Link blog: emotion, computers, mindfulness, sudo

What We Can Learn from the Paris Attacks (Without Ignoring the Elephant in the Room)
Yep, this is more or less what I think.
(tags: paris terrorism islam islamism religion politics)
What is emotional labor?
A term that once described jobs where being friendly and cheerful was seen as part of the job has apparently been co-opted to mean “someone expects me to do something”.
(tags: emotion labour work relationships)
Guide to software developer job advertisements: andrewducker
Seems legit.
(tags: software software-engineering jobs adverts careers)
My first 10 day Vipassana retreat
Not *my* retreat. Some bloke’s. It’s an interesting article about the experience though.
(tags: meditation buddhism mindfulness retreat)
An alias for when you really need it done…
I’m totally setting this up.
(tags: funny computers unix sudo)
The Deadlock Empire
A nice little web game where you try to break a threaded program by executing a critical section in two threads at once. It’s pretty neat.
(tags: programming threads concurrency locks game)
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What is the problem you are trying to solve?

The Scotts Aaronsen and Alexander both worry that following feminist doctrine makes geeky guys miserable and too scared to even attempt to form a romantic relationship with a woman. Hugh Ristik looks at feminist guilt, along similar lines to Catholic guilt. Laurie Penny responds compassionately to Aaronsen.

I still think of myself as in the Scotts’ tribe because of my awkward formative years, which my brain tends to give undue weight when compared to pieces of evidence like “you haven’t been single for more than, say, 6 months since you were, say, 22” (hint: learn to dance). So, I hope they won’t mind a little criticism.

Firstly, I wonder why arch-empiricists like the Scotts swallowed whole everything they were being told by the feminists. Why don’t the Scotts quickly work out that either they’re not being told what they think they’re being told (e.g. I bet if you asked the people conducting the harassment seminar, they wouldn’t have said Aaronsen was meant to take home the lesson that he did) or the people telling them this stuff are wrong about some things (e.g. if the people conducting the harassment seminar genuinely meant to say that men should never approach women under any circumstances just in case it’s harassment, they can safely be ignored without feeling bad about it)?

We get our beliefs wholesale

Possibly, if you’re starting from zero and desperately looking around for some rules on how to relate to women romantically, you might just latch on to the first subculture that claims to have expertise. It could have been much worse: Aaronsen could have run into the pick-up artists before the problematic patriarchal privilege posse, then he’d be going on about alphas and betas instead of privilege and de-railing, all the while wondering why having sex with people he despises for being stupid enough to fall for his con doesn’t seem to make him happy1. So, lucky escape there.

The Scotts might respond to me that I swallowed evangelical Christianity whole at the same age and that also messed up my relations with women a bit, so I’m in no position to criticise. That seems fair enough. What on Earth was I thinking? Both American Social Justice Internet Feminism (using my previous definition) and evangelicalism have the ability to form a rules-based system2. The temptation to swallow whole an ideology which has got some things right (especially things that everyone else seems to be ignoring) is common to all of us3, but geeks feel even more of a pull towards systems and clear “right answers” (previously, previouslier). Without wanting to say that evangelicalism and ASJIF aren’t problematically deontological, maybe some of the geeks’ troubles with them are down to these geeky tendencies.

Requirements analysis

Geeks: suppose you are writing (or, more often, updating) some software, as many of you do. The customer (or, more often, the person employed to prevent customers from seeing geeks that might alarm them) comes along and says “we want it to do X”. You’re like “but X will take ten years, will break Y, and the standard clearly says we must do Z not X”. But they’re like “No, X is super important and Customer won’t buy it unless it does X”. What’s the question you should ask now?

“What is the problem you are trying to solve?”

You should ask this because often in these situations you’re being given a solution to an underlying problem (the solution X) and you have to dig a bit to work out what the underlying problem is. The customer is an expert on the problem. You don’t get to say that their problem isn’t real (if you want to keep your job, anyway), but if they’re asking you to do something you’re going to have to live with for a while, you can and should look at that and see whether it makes sense in your context. This will usually involve talking to some people, tricky as that may be. Perhaps you can find a sympathetic geek on the customer’s side of the fence to thrash things out with. That usually works best.

Edit: in response to my question on Mefi (“why didn’t Aaronsen detect the bullshit?”), officer_fred reminds us that geeks take everything a bit seriously and have malfunctioning bullshit detectors.

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  1. This assumes that the PUA stuff actually gets geeks laid, of course. 

  2. The fancy word for this when applied to morality is deontology. As previously mentioned, ASJIF is “deontology on steriods”

  3. See in group bias and conjunction bias

Link blog: relationships, lifehack, rhetoric, equivocation

#322 & #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” « CaptainAwkward.com
What to do about That Guy (discusses stuff That Guy does). Via Andrewducker.
(tags: social relationships sex advice assault sexism feminism rape)
The Worst Argument In The World
which is: “If we can apply an emotionally charged word to something, we must judge it exactly the same as a typical instance of that emotionally charged word.” Yvain is just on fire lately: read his LJ and LessWrong posts.
(tags: equivocation worst philosophy argument rhetoric yvain)
House Hacks – Imgur
Clever household tips (as image macros) Via Alex at Lindy.
(tags: hacks tips cleaning housework house lifehack)
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Bishops Gone Wild: York vs gay marriage

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, recently released a statement on gay marriage. It’s doing the rounds on Facebook. Here’s a comment I posted there:

What an odd article: long on words, short on reasons why broadening the definition of marriage would be a bad thing.

Civil partnerships aren’t identical to marriage for some people: for example, married couples where one person transitions from one gender to another are forced to dissolve marriages and get civil parterships. For such people, it is very clear that a civil partnership is a second-class marriage: see http://www.sarahlizzy.com/blog/?p=87 for example.

The Archbishop claims that no Act of Parliament touches upon a definition of marriage, but then quotes a Canon which defines it as being lifelong. Did Parliament lack the authority to legalise divorce and re-marriage (a practice which, as I’ve said previously in http://pw201.livejournal.com/71272.html, has much stronger Biblical condemnation than homosexual relationships, and yet is curiously rather more acceptable to evangelicals)?

The Archbishop fears it may become “impossible to say how a good society needs most of its members to live”. But, if we want government to be involved in marriages at all, it is presumably because we think they are a social good. The people who want to broaden marriage need not be seeking a free for all, they may just think that gay marriages would also be a good. The Archbishop gives no good reasons to think that they wouldn’t be.

Despite saying that he is not merely advocating Christian marriage, his argument ultimately seems to rely on an (evangelical) Christian conception of it and of gender roles. I agree that Parliament has no warrant to define what that conception should be, nor what Pagan marriage or Quaker marriage should be (the fact that Parliament would prevent religious ministers from marrying two people of the same sex is a similarly unwarranted intervention). Let us have a civil conception of marriage based on public reason, and let everyone else do as they like: evangelicals can choose to marry only straight non-divorcees, Quakers can marry gays, and so on, in separate ceremonies, with only the civil marriage being recognised in law, and no compulsion on ministers of religion from equality laws.

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Link blog: science, relationships, epistemology, biology

Hegemonic Heterosexuality
“hegemonic heterosexuality is the vast cultural conspiracy to describe all heterosexual relationships as the unending war between stupid people and crazy people.” Good observation of the view of the world promoted by TV and film. Via auntysarah.
(tags: psychology relationships sex)
The Apologist’s Turnstile
“the idea that no particular level of knowledge is needed to assent to a religion, but an impossibly, unattainably high level of knowledge and expertise is needed to deny it. In the minds of many believers, the entrance to their religion is like a subway turnstile: a barrier that only allows people to pass through in one direction.”
(tags: apologist epistemology religion atheism)
Cancer is just as deadly as it was 50 years ago. Here’s why that’s about to change.
“We spoke to cancer experts to find out why the death rate from cancer hasn’t changed in the past 50 years — and we learned how genetic therapies could transform cancer treatments tomorrow.”
(tags: medicine biology science genetics cancer)
How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism – Maarten Boudry
“In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science. (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative.”
(tags: creationism intelligent-design religion science naturalism philosophy)
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Link blog: daniel-kahneman, psychology, cognitive-bias, rationality

The Social Graph is Neither (Pinboard Blog)

The guy who single handedly runs Pinboard writing about Facebook and social stuff.
(tags: socialgraph social facebook graph pinboard relationships)

The Marvels And The Flaws Of Intuitive Thinking Edge Master Class 2011 | Conversation | Edge

The Edge also did a feature on Kahneman a while back. Here it is, with more examples of ways in which our thinking fails, but also things we can do which we’re finding difficult to program computers to do.
(tags: psychology intuition daniel-kahneman cognition cognitive-bias rationality)

Michael Lewis on the King of Human Error | Business | Vanity Fair

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky did ground breaking work on cognitive biases: the ways in which human thinking systematically fails. Fascinating article. Via andrewducker.
(tags: psychology rationality bias cognition cognitive-bias daniel-kahneman amos-tversky)

Requests: HTTP for Humans — Requests 0.8.0 documentation

An HTTP library for Python that’s less awful than urllib2. Hopefully someone will add it to the standard library at some point. Via Leonard Richardson.
(tags: python http library requests programming)
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Link blog: music, game-of-thrones, google, nick-davies

YouTube – ‪Game of Thrones Violin Cover‬‏

This is rather nice.
(tags: music violin game-of-thrones)

YouTube – ‪Lara plays the Game of Thrones theme on piano and violin‬‏

Another nice version of the theme, via andrewducker.
(tags: music game-of-thrones tv)

The Real Life Social Network v2

Via andrewducker,a great presentation from Paul Adams at Google which goes some way to explaining the design of Google Plus.
(tags: internet facebook privacy relationships google social social-networks plus)

How to Talk to a Fundamentalist (If You Must)

Former fundie talks about how her uncle convinced her by asking questions, preventing the whole cached thought/semantic stop sign thing, and showing how alternative ways of living can be fulfilling.
(tags: fundamentalism religion quiverfull debate)

Nick Davies on phone hacking, Murdoch and News of the World – video | Media | guardian.co.uk

The investigative journalist Nick Davies on how the phone-hacking scandal has escalated, leading to News of the World's announced closure.
(tags: video law press news-of-the-world nick-davies murdoch)
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Asking women out at partner dancing: a Less Wrong thread

Over on Less Wrong, an interesting post on ordinary skills that readers happent to lack has developed into an interesting sub-thread about guys asking women out at dancing. I’ve contributed a bit. As I’m male, though, I may be completely wrong, so if any dancing women want to comment, I’m sure it’d be appreciated.

PS: Read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It’s great!

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Link blog: ai, chatroulette, sex, pornography

YouTube – Simon Blackburn – The Great Debate: Can Science Tell us Right From Wrong? (6)

I'm reading Blackburn's "Truth" at the moment, and "Being Good" is next on the queue (clearly I should get "Lust" to complete the set). Here he is arguing that Sam Harris is wrong to claim that science can answer all moral questions.
(tags: sam-harris morality ethics simon-blackburn blackburn harris philosophy)

Chatroulette Founder Andrey Ternovskiy Raises New Funding: “50,000 Naked Men” | Fast Company

Chatroulette makes money of naked guys. Neat hack.
(tags: internet funny pornography chatroulette)

LessWrong – RationalWiki

What's wrong with Less Wrong, from RationalWiki. I didn't know about the Roko stuff, for example, which seems pretty bizarre. Always useful to see criticism to counteract my fanboy tendencies.
(tags: lesswrong eliezer-yudkowsky rationality bayesian bayes artificial-intelligence ai)

Double agent | World news | The Guardian

"Norah Vincent spent 18 months disguised as a man. She relives the boys nights out, the bad dates – and what happened when she ended up in bed with another woman." Women don't quite know what dating is like as a guy, it turns out. Or at least, Norah didn't, and ended up being quite sympathetic when she'd tried it 🙂
(tags: equality gender women men dating sex relationships)
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Link blog: video, atheism, negotiation, johann-hari

Verbal Judo: Diffusing Conflict Through Conversation

An ex-English Professor and ex-Cop, George Thompson, who now teaches a method he calls "Verbal Judo", a primer on communications techniques, focusing on defensive & redirection tactics. This is a link to the Less Wrong thread where there's a comment giving a summary, though the video is good too (but long, as 1:30).
(tags: language psychology rationality video lectures negotiation persuasion)

YouTube – What Atheists Can Learn from the LGBT Movement :: 2010 Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference

Greta Christina gives an hour long talk, which is pretty interesting. One thing I learned was that I probably wouldn't want to live in America, if atheists there have it as bad as LGBT people, though I suppose a lot of it depends on where you are and who you mix with. Interesting bit at the end on how if atheists "win", atheism won't mean you're special, super-rational or whatever: I think we can see that in this country, certainly.
(tags: homosexuality lgbt atheism greta-christina video youtube)

NEVER WAKE UP: THE MEANING AND SECRET OF INCEPTION

Seems to make sense. Obviously, contains huge spoilers. Via Penny Arcade.
(tags: inception film movie science-fiction sci-fi dreams)

The slow, whiny death of British Christianity : Johann Hari

Johann Hari gets all strident neo-toxic sceptical neo-atheist (you missed "shrill" – Ed.): "As their dusty Churches crumble because nobody wants to go there, the few remaining Christians in Britain will only become more angry and uncomprehending." He's right about "whiny", though.
(tags: christianity religion atheism secularism uk hari johann-hari)

Don’t Be Ugly By Accident! « OkTrends

OKCupid, the dating site, took data from uploaded photographs and used it to work out some interesting stats. The better the camera you use for your pic, the hotter you look. iPhone users get laid more. Using a flash makes you look older. And so on. Interesting stuff. Via Mefi.
(tags: photography statistics research dating iphone okcupid sex relationships)
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