Friday, September 08, 2017

What the Rich Won’t Tell You - The New York Times

Responding to What the Rich Won’t Tell You - The New York Times
First, I can see the resentment in the comments, and certainly, some of it is justified, but it is often overgeneralized so that the affluent are presented or assumed to be all one way of another. It is always more nuanced.

Second, empathy matters, although not for everyone. If one has friends of different economic classes, older people on fixed incomes, women who've gone through divorces - women suffer more than men when couples divorce -, or those who've become victim to the changing job landscape, those still thriving feel some pain when realizing the tough times others might be going through. One avoids [mentioning] those things that are likely out of the reach of others.

Third, for those that are aware of their [fortune] - the 'luck' of having smarts, a good family, social supports, and who lived in a period of government munificence - doing good is another choice, as is charity, not necessarily to offset guilt, but wanting to change the unequal and harmful structures we live in.

Monday, August 28, 2017

More Responses to an Open Letter to James Damore

As part of the Damore-related article I responded and posted about , I later wrote responses to other posters in response to a NY Times article An Open Letter to James Damore by Debra Sterling. Additional responses are below:

To someone criticizing, rightly, Damore's gender views...
In Hofstede's cultural dimension models, the drive for status is part of the masculinity dimension, and it varies a great deal, with the Scandinavian societies on the low end, having equivalent gender expectations, as opposed to the more traditional societies like the US. Although one might find that such traits are heritable, it is obvious that culture has a large influence on social norms.

Equally important, Damore does not realize that the men entering the profession have turned the industry toxic, e.g., high pressure, not that the industry was toxic and therefore drove women away, or that what he assumes is the profession is simply emblematic of life in corporate America. Several years ago tech was touted as an industry with high compensation and low stress. Along these lines, I have seen studies that showed causality in compensation, that when men enter the field pay rises. it was not that the profession paid well and then men entered it.
To someone that described programming as only requiring technical abilities...
Have you ever developed software? I do and have and my sense is that developing solutions requires technical creativity, insights into human behavior, understandings of the problem domain and innovation. Only yesterday, when I responded to one of our quant interns about work she obviously found exciting, saying that it seemed mentally engaging, she responded, that it was more like creative than intellectual.

Like almost any endeavor, the task is what you bring to it, and if you bring genius, your work is genius. If you are intellectually lackluster just following orders, then not much ability is required.
I was offended by your statement for two reasons, and have already responded to your perception that programming was only technical. I'm also offended by your idea that there is no science to programming, although when I say programming, I am writing about the larger field of software architecture and development.

Since when did "expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences" become synonymous with genius? When one thinks of the real genius of thought today - granted this is my biased opinion - most innovations seem to be coming from the computer science world, revolutionizing analysis in the humanities, economics and social sciences, and if not now, the hard sciences.
To someone assuming that irritating product, in particular, Apple's, were the result of
Actually, it is not tech-nerdism that is driving those decisions, it is Apple driving users toward a revenue stream, storing information and then music on the cloud. It is a form of lock-in, making sure you make future purchases from them.
To someone disagreeing with a poster that assumed the driver for a computer science career was about money...
Although I disagree with many of your posts in this forum, I really have to agree with you on this one. Although I often work as a project manager, and when I code use modern languages and paradigms, I could easily tell stories about my first time working with BASIC (1982), the sheer joy of getting good results out of COBOL (1984), literally spending entire days over a week to put together a new website (2000). Afterward, although I was being hired as a PM and lead, I decided to focus on software development, where I could be paid to do what I loved. Even then, there is the intellectual engagement I have in designing solutions and solving problems. As an example, I have blog setup to explore data analytics using F#, R, and Python. It's a pleasure, although my initial driver was to share the work with others, it now includes a certain amount of self-promotion for the next phase of my career.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Response to an Open Letter to James Damore

I posted a comment in response to An Open Letter to James Damore by Debra Sterling, below:
It doesn't get mentioned, but some of the same stereotypes that Damore claims make women ill-suited for technology, e.g., extroversion and emotional management, are the same traits that in some studies have been shown to make teams more productive. The concern about managing relationships, regardless of gender, has been shown to correlate with more effective team leaders. Extroversion in programmers has also been shown to correlate with team productivity.

I'm sure there are findings that might contradict the above, but Damore seems to have a very narrow view of what makes one effective. Leadership, or at least getting to the top, in Damore's view, and in traditional masculine societies, might require a desire for dominance and a penchant for combativeness, but ideal styles of leadership typically require driving consensus, presenting a vision, social cohesion and charisma, obviously absent from Damore's understanding of leadership.

Damore's ideas are cherry-picked to support his flawed world view.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Review: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

An excellent, incredibly insightful and informative book, somewhat marred by the tedium experienced in the authors' rehashing the ideas of organizations working for change. For most of this book, the writers masterfully tie together concepts in systems, mathematics, consciousness, the environment, society and biology, and for that, it is a brilliant read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision by Fritjof Capra

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Who Pays on the First Date? No One Knows Anymore, and It’s Really Awkward - WSJ

In response to Who Pays on the First Date? No One Knows Anymore, and It’s Really Awkward in the Wall Street Journal I wrote the following:
I am by no means a traditional man, but when I was dating via the personals, I paid. I make more than women, by virtue of my gender. I am smart, but only as smart as my now wife, and I am in a well-paying profession in a well-paying industry, but some of that is becuase of the sexsim of our culture. My wife has more education than I have, but works for a non-profit. I am sure, without the limitations placed on our respective genders, she could excel in my field, if allowed.

Although I have always paid in the beginning of a relationship, I knew that, if it lasted, the relationship would become a partnership, with each contributing as much as we could. Maybe not always the same amount, but fully.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. - The New York Times

Responding to Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. in the NY Times:
The US has some deeply ingrained aspects that make this situation intractable, a traditional culture that appreciates work in which men are supposed to succeed, along with a social system that denigrates women's work, and a socioeconomic system that provides no protection for labor, particularly service work, the kind of work traditionally done by women.

Where can it be improved?

Ideally, at least for someone like me, we would move towards an egalitarian society where quality of life matters more than work, that provides some degree of social welfare to buffet against the harms the economy can bring, and that protects labor, particularly service work. Seriously, I doubt that the US will become a culture that focuses on quality of life over work. I would also doubt that the sociopolitical world would change to protect service work. The only bright spot for male-type labor would be in the growing green energy sector, but the right-wing, those currently in power, are focusing on the old industries, which are looking to be in their death throes. Our traditional, unequal, inegalitarian culture makes all of that an uphill climb.

The US likely cannot solve this problem adequately, or at least will not, since it is the result of its dysfunctional culture. Yes, some solution would result, but likely an ugly patchwork that satisfies no one.

We would rather emigrate...

What the Rich Won’t Tell You - The New York Times

Responding to What the Rich Won’t Tell You - The New York Times First, I can see the resentment in the comments, and certainly, some of it ...