thegraywolff

A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

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James Damore, Google, and free speech

Given what (little) I know about the James Damore story, there seem to be more important issues in the world: potential nuclear war, exploitation of workers, burgeoning nationalism and racism, physical aggression against women, wanton destruction of the environment, etc.

The firing of James Damore falls perfectly in line with the effective dismissal of the Christakis couple at Yale and the uproar at and subsequent resignation of Larry Summers over his comments about women in science [2] (overshadowing his dubious handling of the “Shleifer affair” [3]). Perhaps one could argue that this pattern of squelching alternative (even unappealing) viewpoints is serious enough to merit a spot on the top-issues list.

People in general, and Americans in particular, have never struck me as particularly skillful at distinguishing between hate speech and speech they hate. In America, liberals are often faulted as the main culprits of de facto censorship, but I don’t think self-labeled conservatives do a great job encouraging, accepting, or even tolerating alternative viewpoints. (Look at how conservative politicians talk over people beginning to express a different point of view.)

The most interesting excerpt from Mr. Damore’s document comes from the “Background” on page 2, where he writes (emphasis is mine)

open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow

How many of us embrace or go out of our way to engage in such discussions (growth opportunities?).

A letter by James Damore addressing his firing appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Also worth reading is the BBC article by Angela Saini titled “What Google engineer James Damore got wrong“.

Let’s end this post with a healthy dose of humor, grâce à Bill Maher. Caveat lector: This linked video ends with commentary by “Secular Talk” with some, ahem, “lazy diction” of the four-letter variety.

Read — 2016/05/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Timothy Reckart: animating features for more than just the kiddos“, by Libby Coleman (Ozy). A diligent stop-motion animator earns a well-deserved position. Be sure to check out the embedded film.
  2. The Oscar acceptance speech: by and large, it’s a lost art“, by Sharon Waxman (Washington Post, 1999 Mar 21). The excerpts at the end of the article under “Funny” are, well, funny.
  3. Donald Trump’s cunning plan“, by Buttonwood (The Economist). Speculative suggestion #4 is the mathematician’s way! Oh wait — it yields an internal contradiction…

Read — 2016/05/15

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Gisele Inc.“, by Guy Trebay (NY Times). Indomitable grit, infinite energy, grubstake and contact sheets.
  2. Jennifer Lawrence in the boudoir-inspired dress“, by Edward Barsamian (Vogue). Mlle Lawrence turns a few heads from Cannes.

Read — 2016/05/11

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Obama’s visit raises ghosts of Hiroshima“, by David E. Sanger (NY Times). In the prelude to Obama’s visit on 27 May to the site where the first atomic bomb was detonated on 6 August 1945, thoughtful souls still grapple with whether dropping the bomb in Hiroshima was necessary, the reality of Japan’s “war machine”, and a world without survivors American or Japanese.
  2. Pentagon Papers charges are dismissed“, by Martin Arnold (NY Times, 1973). You may also know Daniel Ellsberg in relation to the Ellsberg paradox from decision theory.
  3. Omega-3 content of frequently consumed seafood products” (Seafood Health Facts). How fat is your fish?

Math — 2015/06/04

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The first year of ‘On teaching and learning mathematics’“, by Benjamin Braun (AMS Blogs). A retrospective of articles appearing in the column.
  2. The first two years of college mathematics: reflections and highlights from the CBMS forum“, by Diana White (AMS Blogs, 2014-11-01).
  3. Mathematics professors and mathematics majors’ expectations of lectures in advanced mathematics“, by Keith Weber (AMS Blogs, 2015-02-10).
  4. A call for more context“, by Art Duval (AMS Blogs, 2014-09-10). Professors’ “war stories” make a field come alive and engage students.
  5. Sums and integrals: the Swiss analysis knife“, by Bill Casselman (AMS).

Investing — 2015/02/28

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. energy-oil: “Get ready for $10 oil“, by A. Gary Shilling (Bloomberg View).
  2. HPQ: “H-P’s stock is no 2-for-1 bargain“, by Dan Gallagher (Wall Street Journal). An article advising cautious buy-in in the wake of H-P’s recent plunge.
  3. GOOG: “Astro Teller, Google’s ‘Captain of Moonshots’, on making profits at Google X“, by Conor Dougherty (NY Times).
  4. TSLA: “Elon Musk is designing a Tesla battery to power your home“, by John McDuling (Quartz).
  5. TSLA: “Analyst: The bullish case for Tesla has been debunked“, by Matthew Debord (Business Insider). BoA Merrill Lynch analyst John Lovallo cuts his target price for TSLA to $65 per share, claiming a drop in demand. You can follow the numbers at Inside EVs (note that Tesla’s monthly figures are estimates, as the company only releases quarterly delivery numbers).

Read — 2014/10/20

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The 30 best Tokyo Fashion Week street style looks” (Vogue).

Read — 2014/06/09

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. In Pitching Veggies to Kids, Less Is More“, by Matt Richtel (NY Times).
  2. China’s Central Bank Prevails in Policy Battles over Economic Future“, by Lingling Wei & Bob Davis (Wall Street Journal).