrew "kh" ). Under Yiddish sayings, see "A halber nar iz a gantser khokhem." http://kehillatisrael.net/docs/yiddish/yiddish_pr.htm

  2. Sir Barry

    El Reg boffed by a boffin!

    Can the said boffin issue the sarcastic comment anyway as I would like to see what a boffin defines as sarcastic.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      No!

      Boffin sarcasm is a highly dangerous weapon, and should only ever be used in anger.

  3. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Happy

    It was the threat of a sarcastic comment...

    It's obvious that it was the threat of a sarcastic comment that got you to issue this apology and correction..

    Them be fightin' words!

    1. Edwin

      Re: It was the threat of a sarcastic comment...

      Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was the threat of a sarcastic comment...

        Now go away or I shall fart in your general direction!

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Shock!

    A boffin with a sense of humour.

    There's hope for the human race yet!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Shock!

      Boffins really, really need a sense of humour. If you cannot poke fun at life, the universe, and everything, you might end up starting to take yourself and (worse) your ideas way to seriously. You might even end up believing in them, which totally scuppers your critical attitude. A good capacity for self-deprecation or even self mockery is important in science.

      This is why I like writing the odd paper for Annals of Improbable Research. Must get that paper on pasta-antipasta collision experiments finished.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Ouch!

        Downvoted, I wonder why? Presumably for daring to suggest scientists shouldn't believe in their ideas...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Before acquiescing to his demand...

    ...I hope you verified that he wore a white coat.

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...

      But not a pristine white coat. Any old idiot can where a pristine white coat. It has to be stained with unidentifiable stains, and the odd patch of oil or grease won't go amiss either.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @monkeyfish (was: Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...)

        But where? Location matters. As does written English.

      2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...

        "But not a pristine white coat"

        Yup, they are mainly reserved for the 'I'm not a dentist but I intend on making you think I am one to flog you a product that will have you runniing scared to your real dentist to fork out real money after you've used it"

        Then there are the 'Forget about just using conditioner and a fine comb - you need to pour this completely unnecessary bottle of insecticide on your kids head" white coats, too.

        1. kiwimuso
          Pint

          Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...

          @Elmer Phud

          Ha! That reminds of a particularly inane advertisement for toothpaste down in this part of the world (much as I would like to, the brand shall remain nameless) in which a woman in a white lab coat was perched on a stool in front of a white (or black) board and announced that, "I'm a scientist, so I know about equations." and then proceeded to tell us why we should buy the toothpaste she was promoting with know further mention of any equations or proof as to why it was better.

          Maybe it also killed 99% of all household germs!!!

          I would use the joke icon because that is what it was, but they appeared to be serious about it.

          Have a beer instead. It's much better for your teeth.

      3. John 110

        White coats (was Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...)

        The lab block in the large UK teaching hospital where I work has a complex hierarchy of white coats. like so:

        University employees: don't wear coats, just latex gloves (which they proceed to use to grasp doorhandles etc)

        NHS employees have a sub hierarchy.

        Blood sciences (a largely automated discipline) : Pristine white coats, single breasted, but buttoned for safety reasons.

        Microbiology : Double breasted Howie coats (mad scientist specials) usually spattered with Gram stain and peppered with holes where acid is spilled. (it is a point of pride NOT to have "biological" material on your coat!)

        Histopathology : as Micro, but with much more staining, especially towards the rear (the most convenient place to wipe stain off your hands...) and added paraffin wax and plaster and various toxic substances (usually with benzene rings in them).

        Medics of various ilks tend to wear unbuttoned standard coats when they leave their room, but not down to the wards (Infection control issue)

        Hope this helps....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: White coats (was Before acquiescing to his demand...)

          The lab block in the large UK teaching hospital where I work has a complex hierarchy of white coats

          Love it, thanks. I'll probably email this one to a friend of mine who works in hospital :)

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Before acquiescing to his demand...

      ...I hope you verified that he wore a white coat.

      and uses a straight stemmed pipe to point to his diagrams...

  6. Dabooka Silver badge
    Boffin

    Acquired a negative connotation?

    Never, and if I ever come across such a person I'll punch them right in the Tilly orifice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Acquired a negative connotation?

      I have 2 daughters, one who is highly academic, and one who is definitely not. The thick one has been known to call the clever one a 'boffin' (or 'boff'), in the pejorative sense. I mention this because she almost certainly picked it up from the local 'comprehensive camp' they both attend. Therefore, the shameful use of 'boffin' as an insult is probably more widespread that many el reg readers might realise particularly for the young and ignorant.

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Acquired a negative connotation?

        Ah, but those of us referred to as such wore it with pride anyway. It went something like:

        Idiot: "You're such a boffin"

        Boffin: "Yes, I am cleverer than you, thank-you."

        1. A K Stiles

          Re: Acquired a negative connotation?

          usually then followed by

          Idiot: "Smart-ass" *punch*

          Boffin: "Oww!"

          (at least at my 'Comprehensive' anyway)

  7. Ketlan
    Happy

    My naughty Aunt M

    My very naughty Aunt M was shagging the science master at the posh school they both worked at when I was a mere sprog. Said master wore a white coat in the lab so Auntie M could have been said to have been boffing the boffin, the bad girl.

    Still better than muffin the mule though!

  8. Return To Sender

    Full marks...

    Having now peer reviewed Dr. Oren's complaint I believe he has presented a convincing case, and I applaud El Reg for responding with a correction in a timely fashion! Go boffins!

  9. Snivelling Wretch
    Headmaster

    A lovely story, somewhat marred by the use of the phrase "reach out". Please stop this forthwith.

    1. That Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

      Reaching out

      I was trying to sound like someone on a standards and conduct committee

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Reaching out

        Going forward I'd like to have this action ameliorated into the bigger picture.

        Also, words. Meaningless, pointless words.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Reaching out

          Today's vomit-inducing neologism was the introduction of 'onboarding', used as a noun. I can just about guess what it means. I can also guess that my communications with that user will be kept to an absolute minimum.

          1. Return To Sender

            Re: Reaching out

            Onboarding; waterboarding for the soul. And waterboarding is exactly what should happen to anybody using 'onboarding'.

          2. Andrew Commons

            Re: Reaching out

            I always thought that was misspelt and the 'a' should have been a 't'....

  10. Boff

    Speaking as a...

    Speaking as a natural born Boffin, i'd like to welcome him to the family..

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Weren't the Boffins related to the Bagginses?

    Or was that the Bulgers?

    Sorry, I'll get me coat

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Weren't the Boffins related to the Bagginses?

      Sure it wasn't the posher ones?

      The B'Ophines

      1. moiety

        Re: Weren't the Boffins related to the Bagginses?

        B'Uckets?

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