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Archive for September 10th, 2015

Female In top tech industry in Mad Men era?

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Patsy Z shared this link TED

“You can always tell ambitious women by the shape of our heads. They’re flat on top from being patted patronizingly.”

In the 1960s, Stephanie Shirley founded a pioneering all-woman software company.
t.ted.com|By Dame Stephanie Shirley

When I wrote my memoir, the publishers were really confused.

Was it about me as a child refugee, or as a woman who set up a high-tech software company back in the 1960s, one that went public and eventually employed over 8,500 people?

Or was it as a mother of an autistic child?

Or as a philanthropist that’s now given away serious money?

It turns out, I’m all of these. So let me tell you my story.

0:50 All that I am stems from when I got onto a train in Vienna, part of the Kindertransport that saved nearly 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe.

I was 5 years old, clutching the hand of my 9-year-old sister and had very little idea as to what was going on. “What is England and why am I going there?”

I’m only alive because so long ago, I was helped by generous strangers. I was lucky, and doubly lucky to be later reunited with my birth parents.

But, sadly, I never bonded with them again. But I’ve done more in the seven decades since that miserable day when my mother put me on the train than I would ever have dreamed possible.

And I love England, my adopted country, with a passion that perhaps only someone who has lost their human rights can feel. I decided to make mine a life that was worth saving. And then, I just got on with it. 

Let me take you back to the early 1960s. To get past the gender issues of the time, I set up my own software house at one of the first such start-ups in Britain.

But it was also a company of women, a company for women, an early social business.

And people laughed at the very idea because software, at that time, was given away free with hardware. Nobody would buy software, certainly not from a woman.

Although women were then coming out of the universities with decent degrees, there was a glass ceiling to our progress. And I’d hit that glass ceiling too often, and I wanted opportunities for women.

I recruited professionally qualified women who’d left the industry on marriage, or when their first child was expected and structured them into a home-working organization.

We pioneered the concept of women going back into the workforce after a career break.

We pioneered all sorts of new, flexible work methods: job shares, profit-sharing, and eventually, co-ownership when I took a quarter of the company into the hands of the staff at no cost to anyone but me.

For years, I was the first woman this, or the only woman that. And in those days, I couldn’t work on the stock exchange, I couldn’t drive a bus or fly an airplane.

Indeed, I couldn’t open a bank account without my husband’s permission. My generation of women fought the battles for the right to work and the right for equal pay.

Nobody really expected much from people at work or in society because all the expectations then were about home and family responsibilities.

And I couldn’t really face that, so I started to challenge the conventions of the time, even to the extent of changing my name from “Stephanie” to “Steve” in my business development letters, so as to get through the door before anyone realized that he was a she.

My company, called Freelance Programmers, and that’s precisely what it was, couldn’t have started smaller: on the dining room table, and financed by the equivalent of 100 dollars in today’s terms, and financed by my labor and by borrowing against the house.

My interests were scientific, the market was commercial — things such as payroll, which I found rather boring. So I had to compromise with operational research work, which had the intellectual challenge that interested me and the commercial value that was valued by the clients: things like scheduling freight trains, time-tabling buses, stock control, lots and lots of stock control.

And eventually, the work came in. We disguised the domestic and part-time nature of the staff by offering fixed prices, one of the very first to do so.

And who would have guessed that the programming of the black box flight recorder of Supersonic Concord would have been done by a bunch of women working in their own homes.

All we used was a simple “trust the staff” approach and a simple telephone. We even used to ask job applicants, “Do you have access to a telephone?”

An early project was to develop software standards on management control protocols. And software was and still is a maddeningly hard-to-control activity, so that was enormously valuable.

We used the standards ourselves, we were even paid to update them over the years, and eventually, they were adopted by NATO.

Our programmers — remember, only women, including gay and transgender worked with pencil and paper to develop flowcharts defining each task to be done.

And they then wrote code, usually machine code, sometimes binary code, which was then sent by mail to a data center to be punched onto paper tape or card and then re-punched, in order to verify it. All this, before it ever got near a computer. That was programming in the early 1960s.

In 1975, 13 years from startup, equal opportunity legislation came in in Britain and that made it illegal to have our pro-female policies. And as an example of unintended consequences, my female company had to let the men in. (Laughter)

When I started my company of women, the men said, “How interesting, because it only works because it’s small.

And later, as it became sizable, they accepted, “Yes, it is sizable now, but of no strategic interest.”

And later, when it was a company valued at over 3 billion dollars, and I’d made 70 of the staff into millionaires, they sort of said, “Well done, Steve!” (Laughter)

8:52 You can always tell ambitious women by the shape of our heads: They’re flat on top for being patted patronizingly.  And we have larger feet to stand away from the kitchen sink. (Laughter)

Let me share with you two secrets of success:

  1. Surround yourself with first-class people and people that you like; and
  2. choose your partner very, very carefully. Because the other day when I said, “My husband’s an angel,” a woman complained — “You’re lucky,” she said, “mine’s still alive.” (Laughter)

If success were easy, we’d all be millionaires. But in my case, it came in the midst of family trauma and indeed, crisis. Our late son, Giles, was an only child, a beautiful, contented baby.

And then, at two and a half, like a changeling in a fairy story, he lost the little speech that he had and turned into a wild, unmanageable toddler. Not the terrible twos; he was profoundly autistic and he never spoke again.

Giles was the first resident in the first house of the first charity that I set up to pioneer services for autism. And then there’s been a groundbreaking Prior’s Court school for pupils with autism and a medical research charity, again, all for autism. Because whenever I found a gap in services, I tried to help.

I like doing new things and making new things happen. And I’ve just started a three-year think tank for autism.

And so that some of my wealth does go back to the industry from which it stems, I’ve also founded the Oxford Internet Institute and other IT ventures. The Oxford Internet Institute focuses not on the technology, but on the social, economic, legal and ethical issues of the Internet.

Giles died unexpectedly 17 years ago now. And I have learned to live without him, and I have learned to live without his need of me.

Philanthropy is all that I do now. I need never worry about getting lost because several charities would quickly come and find me. (Laughter)

It’s one thing to have an idea for an enterprise, but as many people in this room will know, making it happen is a very difficult thing and it demands extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination, the courage to risk family and home, and a 24/7 commitment that borders on the obsessive.

So it’s just as well that I’m a workaholic. I believe in the beauty of work when we do it properly and in humility. Work is not just something I do when I’d rather be doing something else.

12:56 We live our lives forward. So what has all that taught me?

I learned that tomorrow’s never going to be like today, and certainly nothing like yesterday. And that made me able to cope with change, indeed, eventually to welcome change, though I’m told I’m still very difficult.

Most Britons and Europeans left Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago

 After studying the DNA of more than 2,000 men, researchers say they have compelling evidence that four out of five white Europeans can trace their roots to the Near East.
Najat Rizk shared a link.

Most Britons are direct descendants of farmers who left modern day Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago, a new study has shown.

The discovery is shedding light on one of the most important periods of human history – the time when our ancient ancestors abandoned hunting and began to domesticate animals.

The invention of farming led to the first towns and paved the way for the dawn of civilisation.

The Leicester University study looked at a common genetic mutation on the Y chromosome, the DNA that is passed down from fathers to sons.

They found that 80% of European men shared the same Y chromosone mutation and after analysing how the mutation was distributed across Europe, were able to retrace how Europe was colonised around 8,000BC

Prof Mark Jobling, who led the study: ‘This was at the time of the Neolithic revolution when they developed a new style of tools, symmetrical, beautiful tools.

‘At this stage about 10,000 years ago there was evidence of the first settlements, people stopped being nomadic hunter-gatherers and started building communities. (The famous City-State organization of societies in Near-East region, such as Byblos, Saida, Tyr, Ugharit, Mary…)

‘This also allowed people to specialise in certain areas of trade and make better tools because there was a surplus of food.’

European farming began around 9,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent – a region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast to the Persian Gulf and which includes modern day Iraq, Syria, Israel and southeast Turkey.

The region was the cradle of civilisation and home to the Babylonia, Sumer and Assyrian empires.

Professor Mark Jobling

Skills: Professor Mark Jobling says the settlers were more attractive to women because they could grow more food

The development of farming allowed people to settle down for the first time – and to produce more food than they needed, leading to trade and the freedom to develop new skills such as metal working, building and writing.

Some archaeologists have argued that some of these early farmers travelled around the world – settling new lands and bringing farming skills with them.

But others have insisted that the skills were passed on by word of mouth, and not by mass migration.

The new study suggests the farmers routinely upped sticks and moved west when their villages became too crowded, eventually reaching Britain and Ireland.

The waves of migrants brought their new skills with them.

Some settled down with local tribes and taught them how to farm, the researchers believe.

‘When the expansion happened these men had a reproductive advantage because they were able to grow more food so they were more attractive to women and had more offspring,’ said Prof Jobling.

‘In total more than 80 per cent of European men have Y chromosomes which descend from incoming farmers.

‘It seems odd to think that the majority of men in Ireland have fore fathers from the near East and that British people have forefathers from the near East.’

The findings are published in the science journal PLoS Biology.

Dr Patricia Balaresque, a co-author of the study, said: ‘This means that more than 80 per cent of European Y chromosomes descend from incoming farmers.’

In contrast, other studies have shown that DNA passed down from mothers to daughters can be traced by to hunter-gatherers in Europe, she said.

‘To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming – maybe, back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer,’ she said.

Europe was first settled by modern humans around 40,000 years ago.

But other types of humans – including Neanderthals – were living in  Europe hundreds of thousands of years earlier.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1244654/Study-finds-Britons-descended-farmers-left-Iraq-Syria-10-000-years-ago.html#ixzz3l82oQBHO
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

 

End of Israel Lobby?

Iran deal passed, but Reports of death of Israel Lobby is greatly exaggerated

The pro-Israel lobby was never the shadowy, government-controlling entity portrayed by its most paranoid critics. It was, however, an important influence on American politics.

Zionism is to Jews what the civil-rights movement is to African-Americans, a political program organized to protect basic survivalist concerns.

Jews participate disproportionately in political life in every way: voting, intellectual debate, donating, and organizing. The pro-Israel lobby organized an important constituency in American politics that shared a relatively unified understanding of its collective self-interest.

A month ago, that lobby was gearing up for a massive national campaign to block the Iran nuclear deal, using every medium at its disposal: television ads, face-to-face lobbying, impassioned pleas from the bimah and in the Jewish press.

The campaign has not only failed, it has appeared almost completely ineffectual, and its failure has left its members stupefied. The deal’s anticlimactic success shows that the world has moved beyond them, and they fail to understand how or why this happened.

The miscalculations by opponents of the Iran deal began with a poor grasp of public opinion.

They imagined they could foment a broad public backlash, and opponents frequently, and triumphantly, cited opinion polls showing more respondents disapproved than approved of the Iran deal. But the results of these polls varied widely.

Small changes in wording produced wildly varying results, reflecting the fact that few people knew or cared much about the issue.

Turning a foreign-policy issue with no immediate salience to American security — even a nuclear-armed Iran, a worst-case scenario, would not involve an attack on Americans at home or abroad — into an issue Americans would actively care about was never realistic.

A Republican leadership aide, speaking to the Los Angeles Times, blamed Donald Trump’s candidacy for distracting the public. (“The GOP leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the setback, said billionaire Donald Trump’s attention-grabbing presidential campaign, along with scrutiny of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email server, overshadowed all other issues this summer, making it harder for the Republicans’ message to attract attention.”)

Their plan could have worked! If only the atmosphere had been, as they apparently assumed it would be, completely devoid of a presidential campaign or other news. (Was the deal signing postponed to fit into this campaign period?)

The deal’s opponents not only misjudged public opinion as a whole, but more astonishingly, they misjudged the state of American Jewish opinion in particular.

Congress might have been moved to oppose the Iran deal if the American Jewish community had viewed it as an existential threat to Israel. But Jews did not, on the whole, take that view.

A detailed survey of American Jewish opinion by The Jewish Journal found that American Jews support the deal, 53 percent to 35 percent. How could that be? Well, this chart shows how Jewish opinion breaks down:

Photo: Jewish Journal

Liberals like the deal, and conservatives don’t, by roughly equal margins. But most Jews are liberals. Rising polarization of American life has cleaved in two everything in its path. There is no more “Israel lobby”; there is a red Israel lobby and a blue one.

The implications of this cleavage made blocking the Iran deal hopeless from the outset.

As a simple matter of political mechanics, acquiring a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress meant hawks needed liberal Democrats to take their side. But they did not have arguments that could appeal to liberals — even liberals with a deep emotional connection to Israel.

Non-proliferation experts strongly supported the agreement as the best way out of a difficult circumstance.

Even Israel’s security establishment disagreed with Benjamin Netanyahu and the pro-Israel right. The technical case for the strength of the inspections and the enforcement mechanism was strong; the case against leaned heavily on apocalypticism.

And this underscores the most important tectonic forces moving beneath the Israel lobby’s feet.

Over the last 15 years, the foreign-policy debate in Israel has moved steadily rightward. (In the last election, left-of-center Israeli parties relied on domestic issues, rather than appealing for territorial compromise.)

The Israeli right favors either permanent occupation of the West Bank, or an occupation that lasts until such time as the Palestinians produce a pro-Zionist government, which is functionally the same thing.

That perspective has become increasingly coterminous with the American “pro-Israel” view.

At last year’s AIPAC conference, some 65 percent of the attendees were Republican. That skewed perspective has pushed the American Jewish establishment to the right of American Jewry as a whole.

Jewish Republicans have always believed that forcing Jews to pick sides between a conservative Israeli government and a liberal American one would leave them with the larger share.

Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration Middle East adviser, today defends the Israel lobby’s choice to launch an existential fight it could not win.

“If AIPAC would not fight on this issue,” he concludes, “many of its supporters would wonder why it even exists.”

Launching unwinnable fights — and then retroactively justifying the decision in spite of failure — is, of course, an ingrained neoconservative tactic. This is a movement that has no language to express the concept of a counterproductive fight on behalf of a worthy cause.

But there is more at work than simple pigheadedness or habitual aggression. Many conservative supporters of Israel do not necessarily regard the crack-up of American Jewish opinion as a problem.

In their view, diplomacy with Iran is the prelude to Israel’s annihilation, and support for Netanyahu’s permanent occupation is the sine qua non of genuine support for Israel.

It follows that the Iran debate essentially succeeded, by smoking out the fake Israel supporters. An almost giddy Jennifer Rubin concludes that the deal’s victory destroys “the myth of bipartisan support for Israel.”

The crack-up of the Israel lobby is, for its most conservative members, not a failure at all but the fulfillment of a longtime dream.

(I failed to comprehend the conclusion. What is the long-time dream of the conservative members?)

Josh Ruebner shared and commented

I sure hope that Jonathan Chait is right that the Israel’s lobby’s loss on the Iran deal signifies its demise. However, I’m also reminded of Mark Twain’s quip: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

There is no more “Israel lobby”; there is a red Israel lobby and a blue one.
nymag.com|By Jonathan Chait
 

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