Friday, December 20, 2013

Weekend Reading: The I'm Too Busy to Organize These Edition

Clearly, I didn't get around to writing either of the posts I wanted to write on Sunday. I am not surprised. I celebrate Christmas and I have young kids. This is a very busy time! I'm on track to get everything done- the Christmas cards are mailed (thanks to my "drink beer and then it is easier to write them" method), the gifts are all bought, and I've even wrapped a couple. The plans for this weekend include more wrapping and baking some Christmas cookies with the kids. Blogging takes a back seat this time of year.

Still, I've got lots of good links for you this week, even if I don't have the time to organize them.

So, straight to the links:

A nice reminder that not everyone can "lifehack" in the same way.

A reminder not to trash talk your body in front of your kids. I give myself a B- on this one. I try very hard, though.

Penn and Teller take down antivaxers and it is awesome:


And a woman who was raised by parents who didn't vaccinate tells her story.

I don't know if you saw the flare up in discussion about R Kelly this week. If not, you can Google and get the back story. But you might have missed this powerful piece that reminds us: it shouldn't be up to little girls to police the behavior of grown men.

Utah is on pace to end homelessness. I wonder if this policy will work elsewhere, or if it will even be tried. So I was feeling sort of happy about Utah even before their Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Can we stop stereotyping Utahans (Utahites? Utahers?) now? It is more than Mormons, and Mormons are not all the same.

Moving on... I really liked Bill Moyers' piece about inequality. Maybe I should have called this the "reminders" edition and called this one a reminder that we get a voice in the rules of our society. We don't have to accept ever increasing inequality as "just how it is."

I don't play videogames, but I completely get this cartoon's point about being gender neutral in your online presence. I was carefully gender neutral when I set up an account to talk about gun laws, going as far as to change some of my writing style and word choice.

Slate published a piece from a software engineer arguing that the tech leaders you read about in the tech press are not representative of tech workers. It makes me think it would be interesting to see real data on the beliefs and opinions of the engineers in Silicon Valley. I suspect those data are out there, but I am too busy right now to go find them.

Sticking with the tech world for awhile.... I rather liked this piece in Wired. It reminded me of how I can agree that tech is not a meritocracy and still think that the tech world is more meritocratic than many others.

I'll say a couple more things about those last two pieces:

1. The tech world is not Silicon Valley. Sure, Silicon Valley is a large part, and is very influential, but it is not the totality. I'd go farther and say that you can work in tech and not work for a tech company.

2. The tech world is far from meritocratic, but it is more meritocratic than some other fields. For instance, in science your educational pedigree can matter more than your talent. The tech world at least has some tools that can help people hire on skills more than pedigree (or race, or gender, or any number of other things that trigger our biases). I'm thinking of things like giving prospective employees code tests, or asking for sample code. Sadly, we don't use these tools as much as we should, and we often apply them AFTER we have let our biases filter out a bunch of good candidates. But the potential is there, at least at the lower levels where people are still writing code and not managing people who write code. Think about how other industries hire and then see if maybe you might agree that the problem of embracing diversity in hiring processes is not unique to tech.

That is not to let the tech world off the hook- not in the least- but to remind people that a lot of the things people point at and hate about tech are really just reflections of our society as a whole.

Yes, I saw the whole Justine Sacco thing go past on Twitter. Some people said some smart things in amongst all the jokes and snark, but I did not think to grab them and have way too much laundry to fold tonight to go and find them now, so you're on your own.

I always like to end on a positive note, so here is What If? answering the question of when it became impossible for one person to read all the books.

And here is a functioning car made out of LEGO.

I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas aren't too far behind on the holiday to do list, and that all of you have a happy weekend!

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