We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Why I’m an engineer: I decided long long ago that I wanted to avoid any field where the measure of success was a subjective judgement by some authority.

– Samizdata commenter ams, explaining why I am happy I became an engineer (of sorts) even if I was not consciously doing it for that reason at the time.

43 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    A very good point.

    Nick (English Nick) and others, make the same point.

    Objective truth exists – and (AS YET) the left have not destroyed it in engineering and natural science.

    However, the left are starting to attack these areas – for example in academia.

  • Paul Marks

    Warning from some one on the arts side of the “arts or sciences” divide.

    Do not let the left get a foothold in engineering and the natural sciences – do not smile and think their ravings are not important.

    Unless you fight the left (and fight the left with every ounce of your being) they will destroy engineering and the natural sciences – as they have destroyed so much else.

    And they will use their control of the government (and academic and media) bureaucracy to do so.

  • Mr Ed

    The truth, like the living, are inconveniences to and difficult for socialists. They try to get rid of both.

  • llamas

    I quit my studies in the law and concentrated on engineering because (as I often quip) studying law caused me to develop a conscience.



  • NickM

    Am I “English Nick”?

    Whatever. I can honestly state that my studies – physics & astrophysics were not at all PC. Quite how someone might make it so is beyond me. Anyway, the “Wimmin’s Studies” mob would have to learn vector calculus and that is intellectual heavy lifting. Half my bench partners have been female and really nobody seemed to care. I’d be overly idealistic if I said it was an ivory tower quest for the truth. I was once told to disprove something because a Prof in Texas disagreed with my boss and to quote my boss, “He’s a right cunt”. But sex, race, sexual orientation doesn’t come into it. Afterall the only person to have done the Nobel-slam was a woman – Marie Curie.

    The thing is the PC brigade if they really wanted a true level playing field would see a physics or maths department as utopia. It isn’t discussed because it doesn’t matter. I guess they hate that because true equality means the job is done by which I mean their jobs are done and it’s P-45 time.

    Even at (very non-radical) Nottingham University the Faculty of Farts and Shitterature was something else. My mate Nick (Eng Lit) was almost failed on an essay on erotica in Spencer’s “Fairie Queene” because he wrote on heterosexual erotic scenes. Nick should have thought it through. The lecturer who set the task did have a Robert Maplethorpe print of a man with a bullwhip up his fundament.

    He was also offered this gem by the feminist brigade, “writing with a pen is masculine because ‘pen’ sounds a bit like ‘penis’ whereas typing on a computer is feminine because the work gestates on the disk”. I shiteth ye not. I’m pretty good with computer hardware (it is a big chunk of what I do) but trust me I’m no gynaecologist.


    That’s the Harvard Star Classification mnemonic. And guess what? That was done by women! They were lead by the redoubtable Annie Jump Cannon. Sold their pantyhose for scientific immortality. Traitors! They should have composed pomes (not an sp) about their “angry lesbian breasts” or how it is unfair that men don’t menstruate. Well, women don’t get prostate cancer so let’s call it a draw? Whatever. I mean in Annie’s day it was tough for women to get anywhere in academia (to a certain extent she got her break because the men went off to WWI) but that has not been the case for many years.

    Yet I speak too soon…

    One phrase leapt out of the bilge, “formally trained in both science and feminism”.

    That’s pushing the Chandrasekhar limit (the maximum mass for a white dwarf). He was Indian you know. That’s a minority that is. Apart from in India but let’s not let over a billion examples contradict a “felt” truth.

  • Cristina

    When I taught biochemistry at a university (23 years old, a little bit precocious), I was “instructed” to be very careful how to explain the science to my students so that not call into question the evolutionary nature of life. This was not a ban on discussion of creationism because that was outright forbidden. It was a warning on what words to use, how to explain certain topics to the students, and how to answer their questions.
    If they were going to put a muzzle on me anyway, I better devoted my efforts to something that didn’t required intellectual gymnastics. Then, contrary to ams, I turned my attention to some pseudo-sciences (psychology and sociology)
    Note to Paul. This was some 25 years ago. The left got a foothold there already.

  • I became an engineer because I wanted to “get shit done”, as opposed to do something of no tangible value whatsoever.

  • Laird

    OK, I’ll put my ignorance on full display and ask NickM: what is that an acronym for?

  • Regional

    Whinin’ism is a cancer that’s destroying rational debate.

  • NickM

    Laird it is the spectral classes of stars in order of temperature (basically – it is a bit more complicated). It started as alphabetic: A,B,C etc but got shuffled around as more stuff was found out. Bear in mind that it was only around the turn of the Century from 19-20th that our Universe became more than this galaxy.

    It is based on their spectrum. ‘O’ is a blue supergiant. ‘M’ is a cool red dwarf. ‘N’ is obsolete but I like the rhyme. The classes are subdivided from 0-9 (higher the number the cooler) so for instance the star you are most used to is a Class G2V yellow dwarf. We orbit (or technically co-orbit – although perturbed by the moon which get’s us into the circular restricted three body problem and the ‘disturbing function’. So G is temp, 2 is a vernier on temp and V (God knows why) means main sequence which means a kinda settled middle-aged star.

    There are worse places in the Universe. Siloth in Cumbria springs to mind.

    Hope that answers.

  • Alisa

    Nick, whatever happened to your ‘i’s?

  • Alisa

    …and to everyone else’s, come to that…

  • How very odd, has there been an “I” tax imposed?

    Test: “i”

    Yup: lower case “I” is not displaying. How weird

  • Bod

    t’s the hppoz.

  • PeterT

    It just makes it seem like everyone is drunk

  • Alisa

    Don’t look at me, I Is sober :-/

  • Cristina

    “Don’t look at me, I Is sober :-/”


  • Ellen

    There is one inescapable truth in engineering: a bridge cannot be trusted to stay up on partial credit.

  • rxc

    It is insteresting that a local university down here in Florida is putting up ads on the local PBS station about studies in the “STEAM” curriculum. I think that they are trying to insinuate the “Arts” into the “STEM” neighborhood.

    I guess that if you can do feminist studies of glaciers, then why not post-modern studies of structures and electricity? A lot of the progressive movement is involved in demonizing technology – they try to focus on individual elements in the period table and eliminate them from humananity. The entire environmental field has become a polemic about eliminating civilization and returning to a benign, utopian state of “nature”.

    They are already attacking engineering. It is more difficult, but they are trying. And they will likely win, becuase most people do not appreciate how important all that infrastructire is, to their comfortable lifestyle. When the lights go out and they all have to stay at home, shivering in the dark, they will start to get some idea where the progressives want them to end up.

  • OG Plebmore

    You’re not the only ones affected:


  • Laird

    What’s fascInatIng about thIs glItch Is that It’s not just affectIng new posts, but has gone back and eaten all the lower-case “I”s In old posts, too.

    It’s begInnIng to get annoyIng, though. I hope It’s fixed soon.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It’s also InterestIng that our names are appearing with the 9th letter Included, where approprIate.

    Agree re annoyance.

    Suspect hardware or software glitch has caused the ASCII (or whatever) hex code for lIttle-I to be replaced by some code that doesn’t relate to any character in the code/character table. (At least, I assume that’s the basIc method. How it was done back before the dInosaurs took over the Earth, IIRC.) Just because we’re losIng the space where the “I” ought to go.

    Also means It’s only happening when reading the submItted text, not the stuff In the Name, etc., boxes.

    But If It’s a read error, why are old comments & postings also mIsbehaving? Well, If the error were on the output sIde. But then I’d expect the U-names, etc., to be wrong. I did notIce earlIer that “LaIrd” appeared as U-name sans the “I”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh, rxc, do not dIstress yourself. ThIs Is sImply ApplIed Post-Normal Science. You remember, MIke Hulme of the Tyndall Center Is very bIg on P-N ScIence.

    Mr. DelIngpole goes Into It at some length In rather a scathIng commentary at


    I Imagine that in FemInIst ScIence and P-N ScIence, there wIll nevermore be cause for concern re Infrastructure, because In the event of a cataclysm, which GaIa forbId, brIdges will be held up by pIxIe dust and Internet comm will occur In the manner of the old-fashIoned two-tIn-cans-&-a-strIng, with unIcorns’ horns replacIng the tIn cans.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Aha! So we have a bIt more Info. (Not enough though, as what we need Is a byte of Info, unfortunately.)

    Again the dread little “I” is redacted in the comment, but the lInk works, and the lInk translator routine sees the character. So the problem Isn’t on the Input sIde.

    I thInk.

  • Julie near Chicago

    So what the heck is a “shortcode embed”? Bloody ‘eck, I wIsh people wouldn’t use a verb where there should be a noun. “Embed” and “build” and “Install” are all VERBS, not g’d’m NOUNS !


  • Julie near Chicago

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou, Admin! Samizdatistas near and far are much calmed by the return to i-full normality. I think that after all a short snort is called for, rather than the hemlock turn. I shall turn off the gas ring under the water-kettle. :>)

  • Rob Fisher

    That i thing was a bit weird to wake up to. For a while I was convinced I was missing some joke.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes indeed, Rob, quite correct. “Embedment,” or the gerund “embedding.”

    Just as the noun is “building” (also a verb, of course, but legitimately a noun also).

    Just as the noun is “installation,” whereas “installment” is a related noun but not really what is mean when people talk about “an install.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    Of course, “Softcode embed” could also mean “embedded softcode,” I suppose, although it’s a little difficult to say since I have no idea what “softcode” is. It sounds a little like frozen custard, softserve ice-cream in a cone, and a bit like computer instructions (“code”) not too tightly bound by interpretation ruses, so that after mjltiple passes through soe s

  • PeterT

    Ah hah. Clearly socialists hacked the website. The message is ‘there is no i’.

  • Greg

    bomputer hackers are bunts – h/t Pythons!

  • Greg

    Re penetration of the hard sciences by the left, don’t kid yourselves: we are well down that road. The conversation and politics in the faculty lounge are not magically confined to that space. The culture influences what is studied, if not (yet!) how it is studied. Students entering college studies in chemistry, physics, etc are not nearly as well prepared as they were a generation ago, thanks to myriad diversions in primary and secondary education, but they are more “well rounded”.

    Including the Arts and Humanities in a science and engineering education seems like an obvious thing to do: we want scientists and engineers with knowledge of their history and culture and that of the whole world. But we first want excellent scientists and engineers. A tough balance for an educator, but I don’t cut them any slack since we are paying upwards of $50,000 per year (more in many cases) for the better undergraduate institutions in the US. That used to be real money!

  • Mr Ed

    we want scientists and engineers with knowledge of their history and culture and that of the whole world.

    A trifling task when one is looking at the workings of the Universe. Far better that they are self-taught, or if they simply don’t care for literature, they ignore it, as I generally do. But ‘Arts-types’ simply cannot comprehend science, anyone can read a novel or some tale.

    I shall never forget a sister-in-law’s astonishment when I indicated that I conflated certain works of Austen and one of the Brontë sister’s, after gasps of disbelief, my response ‘Well, whatever, it’s women in bonnets, who cares?‘.

  • Alisa

    Well Ed, I dunno who are those ‘arts types’ of which you speak, but as someone who has great appreciation and some understanding of science and technology, I can say that I am a great admirer of Austen (never quite warmed up to Bronte, but that’s just me). There is nothing wrong with being ignorant in whatever area of the many which the human mind has been producing through the entire period of its existence (and that includes arts, literature, science and technology, among other areas that escape my mind at the moment), but I see no reason to take pride in such ignorance either.

  • Mr Ed


    Perhaps you don’t have to put up with the sorts of people who denigrate science so much then? And I think that you fall into error in categorising my approach as ‘pride in ignorance’.

  • Alisa

    And I think that you fall into error in categorising my approach as ‘pride in ignorance’.

    I was hoping I was:-)

    BTW, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the contemporary arts students are no longer being subjected to the writings of those women in bonnets, seeing as the writings of old white males are also gradually falling out of favor – what with the precious snowflakes needing their safe spaces to protect them from those offensive voices from beyond the grave of the patriarchal imperialist society of times past. Just think about this, for example: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The horror!

  • Julie near Chicago

    PeterT: 🙂

  • gongcult

    As long as you’re not a “social engineer” you’re probably contributing to humanity . I dabbled in engineering as an undergrad and found my way in to the humanities. As a professional brewer I now fulfill a need and somewhat provide joy for my fellow humans.Probably more than I could achieve if I finished as a Philosophy prof.

  • Julie near Chicago


    “As long as you’re not a ‘social engineer’ you’re probably contributing to humanity.”

    Indeed. 🙂

  • ams

    I’m glad my quote was salient. 🙂