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Comment: Move those drivers into services around the trucks (Score 1) 614

by Theovon (#49706409) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

There's still lots for people to do with those trucks. People have to load them, drive them between loading/unloading and staging areas, maintain them, fuel them, etc. Sure, a computer can back up a semi to a loading dock, but the logistics are more complicated than that, so humans will be involved. So basically, the effect of having self-driving trucks is that the same people that drive them all around the country can now just live at end and way points, and we can deploy more trucks for them to handle at delivery ends and way points.

Comment: Because people are stupid and lazy (Score 1) 544

by Theovon (#49694871) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

You see, eating more nutritious foods, and maybe avoiding certain conventionally grown foods that are known to suck up pesticides (i.e. only buy organic apples), and maybe using fewer BPA-laden containers, and maybe exercising, and maybe taking a good multivitamin, and maybe cutting your sugar intake. How about not smoking and cutting back on the binge drinking? We could also work to reduce the industrial pollution we pump into the air and water. But those things are all just too hard to do. This would mean you can't eat pizza and beer for every meal and put all your garbage into the land fill.

But vaccines are easy to avoid. So we'll just blame everything on them.

Comment: Systemd detractors are like climate change deniers (Score -1, Troll) 347

by Theovon (#49663081) Attached to: Linux Mint Will Continue To Provide Both Systemd and Upstart

I'm not saying that there aren't problems with systemd. But I'm noticing a trend in terms of the balance of attitudes about systemd and toward people who keep going on and on about how they hate systemd. They're in a shrinking minority, and everybody else is just moving on, both technologically and mentally. Currently, the systemd deniers are just considered to be annoying. But give it a year, and they the attitude will be quite different: In the same way that creationists and climate change deniers are thought of as morons by the rest of the scientific community, the systemd haters will be relegated to the class of trolls and bikeshedders who interfere with progress. And this has nothing to do with whether or not they're RIGHT about anything.

Comment: Passion for programming is optional (Score 1) 425

by Theovon (#49620713) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

I have known people who were passionate for programming... but they were terrible at it. And people who were passionate at something else but managed to write some damn good code... when they were required to as a tool to solve a problem in some other domain. I was a total computer nerd as a kid, but now I don't code for its own sake most of the time. (Actually, I do sometimes, but not anywhere near what I used to.) Now, I mostly code because I have to. I enjoy it, but it's just a part of bigger things I'm working on, and those problems (a lot of them in circuits) are what I'm passionate about.

I have another thought to put programming into perspective: I know CS professors who are _fine_ at coding, but some are way better than others. That varying coding skill has nothing to do with their effectiveness at the job, because they're scientists doing research, most of which doesn't relate to coding per se.

Comment: China isn't communist (Score 4, Interesting) 49

Technically, China is a capitalist dictatorship. People often conflate the economic system with the system of government, because in our experience, most capitalist counties are also democratic (although typically republics), while most communist countries are also dictatorships. China has a heavily regulated economy, but the government doesn't own all wealth and resources, so it's not communist. That being said, I'm sure there are aspects that are heavily socialist, but no country is completely polar in these regards. I mean, the US isn't totally capitalist; there are high taxes, and there are a lot of centralized resources in the government.

Comment: Most skeptics believe they are correct (Score 1) 703

by Theovon (#49579209) Attached to: Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics

There are a lot of "skeptics" who are really motivated by their own special interests, like not wanting reduction in coal mining to impact their home state's economy. They are set up to be biased. But a lot of skeptics are true believers that climate science is some kind of grand conspiracy. Now with those people, I don't really know what their motivation is for being skeptics, because they're not scientists. They just repeat some stuff they've been told by other people that sounds plausible to them. But anyhow, this is the problem we face. Most of the skeptics are not "lying." They are simply misinformed.

Comment: Ugly but improving window manager (Score 1) 53

by Theovon (#49576093) Attached to: KDE Plasma 5.3 Released

I've been saying for years that plasmoids (with their rounded corners and translucency and other cool effects) look neat, but the window manager looks terrible, because it doesn't fit in with the rest of the theme. It looks like they've been improving it a bit. It's still not totally seamless, but it's way better than it was a few years ago.

So, I have a question: KDE seems like a more technlogically advanced desktop system and it's more pleasant to look at than GNOME. What is the appeal of sticking to GNOME as the default in distros like Ubuntu?

Comment: Re:Fluoride in drinking water isn't necessary (Score 1) 314

by Theovon (#49569053) Attached to: Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

Regarding lead in the water, you don't know the half of it. People harp on all the wrong contaminants. It's like this bullshut about vaccines and autism. Two (!) cases involving autism and vaccines have gone to court, and in both cases, the "victim" had some preexisting condition. The fact is, the really horrible American diet, with excessive sugar and pesticides and all kids of other crap, has far more impact on developing autism symptoms.

Comment: Fluoride in drinking water isn't necessary (Score 1, Informative) 314

by Theovon (#49568773) Attached to: Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

The original theory was that by putting fluoride into drinking water, it'll get into developing teeth, which are chemically altered to be harder. Then they figured out that that doesn't happen; it just reacts directly with teeth in the mouth. But we have fluoride toothpaste that does just as well and doesn't get swallowed quite as much. Then there's the issue of toxicity, which apparently is essentially nil except for people with thyroid problems, where the fluorine can displace iodine.

The conspiracy theorists actually play on the thyroid thing. The idea is that fluoride induces hypothyroidism, which slows people down and makes them more docile, and a docile populace is what governments want, because they rock the boat less. But I think this is a case of opportunism, kinda like how creationists will accept scientific theories whenever they appear to support their delusions. The theory that it was a communist plot predates any hypotheses about thyroid effects. I don't think there's any evidence that fluoride will *induce* thyroid problems.

Comment: STOP LINKING TO PHORONIX (Score 2) 232

by Theovon (#49559157) Attached to: Linux 4.1 Bringing Many Changes, But No KDBUS

It's possible that Michael Larabel didn't get his facts wrong this time, but he has a history of (a) sloppy reporting and (b) completely ignoring requests for making corrections. Considering the number of times his mistake was pointed out in this one case (https://twitter.com/phoronix/status/575005596501590016, http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?115543-An-LGPL-Licensed-Larrabee-Inspired-GPGPU-Processor/page2), I think he does it on purpose just to fuck with people.

Comment: Time to properly test systemd (Score 1) 494

by Theovon (#49545693) Attached to: Ubuntu 15.04 Released, First Version To Feature systemd

There are systemd haters who just think the design is fundamentally broken. There are others who just don't want to have to deal with an immature, buggy system for years upon end. By putting it into a distro as popular as Ubuntu, there's going to be a ton of practical fallout, where more and more people hit the corner cases and experience system crashes, many of which are directly the result of systemd bugs. Now, if Canonical are really smart (who knows), they'll be logging these crashes and make it easy to push stack traces upstream.

Eventually, the bugs will be worked out, and all we'll be arguing about is the architecture.

Comment: The evolution conspiracy (Score 1) 69

by Theovon (#49519315) Attached to: 3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms

Someone already pointed out how the creationists are already going to use this in their favor as evidence that fossils aren't the product or evolution or somesuch.

But it goes both ways. They often rant about how the scientific literature is biased against anything that goes against the evolution dogma. Although these non-life fossils don't really contradict any OTHER fossil evidence, nevertheless, here we have an example of a publication about exactly the sort of thing that the creationists say would never get published.

Comment: It's like having mens and womens sports teams (Score 1) 599

Except in this case, variation in STEM performance is a cultural phenomenon, not a physical one. Imagine giving girls a place where they can concentrate on learning STEM topics without worry of being psychologically intimidated by the boys. Only once we've had a full generation of women who have taught that they can stand on their own will we be able to free ourselves from the inherent sexism in our society.

Racism and sexism aren't PC, so parents and teachers pay lib service to the new ethos. But subconsciously, it's still really bad. Peers, parents, and media still paint women and minorities as being inferior. Sure, we don't want thought police, but it's people's unrecognized and unadmitted beliefs that cause problems of racism and sexism to linger.

This girls-only STEM school is an attempt at fixing this. Maybe it'll open up its own new problems. But people are burying their heads in the sand about just how racist and sexist we are. It's closeted, so if festers and generates resentment among those who hate being forced to treat everyone equally, and this actually perpetuates the problem. We need to blow it out into the open and address it head-on.

Some of these problems would also be helped by making men take more equal roles in parenting too. Professional men with kids are seen as responsible. Professional women with kids are seen as a flight risk. That's got to change. And the law should come down REALLY hard on men who father children and then skip out. Some companies provide equal paternity leave, and that's a step in the right direction. If I were the CEO of a big company, I'd have the addition of an in-house daycare (free for employees) on my action list.

Comment: Women in academia are given a little more slack (Score 0) 517

Disclaimer: None of the below is official policy. I'm describing things that I believe go on in the heads of interviewers where I work.

I'm in academia, and I've been involved search committees. Before we bring someone on site, we do skype interviews and thoroughly scrutinize their CV. We select the best CVs regardless of gender or ethnicity or anything, and the skype interview is to assess their communication skills. A slightly smarter person who can't be understood is going to be less effective than someone who is perhaps a little less creative but communicates well. Teaching is very important, and being understood is very important in teaching. Gender does not factor into this, and people from other countries vary massively in how intelligible their accent is, so ethnicity doesn't directly enter into it either. (I'm pretty good at pronouncing other languages, because I have studied phonetics extensively. To some degree, a thick accent occurs due to a lack of talent -- they just have a really hard time understanding how to produce the sounds, and grammars are a chalelnge too. Most people don't have a talent for learning languages as an adult. However, I also think there's a laziness factor. Some people work harder than others and develop explicit compensating strategies. For instance, several of my colleagues from China have learned to *just slow down*, which helps like you wouldn't believe.)

With regard to female faculty candidates in in-person interviews, we tend to make two major assumptions:

1. They are a priori no more or less competent than the men.
2. Various cultures (including our own) make them less up-your-nose about their accomplishments.
3. Since women are generally perceived as less competent, a woman making it through a PhD program at a good school is often an indicator of superior "grit" (courage and resolve).

So when we interview, I think we tend to work a little harder at making sure we aren't missing any sparks of creativity, good ideas, or important accomplishments that the women may be unnecessarily humble about.

There are also some other factors:

4. Although we'd like to have stellar candidates, the main thing we evaluate is just whether or not they will be succcessful in research and bring positive attention to the university. While we certainly like the rock stars, there are many people who fit into the "very good" category, whom we would be very happy to make an offer to. Very few of the people we interview *aren't* in the very good category, independent of gender and background.
5. We're not Cal Tech or Harvard. The rock stars will go to the higher-ranked schools. With limited hiring slots and limited time to make decisions, we often choose "very good" and "likely to an accept an offer" over "rock star" but "likely to go somewhere else."
6. With programmed lower esteem, a more competent female candidate is slightly more likely to accept an offer than an equivalent male. We're not exactly taking advantage, because they decide whether or not they want to accept the offer. It's just a female applicant is likely to be more competent than they appear, and we're happy to factor that into deciding on the limited number of offers we give out.

So if we have a female candidate who has done good research and but was so-so in the interview, although we don't give slack on the quality of their publications, not bowling us over with how awesome they are in the interview is not going to hurt their case perhaps as much as it might for the men.

In my time here, two male faculty in engineering have washed out. No female faculty have. The thing is, the men who washed out were clearly not meeting standards, while all the female faculty have objectively strong publication records. It's not like we have much in the way of borderline cases where we let a woman get tenure with the same level of accomplishment as a man who didn't. The recoil effect of #2 the direct effect of #3 up there is that women in academia often work harder than their male colleages because (again culture) they are worried they will be perceived as less competent, so they over-compensate. They may generally be shy about telling you how great they are, but they're not shy about doing good research and publishing papers.

The conclusion is that gender does play a role in the interview process. To say otherwise would be disingenuous. But the effects are subtle, and the main reason we'd prefer a seemingly less competent female is that the seemingly more competent male isn't likely to accept the offer; if we were to make that offer, we would not only lose that candidate but also all of the others we were considering for the same position (because it's important to make offers in a time manner). So a *given* female candidate who is objectively competent is probably more likely to be made an offer than a similar male candidate. We haven't done the statistics on this, but it's probably true, but probably much more pragmatic than it is discriminatory. It's betting on the horse with the lower standard deviation rather than the higher mean. Despite this possible bias in favor of women, we still hire mostly men, because the vast majority of applicants are male. And that is disappointing to us.

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