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Comment: Re:*Grabs a bowl of popcorn* (Score 4, Insightful) 385

by metlin (#49501129) Attached to: Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon?

You can get a buff body with a reasonable workout regimen in less than a year, and many elements of your "looks" can easily be fixed (better hair, wearing contacts, getting teeth fixed, dressing more stylishly).

If you have game, then your dick size doesn't matter, because history is rife with examples of men with questionable looks and stunning women.

Ultimately, having good social skills is much more important than any of those things in getting laid.

Comment: Re:Embarrassed (Score 1) 220

by metlin (#49419595) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

I used to be a programmer... over a decade ago. And I used to love programming in college.

But I haven't directly touched code (for a living anyway) in a long time, other than recreational coding, and that's mostly been in Python/Perl/Ruby/PHP.

I remember enough to be dangerous with SQL and with the fundamentals, and thankfully, C/C++ haven't changed much.

But while I am former programmer, I still I grok CS quite well. Algorithmically, I could write a ray tracer or optimize the cycles in a complex routine based on certain assumptions or optimize a graph or write up a crypto hash in no time.

However, what I do lack is an understanding of the various technologies and APIs that seem to keep changing. I can tell you all about data structures and compilers, but I wouldn't know how to instantiate a class in Java. But solving an IPP or DPP? That's still cakewalk.

Comment: How do you define smart? (Score 1) 227

by metlin (#49392549) Attached to: Google 'Makes People Think They Are Smarter Than They Are'

The article seems to conflate content knowledge with being smart.

I would argue that raw analytical skills are much more important than content knowledge. Being able to regurgitate information is only marginally useful, and its most important value is that you're equipped with a framework and a lens through which to examine problems.

However, absent analytical capabilities, your ability to use your knowledge and past experiences to solve problems is severely limited.

Google makes people think they are knowledgeable, which is not necessarily the same as being "smart".

Comment: Re:Time for a UNION! (Score 5, Insightful) 271

by metlin (#48868295) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

Although this problem needs a solution, a union is not that solution. Unions are a relic of a bygone era. The core premise of a union is that employes are all the same and can be swapped in and out of work like parts in a machine (once they are trained). This leads to collective bargaining which takes back some of the power that big employers have. However it also removes individuality from the worker. If I am smarter, stronger, or more skilled than my coworkers, I want to be able to elevate myself based on my merits. A union interferes with that. You pay a union, and the union acts only in its own best interest, not in your individual best interest.

That's an incredibly selfish attitude that puts the individual interest above the interest of the collective. The irony is that collective bargaining is much more effective and is much stronger in the long run. Your self interest is great until such time that you reach a point when other, more skilled people take your place (which is inevitable, because our cognitive capabilities decline with age, not to mention that older people have more responsibilities and find it hard to work 80 hour weeks).

Even the most meritocratic of individuals can run into unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (e.g., an accident that has you laid up, or family issues). I worked in a strictly up or out management consulting firm, and about a year ago, my pregnant wife had some issues. My son was born, prematurely, and I was in a rough place with my personal needs and professional responsibilities. My wife was hospitalized and my son was in the NICU, unable to breathe, and I was the only one who could take care of things. My employer was understanding -- for about 6 weeks -- after which things got rather unpleasant. So, I quit and joined another firm that is not only more prestigious but was also more understanding and accommodating of my needs. But I was fortunate -- I could very well have been unable to find a job, and been unemployed for a year because I wanted to take care of my family.

Union agreements ensure that in such cases, collective bargaining agreements protect everyone.

Modern skilled workers, especially in the IT and Engineering fields, are usually very specialized. This is not a good fit for a union. It would be ill advised to take a good thing and remove all motivation for creativity and the free flow of invigorating talent.

Not really. Most of what goes on in IT today is quite commoditized, and there are very few areas that are truly specialized. And it is only going to get worse as IT matures. You may think your task is highly specialized, but the truth is, there's probably someone in another part of the world willing to do it for a tenth of what you get paid. That is not specialization.

If you want real specialization, you perhaps see it in chip design, algorithmic optimization, biotech etc. You know, all those guys with PhDs who specialize in a subject?

A better solution is to simply prevent large corporations from getting away with their bullshit. No "gentleman's agreements" to prevent poaching. Stop accepting lies regarding layoffs and market performance. Reward employers for using home-grown talent rather than rewarding them with tax loopholes for moving overseas.

And how do you propose we do that? The share market is the ultimate arbiter, and the people who are rewarding the companies and the executives are the shareholders who are in for short term profit (it's the extension of the same short term myopic outlook of looking out for oneself rather than the collective).

I find that most Americans have a poor understanding of unions almost entirely rooted in propaganda, and it gets repeated again and again as gospel. The truth is, unions are immensely helpful to the labor force, especially in a service economy such as ours. Everyone thinks their skill is specialized, until it gets outsourced and commoditized.

You are not special. And despite what you may think, unions can help you negotiate agreements that would be impossible for you to go at alone.

Comment: Re:3rd place vs 1st place. (Score 1) 249

by metlin (#48796261) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

This is a great point. When I was younger and in college, I took advantage of the fact that I could coast through my engineering classes with the barest minimum effort. So, spent them drinking, playing in a band, and chasing tail. I still graduated in the top 10, but I could have easily done much, much better. Grad school and a couple of jobs later, my philosophy changed, and from somewhere, ambition crept in.

I will say that I have accomplished a lot more with drive and mediocre application of intelligence than with intelligence and little in the way of drive or hard work.

The problem is that you need them both at the right times in your life. Otherwise, it's too late. At a different period of my life, I may have gone through with a PhD and potentially been a physicist if I had had the sense to apply both grit and intelligence.

Today, I am a management consultant, where I use my analytical skills to solve mediocre problems, but where grit and drive and many other soft skills play a role. In fact, I would argue that my intelligence has taken a back seat and I bust ass to make up for gaps in my technical skills (e.g., finance).

Sadly, I am well past the point of publishing seminal papers; but at least, I can make the best of what I have and make a boatload of money for my next generation. But you're right -- it's not coming first. It's not even coming third. It's somewhere around fifth to the tenth. Above average, if you will, but definitely not great.

Comment: Physical games (Score 1) 171

by metlin (#48543965) Attached to: Preferred Type of Game?

I enjoy rock and ice climbing, sailing, and flying. And they are all done outside in the real world.

There's a certain satisfaction that comes from physical exertion that is not accomplished in a board game or a video game.

Although I have seen some people go crazy over flight sims. While they are good learning tools for some planes where it's hard (and expensive) to rack up hours, they're definitely no substitute for the real thing. That feeling of g's when you master an acrobatic maneuver or the joys of landing blind.

Comment: Re:You missed an important part of the quote (Score 1) 1007

by metlin (#48247723) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

You are conflating no answer with no value in having an education on the subject.

A mathematician may not have a solution to the Riemann hypothesis, but is certainly more informed than a layman.

Similarly, people who have studied politics, philosophy, or ethics may not have a definitive answer on a particular topic; however, to argue that a layman's answer is of equal value to that of an educated expert's answer in that domain is disingenuous. Furthermore, there are certainly quantitative elements to both political science and international relations.

Yes, there are some subjects that are qualitative, with no definite answers -- however, that does not mean that all answers are equal.

However, you cannot conflate faith with these other subjects, not even theology. Indeed, theology is different from faith because it is the study of religions. It is not the same as "belief", which has no grounding in any reality.

That is not to say that faith is any less valuable -- merely that it is not in the same league as any of the other subjects that you mentioned.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by metlin (#48244551) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

I hope you enjoyed the rest of the post. I have taken a few classes under Professor Nichols, and he is a hoot. I really enjoy reading the rest of his blog as well, mostly because he has a very non-partisan yet informed worldview on a variety of topics.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 5, Insightful) 1007

by metlin (#48243789) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Professor Tom Nichols, who teaches at Harvard and the Naval War College, has a great piece called the "Death of Expertise."

I quote:

Indeed, to a certain segment of the American public, the idea that one person knows more than another person is an appalling thought, and perhaps even a not-too-subtle attempt to put down one's fellow citizen. It's certainly thought to be rude: to judge from social media and op-eds, the claim of expertise -- and especially any claim that expertise should guide the outcome of a disagreement -- is now considered by many people to be worse than a direct personal insult.

This is a very bad thing. Yes, it's true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is just plain silly.

Worse, it's dangerous. The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. It's a rejection of science. It's a rejection, really, of the foundation of Western civilization: yes, that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.

Comment: Re: Why? (Score 2) 109

by metlin (#48193003) Attached to: China Staging a Nationwide Attack On iCloud and Microsoft Accounts

Spying on their citizens - Check

The difference here is that we the people still have the right to question the government, and organizations like the EFF continue to fight for it.

Economic stagnation - Check

You must be joking. American economy is anything but stagnant. Between 2009-2013, the U.S. GDP growth 1.9%, which is pretty good compared to most other OECD countries.

It may be "stagnant" when you compare it to a country like China at 7.7%, but that is simply not sustainable, not without artificial currency manipulation.

Riots - Check

A few days of media blitz over a police shootout is not the same as protesters fighting for democracy.

High unemployment - Check

What on earth are you talking about? The U.S. unemployment is at 5.9% as of September 2014 and China's is estimated at ~4.5%.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 479

by metlin (#47979911) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

Yes, there are a fair number of social scientists in consulting firms. Usually, they tend to be econ or poli-sci/IR, but you certainly have a smattering of other subjects. I once worked with a partner who had a PhD in Philosophy (not social science per se, but representative of critical thinking ability nevertheless).

I would imagine that there is a preference towards the hard sciences, but I think that is more of a self-selection mechanism than anything else. Management consulting entails a lot of number crunching (financial analysis, demographic segmentation etc), so people with hard science backgrounds tend to gravitate towards these roles.

Most back office analytics and research functions at the big consulting firms have quite an armada of doctorates. In fact, a few months ago, I worked with someone who had a PhD in Geography, which came in handy because he knew how to run geospatial analyses for a distribution problem.

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley