Nerd Labeling

Ice Cream day and that is actually what is. Air temperature up a bit from yesterday but still below the solid state limit of dihydrogen oxide. So ice cream left outside will still be there.

Needless to say I did not go to park. I did pedal on my stationary bicycle and I am not uplifted by the experience. Although I did have some occasion for mentation.

First, some work [Link] that puts human diddling of the environment back to 6 KYA. So much for GMO being a new thing. Don;t eat any corn, folks, it’s all GMO! And guess what, the ears you buy at the farmer’s market aren’t labeled as such. 

Which gives us several azimuths for thought. One is the murk of absolutism that brings the whole labeling thing into the dark. Almost everything we have been eating for centuries is gene modified. Farmers are notorious practitioners. But is that temporal inertia a valid reason not to label modifications made by evil Capitalists? And more importantly, would it make any difference?

I have already ranted about the pain and torture of other peoples’ lists of the most important xxx of 2015. Since I am a nerd, xxx is most often nerd things. I am not given to pornography like football or mind slavery like celebrities so I just trash any such lists of them. 

But I skimmed one such[Link] to reinforce my aversion of such and it was not disappointing. Journalistic feces! I was particularly taken by one blurp,

“We spilled some electronic ink looking at what it’s like to be a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professional. One of our most active stories all year on social media made the case that workaholism isn’t a valid requirement for advancing in science… nerve hit, anyone? We investigated why beliefs about innate talent may dissuade students from STEM. The message: It’s OK if things are challenging; you don’t take classes in things you’ve already mastered. We also explored the question of underrepresented groups in STEM. What’s going on with sex bias in STEM positions? Where do long, poorly paid postdoc positions leave women who want to start families?”

It struck me that the tirade against long hours is at the root of a lot of this. Especially the themism.

The workaholism isn’t internal. It’s external. When I was an undergrad I got by with about forty hours of effort a week. That left plenty of time for bodily functions and the occasional social activity. But when I got to graduate schule the weekly required hours got closer to eighty. More time with books, more time with homework, more time with research, more time with whatever paid for the privilege. 

Giving up football games and social activities – other than the departmental required ones – was no problem. Sleep and sanitation wasn’t. But I did cut back haircuts to twice annually. Yes, two a year. Usually first thaw and mid-fall. Had to have a full head grown by winter. 

Nothing made you do this, nothing except survival. If you didn’t put in this time, and you weren’t rich or genius – BIG genius – you got dropped. First from your research group/adviser, and then from schule. You weren’t called lazy. Laziness was considered a good trait if it was constructive. No, you were deemed to be insufficiently dedicated. Not called enough? So you had to be dropped. Banned to some high schule to teach the schmuckerate. No graduate degree. No research life. 

As far as I can tell, it’s still that way. Constructive laziness is good; time wasting goof-off is just that, a sign of lack of dedication. Waste of space and time. Waste of resources. Unworthy.

The idea was that you were supposed to like what you were doing well enough to do it all the time, Even when you were asleep. Other things were supposed to be secondary as a maximum.

It ain’t about gender, or ethnicity, or anything social. It’s about dedication. Maybe it’s a hold-over from religionism. But it’s there. And that’s a big factor not acknowledged when we bemoan the lopsided demographics. Except real nerds don’t do that? Only the fake ones? The ones who skate by on insufficient dedications.

Sorta like gene modification?