Iskaral Pust

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Everything posted by Iskaral Pust

  1. This is a fun topic because it pulls together a large variety of social theories. I think it's significant that other developed countries with cheaper tuition and more feminist culture have a similarly low or even lower proportion of women in CS than the US, because my default expectation would be that the culture of tech -- both frat-boy Silicon Valley and deep nerdism -- would be a hostile environment for women and partly responsible for the imbalance, and yet more feminist cultures experience the same. I worked in a software development function for a while early in my career in Seattle which was ~50:50, but I've heard that is unusual. The best coders there on the core code were all men, while the women mostly had roles like QA & testing, documentation and lowly HTML. It wasn't obvious how all those people had been channeled into those tracks to that point but the gap in experience and ability was large and unlikely to close. As with the education stats, there seems to be some upstream filtering going on. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion at all that absent any external barriers, like culture, cost, hiring practices, etc that we would have gender balance in CS, and I don't think the earnings potential and work satisfaction for the median coder are attractive enough to say this is a huge missed opportunity for women with sufficient left-brain ability who presumably pursue other advanced education for other career opportunities instead. It's not as if the default alternative is a menial service job. Coding salaries aren't all that high and seem to be deflated by exploitation of the H1-B program, which disproportionately comprises low level coders at relatively low salaries. Another contributor to gender imbalance in CS and STEM could be the more pervasive gender expectations. It's not just that tech firms can be hostile to women, it's that parents, teachers, media, female friends and potential romantic partners can all send tacitly disapproving signals about what kind of women work in STEM. Male nerds suffer socially but at least have banded together; I think female nerds may suffer even more.
  2. Finished Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer, the conclusion to Too Like The Lightning. This impressively convoluted utopian SF wraps up very well, although there does appear to be another novel to come. There are too many mini-plots for real narrative coherence or character development but each allows the author to introduce another philosophical concept or dilemma (which is this author's greatest strength) and all are satisfactorily wrapped up by the end. Unfortunately it still requires vast suspension of disbelief that a single pimp could control all the most powerful people in the world despite them knowing it -- that the rich and powerful couldn't find an outlet for their kinks without conceding all their power, that said pimp offered sufficient patronage for some to reach highest office. It's not only improbable but it's also out of character for most of these leaders to do willingly concede their power and not seek alternatives. But I suggest the read is worth suspending critical doubt and just enjoy this story of ideas.
  3. I definitely agree with this, btw. As much as we all dislike people abusing/exploiting personal relationships to gull us into buying crap out of pity, I think the biggest victims are those who work for these schemes. I get the impression that their initial costs provide most of the actual revenue, they risk alienating a lot of friends and family, and it's very often economically insecure women who want some sort of have-it-all mom-job and they were tricked into it by some other woman, possibly a friend, who knew she was exploiting them. I also see how this business relies on gender patterns. Selling to men requires tricking their greed instinct, but selling to women only requires tricking their cooperation/don't-make-waves social instinct (or is it brainwashing?). When my wife was tricked into a party, I was shocked that any of the women bought anything. They all clearly resented being there and it was fascinating to observe which ones felt free to express that with facial expressions and body language, which ones dissembled but avoided a purchase and which ones reluctantly bought something and tried to rationalize that perhaps it would be a good thing.
  4. My wife had an outrageous experience recently. An acquaintance of ours through our son's school -- a former CEO of an ad firm -- sent an invitation to a lot of the class moms to "join me in a party to celebrate a new venture I'm starting and really believe in". I got dragged along because my wife assumed it was an actual party and we had to go and make nice and wish her well since she invited us, even though we haven't socialized with her since a single play date for our boys five years ago. But we arrive at the party, bearing a decent bottle of wine, to find that it's a sales pitch "party" for some froufrou cosmetics. And I'm the only husband who got dragged along. My wife was aghast. For the next couple of hours, all these women squirmed as their outrage at being tricked into attending and discomfort at being hard sold was confined by their compulsion to be nice. My pushover wife even signed up for a $100 tiny tube of eye-lash something-or-other, just out of pity for the hostess. I told her if you want to indulge in charity then she and we will be better off if you just give her $50 and forget this junk to maintain a pretense. A few days later something arrived in the mail that said it was actually a monthly subscription of $100 for an ongoing supply. I went fucking ballistic at this level of parasitic exploitation and my wife called them to cancel it. I still can't believe this woman thought it was ok to scam people like this.
  5. The old thread was most abominably locked. Last night was shoulder press, pull-ups, etc. Really good workout but still feeling that damn strain in my right elbow. I've been resting it, massaging it, icing it, but I still get a nagging pain in the joint.
  6. This thread was overdue. I enjoyed First 15... a lot. Definitely reminiscent of Tim Powers, and perhaps even the Milkweed trilogy.
  7. Finished The Greatest Story Ever Told -- So Far by Lawrence Krauss, a good rec from the non-fiction thread. This is a history of the development of the theory and understanding of particle physics. I have no formal education in particle physics beyond electrons, protons and neutrons but I still found this to be a very clear and succinct description of the evolution of research in this space, explaining all the concepts along the way without (fortunately or unfortunately) building a full text book description of the concepts and underlying math. The only theory so abstract as to be challenging is the spontaneous symmetry breaking, but it feels fully explained by the end of the discussion of the Higgs Field. Well worth a read. Now reading Seven Surrenders.
  8. I had good, long swims on Thursday and Saturday. The pool at that hotel was really good. But go-karting last Monday left my biceps a bit strained and then two days in the pool meant my left bicep felt so strained that it bothered me even during bench press on Sunday. So I'm resting for a couple of days. I'll have to see what our gym & pool in Rome are like before I decide what to do next. On the flip side, our vacation has included far too much rich food, and that's just in the Ireland part of the trip so far; Rome will definitely be worse. But I can't be too shocked: vacation is always a step backward in fitness and nutrition. At least the jet-lag has abated.
  9. I lived with my parents throughout undergrad and commuted. I didn't want to ask them to pay for separate accommodation for me, although my younger siblings all did (I guess the oldest is always the responsible one). But after graduating from uni I got a job and moved out -- with a roommate initially -- and have been responsible for my own household ever since. Entry level salaries aren't luxurious but it's possible to move out and be independent, it just usually requires a big drop in material comfort. My parents live in what was a rural area (now a suburb on the edge of a rural area) and I moved to the city for career and lifestyle opportunities. Staying in a small town is a terrible way to waste your 20s. The step from early renting to buying a home seems a lot tougher now. People in their 20s have more student debt and home prices are a larger multiple of early salaries. But in the US at least you can get FHA mortgages with as little as 3-5% down payment and if you lower your sights -- longer commute, iffy neighborhood, and/or small place -- you can get a starter home and get started on the property ladder without having to wait several years to accumulate a large down payment. A lot of people don't want that trade-off, but there aren't many easy shortcuts to accumulating a decade or more of savings. Renting or buying a less desirable home in order to save more and trade-up later is just a classic deferred gratification. As to the social stigma, I think there's a wider acceptance now that student loans and house prices keep many young people living with their parents. I hear from older colleagues with kids at home: some are glad to help, some are resigned that their help is needed, some are concerned that the kids aren't functioning as adults. Every situation is different. I imagine some of the stigma would be in the dating world, where living with parents would cramp relationships and perhaps also send signals about a momma's boy looking for a wife to take over the duty of looking after him. But if it's becoming more common, then the stigma amongst peers would have to drop. Stigma can only attach to outliers, not to plurality or majority.
  10. I hope so. In Europe, we always stay at high end hotels in city centers rather than resorts, so whether it's the higher cost of real estate downtown or downtown tourists don't generally demand gyms but our experience so far has been terrible.
  11. Saturday was bench press, pull downs, etc. Another PB on bench press, leading to seriously stiff pecs and shoulders yesterday. Knowing I have a long transatlantic flight today, I decided heavy leg weights on Sunday would be foolhardy. I settled instead for rowing 2x2km in 8:10 and 8:20. Now I'm about to board a flight to Dublin for our vacation in Ireland and Rome for the next two weeks. We'll have access to hotel gyms but my expectations are low. If American hotels have sad excuses for a gym, European hotels are far, far worse.
  12. I hate the phrase "repaid debt to society". I don't think that's true at all. What does anyone do in prison that makes up for the harm they caused? At best, the period of incarceration prevents re-offending for the duration and achieves a change in mindset to reduce the inclination to re-offend afterwards. It's basically like a toddler's time-out, except really serious crimes have a punitively long incarceration as a preventive measure. Rehabilitation would suggest you start working on repaying your debt to society after your release, working to improve the lives of others in some way. I also don't like the self-serving way that "repaid debt to society" is used to demand equal access to employment and other aspects of society. Completing an involuntary incarceration does not necessarily make anyone more trustworthy. We are all held accountable for our actions through reputation, there's no magic wand that re-sets reputation, it has to be earned.
  13. I read two recent Kindle First books for a change-up. Crimes Against A Book Club was a humorous chick-lit novel about two Harvard grads, a lawyer and PhD chemist, with successful careers and happy marriages, who decide their desire for expensive elective health care (no-one is in any medical danger) means they should drug elderly rich women with cocaine (via fraudulent face cream) without their knowledge to induce addiction for profitable repeat sales. Funnily written, if more than a little negative about women's relationships with each other, but it's really hard to feel the author's sympathy for these hyper-entitled characters. The cocaine-induced self-confidence of the victims is supposed to make this a happy ending. It's kind of like Breaking Bad retold with sunshine, puppies, unicorns and lots and lots of Botox. Soho Dead is a noir detective novel set in Soho (London), obviously enough. I think this is the best Kindle First novel yet for me, in over two years. It's similar in style and tone to Rowling/Galbraith's Cormoran Strike novels, but with less emo angst and less worshipping of the main character. Worth a read.
  14. The added premium now for PL experience just doesn't look worth it compared to buying top players from abroad. I think it will give smaller PL clubs greater ability to retain players, until those players agitate for moves to teams competing for trophies. For big PL teams, they'll be scouting top foreign players at everywhere but the handful of CL elite clubs. The era of raiding Southampton might be over unless those players engineer the move. Which definitely could happen.
  15. I wonder if anyone will pay the supposed 60-70m for VVD. Even after Luiz, it sounds like too much money for that position. The economics of galacticos involves additional shirt sales, so it can work for Pogba but less so for a CB. If anyone, it seems like City have the greatest need and spending capacity for CB. I'd suspect VVD leaves most of the big clubs thinking they need to find the equivalent of VVD when he was at Celtic, not wait until he's a star at another PL team.
  16. This season contains lots of elements that sound appropriately Fargo-ish, but the final product just falls a bit flat. I'll see the season out, it's not terrible, but if this had been the first season it would have gone no further.
  17. I think it's mainly down to system. Rafa's defenders weren't world class but they played reasonably deep and were shielded by MFs like Hamann and Mascherano and "wingers" like Kuyt, and FBs got forward but not nearly as much as they do now, plus a ball-player like Alonso helped control possession to reduce counter-attacks. Most goals against us now happen from set pieces (less often lately) or counter-attacks into acres of space. Our opponents sit deeper now and we tend to over-commit to attacking, so our defense has to protect a much larger space with less assistance from MF, especially if Origi/Firmino/Coutinho turn over possession as they attempt a flicked pass. That suggests we need very, very fast defenders (which applies to VVD) or else stop over-committing to attack and/or try to tempt the opposition out a bit, which is easier said than done, especially at Anfield.
  18. Small Gods.
  19. I wonder what happened. I'm skeptical that we were ever going to spend over 50m on a defender, but we've created a farcical situation here. Considering last summer saw Matip, Mane and Gini added to the first team, I had high hopes of our newfound competence in transfers.
  20. I tried it a few months ago and dropped it after 15%. The ongoing parody of The Blues Brother set in D&D could be funny -- Terry Pratchett already did The Beatles on Discworld -- but it wasn't actually funny. Without some humor to sustain the parody, it felt pointless and flat.
  21. Finished Jack Reacher #4. Big improvement over #3. It was a very quick read, abetted by some insomnia last night, and easy to guess the mystery very early on, but well executed all the same. It recovered well from an unfortunate dip in #3. Now reading some humorous contemp lit (possibly chick lit) that I selected from Kindle First some recent month. Not a typical pick for me but so far it's funny, snappy, not at all obsessed with moody do-gooders -- a good change-up so far.
  22. Liverpool fans are pretty jealous about missing Kolasinac. Monreal has been really consistent these past couple of years, although he had an indifferent patch this year (as did the whole team), he was never an elite-level FB to dominate the left wing by himself -- unlike prime Cole, Rose this season or Shaw when healthy -- plus he's 31 now. Gibbs seems to have regressed in recent years, or just failed to develop as hoped.
  23. But why would Varga have bothered bribing the chief of the county sheriff's department? It doesn't seem like his business interests would depend much on that guy, unless Varga is much more local than was suggested so far. (The size of assets he's laundering suggest he's not some small local crook)
  24. Thanks Kair for posting that. So HCM sudden deaths most commonly occur between ages 20-40 during strenuous exertion, and some sports -- soccer, American football, basketball -- have a high observed incidence. If you have HCM, any strenuous activity could trigger a heart attack but regular highly strenuous exercise (or work) increases the exposure to this risk. I had a time-bomb cardiac diagnosis a few years ago (I still have the condition but appear to be very low risk) so I'm morbidly interested in situations where robust, healthy people drop dead prematurely from heart attacks. Mine shouldn't be triggered by exertion though. ETA - damn, a quick catch-up on Google says my condition, even asymptomatic, "contra-indicates" competitive sport. I always thought my cardiologist was a bit blasé as he sent me packing.
  25. Focusing on PEDs, and ignoring recreational drugs, I'm always surprised by the very low rate of failed tests compared with other sports, especially considering the financial incentives. Suspiciously low. Even the NFL has more suspensions announced for PEDs. Bizarrely, Sakho's false positive for the fat burner last season actually raised my impression of their testing diligence, if not their attention to the actual list of banned substances. Considering soccer players only lately improved their diets and reduced their alcohol in-take, perhaps PEDs wasn't the lowest hanging fruit so far.