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Comment: Time to properly test systemd (Score 1) 454

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) 66

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.

Comment: Good. We need a female president. (Score 0) 676

by Theovon (#49460183) Attached to: Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid

I think that having a black president (depending on your definition of "black", because Obama is more like Colin Powell or Laurence Fishburne than Jesse Jackson or Dave Chappelle) has done a lot of good for racism in the US. Many people think that Obama hasn't been an awesome president, but they don't blame it in his being black.

Having a woman president should help with sexism as well. And although I'm sure I don't agree with all of her policies, Hillary Clinton an accomplished and proven competent politician. Unlike some horrible embarrassments (e.g. Sarah Palin), Hillary Clinton is smart and won't fuck things up in a way that people will blame on her being female. And if she does well, only total fuckwads will say it's because she's a lesbian or something.

It'll take a bit longer, but it'll be good when we finally elect an openly homosexual president. It'll mean the US has finally grown up and gotten past these stupid prejudices that have held the human race back for thousands of years.

Comment: Well, China IS a little bit scary. (Score 2) 229

Nothing on the magnitude of North Korea or Iran. Not even on the same order as Russia. But it's clear that China is not in the global market for altrustic purposes. They're an economic superpower, and they're going defend that. They're unlike to attack the US, though. But mostly beause they sell most of their products to us, not for any other reason. If I were in the Chinese government, I'd be scared of North Korea and want to maintain a defense.

So the US DoD and DoC have to weigh the slight risk of China deciding some day to come in and take over the US against the more immediate benefits of China drawing NK's attention away from us and being part of the general defense against NK's batshit craziness.

Comment: Re:Unauthorized access is illegal. Period. (Score 1) 629

See my other post. The idea isn't so much to make the punishment for teenagers more than for adults but to make the punishment SCARIER. The more I think about this, this student should get charged with a felony and then have that expunged from their record at 18. It needs to be a super big deal to everyone so that other students don't think they'll get away with the same shit.

Comment: Re:Unauthorized access is illegal. Period. (Score 1) 629

I'm not sure what is the difference (in any philosophical sense) between (a) exploiting a known vulnerability to hack in that they should have fixed ages ago, (b) using social engineering to get someone to inadvertently give you access, or (c) guessing someone's really stupid password.

All of them are "abuse" of a secured system.

For that matter, say a teacher stays logged in and goes to the bathroom, and while they're away, some students use the teacher's account. So it's wide open, and the teacher was stupid for doing that. But this is kinda like leaving your car running with the keys in while you run into the 7-11. If someone steals your car, they're still stealing your car, even if you made it easy for them to do it.

Students should live in deathly fear of what horrible things might happen to them if they inappropriately access a teacher's computer account. A misdemeanor charge may not be enough to get through to them.

The teen brain is interesting. They're almost too logical. If they knew the real statistics about pregnancy and STD's, a lot more of them would be fucking, and then that would actually alter the statistics. This is why teachers and parents commonly make it sound like every sexual encounter leads to disease, ruined lives, and all manner of other scary things. Well, disease and ruined lives happen often enough that people need to be *extremely* cafeful about it, but teens are not exacly known for their mature and careful choices.

So if this student gets punished in proportion to the crime (basically a slap on the wrist), it is a real concern that this kind of intrusion may start to happen more often, because the risks to the perpetrators are so low.

Comment: Unauthorized access is illegal. Period. (Score 2) 629

The teacher who used their own last name as an admin password is an idiot and should be reprimanded.

But an unlocked door is not an invitation to come in and snoop around someone's house, even if all you do is swap some picture frames around. That's what the kid did. It was unauthorized tresspassing. He should be suspended. If he'd done something worse, he should be expelled and/or prosecuted. Also, we don't know what else he did, and even if it was nothing, not coming down hard on this will make other students think this kind of violation is not a big deal. Unauthorized access IS a big deal, because commonly enough it's done for nefarious purposes, like changing grades or getting a peek at exam questions. Also, tresspassing in general is wrong.

As for the two men kissing, who cares. In 100 years, that'll be as not a big deal as interracial kissing is right now. If the photo is overly sexual in some way, then perhaps there may be an added problem of inappropriateness. In our current culture and all things being equal, a photo of a man and a woman kissing is more likely to be considered "romantic", while two people of the same sex kissing is going to be interpreted more sexually. That's not exactly fair, though, and if the school were to openly interpret it that way, they'd get into a world of shit politically.

Comment: QWERTY vs. Dvorak (Score 1) 626

There are a lot of proponents that will tell you that you should learn the Dvorak keyboard. Why don't people learn it? Doing so is a big investment, without assurance of a big payoff. In fact, it's been shown that Dvorak is only marginally better than Qwerty. The theory is (and it's questionable) that Dvorak leads to faster typing because it's carefully optimized to speed typing. Qwerty isn't much worse than optimal because it's random, and random asymptotically approaches optimal in many cases. Consider random vs. LRU cache replacement policies. Also, the main reason people believe Dvorak is better is not because it's been shown to be the case objectively but because people have believed the marketing materials that came from the inventors of the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Ok, so going back to this investment idea, you have a choice between English, which sucks to learn but half the world knows, and some new language you just invented that nobody knows but which MAY (but you don't have proof) be easier to learn. Where are you going to spend your energy? Marginally higher learning effort with a clearly huge payoff or a marginally lower learning effort but a huge risk that you'll never find another speaker of the language?

I'm a conlang enthusiast. I've invented a few myself. But I did it as a means to tinker with ideas, explore, and learn about language. I never had any expectation that people would use them with any regularity. Actually, two of them I named "Ferengi" and "Cardassian," so you can see that it was driven in part by my interest in science fiction, which is FICTION.

So, invent your new language. Talk to people on the internet about it who are also interested in conlangs. It's a fun hobby. But be realistic about it. Most people don't give a crap about learning ANY second language (especially in the US, while elsewhere people get multiple languages because people are forced by circumstances or live in multilingual communities), and they're certainly not interested in languages for their own sake. This is why "free and open source software" is hard for politicians to grasp as being of any value (at least on an ethical level) because most people don't get it and really just don't care.

BTW, some others here have made some good points about irregularity and redundancy. Redundancy is vital to a language. We need it to maintain a high signal to noise ratio. If you eliminate the irregularities (which have been positively selected for because of their redundancy value), then you'll make the language perhaps easier to learn but harder to understand. Esperanto's regularity is not an asset, and native speakers have naturally introduced new irregularities to compensate for the drawbacks. So your ideal universal language would in fact be intentionally harder to learn so that as to minimize ambiguity in communication.

Comment: Re:Saudi Arabia, etc. (Score 0, Troll) 653

by Theovon (#49414029) Attached to: Carly Fiorina Calls Apple's Tim Cook a 'Hypocrite' On Gay Rights

This religious freedom thing in Indiana is bullshit.

One of my best friends is a Methodist minister. He's the kind of Christian you want to be around. He's there just to help people solve problems in their lives and teach basic Christian concepts of forgiveness and repentance (which, in case you didn't know, means owning up to the shit you did).

Most religious people aren't like this. They use their religion as a means to feel superior and discriminate against others. That's why these laws in Indiana and Texas are dangerous. It's one thing to believe something. It's entirely another to treat other people as second-class citizens because either they believe differently or they have some attribute that your religion arbitrarily singled out that you or some religious figure decided is wrong.

So why do we do business with other countries? Hell, why do we want to do business with communist Cuba? Because our influence can be positive. They're backward people, and exposing them to our culture can do them some good. We don't turn a blind eye to it exactly, but screaming at them about how stupid they are is not going to change their minds. It'll make them angry and shoot bombs at us. On the other hand, Indiana is a US state, where this kind of political pressure and hollering CAN have a positive impact.

Ok, so why do religions think that homosexuality is wrong? Keep in mind that they come from the ancient world where things were different. These were times when populations were smaller, manpower was at a premium, and men had to be in charge of everything. You'll notice that in the ancient world, homosexuality among women wasn't particularly frowned upon, while it was often forbidden among men. Why? Because in those days, the sex act between two men was perceived as putting one of the men in the role of a woman, and you just couldn't h permit that. This is why pederasty was common, because it was between a man and a teenager, where the man maintained his position of power. Also, homosexality completely unchecked could have consequences, such as the population decline it caused in Sparta. So, because of certain neolitic beliefs and population issues, along with a desire to control who fathered a woman's children, certain religions codified certain rules about homosexuality.

The thing is, WE HAVE NONE OF THESE ISSUES TODAY. Ok, sure we have AIDS, and sex between men is a more significant disease vector than between a man and a woman or between two women. But that's a matter of personal responsibility. Learn to control your urges a bit, use protection, and only have sex with people you know really really well. I don't care what your sexual orientation is, hooking up with random people puts you, them, and anyone else you sleep with at risk of disease and death. We shouldn't try to control who you sleep with, but we can make it a criminal or civil offense for you to give someone your disease. But the point is, we're not in a world where women should be subordinated to men, and we don't have a declining population. In the countries where there is a declining population, homosexuality isn't responsible -- it's women in the workforce without systems in place to allow them have children while also having careers and fathers still assuming that most of the child rearing responsibility should be shouldered by women. Women may have full civil rights on paper, but our culture still puts them between a rock and a hard place.

Comment: I think perverts should be beaten. (Score 1) 1168

These fundamentalist Christians are dirty perverts. They spend way too much time thinking about what other people are doing in the privacy of their own homes, and then for some reason they want to get involved by going into those bedrooms and playing dominator/dominatrix and telling people what to do while they're having sex.

Comment: Free rides now? (Score 1) 120

by Theovon (#49334625) Attached to: Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data

So how that Uber is going to make all this money from location data, are they going to give free rides? It seems unlikely, but it's possible that the revenue stream from subscribers to their database could exceed the operating costs for fuel, paying drivers, and other overheads. If they give free rides, they may be able to side-step some of the taxi laws, because they're not profiting directly from the riders.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. -- Publius Syrus