Susan J. Fowler, STEM, Men, and Goals

There’s a fine line between jealousy and inspiration. My most recent jealousy inspiration is Susan J. Fowler. Obviously I’m not jealous of her for the only reason most of us know her name – her sexual harassment at the hands of her employer, Uber, which was then made newsworthy by the fact that Uber’s HR department defended and protected the harasser. No, I checked out her blog. And this woman can do everything. Write. Write code. Write about code. Speak. Start businesses. Write/edit philosophy papers. Professionally and reasonably navigate a traumatic situation. Be young and beautiful. And more than anything, believe in herself.

Self belief is about impossible to impart to another person, and it is just as impossible to describe in a worthwhile manner. But it is key. I have a friend who’s an engineer, generated 7 million dollars for his company through an endeavor he largely spearheaded, speaks internationally, wrote and published a book, is now a CTO of a small company, and is 26. Yes, 26. That man swims in self belief. You can see it as he walks down the halls. Swagger. Fashion. Everybody knows Bill. I suppose it’s a perfect constellation of factors coming together: drive, physical health and high energy, talent converging with the right industry as it’s rising (tech), through-the-roof social ability, and straight-up good old standard intelligence.

But back to Susan. She read 52 books last year. Wow. I will never do that and I will not try. A key difference, I imagine, is she’s likely not spending 5 hours a week at the gym. Were I to spend my gym time reading, sure, a book a week would be doable.

Another inspiration is that she truly feels STEM is her home (Science Technology Engineering Math). She doesn’t even hesitate. I am yet part of the phenomenon and error that says that women can’t compete in STEM. I can feel it in my soul. I meet another female engineer/developer and I’m always impressed. Why? Why am I impressed?! Do I think women can’t write code? See. I am part of the problem. And this despite the fact that I live this life (I write code for a living), was valedictorian of my high school (i.e. beat all the boys), and am aware that American girls have had equal math scores with their male counterparts for the past 30 years. There are no grounds to the lie that women aren’t equal to men in intellectual ability, but STEM and technology still do not reflect this truth. Technology is 90% male. Still a boys club. And she got the brunt of it here, and Uber lost a high performer because of their sick culture/boys club.

But, goals! This is all about goals, for me. Susan – a woman I have never met and never will – has inspired me.

  • I will read 12 books this year. One per month.
  • I will post to this blog once per month.
  • I will use my train ride into work to do JavaScript problems. (This is fun for me, I promise.)

And I will deepen my current goals, which are giving of myself to my local church, and studying a few hours each weekend on the philosophical/religious ideas that plague, pursue, entertain, and give me life.

Thank you Susan! Thanks for being brave and ignoring your gender because in our society females are still “less than”.

An Ode to Chocolate, Raspberries, Sugar, Limes, and Other Culinary Wonders

While the problems of the world may be more interesting to talk about, I can’t do anything about them. What I can do however is bake cakes. So I have. And honestly that Chocolate and Raspberry cake is one of the best things to ever happen to me. They were baked in one day; that takes about 7 hours. And they are all gluten free. The supporting actors are: Pistachio and Chocolate Tart, Key Lime Pie, and Banana Cupcakes with a Maple Cream Frosting.

birthdaybaking

This post was supposed to be about “food as therapy” and/or “baking as therapy”. But apparently I need to go to bed, so that post will come another day.

My Man Fed

Tennis players peak at the age of 25. But Roger Federer, at age 35, just won the Australian Open. He beat his biggest rival on the biggest stage with the *GOAT in question and in one of the most difficult ways: a 5-set match against a man who’s in his head (psychological demons, if you will), directly after an injury hiatus of 6 months, and had to beat 4 top-10 players along the way which hasn’t been done in 35 years.

It was a beautiful thing. And this article summarizes it much better.

Congrats Fed. You’re an inspiration.

*GOAT = Greatest Of All Time

The Difference Between Morality and Policy

Faced with the following dilemma, what do you do: vote for a good man with bad policy, or a bad man with good policy?

Obviously my question is inspired by the 2016 US Presidential race.

Obama is a good man, but his policies may not be ones I agree with.

Trump is a bad man, but (if we knew his policies) I may agree with them.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine I actually know Trump’s policies and agree with them.

And, because Barack is a bit more interesting to me than Hillary, let’s say Trump is running against Barack Obama.

Do you vote for a leader primarily because of their policies? Or do you vote for them primarily because of who they are?

Let’s put this another way. Which factor carries more weight: a leader’s intended policy or his character?

This is unfortunately impossible to measure so the answer is ultimately personal, subjective, and eternally nebulous in value.

But it’s still a good thought exercise.

I can see a party, The Republican Party, ushering in a man who verbally and physically mistreats women, yet as Obama said: “You claim the mantle of the party of family values, and this is the guy you nominate,”. A better point I couldn’t have made myself.

I don’t know how individuals get chosen by a party, in great detail, so I can’t say exactly how this inconsistency was given life. Perhaps the Republican Party was never the party of family values? Or perhaps, like all individuals on earth, the party is trying to achieve a goal and isn’t always succeeding.

Here’s the deal with a head of a democracy: they are only a head. The 535 congressmen, judicial system, and millions serving in government agencies limit his power by having power of their own. This ultimately makes the answer easy: you vote for a good man with bad policy.

Why? The effects of his policy will be limited by all the other parts of government, but no one can stop the affects of his image, his person, his attitude, his style of thinking. And, unfortunately, this is the hardest to measure. But we are less rational creatures than we’d like to think. Therefore, I think the policy intentions of one limited man mean far less than the content of his character. Which of the things your parents told you do you remember? Practically nothing. What of who they are do you remember? Basically all of it. What we remember, and therefore what we are compelled by, is the character of a person.

Is Barak Obama inspiring? You bet. The husband of one wife, molester of none, and who can put together a sentence. Is Trump inspiring? Only to tears. The husband of three, molester of some, and who has difficulty constructing a sentence of any sophistication (let alone depth).

Also character affects policy. A bad man can’t be trusted. But a good man (please forgive the over simplicity) first can be trusted and is aware of his own frailty, which in turn means open to change. So, if push comes to shove, prioritizing morality over policy makes sense. In theory.

In reality, we have a bad man (of sorts) heading a good country (of sorts) down a path invisible to nearly all of us (because, again, what are his policies?!?). I distinctly think the primary reason we don’t know his policies is that he doesn’t either.

May God Bless America.

Abuse of Power

Abuse of power is one of the worst things. And when you love democracy and the noble things it theoretically stands for, it’s hard to watch when that democracy becomes the thing it’s built to stop: exploitation, the powerful silencing the weak, a government ruining its people. This is corruption. And you wouldn’t imagine seeing it in Canada.

But there it is.

When my friend first told me about his situation, I was stunned, wasn’t sure how much was true, and thought “isn’t this the kind of thing that happens in Russia?” Second thought: how much of this happens in the good old US of A? Likely more than we’d like, but even more than that: it’s likely more than we want to know.

If you’re still reading, I’m going to force you to know one thing: on Thursday, the Canadian government will likely destroy a family business for its own profit. Again, Russia, right? This doesn’t happen to our cuddly, maple-syrupy, Justin Bieber-producing, friends. Aren’t they a democracy? Reasonable folk? It would seem all people are corruptible.

This 50-year-old business does something very boring but extremely well: it produces electrical guidebooks. The books explain the laws on electrical wiring, so it quotes part of the law. And the family business, P.S. Knight company, is the nation’s largest producer of this book. But a single Canadian agency (the Canadian Standards Association) recently decided they wanted to make money. So what do they do? Produce electrical guidebooks and charge P.S. Knight with violating copyright law. And if you’re the government, and you want to make even more money, just put P.S. Knight out of business, right? Especially in Russia.

But this is Canada! Here are the rules being violated: the government does not exist to make a profit and should not participate in commerce (this is an obvious conflict of interest, since the government makes the rules governing commerce), the law is public meaning the government can not charge for reprinting the law, and (possibly most importantly) this government officially declared full approval of all uses of this text to P.S. Knight decades ago. This boring little company has been doing the same thing for 50 years, doing it so well it became the leader in the industry, and now the Canadian government has decided it wants a piece of that money pie.

There’s only one way to do this: put that family business out of business.

They might do that Thursday, and if they win, that business will go under, the family will lose its entire fortune, that same family will go into debt because of punishing fines from CSA and the related law suit, everybody at the business will lose their jobs, the country will lose a half-century old, preferred, and time-tested product, the corrupt parts of Canadian government will know the victory of how far they can “stretch the rules” and will be emboldened to take it even farther, and Canada will lose part of its democracy.

This is abuse of power. This is the government ruining its people. And this is not democracy.

Full story here: http://www.restorecsa.com/news/article/january-12th-court-hearing

Gorgon

Gorgon:

  • Each of three sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, with snakes for hair, who had the power to turn anyone who looked at them to stone.
  • A fierce, frightening, or repulsive woman.
Gorgonzola: a moldy Gorgon often added to salad and the like.