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alt-lite alt-right entitled babies irony alert jordan "slappy" peterson men who should not ever be with women ever misogyny rape rape jokes sargon of akkad

Jordan Peterson is launching Thinkspot, a “free speech” platform where his fanboys can downvote posts they dislike and make them vanish

By David Futrelle

Jordan Peterson, the sulky alt-lite celebrity professor who likes to sue people who disagree with him, has announced the imminent arrival of his new Free Speech Social Media platform Thinkspot, which promises to be the freest free speech venue in human history except that you have to pay for it and if you say something that offends the Peterson fans and oft-banned alt-right weirdos who will likely populate the service, they can downvote your comments until they disappear.

Also, Peterson is saying that there might be a 50-word minimum to comments — designed to make sure that comments are “thoughtful” — so that Nazis who want to post the 14 words will be allowed to but they’ll always have to post them four times in a row.

Here’s how the right wing site Newsbusters described it, drawing the details from a recent discussion between Peterson and stoner podcaster Joe Rogan.

Peterson discussed Thinkspot with podcaster Joe Rogan on June 9, emphasizing a radically pro-free speech Terms of Service. He described that freedom as the “central” aspect saying, “once you’re on our platform we won’t take you down unless we’re ordered to by a US court of law.”

That will be a profound contrast to platforms that ban users for “misgendering” people who identify as trans, or for tweeting “learn to code” at fired journalists. 

Well, with the 50 word comment minimum, they’ll actually have to write:

Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to code.
Learn to.

Clearly this will encourage only the most thoughtful of discussions.

As for the downvoting thing, Newsbusters explains that

All comments on the website will have a voting feature “and if your ratio of upvotes to downvotes falls below 50/50 then your comments will be hidden, people will still be able to see them, if they click, but you’ll disappear.” 

Obviously this whole thing is going to be a smashing success, as right-wing “free speechers” love it when algorithms hide their comments from view, and they don’t consider this censorship at all or yell about it endlessly or anything.

Peterson has apparently got a bunch of true a-list free speech warriors lined up to beta test the “anti-censorship platform,” including, well, himself; failed-comedian-turned-alt-right-booster Dave Rubin; celebrity “skeptic” and alleged rapist Michael Shermer; and YouTube blabber/rape joker Carl Benjamin, a.k.a. “Sargon of Akkad,” a.k.a. “Carl of Swindon,” recently in the news for his disastrous campaign for the European Parliament, which went so badly that it kind of took down the entire UKIP party with it.

So basically, the consummate control-freak Peterson is asking the prickliest assholes in the world of social media to pay him money to use a platform that allows their political enemies to downvote their comments until they vanish. I really can’t imagine anything going wrong here.

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Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Cat Mara

Jesus, these people and the entitlement they feel for sex. They should never be in a relationship, ever. Or even near women (or whichever sex they’re attracted to.)

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Cat Mara
It’s also called “spreading”, but I wasn’t sure if anybody here would recognize either term. I’d say creationists are the worsts, but these misogynists and now the alt-right also exist.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

I’ve lurked on humanist/skeptic/feminist/what-have-you boards/blogs for a long time, but have rather rarely actually commented on them.

Someday, I will learn bulletin board code as well. This is what I get for being a lurker.

vaiyt
vaiyt
1 year ago

So, basically Peterson is going to repeat the same experiment that failed on Reddit

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
1 year ago

Warning for the NSFW concepts over at @Cat Mara’s twitter AITA link.

The threads that poster posted are included in there as well, if you scroll far enough. It’s pretty horrifying, especially the tinydonuts (IIRC) poster.

(But probably not something you want to read on a work computer!)

Rrrr.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Rhuu: I apologise for not including a content warning. I should’ve done so. I didn’t actually read any of the thread on Twitter, or the original on Reddit, the OP was enough for me.

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

Cat Mara – I’ve read AITA Reddit posts before, and thought I was ready.

I was not ready.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
1 year ago

@Cat Mara

On a related issue, I read another post recently called “Contempt Culture“, which points out a great many technical communities in the IT industry are driven by contempt for those outside their group (“you use programming language/ technology X?! What a loser!”

Technically I’m not in the IT industry, but I’m in a field where I hear this a lot. I would be interested in seeing the post, because I wonder if it takes into account what I think might be the genesis of some of this sort of thing.

For instance, I loathe python. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world and entirely unsuitable for my field. I therefore lack experience in it, and when I go back and forth to my preferred languages I have to spend time going “oh wait, you can’t do that here, arrgh”. This leads to my initial dislike.

Then I see multiple articles submitted to top tier conferences that try to use python as a legitimate experimental language in my field, which it is in no way suitable for, and I think “oh gosh, this dude actually thought they would get accepted here with python as their language? Do they know anything at all about the field? REJECT!” (I don’t actually reject based only on python experiments, tbf, but I’m trying to make a point here.)

Then I go to a class in the field and the question is “can we submit the homework using python?” a day before it’s due and the answer is Didn’t you listen to the first four weeks of lecture or READ THE ASSIGNMENT? NO NO NO NO! AUUUGH!

Then the general conclusion is “People who use python are sucky losers that don’t know anything. SAD.”

And in my field that classifier has ~99% success rate at differentiating poor performers from high performers.

However, in the wider world, python is a fine tool for knocking up programs to do many things (I’ve heard), and it has graphing packages that are second only to Matlab. In those situations, I’m fine with people using python and would never think they were a loser just for that.

Does the Contempt Culture article account for this type of situation-specific contempt, or is it more to do with people that never move out of the specific context where you don’t want X language/technology and just hate all of them all of the time?

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
1 year ago

No worries, @Cat Mara! I had seen the tweet yesterday, and knew what a ride it would be. (I read it on my personal phone though, haha)

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
1 year ago

So it looks like 2 comments touched on this, but to my surprise, no one has come right out and said:

Jordan Peterson’s idea of free speech is not being able to speak unless you pay Jordan Peterson.

ELL OH FUCKIN’ ELL

Penny Psmith
Penny Psmith
1 year ago

Thanks for the explanations on strikethrough! I want to give it a try to see if I got it right, so apologies (a) for the repeated content and (b) in case I mess it up.

That will be a profound contrast to platforms that ban users for “misgendering” people who identify as trans harassing people, or for tweeting “learn to code” at fired journalists harassing people.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Big Titty Demon:

I think what the blogger was getting at is much more extreme than what you describe… it’s like taking that, “People who use python are sucky losers that don’t know anything. SAD” feeling you get and pushing it beyond simple frustration at someone using a wrong tool for the job at hand and pushing it till you actually believe that anyone who uses Python– ever, even at tasks it’s uncontestably good at– is a sucky loser and saying so as loudly as you can becomes almost part of your identity. Where you go out of your way to attack Python users publicly and in as contemptuous a way as you can, till you start almost seeing yourself in terms of being anti-Python. It’s us-versus-them. Sectarianism, almost. And a lot of IT people are like that, unfortunately. They get into this almost performative mindset where expressing contempt in the most over-the-top way you can against technologies you don’t like becomes part of your public persona.The blogger notes that it’s probably rooted in the imposter syndrome a lot of people in IT feel and this is one way of coping with it: you may be a fraud, but at least you’re not like those people who don’t even know good tech when they see it! And it takes a good deal of self-awareness for some people to even realise that this is what they’re doing: the blogger herself notes that she was happy loudly shitting on people who used technologies she didn’t like until someone called her on it.

Penny Psmith
Penny Psmith
1 year ago

…Huh. I just tried a post to test the strikethrough think, and it got swallowed by the mammoth. Not sure what happened and if it’ll pop up again, but in the meanwhile just want to (re-)say thanks for the explanations.

Penny Psmith
Penny Psmith
1 year ago

There it is! And it worked! Yaaaaay!

tim gueguen
1 year ago

I wonder if Thinkspot will make a profit for Peterson before it implodes. He’s probably past due for saying or doing something that pisses off a bunch of his followers.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@CatMara
Thanks for posting a link to that blog post, it’s very interesting
and thanks
@Big Titty Demon
for mentioning it, I would’ve missed it otherwise.

I’m involved in CS, but it’s not my focus (I’m majoring in both CS and Physics, but CS is just an ancillary to Physics). I’m more or less an outsider to the sort of things that article describes in the CS field, but I have a close spectator seat. I’ve seen the abuse they hurl at each other all the time, though rarely to each other’s faces. Some lecturers like to deride other languages or fields and the people working with them as apparent fuel in a constant turf war, and women especially are popular targets. Often, when a language was unpopular, it was joked that the only reason it was used at all for whatever they didn’t like was because of women. (For example, a “joke” I heard was that Java was soft and only women should use it (or effeminate men), I guess real men use COBOL)

There are very few women in CS, especially in the conservative state I live in, and the male dominated lectures and seminars a lot of my female friends that were in the field had to go to made some of them seriously consider leaving the field. Sexism was absolutely rampant at these events, and when the presence of women was even acknowledged, they were derided or dismissed. Jokes were often made at the expense of women in general, and my friends were frequently harassed personally by attendees. I wasn’t surprised that any of this was happening, but it shows just how toxic male dominated communities like that can be.

The mostly male professors often had a pretty clear bias against women too. In one pretty clear case, for example, one professor refused to let a (female) friend of mine leave class five minutes early so they could attend another class that too soon for them to make it to otherwise. This was exactly what a number of male students (I was in this class as well, but didn’t have a class immediately afterwards) already did, but this professor refused her permission to do the same thing, and threatened to drop her from his class if she did it without his permission. His male students were never punished for it. The double standard was sickening.

I’ve also noticed this a lot in my physics courses, though to a lesser degree (thankfully, a significant number of my mathematics professors have been female.) A lot of my fellow students give female students the stink eye and mock them when they ask for help. Some of the male instructors also tend to just ignore it when a woman asks for help, or preferentially answers a man’s question. The general format of a lot of the classes (lecture hall), though, seems to prevent it from being as apparent as it is in CS. Seminars tend to be more or less the same way as well, and groups focused on encouraging women to participate in STEM heavily attend public ones.

I work for a female professor as a research assistant and have for years, so I am not really sure what male professor’s hiring practices are with regards to female research assistants and how they behave with them. My money’s on “not great”, though.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

Oh… that’s really disappointing. I wrote up a long post about what I’ve seen in CS and Physics vis a vis the “Confrontation Theory” link @Cat Mara shared and the sexism I’ve seen in those fields in general. Does anybody know if there’s anyway I can recover that?

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

Ignore that, it seems it hasn’t disappeared, it just wasn’t showing up and I jumped the gun a bit. Phew, I was quite worried about losing my typestorm. (Sorry for all of the literature I write)

I would like to add, though, that I also see some of what @Cat Mara’s link talked about with regards to “Contempt Culture” in physics, but more in regards to the importance of fields. (I.e., “is this really worth funding and research?”)

The research I help with is into how climate change and local weather affect river flow through bodies of water and flooding throughout the state, as well as ancillary issues, especially the sources that feed those rivers, like ice melt.

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

(For example, a “joke” I heard was that Java was soft and only women should use it (or effeminate men), I guess real men use COBOL)

I…wut.

Goes back to being a badass software developer by ignoring the bros and their bullshit.

Edited to add:
@Jackson Ayres
That thing where the post doesn’t show up right away happens to everyone, just fyi.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
1 year ago

@Jackson Ayres:

That’s funny. The only person I ever met who was a full-time COBOL programmer was a good friend and housemate in the 90s. She was also a young woman with ataxia (involuntary muscle movements combined with lessened voluntary muscle control when you want/need it). She used scooters and electric wheelchairs to get around, had all sorts of adaptive tech just to be able to do her job. On top of THAT, there were complaints that too many people were hanging around her desk too often, getting in the way of people trying to walk through her department on their way to other places.

A couple of times some people above her boss questioned whether all the adaptive tech was worth it for one employee. But they weren’t willing to fire her for having a disability (I guess their lawyers weren’t stupid), so she kept on. But her type of ataxia was progressive (she has actually since died: most people with her type die of suffocation during sleep as the diaphragm gives out or heart attack while active as the heart gives out). As her ataxia progressed, she asked for some new adaptive tech. Nike got slower and slower at giving it to her.

…And then one of the higher-ups at Nike where she worked suggested moving her department to another office where she wouldn’t have been able to access it except through a cargo elevator (which was unavailable for long periods on a regular basis for cargo loading/unloading) unless they put in a new funky drive-on stair-lifter thingy, which would have been expensive, created difficult design & safety problems, etc.

So the higher-ups decided that they could move the department without moving my friend, at least until the new high-tech stair-lifter was in place.

The. Entire. Department. Revolted.

It seems that her department required fluency in COBOL, but only a couple people worked with COBOL 40 hours/week. The rest used it as needed, usually not even a full 8 hours/week. Of the 3 people who used COBOL full time, both of the others relied on my friend to check their code and to help them plan code structures (I’m not sure of the right technical term, but planning what form things should be in and which functions should be shunted off to subroutines, etc.), and EVERYBODY in the department came to my friend whenever they had any questions at all on COBOL, as they all had to use it occasionally.

It seems they weren’t all equally “fluent”.

Nike ditched the plans for moving her department to the new location (though they eventually found a different location with better elevator access where they could move her department) when they were told that multiple people would have to walk between buildings at least a couple times per day each just to get her advice, and that if she was left in the middle of another department, they would have to put in a separate workspace just for the visitors coming to ask for help. They then got a CS professor to consult with them on how to handle their dependence on one employee for COBOL expertise and if they needed to increase job requirements when hiring, etc.

The professor looked at the work they were doing, how productive they were, how the workflow was handled, what types of questions they brought to my friend, all of it. The prof reported back that they had a good department, it was just that

1. need for COBOL programmers fluctuated so they couldn’t have more full-timers and needed to maintain their inter-language flexibility

2. My friend was just better than everyone else, and they should feel damn lucky to have her at pay rates for a CS undergraduate major instead of a CS PhD.

Not long after, they stopped complaining about the guys in the department hanging out at her desk, upgraded her to a private office – and made it big enough to have visitors, and then all of a sudden her languishing adaptive-tech requests started being filled in a week or two instead of (and I kid you not) two YEARS for the longest-delayed tech she’d asked for.

So… yeah. The only COBOL programmer I’ve ever know wasn’t a real man, but she was a bad-ass woman with a damn fine brain for COBOL given her undergrad-only education.

I miss her.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Crip Dyke
I love that story! I’m glad they finally started showing her the respect (and maybe a little bit of fear) she deserved! If only she were still around to grace more people with her tech wizardry! I’d take a bad ass woman over a man any day!

It’s really shameful how people, especially the private sector treat:
A. Women
B. Disabled people
C. Disabled women
I’m in category B myself.

My grandfather wrote in COBOL, but he’s the only person that I know for certain ever did. I understand that it’s still around, and I’ve heard of it being used, but I’ve never actually seen so.

GrumpyOld SocialJusticeMangina
GrumpyOld SocialJusticeMangina
1 year ago

And the leader of the group that developed COmmon Business Oriented Language was Admiral Grace Hopper — not some misogynistic man.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

Not that any misogynistic man will remember that women were involved in CS any time before 1990

Cheesynougats
Cheesynougats
1 year ago

On the COBOL thing, don’t tell the brogrammers who created it. The Navy techs still call her Grandma COBOL, I hear.

Cheesynougats
Cheesynougats
1 year ago

Damn, Grumpy beat me to it.

Hester
1 year ago

@ Jackson Ayres & Cat Mara:

Yeah, even as a teenager I never felt like I missed out on anything. Some people I know who were really involved in debate have turned out fine. Most are faux-intellectual right wingers, though. And this was Christian (read: right wing evangelical) debate, which seems to be all the bad things about regular debate + all the bad things about evangelicalism.

Case in point, the particular person I had in mind who praised the 50-word minimum is a hardcore Christian patriarchy mom/Doug Wilson fan. Google Doug Wilson and you’ll see pretty quickly where this person got her ideas about “wit.” Come to think of it, Wilson’s a lot like Peterson. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Except unlike Peterson he believes himself to be hilarious, which I suspect Peterson would frown upon because it wasn’t METAPHYSICALLY SERIOUS enough. (Wilson’s also a plagiarist, neo-Confederate sympathizer and known shelterer of pedophiles.)

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
1 year ago

I’d forgotten about Admiral Hopper. Thanks for the reminder, Grumpy & Cheesy!

One last note about my friend – she worked at the main campus in Oregon, just west of Portland (the house we shared was in Portland & she took the bus out there everyday. When her girlfriend was out of town I would get up an hour early at 6:45 to help her get out the door).

The main campus was at that time a bit isolated from everything else (don’t know if it still is). They left some forest around it, etc. even though it was only a 5 minute drive from downtown Beaverton (one of Portland’s largest suburbs) and have a big “berm” of earth to make it so that it seemed rural, even though one corner (of the admittedly large campus) was at the intersection of two major roads, with a major suburban neighborhood right across one of those streets.

Because of the kinda-sorta isolation it was inconvenient to walk off campus to get lunch anywhere, so the cafeteria was particularly nice for a corporate cafe and even the execs would eat there some times.

But what really blew my mind (because I did not know all this at first) was that famous athletes would eat in the cafeteria all the time, and she had had lunch with Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm and a bunch of other people I forget. She didn’t get to know them or anything, and she saw Jordan a lot more than she ever talked to him (he was at the campus often enough during the off-season, but he was usually busy talking business during lunch with someone from some other department, prob. advertising or clothing design), but at least once he sat at her table & she got to talk to him. She had lunch with Mia Hamm & a couple other women from the US national soccer team I don’t know how many times, but a lot more than once. It was enough that apparently Hamm remembered her name and noticed when she switched wheelchairs, asking how she liked the new one.

As my friend was a lesbian living in an all queer-women household who talked about Hamm’s shirt-doffing theatrics more than a few times, we were all very, very impressed.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

It’s terrible of me but also says something about how we’re socialized that every time I see the three words “Admiral Grace Hopper” my immediate thought is “Star Trek character,” before I remember who she actually was.

I like to tell myself it’s just because her name is so cool you assume a screenwriter made it up.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

I’d like to believe she’s cool enough to also be in Star Trek. She’s pals with Captain Janeway!

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
1 year ago

I’ve seen at least one person note with some amusement that the person who coined, or at least popularized, the computer term “bug” should have a name that sounds a bit like “grasshopper.”

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

IMO, COBOL is a great example of contempt culture in action: look at this definition of the language from the Jargon File, the kind of ur-Urban Dictionary of hacker slang (curated, BTW, by one Eric S. Raymond who has previous form on this site). The contempt drips from nearly every word: “weak”, “verbose”, “flabby”, “mindless”, etc.

I never learned COBOL myself but I did work for a company who had a lot of COBOL code in their billing system (also in PL/I, IBM’s attempt at One Language To Rule Them All™ that would unite the COBOL-using business world and the FORTRAN-using engineering/scientific world but which ultimately fizzled out into a historical curiosity, but that’s another story). Imagine my surprise 🙄 when I discovered that the COBOL programmers were not the mindless drones of the Jargon File but competent professionals! My response to people who shit on COBOL pretty much became, “yeah, and what do you think prints your pay cheque?”

@Jackson, the reason I don’t think you hear so much about COBOL anymore (except for the occasional panic-piece in the IT press when someone realises all the COBOL programmers are retiring or dying of old age and a good chunk of the modern world that we take for granted still runs on it) is that in its domain, most of the hard problems have been solved. Some COBOL code has been running now for close on half a century: the obvious bugs have long been found and stamped out (of course, when a non-obvious bug or Outside Context Problem– thanks, Iain M. Banks– like Y2K shows up, then it tends to be non-trivial and we need people like Crip Dyke’s late friend to come sort it out). New trends in COBOL program design and implementation technique are unlikely to appear at this point: the language has reached a point of stability and maturity few other languages enjoy. COBOL developers don’t need to hang out on Stack Overflow all day because the hard problems were solved long ago, which is why COBOL doesn’t appear on peoples’ radars very often anymore, but it’s there behind the scenes, quietly doing its job. Of course, this is anathema to the hacker mindset who value change and virtuouso programming for its own sake over, you know, delivering actual value to customers… the average team of COBOL programmers can probably design, code, debug and deliver a system before modern programmers have finished arguing over what dependency injection container or other shiny thing de jour that interests them right now.

The common criticisms of COBOL you hear are mostly strawmen. Hackers have an appreciation of programming languages that can act as their own compilers– when creating a new language, one builds a compiler for a subset of the new language in another high-level language, then you use that compiler to bootstrap your language to the point where you can write a full compiler in itself (what’s called “self-hosting”). Because COBOL’s file I/O is geared towards reading records of data (you know, being a business oriented language and all; it’s in the name, guys) and not binary files, few implementations of COBOL could be used to write a COBOL compiler. While the notion of writing a programming language in itself has a certain compelling intellectual perversity, it’s a bit irrelevant if the language’s intended job is something altogether different– complaining that COBOL can’t implement itself is like complaining that your car can’t travel underwater. The other complaint you hear about COBOL is that it’s not block-structured like modern languages. This was popularised by Algol, the first version of which came several years after the first COBOL compilers appeared. Again, this like complaining that while John Logie Baird and Philo T. Farnsworth may have invented the TV, they obviously suck because they didn’t invent the remote control and surround sound while they were at it! At the time COBOL and FORTRAN were invented, it was still an open question whether compilers were possible at all, and the whole concept faced a considerable uphill battle to prove that high-level languages could compete with hand-tuned assembly language code, even if they did remove a lot of the busywork involved in programming “on the metal”. Another complaint one hears is that COBOL (at least its early versions; they’re probably long deprecated now) contains some downright unsafe constructs that essentially allowed you to write self-modifying code, a debugging nightmare and something nobody does if they can avoid it. IMO, given the underpowered nature of the machines the first versions of COBOL ran on, I’m not surprised such a thing was put in the language, dangerous as it was: self-modifying code is often used as an optimisation technique of last resort when you can’t otherwise fit a program in a constrained environment.

One story I heard about COBOL’s creation (that I’ve not seen verified but rings true based on what I know about large organisations) is that most of its flaws are political, not technical. The US Government wanted a common business language so that it could source computers from multiple manufacturers and have its programs run on them all. The manufacturers, of course, wanted to lock customers onto their own platforms but they knew that if they outright broke ranks it would look bad. So of course the howl went up that the standardisation process was taking too long, it was holding back innovation, etc. Admiral Hopper made the best of a bad situation, releasing a standard for a language that worked well enough but was maybe not the most elegant in time to stall any breaking of ranks. If she and her team had had more time to polish the design, it might have been a more elegant language but that’s how these things happen in the real world.

Wow, that was a long post! I’ll leave you with an interview the woman herself did with that impertinent whippersnapper, David Letterman (starts about 30 seconds in) 😉:

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
1 year ago

@Katamount:

Sportsball sportsball sportsball …

Jurassic Park

<perks up>

More sportsball …

Hey, what kind of bait-and-switch are you trying to pull here, anyway? 🙂

@Jackson Ayres:

For example, judges would give you the win if your opponent didn’t refute all of your points, so a tactic that often worked was to make as many spurious points as possible in the hopes that the opponent wouldn’t be able to get to them all in time.

Ugh. Allowing the Gish Gallop in a debate is like allowing missile spam in tennis: whoever gets the first serve wins, rendering the whole game trivial.

rv97
rv97
1 year ago

Reading stories on here about women’s experiences with computer science and other male-dominated fields makes me wish sometimes that humanity were more like hyenas in terms of sex and gender.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
1 year ago

The secret root of the “contempt problem” in my opinion is that in a lot of programming language decisions, there is several good choice. It’s important to weed out the bad one, but often there is a lot of acceptable option. A web service in PHP, Python, Golang, or Node ? Good enough. Just don’t do it in OCaml I guess.

Where the problem arise is that a lot of people aren’t aware of that, and think there have to be exactly one best solution. Which mean they irrationally pick one, and defend it too much, leading to a lot of excess in defending it.

For some reasons, there’s a ton of decisions like that in IT, in programming language choice, coding style, documentation, etc. Which lead to a lot of people having irrational red lines, like “never use space for indentation” or “never use PHP for anything”.

I do find the tale of that COBOL engineer inspiring. (apart from the pire where she died, sadly). One of the hope I have in the future is to have more teleworking in place in more firms ; that can help a lot of people who have various reasons to not want to put up with a commute. Like one of my colleague, that stay at home because he want to be able to assist her wife as soon as she need it.

(that being said, it’s also important to not force telecommute to anyone. Some people do need their real life bonding after all)

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@rv97: If you want to get really furious about the treatment of women in IT 😉, Rachel Kroll’s blog is a good¹ read. Kroll is an Operations/ Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) who has worked for Google and others and her blog has many war stories about narrowly-averted disasters where large-scale systems have melted down on her watch and she had to restore them to working order… and in a depressing number of cases, said meltdowns are a direct result of her advice being overlooked simply because she is a woman. ☹️

Another good one is Ellen Ullman’s memoir Close to the Machine. It’s not entirely about the treatment of women in IT, more a discourse on the mindset possessed by computer programmers generally and our often-problematic relationship with Real Life™ (for example, it opens with her description of working in “crunch mode” on a project, in a windowless basement where the team members lose all track of time and are subsisting on pizza deliveries, an experience many programmers, both men and women, are unfortunately all too familiar with). And it describes her romantic relationship with one particular guy who is the absolute paradigm of the Valley tech-bro: a libertarian douchebag completely uninterested in the legal or moral implications of his work, except insofar as they might be thought of as a “cool hack” on the legal system.

@Ohlmann: Your comment about the “tabs vs spaces” holy war reminds me of a (non-programmer) friend of mine who was watching Silicon Valley or Halt and Catch Fire or one of those shows (I haven’t watched either) where the “tabs vs spaces” business was a plot point of one of the episodes. He was like, “they made that up for the show, right? No-one gets exercised over that, surely?” and I was like, “oh, my sweet summer child, you have no idea!” 🙂

¹ For certain values of “good”. Edit: hacker humour. Reading it back, it might sound dismissive of Kroll which I totally don’t intend: she’s an excellent writer.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

O/T: Speaking of getting furious, but on a much lighter topic, there is a British IT journalist, Holly Brockwell, who I follow on Twitter who has just adopted the most furious-looking cat, ever. Look at her hate-filled little face! 😻

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

Awww! It’s filled with cuteness and hate! I must pet it!

Also, I honestly cannot say I know much about the older programming languages, other than what they were used for. My involvement in CS is pretty focused towards physics ends. Still, I appreciate all of that knew information! Any day’s a good day to learn something new.

Crip Dyke’s story was just great. I love hearing stories like that. Women are treated so badly in male dominated fields like IT, and it’s great to hear of a badass woman forcing them to respect her or face the consequences.

I can also identify with the disability part; since I was partially disabled a few years ago and more recent health problems have finished the job, so there’s that. That great COBOL programmer probably would have been treated better, even with her disability, if she were male. The disability was just another thing they’d treat her with contempt for.

Also also also, I think I’ll give that memoir a read, though probably in small chunks to let my faith in humanity get its grip on the cliff edge again.

Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
1 year ago

Still not clear on what exactly happens if your account gets downvoted on Thinkspot? All your comments turn into “expand” links so they’ll be only seen by people who obsessively read every comment in a thread?

On Jurassic Park, I just recently learned there’s an outdoor hiking area called Jurapark near Aargau, Switzerland.

(AFAIK, the Jurassic period was named after Jura mountains on Swiss-French border)

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Hester
You’re definitely right about the heavy presence of faux-intellectual right wingers. There were a sizable number of people that, when they got to choose topics, would argue against such things as welfare, feminism, LGBTQ rights, the existence of transgender people, the secular state, women in the military, and such. They always used absolutely terrible, fallacious arguments and dipped heavily into tactics like Gish gallops to try to win, then pretended they had won some great intellectual contest if they were successful. They’d also be assigned topics like these if they didn’t get to choose, because it’s Idaho.

For context as to what some of these arguments might’ve been like, my last year of debate was in 2016. Shudder.

Fortunately, my friend group was always self selected to consist of the most liberal people in a very conservative part of a very conservative state, so I didn’t have to deal with the right-winger-convinced-they’re-a-genius brand of asshole very often.

I was openly bisexual, atheist, very liberal, and feminist, though, so they very frequently tried to debate me.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
That’s what it sounds like – pretty effective censorship. The subscription thing would likely keep most people who aren’t there to slavishly agree with Jordan Peterson off of it anyway. Speech can’t be free (literally) if you have to pay to say it.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
1 year ago

Also, there is no thing like totally uncensored, unbiased information source. One way or another they are hierarchised at the very least, with some being censored in almost all case. You just can choose how you do that, and “mob’s rules” while democratic isn’t inherently the best system.

I am not sure that Peterson is aware of that. He do seem quite the guillible type.

Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
1 year ago

In my previous comment, I quoted Surplus “perking up” at the mention of Jurassic Park, but apparently it wasn’t a good idea to include HTML brackets. It confuses the blockquote brachiosaur.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

It seems like his platform will be a chaotic hell hole, but I doubt he’ll let power over it out of his grip and let the mob rule it. With the requirement of a subscription fee, a built in way to censor dissent, and his administrative power, he’s well set the dominate it. The only “free” thing about it is that it won’t have any rules other than that Jordan Peterson’s word is law.

I’m sure he knows that his service won’t a free speech Mecca, it’s just a smokescreen for what he really wants: a place filled with sycophants and free of any dissent, with none of the rules against abusive and illegal content that other social media services might place on him.

Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
1 year ago

It seems there’s already a number free niche platforms where alt-right radicals can intellectually bloviate about their worldview, and also network with each other, entertain each other with “non PC” humor, mutually encourage hatred and perhaps even plot terrorism without getting banned. On mainstream social media platforms, these same people have accounts for running their everyday lives and/or subtly reaching out to potential recruits.

The main reason these people feel inconvenienced by the limits of free speech on mainstream platforms is that they like like to harass minorities and “SJWs” – people who obviously wouldn’t hang out in alt-right communities just to be conveniently harassed over there. I really don’t think they’d hang out on Thinkspot either.

Most likely, Thinkspot community will consist of a handful of diehard Peterson fans who’ll pay the subscription fee just for the atmosphere of an exclusive fanclub (it’s exclusive because casuals and non-fans wouldn’t bother to join, natch). Eventually, most of them will leave, either because the novelty wears off or because their account was mass-downvoted over some petty disagreement.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Jackson: If you’re interested in the history of computing and the development of programming languages, there’s a few books I can recommend. There’s Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine (which IIRC won Kidder the Pulitzer Prize) about the development of a new Data General minicomputer (i.e., the machines that filled the power slot between the original mainframes and the newer microcomputers), and Steven Levy’s Hackers which focuses on 3 episodes in IT history: the original hackers at MIT and Stanford in the 50s and 60s; the first microcomputer start-ups in Silicon Valley in the 70s; and the nascent video game industry in the 80s (if games are your thing, there’s also David Sheff’s Game Over about how an obscure Japanese manufacturer of playing cards called Nintendo became a games giant). Finally, there’s Georgina Ferry’s A Computer Called LEO which describes the development of the Lyons Electronic Office, arguably the first application of computers to business rather than military uses. Lyons were a chain of teashops in Britain who, at the prompting of a particularly far-sighted member of their staff in the 50s, hired away a bunch of Cambridge mathematicians (there being no “computer scientists” as of yet) to build a computer for them for payroll and inventory management. It’s a rather unusual tale when you consider that, at the time, the US was building computers to model things like fallout from nuclear explosions, whereas the UK was using them to make sure tea and cakes were delivered on time to cafes! 🙂

Another good read is British computer scientist Tony Hoare’s Turing Award acceptance speech (which you can find online) about his experiences building an Algol compiler and the distress at trying to implement a spec that grew with every revision (the first version of Algol, Algol 60, was an extremely elegant and very influential language but deficient in some areas, which lead to implementers adding their own extensions that defeated the purpose of having a standard in the first place. The attempt to build its successor, Algol 68, fell into what Fred Brooks¹ later called “the second system effect”; that is, where the standards committee fell into a “this time, we’re gonna do it right!” mindset that pretty much buried the language under an avalanche of unnecessary features, to the point where actually producing a full implementation of the language became next to impossible. A cautionary tale that’s still not fully appreciated).

¹ Brooks himself wrote the influential Mythical Man Month which is also a great read on how big software projects can go off the rails, though a lot of people (myself probably included) reckon it’s one of the “most read, least heeded” books on software development. ☹️

Sheila Crosby
1 year ago

It’s 17 years since I left IT and this thread is giving me reminiscent chills. Like the meeting where we were trying to decide a standard for variable names. Should they be CamelCase or use_underscores? After the first 10 minutes I said I thought consistancy would be good but it didn’t much matter which one. There were agreeing noises from most of the people present.
The argument went on for another hour or so, with about 3 people on each side (there were maybe 40 of us in the room). I don’t remember what was decided because I’d lost the will to live by then.

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Cat Mara
Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve actually heard of Hackers, so I think I’ll check it out. It sounds quite interesting!

Jackson Ayres
Jackson Ayres
1 year ago

@Sheila Crosby

camelCaseIOrDea-

Ahem, excuse me. I know what you mean, I’ve seen a lot of dumb arguments even in my relatively brief time involved in CS. Everybody seems to to have their own unique opinion about how the project should be done and can’t imagine the possibility of a compromise. I’ve done personal projects on my own for years, and I didn’t do team projects with anybody except my father (who taught programming to me when I was younger) until I got to college. A lot of the team projects I’ve had to do there have been like herding cats (my favorite expression) to try to get everybody to coordinate and cooperate, and some people aren’t willing to event contribute to a project if it’s not done exactly the way they want.

See also:
The argument between CamelCase and camelCase

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Jackson:

See also:
The argument between CamelCase and camelCase

The version with the initial capital is sometimes called “Pascal case” as it was popularised in that language.

The following names are common, though the last two are kind of rare:

PascalCase

camelCase

snake_case

kebab-case (very few languages use this as most would interpret the hyphen as a minus sign; the only ones I know that use it are the Lisp family of languages and Microsoft’s PowerShell)

And, of course, the latter two can come in all lowercase, all UPPERCASE, or Initial Capital varieties. Standards, they’re great! 😉

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
1 year ago

Hello Mammotheers!

I just thought I’d mention something that perhaps illustrates the importance of this site.

I’m up in London at the moment. I’m doing a course at the Bar Council. As part of that we had an exam. One question was about the clients with vulnerabilities. It referred to the Bar Standards Board Handbook (basically our rulebook) and some reports the BSB has produced. It asked us to comment on what we thought might be “less common” vulnerabilities.

But anyway, in the feedback session I brought up some points I’ve learned from people here; and that I put in my answer. The main issue was, were these really ‘less common’ vulnerabilities, or was there a fundamental issue with the under reporting or recognition of ‘invisible’ vulnerabilities etc?

The provoked a bit of a discussion; but the upshot is the BSB and Bar Council are now reviewing their materials to reflect on this point.

So, all our chats here do have a practical effect in the real world; so I thought I’d mention that. Apparently feedback is great. That’s what the BSB person said anyway. Behind the scenes they’re probably adding something in my file next to ‘annoying vegan’.