31 Flavors of Bullshit: Your Horror Stories of Working At a Startup
I have worked in largely high-functioning parts of the industry (so far, we'll see how my current gig works out) so I have to work sometimes to remind myself how fucked up this place really is.
technology-industry  culture  silicon-valley 
6 days ago
The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent by Andrew Hacker | The New York Review of Books
<<It’s true that the US has fewer people studying the subjects involved in STEM than many other countries. The chief reason is that more of our students choose to major in business and liberal arts. But that doesn’t signify a paucity of interest. Among the high school seniors who took the ACT and SAT tests last year, fully 23 percent said that they intended to major in mathematics, computer science, engineering, or a physical or natural science. And those contemplating programs related to health made up another 19 percent. But something evidently happens between their freshman and senior years. By graduation, the number of students who start in STEM fields falls by a third and in health by a half. In engineering, of every one hundred who start, only fifty-five make it to a degree. Why the attrition?

For some, the STEM program they planned on may be more demanding than they envisaged. Or they may be put off by how a subject is treated in college. Teitelbaum quotes the president of the Association of American Universities, who cites a less publicized cause: “poor undergraduate teaching in physics, chemistry, biology, math, and engineering, particularly in the freshman and sophomore years.” Of course, bad teaching has varied causes. But it may be more apparent in STEM fields, where fixed material has to be covered; the reactions of many students suggests that many professors apparently see no need to make their teaching appealing. While student ratings have drawbacks, those in Table A hint at serious problems in STEM classrooms (see below). In mathematics, few freshmen meet a full-time professor close up. A recent survey by the American Mathematical Society found that 87 percent of all classes are taught by graduate assistants, adjuncts, or instructors on annual contracts.>>

<<Engineering also illustrates how the economy mishandles the talent it has. At current rates, our universities will be awarding about 760,000 engineering degrees in the decade ahead. But that is over five times what the BLS projects for the profession’s growth. So most who do find jobs will be replacing engineers who are leaving the field, either voluntarily or partially so. They take a variety of jobs, whether in sales, management, or other fields of work. Businesses find they can recruit the graduates they want at salaries that young people find acceptable. What isn’t said is that the pay won’t rise much higher, as shown by the salaries of those in mid-career. According to BLS samplings in 2014, median pay ranged from $71,369 for civil engineers to $96,980 for aeronautical engineers. By comparison, the median for practicing nurses is $83,980, and the median for pharmacists is $101,920. (There is a special high of $130,280 for petroleum engineers who get premium pay for working in desert sands or surrounded by arctic ice; they also risk being laid off when petroleum prices fall.)

In engineering—as with computer science—those who start families tend to shift to sales or middle management. But many move to unrelated fields, ranging from real estate to nursing, while others find positions as financial analysts or security consultants. This attrition could be averted by prolonging career spans, as in law and medicine. After all, most engineers—and their software counterparts—still have their expertise in their fifties and sixties. But employers see no need to encourage longer periods of employment, since each year cheaper graduates, both American and foreign, arrive with their résumés.>>
labor  economics  united-states  engineering  technology-industry 
7 days ago
Dogs, But Not Wolves, Use Humans As Tools - The Thoughtful Animal - Scientific American Blog Network
<<In one simple task, a plate of food was presented to the wolf pups (at 9 weeks) or to the dog puppies (both at 5 weeks and at 9 weeks). However, the food was inaccessible to the animals; human help would be required to access it. The trick to getting the food was simple: all the animals had to do was make eye contact with the experimenter, and he or she would reward the dog with the food from the plate. Initially, all the animals attempted in vain to reach the food. However, by the second minute of testing, dogs began to look towards the humans. This increased over time and by the fourth minute there was a statistical difference. Dogs were more likely to initiate eye contact with the human experimenter than the wolves were. This is no small feat; initiating eye contact with the experimenter requires that the animal refocus its attention from the food to the human. Not only did the wolf pups not spontaneously initiate eye contact with the human experimenter, but they also failed to learn that eye contact was the key to solving their problem.>>

Summary: wolves keep trying; dogs give up & look to the human for help.

Consider the parallel with human beings before and after the smartphone era, when confronted with an informational problem.

Extrapolate forwards to a future in which humans live surrounded by AI (to an even greater extent than they do today).
pets  psychology  exercises-for-the-reader 
23 days ago
Ghost Spin, by Chris Moriarty (@Kindle)
Finished 2015-05-??. Moriarty is still skilled at the nuts and bolts of pulling you from one page to the next, but this one kind of fizzles out towards the end. And to be honest I don't remember that much about the prior two books in the series, despite how original they felt at the time I was reading them, so maybe I'm overrating her books overall?
booklog  finished:2015  fiction  science-fiction 
28 days ago
Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, by Natasha Dow Schüll (@Kindle)
Finished 2015-05-??. Recommended by indie game designer Dan Cook. The title makes this book's subject sound narrow, but there is so much fertile soil for thought here, for anyone interested in capitalism, technology, psychology, and the organization of human societies, that I can't even really summarize it right now, but I second Cook's recommendation.
booklog  finished:2015  nonfiction  game-design  psychology  sociology  las-vegas  stochastic-processes  economic-inequality  social-engineering 
28 days ago
Startup L. Jackson on Twitter: "Apple's Principled Position On Privacy Paradoxx. https://t.co/DGokR6MpEp http://t.co/sWCDv423tY"
This Twitter thread is a surprisingly rich mine of opinion IMO but it is a testament to how disastrously bad Twitter's UI is that you'll basically never parse it without machine aid.
privacy  apple  google  facebook  internet  business 
28 days ago
America's trailer parks: the residents may be poor but the owners are getting rich | Life and style | The Guardian
I met someone recently who worked in the real estate business professionally, and had bought a trailer park as a personal investment vehicle. I was pretty surprised, but I guess it's not as unusual as I thought. I'm not sure what to think of this; there is nothing inherently undignified about mobile housing as a technology, but in the American context here and now it's hard not to see the rise in trailer park occupancy as a further sign of worsening economic inequality.
housing  economics  america  real-estate 
6 weeks ago
Star Guitar on Vimeo
an old favorite, reminded of it today by something on twtr
music  videos 
7 weeks ago
The Paradox of Redistribution
<<In an early critique of the emphasis on targeting in the U.S. policy debate, Korpi
(1980a, 1983) contrasted a marginal social policy model with minimum benefits targeted at the poor with an institutional model based on universal programs intended to maintain normal or accustomed standards of living. He argued that while a targeted program "may have greater redistributive effects per unit of money spent than institutional types of programs," other factors are likely to make institutional programs more redistributive (Korpi 1980a:304, italics in original). This rather unexpected outcome was predicted as a consequence of the type of political coalitions that different welfare state institutions tend to generate. Because marginal types of social policy programs are directed primarily at
those below the poverty line, there is no rational base for a coalition between those above and those below the poverty line. In effect, the poverty line splits the working class and tends to generate coalitions between better-off workers and the middle class against the lower sections of the working class, something which can result in tax revolts and backlash against the welfare-state>>
welfare  political-science  poverty 
9 weeks ago
Improbable Research » “Finding a Mate With No Social Skills”
<< how do they quantify being in the right place at the right time? By finding each other at the same location of a random geometric graphs, of course. The idea behind using such a graph is to include effects from being embedded in space. (One places “nodes,” representing locations, using a random process and then connects pairs of locations to each other via “edges” if they are sufficiently close to each other.) >>
social-networks  sexual-politics 
9 weeks ago
InfoSec Taylor Swift on Twitter: "IMPORTANT: Multiple people who are graduating college have asked how they can get into InfoSec. What is your advice for people with degrees?"
I am far from a security expert but I know a little bit. I think it's interesting that so many here recommend doing some devops/IT work to familiarize yourself with the terrain, and then teaching yourself the infosec part on the side. Seems like sound advice (certainly a typical CS degree, for example, does not seem to instill sound security thinking, from either an offensive or defensive mindset), but I am sad that there's no better advice we can offer as a field.
security  computer-science  devops 
10 weeks ago
FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000 - The Washington Post
<<Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.>>
law-enforcement  corruption  government  pseudoscience 
11 weeks ago
The Dangerous Myth of Appomattox - NYTimes.com
<<Grant himself recognized that he had celebrated the war’s end far too soon. Even as he met Lee, Grant rejected the rebel general’s plea for “peace” and insisted that only politicians, not officers, could end the war. Then Grant skipped the fabled laying-down-of-arms ceremony to plan the Army’s occupation of the South.

To enforce its might over a largely rural population, the Army marched across the South after Appomattox, occupying more than 750 towns and proclaiming emancipation by military order. This little-known occupation by tens of thousands of federal troops remade the South in ways that Washington proclamations alone could not.

And yet as late as 1869, President Grant’s attorney general argued that some rebel states remained in the “grasp of war.” When white Georgia politicians expelled every black member of the State Legislature and began a murderous campaign of intimidation, Congress and Grant extended military rule there until 1871.

Meanwhile, Southern soldiers continued to fight as insurgents, terrorizing blacks across the region. One congressman estimated that 50,000 African-Americans were murdered by white Southerners in the first quarter-century after emancipation.>>
war  united-states  civil-war  slavery  confederate-states-of-america  terrorism 
12 weeks ago
'High' Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance by Olivier Marie, Ulf Zölitz :: SSRN
<<This paper investigates how legal cannabis access affects student performance. Identification comes from an exceptional policy introduced in the city of Maastricht which discriminated legal access based on individuals' nationality. We apply a difference-in-difference approach using administrative panel data on over 54,000 course grades of local students enrolled at Maastricht University before and during the partial cannabis prohibition.We find that the academic performance of students who are no longer legally permitted to buy cannabis increases substantially. Grade improvements are driven by younger students, and the effects are stronger for women and low performers. In line with how THC consumption affects cognitive functioning, we find that performance gains are larger for courses that require more numerical/mathematical skills. We investigate the underlying channels using students' course evaluations and present suggestive evidence that performance gains are driven by improved understanding of material rather than changes in students' study effort.>>
drugs  education  public-policy 
12 weeks ago
Fear in the Cockpit: The Differences Between the Plane Crash in Taipei and the Miracle on the Hudson
<< In this aroused state, we experience what’s known as “cognitive tunneling.” Our attention narrows as we focus on the danger at hand. An elevated heart rate and quickened breathing ensures that well-oxygenated blood reaches the muscles. The opening of the sweat ducts reduces the risk that exertion will lead to overheating. Cognitive tunneling means that all mental resources are focused on the main threat.

Yet there is also a flipside. With a narrowed focus it becomes hard to multitask, to think complex thoughts, to decipher instructions, or to generate novel solutions. Our judgment can be clouded, and experience thrown out the window. In extreme cases, we lose the ability to consciously control our behavior at all, and find ourselves willy-nilly engaging in ancient stereotypical behaviors like fighting, running, or playing dead. >>

exercise for reader: consider consequences for job interviews, other tests, claims that the society is basically meritocratic, etc. (I write this as someone who interviews relatively well and has done well on various tests all my life.)
psychology  cognitive-science  air-travel  via:hackernews 
12 weeks ago
Six Things You Didn’t Know the U.S. and Its Allies Did to Iran - The Intercept
Well, I knew most of these, but anyway, useful to have as a resource to forward to people.
history  united-states  iran  middle-east 
april 2015
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