The Shore and the Sea by James Thurber

The Shore and the Sea

by James Thurber

A single excited lemming started the exodus, crying, “Fire!” and running toward the sea. He may have seen the sunrise through the trees, or waked from a fiery nightmare, or struck his head against a stone, producing stars. Whatever it was, he ran and ran, and as he ran he was joined by others, a mother lemming and her young, a nightwatchlemming on his way home to bed, and assorted revelers and early risers.

“The world is coming to an end!” they shouted, and as the hurrying hundreds turned into thousands, the reasons for their headlong flight increased by leaps and bounds and hops and skips and jumps.

“The devil has come in a red chariot!” cried an elderly male. “The sun is his torch! The world is on fire!”

“It’s a pleasure jaunt,” squeaked an elderly female.

“A what?” she was asked.

“A treasure hunt!” cried a wild-eyed male who had been up all night. “Full many a gem of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.”

“It’s a bear!” shouted his daughter. “Go it!” And there were those among the fleeing thousands who shouted “Goats!” and “Ghosts!” until there were almost as many different alarms as there were fugitives.

One male lemming who had lived alone for many years refused to be drawn into the stampede that swept past his cave like a flood. He saw no flames in the forest, and no devil, or bear, or goat, or ghost. He had long ago decided, since he was a serious scholar, that the caves of ocean bear no gems, but only soggy glub and great gobs of mucky gump. And so he watched the other lemmings leap into the sea and disappear beneath the waves, some crying “We are saved!” and some crying “We are lost!” The scholarly lemming shook his head sorrowfully, tore up what he had written through the years about his species, and started his studies all over again.

MORAL: All men should strive before they die to learn what they are running from, and to, and why.

Straight White Male at Google

Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.
TL:DR

·Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
·This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
·The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
·Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
·Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
·Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.
Google’s biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.
Left Biases

·Compassion for the weak
·Disparities are due to injustices
·Humans are inherently cooperative
·Change is good (unstable)
·Open
·Idealist
Right Biases

·Respect for the strong/authority
·Disparities are natural and just
·Humans are inherently competitive
·Change is dangerous (stable)
·Closed
·Pragmatic
Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.
Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.
Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.
On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:
·They’re universal across human cultures
·They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
·Biolgoical males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
·The underlying traits are highly heritable
·They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective
Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.
Personality differences

Women, on average, have more:
·Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
·These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.
·Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.
·This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.
·Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.
Note that contrary to what a social constructionist would argue, research suggests that “greater nation-level gender equality leads to psychological dissimilarity in men’s and women’s personality traits.” Because as “society becomes more prosperous and more egalitarian, innate dispositional differences between men and women have more space to develop and the gap that exists between men and women in their personality becomes wider.” We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.
Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.
Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.
Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I’ll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it’s still instructive to list them:
·Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
·We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
·Women on average are more cooperative
·Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do. This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education. Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
·Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
·Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
·The male gender role is currently inflexible
·Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.
Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google’s funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.
The Harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:
·Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race [5]
·A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
·Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
·Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
·Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination [6]
These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.
Why we’re blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the “God > humans > environment” hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren’t on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google’s left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we’re using to justify highly politicized programs.
In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side”; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.
The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness{11}, which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While google hasn’t harbored the violent leftists protests that we’re seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.
Suggestions

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
My concrete suggestions are to:
De-moralize diversity.

·As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”
Stop alienating conservatives.

·Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
·In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
·Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservative tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.
Confront Google’s biases.

·I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
·I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.
Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

·These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.
Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

·Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
·There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
·These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
·I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.
Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

·We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
·We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
·Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.
De-emphasize empathy.

·I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain‚causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.
Prioritize intention.

·Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
·Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.
Be open about the science of human nature.

·Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.
Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

·We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
·Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
·Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).
[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google’s Mountain View campus, I can’t speak about other offices or countries.
[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I’d be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.
[3] Throughout the document, by “tech”, I mostly mean software engineering.
[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.
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[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.
[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I’ve seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivize the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.
[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn’t going to overthrow their “capitalist oppressors,” the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the “white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy.”
[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.
[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.
[10] “The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men’s problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood,, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak.”
[11] Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against,” which makes it clear why it’s a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.

Ninja Scroll – an anime that has been influenced by things other than manga

The visual art of this movie is not too stylized. It has clearly been influenced by some classic adventure movies, not by manga. It may well have some roots in manga, but it has the cinematography one might expect from a student of John Ford or Akira Kurosawa.

It is, nonetheless, very much a fantasy rather than a work of hard sci-fi. One can dismiss all ninja lore as superstition, or one can claim the legends of ninjas had some basis in facts. However, this movie takes ninjas as a starting point and leaps deeply into fantasy.

Notably, Rurouni Kenshin is less fantastical than this.

Real-life grinder realizes that implantable magnets offer temporary features and permanent medical challenges

The most cyberpunk thing in the world, perhaps, is a healthy person who mutilated herself to become a cyborg, knowing that her implanted magnet would eventually weaken, and then was shocked to discover that her implant became useless in just four years.

The cyborg wrote:
realized that my sixth sense was failing when I stopped noticing the magnetic fields of my laptop.

In fall 2012, I implanted a rare earth magnet in my right ring finger. Magnets were one of the most accessible forms of DIY biohacking, a niche subculture riding the start of a massive mainstream publicity wave. My colleague Ben Popper got one while writing a biohacking feature, and it sounded like magic.

When I first got it, I wasn’t disappointed. Nestled just beneath my skin, the magnet tugged and tickled when it got close to hard drives and speakers; around microwaves, it outright buzzed. I could attract screws and other small metal objects to my finger, like a real-life version of Looper’s telekinetic party tricks. Even its downsides (like wiping hotel keycards) felt cool. They were problems, yes, but problems of the future.

I HAD PROBLEMS FROM THE FUTURE, AND IT WAS GREAT
Continue reading Real-life grinder realizes that implantable magnets offer temporary features and permanent medical challenges

30 cyberpunk shows over the past 30 months (and what they teach about civil liberties)


This blog started just before the new year of 2014.

Initially I was strongly motivated to blog a diary of my anime consumption, which initially was disconnected from my cyberpunk fixation.

Later I got recruited as the caretaker of a serious political economy blog and turned it into a current events blog.

But today I look back at what the heck occupied my anime-viewing time.
Continue reading 30 cyberpunk shows over the past 30 months (and what they teach about civil liberties)

I bet you want to know why I’m addicted to blogging this (no, actually, I know you don’t)

Blogging is a job for some people, but it’s not a job for me. It is a work substitute, and it seems to be slightly more constructive than video games.

A little background:

“Video games are addictive, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded,” Christopher said, a 22-year-old video gamer. “With a job, it’s always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward.”

Christopher represents a group of video-game-loving Americans who, according to new research, may help explain one of the most alarming aspects of the nation’s economic recovery: Even as the unemployment rate has fallen to low levels, an unusually large percentage of able-bodied men, particularly the young and less-educated, are either not working or not working full-time.

Clinical Trends

At the Center for Internet Addiction, our number one client is a male, living at home playing video games. They have either been kicked out of college, often several times, or they can’t hold a job because they are too preoccupied with playing video games.

Confirming this trend is new research by economists from Princeton, the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago which shows that an additional reason many of these young men — who don’t have college degrees — are rejecting work is that they have a better alternative: living at home and enjoying video games. The decision may not even be completely conscious, but surveys suggest that young men are happier for it.

“Happiness has gone up for this group, despite employment percentages having fallen, and the percentage living with parents going up. And that’s different than for any other group,” says the University of Chicago’s Erik Hurst, an economist at the Booth School of Business who helped lead the research.

Implications

While young men might temporarily enjoy a life of leisure, the implications could be troubling for them as well as the economy. The young men aren’t gaining job experience that will better equip them to work in their 30s and 40s. That, in turn, could lead to a lifetime of decreased wages, limited opportunities and challenges such as depression and drug use — problems that the United States is already seeing in areas hit with heavy job losses.

From an addiction standpoint, this is troubling as a vibrant portion of the workforce doesn’t feel as much desire to work, this could harm the economy’s future and the ability of government to use policy to create jobs.
As of last year, 22 percent of men between the ages of 21 and 30 with less than a bachelor’s degree reported not working at all in the previous year — up from only 9.5 percent in 2000. Overall, only 88 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 are working or looking for work, the third-lowest among 34 developed countries, according to the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Young men without college degrees have replaced 75 percent of the time they used to spend working with time on the computer, mostly playing video games, according to the study, which is based on the Census Bureau’s time-use surveys. Before the recession, from 2004 to 2007, young, unemployed men without college degrees were spending 3.4 hours per week playing video games. By 2011 to 2014, that time had shot up to 8.6 hours per week on average.

More-educated young men have ratcheted up their gaming time, too — but this group has an easier time finding good jobs, and so their work hours haven’t fallen as much. The trends are different for women, who are much more likely to go back to school after leaving the labor force.
The researchers are not merely saying that young men, out of work, are turning to video games. They’re saying that increasingly sophisticated video games are luring young men away from the workforce.

Clinical data collected by the Center for Internet Addiction supports what economists are seeing is that people have switched so much time, more time than we would have predicted, to computers and video games. Alan Krueger, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the research presents “They find evidence that a portion … of the decrease in work time of less-educated young men can be a result of the appeal of video games.”

Reasons Why

One reason young men are drawn to games is their extremely low cost, after the initial outlay for a computer or gaming system. Compounding the problem is that video gamers also suffer from other psychological problems such as depression or social anxiety, making these online games a social alternative to making real life friends. Cheap or free services such as Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix provide seemingly endless entertainment options and an easy connection to the outside world. Video games, in particular, provide a strong community and a sense of achievement that, for some, real-world jobs lack.

Also these young men are also helped out economically by living at home. For the first time since the 1930s, in fact, more U.S. men aged 18-34 are living with their parents than with romantic partners, according to the Pew Research Center.

The clinical implications for young males to adapt to these games as a way of life is disheartening as Internet Gaming Disorder rises across the United States. The economic implications are staggering as the gaming industry is growing rapidly adding new themes, content, graphics, and marketing while the American economy may suffer from troubling trend.

http://netaddiction.com/video-game-addiction/

Blogging is not my job. Blogging is a self-destructive habit that I use to distract myself from my lack of a career.

Bloggers can make a huge deal out of their motivations. Blogging is a very self-disclosing process; the blogger is making himself potentally vulnerable to the readers. (Most readers have no sinister motives, but spammers and a few sociopaths should not be discounted.)
Continue reading I bet you want to know why I’m addicted to blogging this (no, actually, I know you don’t)

A site that tolerates the intolerant