I Was Near That When it Happened

I like talking to Chinese friends about how my mom and I, while enroute to America, arrived in Beijing of 1989 China–on June 4th. On the final approach, the train rolled into the capital station over a bridge. We saw the streets below have been flipped, exposing red bricks that lay at its foundation. At the next intersection, a military Jeep was burning in the middle of the streets. You cannot imagine the excitement this is for a 11 year-old boy, seeing machine guns and flying helicopters for the first time in his life.

Flash forward thirty years, in 2019, I read this story about Eleanor and Manuel Blum resigning from CMU SCS. Honestly, her story of how she was forced to leave the department is a terrible experience. Sexism in work place is like all other forms of discrimination and should be abolished at all cost.

I actually saw a little bit of professor Blum’s work women@scs in 2001 when I stayed an extra semester to complete my degrees. In 1996, when I was freshmen, there were 3 girls admitted to CS undergrad program out of 100 freshmen’s. This ratio improved to 50% in 2001. Her work continued strongly. In 2018, my alumni relations representative contacted me and talked to me a lot about how CMU can do better to place its graduates in Silicon Valley tech companies or to start one. He wondered if there were internship channel opportunities I can help to arrange. I mentioned to him that perhaps the best channel will be through the company’s diversity program.

This isn’t a reflection on the mystery that is the hiring process at my then employer. But to be sure, that felt like the most clearly defined entrance to tech at that company. If a minority–nay, if a economically disadvantaged minority, a girl, was interested and demonstrated motivation and could work hard, she is likely to be accepted through diversity program. This is not true for all red or blue blooded Americans. (Imho)

But shortly after those exchanges, things slowed down, and I now understand that professor Manuel has left the school.

Honestly, I’m 2001, I really did find the admittance of all those girls very annoying. Half of the free t-shirts are no longer my size. My 2001 self is your typical Asian nerd, showered once a week, glasses smeared beyond recognition, played games and read papers for fun, the rest of the time spent on meditation. The girls were your prototypical nerdy girl. So, in short, it was not an improvement on my social life at all.

But selfish reasons aside, there is this matter that men, too, need to feel the same kind of hope. Consider an aspiring male applicant to CMU in the fall of 2000. He had to compete against some number of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of applicants to gain admittance to CMU SCS. Now he has to beat out more applicants for half of the quota. This is a major shift in life for males of our affliction(addiction to computer stuff). It is for a just cause, just a little sudden for that male applicant.

What was described in the article seems like normal office politics. Some people had an agenda for the project and it somehow materialized in all male team. You should see, as a spectator, all Female teams I had to work with. There are of course a lot of really working organizations out there run by female majority executive teams. Gender of the team doesn’t matter.

Employment and admission fairness is important. The theory is that students and new recruits for a job are kind of new at it, they should not be expected to compete with older and more experienced people. Society gives them a chance to learn and grow into functioning organs. More full contact and strenuous competition begins after graduation.

To this end, I think schools should have some balancing affirmative action throughout the school. It cannot require a team to have any male or female participants–in the real world there isn’t any such rules. It should certainly strenuously encourage healthy culture and gender composition, but it should not force it. (It being CMU SCS, someone could probably come up with a taxonomy of minorities, and an algorithm for rewarding teams so as to produce some desired effects on the minorities. It seems pretty straight forward to do something better algorithmically than the affirmative actions we have right now. For example, three optimizing metrics are income of first job, career progress after 5-years(including academic careers), and successful entrepreneurship. So one idea is to target equal new-grad pay and achieve equal 5-year advancement(promotions) for all graduates. Entrepreneurship can be measured using funding or revenue and attributed to founders. Efforts (such as special scholarships and special attention by faculty) can be tracked over some decades to see what works and what doesn’t). The school can officially measure stuff that matter and make good stuff happen–for everyone.)

My experience at CMU is certainly that it is a utopia of academics. Work, study, projects, everything is well thought through by a lot of smart people and everything just works. But this resignation certainly is a dose of reality for students–we live in the real world and it takes a lot to survive, and even more to prosper, no matter gender, race, mission or afflictions.

S2E12

Trying to write something down because there’s a time warp in my living room and I went through that episode so fast, it’s like I didn’t watch it.

I wonder if the drama in the show might have desensitized me somewhat to drama. Pike’s flash forward is horrifying, and rarely do they show hero’s fear, working up and pumping himself up to face certain tragedy. Maybe the way they expressed these are more subtle, a hero’s internal struggles are not projected into first person visions. And then camera jumps out of that first person to see his struggles. Its… definitely new way to do it… maybe the fear that this actor portraits is more real than past acting that it is too real for comfort? The hero’s hesitation, palpable, and lingers like an onion from lunch.

Anyways, is this a thing that movies do that they make actors say lines that has meaning in the context of their acting in the show? Pike says something about “nice to know that we all still have a part to play” when the internet says he’s gone after s2.

Let’s see, the action scene involving the nanobots are less than thrilling, in this respect the show kind of lost some steam.

I think the most well delivered and most understandable and touching scene was Tig trying to give doc some advise on relationship… I don’t know what it is about this actress or her role in the story, but it all kind of seem to make sense. It’s like what ever she says it kind of sounds real and the speech kind of lingers and makes sense after she says it. Why is it that the same is not true for most things pike or Spock says? Like when Picard said something, or when Janeway, or even 7-9 says something, that all has similar weight, like that time thing, the delivery kind of pulls you back in time to re-experience it over and over, as needed.

Idk, maybe I’m in a strange place in my own life. My brain maybe does not want to spare the cycles to entertain the show prioritizing other thoughts.

The Trek theme does not carry the show imho. Which is fine, personal struggles and uncertainties, dangers of technology, dangers of space travel, conflict of culture, these other things are fine too.

Think back to when the borg is bearing down on sector 0-0-1… it was clearly a truly menacing danger. But there’s something about the way it’s done that enables me to savored that excitement…. trumpets blasting… timpani bumping… staccatisimo couplets Or triplets followed by a long held blaring brass note. Idk, maybe I’m just more used to these styling use to produce these effects in the 90’s. But meanwhile the world has moved on to hypnotic lights flaring at cameras, as a new way to convey the same effect? It might still be an age thing. My body and brain is really not able to keep up with the yanks and jerks of the show. My adrenaline isn’t pumping fast enough to reach my brain, when the scene moves on.

But honestly, this may be a generational thing too. I still find TOS Trek to be incredibly slow… they move so slowly that Kirk can spend a good 500ms swaggering before sitting down at his chair. Picard is probably down to 200ms-ish, and pike? I’m not sure. In the TOS days…. maybe photography was still new, the show spends a lot of time admiring faces and body postures. A scene of one person looking at another, can flash back and forth between the looker and subject quite a few times. One example, a scene that Discovery does draw me back to, number one eating her burger. Like, there’s genuine admiration for a happy number one at her meal table having satiated her Captain and found her hot sauce. Like, when I see that, I felt that happy upbeat humanity will workout Trek theme. Idky, it just does, and it bothers me a little why idky. But anyways, these moments of optimism in discovery are rare and far in between like class-m planets.

… eager to see how they wrap up this big mess. The endeavor is noble and necessary, even if I dislike the presentation.

Ps ahh, so number one is happy and content. I guess that is a very indicative feature of human triumph, is that they are happy. But that’s okay too. People in TNG are happier than those in TOS or DSC because they’ve had another century and half to work out the kinks of life and technologies–the same way we are happier than our ancestors living in 1919…

P.ps the son of none has a headwear like Those work by Minbari on Babylon 5. Also the personal suffering of flesh and spirit reminds me of Dr. Who’s adventures. Personal hatred or love is often stretched to previously unimagined heights in that universe–things like Rory guarding over Amy’s body for two centuries, or the doctor materializing, surviving and dying to the thought of Clara for billions of years… Trek, however, obviously, does not dwell on these excesses of emotion–There is more Vulcan in Trek than we’d like to believe. The hero is not in the individual characters but more about the collective characters of this humanity inoculated Petri dish known as a starship, where the good of many outweigh the good of the few…

P.p.p.s there is but one wish, that there might be a little bit more people like me, and by that I mean it would be great to see more displays of success by people who look like Asian-Americans of the 21st century Earth, prime universe and timeline.