Happy Ent

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About Happy Ent

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    Godfather of the Weirwoods
  • Birthday 07/01/1968

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  1. The visuals were great, it was good character development, etc. They are doing many things right. But he might as well drunkenly fumble with trying to un or rebolt a beer bottle, reminding us viewers that a lot of trivial things become life-critical in space. This would improve world building, would be dirt cheap, and give atmosphere—exactly the atmosphere of precariousness that I really, really like in the books. It’s the difference between lazy Earthers and the Belters and Dusters, for whom every single detail (forks, valves, doors) is potentially deadly. Book Belters are hypercareful, extremely competent, socially responsible, valuable, yet unruly. TV-show Belters are just a mob. — This also bugged me about the shots of Earth precariate in Bobby’s excursion in the next episode. Book Earth is on basic income; everybody has what they need, there certainly is no shortage of medicine, food, or housing. What Earth lacks (and Mars has) is meaning. This is an interesting, original, politically relevant view of the future, and it’s cheap to produce. Instead, TV-show Earth just gives us a Malthusian precariate (barter economy!) that we’ve seen on TV a thousand times before. It’s lazy and boring. I do realise that this is the Earth underbelly that we see from Amos’ POV in The Churn, so there is some canon behind these scenes. But Bobby’s Book POV sees something else (the basic income-dystopia), and that is what her character is supposed to be disgusted by: not that Earth fails to provide everybody their food and medicine (Earth is good at that!), but that Earth succeeds in providing everybody their food and medicine. So this adaption was bad world building and bad character development.
  2. Yet one generation ago they found it acceptable for boys to play soccer. This had zero effect on the popularity of soccer for girls. And I have never, ever seen anybody react with anything else than enthusiasm when a girl plays chess. They get extremely positive feedback, make the local paper, are trotted out as role models, and are insanely popular at the local club. Parents will brag about them. Boys on the other hand, largely, are just written off as awkward nerds when they play chess and encouraged (by parents, teachers, peers) to do something more social. Chessism is encouraged in girls and builds social capital, in particular among adults. Chessism in boys makes you a social outcast, in particular among your peers. So, no, I can’t follow this line of reasoning. I’m sure the truth is here somewhere, and encourage you to keep trying, but your examples are just as true as their opposites. And in particular: the more girls-in-chess-encouraging a society is (say, Sweden, where parents would love to brag to their peers about their chess-playing daughter), the less do they play chess. — Also: children don’t do what their parents tell them, so it’s a red herring anyway. Children copy the attitudes of their peer group, and always have. In particular, we would expect girls care about how their peers react. It is plausible that girl-playing-chess leads to social ostracisation. This would sadden me (and is not something I observe among my children, but that’s a relatively worthless anecdote). Boy-playing-chess certainly leads to social ostracisation (from peers) and negative feedback from society (i.e., from adults). It is possible that boys care less, or have no other options for status anyway. Arguments along those lines I would consider worth pursuing. This angle would mirror programming in the 80s and 90s. Back then, programming-as-a-hobby led to extreme social stigma, and a clear evolutionary dead-end. Programming-as-a-hobby required high levels of ignorance about social cues from your peer group, and was something you did not bring up in conversation. Your parents were just alienated by it, there certainly was no positive feedback from society, expect maybe the nerdy physics teacher (association with whom was another social faux pas.)
  3. So, Netflix (Sweden) is streaming this now. I can continue to bitch about physics. Weeping Somnabulist: 1:00. Nooo! The ship is facing in the wrong direction. Since Jupiter is in visual range, it should accelerate away by this time. 11:17. Somnambulist and Roci both under thrust, and docked to each other. This makes no sense and annoys me a lot. 35: Roci burning away from Jupiter moon Celine! Woot! Now, was that so hard? It makes complete sense when you see it, and gives a great visual. And great shot of the Roci hiding in a crater. 36: Somnabulist breaking towards Ganymede, then finally switches off the Epstein. Not good, since the station should be turned into glass by the drive. Several shots throughout the episode show spacecraft engaging the drive and flying away. None of them gets acceleration correct: In each shot, we see the drive lighten up, at which moment the craft immediately flies away at very high speed. Looks like Star Wars physics. What we should see is a gradual increase of speed, giving our brains a feeling of mass. (A similar criticism goes to the Solomon Epstein scenes, where his spaceship continues to increase acceleration throughout the flight. Why? The drive is on, so it gives constant acceleration, say of 1 G, or 5 G for drama, and increases its speed. The people responsible for all the space visuals don’t seem to understand the difference between speed and acceleration—to them, turning on the drive seems to give high speed. This really bugs me, because The Expanse books actually get this (very simple) physics (which we learn in school, and which corresponds to our intuitive understanding of how stuff moves, so it helps immersing us in the world) right, and it contributes importantly to the world building (how space ships are built, how interplanetary travel works, how battles work.) This would be cheap to correct, it just requires the diligence and professionalism of taking the setting seriously. Grumble-grumble. Later: Alex has a dozen beer cans floating in the Roci. Stuff like that continues to annoy me. Alex is a professional, living in space. Alex should be extremely diligent about not having stuff float around in a war ship (the beer cans become deadly projectiles the moment he engages the thrusters.) I’d like pilots and belters to obsess about such things (more than me); it could even be used to differentiate them from squatters, for extra world-building colour. In a space ship, everything must be bolted down, and our characters should care about that.
  4. If I were to produce this for a visual medium, I’d use the tricks from the British Sherlock series to explain how Kellhus works. This is extremely engaging. For instance, Kellhus’ first encounter with the trapper would make great TV. Super-closeups of sweat beads, eye contractions, pulsing veins, overlaid with Kellhus’ inner voice. Possibly cross-cut this with training scenes of young Kellhus, where he learns all these tricks from the Pragma. (So the Pragma voiceover can explain to “us” what’s going on.) This stuff writes itself and is quite cheap, and inserts itself into now-established visual TV tricks from crime procedurals; it combines the appeal of Sherlock and CSI:Whatever with pop psychology. It clearly differentiates itself from GOT. (“Game of Thrones meets Sherlock.” Ka-ching.)
  5. It frustrates me that those you of who argue from gender roles seems disinclined to even acknowledge that the some of the aspects of chess or computer programming are highly interesting and challenge your position. Chess ought to be more popular among girls than soccer. (Soccer is more strongly gendered, historically. Really macho, even violent. The physical differences between sexes are enormous, making it extremely discouraging for girls to even begin playing. Soccer stars are all males, and soccer history is male, computer games about soccer are male. Female soccer players are strongly sexualised, there are pin-up calendars. You cannot learn to play soccer anonymously on the internet.) Yet soccer has become super-popular among girls, having now become a predominantly female sport in the US! And the more gender-egalitarian a country is, the more girls play soccer (Sweden, US, Germany.) Thus, the argument from gender stereotypes has some heavy lifting to do. The same phenomenon can looking at heavily gendered classically male professions (priest, lawyer, doctor, most sciences, even politician). They have all become increasingly female, to the point of majority female for some of them. And the more gender-egalitarian the country is, the more female have these professions become. Yet with computer programming (which displays all gender markers less than any of the other professions) the opposite is happening. These observations are big fucking problems for the explanation from gender stereotypes. That does not in itself invalidate the explanation—it may still be true, just more subtle and therefore more interesting. But as a first hypothesis, the claims “Women just don’t find chess very interesting” or “Women just don’t find programming very interesting” explain the evidence very well (including the Nordic gender paradox). I have a hard time conducting an earnest conversation with somebody who does not acknowledge these points, or finds them interesting or relevant. If there is a good explanation hidden here somewhere, then it is highly plausible that we will learn this explanation exactly by considering such corner cases. Chess vs. soccer allows us to become smarter about how women navigate gender stereotypes. So does programmer vs. lawyer. If the explanation from attitude is correct then it would be downright immoral to attract women to chess or programming. (Another way of saying that: The level of gender equality in a society is well measured by the absence of women in introductory programming classes. Or chess clubs. This may be false (I hope it is), but it is hard to refute.) And I think that is a big fucking deal, and something we need to talk about before we argue about policy. ETA: Online poker could play the same role as Chess in the above argument.
  6. I think the chess angle is mainly a diversion. But… Chess, much like coding is characterised by offering a completely unsocialised learning and competition environment, thanks to computers. For a generation, children and teens have been able to train chess, with very gentle learning curve up to grandmaster level, from the comfort of their home. Alone. If you really need to play humans, you can do so anonymously. Many people do. Thus, ff the argument from socialisation holds any water then chess should show uniquely low socialised gender bias. (Just like programming, unlike law or medicine or clerical professions, uniquely offers a professional avenue away from perceived gender stereotypes, harassment, bad attitudes, etc.) There is no other game or sport in which perceived socialisation can have had less influence than in chess. A “private” way to play competitive chess is open for every single woman on the planet, just like every boy. It just doesn’t happen with girls. I can’t think of a worse argument than socialisation for this phenomenon. (That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. There could be a really surprising mechanism along which this works. I just can’t see it.)
  7. Thank you for the crocheting example! Brilliant. I would very much like to know the correlation between coding aptitude and attitude and crocheting! I so wish I was a social scientist, so as to pursue such ideas. One correction to the chess debate above: Men absolutely suck at chess. Big time. So do women, by the way. Chess is hard and boring; a good example of something that most people absolutely detest. In fact, my hunch is that random woman could beat random man in chess, if equally incentivised. (I’m happy to be corrected about that; I have not done my homework and entirely argue from intuition.) But nobody is interested in the performance of average men or women in chess, so these claims are irrelevant. It’s the same with math. (Thus: Don’t make claims that sound like claims about group averages.)
  8. They don’t explain how they work, but they have a perfectly fine model of their effect. Physics gives us a lower bound for how much matter is needed to produce a certain amount of energy, at least. (Currently, we have no idea how to achieve this lower bound. We can burn fossile fuels, and they produce energy from mass, but are very wasteful. Or we can ignite hydrogen bomb, which turn matter into energy much more efficiently. They are still far off.) The Epstein drive in the books is not-yet-discovered-tech that super-efficiently (more efficient than a hydrogen bomb) turns matter into energy. We also know how much energy is needed to accelerate a space ship. These two things together give you plausible interplanetary space travel. (It doesn’t have to be that way. The numbers could turn out differently. For instance, it might have turned out that in order to accelerate a space ship for weeks, this ship would need so much fuel-as-matter that space ships would need to be as big as Jupiter (because of their fuel tank), making them impossible to accelerate (first, because they have huge mass, and second because there aren’t enough readily available protons in the solar system to allow more than one or two space ships, ever, to actually move.) It no point do the books explain how the Epstein drive is doing its very-difficult-combustion-that-turns-matter-into-energy-much-like-a-hydrogen-bomb-but-better-and-without-going-boom!. They just need to posit that such technology exists. It wouldn’t violate physics. Once the Epstein drive is posited, the rest of the world building falls out of standard physics.
  9. Still, this is a common trope. I disappointed that I can’t find a TV Tropes entry for this.
  10. It’s among the few SF series that I actually enjoy. I like the low tech environment, and the fact that I don’t have to suspend my disbelief about how physics works. Nor about how humans work: society is dirty, tribal, and Malthusian. The two scientific conceits are that ( 1 ) energy research worked: There is an almost-optimal engine/drive/energy source. In particular, you can accelerate for weeks and weeks without needing a moon-sized fuel tank to start with. Therefore people can actually get around in the solar systems. ( 2 ) automation or robotics (and in particular, AI), did not work. Thus, there is a reason for people to get around the solar system (instead of just letting robots doing it for far less money), pilot space-craft, etc. I can live with both, even though I already feels that just during the years of the books’ release, the second premise becomes less and less easy to ignore.
  11. Another question: What is the best document of the form “What is wrong with Damore’s document”? The Heterodox Academy summaries make a step in this direction (by outlining some parts in red that they find at variance with Damore’s general tenor), but they aren’t quite there. What I’m looking for is the strongest case against Damore, maximally critical, but which includes a representation of his viewpoints that he’d agree with. Ideally, a text that quotes passages from Damore (in particular those that are representative of his argument) and then refutes them. In particular, I’m looking for strong refutations of his suggestions for improving gender balance. It seems that he is very wrong on those suggestions, and I’d love to be able to give a cogent argument of why his suggestions are wrong, or even harmful.
  12. The only thing to fear is fear itself. I can’t remember ever having a long, one-on-one conversation with anybody about this topic that was anything else than honest, informative, and thoughtful. Each of them made me better informed, and increased my respect for the other. On the other hand, public conversations, as well as written long-form, citation-free, documents I’ve found toxic. They made me dumber, and less appreciative of the other. This is a topic that benefits from conversation. Have those.
  13. Ah, I forgot. Since this is a Fantasy board: Here’s Julia Galef’s example for explaining comparative advantage using the Harry Potter universe. Ron (or whoever that is) goes into spellcasting (or whatever that it) even though Hermione is better at it. Because Hermione is better are more things.
  14. Ah, thanks. It does a good job at summarising the higher variability findings. Another very important point to be made is the consistently higher verbal intelligence of over-achieving women. This fits my own anecdotal experience very well. I look back on decades of trying to recruit over-achievers (of both sexes) into CS, for instance to Ph.D. student positions. Super-mart women (of which I have the privilege of meeting a ton) consistently have better things to do. They are actually qualified for much more exciting and fulfilling jobs. The people that we do consistently manage to recruit are awkward nerds somewhere on the autism spectrum. Principled thinkers, conscientious, off-kilter humour, low on empathy and agreeableness – you all know the type. Think Damore or anybody in the effective altruism community. Or your random SF con. (To be sure: I love those kinds of people. They are not broken. They get my jokes.) There aren’t many other medium-to-high status jobs (with a modicum of intellectual satisfaction) in the world available for these types. So they become my top students. Or get a job at Google. (Typically after having been my students.) I do know women who did that (some of them my best students). But I don’t know many. Most super smart women have way better options. Most super-smart men don’t. (Instead, the men with better options are tall alpha males with good charisma. They never applied to STEM in the first place. They would have failed catastrophically.)
  15. Let me plug some recent meta-summaries from Heterodox Academy. 1. Heterodox Academy, Part I: The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences? This is a solid summary of the reactions to Damore (which I didn’t find interesting), and a readable introduction to a handful of meta-studies about gender differences (which I did find interesting and learned a bit more). https://heterodoxacademy.org/2017/08/10/the-google-memo-what-does-the-research-say-about-gender-differences/ 2. Heterodox Academy, Part II: The Most Authoritative Review Paper on Gender Differences. This blog post lauds the (well-known) Halpern et al. (2007) paper, which was written in response to the controversy surrounding Larry Summer’s remarks some 10 years ago. I know this paper quite well, maybe it is indeed the best place to start reading up on these issues, though it is a decade old by now. https://heterodoxacademy.org/2017/08/25/the-most-authoritative-review-paper-on-gender-differences/