I am sitting at dinner with researchers. To my right, a professor who collaborates with all of us to some extent. To his right, a guy from Northern Germany. Across from us, three Japanese men. Our host is from Eastern Europe. "I quite enjoy working with Japanese people," says the professor. 'In the future, I'm envisioning collaborating only with Japanese and Bavarian scientists."

I am having coffee with colleagues. "I always look at people's A levels before I hire them. I don't trust people with poor A levels to become researchers," says one of them. I slowly sip up my coffee, wondering whether I should remind him that my A levels were piss poor (but better than those of at least one of his students).

I am drinking beer with people from the department. "It's a pity most of the new female PhD students are so ugly," says one of them. "Although pretty girls have it so easy, everything falling in their open arms... until they turn 30," he adds while I choke on my Beck's. "Do you mean I'm ugly or do you mean I don't deserve being where I am?" I ask. He laughs it away. (But of course, this is an isolated incident and us women and feminists are getting our collective panties in a hysterical bunch over absolutely nothing instead of worrying about serious things such as war rape and world hunger.)

This thing you do, with your brain, that supposedly got you to where you are right now, a respected member of the scientific community, with a truckload of prestigious degrees and insightful publications to back you up? Would you really mind applying it to everyday conversation as well? Or is empathy so completely out of your range of skills that there's no hope you'll ever realize you're being offensive?