Audio Of The Week: Ayah Bdeir

I wrote a bit last Monday about the 60 Minutes piece last Sunday night about getting to gender equity in STEM education. My message in that blog post was that there are many innovators in this sector and not everyone will get the credit they are due.

Ayah Bdeir, who was left on the cutting room floor on that 60 Minutes piece, had a different message and one that I understand and appreciate.

Ayah is awesome and I want to shine a light on her and her work and there is no better way to do that than to repost her conversation with The Gotham Gal from last year.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Wow, I just read Ayah’s post explaining what happened. What a shame on 60 minutes for baiting and switching like that, despite their lame excuse about a “change in focus of the segment”, whereas the focus of the episode didn’t seem to really change. I hope they will take notice and respond to Ayah.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Gee, following that Medium rabbit hole, I found, sit down for this one, Venture capitalists, such as Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures, who was an early investor in Twitter, now talk of a “kill-zone” around the giants.at…Uh, that’s part of why don’t want work easy to duplicate or equal!!! If the army of C++ programmers and neural net AI guys at Google can copy something, then it wasn’t very innovative! Instead want, have I mentioned at AVC over 1000 times?, work that is “difficult to duplicate or equal”.Down that rabbit hole, right, get something from Lizzie, right, Fauxcahontas or Elizabeth Warren. Sometimes she looks really nice, sweet, grand motherly. And then she gets up on her hind legs, starts waving her arms, and saying things, nutty, wack-o, nonsense things.That piece starts off with a summary with a river of wack-o but later begins to start to be rational. Then looking at her rationality, she still looks wack-o — doesn’t make a good case.So, looks like she’s doing what all the anti-Trump people are doing: Nuts, wack-o, really out there, nonsense stuff, thrown against the walls to see what sticks, what people are prepared to pay attention to. Problem is, soon the pitcher throws not only their wack-o but their credibility. So, right, long in politics, the stuff that didn’t stick didn’t much matter because the audience quickly forgot. Well, we don’t have to forget now: We have Google, the Wayback Machine, etc., and, for some really bad cases of wack-o, download, read, keep, backup, abstract, and index the stuff. I’ve done that with AOC, not a lot because just her 10 year thingy, get rid of all fossil fuels in 10 years, is enough to establish her total wack-o forever. I won’t check now, but I believe I have much the same on Fauxcahontas, if only her claim of being part Native American Indian.So, supposedly now a biggie problem — note, wack-o ones, I conclude that the other problems are LESS severe — is Amazon Basics, house brand to “compete” with independent, small suppliers. Okay, wack-o ones, in building my server, 8 core AMD FX-8350, etc., I’ve got some of those Basics items. As I look at them, I get the impression that they are the same things as the products from the independent, small suppliers! E.g., some SATA cables, nice things, with little metal clips at each end that snap into place and hold the cable, the last USB mouse I got, a USB keyboard for $11, not very good but much better than the chicklet keyboard that came with the HP laptop in an emergency I rushed out to get, and a few more. Amazon Basics, their house brand, looks good, has some credibility.Yes, one of oh wack-o’s examples is some aluminum laptop holder or some such. Hmm …. When my office chair turned, hit my water glass, and put water on the keyboard of my HP laptop thus killing off several keys, STILL not dried out, I got out the little Amazon Basics $11 keyboard I got with their mouse, plugged it into a USB socket on the HP, and, yup, presto, bingo, it worked! But, the position was awful! So, I used some cardboard to make a holder. After two of those didn’t work very well, I held an old shoe box in my lap. … Finally I took a big sheet of cardboard, took some measurements, got out some cyanoacrylate instant glue, and made a little cardboard keyboard holder that fits OVER the keys on the HP and TILTS! Works great — I get to keep the laptop on my DESKTOP where I can SEE and NOT my lap where I can’t, and get an okay keyboard that TILTS so that I can see the keys. Now if Amazon would get back to WHITE keyboards so that I could SEE BETTER, I’d be a LOT happier. But soon it won’t much matter because I will be using my AMD computer with its keyboard, all my fingers are well programmed for, WHITE, with MUCH better key feel, with, right, a PS/2 plug. Lesson: Oh wack-o one, making a keyboard holder is not so tough and nothing for you to get up on your hind legs about.Then oh wack-o one, who the heck do you believe makes these Amazon Basics house brand items? Or for a hint, when, for my little pizza recipe, I buy a 25 pound bag of bread and pizza flour, Makers Mark house brand at Sam’s, who the heck do you believe planted the wheat, …, milled and bagged the flour? Sam’s? Of course not! You really believe that Amazon is making SATA cables, keyboards, and laser optical mice? Of COURSE not: Instead Amazon goes to the little independent vendor and asks for a deal — the little guy gets much more volume, maybe lower margin per unit, much more revenue and earnings, and much less in marketing and retail vending expense.Oh wack-o one, house brands have been done this way by Sears, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sam’s, large retailers, going way back there. Uh, I get gasoline from my local Stewart’s convenience store — GREAT milk and ice cream, fun local place to be. I doubt that Stewart’s drills for oil, refines gasoline, or operates 18 wheel trucks to deliver gasoline. Instead, their gasoline is their house brand. And what about oil, transmission fluid, air filters, spark plugs, etc., from, say, NAPA at my local auto parts store?So, now, suddenly, wack-o one wants to tell me that suddenly for Amazon to do some house branding is a biggie, a threat to the US economy, etc.Well, since we can assume that wack-o one picked the most serious problem, house branding, she could find with Amazon and, really all of her targets, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Fauxcahontas has given these large companies a very clean bill of health.For all the outrageous, anxiety driven, hysterical, OCD, poorly supported, at worst trivial, irrational, wack-o one, REALLY irritating noise, there is a potentially important upside: We can suspect that for a good fraction of any significant REAL problems, but, sadly only for a fraction not nearly 100%, oh wack-o one and her gossip circle will let us know with fervent passion. So, Bethy is our somewhat effective canary in the government coal mine. Of course, like a smoke alarm — and nearly any anomaly detector — that got stuck and won’t turn off, we tend to ignore it and finally just to disable the thing.So, what DOES oh wack-o one want???? How about VOTES and then political power. With that power she will be going like some maniacal John Belushi Samurai Tailor swinging her terrible swift sword (awful alliteration) at everything she can find, large or small, in US business leaving a path of destruction like that of Sherman through Georgia. No more sweet grandmother.Oh, Lizzie sweetie, here’s a little macro economic business lesson for you: Amazon has one heck of a good Web site. Can you find — I can’t — a good reason Wal-Mart/Sam’s, Sears, any large retailer, or, indeed, any large manufacturer, couldn’t do a comparatively good Web site? And for the back end part, Wal-Mart/Sam’s has lots contacts with vendors, importers, manufacturers, trucks, and warehouses. And Wal-Mart/Sam’s have something that, really, Bezos can NOT easily have — in-store pharmacies. Or, Bezos is giving the Walton family a wakeup call — get your darned Web site up to snuff. Lizzie, honey, that’s what we want, COMPETITION, to get companies to do BETTER. Lesson: Don’t slap down Bezos for doing better — take a trip to Arkansas and tell the Waltons to WAKE UP.Lizzie, honey, why don’t you do something much, Much, MUCH better for the country: Just retire! Or still better, dote over your grandchildren. Or do still better, draw on the enormous educational resources of Massachusetts and direct some really good home schooling for the kids. Or still better, how ’bout working up really the world’s best recipe for cinnamon rolls? Then sticky buns? Then Sacher Torten? Not joking.Or Lizzie is giving the US a lesson in fourth grade civics — showing everyone just obvious political nonsense to be voted down, how little credibility such political stuff thrown at the walls deserves, how bad the nonsense is, and how important it is to vote the stuff down or at least ignore it. Similarly for the newsies. Similarly for the special interests who push politicians and newsies to put out wack-o. Similarly to teach the basic lessons: Always look for the hidden agenda. Follow the money. Look at who has strong motives. For information, insist on at least common high school term paper writing standards with thorough support from careful references to solid, objective, primary sources. And, look for comprehensive data, global averages and distributions, and mostly ignore anecdotal evidence. And more, e.g., for candidate causes, look for at least good cross tabulation. For more, for measures look at least for reliability and validity. And for estimates, look for some confidence intervals. Then for proposed improvements, want at least some macro economic simulations. Lizzie, honey, that’s just obvious, first cut stuff. For more, look at the D. Bertsekas (from MIT) lecture I described recently at AVC.Lizzie, honey, sticky buns are MUCH easier, and your grandchildren MUCH more fun. Sweetheart, do all of us a favor — stay the heck OUT of US national politics. Else, in a good school, by about the fourth grade, your grandchildren will be humiliated and embarrassed to have you as their grandmother.

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      2. jason wright

        Footnote. I know not that much about Lizzie. I do remember her DNA test. Anyone advocating clipping the wings of the tech incumbents gets my approval. Leaving it to the market is an abdication of responsibility. Standard Oil, Bell, et.c., the precedent has long since been set.P.S. it’s all attention seeking, and collectively we have a short span of attention.

  2. Donna Brewington White

    After listening to this interview, even more respect for littleBits and the work Ayah is doing. Impressed with her thoughts on learning in general. I wish this company much continued success.The 60 Minutes team’s decision was ironic.