Revelations of Sexism

As kid that grew up having to defend my sex for being “not as good in science and math”, or just simply “not as smart” as the opposite sex, it has gotten so clear lately that the education system (at least the one I was under) is/has been sexist to the core. I’m pretty mad that our books had a bias. How else would I explain the fact that I learned of so many men that won the Nobel prize or were mathematiciains, for so many different things, yet I never learned about the likes of Rosalind Franklin or Dorothy Hogkin?
1. Chronological list of women mathematician
2. Dorothy Hodgkin page
3. Rosalind Franklin page
Women can do science. They can do math. They can be stay-at-home moms if the want too. They can do anything they put their minds to just as men can.
And to close with a quote from Rita: she says that the women that changed the world never needed to show anyone anything expect for their intelligence. On a second thought I’m not sure what she means, but she’s a boss (LOOK HER UP!) so, I’ll just leave this here 🙂

Morality, technology and human nature

“(…) scientific and technical work routinely implicates politics. (…) Technological ideas and technological things are not politically neutral: routinely, they have strong, built-in tendencies.”

Isn’t it fascinating that even when we think we’ve escaped things like “politics”, “power struggles”, we haven’t really? The reason I liked science for so long, the reason I wanted to bury my face and head in it, was so I didn’t have to deal with the very imperfect human world that is shaped and pushed back and forth by human vice: pride, greed, envy to pure destructive desires. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, heck, these bad things are everywhere. Even in the idealist and vice-fighter myself!

Not only are these found in all humans, they can also permeate everything we do, be it science, technology or philosophy. That was a sad realization for me, really.

From my earliest days I had a passion for science. But science, the exercise of the supreme power of the human intellect, was always linked in my mind with benefit to people. I saw science as being in harmony with humanity. I did not imagine that the second half of my life would be spent on efforts to avert a mortal danger to humanity created by science. (Rotblat, Nobel Peace Prize speech)

As I conclude with this argument, I want to get back to the first quote of “strong, built-in tendencies”. It is theses tendencies we have, that we transmit to our inventions, our ideologies, our thoughts, our actions. Even our science and technology. It convinces me more and more. We have a great affect on the things we do as broken people.

It convinces me in a way, though this might be somewhat of a leap, of the nature of science and technological advances: a nature that is not objective, but highly subjective and with dubious intentions behind it.

Anyways, the main reason I started even talking about this is because of a paper I had to read. Funny story about my encounter with this paper: I saved it in my to-read list during IAP/winter holiday (it was sent out to my school’s CS lab mailing list). As life got busy I did not manage to read it. Then as I take two classes this semester, they both require me to read this paper. Of course, it was a win-win moment for me 😀

The paper I’m quoting is this fascinating one from Phillip Rogaway: The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work.  You can find the link for it here.

More about the paper: It has some great advice on how as a cryptographer one should view his work. Less of being only interested in the technical work and more awareness in the ethics and effects your work has. Which is a great lessor for all of us.



Compassion, empathy, positive bias and the Pollyanna effect

I have been thinking about this lately. How do we go about living? It’s definitely nicer (I believe) to be pollyanesque and put a silver lining on everything. It makes you feel happier, and sure it might not be true all the time, but then you can focus on other things rather than be wallowed up in your misery. Right? It also helps you be more thankful, and being thankful is seriously very good for you. Then there is the other side of the coin, people that say putting the silver lining on things does not help, but diminishes one’s experience (be it your own or others’). People that view Pollyanas as being fake and suspicious, annoying even. It is better to be empathetic, not sympathetic they say. There seem to be tension between the two mindsets, yet one is exhausting and the other is, in the short run at least, fulfilling and helpful. What’s the point of being vulnerable and letting your own darkness come once again so you can relate with someone else’s? Aren’t you better off with a strong foot on the green grass as you’re trying to help someone that is in the dark pits? Is it not possible to show someone you care despite not sharing their feelings, or commiserating with them? Maybe this is biased, but in perspective, it’s been more helpful to be around people that I felt did not understand me at the moment, but that eventually shook me off the darkness I was in. Except for times when I was not ready to leave the darkness and then it felt somewhat violating to be pulled out of it… How do we live and be thankful and mindful of every small thing? Isn’t Pollyanna (positive bias) more like the way to go about life than the other approach? (maybe not Pollyanna but a sort of hybrid-Pollyanna is closer to the answer?)


  4. The video on empathy and sympathy:


South Albania


This is my first time taking a stab at writing a poetry in Spanish, so here it goes (it’s an assignment for a class):

Vienes en mi pecho, como un traicionero
Sé que no eres bueno para mí
Pero quizás es mi maldito destino ser junto a ti
País, país, país, país ridículo
No, ridículo es el amor que siento por ti
Ridículo es que no puedo olvidar
Ridículo es que no puedes alcanzar

Mentiras, ya te he olvidado tantas veces
Mentiras, son lo que me enseñaron de ti

No, no todo fue mentira, no
pero aun así
Ya no sé qué hacer por ti
Ya no sé cómo debería amar-a-ti
Ya no sé si debería preocuparme de ti

Pero, qué hay de mí?
Si no hay amor
Si no hay amor siquiera por ti?
Y si entregase mi cuerpo para ser quemado,
Que hay de mi si no hay amor por ti?
Y que hay de ti, si matas el amor de tus colibrís
Que hay de ti, si niegas el amor del unico salvador,
Que hay de ti?

“Dichosos son los que lloran
Porque serán consolados”


Loneliness and awesome post I found online

I’m dealing really well with being lonely right now, to be honest. I kind of like it 🙂

Being alone, having my own space to think and do whatever I feel like doing. I like this! I like my room too, mainly because it facilitates this new interest of mine on solitude.

Yeah. And an incredible post I found yesterday: