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The gender imbalance in IT results from laws of Nature

Off-topic, related to computers: ATLAS@home looks for beta-testers at CERN
Someone retweeted a tweet with a hyperlink pointing to The Register,
The gender imbalance in IT is real, ongoing and ridiculous

The Z80 and 6502 generation wore the sexist stereotype, now it's up to them to fix it,
where Mark Pesce – an IT entrepreneur, futurist, and author – blasts the gender asymmetry among the programmers and other IT folks. It was started by the nasty generation of the fans of the Z80 and 6502 microprocessors and they have to fix it, too. He has noticed that the fifth graders are the oldest group in which the girls are visible. It's unacceptable for him which is why he will start to do that: he will refuse to attend conferences that don't fulfill his gender quotas.

His text is quite hysterical and entertaining. Of course, I was mostly attracted by the subtitle that mentioned Z80 and 6502. I've done quite some machine programming for both (and for 8080, more than Z80) which is why I am co-responsible for this "evil" world in which women are underrepresented.

The specific criticism against the Z80 and 6502 microprocessors boils down to this graph which shows that the percentage of women majoring in computer science peaked at 37% sometime in 1984 and began to drop afterwards – towards the ballpark of 17% today. Pesce interprets the graph as follows:
The closing of IT to women began when marketers identified young, nerdy males as the key to sales of those first-generation machines. The mostly-male subculture of hobby microcomputing grew into advertising and media messaging that completely cut women out of the computing revolution. In 1983’s War Games, Matthew Broderick hacks into WOPR while Ally Sheedy looks on in wonder. That’s Hollywood telling women they don’t have a meaningful role in IT.

The actual reasons why the peak occurred in the early 1980s is a bit different, of course. What happened to the computer industry in the early 1980s was remarkable and should be celebrated. The computers just became something useful and playful that almost everyone could buy.

In 1980, Sinclair Research Ltd. released its ZX80 for £100. It was quite cheap, wasn't it? The pound was a bit more valuable than today but it was still impressive in comparison with the huge computers that would only be owned by research centers and that would fill huge rooms and consumed lots of electricity.

This model was followed by a more successful ZX81 in 1981. In 1981, IBM presented its IBM PC that would become the standard of what has evolved into all the Windows desktop PCs we know today – dominating the professional but still "financially accessible" sector of computers.

In 1982, Sinclair began to produce the computers in the U.S. as well – and that's when Sinclair ZX-Spectrum was introduced, too. Sinclair QL in 1984 was much better and I had almost memorized a one-page article about that gadget at that time but it wasn't the same success. I would personally own a Commodore 64 since 1984 or so; the model was introduced in 1982. And one could write millions of stories about these wonderful devices.

But let's return to the social implications.

In the early 1980s, lots of people who could be called "hobbyists" began to code. Or at least modify their games. The world suddenly had lots of empirical material. And it became damn obvious that this intense programming and playing with the computers at the programming if not machine-code level is something that seems intriguing for many boys and almost no girls.

This fact could have been masked before 1980 because people were not really spending much time by doing the hard work. Students majoring in computer science would be partly abstract bureaucrats of a sort who were not required to be the best ones in mathematics-related issues or engineering. But when it became possible to produce lots of real programs, one could suddenly measure whether someone actually has some interests and skills and it simply became obvious that it is mostly a male hobby.

The majority of Commodore C64 users – and especially other people – in this 1985 commercial were female. See also here. Of course, you can say which boy is actually enjoying it, despite the identical smiles, can't you? ;-)

To cite (or even "blame"?) WarGames, an 1983 science-fiction film, as the "creator" of the gender gap in the computer business, is utterly ludicrous. By that time, the gender gap in the real world of computers was already safely established. Incidentally, we were living behind the Iron Curtain and we were shielded from all the conceivable influences of the "sexist" marketing – and all the marketing, for that matter. So our data about the gender gap may be counted as fully independent from the West – and unexplainable by marketing tricks. I assure you that Czechoslovakia (and probably all the other socialist countries as well) had a huge gender gap in the usage of the Sinclair and Commodore and other computers as well, safely exceeding 90-to-10.

You may trace why and how the computers got here. My father has smuggled (in a secret part of the motor, and I have partly forgotten where it was) both of my Commodore 64 machines I had owned from West Germany where he was allowed to meet his brother in emigration a few times. He bought this thing to me because I was intensely interested in computers. I am sure that if there were girls with similar interests and in similar family conditions, their dads would have done the same.

So you pretty much reduce this question why the owners of Commodores were mostly boys to the question why people like me were into computers before that, why I chose to attend some programming clubs or why I was interested in maths-related things. None of these activities was ever repelling girls. This interest in computers is something that you like to do as a hobby – something going beyond the things at school. What you do as a hobby is your personal, secretive, solitaire thing that isn't really affected by anyone else (the environment would be mostly hostile to computers but of course that they just couldn't really prevent me from liking what I liked). And almost no girls had these interests. You simply can't dismiss a 95-to-5 gender gap between tens of millions of users of the early home computers as a distortion caused by some bias in TV commercials or family pressures on boys and girls.

Just look at a review of 1981 or 1982 or 1983 in the video gaming and check who was behind the games. You will find folks like Matthew Smith, a 17-year-old who released Manic Miner in 1983. It will be very hard for you to find any girl who was active in that industry, well before any Hollywood movie describing the existing situation was realistically shown.

Today, women match or beat men in their usage of Facebook and similar things – but it's really the social aspect that attracts most of them. Everyone who has talked about these matters at least with 30 girls in his or her life – and who was intensely reminded that they just don't want to be bothered by this boring stuff at least by 3 of them – must know that as well as I do. That's how the things have always worked and because of the increasing complexity of the underlying technology, this gap is destined to grow, not shrink. In fact, it's not just about programming of the games where the gap has been obvious since the first moments. It was obvious even among players of the games.

Also, the attempts to increase the percentage of girls are not new in any way. Pac-Man (Play in Flash) was created in one year, 1979-1980, by Tōru Iwatani, a Namco employee. We learn that
His intention was to attract girls to arcades because he found there were very few games that were played by women at the time. This led him to add elements of a maze, as well as cute monster enemy characters.
Mr Iwatani has tried to reduce the gender gap. I don't quite see why the mazes and cute monster enemy characters should be more attractive for girls than any features of any other computer games – but he has tried. It didn't change anything qualitative about the gap and it couldn't change anything qualitative about the gap.
Yes, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. But the existence of these exceptions proves the point: the gender imbalance in IT is real, it’s ongoing, and it’s ridiculous.
The gender imbalance in IT is real, it is understandable, it will be growing, and it's ridiculous to complain about it or invent childish conspiracy theories why it exists. As in so many cases, it is hard to say whether Mr Pesce writes all these insane things because he really believes these incredible conspiracy theories, or because the society has become so insanely politically correct that it doesn't hurt if you also indicate that you're crazy.

Of course that most of the IT professionals who leave their comments agree with me and not Mr Pesce and offer tons of additional anecdotal evidence (and YouTube videos) as well as scientific papers supporting the conclusion that the gap is completely natural. But for some reasons, it's nutcases such as Mr Pesce who always seem to be the "writers". Media such as The Registers have been hijacked by the politically correct cult.

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snail feedback (123) :

reader Swine flu said...

Dear Lubos,

Your post makes an implicit assumption that the way to achieve IT equality would be by increasing the number of girls interested in IT, but there is another possibility, to decrease the number of boys with those interests. The left has been engaged in a war on boys (and men) on many fronts, which may some day perhaps have the beneficial side effect of discouraging enough boys from IT to improve gender equality in that field.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Exactly. I don't really remember the mainframe era too well ;-) but that's exactly what I wanted to express by the "bureaucratic" shortcut - the women in that rather passive era of the computer industry were secretaries of a sort, so of course that the setup allowed a higher percentage of women.

reader Uncle Al said...

Men create, women seduce. Women glued to screens neither find physically large aggressive male sperm donors nor wealthy ones for support after fertilization. A woman must unendingly shop to attract desirable volunteer buyers. Men have workbenches, women are social.

Nobody denies "Amazing Grace" Hopper! All I ever wanted to be was a vertical brass pole in Thailand. Do we now understand the social nondisjunction of miss-representative social advocacy?

reader Swine flu said...

Were those women really just secretaries or where they programmers? It doesn't sound like quite the same skill set.

reader Luboš Motl said...

This reminds me of the movie last night about a planned divorce of Bruce Willis and a famous actress - they returned to each other at the end.

During a lunch conversation in the film, a sophisticated woman teaches her girlfriends that a man and his penis is like a rammer, so it can get there even if he's upset about the woman, while the woman and the vagina doesn't want to open when there's a disagreement, and so on.

You're saying something similar which must be partly true and has, of course, far-reaching consequences almost everywhere. At the end, the point is that men don't really look so much whether what they're doing is accepted by others, while women always tend to look.

Now, is that inevitable? And if that's a valid observation concerning the sex, does it and should it generalize outside sex, to actual work? I am pretty sure that it does generalize but I am not quite sure whether this particular aspect of the gender gap in independence is inevitable and forever.

reader Shannon said...

TomVonk, Marine Le Pen theme is "la France d'abord" (France first) which makes it a party of patriots. Anyone with French passport is French. End of story here. No more immigrants because we have more then enough and it is costing France millions in social security and hotel rooms (the state pays hotel rooms for illigal immigrants and give them a bit of cash too). A lot of franco-algerians (both passports) receive from the French social security even though they live in sunny Algeria. Economically Marine Le Pen is against Europe the way it is now. She defends the country's sovereignty and right to decide of their own laws and economic decisions. For example she is in favor of a "état stratège" (strategist state) where big national industries would be saved by taxes ratherthanbeing sold to foreigners. She is however very much protective of small and middle size companies, artisans etc, to alleviate heavy taxes on them. That is not communism.
Your software on FN is the wrong one.

reader Werdna said...

You're playing a semantic game here, Phillip. I don't know what narrow definition of socialism you subscribe to, but Populism, and Progressivism, are merely varieties of the Socialist idea. But, it is true, both are closer to the Fascist variation, than the Bolshevik variation.

But they are all, in essence anti-Liberal, in the old sense of the word, ideas-the old sense being rather closer to what Americans would think of as "conservative" although many issues modern conservatives care about simply did not exist as issues back then. They are all Statist ideologies, as opposed to individualist ones.

Also, it's not surprising that FDR used such rhetoric. Hoover was, in fact, much more interventionist than he is given "credit" for, and besides that, most Southern Democrats had always been weary of Federal Power. But you are wrong to say that Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican in 1912 (he was not and in fact ran as a third party candidate) and you are wrong to say that the Republican were to the left of the Democrats at that time (they were not but only because it would have been virtually impossible to be to the left of the Democrats without being out and out communists). Woodrow Wilson was America's first Fascist President and implemented during World War I a system of "War Socialism." As for the Republicans, after Wilson, there was Harding and then, as I mentioned, Coolidge. Whose reaction to Hoover's nomination (who, Coolidge had remarked, had been giving him unwanted bad advice and nothing but for six years): “dismay . . . sadness, disappointment, regrets” (William Allen White, A Puritan In Babylon, The Story of Calvin Coolidge) Now why would he regret that so much? Because Coolidge knew that Hoover represented everything he hated in government. Because as I stated above, in ideology Coolidge was the first modern Conservative Republican. The shift, in terms of economics, was well underway before FDR took office-the Democrats, long since already left wing, the Republicans, already, it fits and starts, embracing limited government.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Swine Flu, sorry that I didn't catch the irony - it looked strange to me but I am just used to so much similar stuff that is serious that I just said "Swine Flu, oh, you too", and surrendered to the new observation. ;-)

Sweden really seems to be ahead in these policies.

reader Shannon said...

Well, Philip has a one dimensional understanding of politics, which makes it inaccurate and further from the truth.
Anyway FN is not an extreme right party and no journalist dare defining them that way any more.

reader Emdom Maldo said...

Are you sure that "[w]hat you do as a hobby is your personal, secretive, solitaire thing that isn't really affected by anyone else"? Do you think that what you see in culture, hear your friends and family talk about and values/opinions you observe in society play no role?

reader R T Deco said...

I remember the mainframe era. I remember the large room filled with the computer (that is, one computer, not a server farm). I remember playing on the punch card machine as a kid. Typing one's name was an exciting, and very loud, experience. I also remember the microcomputer revolution. I cut my teeth on a Z80 machine.

The women who could adapt in the late eighties and nineties transitioned into the modern IT world. Many couldn't and either retired, found different jobs, or spent the rest of their careers maintaining legacy software until the machine on which it ran was finally retired.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Femdom ;-) Maldo,

it plays some role but the role is sometimes positive - one aligns herself with others - and sometimes negative. Moreover, what others talk about doesn't come from somewhere, from some pure culture - it reflects the reality, too, doesn't it?

When you average over the cancellations between the terms of different sign and subtract the talk that only *copies* the existing biologically and otherwise determined interests and facts resulting from that, you get almost zero influence of the culture on the statistical numbers.

I am sure that there is some leftover influence but it's in no way capable of changing a 50-50 to 90-10 in the gender composition of an occupation.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Swine flu, there were some people doing both to some extent.

But the relevant question is whether the people who ended up doing mostly secretarial work are included in the graphs of the "computer majors" before 1980 and I think that the answer is Yes. People would be trained for such a job that in principle included some programming but most of them wouldn't practice it to any significant extent and they ended up doing secretarial work, and that's why the percentage of women among all these people was sensibly around 1/3. Is that sort of right, R T Deco?

reader Swine flu said...

Men would also have to transition to the new technology. Do we know they were more successful?

I wonder if computers as a hobby issue is not among the most important factors. Before, one could come to colllege knowing nothing about computers, choose computer science as a major, and get a degree in it. Nowadays, even an introductory university computer science class will have many students who have put in a lot of hours with computers while in school, so anyone who gets interested in computer science only in college will be at a disadvantage when taking such a class, quite possibly getting discouraged.

reader R T Deco said...

They were genuine programmers -- typically coding in either FORTRAN or COBOL. Yes, it is quite a different skill set than taking dictation or typing so many WPM (words per minute). Typically, at the time the algorithms, particularly highly mathematical ones, were written by other people (say, engineers) and the programmer's job was simply to translate the algorithm into computer code, which was how the thinking went at the time. Remember that "FORTRAN" is a shortening of "formula translation."

reader cynholt said...

There's definitely a race to the bottom going on in terms of wages among workers in the IT sector. Which is why women aren't attracted to this field. Woman aren't stupid. If the money is not there, they won't pursue it. But even if women are lousy at writing computer code, they can still land a job managing IT workers. And if cracking the whip pays pretty well and you're naturally good at it, as most women are, then that's where you'll find women employed in the IT sector. For some strange reason unbeknownst to me, many IT executives feel that IT workers aren't self motivated enough to do their job without someone, preferably a woman, cracking the whip behind them.

Now if the money does get better for IT workers, enough to attract women to the field and there are still very few of them in the field, then it's fairly safe to say that women are intellectually inferior to men when it comes to computer engineering.

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, right, Women can still be the bosses and get higher salaries because they are still better at doing that than writing code and sometimes companies want to increase the female ratio - so they hire them as bosses. A heretical question is whether it's the right thing to do. But if the men really need to have some women around, a boss is OK, I guess. ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

I didn't know that it was this acronym! ;-) I guess ALGOL and COBOL are also acronyms.

reader R T Deco said...

The mainframe era was driven very much by a corporate mentality. The post-mainframe era has been driven largely by the "hacker" mentality (not someone who breaks into computers, but someone who "hacks" code together, either professionally or as a hobby). The hacker culture has most definitely been dominated by men. It still is.

It is a successor to the HAM radio culture. Why doesn't anyone ever ask why HAM radio enthusiasts were predominately male? Of course, the obvious answer why nobody asks is that nobody was making boatloads of money off of it, as they're now doing in IT.

reader Swine flu said...

I was actually also thinking of the radio era, and whether it had an effect on who went into electrical engineering.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Sometimes it hurts not to be a native speaker. How can I "hack a code together"? When I click at "hack" using my Google Dictionary Chrome extention, it tells me that "hacks" means an inkspiller, or to cut/beat something to *pieces* or a kick, or to cut somewhere where it gets stuck etc. So I would pick "cut/beat something to pieces", and you tell me that it may be together? ;-)

reader R T Deco said...

Well, FORTRAN, strictly speaking, is not an acronym. It's a shortening of several words: "FORmula TRANslating system" = FORTRAN. COBOL, however, is more of an acronym, since it stands for "COmmon Business Oriented Language." However, any real programmer who doesn't eat quiche knows that it really stands for the customer: "COmmon Business Oriented Laymen who can't run a business, much less a real program." ;-)

reader Jonathan Cohen said...

There were more people employed in data and program entry and other support activities than actual programming. But that work was not considered CS. It was known even back then that the advertising was sexist and unrealistic, so let's not take it seriously now. I don't think the male/female ratio of actual CS type programmers has changed significantly. We would all like it to, but there is no sense in hiring people who will not do well on the job.

reader Swine flu said...

Just to be clear, if the boys tend to be single-minded in their hobbies, and the girls want to socialize or be all-around good students without having one dominant passion, then that's how it is. My point was simply that any college major that attracts a lot of hobbyists will put someone who is just starting out at a disadvantage.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear RT Deco, I am afraid that you misunderstand the meaning of an acronym.

Like Benelux, FORTRAN is a textbook example of an acronym. It may have several letters from each word. The point is that it is pronounced as a new word - it differs from abbreviations that should better be spelled.

reader Swine flu said...

Among our friends, I have seen girls more likely to major in non-lucrative fields like horticulture, art history, sociology, music, and the like. So, I am not sure about the girls being more hard-nosed about the income potential when choosing a major.

reader R T Deco said...

OK. Point taken.

reader R T Deco said...

Well, I have an uncle who was a HAM radio enthusiast as a teenager, who went on to become an electrical engineer working on designing communication satellites as an adult. I realize that this is anecdotal, but I doubt that I'm the only one with such an uncle.

reader R T Deco said...

Well, if one looks at the successes and failures in the IT business world over the past quarter century, much of it can be explained by the following proverb: Never try to sell for money something that somebody else will enthusiastically do for free.

In many challenging, highly technical fields, being successful requires more than just working hard and being capable of doing the work (although those two are necessary, if not sufficient). You've got to love doing the work too.

reader R T Deco said...

The term "hacker" goes back over 50 years to MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club in the early 1960's. Many of these early "hackers" became part of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and subsequently influenced computer culture from there.

reader scooby said...

That matches my own experience, Personally, I prefer my boss to be a man because when he gets on your nerves it is easier to tell him to p**s off. This is much more difficult with a woman. Coming to think of it, this may be one of the reasons why IT companies like recruiting women as managers.

reader Philip Weisler said...

Well I've seen some oddball kind of guys posting here but ''Wilson as a fascist'' is too much to bear for me. Btw, Populism and Progressivism are not ''varieties of socialism'' outside some microrealm of ultraminarchist echochamber perhaps. I think even you would agree that US progressives were well to the right of, say, contemporary social democrats.

reader physicsnut said...

ah the Z80 - in my Trash-80. But there were no marketers back in 1978 - we did the marketing and went to computer clubs. One guy spent a month in the hospital disassembling the Trash ROM for Level II BASIC - by hand ! Great way to learn z80 asembler. Yup - the age of the 'computer widow' and phoney IBM "announcements". My first BASIC program was a Quaternion Calculator.

reader physicsnut said...

also - stereo equipment was probably as big a factor as Ham radio

reader kneemo said...

It does seem to be Nature induced. Women love self obsessed psychopathic men and these men, in turn, love to program. ;)

reader Werdna said...

Phillip if you can't recognize Fascism when you see it there is no hope for you. Likewise if you do not understand why Populism and Progressivism were varieties of Socialism. Perhaps because you mistakenly believe Socialism is Egalitarianism, or Communism. It is not, it is a far broader set of ideas than that.

I have no use for Hoppe, who believes, among other flatly incorrect things, that fractional reserve banking is fraud. But I make no apologies for being a minarchist. I think the word you are looking for is "anarchist."

But as for Progressives being "to the right" of contemporary Social Democrats, this is a rather remarkable claim! Modern Social Democrats no longer publicly advocate for policies Woodrow Wilson *openly and enthusiastically implemented*. Including, among other things, extensive economic planning and price controls. They mostly just focus on wealth redistribution, which remains, in the eyes of many, undiscredited by the millions already dead in it's name.

Really, I can only conclude you just have no understanding of history or politics whatsoever, to make a comment like this.

reader I am in the Mirror Pair said...

Well, I don't know much to speak much of that. I wised up thought to what the feminist movement has become. It's become evil. Not because of anything that is believed. Not due to the particularities in ideologies. Not anything to do with anything like that. They've become evil, they really are evil. Because they don't care what girls and women are saying what they want from life, what they feel, what they feel like as an identity, one half of a pair. They don't care. They stopped caring before I was even born. They define any expression that isn't in their stack of what their ideology and agenda is really about. As Nothing. The outstanding indoctrination and slavishness of some sort of brutalization, no one seems ever to know when or where it happened or to who. No one was there. That's what they think of girls and women and what the great majority say they want, and always have said more or less. Just outstanding trash in the remaining queue to be washed and quashed.

reader Rehbock said...

Need song about women's drivers but here is one about women drivers in meantime.

reader cynholt said...

Girls go into "horticulture, art history, sociology, music, and the like" because they are all fun. You can't say the same about computer science -- fun it is not.

Years ago, very few men went into nursing. The ones that did did so went on to become a nurse anesthetist, who on average make as much as a primary care physician. Not bad for just one extra year of schooling. Now there are even more men going into nursing largely because hospitals are hiring more and more nurses for top management positions and the pay is even better than it is for nurse anesthetists. Many of them will make as much as an your average physician specialist. Not bad for someone whose job all day mostly entails counting beans and pushing paper. And it must be nice for a hospital to pay you the big bucks despite you never having to deal with the very stressful issues of life and death.

reader Gene Day said...

I should have stopped reading at the end of your first sentence.

reader Tony said...

There is a lot of work in IT that is not male-specific by any traditional measure or common prejudice.

Say User Interface design.

In many cases the work is very repetitive but still requires one to be careful, with a lot of attention to details, almost like knitting.

Another observation is that Indian and especially Chinese women don't share, or at least not to the same degree, the preferences and prejudices of their Western sisters. Also Russian women can be seen in IT, here and there.

Do most Western women, who can and want to get higher education, study art history for fun and then expect a rich guy to pay? I know a few of that type but that can't be the majority!?

reader Gene Day said...

That is true, no doubt, Cynthia, but women are intellectually superior to men when it comes to human engineering, that is, grasping what it is that makes people do what they do.
That’s why, if I am listening, that learning from my wife is an unending process.

reader Gene Day said...

Perhaps they usually are better managers.

reader Tony said...

From 1990 to 2002 the money in IT was pretty good, respectively to other professions. At least in the US. Even these days salary is better than for many secretarial jobs, excluding the top honcho's fashion models.

reader Gene Day said...

When Cynthia said that Computer Sience “-is not fun-“, she forgot about those techies for whom it is great fun.

reader kingkevin3 said...

no they most definitely are not.

reader davideisenstadt said...

a woman developed COBOL, IIRC

reader Gordon said...

"You can't say the same about computer science -- fun it is not."
Really? I bet you don't find math fun either. Man, are you missing a good time :)

reader Tony said...

I guess your wife checks what you write in this blog or peeks above your shoulders while you type :-)

reader R T Deco said...

Yes, it was based on the early work of Grace Hopper, a legend in the computer science world. However, it was developed by people who were not academic computer scientists to be used and understood by people who are not trained in computer science. Its syntax is purposefully verbose with the idea that it should be able to be understood even by nonprogrammers (say managers). Yet when companies were worried about the Y2K problem a decade and a half ago, old COBOL programmers were paid quite large sums of money to come out of retirement and fix ancient (but essential) COBOL programs that nobody else could understand.

COBOL is an excellent example of the type of programming environment that doesn't attract the hacker community.

reader Gene Day said...

She doesn’t give a shit about what I write.

reader Gene Day said...

Both women and men can be anywhere from awful to wonderful at managing people but my whole life experience says that women have the edge primarily because they are better listeners.
I have forty years of engineering management experience in Silicon Valley and you cannot dismiss my views so easily.
I would be interested in hearing the views of other managers with experience similar to mine.
Show me a manager who doesn’t listen and I’ll show you an operation that is about to fail.

reader Gene Day said...

Obtaining a new mathematical result in engineering or any other field is one of the highest highs that one can experience. I think that theoretical physicists have even more fun. I am jealous.

reader Tony said...

50% Of American Workers Make Less Than $28,031 A Year. These are the official SSA stats.

Almost every IT worker, even 'lowly' tester, earns considerably more than that. It simply can't be the money.

reader Tony said...

Somebody's got the keeper. I don't know who :)

reader Tony said...

That doesn't bode well for all sorts of (mostly female) cashiers.

reader davideisenstadt said...

it was a bitch to learn (for me) in the early 80's...I understand that it is at the core of much of modern operating systems....

reader davideisenstadt said...

because they were scared to dance...because they were intimidated by women...because machines were easier to understand than were people?

reader R T Deco said...

I think that you meant to say that COBOL is still a core language for most business computing, which is true. COBOL is not, and never has been, a systems programming language however. The old operating systems were programmed primarily in assembly language. These days, C and its descendants dominate the systems programming field.

I'm not sure that it's fair to classify many of these men as misogynists. Undoubtedly there are a few genuine ones, but I think that most simply lack the basic social skills that are necessary to avoid being a jerk. This is why they choose a life that is focused on spending much of their time with machines rather than people.

In any case, I think that we all agree that the more decisive factor in what has been observed is desire -- what does one want to do, rather than what can one do. There are many things that I could do very well that I simply don't want to do -- even things that would pay very well.

reader jim z said...

I think that framing the issue in a male/female binary is not correct.

Almost all persons have no technical interest in computers. When I talk to persons about computing, 10 out of 10 women don't care about it, and 9 out of 10 men don't care also.

Only a small part of the human population is interested in the nuts-and-bolts of computing (and fewer are interested in physics). Why would anyone think that there would be sexual parity in that small population?

reader Gene Day said...

What, exactly, are you trying to say?
My strong suspicion is that you are a fool.

reader Tony said...

reader Gene Day said...

That doesn't help a bit. Why not say what you want to say in plain English? Would that be difficult for you?

reader davideisenstadt said...

yes...but one thing that many in IT aren't good at is interacting with women...for whatever reason....

reader Tony said...

Um yes, because I was just teasing.

reader Jimmy said...

Like when I started my geology degree in18985. There were only two women and ten men on the course. One of the women complained and asked why there was such an imbalance. the lecturer told her that 100 men applied and only three women so that, in fact, women were over-represented. The woman is now a professor of "carbon storage"...

reader jim z said...

Also, it is a reflection of the fact that men are not as practical as women are, with regard to living, obtaining food and shelter.

Men are obsessed by everything; every man is distracted by something. It is the history of men seeking fame and treasure, and dying in the quest. Of starting wars for the same. Now a days, it's all the ordinary men building themselves computers and radios that cost little to buy, modifying automobiles to make them worse, climbing up cliffs and jumping off of them with parachutes, cheering for football teams, panning for gold, sawmilling, building miniature steam locomotives, playing golf, fishing, etc,etc,etc.

The day that feminists complain that there are not an equal proportion of women-to-men spotting train locomotive numbers or spotting airplane numbers, that's the day that I will listen to arguments of equal numbers.

reader jim z said...

Has any women, in history, invented a perpetual motion machine? No... Thousands of men have done so... It's an invention gap; social moires have stilted womens' invention of perpetual motion machines. It needs to be corrected.

reader Honza said...

Lubosi, you ask if "... the society has become so insanely politically correct that it doesn't hurt if you also indicate that you're crazy."

I would file this one under costly/hard-to-fake signaling, which is used throughout religions and pseudo-religions. In case of Mr. Pesce he signals that he belongs to the "religion of political correctness" while making every outsider considering him crazy (that is a definitive price to pay). In short, it doesn't hurt if you indicate that you're crazy, it is beneficial.

[All religions may involve costly and elaborate rituals, performed publicly, to demonstrate loyalty to the religious group.]

reader Tony said...

Many of them, as soon as they got married.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear RAF, again, I agree that "social justice" always includes some "redistribution". And I am against it.

But what you don't seem to get is that "ordinary justice for everyone" required some "redistribution", too - not primarily of the usual material objects we discuss today but redistribution of some rights.

When a kid was born to a royal family, he or she had special rights to rule and command. Most others were born into serfdom. The royal/feudal advantages were a form of an "asset" and to establish the same rights at birth was a form of "redistribution" of this asset.

If you happened to think that we're better off without serfdom or slavery, then you are, from some perspective, a product of a surrender to the "left-wing" fight for justice, something that was probably called social justice at that time, too.

The delicate mix of what we think should be shared by everyone and what shouldn't is already a result of many tests and decisions that were done by the history and we learned something from it in some way. But it's simply not true that you are against redistribution of all conceivable "things" so you're not the most general "opposite" of the SJWs. You're (also?) somewhere in between the possible extremes.

reader Luboš Motl said...

A great description of the pattern in a broader context, Honzo.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I think that this overrepresentation of women (in the lecturer's sense) already exists in pretty much all STEM fields. 50 years of hiring and promotion selectively preferring women because it's "beneficial" can't be invisible. In your case, the women were overrepresented by a factor of 6. It's probably not that extreme in average but it could be close, at least in some disciplines.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Jim, I don't know what's the point of your emphasizing those 90%. Of course that only a minority is really "into computing". And the imbalance exists in the small group because the small group is a "tail of the Gaussian" that is very sensitive on the mean value and, especially, the variance of the Gaussian.

The people who want to achieve the 50-50-like percentages in everything won't understand the "tail of the Gaussian" calculations. Just like they deny differences between sexes and other groups, they deny the differences between individual women - they deny the existence of any distributions of anything. ;-)

The perpetual motion machines show an "activity gap" even when it comes to the people who are doing rather stupid things. The link below is how some women may look at perpetual motion:

reader Honza said...

I found out that most people have no idea what the current situation (with social pressure) actually is. Look at the graphs here:

(Source #s here )

reader Luboš Motl said...

Right, here and there. Like Tatiana Likhomanenko in the Kaggle contest

and of course I know many such examples. There has been a calm, institutionalized equality - emancipation - in the socialist bloc, with some potential pro-women bias behind the scenes that was never shown too "proudly". Still, you will see that the gap is pretty much the same.

If there is a small, but not infinitely small, percentage of something, one may get focused on some anomalies. So I did notice some "groups" of Indian or Russian female physicists, too. But I've also acquired enough statistics to be sure that the overall gender gap in physics of Russia or India is at least the same as it is in the West. I've met a female Indian student of physics at Rutgers but forgot her name. Today, if I studied how many Indian theoretical physicists I know, I couldn't name a single female name - but I can give you dozens of male ones. The male fraction is well over 95%.

You may get percentages closer to 50-50 mainly in countries where this activity isn't too competitive. Some countries couldn't really compose teams that would be competitive with a team from a small town in the West. It's often striking. Like orchestra. ;-) Our president went to Tajikistan and this is what they did with the Czech anthem - play the video:

It's a simple song, I would say, and no one in that country can play it decently. So Tajikistan can only compete with Iraq that played the anthem in 2011 in this way - play the video:

Very bad. Of course, our leaders would just stand, probably realizing that it's utterly pathetic but professional not to insult the hosts. What could they do? I am touched when the anthem is played well but this interpretation made me LOL, both of them. It's like from a comedy. Of course that if the quality of computer science or something else in a country is similar, one may hire pretty much random people and the percentages of anyone may be more or less what the organizers want. It won't matter.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Grace Hopper? Isn't it more correct to say that she was a head of a committee of the men who did it? Isn't it like saying Fabiola Giannotti discovered the Higgs boson?

reader Luboš Motl said...

I don't want the percentage to change in one way or another, or not to change. The percentage should do what it wants to do. Also, I don't believe that similar percentages are constant in time. They may be changing a lot, by a factor of pi or more, as the new generations come and go and the character of the work, and the skills and favorite activities that the work requires, is changing.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Swine flu, it was a bigger jump than others but it was still a similar kind of a job. Read e.g. this guy

who would switch from the IBM mainframes to some smaller hardware vendor, Amdahl, where he was a system programmer. Amdahl wasn't the new Bill Gates - but most people who hadn't previously worked with the mainframe computers ended up in similar Amdahls, too.

reader Luboš Motl said...

All of them are linear curves with bogus noise added on top of them, aren't they? ;-) The continuing wiggles up to 2018 AD reinforce this feeling of mine. But of course that the broader point is clear: the drive to push women to education-laden occupations has already distorted the percentages greatly and women have the majority in all these specialization-blind degree groups.

reader jim z said...

Pinker identifies it. In evolutionary biology, it's the extreme or outrageous demonstration of fitness. Having strength in excess of what is necessary to survive, the individual organism can showoff unnecessarily, and exhibit its extra amount of fitness, and the organism has an extra amount of attractiveness for reproduction with an observant other sex partner.

reader jim z said...

Thanks, Lubos.

The "tail of the Gaussian" is exactly what I was meaning.

I say that more women should be doing things that are playful, stupid, and destined to fail. If an equal number of women-to-men are not doing these things, then women are failing at doing playful, stupid failures.

The most fun that I have had in my life is (are) those silly, stupid, impractical, time wasting things that I have done.

To bad for women, if they don't want to have fun.

reader jim z said...

It's the 'Peacock's tail'; Mr Pesce can say stupid things, and get all of the girls.

Evolution demonstrated.Mr. P

reader Honza said...

Sure the graph is horrible (that's why I included source data). But for me, the most interesting fact is that in BS and MS women reached parity already 35 years ago! Try to find anybody who is aware of that fact. ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

I totally agree. This fact - I was vaguely aware of it - isn't convenient for anyone so even though it's much more important because it goes to the "overall numbers" of educated people, it's not being mentioned anywhere.

reader RAF III said...

Lubos - I have tried to address this subject diplomatically (yes, that was me being diplomatic!) but now I'll be blunt.
First you misconceived the idea of justice and now you have misconceived the idea of rights, and you have done so in exactly the fashion that those whe co-opted these ideas intended.
'Redistribution' is a general term. Without further qualification it is neither just nor unjust. I wrote of 'social justice' requiring *unjust* redistribution. I placed redistribution in quotes because it's use was also intended to deceive by making it seem that the original 'distribution' was unjust.
You are conflating the ideas of rights (natural or universal) and privilege (based on status). Your reification of rights as some sort of commodity is downright silly and conflicts with the ideas of both rights and privilege. Is every man really a king after 'rights' have been 'redistributed'?
Opposition to slavery, and it's abolition, at least in the U.K. and U.S., was justified by Christian beliefs, not right or left wing ideas.
'Social justice' is of relatively recent coinage - about 150 years old.
That those on the left have occasionally fought for and achieved actual justice seems to be a fortunate accident, not a deliberate and considered result. How could it be when they don't understand justice in the first place?
Finally, I suppose that in some nit-picking, technical sense I am not the most general opposite of a SJW as we are both human beings (and what is the opposite of a human being?). But why should anyone be restricted to such usage?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear RAF, well, maybe we do disagree on the substance although I can't say for sure because what you write now doesn't make any sense to me.

You say that without "qualifications", "redistribution" is neither just or unjust. Well, a more sensible statement would be that without a moral or ideological rooting, one can't say whether redistribution - or a particular type of it - is just or unjust because without a moral or ideological rooting, the term "justice" is completely ill-defined.

However, I do have a *certain* moral and ideological roots, so I can tell you which redistribution I consider "just" and which redistribution I consider "unjust".

You are conflating the ideas of rights (natural or universal) and privilege (based on status).

I am "conflating" them because they're obviously and self-evidently inseparable. They're inseparable from wealth, even material wealth, too.

If you possess a house, it means that you have the right to physically remove a homeless person who breaks into it through the window. What's important is that the social conventions recognize the rights and the cops will actually help you to enforce them. But this very fact depends on some social conventions - which are arguably desirable for any decent modern dynamics in the real estate.

At any rate, "wealth" and "rights" are inseparable. To have wealth is to have some particular rights related to the possessed objects. So material possession is a special kind of rights, and rights may be viewed as some possession even if they're not obviously "material". That's why the words "copyrights" ends with "rights", too, even though it's a form of assets.

When I have certain rights or wealth, they give me a certain status. Or vice versa. Status may be defined by some rights or wealth. These things are clearly inseparable, too. If the status doesn't give one any rights or wealth, it is vacuous.

You say that "slavery" wasn't a political issue associated with the Left or the Right. Are you serious? Get back to the 1860s and tell them about your views on the question. There were clearly two political movements - whether they explicitly used the word "right" and "left" is completely irrelevant, what matters is that they were polarized in exactly the same thing as "Left" and "Right" are polarized in any context - and they were fighting for their understanding of slavery.

If you're a Christian, it's cute and understandable that you say things like "slavery is denounced by the Bible". But if you mean this comment as a serious contribution to a debate that may be evaluated, well, then I would probably recommend you a psychiatrist.

In the age of the Bible, and I mean both testaments, slavery was omnipresent and numerous passages of the Bible - Exodus, Leviticus, Timothy, Ephesians, Luke etc. - explicitly approve it.

If I am criticizing your interpretations on any of these questions in a similar way as some SWJs, well, then I do, they are surely not 100.00% idiots then. ;-)

reader Cogniscentum said...

I am old enough to remember when computer science was considered a non-creative field which nobody really cared about. It wasn't until computers created our modern world that those interested in power took notice.

reader Cogniscentum said...

I did, thanks for the validation ;)

reader W.A. Zajc said...

I don't think you need to be too far out in the "tail of the Gaussian" to realize that to a very good approximation you could plot only one of the curves on each graph to present the entire information content...

reader davideisenstadt said...

a "keeper" is someone worth keeping.pretty simpke, eh?

reader davideisenstadt said...

yes...bu there was attach involved, and she wasn't a spouse, a secretary or a typist, no?

reader davideisenstadt said...

there is an obsession with proportional representation, at least here in the states..
of course , this obsession doesn't go a far as, say prison populations...or sentence lengths given to parents who kill their kids, or proportionality of representation in special ed classes...or all of the diseases that men suffer and die from at higher rates than do women...
so, I agree with lubos...its a crock.

reader Pablo said...

Shecodes, a network of female programmers, has a dream – that 50 percent of Israelis who code will be female within a decade.

anyway.... I wish them luck.

reader Gene Day said...

I know that meaning, davideisenstadt, but it is far from clear that Tony used the word in that sense.
My wife is, of course, a keeper.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I would wish them the same if I were more sure that a selective Holocaust of the Jewish boys isn't a part of the plot. ;-)

reader Gene Day said...

I have never known a woman who was a really good design engineer. I know that there are a few but the male-female imbalance is due to the same cause as in the code-writing profession. It is absolutely genetic.
Management (of people) requires a vastly different skill set. Personally, I am pretty good at design but I am a poor manager. It took me years to learn that fact and focus my efforts on things technical.
Also, I have never known a single person, male or female, who was really good at both engineering design (hardware or software) and a really good manager. The skill sets are, essentially, orthogonal.

reader RAF III said...

Lubos - The great influence that Christian abolitionists had in the elimination of slavery in Britain and America is an indisputable historical fact. (and no, I am not a Christian) What the Bible says and what happened in biblical times are both quite irrelevant. What matters is what people thought and did 200 to 150 years ago. This is also true of left/right distinctions. Were the priveleged, aristocratic, and Democrat slaveholders of the South on the Left or on the Right? Were the egalitarian Republicans of the North on the Right or the Left? Is there some present day disagreement about slavery between the Left and the Right? Even back then there were many political movements with distinct and 'nuanced' views of slavery. These movements faded with the approach and onset of war. War can be polarizing. Polarization does not require that the poles be the Left and the Right, they could be the North and the South. You would be hard put to find any significant group of people, involved in this dispute, during those 50 years, who could be consistently assigned to the left or right (however you interpret those words) on all the issues of the times.
We seem to be in complete agreement about 'redistribution' and even when it is unjust.
Talk about rights has always been confused, and confusing. I think that this is mostly due to the really bad analogy which compares rights to property - i.e. rights as things which you possess or own. Let me suggest another view.
View rights as a moral component of a definition of 'human being'. They are a part of what it means to be human. It follows that those with *certain* moral roots will know how to treat their fellows. This applies to all humans who behave properly and is in accordance with the idea of natural law, requiring neither nature nor God. It recognizes no privilege but only humanity. (thus rights and privilege are distinct)
One must be careful to distinguish terms that have moral connotations from those which do not, or at least make clear what is intended. If, for the sake of argument, I take 'possession' as a neutral term and 'ownership' as a moral term it is clear that thieves, fraudsters, and warlords can possess wealth. They can take it and keep it by forcibly 'violating' the 'rights' of others, or, in this view, by behaving improperly. (thus possession of wealth and rights are distinct). They do not, however, own that wealth. The social conventions that allow or demand enforcement depend on the moral conception of ownership. This concept is prior, in every respect, to the social conventions.
As far as 'status' is concerned, I used it only to distinguish a universal concept of rights from the selective concept of privilege, e.g. the divine right of kings, or the granting of titles, etc. I hope that you can now see why I would view this - 'When I have certain rights or wealth, they give me a certain status. Or vice versa. Status may be defined by some rights or wealth. These things are clearly inseparable, too. If the status doesn't give one any rights or wealth, it is vacuous. So if you don't "conflate" these things, then you must clearly misunderstand at least some of these concepts' - as confused, confusing, and wrong.
I don't think that you are intentionally adopting the ways of the SJWs, and I hope that I have made myself sufficiently clear so that you won't be mistaken for one in the future.
Despite all this, I feel certain that at some level we are in complete agreement.


reader james said...

" because the society has become so insanely politically correct that it doesn't hurt if you also indicate that you're crazy."
I don't know what it is like in your neck of the woods, but over here (Madison Wisconsin) it hurts if you _don't_ pretend to be crazy.

reader Tony said...

He, he, must not have been easy keeping the straight face upon hearing those renditions of the anthem.

Thanks for a good laugh.

reader davideisenstadt said...

sorry gene. who knows what tony was thinking...a smart man knows when he has a good woman... you are both fortunate!

reader John Archer said...

For those of you who are keen to dump your membership of the EU:

A speech by Owen Paterson MP addressed to Business for Britain and delivered on 24 November 2014: AN OPTIMISTIC VISION OF A POST-EU UNITED KINGDOM. (It's not very long: ~6,000 words.)

The speech gives a quick and proper account of the history of (and megalomaniacal driving impetus behind) the EU. It outlines the route needed to be taken to unwind 40+ years of hideous 'integration' and sever the tentacles of the EU beast with its death grip on us. This is a counter to the outrageous misinformation and propaganda promulgated by troughing europhiliacs and other pro-totalitarian ideologues.

Of course, its emphasis is naturally on the UK but the ideas involved are generally applicable. You can do some tentacle chopping too if you want.

Incidentally, Paterson is a Conservative MP and an ex-minister for "the Environment". The reason he's an ex-minister is that he's a rare bird in that party these days, one that isn't completely full of shit, generally knows what he's talking about, speaks out when he sees wrong and, most importantly given his ex-position, opposed the slimy green lunatic lobby when he held office. So naturally that streak of shit Camermoron sacked him. (Camermoron's in-laws are raking in huge green subsidies extorted by his beneficent government from Joe Soap. Of course all the other socialist parties are very happy with the arrangement too. But that's the sewer of modern 'mainstream' UK politics for you.)

reader RAF III said...


The left, at least since Rousseau, have championed a tribal morality. One of the few really clever things they have done is to dress themselves up as an intellectual elite and couch their arguments in terms that appeal to their opponents, thus gaining sympathy and support as they undermine and destroy the social conventions which enforce the morality they oppose. They, at least, know that they are engaged in a conflict of moralities. Of course they are oblivious to the results when their ideas are put into practice (only nuclear weapons could reduce a modern nation state to savagery more quickly) and, like children, are quick to blame someone else.
They also remind me of the 'anti-quantum zealots', who entice their opponents to adopt their philosophical premises despite the fact that they have been falsified (and by the way, even though I lived through it, I was surprised at how everyone in that documentary did just that!). The defenders of quantum mechanics do have the excuse that there is no real philosophy of quantum mechanics. But the defenders of modern civilization do have not have this excuse.
To those who would argue against either of these cargo cults I can only offer this advice - 1) choose your opponent and audience well. They must be acting in good faith, 2) Be patient. Explaining the uses and abuses of language involved is neccessary before real issues can be discussed. Such discussions are always time consuming and arduous, and only rarely rewarding.

reader carbone said...

I just came across this article:

More dumbbells but more Nobels: Why men are at the top

and this video:

Very sensible woman.

reader John Archer said...

Never mind the IT industry. There's that marvellous showpiece of sweet happy oneness [indeed cloyingly so], that great mega-celebration of humanity at its physical finest, bringing the peoples of the world together to embrace each other and all their wonderful diversity. No, not the global sex-tourist market, but the Olympics!

How can they continue to insist on separate events for men and women? Don't they believe in equality of the two?

It's a mystery that no one has yet reported such a blatant case of sex discrimination to the authorities.

Come to think of it: why aren't the feminazis up in arms about it?

Mysteries all round!

reader Swine flu said...

This is an easy one: if they merge the events, the men will crowd out the women at the Olympics in many events, and we can't have that, can we? Perhaps, they should instead split all the IT (and physics) departments in two, one to be staffed with men, the other with women.

reader NM said...

The restoration is a PROCESS and it is going on all right. And as a process, it goes from imperfect democracy (that we used to have and to very limited extend are still having) to authoritarism, that is here now full blast, and then straight and speedy towards tolitarism. Stalinism is just the name of the brend like Xerox (that's how Russians call any copying machines).
I started comparing the wiki definition with what I see around and wrote a long text. Haven't edited it yet and am not sure I should post it here. Do you really want to know anything like that or you are just looking for the facts that will prove YOU are right?

reader Luboš Motl said...

NM, your reply doesn't contain a glimpse of a fact. It is just a sequence of expletives expressed by 5 different expletives.

Everything I see is consistent with the hypothesis that you are a Stalinist asshole who is simply not satisfied with the fact that Russia is getting closer to the decent monarchy and European power that it was before the Bolsheviks took over.

reader TomVonk said...

Dear Lubos.
Of course I was sure that you could not be happy with any national socialist party be it FN or another one and that's why I wrote my post.
The problem with nationalist etc policies (where are some ideas I could agree with and you probably too) is that you don't get them alone - with the daughter's FN you get them in a package with the crazy and ignorant anti free market and anti capitalist ideology.
You have a typical "new style" FN voter with Shannon which gives you a taste of arguments that Marine Le Pen uses in economics :
- "strategic state" (hahaha !) that "saves" companies from evil foreigners :) Of course with tax payer's money !
You and me know better - we had a "strategic state" that was "saving" everything that didn't work under communism for decades.
You know, the kind "Shut up, we know better about everything." bureaucrats who think that they can manage companies with ideology alone :) The result was a pure disaster for economy.
- the big companies (e.g those that succeed worldwide and make money) must be taxed more because they are intrinsically evil.
This is one of the most demagogic lies with the argument "the evil multinationals don't pay enough taxes".
Actually most of them (like Total, LVMH, Danone etc) pay taxes worldwide.
The lie is to focus on the taxes IN FRANCE ALONE.
Of course if a successful french company makes 90% of its business abroad and pays 90% of its taxes abroad, it pays only 10% taxes in France.
But brainwashed sheep like Shannon take the taxes paid in France, divide them by profits worldwide and are surprised that it makes 10% or less :))
And this kind of idiots doesn't even understand that a multinational company can make losses in France (thus pay 0 taxes in France) while it makes profits abroad and pays taxes there.
- the basic idea is to steal money from everybody who is successful and to support everything that is not successful and/or needs to be "protected" (understand getting state money) - fishermen, peasants, workers etc.
This is exactly how one gets votes with demagogy and that is something all national socialist parties are expert with.
As anti-market and as communist as one can get.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tom, I disagree with Shannon on markets (and obviously agree with you) but I still like her. One must be ready to see that in real-world conditions, things are not ideal.

Of course that I am often tempted to silently whine for myself - no one else has the same values, or combinations of values, or whatever. But this is partly a self-imposed injury.

On Saturday night's reunion of the elementary school 5-8, I would finally discuss some issues with VK, my classmate sitting in the same bench for 8 years. He would be one of the directors of a major investment company, analyst for McKinsey, and so on, and is something like a "personal banker for companies" in an Austria-based bank, living a peaceful family life in a Prague suburb. An OK career.

But when it comes to politics, he wasn't too interested in it anymore (unlike what I remember 25-30 years ago), because the right reformers for him faded away, and so on. During this conversation, he reminded me that he meant the folks in ODA that he would prefer, and so on.

It's hard to say whether ODA has really evaporated. The individual people in ODA have certainly evaporated. But the spirit - is it really different from those who dominate politics today? I don't know - I found ODA (while obviously "close" to my preferred politics at that time) largely unreadable.

As a Klaus guy, I had to see that relatively to ODA fans, I am a fan of still "rather lively flesh" in politics (Klaus just won a poll of the most popular prime minister in the Czech history, wow, depends on how people are asked etc.), however, especially because I find Zeman mostly OK, too.

Some people like to visualize me as a maverick but there are many aspects in which I am really the opposite of it. Supporting a guaranteed-to-lose party isn't really my cup of tea - something I wouldn't recommend others, either - so I always care what is happening inside the strongest parties and similar institutions. I always care who is the better wing in a socialist or communist part or whatever matters, and who is better among not-really-ideal parties in a country that thinks differently. And while I don't really observe French politics intimately, I find it rather likely that if I were, Le Pen might be better for me than e.g. Sarkozy.

reader TomVonk said...

All this seems to me to be trivially simple.
At least as far as computer games are concerned.
In 1999 was released the first MMORPG in first person - Everquest. It instantly became a blockbuster and is the grandfather of every single modern MMORPG today.
I have played Everquest for some 2 years and because of the success there are tons of studies, analysis and books.
All that was based on real observation of real people on a very large scale (not talking Gauss tails here).
Because the topic is gender, here what the studies were telling.
- about 75% males and 25 % females were playing. This ratio of about 80/20 was true in 1999, is true today and is also approximately true for any on line game (a bit less females for games like World of Tanks and a bit more for games like Sim City).
- the reasons for the difference were motivational. Most computer games contain a strong competitive orientation. When asked why they were playing, men liked competition (category called achievers) while women liked social interaction (category called socialisers) with very significant gender differences on both issues.
The consequence of that was that there was 1 girl for 5 boys playing but interestingly many Guild leaders (people who create and organise groups in game) were female, largely beating the 1/5 ratio.
I have been playing myself in a Guild created and lead by a girl - she was not a very good player but she was VERY good at organising things and keeping people happy.
- the 2 other motivational factors : immersion in a fantasy world (the RP component) and escapism had no significant gender differences - it was about 50/50 (of course corrected by the global 1/5 immbalance).
So what computer and computer games show over the last 30 years is just another empirical observation that men are interrested by fights and women by talks (I simplifiy on purpose) with statistically significant gender differences. One would obtain similar results by doing statistics about movies or books etc.
I guess this is not a scoop for anybody :)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Nice - I have never played these MMORPG games. ;-)

What you write must be true but I think that the attribution you explain is only true at a "fuzzy" level. Various quantities - like competitiveness vs socializers; and the desire to play the game - are positively correlated, but I wouldn't say that they're the same quantities. Whether one plays one game or another is determined by other features of the candidate players - the percentages may be different for different games, can't they?

reader scooby said...

When I was young, there was this TV program called the "Shadoks". I also had the books. The shadoks live on a 2-dimensional planet, have 5 words in their language but only 4 brain cells (so they are not terribly smart). One day they decided to build a rocket - I can't remember why but I think it was to visit their arch-enemies the Gibis (= GBs = John Archer's compatriots), who lived on another 2-dimensional planet. Anyway, the Shadoks calculated that the launch of their rocket had only 1 / 1000 chance to succeed, so they concluded that they only had to fail the first 999 launches as fast as possible to be guaranteed success on the 1000th one.

The french are like that, the next failed experiment may well be national socialism a la FN, plus all the rubbish that comes with it.

reader TomVon said...

No, this is actually the interesting part - the motivation and behaviour factors are identical for all games.
The study I was referring to wanted to find out what were the gender differences for motivation factors.
4 motivation factors were defined - competition, socialisation, immersion and escape.
Players were asked to rank on a scale from 1 (irrelevant) to 5 (very important) these 4 factors.
Competition was massively correlated with males and socialisation with females. The latter 2 showed no significant gender differences.
These predictors were far from "fuzzy" - they are very good for any game.
For instance World of Tanks already mentionned is almost uniquely competitive.
Predictor says 10% or less females will play it and this is what is observed.
Sim City has a strong socialisation component.
Predictor says 30% + females will play and this is what is observed.
I can't resist to mention an anecdotical but interesting part of the study - class choice.
In an MMORPG a player choses his character's class (=profession) among many - warrior, ranger, cleric, druid, monk, enchanter etc.
These choices also show statistically significant gender differences.
The principle of an MMORPG is players' interdependence, e.g you can't achieve much alone, you always need to be a part of a group of players where each class is very efficient in a precise task.
For instance the warrior class specialised in brutal front combat was dominated by males.
On the other hand in the enchanter class which is specialised in what is called "crowd control" (e.g she must charm, stun or hypnotise ennemies) the females are largely overrepresented.
This is another way confirming the above findings.
I was very interested by these studies because an MMORPG is a miniature world with economy, trade, production, wars, social interactions etc which in a way reflects the real world but can be studied like a sample in a lab.
So the behaviour patterns and specifically gender and age differences which appear in MMORPGs are just a translation from real world differences into an artificial world environment where they can be observed more easily.

reader Dilaton said...

Hi Lumo, have you seen this ...?

I swear to you I could kill the witch who is responsible for this ... :-(0) !!!

Maybe we should organize a focused protest action to prevent them from removing these physics lectures?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Wow, do you understand what has actually happened and how this may be "prevented" from censoring online physics lectures? It doesn't make any sense to me.

reader Dilaton said...

Exactly ...

I have just seen that news article, and have no further insights ...

The incident might well be that a not exactly bright student had conversations with him in the context of the physics lectures, he had to tell her that she is wrong about a certain physics issue, she did not like being told wrong and pushed certain du ious contact links MIT intentionally provides to successfully sling around crazy unfounded accusations ...:-(

reader Luboš Motl said...

Right, Dilaton, I also find it likely that the complaint was some kind of a revenge for something.

If it's just remote communication - it's so trivial to decouple from a conversation that has unwanted romantic goals. I've had to do so (terminate such attempts for a romantic relationship) many times, too.

This revenge is pretty expensive for the people who may want to learn some physics. Hundreds of thousands of more people who would find these lectures "best in its class" won't learn physics at all, or will learn it much less happily or well.

Because a 79-year-old professor who recorded wrote some e-mail that could have been interpreted as his having a crush on a student or what? Is that their sense of proportion?

What is the name of the sexual deviation of a man who has a crush on an (attractive?) 18-year-old woman or girl? It's called that he is heterosexual. Every healthy straight man has it! ;-)

reader John Archer said...

My guess is that it's just the man's sense of humour, a self-deprecating one at that since he'd know damn well most women (all right, ALL women) couldn't possibly have any sexual interest in a fellow his age and automatically take it that everyone else is perfectly aware of it too. Just a fucking joke. That's all.

There ought to be a fast medical test to weed out those with an insufficient sense of humour followed by an immediate garrotting for those who fail. That would probably kill off the bulk the human dross on the planet and almost all leftards.

reader melvin said...

As far as the United States are concerned, I would say that, wheter one agrees with it or not, the position is essentially what you would expect given the prevalent ideas on freedom of expression, and easily explained on the grounds of the philosophical underpinnigs of the First Amendment -not approving of neo nazism, but not infringing on the freedom of expression itself-.

As far as the EU is concerned, in many states the apology of fascism is a crime (for example, Italy and Austria -remember the Irving controversy-). As Chomsky rightly pointed out in this video, "freedom of speech and anti fascism", it should be noted that this doesn't mean that the problem has been solved in the EU, on the contrary the media coverage and ability of the extremists to polarize public discussion is paradoxically higher with this system (

As far of the Ukranian argument on Soviets/Communism, I must say that I can see some evidence of that, for example I could point to organizations such as the Stalin Society (UK, exported to Pakistan) as well as the recent meetup of URSS sympathizers in Rome. In abstract I can see how this could be counted as a double standard, a Stalinist seen as somewhat "better" than a neo-nazi, at least that has been my experience in Italy, whose Communist Party did not get to take power and impose an authonitarian regime, and whose experience therefore differs from that of east germany or other countries of the eastern block (let's not forget, though, that post WWII major politicians of that party did have frequent contact with Stalin, even to the extent of living/travelling to the URSS during the gulag period, as in the case of Togliatti in Italy, who rose to power during the start of the purges, fought against the non stalinist communists in the Spanish Civil War and then took refuge in the URSS, and whose role in the "Svolta di Salerno" was essentially directed by Stalin). The fact remains that there are laws combating the apology of fascism, but not of communism/stalinism, and that *is* an asymmetry, though we might argue as an inconsequential one given the absence of a serious Stalinist revival -the key fact is that it is also an easily correctible asymmetry-.

I guess that what I am saying is that if the decision was taken that the expression of such totalitarian ideologies themselves have to be combated, then I can't see why one couldn't just throw communism/stalinism into the mix, regardless of what one thought about the plausibility of such a threat, or about it being used as an excuse by Ukraine specifically -just throw it in there, appease them on this point, and then wait and see if it was just an excuse to cop out or if it was really the only objection they had to it-.

Ultimately I don't feel too strongly about the subject, as I agree with your points, but that's my intepretations of the various reasons of US and Ukraine... I don't really have a clue about Canada, frankly.

reader Prayingmantis said...

Sorry, buy him a nany and a translator

reader Prayingmantis said...

Why don't you try it in Russia, Darling Shannon - that would be awakening LOL

reader Prayingmantis said...

Dear Lubos, it is really nice, that you are trying to help that naughty commie boy Zeman, he has done enough to show the world, that he doesn't care about anyone else, except his majesty Ovar.