Posts by Amy Gale

  • Speaker: Land of the brave little kids, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    The most important drivers of their excellence in that area are (1) population size, leading to specialisation; and (2) country-level affluence, leading to purchasing the best talent.

    I think there is a third important driver, and it also applies to other areas (eg education): massive, massive inequality allows elite institutions to exist at one end of the spectrum, balanced by some truly terrible (or even nonexistent) provision at the other and weighted by a whole lot of quite-often-adequate-but... in the middle. The opportunities we get by going to the US for school or medical care or whatever all else are available because we are accessing the top end of this inequality spectrum. It's a profoundly uncomfortable realization, and so it should be.

    I'm not sure that it's precisely the case that the situation wouldn't be different in a single payer system. It's more that its entrenchment acts against any transition to single payer being possible.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Women, science and superheroes, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    One thing I can see going on is that the 'apprenticeship' phase for life sciences seems to drag out WAY the hell longer than it does for some others. My friends in areas like pharmacology did multiple long postdocs apiece as a necessary prerequisite to proceeding in academia. My CS friends only did postdocs if they actually wanted to (or were in a two-body holding pattern waiting for the second body to finish, which I guess is a form of wanting to).

    If we frame this in the context of the current discussion: [some of] the sciences where women are participating at or even over a 50-50 ratio have more barriers to participating at the professional academic level; [some of] the sciences where women have relatively low participation rates have fewer barriers.
    Maybe the best we can hope for is that the prolonged agony is purely numerically motivated.

    (more tables than you could possibly want at

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Women, science and superheroes,

    I think internships and treatment of interns depend heavily on the industry as well as the country.

    I’ve never met anyone who has done an unpaid science/tech internship in the US, and don’t really ever expect to. It’s much more typical to work for a summer at a reasonable pay rate, have a bit of money left over from your expenses – for some people I know, this was enough for a new car! – and then after you graduate have an extra bit of foot in the door if you hope to be hired full time. This is not the same as a hiring guarantee, but nor should it be. Not all interns turn out to be any good.

    On the other hand, industries like publishing seem to have unpaid intern labor built into their business model, which is clearly despicable.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Women, science and superheroes,

    I really like the way the Tech Girls Are Superheroes bios show people whose lives and interests combine arts and sciences. This seems like a big improvement over the old-school posters and book sections that seemed to suggest that if you Did Science then that was all you did (except for general life maintenance things like eating and sleeping and mowing the lawn, presumably).

    Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not how everyone is.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to izogi,

    Is this very different from voting locally?

    I would say it’s more strict than voting locally, where the standard interaction has you providing your name and electoral workers believing you, and even the catch situation outlined above does not require third-party verification.

    I was also amused at the implied equivalence between the classes of acceptable witness.

    ETA: if you vote from overseas you sign a "special declaration", which I suppose is equivalent to the “require the questions to be answered in writing signed by the person to whom they are put” bit of S166.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    Yeah I mailed mine and the ID requirements amounted to "have someone trustworthy agree that you're you, and by 'trustworthy' we mean an official, a New Zealander, or someone who knows you".

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Jetting back for a couple of weeks for a family Christmas or wedding doesn’t really cut it.

    I'm sure you don't mean that to come off as dismissive as it does. "A couple of weeks" is all the time off most of us get, "a family Christmas or wedding" is desperately precious, and "[j]etting back" will eat a huge portion of most people's disposable income.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    One thing about the three year rule is that it favors the wealthy. That is, given two equally-connected people living in the same place overseas, the one with more money is more likely to be able to make the necessary trips back to NZ.

    Two ideas, one maybe-possible and one not at all so (but highly attractive from where I'm sitting):

    Idea 1: You can vote in NZ if you're not voting somewhere else.

    Idea 2: A trip-to-NZ version of the volunteers who pick you up and give you a ride to the polling place.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Privacy and the Public Interest, in reply to DeepRed,

    I’m keen to learn, and I seem to learn best at my own pace or on the job. But the old job-experience catch-22 continues to raise its ugly head. I’d be the ideal candidate for an ICT apprenticeship if they ever get implemented.

    One option for gaining tech writing experience at your own pace is to join an open source project and contribute documentation. I can't guarantee that all employers will count this as 'experience', but some definitely do[*], and will in fact look extra-favorably on it as showing initiative/commitment/etc.

    Be warned, though, that some (not all) technical writing positions[**] and many (probably not all?) testing positions do involve nontrivial amounts of coding.

    [*] source: have been involved in hiring people whose experience was gained through open source work.

    [**] source: am technical writer.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Oh, God,

    I had 2 years of hour-a-week RE in my state primary school, both taught by local ministers.

    I don't remember anything about one of them, but my recollection of the other is that we spent the entire year learning to sing Lord Of The Dance, never quite seeming to reach the standard our instructor hoped for. At one point he even brought in a tape of other kids singing to inspire us to greater heights.

    I've always filed this mentally under "adults are weird", but it now occurs to me for the first time that maybe he was being quietly subversive in his own way. Still weird, though.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 461 posts Report Reply

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