Showing posts from September, 2016

Piled Higher and Deeper

My dad grew up on a farm and he was a high school drop out. This was not at all unusual or shameful for his era, but he was extremely proud that all three of his children graduated from high school and two of us went on to college with not only his blessing, but significant practical support from both of our parents. Both my parents were very pro education.In spite of being a high school drop out, dad taught ROTC at a college for a time. His bags were packed to ship out to Korea and he was scheduled to leave the next day when the phone call came informing him that he was the only man in the battalion (so, out of nearly 1000 people) who had all the military schools required to teach ROTC. This was his get out of war free card and he never did see live battle in Korea, though he fought in both WW2 and in Vietnam.My dad had a chip on his shoulder a mile wide concerning a certain type of overeducated buffoon that not only had a college degree and no sense, but was also a classist jackass …

Profile of an Alpha Female Wolf

My oldest son is one of the most delightful, entertaining people I have ever known. At lunch yesterday, he was gleefully telling me about an alpha female wolf he had read about. I asked him to email me the links to what he had read because anything that he finds engaging is generally top notch.

They called her Cinderella because she took the abuse of the female alpha (her sister) for so long. I believe they called her that before she and the rest of the pack killed her abusive tyrannical sister, at which point she took over the pack and assumed the role of alpha female.

She was able to both kill her sister and assume control of the pack over night in part because, unlike her sister, she was nice. Her sister had come to harass her because they both had pups and Cinderella was getting all kinds of support and she was not. When she showed up to kill Cinderella's pups, no humans saw the actual confrontation, but the result was that the sister died and Cinderella clearly had the bac…

Pronouns and Paradox

My sons are into various art forms (video games, anime, whatever) where the original was fairly often in Japanese. When my oldest son runs into scenes that just don't seem to work in English or that are just wonky in some way, he fairly often tries to look up the original Japanese and parse what was actually intended.

In the process, he has become somewhat familiar with certain aspects of the Japanese language, which is a genderless language, and the culture. So, we talk at times about the fact that Japan defaults to surnames, not first names, and Japan uses genderless pronouns and so forth and how this appears to positively impact the ability of women to get accepted in professional circles.

I don't have a strong interest in the same art forms my sons follow, but I was involved for some years with an Iranian man who spoke four languages. Farsi is also a genderless language and this man sometimes mixed up male and female pronouns when speaking to me in English.

One of the…


When I first joined Hacker News, Paul Graham was the face for Y Combinator. He had a previous successful business -- Via Web -- and I had the general impression that Y Combinator was his baby. In other words, I thought it was his idea and he was the primary driving force behind it.So, I was surprised when he retired from Y Combinator. If I recall correctly, he left at age 50. That's very much on the young side for retiring. He has a lot of good years left in him.He can, no doubt, afford to retire young. He certainly has the money. But, for me, it calls into question my initial assumption that YC was his baby. It makes me think he was the front man, not the primary force behind it.His cofounder, whom he later married, Jessica Livingston remains an active partner at Y Combinator, though she did announce plans to take a sabbatical. Over time, it has slowly come out that she had been his girlfriend when they founded the company, though they initially hid their relationship to try to b…

Lady with an interesting mind

Mège shrugged when I asked her about the high proportion of male artists in her collection. “At that time, most artists were men. That was whose work I saw.” Then I asked another question, one that had played in my mind since I first learned about the collection. Did the interest of her photographers in the sensuality of her body ever extend into real life? She counted. There were two artists she had slept with. I silently calculated this number, over the twenty-two years that she worked, to be around one per cent of the artists she had worked with. “In life, this sometimes happens,” she said.

Lionel Fourneaux, who photographed Mège before his work became more “mature” and “concentrated,” told me, “The Isabelle images don’t really fit into my work today. She was neutral. Maybe even too neutral for me.” I pressed him on the neutrality of her body, and his voice lifted, in the manner of a person making a potentially surprising counterpoint. “Actually, the particular thing was, she wasn…

Gut Flora is Impacted by Both Diet and Hygiene

Stunting affects one in four kids globally.

According to a new study, the right gut microbes help infants grow. A microbiologist at Stanford thinks ... the implications are “profound. … The nutritional status of children might be modifiable through manipulation of the gut microbiota.” Gordon and Leulier plan to test that possibility in people, particularly malnourished children, this year with dietary interventions. This fits nicely with older research into the impact that poor sanitation has on children's growth. In countries such as India, for instance, stunting occurs even among well-fed children, and that’s led investigators to consider other causes, especially poor sanitation and hygiene. Evidence shows that children who live without adequate sanitation, hygiene, and clean drinking water don’t grow as well as children who do. ... In somewhat newer thinking, researchers are exploring the possibility that poor hygiene and a lack of sanitation induce a gut disorder calle…


I was sexually abused as a child. The hardest psychological moment of my life occurred in my twenties when I realized I needed to stop blaming my sexuality for my pain. In fact, I needed to embrace my sexuality and figure out how to be nice to that part of myself.

It felt like being told I needed to marry Satan himself. I drove to a park by myself and had a good cry.

That was so very hard. Getting past that also empowered me to embrace change ever since instead of running from it.

One of the things I deal with when trying to advocate for constructive change on gender issues is that if I tell women they need to do something different, people get all up in arms and accuse me of blaming the victim. I find this maddening because it makes it impossible to try to empower the victim.

Telling women what is within their own power to do differently, regardless of what men do, is the single most powerful gift I can give to women. But, it is often essentially Verboten to speak of it. Doi…

The Mist Principle

There is a video game called Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. A major plot thread is that a man named Ike wants vengeance for what was done to his dad.

He has a sister named Mist. Even though she also has lost her father to injustice and is capable of wielding a sword, she arbitrarily cannot pick up and wield the specific sword needed to battle the bad guy. Only Ike can pick it up.

This blatantly sexist detail outraged my oldest son. The game had successfully removed all the usual excuses as to why a girl could not do X, yet the girl character still cannot do X for a completely arbitrary game design reason that reveals the subconscious sexism of the people who created it.

Normally, there would be one or more explanations for why she cannot wield the sword. In Path of Radiance, there is no explanation. She just can't, no attempt to justify it.

It is unlikely that she will gain the necessary stats for beating the Black Knight, but it is possible for her to gain those stats. It do…