Why are tech people so often glibertarians?

I’m watching “Ace In The Hole” on AMC, awesome, best line so far “When the history of this sun-baked Siberia is written, these shameful words will live in infamy — ‘No chopped chicken livers!'”

So I’m too distracted for a real post, but there’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately: why are tech people usually glibertarians? Some of my best friends are tech people but they bust out the most ridiculous Reason-type nonsense all the time. Why?

When I say tech person, I mean the kind of person who asks you why you didn’t just type “grep -7582 -pql” instead of writing that ten line Python script. You know what I mean.

Update. Bonus: footage of Obama someone calling some idiot (Peter Schiff is his name) a “laughable libertarian”. EDIT: Somebody from Demos told me “our president called him a laughable libertarian” and sent me the clip, I couldn’t get it to play on my slow internet connection and jumped the gun, thinking it was Obama, not the president of Demos. Damn!






271 replies
  1. 1
    Mike in NC says:

    I’ve worked for 20+ years with engineers (software, electrical, mechanical, etc.). They tend to fall into the IGMFY category. Plus they relate better to ‘things’ than to other people.

  2. 2
    dm9871 says:

    Here’s an idea:

    Libertarianism is very rule-based and remote – a single rule is applied to near-all aspects of human life. In that sense it strips away the ambiguity, the give-and -take of life. It has the rational elegance and aversion to emotion that I associate with mathematics and computer programing.

  3. 3
    Morzer says:

    Code and math create the illusion that the world is simpler and more easily fixed than it ever has been in real life.

  4. 4
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Morzer:

    I know lots of mathematicians (I am one) and the only glibertarian among them is a tech guy. Truth be told, they’re mostly Snooze Hour addicts.

    Math alone doesn’t make you a glibertarian.

  5. 5
    srv says:

    Because they’re so much more intelligent…

    I think for them it goes back to being 13, nerds reading Ender’s Game and fantasizing about saving/ruling the world and then going to school and being beaten up by jocks. Not being able to become the jocks they secretly admire, they rationalized a philosophy where they project themselves to be rugged individualists and withdraw into their models. Then they read Ayn Rand.

    None of them got laid in HS, and most of their marriages are pretty sexless from what I’ve seen.

  6. 6
    NobodySpecial says:

    The rise of Asperger’s, the growth of the tech field, and the influx of new libertarians are all interrelated, AFAIC. The unregulated nature of stuff like the internet parallels the Wild West of libertarian porn, and attracts those who don’t do well with others due to it’s lower social standing in the career fields in the earlier days.

  7. 7
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Coupla reasons, I’d say:

    1) Often a wealthy/upper-middle-class background

    2) Often made fun of for being nerds when growing up, which nurtures a “Me-against-the-world” mindset, as well as a tendency to think of most people as your intellectual inferiors.

    3) Working with logic and numbers leads them to believe that all problems can be solved with hard analysis. More subtle humanistic problems tend to elude them.

    4) Don’t spend a lot of time interacting with people, so any stereotypes they’ve acquired about “the masses” will harden and never have the chance to be disproven.

    5) Often into nerdy forms of entertainment, where the “individualistic hero” archetype runs very strong.

    I’m sure there’s more, but those are the ones I see a lot. There’s two libertarians I’ve met over the internet who fulfill all five. One’s a software engineer from Tyler, Texas, one’s a chemistry student at CalTech. The CalTech one says everyone there thinks basically like him, so not only does pursuing a techie lifestyle invite libertarian thought, but hanging around other techies enforces it.

  8. 8
    Anne Laurie says:

    What the first three posters said, plus: Hardcore tech guys spent too much time in high school getting pantsed & too little getting stroked. Libertarianism is a revenge-based philosophy, and people who can’t outgrow their adolescent grievances are its natural proponents.

  9. 9
    beltane says:

    This may have something to do with Theory of Mind and Aspergers syndrome. My son has Aspergers, and while he is very compassionate towards animals he’ll say things about old people like “Why doesn’t X die already? He’s not useful anymore.”

  10. 10
    Ron says:

    Yeah, I don’t think mathematicians tend to be like that at all overall.

  11. 11
    NobodySpecial says:

    @srv: I’m sorry, are you secretly twelve?

  12. 12
    MaximusNYC says:

    The techy types on Slashdot tend to lean left, tho there is a significant minority of libertarians there as well.

  13. 13
    Linnaeus says:

    I think certain aspects of IT culture create a fertile ground for techno-libertarianism. I would guess, for the example, the notion that IT is particularly meritocratic combined with the buccaneering myths often found in narratives about the history of computing and IT generally.

  14. 14
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    That said, I like nerdy things, I didn’t get laid in high school, and I’m a white kid from the suburbs, and I hate Ayn Rand and objectivism more than I hate just about everything. I never had the “I read Atlas Shrugged and it blew my mind, man” moment when I was 16. There was a book like that, though, and it was No Logo, and I can probably trace my current liberalism back to that.

  15. 15
    jrg says:

    Most of the techies I work with are liberals.

    That said, I think the common techie libertarian bent comes from three things:

    1) Tech work often draws people who are misanthropes.

    2) It’s hard work learning to be a techie. A lot of us were spending all night in the computer lab learning C++ when other people were out getting shitfaced, therefore there’s a strong belief that techies don’t owe anyone else anything… Of course, it’s a B.S. belief, but I think that’s where its origins lie.

    3) Many people get into tech work because there’s money in it, so it might not be that techies tend to be libertarians, more that many libertarians are techies.

  16. 16
    mpbruss says:

    High rationality, low empathy, flat affect, Asperger’s / autism side of the personality spectrum. Also bad parenting and lack of that good old time religion. Those are my guesses.

  17. 17
    gordon schumway says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: I am also a university mathematician. I’m not aware of any libertarians among the mathematicians at my university, but our computer guy sure is.

    When do plural anecdotes become data?

  18. 18
    Tyro says:

    So I’m too distracted for a real post, but there’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately: why are tech people usually glibertarians? Some of my best friends are tech people but they bust out the most ridiculous Reason-type nonsense all the time. Why?

    There’s the rule-based aspect to it, as dm9871 mentions, there’s also the fact that tech people perceive themselves to be (and, I’m a tech person, so “are”) smarter than most others. Then, on one hand, they have good, solid middle class to barely-upper-middle-class jobs and don’t have to worry about health care, live in good suburban neighborhoods and have access to good schools. So they are out of touch with the anxieties and problems of everyone below the middle class. Heck, some of them are problem decent enough people that they don’t understand why landlords, insurance companies, or retailers would ever cheat anyone. Or at least they figure they’re smart enough to deal with avoiding them, so everyone else should, too.

    Yet they aren’t the wealthiest or most well-compensated, so they’re wondering why they aren’t– because after all, they’re the smartest, right? Well, from their perspective, it has to be the mean, evil government keeping them down from fulfilling their potential that is owed to them,seeing as how smart they are…

    so it’s the perfect storm of IGMFY combined with seething resentment at not having what they feel they’re owed.

  19. 19
    /dev/null says:

    Oh man. Tell me about it. I work for a Linux distro and know what you mean. However, I think “usually” is putting it much too strongly.

    I’ve always been partial to the poor socialization theory myself (what? you don’t like me? well I’m smarter and better than you!), and the strong male-tilt of the sector is another factor.

    I am happy to report that non-American geeks seem to be largely immune from the libertarian delusion. Well, I haven’t met any yet anyway.

  20. 20
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @gordon schumway:

    These are people who are truly among my best friends, so even a few is date for me.

  21. 21
    eemom says:

    so what is this — official Balloon Juice All-Purpose Offensive Labeling Day?

  22. 22
    moops says:

    The highest end of the education/training/intelligence band is not libertarian.

    It seems to be chronic amongst the mostly-competent technical types. They are domain specialists in some sense, have some level of expertise…and the delusion that in the big scheme they are the the John Galts. Smart enough to see repeating patterns in our world, but not clever enough to see that exceptions are really the rule. Engineers that learned about formulas, or sys admins that know the wonders of unix pipes and awk, but know nothing of the bizarre process that generated those tools they take for granted. They have tools all about them and think the world is orderly and serves us.

  23. 23
    Ed Marshall says:

    Because they are usually somewhere on the autism scale. My son is diagnosed with Asperger’s and he didn’t wind up a libertarian, but people on that spectrum become very focused on a few things. They discovered market theory at some point and run everything through this narrow worldview obsessed with rewards and punishments. Combine this with another symptom (lack of empathy), and you wind up with someone who puts the same degree of incredible focus on thinking about incentives and rational market actors that they do to exactly that degree of efficient problem solving in reducing the steps necessary to achieving a result at the command line.

    Before anyone yells at me, I was never diagnosed with Asperger’s, but I’m fairly certain I would have been if I was born 10 years later. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone.

  24. 24
    Warren Terra says:

    Update. Bonus: footage of Obama calling some idiot (Peter Schiff is his name) a “laughable libertarian”.

    Um, maybe I’m watching that clip wrong – and I admit that I skipped through it, my patience for these folks has worn thin – but if the guy calling Schiff a “laughable libertarian” is Obama, he’s become whiter, shorter, heavier, and changed his name to “Rappoport”.

  25. 25
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @eemom:

    Isn’t that every day here?

  26. 26
    penpen says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: This post immediately brought to mind that oldish SNL Jimmy Fallon character, called something like, “Your Company’s Computer Guy.” (cutting edge of cool, this reference, I know)

  27. 27
    Morzer says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    Hence “code and math”. Do pay attention. You asked about techies, not mathmos. Most mathmos are socially inept, apparently know nothing about washing, wear far too much black and tend to congregate in small circles of sexual frustration. Nice enough people, in their rather bizarre way. If they are libertarians, they generally lack the communication skills to express such thoughts.

  28. 28
    Don says:

    Back in the day, when I was teaching, we had an IT support person who routinley wore a T-Shirt that said, ” you can be replaced by a very short shell script.” she was my idol! If only the Dean….

  29. 29
    Morzer says:

    @eemom:

    No, just DougJ trying to make sure everyone knows he isn’t a libertarian.

  30. 30
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Morzer:

    They don’t wear that much black, I’m sorry to tell you.

  31. 31
    eemom says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    it’s been a bit too close to home for me this time.

    Also too, being no kind of mathematician or scientist and JUST from having worked at law firms for 24 years where I have occasionally dealt with “tech people,” even I can attest that your premise here is cheap troll-baiting bullshit.

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    Used to be they were all hippies. Hell, my godlike network tech looks just like Stallman and is pretty well to the left of Chomsky. They were more about tearing down big corporate control than anything else.

    2 generations later everything flips. This group wants to pretend they’re as free and independent and ‘taking it to the man’ as the original group, but they bought the Reagan schtick and now are all to happy to blow the big CEOs just so long as government doesn’t impede their ability to do the noble things in life: steal porn and cheat at Warcrack. Because they spent 100 hacking new firmware on their router, they think this makes them rugged individualists wh have no need for government, even though unclogging a toilet falls just shy of needing to call 911.

  33. 33
    eemom says:

    @Morzer:

    my comment was for you too.

  34. 34
    MikeJake says:

    Because their skills happen to be in demand during this crap economy, so they feel all smug and superior about their ability to make a living, and think everyone should be just like them.

  35. 35
    Jack the Second says:

    As a tech person, here’s a few guesses:

    1. IGMFY, maybe with some genuine failure to understand how hard things are if you aren’t a well-paid tech person in an exploding tech job market.

    2. Introversion. One of my biggest character flaws is that I don’t ask for help often enough or soon enough. I waste too much of my time trying to figure out things on my own, when if I just asked a few people the right questions I could save a lot of time. I think this is a common mentality in the tech world. You’re used to just figuring out how to solve a problem yourself, you don’t understand how much better things would be if you sought out help every once in awhile. Too much self-reliance is a vice.

    3. NIH. Not Invented Here– the other vice most tech people succumb to is the desire to rebuild everything from scratch. Write your own text editor, web server, operating system, file system, do it all yourself. The libertarian wet-dream of rebuilding the world from scratch by yourself on your own private compound really appeals to the same NIH syndrome which leads tech companies to build complex half-functional internal tool chains instead of using perfectly adequate off the shelf solutions.

    So I guess in the end it’s all about the vice of self-reliance.

  36. 36
    jl says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    But my understanding is that Big Baby DougJ does new math of some kind (algebra?). As a VFM (Very Famous Mathematician) lectured in one of my classes when we griped about too many hard problems: Thinking that you understand math that is already there is easy, learning to do and create new math is very hard.

    So, I’m with Morzer, a lot of techie types work in artificially constructed systems that can be manipulated with standardized toolkit of technical skills that can be acquired through technical schooling. I think this gives a false sense of mastery that can be easily transferred to other areas. The modes of reasoning used to exercise the mastery is all over the place in terms of understanding the limitations and difficulty of applying fundamental principles.

    When I listen to some techies talk about how some of the stuff works in areas where I have a good understanding, I hear all sorts of rules of thumb, short cuts, imputational backfitting that doesn’t have much to do with how the theories actually work, especially the causal structure.

    In other words, they learn to think like many free market economists think when talking about market equilibrium (and economists are always talking about a market equilibrium of some kind or other).

    These shortcuts in thinking are OK in artificially designed systems that have operationally definable criteria for whether they are humming along, kind of working OK, failing gracefully, or blowing up catastrophically.

    But economics has no operational criteria at all for whether it is describing anything in reality. So you start to wander off into nonsense, and there are no warning signs.

    Eventually one goes mad. My understanding is that mathematicians eventually go mad too, but I think a different process is involved.

    My observation is that techies who have to deal with the real world and raw nature that is not been highly refined through a long process of human design and control (like ‘puters) tend to be more moderate and have more respect for the fact that, yes indeed, humans are often mistaken, even if engineering and health care clinical types do tend to have a conservative frame of mind. But that is not always expressed through political or economic views.

    Was that dry enough for you?

    It was supposed to be choke full of prime hoots and snark. I wonder what went wrong.

  37. 37
    PIGL says:

    On my version of grep, -p is not an option. Ignoring that, I can imagine things your example might do if you had, you know, specified an actual regular expression. But your example does nothing.

    And I find Ayn Rand a pathetic figure, Atlas Shrugged a fun read in the sense that John Grisham novels are fun (this sentence here was actually printed in a book) and I hate her followers with a fiery fiery hate as cold as Pluto.

  38. 38
    Morzer says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    Well, DougJ, maybe you just don’t hang out with the cutting edge math kids these days. Every mathmo I’ve known has gone through the black-clad, pale-faced, bags under the eyes stoner goth look at some point. Believe me, I’ve encountered enough of the species to last a lifetime.

  39. 39
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @eemom:

    You’re talking second-rate Windows guys, trust me, if you dealt with hard-core tech people, you’d know what I mean. I guarantee. There will be no one in this thread who knows such people in large numbers who won’t agree with me here.

  40. 40
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Morzer:

    I’m not talking about teen agers here, I mean adults.

  41. 41

    Check out Paulina Borsook’s Cyberselfish for an interesting look at the hyperlibertarian origins of the modern Internet, as viewed through the lens of early Wired.

  42. 42
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Martin:

    There are some hippies too, I’m not saying ALL. I understand the hippies, I don’t understand the glibertarians.

  43. 43
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    So, I’m with Morzer, a lot of techie types work in artificially constructed systems that can be manipulated with standardized toolkit of technical skills that can be acquired through technical schooling.

    Thank God for that. Someone who can actually read English and manage basic logical analysis. Imagine the idea that techies actually know math, and even more amazingly, use the damn stuff!

  44. 44
    Sam Houston says:

    @dm9871: on the nose!

    There is a simple-minded elegance to Libertarianism. The trouble is We Can’t Get There From Here without a crapton of bloodshed.

  45. 45
    Martin says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: I never wore black. I’m considered an excellent public speaker, and am generally an outdoor person. But then I’m not a statistician – man, those people have issues…

  46. 46
    delphi_ote says:

    Been around these people a LOT in my life. I agree mostly with the first post. It’s IGMFY

    They believe they’ve experienced more and been through more than anyone else. They have “real” knowledge. They get things done, while everyone else bullshits themselves dealing with “feelings.” People with soft skills and ideas are just soaking up resources.

    They’ve also all had things handed to them their entire lives. They’ve never actually experienced hardship. They haven’t learned that other areas of expertise are important.

    In short, they have a god complex that’s never been seriously challenged by reality.

  47. 47
    Morzer says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    I’ve met plenty of black-clad mathmos who were definitely past their teenage years. Sorry, but you’ll have to do a lot better than appealing to DougJ reality as the sum of all things.

  48. 48
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Martin:

    I did used to wear a lot of black, until I learned that my complexion was better suited to earth tones.

  49. 49
    gordon schumway says:

    @Morzer:

    Most mathmos are socially inept,

    Mostly true.

    apparently know nothing about washing,

    Mostly false.

    wear far too much black

    False.

    and tend to congregate in small circles of sexual frustration.

    False.

    Nice enough people, in their rather bizarre way.

    True.

    If they are libertarians, they generally lack the communication skills to express such thoughts.

    Mostly false.

  50. 50
    MagicPanda says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: I’m an ex-theoretical physicist who is now a computer guy. I know math guys and I know tech guys and my feeling is that they’re completely different, especially in terms of the underlying culture.

    Math involves the study of systems that are completely formal and abstract. It’s about the purest form of abstract truth we can study.

    Folks in Silicon Valley (which is probably NOT literally what you meant by “tech guys”, but these are they guys that people look up to in the tech world) are completely different from math guys.

    Instead of studying something that is unchanging and eternal, the Silicon Valley tech guy’s job is closer to a wall street financier than a math professor.

    Computer guys and finance guys both work with complex systems that most people will never understand. And the goal is to find some new innovation that can shave a tiny fraction of money off of a billion transactions in order to make yourself super rich.

    And like Libertopia, Silicon Valley’s ethos is one of risk taking and survival of the fittest.

    So yes, mathematicians and computer guys are similar. They’re geeks. They’re logical. They may be less empathetic.

    But culturally, mathematicians idolize folks like Gauss and Poincare, while computer guys idolize folks like Jobs and Zuckberg.

  51. 51
    eemom says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    My brother in law is a “hard-core tech people,” and he’s not a glibertarian. Disgusted with politics in general, but not a glibertarian.

    My husband is a MSEE and a patent lawyer, has dealt with “hard-core tech people” in various capacities for over 30 years, and doesn’t know what you mean either.

  52. 52
    Morzer says:

    @eemom:

    Bringing the smackdown tonight, I see.

  53. 53
    JGabriel says:

    … why are tech people usually glibertarians?

    Are they really? The plurality of the techies I’ve known have been vaguely to strongly liberalish, but maybe that’s just Manhattan.

    To the extent it’s true, if it’s true, I’d guess that most techies come from upper middle class backgrounds (though mine was decidedly lower middle), they’re often socially liberal, but fiscally conservative, and, to the small extent they’ve thought about it, they think libertarianism matches that outlook. From there, they read more about it and parrot the attitudes and rhetoric from Ayn Rand, et. al.

    If I’d read Rand instead of George Bernard Shaw in the impressionable mid-late teens, perhaps I would have ended up the same way, who knows? Instead, I was reading Shaw and Scott Fitzgerald, and The New Yorker and the Village Voice, and ended up a New York, Socia1ist-leaning, Liberal.

    C’est la vie.

    .

  54. 54
    Ed Marshall says:

    @PIGL:

    Capital P is an option for “pattern is a Perl regular expression”, it still wouldn’t make perfect sense (I don’t think).

  55. 55
    Martin says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: The hippies are older. The younger ones are glibertarians.

    And just to be clear, neither are a generalization, rather a subgroup that tends to be attracted to the field. Half of our tech guys under 50 are glibertarians. Half of the ones over 50 are hippies. No glibs over 50, no hippies under 50.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @eemom:

    I don’t believe you.

  58. 58
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Martin:

    I know under 50 hippie tech people, I don’t know any over 50 glibertarian tech people, though, it’s true.

  59. 59
    jl says:

    @Morzer: Not sure what your point is. My point was that, yes, they know lots of math and stats and science. But many of them apply it, with great skill and intelligence, in an environment where mastery and success at manipulation comes relatively easy compared to many other areas.

    So, they get a false idea about how easy it should be for other real world systems, like the economy, to work successfully, and how easy it should be to fix them. And how big a role skill versus luck plays in other areas of life.

    I think that describes many techies I know who work in IT, and programming, and mechanical engineering.

  60. 60
    MagicPanda says:

    @eemom: And yes, I agree that most tech guys I know are not libertarian.

    If it wasn’t clear from above, I work in Silicon Valley (actually SF), and I would say that a larger percentage of tech guys are libertarian than the typical sample of San Franciscans, but liberals still outnumber libertarians by a huge margin.

    The richer my friends are, the more likely they are to be libertarian or conservative, but that’s probably the same everywhere, right?

  61. 61
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @JGabriel:

    but maybe that’s just Manhattan.

    Web design/graphic design doesn’t count. That’s the only real “tech” in Manhattan.

  62. 62
    Morzer says:

    @gordon schumway:

    Gotta go with what I’ve seen. Sorry, Gordon, but the description I have given fits with the overwhelming majority of a rather large number of mathmos I have known over the years. You may not like it, but I didn’t make the mathmo world.

  63. 63
    PeakVT says:

    why are tech people usually glibertarians?

    They’re disproportionately glibertarians, but not “usually.” Perhaps 20-30 years ago when a lot of tech was a lots less widespread and lot more obscure – PRINT PEEK (64447), for instance – libertarians made up a majority, but not now.

  64. 64
    Ed Marshall says:

    @eemom:

    Is either of them a command line Unix guy? That seems to be an important distinction (and I am a command line Unix guy ,and I know exactly who he is talking about). Not the web designer, not the guy who can code a little, the guy who feels an incredible need to understand exactly how the environment he is functioning in works right down to the physical level.

  65. 65
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    You’ve just said precisely what I originally said. We are in agreement, total agreement. I was just rather surprised that DougJ failed to grasp this rather elementary point and went galloping off down his own false trail.

  66. 66
    srv says:

    Teh Google is bursting with glibertarians.

    I predict Apple’s new $10K corporate matching policy will go nowhere, because they don’t donate.

    Older Silicon Valley/Hills/etc folks, very blue. They may not have all been hippies but their siblings or kids were.

    Scarily, the only older geek crowd I know that wasn’t blue but leaned libertarian were some (but not all) of the NASA labs (KSC, JSC, MFSC). Real pieces of teh ironical, they were.

  67. 67

    interesting explanations. But, then, are there no glibertarians in the humanities? And if there are, what are the root causes for their dysfunction? And are they different from the “techies” root causes?

    Seems like most of what people are suggesting here is mostly crap. I’d be willing to bet that a study would reveal each of these populations to have a similar political split as would be found in the general population.

  68. 68
    jrg says:

    @delphi_ote:

    In short, they have a god complex that’s never been seriously challenged by reality.

    Pretty effective god complex, I’d say.

    People with soft skills and ideas are just soaking up resources.

    The fact that many techies understand that the world is full of snake oil salesmen seems deeply offensive to you. Clearly we owe you an apology.

  69. 69
    MagicPanda says:

    @Martin: There is a strain of individualism and anarchy that has been a part of computer culture since its inception.

    For example, think of the distrust of central authority found in groups like Anonymous and wikileaks. It’s kind of like the hippie dippie sensibility of Richard Stallman, and it’s kind of like the anti-authoritarian self-centered beliefs of libertarians.

  70. 70
    jl says:

    @Morzer: Oh darn. This is Balloon Juice, Aren’t we supposed to fight anyway?

  71. 71
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Martin: I think part of the reason for the age divide is that back in the days when those guys were young (call it the Stallman era for short) there weren’t as many outlets for the “oh wow, this is so cool” aspect of tech, so writing OS’s and compilers and stuff (and text-mode games) was all you had. Now the field is wider, and the younger “oh wow, this is so cool” crowd moves into graphics and game design and that sort of stuff. That’s where the technoid hippies are these days.

  72. 72
    MagicPanda says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Shorter explanation: there used to be no money in computer programming. Now there is.

  73. 73
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: Not true. All the high-frequency trading developers, the whole Wall Street support ecosystem. Lots of heavy duty quants/techs.

  74. 74
    MikeJ says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: Most of the tech people I work with are solidly on the left, but oif course most of them are in yurp.

    I actually do know a real live Thatcher revering Tory though.

    In the US I think one of the issues is the culture of stock options. I’ve worked for three zero to multi billion startups, and while I’ve done ok, I never believed the untermenschen were going to be the next Gates, or even Myhrvold. Too many people want to believe that they’ll get rich quick, and then believe that working 16 hour days for three years is working your way to the top. It ain’t.

  75. 75
    eemom says:

    @Morzer:

    I am offended at your grotesque generalizations about “the Greeks.”

    Deal with it, or go back into retirement. In my humble directive opinion.

  76. 76
    MagicPanda says:

    @Gin & Tonic: FWIW, many of the wall street quants come from physics (which deals with modeling of complex systems, among other things), not CS.

  77. 77
    seabe says:

    I don’t know why exactly, but when I was in school (just graduated with an BS in engineering last May), I’d say it’s because it’s largely still a “Good ol’ boys club.”

    Not only are they largely glib (I know a shit ton who want the Fair Tax), but they’re VERY misogynist and demeaning towards women. My graduating class for my major was 10% women, and I know a few girls who switched out of engineering over it.

  78. 78
    RareSanity says:

    Now this is post I can actually opine about…

    Being a member of the general group DougJarvis is referring to, even worse is that my father was a techie and so are my two brothers. I was also libertarian-curious for about a year or two.

    I think there is some natural “common ground” between the libertarian thought and the way most technically minded people tend to, even if subconsciously, remove emotion from as much of life as possible. There’s also the “smarter than you” and IGMFY sprinkled in there, but mainly, libertarian thought allows techies to live in a fantasy world where “common-sense” solutions always work out (eventually).

    The thing that saved me, pulling me back from the deep end was the fact I was capable of asking myself the question, “When all these market forces are acting, what’s happening to people?” Once I accepted that actually implementing libertarian principles would cause untold human suffering, I ran away and never looked back.

    Everything about libertarian thought is Underpants Gnomes…

    1.) Eliminate things (mostly related to government)
    2.) Sell more untested and unsafe stuff the things in step 1 used to monitor/regulate/test/etc.
    3.) ???
    4.) Market will eliminate the “bad guys” on it’s own

  79. 79
    Mark says:

    I dunno…I’ve spent the last 15 years in ‘tech’, the last ten in Silicon Valley. I’ve never really encountered any glibertarians among the engineers; MBAs, sure. Almost everyone I’ve met who has any level of political engagement is a Democrat – they don’t make enough money to care about marginal tax rates; they don’t, as a general rule, come from the kinds of prosperous families that produce our nation’s investment bankers and doctors and their sense of entitlement; and they aren’t so concerned with being cool that they’d cover up their Republican-ness with the libertarian cover.

    Plus, financial success in engineering is doled out so randomly that people tend to not see themselves as deterministically destined to be wealthy.

  80. 80
    /dev/null says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: ok, I’ll say it again, but more emphatically… I work pretty much only with extremely technical people at a Linux distro. You are exaggerating a bit.

    More than other lines of work. Ok. I might buy that.

    Definitely not “usually”, not close in my experience. In fact sometimes, me and my other extremely liberal coworkers talk about how it must be kind of annoying to be one of the 5% of the company that is conservative (less for actual libertarians) since everyone else assumes that new people are probably liberal. Yeah I just made that % up, but it’s closer to reality than your “usually” imho. ;-)

    Then again, perhaps my experience is the exception. Like many people here, I haven’t actually conducted nor read any sociological research on this topic.

  81. 81
    srv says:

    @Gin & Tonic: They’re in Jersey.

  82. 82
    Teddy Salad says:

    Code and math create the illusion that the world is simpler and more easily fixed than it ever has been in real life.

    There are no libertarians in potholes.

  83. 83
    Cat says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    You’re talking second-rate Windows guys, trust me, if you dealt with hard-core tech people, you’d know what I mean. I guarantee. There will be no one in this thread who knows such people in large numbers who won’t agree with me here.

    /emote raises his hand.

    I disagree.

    I’ve only worked on the east coast though, but I’ve only known two paulites/glibertarians out of the hundred or so coders I’ve known/meet/worked with over the last 15 years. The most likely political orientation is “pox on both their houses” centrists.

  84. 84
    Nutella says:

    @JGabriel:

    I’d guess that most techies come from upper middle class backgrounds, they’re often socially liberal, but fiscally conservative, and, to the small extent they’ve thought about it, they think libertarianism matches that outlook.

    Yes, and the vast majority (at least in open source tech circles) are well-paid, in-demand, white men. Libertarianism seems to offer freedom from most restrictions for rich white men so it sounds great to them.

    Agreed that libertarianism is much more common among the younger techies.

  85. 85
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @MagicPanda: Lots of CS-oriented techs, too. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the default workstation you’d see on every trader’s desk was a Sun. Somebody supported that ecosystem.

  86. 86
    Chad N Freude says:

    This is absurd. I am a tech guy who works in a group of openly seriously liberal/progressive tech computer persons who spend a significant amount of government-paid time (yes, we do government supported techie stuff, and we’re LIBERALS!)) discussing how awful the Right/Republicans/Conservatives are. The biggest Glibertarian-style difference we have is whether “Obamacare” is an acceptable compromise vs single-payer. H/t Gordon Schumway for living in the real tech world, and h/t eemom for actually talking about real world experience with techsters.

    On the other hand, h/t to DougJ for demonstrating the proposition that all generalizations are false.*

    *I saw what I did there.

    ETA: I really like the psychological/sociological analyses of why tech people are so libertarian or conservative or whatever. You guys have so many data points and studies, no unscientific I-have-an-uninformed-opinion blather here.

  87. 87
    Cat says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    Web design/graphic design doesn’t count. That’s the only real “tech” in Manhattan.

    Man, you are in rare trolling form tonight! :-0

  88. 88
    Halteclere says:

    @JL

    So, I’m with Morzer, a lot of techie types work in artificially constructed systems that can be manipulated with standardized toolkit of technical skills that can be acquired through technical schooling. I think this gives a false sense of mastery that can be easily transferred to other areas. The modes of reasoning used to exercise the mastery is all over the place in terms of understanding the limitations and difficulty of applying fundamental principles.

    JL’s comment also applies to most Engineers. Scientists and researches have done all the hard work of delving into the workings of all aspects of our universe. Engineers take that knowledge, using simple rule-of-thumbs, and apply it to build things. Hence Engineers are close enough to the sources of knowledge, but minimize the ambiguity to reach equations 99.9% correct for most all applications. And where the ambiguity may still be an issue, the solution is doubled to make sure the ambiguity is not a problem.

    This is also why I find a lot of Engineers are also some of the most dogmatic in their political and religious thinking. Compare how many potential terrorists are Engineers or Doctors in training vs. how many are scientists or researches.

  89. 89
    seabe says:

    Also, I’m not so sure “common-sense basic solutions” are why they’re glib. I mean, I consider myself largely a technocrat under the current capitalist system. So health care, for example…well, the simplest and best way to get the best bang for your buck is a single-payer system. So that’s what I support. I’m not ideologically wedded to it, but it’s what I see as the “best.”

  90. 90
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I know those people too, they write in Visual Studio and stuff like that, they’re not real tech guys like I mean.

  91. 91
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @srv: Not as much as you think. When milliseconds count, the speed of light matters, and a lot of data centers are back in Manhattan.

  92. 92
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: I’m talking about the switch/router/datacenter guys that support them.

  93. 93
    Cat says:

    @srv:

    They’re in Jersey.

    As someone whose called by recruiters for those postings I can tell you the are not all in Jersey.

  94. 94

    @Chad N Freude:

    I’m certainly not and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.

  95. 95
    /dev/null says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: and they ain’t true Scotsmen either.

  96. 96
    BBA says:

    I’d say it comes from dealing with absurd policies in public school (“zero tolerance” and the like) and tangling with equally absurd policies from the government (DMCA, the old crypto export rules). Tech types tend to notice early on that many of the people who make the rules don’t know or care what it’s like to live under them.

    Which is all well and good until you extrapolate “many” to “all” and conclude that we’d all be better off with no rules whatsoever.

  97. 97
    Chris says:

    @jl:

    My observation is that techies who have to deal with the real world and raw nature that is not been highly refined through a long process of human design and control (like ‘puters) tend to be more moderate and have more respect for the fact that, yes indeed, humans are often mistaken, even if engineering and health care clinical types do tend to have a conservative frame of mind.

    Strange, isn’t it? That the libertarians are the ones who need to be in control and are least comfortable with the unpredictable wildness of real life. You’d think people who constantly preach about untameable market forces and the foolishness and futility of trying to control them… yeah.

    Anyways: the consensus here seems to basically be that the techie subculture is a product of the middle-to-upper-middle-class suburbia, which magnifies all the flaws that part of society’s accused of (sheltered upbringing, sense of entitlement to a certain standard of living, etc).

    By the way, I should mention that a lot of the things that’ve been said about the techies (suburban, middle class, nerd, shittastic time in middle school, never had great social skills to this day) are true of me too, but I never went libertarian (or techie). Huh.

  98. 98
    DarrenG says:

    As a career techie, I think a lot of the above is on the right track. I’d tend to disagree with the IGMFY hypothesis the most out of the commonly-referenced explanations.

    Additional ones I haven’t seen above:

    Habitual distrust of institutions proportional to their size and relative coercive power.

    Techies hate and distrust Microsoft and AT&T for many of the same reasons they hate and distrust the government.

    Related to this is that a *lot* of the glibertarian techie generation came up when the DoD, and specifically DARPA, was funding a large portion of advanced technical development. When you’ve worked on SR-71 telemetry, it’s easy to believe a whole host of other scary things about what government is willing and able to do.

    Heinlein and his fellow travelers.

    I think most techies tend to see through Rand’s BS, but are suckers for Heinlein’s, along with writers who followed him (*cough* Spider Robinson *cough*).

  99. 99
    srv says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: How come there aren’t any Balloon-Juice vacation/adventure trips? I’m sure we could fill up a cruise ship and go club some baby seals somewhere.

  100. 100
    jrg says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: That’s straight-up bullshit Dougj. As Gin & Tonic points out, speed is at a premium. They’re writing their code in C and assembly. It’s not uncommon for Wall St to hire people who used to work for chip manufactures in order to squeeze every cycle they can out of a CPU.

  101. 101
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Nutella: So how come the college interns and twenty-something Computer Scientist types I work with are liberal? I’m not kidding.

    I have to admit, maybe my circle lives in Opposite World. Any quantum mechanics (i.e., people who are mechanics in quantum physics) out there who can run a test?

  102. 102
    Dee Loralei says:

    OK, in NYState, the Dems agreed to lose 1 seat, Weiner’s and the Reps agreed to lose one upstate, right? So now the Reps have won this seat, do they not have to get rid of their downstate seat and give up this one, and the Dems have to give up another? Or are both seats just gonna be gone as previously planned?

  103. 103
    RareSanity says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    You’re talking second-rate Windows guys, trust me, if you dealt with hard-core tech people, you’d know what I mean. I guarantee. There will be no one in this thread who knows such people in large numbers who won’t agree with me here.

    I’ve been working in embedded software development for 15 years and there is definitely a higher percentage of glibertarian in my field than the general population.

    We’re not talking about the “techies” that put stickers on their MacBooks. We are talking hardcore, “I only use linux and program in C”, types. They are a different breed than your run of the mill Java/Ruby/Python/IT guy.

    You have to be walking the halls of Motorola, Cisco, Siemens (heh, semen) Diebold, Lockheed, etc. Trust me Doug isn’t that far off, these aren’t places with foozball tables and beer taps.

  104. 104
    MikeJ says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    I know those people too, they write in Visual Studio and stuff like that, they’re not real tech guys like I mean.

    As someone who owns more than a dozen anti microsoft tshirts handed out by employers, I need to say that there’s nothing in particular wrong with Visual Studio, as long as you aren’t writing asp pages in it.

  105. 105
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: “Working with logic and numbers leads them to believe that all problems can be solved with hard analysis. More subtle humanistic problems tend to elude them.”

    This more than anything, IMO. They are used to finding tidy solutions to the problems they face in their work and they think that cold, hard logic translates to everything in life.

    It’s black or white to them. They don’t do gray well at all.

    OT: I’m getting my medical marijuana grower in to the high tech world. The guy is almost 80, spry as hell (as is his wife) and he is learning to use a computer so he can use a spreadsheet I’m developing for him to enter his crop data into. He’s been keeping handwritten notes for years and when I saw them I suggested going “high” tech. :)

    He needed a computer so I put a nice and free (and severely overpowered) system together from computer parts that customers have left me with after upgrading. I tossed in an old HP 19 inch CRT and he’s happy as a clam. They were amazed that I gave them everything but I told them that they helped me get rid of stuff that I would have probably had to toss out sooner or later (as I do regularly with crappier/lower value components).

    He tracks plant strain, generation, growth, cycle length, total yield, average plant yield, losses (and at what stage), materials and more. I’m setting it up so he can track each crop, collecting and entering data the data for each strain grown. He loves the idea that he can easily view and manipulate the data as needed, even graphically. He’s a smart old codger (looks like Yosemite Sam, same attitude too) and is really interested in doing this. He’s letting me know what he needs and I’m configuring the spreadsheet accordingly. He plans to share the finished Excel file with others in the local growers group he is a member of.

    I’m glad to help the cause (medical marijuana) and it’s fun teaching an old dog new tricks. What’s even better is that the guy and his wife are Obama supporters and former union members living off of their pensions, medical plans and social security/medicare. They know that life would be difficult for them without those and they are angry at seeing the right trying to dismantle them.

    They are good people and it’s great to help them. :)

  106. 106
    Chaf says:

    I wrote out a thousand-word thing about this that nobody’s going to read.

    Here’s the short version: Just like every other occupation, most engineers are shitty engineers. Glibertarianism is appealing to the shitty engineer, as it makes the real world’s real complexities appear to be subordinate to a childishly simple little set of rules.

    A good/great engineer makes a far greater effort to understand the requirements before determining how to build the machine and/or keep the machine working, whether the machine in question is a locomotive or a software suite or a society. In my IT career, I’ve found that the glibertarians are always the shitty engineers, and the good engineers, the guys who really get it and turn out fundamentally useful product, also get that society isn’t ever going to decide to follow a short and “rational” list of rules.

  107. 107
    eemom says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    ((((hearts)))))

    you are my only comfort in this exceedingly dark blog-hour.

  108. 108
    Nylund says:

    I blame Snowcrash.

  109. 109
    Cat says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    I know those people too, they write in Visual Studio and stuff like that, they’re not real tech guys like I mean.

    Damn straight. The real tech guys use vi. amirite? :-0

    :wq

  110. 110
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @jrg:

    You can write C++ in Visual Studio.

  111. 111
    Jack the Second says:

    @JGabriel:

    …but maybe that’s just Manhattan.

    I think it is just Manhattan. Ignoring the “rich enough to be a Republican” aspect, living in a city like Manhattan beats you upside the head with the notion of the public good.

    Mass transit, city water, garbage collection… everything has to be working perfectly or everyone suffers. Shared resources; you’re always in an apartment building, with neighbors a few feet away in every direction. And the poor, the homeless, are /right there/. You can’t avoid them, even if you can ignore them. When I was living out in the country or in a suburb, you occasionally saw someone who might be homeless, but only from a distance. In a city like Manhattan, when someone is suffering, you know it. You see them sleeping on the sidewalk, you hear them begging on the subway, you /smell/ them sleeping on the subway.

    It’s my opinion that cities cause liberalism, and a mighty city like Manhattan causes a mighty amount of liberalism.

  112. 112
    Ed Marshall says:

    @/dev/null:

    Don’t ever get into an argument with /dev/null, and it’s been some years since I was really involved in the scene, it might have been a generational thing. But I couldn’t go anywhere in those circles without someone beating me over the head with “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”.

  113. 113
    Chad N Freude says:

    @magurakurin: That’s a little obscure to me. I assume you mean you’re tired of being cast as some kind of conservative because you’re a tech professional.

  114. 114
    Halteclere says:

    @seabe

    My graduating class for my major was 10% women, and I know a few girls who switched out of engineering over it.

    Compared to when I graduated college 20 years ago, 10% women in an Engineering class is a 100% improvement. And one which I’m happy to see.

    A former manager of mine, who was about the same age as I, said she was always accused of attending Engineering classes “for an MRS degree”.

  115. 115
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: When are you publishing your paper, and in which journal. I usually agree with you (I think — I tend to confuse various commenters here), but this is absurd.

  116. 116
    Martin says:

    @srv:

    I predict Apple’s new $10K corporate matching policy will go nowhere, because they don’t donate.

    Huh. I don’t know any glibs at Apple – lots of liberals. Shit, I know more trans at Apple than glibs.

    Scarily, the only older geek crowd I know that wasn’t blue but leaned libertarian were some (but not all) of the NASA labs (KSC, JSC, MFSC). Real pieces of teh ironical, they were.

    And the JPL guys I know are mostly hippies. Of course, they fucking built Voyager and are still there keeping them alive.

  117. 117
    srv says:

    @Nylund: I will bring this up with Neal when I see him next week.

  118. 118
    JGabriel says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    Web design/graphic design doesn’t count. That’s the only real “tech” in Manhattan.

    Heh. And fuck you, too.

    Wall Street is in Manhattan. I’ve worked, building and running real tech systems, for the headquarters of: finance companies, banks, pharmaceutical companies, and real estate development companies here.

    .

  119. 119
    Chad N Freude says:

    @eemom: Please don’t taint me with your well-known negative reputation here.*

    *I kid.

  120. 120
    penpen says:

    @Chaf: Succinct and insightful. Thanks! And commiseration for your silent toil as self-editor.

  121. 121
    Martin says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    So how come the college interns and twenty-something Computer Scientist types I work with are liberal? I’m not kidding.

    Because that’s the next generation, and I see that too.

  122. 122
    /dev/null says:

    @Ed Marshall: Funny you pick that… pretty sure Raymond is actually a gun-loving libertarian (the gun part is for sure).

    You know, my guess is that it’s mellowed a bit. But you certainly still have your extremists and ideologues out there, that’s probably never going to disappear entirely.

  123. 123
    DarrenG says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:

    You can also write C and Intel assembly in Visual Studio. Trust me — I spend half my time doing it. Visual Studio is a fine development tool unless you make the mistake of using it to build in MS-proprietary languages as mentioned above.

    I do call BS on what most Wall Street types code in, though. I know those guys, too, and CPU speed is rarely a factor in what they do; it’s all I/O bound. As with any other industry there are exceptions, I’m sure, but it’s hardly the rule that these guys are coding down on bare metal for speed.

    I suspect that the lower percentage of libertarian types in financial services has more to do with the lack of DoD connection I mentioned above. Here on the west coast it’s hard to find many uber-techies of my age (mid-40s) who didn’t do a stint in aerospace.

  124. 124
    suzanne says:

    Because many people who succeed in highly rule-bound endeavors lack the social/interpersonal intelligence that leads to true empathy, and the ability to plausibly look at the world from the assumed point of view of another is the most important step in recognition/regulation of the collective sphere of our lives.

  125. 125
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ah, gotcha.

  126. 126
    jrg says:

    @Big Baby DougJ:
    I’m not going to spend too much time responding to you, as clearly you’re trolling your own post this evening. My original response was to your statement: “they’re not real tech guys like I mean”. That is bullshit. The kind of work a lot of those folks are doing is about as tech as you can get… Right next to the bare metal, squeezing everything out of the machine they can. Granted, they could be doing something a lot more beneficial to society than HFT, but it’s still very sophisticated work.

  127. 127
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Chaf: That’s an interesting point, and it may explain why my group exists in Opposite World. Our employer gives new meaning to the word “selective”. (How I made it in is a mystery, but everybody I work with is totally brilliant.)

  128. 128
    theturtlemoves says:

    I’m going to assume this no true Scotsman stuff is just DougJ trolling the blog again. Otherwise, I’d be tempted to suggest farm implement insertion into nether orifices. As someone who is a techie, isn’t a glibertarian, doesn’t really know many in the field (but tend to work with lots of furriners), and actually thinks that real programmers do, in fact, use Visual Studio to, you know, code stuff, I’m calling bullshit.

  129. 129
    wasabi gasp says:

    Yellow 6

  130. 130
    MagicPanda says:

    DougJ: Are you talking about hardcore IT guys? Because those guys are paid to be paranoid.

    Someone who writes a video codec is just as technical as someone who does IT admin of a large system, but the latter is paid to be distrustful of everything and everyone.

  131. 131
    PIGL says:

    @Ed Marshall: Indeed. But ‘p’ != ‘P’.

    He may have meant that, but then he’d still need a regular expression so that grep could print the first 7000-odd matches from stdin.

    And yes, I am insufferable. Never more so than trying to teach programming to my graduate students who are all ecologists and foresters.

  132. 132
    seabe says:

    @Halteclere: Yeah I know it’s an improvement, but it’s still horrible. You should see some of the classmates trying to explain things to the girls in the class. Some of the dudes act like they girls have a mental disability. You know the idiots who start raising their voice and repeating what they say to people who don’t speak English? That’s how I felt they treated the women (subtler, of course). In 2011. It disgusted me.

    It’s weird that you say it’s a 100% improvement, though, because when I look at the graduation class pictures hanging up in the department, the 1990’s had way more women in the classes than now.

  133. 133
    srv says:

    @Martin: The two Steve’s were libertarian/Randians at some point. From iWoz:

    From that point on, I saw that the government would do whatever it could to beat a citizen, that it was just a game. And this was the exact opposite of the way I had thought of government my whole life. That episode taught me an important lesson about government, authority, even the police. You couldn’t trust them to do the right thing…I can’t even describe to you the shock and disgust I felt at our government: that they would play this kind of game with my life, that they didn’t care about people the way that my dad had taught me. I’d thought the government was here to protect us, but that turned out to be wrong. I now believed the government was just out to do what was good for the government and would lie about anything they could get away with. They were not there to do sensible things, and they played with my life in the worst possible way.

    http://columbialibertarians.bl.....zniak.html

  134. 134
    Linnaeus says:

    Speculations aside (including my own), I think it’s worth heeding the cautions that some folks have voiced here; absent any historical, cultural, or sociological data, it’s dangerous to generalize. Plus we do seem to be having a taxonomic problem here, i.e., what defines a “techie”?

  135. 135
    G says:

    They’re fans of the early RUSH! stuff, like 2112? or the trees?

  136. 136
    MikeJ says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Plus we do seem to be having a taxonomic problem here

    Eponysterical.

  137. 137
    Martin says:

    @Halteclere:

    Compared to when I graduated college 20 years ago, 10% women in an Engineering class is a 100% improvement. And one which I’m happy to see.

    Natl avg is a bit over 20% now. Low point is Computer Engineering ~10%. EE not much higher. Chemical and Biomedical are probably 40% now. It’s getting there, slowly.

    I think the lesson that is finally starting to sink in is that young women tend to show more interest where they have a sense of the social connection of the field. Engineering flat-out sucks at communicating that, but it’s more apparent in some fields like biomed than it is in others like EE.

  138. 138
    SectarianSofa says:

    Why would anyone type grep -xxx -pql ? Is their keyboard broken? (Ha Ha)

    Anyway, I’m usually a techie, and I’m not usually a glibertarian.
    (“Never” being a more accurate description; just trying to stick with the wording of the thesis.)

    Hmm. And I just realized I was (deliberately) using one of those old school Unix-type mice that has three buttons, and no scroll wheel. Works with Linux.

    I dislike libertarians less than anyone in your generic GOP, etc.. I’ve known just as many techie superjesuschristian people as the libertarian ones. And they’re worse. (anecdata!)

  139. 139
    Linnaeus says:

    @MikeJ:

    I was hoping someone would get that.

  140. 140
    Chris says:

    @Jack the Second:

    It’s my opinion that cities cause liberalism, and a mighty city like Manhattan causes a mighty amount of liberalism.

    Concur.

  141. 141
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @MagicPanda:

    I mean

    (a) hardcore tech guys, as you put it.
    (b) people who know everything about Unix.

  142. 142
    Martin says:

    @srv: Sure, but I think that’s just a variant on this:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

    Lots of people go through that phase. I think it just hit the Steves a bit later than 14.

  143. 143
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I think its that many tech jobs do in fact pay what are by any standard pretty good wages, it makes some people rather insulated from the rest of the world. “I’ve got my 90k a year job, fuck those unemployed welfare recipients.”

  144. 144
    Chris says:

    @Martin:

    Because that’s the next generation, and I see that too.

    There are no words to express how much I hope my generation brings back the liberalism. (Young people are supposed to lean disproportionately liberal: I’m hoping it doesn’t fade with age).

  145. 145
    JGabriel says:

    @MikeJ:

    As someone who owns more than a dozen anti microsoft tshirts handed out by employers, I need to say that there’s nothing in particular wrong with Visual Studio, as long as you aren’t writing asp pages in it.

    DougJ apparently thinks real men still code in vi.

    .

  146. 146
    MikeJ says:

    @Martin: And it’s easier to be a libertarian after you’ve made a few billion and people won’t tell you to your face that you’re an idiot or that the Us festival is a bad idea.

  147. 147
    MikeJ says:

    @JGabriel: Fuck vi. Emacs forever!

  148. 148
    MagicPanda says:

    +1 MikeJ

  149. 149
    Chad N Freude says:

    @suzanne: And yet, my colleagues are succeeding in highly rule-bound endeavors and they’re all LIBERALs.

    I don’t want to offend you, Suzanne, but this is another example of the glib pseudo-analysis I mentioned at @Chad N Freude.

    All of you (well, most) who are doing this are intelligent and AFIK reasonably analytic, but you’re doing what we all excoriate the Right for doing: arguing from what I think must explain some phenomenon that offends me, without actually trying to find — you know, some kind of evidence.

    ETA: Anecdotes don’t help.

  150. 150
    RareSanity says:

    @JGabriel:

    DougJ apparently thinks real men still code in vi.

    Pfft…punchcards or GTFO!

  151. 151
    Mantooth says:

    Was writing a long response to this when I glanced at the XKCD comic I keep above my monitor. http://xkcd.com/386/

    Seems like you have a lot of techie folks reading this blog, DougJ. We skew pretty liberal but maybe that’s just my sheltered upbringing, sub-human social skills, and god-complex clouding my judgement.

  152. 152
    Ed Marshall says:

    @PIGL:

    I just got done at 8 pm being a student who went back to school to escape IT, and I’m +4 and couldn’t be bothered to think more heavily about it, and was enjoying that fact. Thanks for doing the lifting that I started to do and just thought, “Jesus, fucking who cares how to actually make DougJ’s grep command functional”. Apparently I do, because I had the same thought and couldn’t quite banish the thing and the confirmation quiets my mind.

  153. 153
    srv says:

    @DougJ

    You know what I mean.

    … 141 comments later:

    I mean

    This was very interesting, you need to find more of these O-bot trigger points and give the DFH’s a break on occasion.

  154. 154
    MagicPanda says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: Is a unix guy who wrote a video codec a “hardcore tech guy”? What about someone who writes a C compiler but isn’t a unix guy?

  155. 155
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @MikeJ:

    Fuck Emacs! VIM forevah!!

  156. 156
    lol says:

    I see the first few posters made nearly all the points I would’ve.

    Slashdot.org is infested with this type of libertarian.

  157. 157
    MagicPanda says:

    @Chad N Freude: That’s because this conversation doesn’t matter. It’s like having a BS conversation in a bar. You don’t need citations for just shooting the shit.

  158. 158
    Darkrose says:

    A significant number of techies I’ve worked with have been glibertarians. Part of it is the IGMFY thing that’s been mentioned. Part of it is that they read Atlas Shrugged in high school or college and felt like the depiction of a genius oppressed by society is totally them. And part of it is because they also read Heinlein, and think that he was telling them how to get laid.

    Most of the tech libertarians I know would consider themselves mostly apolitical, or “socially liberal/fiscally conservative”, which translates to, “I want to smoke dope; I don’t care about teh ghey, but I don’t want to pay taxes.”

  159. 159
    RareSanity says:

    @MagicPanda:

    What about someone who writes a C compiler but isn’t a unix guy?

    Unpossible…

  160. 160
    Chad N Freude says:

    @MagicPanda: Good observation. But the commenters here are just as serious as the pundits. FSM knows I am.

  161. 161
    MikeJ says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Can you read mail and browse the web in vi?

    And why haven’t I ported eliza and pinhead to eclipse? I’ll get to it in my copious spare time.

  162. 162
    /dev/null says:

    @JGabriel: Well, that attitude does seem common in the UNIX/Linux crowd in my experience. Not that I agree with it, but that’s the way it is mostly: emacs or vi…. same as it ever was.

    A wise non-tech-geek at my job once said:

    Catch-22: The people who could solve the problem of Linux lacking a standard IDE are, necessarily, the people for whom it isn’t a problem.

  163. 163
    JGabriel says:

    @MikeJ:

    Fuck vi. Emacs forever!

    DougJ:

    Why are tech people so often glibertarians?

    Anyone else think DougJ just trolled us into an early 21st C. version of the Emacs vs. vi debate combined with a When did you stop beating off to Ayn Rand? fillip?

    .

  164. 164

    I think some of them must start with the glibertarian, and then ever afterward seek tech/ scientific/engineering endeavors to be the appropriate heroes of the life story they come to believe they should write about themselves. Or else they buy a leather jacket and go all in to write it about other people.

    I was a glib for awhile after reading Heinlein juveniles, and wanted to major in biology because as a geneticist, I’d be performing an especial earth-mother role in a technocratic way. Luckily, I got a Robert Anton Wilson anti-dote in time and found I can’t take libertarianism seriously, and while I still appreciate science–I don’t romanticize it–a heap of libertarian Rand-centrism has to do with romanticizing, I think. The best remedy for which is humor and observation, which requires time and hanging out with people who aren’t even like you: which investments I posit libertarians don’t customarily make.

  165. 165
    MagicPanda says:

    @RareSanity: The compiler writers I’ve known are not ALL unix geeks. I mean.. they can use unix ok (about as well as I can) but I don’t remember how to use the ‘find’ command, for example.

  166. 166
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Linnaeus: Yep!
    BTW, I’ve always liked your taxonomy. (Dude! That’s not a pick-up line. Please!)

  167. 167
    lethargytartare says:

    I think this is probably just an expression of people who fail to meet our expectations occupying a greater significance in our thoughts, i.e., if you respect the intelligence of “x” professionals in general, and then meet a couple who believe “y” stupid thing, you acquire the sense that an inordinate number of “x” believe “y”

    I know I initially found myself agreeing with Doug, but after reading the thread through, I just did a mental head-count of my hardcore techie friends and realized I was probably wrong.

    but damn, man, the two libertarian techie’s I do know really should know better, shouldn’t they?

  168. 168
    Linnaeus says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    Why, thank you, though it’s been heavily modified since I came up with the scheme in the 18th century…

  169. 169
    /dev/null says:

    @lethargytartare: What???? You think there might be some confirmation bias happening here? Don’t be silly.

  170. 170
    DW says:

    I’d say there’s a much duller explanation. It’s not that techies are more likely to be libertarian than anyone else once you control for demographic factors. It’s that libertarian techies are likely to tie their political ideology, profession and usually a taste for science fiction into one grand world view. In contrast liberal techies are not inclined to see “liberal” and “techie” as part of a single phenomenon. It probably is Heinlein’s fault – he glorified both techies and libertarianism while magically exempting the military from anti-government philosophy. Add in the tendency of libertarians to be loud mouthed on line and it creates the illusion that the profession is ultra-libertarian.

  171. 171
    Chad N Freude says:

    @JGabriel: The question is:
    DougJ, shark-jumper, troll, or provocateur?
    I find it hard to believe that he believes the thesis in his post. Or maybe he just hangs with a bunch of deviant nerds.

  172. 172
    MikeJ says:

    @JGabriel:

    Anyone else think DougJ just trolled us into an early 21st C. version of the Emacs vs. vi debate

    Only those who haven’t used slrn have actually thought a emacs v vi argument was serious.

    Everybody knows emacs is better.

  173. 173
    Linnaeus says:

    Add in the tendency of libertarians to be loud mouthed on line and it creates the illusion that the profession is ultra-libertarian.

    Yeah, there could be a case of the availability heuristic at work here. When I worked for a labor union, the most vicious response we ever got from someone who didn’t want to join came from someone who just happened to be in the computer science & engineering department. So that memory sticks with me, but that doesn’t mean that that person’s colleagues felt the same way.

  174. 174
    PIGL says:

    The association of hackers and libertarians goes back to the dawn of the intertubes, to the days of !paths and usenet, before rn. To at least 1983, in point of fact.

    In those days, jagoffs like Gary Strand and others who I can’t call to mind right now trolled the politics groups with their libertarian hallucinations. And their first principles reasoning, as if a smattering of logic and algol were all the knowledge required to solve any problem ever.

    I remember telling them at the time: you think you are so smart and special? All it takes is 5,000 bux to by a Sun 3, and there are a hundred million chinese and indian and indonesian guys and gals just as smart as you, and a whole lot less obnoxious. And the delta between your salary costs and theirs will pay for that Sun 3 in about a month. Truer words I never spoke, except the delta is now about 48 hours.

    So I lived long enough, and grew fat enough to have the last laugh. Check the wayback machine or the usenet archives for “noted net.leftist” because I was one of the few.

  175. 175
    MagicPanda says:

    slrn?

    1) Why slrn instead of rn?
    2) Why not read news directly in emacs?

  176. 176
    PIGL says:

    @MagicPanda: The first compiler writer I knew wrote an algol68 compiler for a Ahmdal something or other, basicallya jumped up 370.

    And he wrote it assembler, IIRC.

  177. 177
    MagicPanda says:

    I would not want to write a compiler in assembly.

  178. 178
    jl says:

    @Chad N Freude: It’s irresponsible not to speculate.

    So yeah, I have no studies. Just my casual observation that people who work within well designed systems are more likely to think the whole world should work that way, and if it doesn’t it is due to incompetence, slacking or malice.

    But I know a lot of very sensible tech people, many of them lefties. And I know one glibertarian tea party civil engineer. His coworker engineers think he has lost his mind, and deeply resent his implications that they are destroying freedom when any government chips in a dime on a project they are working on. Now that I think about it, I wonder what projects the guy can work on without being a hypocrite. I find most engineers that have to deal big dirt and rock stuff to be moderate types, more often than other types of techies, from my small sample.

    Edit: And anyway, the real insult was when I said techies with glibertarian leanings tend to think about the whole world like fanatical free neoclassical economists wrt to how they reason. No outrage over that slander?

  179. 179
    RareSanity says:

    @MagicPanda:

    I know.

    I’ve never been partial to any operating system or development environment. I’ll use whatever’s available.

    Then again, my degree is actually in Electrical Engineering, so I didn’t develop an affinity for anything going through college. I didn’t start programming (in something other than assembly) till after I graduated and got my first job

  180. 180
    suzanne says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    All of you (well, most) who are doing this are intelligent and AFIK reasonably analytic, but you’re doing what we all excoriate the Right for doing: arguing from what I think must explain some phenomenon that offends me, without actually trying to find—you know, some kind of evidence.

    Except that none of us are trying to make public policy to fuck over nerds.

    Well, I am, but it’s a secret. Shhh.

    Yes, this is totally speculative. I have no evidence other than my personal experience with shitloads of nerds.

  181. 181
    Chad N Freude says:

    @MagicPanda: I’ve done it (well, not single-handed, I only wrote a part). It’s fun.

  182. 182
    goddinpotty says:

    Many good comments, but nobody has mentioned a key factor, which is that decentralized systems (such as a free market) have a certain degree of elegance and beauty, to one of a nerdly disposition. Do not underestimate the power of this kind of aesthetic consideration, especially to people who are aesthetically-challenged in most of the normal ways.

    That’s probably putting tech libertarians in the best possible light. The worst possible light might be Eric Raymond, a living cliche who has reinforced the worst stereotypes of hackers, and didn’t let his libertarianism interfere with being a cheerleader for the Iraq war and an apologist for torture.

  183. 183
    punkdavid says:

    Code doesn’t have feelings.

  184. 184
    eemom says:

    well, at least I’ve gotten a few people to sign on to my “DougJ is trolling” meme.

    I count that as a victory. And otherwise you all suck. Nighty-night.

  185. 185
    Chad N Freude says:

    @jl:

    techies with glibertarian leanings tend to think about the whole world like fanatical free neoclassical economists wrt to how they reason

    That’s not slanderous. If you omitted the phrase “with glibertarian leanings”, then we could have the argument where I am deeply offended.

  186. 186
    hitchhiker says:

    @Chaf:

    Yes. After that, I’d read the thousand-word version. I work for a very shitty engineer who is also an intense & vicious glibertarian.

    Cannot leave that company soon enough.

  187. 187
    Chad N Freude says:

    @suzanne:

    I have no evidence other than my personal experience with shitloads of nerds.

    All I can say is I sympathize; you’ve been consorting with the wrong sort of nerds. They certainly exist, but my experience is that they’re not dominant.

  188. 188
    Chad N Freude says:

    @punkdavid:

    Code doesn’t have feelings.

    Then how do you explain the elderly Fortran program weeping over there in the corner of the room?

  189. 189
    jl says:

    @eemom: DougJ is always trolling. I take that as a given. But we need all eyes on the guy, so thanks for the reminder.

  190. 190
    jl says:

    @Chad N Freude: Hey, don’t get personal, there. I’m trying to get them to update the damn programs.

    Edit: though I think old Fortran code enjoys being a total pain. I think one old dinosaur I have to deal with would work better on a spreadsheet.

  191. 191
    suzanne says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    you’ve been consorting with the wrong sort of nerds.

    I will freely admit that this is most likely the case. I consort with all the wrong sorts of people. But it’s Arizona. If I didn’t hang out with libertarian gun nuts, I’d pretty much have fuck-nothing to do EVER.

    I was actually getting all depressed on here a few months ago because an ex-boyfriend of mine who I found out had never actually read the Constitution until I completely out-debated his ass has some completely shitty libertarian blog. I FUCKED A LIBERTARIAN and I just feel DIRTY.

  192. 192
    eemom says:

    @punkdavid:

    At first glance I thought this said “Cole doesn’t have feelings.”

  193. 193
    The Spy Who Loved Me says:

    I only know three “techies” really well. One being my sister (systems analyst), another her husband (programmer) and the other her best friend (also a programmer). Although the B-I-L fits the “nerdy” description (boy, is he into Anime) the other two are far from it. Both are into sports, music, and partying. All three are rather attractive as well, so I think (and know for a fact with my sister) they probably were getting laid in high school. :)

    I wouldn’t describe any of the three as libertarian. I’d go with conservative instead. But, that might be because they all live in Texas.

  194. 194
    Vince CA says:

    @RareSanity: I was the same way. Now I’m fully an operations engineer and loving it. I’m never going back to IC design again.

    I was going to be offended by DougJ’s post, but I decided against it. Most people’s interaction with IT/OPS is negative, so it’s easy to stereotype the bad apples as the whole lot. I’ve never actually encountered a glibertarian in IT. All the libs I knew went on to become lawyers or were high-level manager-thinkers who hadn’t coded in at least a decade but somehow still thought that their knowledge of Cobol made what they had to say about perl programs relevant.

  195. 195
    RareSanity says:

    @Vince CA:

    I think DougJ is using us all for a sick sociology experiment in trolling.

    The only thing easier than punching hippies is trolling techies. Damn that DougJ!

  196. 196
    Jason Stokes says:

    One factor not mentioned yet: path-dependent social evolution. Specifically, the influence of two men: the editor John W. Campbell, and his favorite author, Robert Heinlien.

    You see, nerdy, techy types tend to read science fiction in their adolescence, and Campbell was one of the most powerful editors in SF for more than 40 years. Both Campbell and Heinlein embraced libertarianism wholeheartedly. Thanks largely to the social influence of these two individuals it became the default political philosophy of the science fiction community from the 1960s onwards. Eric Raymond gives the libertarian perspective on this relationship here:

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/sf-history.html

    In addition to peddling libertarianism, in his magazines John Campbell peddled stories about psionic powers, miraculous alternative energy sources, mutant supermen, bizarre new religious movements, and triumphant techno-nerds. Worse yet, he liked to publish articles presenting the same psuedo-science as “science-fact.” The unifying thread of the John W. Campbell worldview was its adolescent preoccupation with Unlimited Power and Triumph over the Mundane, and libertarianism is of a piece with that perspective. (Indeed, science fiction fans, in a classic case of projection, call non-science-fiction fans “Mundanes.”)

    Many science-fiction readers start out exceptionally young, exceptionally naive, or exceptionally stupid. Even highly educated engineers tend to be extremely gullible outside their narrow domain of competency, and especially with the social element in life. Add to that the ego-stroking, sociopathic aspect of libertarianism that appeals to nerdy socially awkward young men, and you have a ready market of suckers in the tech community. The generation that grew up on the John Campbell world view built the internet in the seventies and eighties, and their influence, in turn, profoundly influenced the second and third internet generations.

    It might have been different. Prior to Campbell, the default position of SF readers was liberal or even communist. Robert Heinlein himself was a communist in the 1930s before embracing right wing libertarianism in the 1940s. Had a few things been different, had the key personality been, say, Asimov, we might be asking the question “why are tech types all such bleeding liberals.?”

  197. 197
    Kyle says:

    I’m a server/network sysadmin.

    I majored in economics and absorbed all the righty-conservative ideology that dominated that field in the 80s. I used to be a moderate who voted for business-oriented Republicans maybe a third of the time.

    Working for a very stupid and cruel large corporation (*cough* Perot Systems) cured me of any illusions about the efficiency, “meritocracy” or goodness of corporations and “free enterprise” or management and the way they treat their employees or communities/host country. You couldn’t get me to vote for a Repuke or a libertarian today if you held a gun to my head.

    Maybe some techies get lucky and find a home in small, nimble startups with minimal bureaucracy that approximate some freewheeling libertarian ideal, but I can’t imagine any sentient being remaining a libertarian if they work in a non-management capacity for any length of time in a large corporation.

  198. 198
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Jason Stokes:

    Many science-fiction readers start out exceptionally young, exceptionally naive, or exceptionally stupid. Even highly educated engineers tend to be extremely gullible outside their narrow domain of competency, and especially with the social element in life. Add to that the ego-stroking, sociopathic aspect of libertarianism that appeals to nerdy socially awkward young men, and you have a ready market of suckers in the tech community. The generation that grew up on the John Campbell world view built the internet in the seventies and eighties, and their influence, in turn, profoundly influenced the second and third internet generations.

    I don’t agree with this (see my numerous comments above), but you’re * cough * right [/end pun] about Campbell. You left out his enthusiastic promotion of L. Ron Hubbard and the Hubbardian history of the Universe.

    I discovered Astounding Science Fiction at age 12 and devoured every subsequent issue, and read all of Heinlein, and somehow emerged as a capital-L, maybe Socia1ist, Liberal.

  199. 199
    Ripley says:

    All this brain / market power and my DSL still won’t work in a windstorm.

    you all suck

    Yes.

  200. 200
    Chad N Freude says:

    @suzanne: If you’re still around, be consoled by the fact that one cannot fuck a Libertarian, one can only be fucked by a Libertarian.

  201. 201
    BDeevDad says:

    As a tech person who grew up and had to face life due to my and my daughter’s health issues, it’s because they’re mostly young with no responsibilities while they make very good money. It’s a natural fit.

  202. 202
    No one of importance says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    Please don’t taint me with your well-known negative reputation here.

    Hell, it’s not like Anne Laurie say you made her laugh. Now that would really be tainting.

    I only know one techie (since apparently I don’t count, since I code in PHP and not C++) and he’s a raging Tory. Which, in America, makes him a Democrat, according to him, anyway.

  203. 203
    piratedan says:

    @Chad N Freude: I’d like to add the the genre has grown past its Campbellian origins, so that while you have folks like Asimov and Heinlein that date back to that time, the next generation did a pretty thorough job of kicking down the doors and taking “what if” to a whole boatload of places that plainly would have scared the ever-lovin crap outta Mr. Campbell and his self reliant man against the universe prototype. Authors like Phillip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny and Ursulla LeGuin pushed the envelope and in many cases fell off the writing table altogether. While the Space Opera genre is still alive and well, there’s plenty of vibrancy within the genre that I don’t think you can categorically pigeonhole it anymore as a bastion or breeding ground for embryonic glibertarians.

  204. 204
    Chris says:

    @Jason Stokes:

    Interesting analysis. Where does that leave science-fiction viewers (not readers)? Cause I definitely fit the socially awkward/loves sci-fi profile, but it tends to be movie or TV sci-fi in my case, which for whatever reason seems to lean far more liberal, in some cases even far left, than its literary counterparts.

    (Not that I don’t read sci-fi too. Star Wars DID span a ridiculously comprehensive “expanded universe.”)

  205. 205
    MacKenna says:

    Late to this party, but wonder if some techies (can’t say if all or most or many are like this) are glibertarian because they profited from bubble era economics.

  206. 206
    joeshabadoo says:

    Tech firms have had massive growth in their lifetimes. They could be the next Bill Gates! Never mind that Bill was then screwing the little guy with monopolistic practices. There is more of a chance for a lone guy with a big idea to make it big, or at least sell out to Google, in a few years than many other fields at the moment. A lot of them see themselves as this guy (when they get that break or the right idea hits them anytime now)

    They also see themselves above many other workers because of their education and jobs. These kinds of people can’t relate to working class people despite the fact that is often what they are with higher incomes (and sometimes way more work). They relate to the people at the top more so they tend to hate unions and the like.

    Also knowing things that the average person doesn’t gives them a sense of superiority. Tech support still asks if your computer is plugged in because people don’t know about them. These guys know way more than the people that most people call for help. That makes these people feel like irreplacable super geniuses because they know all the ins and outs.

  207. 207
    Valdivia says:

    @Jason Stokes:

    I have been wanting for someone to explain Heinlein to me for a long time and your post went a long way to enlightening me. I dated a techie a year ago and he was very much a Heinlein type. How does the libertarian stuff go with the polyamori stuff? I’m never gonna read him so I’m hoping someone will explain!

  208. 208
    A Mom Anon says:

    Sigh. I get tired of the stereotype of the person with Asperger’s having a lack of empathy.My son is a really kind hearted person,he doesn’t view people as disposable or interchangable. I also get the same crap from my neighbors who know about my son’s Asperger’s,they think he’s also a savant and can’t wrap their heads around the fact that he’s barely making it in school.

    Damnit. People with any form of Autism are not exactly alike. They.Just.Aren’t. Just because someone doesn’t “fit”into some little cubby hole at school or work doesn’t mean the problem is ALL them. Maybe it’s stupid made up social constructs and people being asshats AND maybe THEY are the ones who lack some damned empathy.

    I’m sorry,my kid is struggling with not having friends at school and it’s not from a lack of him trying hard. I could name so many things(giving him fake phone numbers,that lead to”loser hotlines”,telling him the world would be better off if he killed himself”.Not returning his calls,accepting invites to parties we tried to throw and then no one shows up,etc,etc)that have nothing to do with my son. Even his teachers don’t understand what he’s done to be ostracized. So yeah,I’m a bit touchy. But please,try to understand that anyone with any sort of disability is not a cookie cutter reproduction of another person with the same issues. Stop it. It’s harmful.

  209. 209
    cleek says:

    today’s question: why are bloggers so comfortable doing mass psychoanalysis from a distance ?

    lack of intelligence? lack of sympathy? bad parenting?

  210. 210
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @Morzer:

    As an ex-emo mathematician, you have a point. Higher level math really requires a certain amount of natural masochism. I mean you could go do something else a lot easier and make more money (like b-school), why painfully struggle with difficult math?

  211. 211

    Oh man I LOVE that movie! I wish I’d known it was going to be on AMC. Next time give us a programming alert!

    Really? Lots of tech people are Glibertarians? We know this? IF that’s true — and I”m not conceding the point — perhaps it’s because the tech field is dominated by the young, and these days so many young people are glibertarians. I’ve noticed today’s youth are way more glibertarian-leaning in general. Which makes all of those conservative efforts to disenfranchise young voters so hilarious. They’re shooting themselves in the foot.

    But whatever….

  212. 212
    Chinn Romney says:

    Some of us still remember the wisdom of Larry Wall:

    Laziness – The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful, and document what you wrote so you don’t have to answer so many questions about it. Hence, the first great virtue of a programmer.

    Impatience – The anger you feel when the computer is being lazy. This makes you write programs that don’t just react to your needs, but actually anticipate them. Or at least pretend to. Hence, the second great virtue of a programmer.

    Hubris – Excessive pride, the sort of thing Zeus zaps you for. Also the quality that makes you write (and maintain) programs that other people won’t want to say bad things about. Hence, the third great virtue of a programmer.

  213. 213
  214. 214
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    Joining the party late; apologies.

    In over twenty years and seven jobs, I’ve known exactly one software engineer who’d qualify as having Asperger’s. He was genuinely socially retarded and a bit of a pain in the ass to work with. And I wouldn’t class him as a glibertarian; he was a racist, sexist, flaming asshole who had little patience or empathy for other human beings, but he didn’t constantly spout Randian pseudo-philosophy (at least not when I was around).

    I’ve also known maybe 3 or 4 guys who’d genuinely qualify as Big-L Libertarians. Most of the people I’ve worked with fall into the mainstream, non-crazy Republican or Democratic part of the spectrum.

    It’s true the tech field attracts people who are, shall we say, not social butterflies; we do this because we prefer working with machines to people.

    As far as why it seems like so many techies are hard-core Libertarians, I’ve noticed that it’s the hard-core Libertarians who tend to share their political philosophy the most readily, whether you want to have it shared or not. Most of us prefer not to talk politics or economics at work; these guys can’t help themselves and talk about it constantly. Every conversation, no matter how innocent, eventually turns to the evils of the State and how it’s out to enslave everybody. So it can seem like Libertarians are over-represented, just because they make the most noise.

  215. 215
    Felinious Wench says:

    Enterprise technical architect who eats, breathes, and sleeps tech. My teams are all over the world. I concur with older techies are more liberal, and the younger ones seem to eventually grow out of their Glibertarian phase.

    The vast bulk of the people I work with are Liberals or moderates. Across the spectrum of skill levels and technology. We have a couple of militant Glibs, but they’re not particularly good in agile teams. Go figure.

  216. 216
    Paul in KY says:

    Late to the party, but I work in the tech fields & with them & most of them are misers who make a good chunk of change & don’t want to pay any taxes (because then they can’t get the latest super-pentium, positronic whatzit the moment it 1st comes out).

    A significant subset of them are religious & trend GOP, but sometimes don’t like to self-identify as GOP.

  217. 217
    JD Rhoades says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    I discovered Astounding Science Fiction at age 12 and devoured every subsequent issue, and read all of Heinlein, and somehow emerged as a capital-L, maybe Socia1ist, Liberal.

    Me too, probably because reading those writers led me to Harlan Ellison, Ted Sturgeon, and Spider Robinson.

  218. 218
    RareSanity says:

    @Chinn Romney:

    Holy crap those are some astute observations…

    I remember being a wild eyed junior engineer working on a project. After I figured out, what had been a roadblock in the project for awhile, one of the senior guys said to me, “That was pretty ingenious”. I told him thank you, but really, it was me just being lazy and tired of dealing with it. His response:

    “Laziness is one of the most important traits of a good engineer, especially in corporate environments. That tells me that I never have to worry about you getting bogged down in the paralysis of analysis.”

    Then a bit of wisdom from my Dad, told to me, when I was telling him a story about this really, really anal guy I worked with:

    “I like engineers with messy desks. The guys that are so organized, and particular about appearance, are usually trying to hide the fact that they’re not very good. What good engineer has the time to keep a desk spotless and well organized?”

  219. 219
    jayackroyd says:

    They think they’ve achieved their success through merit and extraordinary effort, and they don’t think it’s right that they should have to share the fruits of that entirely self-earned achievements.

    It was kinda of funny, in a tragic kind of way, to see the reaction among these kinds of people, to the outsourcing of development work to India. Suddenly merit and effort weren’t the only elements that counted.

  220. 220
    RareSanity says:

    @jayackroyd:

    It was kinda of funny, in a tragic kind of way, to see the reaction among these kinds of people, to the outsourcing of development work to India. Suddenly merit and effort weren’t the only elements that counted.

    This is not true.

    The reaction was based on the fact that the only thing that counted was cost. Most of the stuff created by these “software houses” in India and Russia was absolute crap. But, management thought that engineers were basically interchangeable. Projects were always late because so much time was spent fixing the poorly written code by reduced domestic staff.

    The anger came from the fact that the “corporate” guys completely devalued what exactly the engineers did and thought it would be no different than outsourcing call centers. Come to think of it, outsourcing call centers doesn’t really work either, the companies just don’t care about that. They already got the money from people that would be calling customer service, plus the people calling are usually under some kind of contract, if there’s a monthly fee, so they’re not going anywhere.

  221. 221
    Fulcanelli says:

    A good example of the arrogant tech entrepreneur/libertarian mindset is this guy Arrington over at TechCrunch. He went off on Uncle Warren after Buffett’s op-ed about the super rich not paying enough taxes and for the most part got what’s left of his ass handed to him on a plate.

    Screw The Rich (Here’s How)

    A fair number of techie glibs barfed up worshipful hosannas which seems to support DougJ’s theory but a lot of the crowd, many who seem to be pretty smart folks, skullfucked him dry with some of the best smackdowns I’ve seen yet of the glib mindset.

    One jewel…

    All this is based on the fallacy that rich people are rich in direct linear proportion to the effort that they put into the methods used. You don’t get really rich without skimming off the top of the effort of a lot of people who aren’t getting rich and benefiting from a lot of public services, like a free educational system, judicial system, etc. Sure, you took some risk. But does that really deserve the sorts of payouts that we see? No, it doesn’t. But that’s the way the market “game” works. Which I’m fine with. But rich folks seem to think that because the market is open, that it’s fair. It’s not. It’s just a game like any other game. And in some games, the rewards aren’t always linearly proportional because that’s how the rules work. Taxes are way to put back some fairness into the system. The rich make all this money by skimming off the rest of us. We allow this because it encourages innovation. So we let them keep the vast majority of it. But we tax them because the we need to take back some of that money to pay for all those government services that made it possible for you make so much money in the first place. You didn’t make all that money on your own. You had a lot of help. Get over yourself and pay your fair share.

  222. 222
    slippy says:

    I am a techie guy. I have to say, the glibertarians among us are just the loudest little assholes in the room.

    They certainly aren’t the smartest. In fact, the hard-core glibertarian/conservative techies are generally the most often visited by the Fuckup Fairy, and can be counted on to drastically overestimate and overstate their competence and knowledge. Which is OK, because management knows that I can be counted on to clean up after their arrogant asses.

  223. 223
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @Jack the Second:

    As a fellow tech (non-libertarian, but surrounded by them)..

    Pretty much yes. What you said.

    Add asbergers and a school-life full of bullying and resentment… instant libertarian.. heh

    Maybe I didn’t end up being libertarian because I got my ass kicked for being a “faggot” not a “nerd”. heh.

    Still, after a quarter century of coding, I think most techies are insufferable morons.

    And NIH? tell me about it! I work with one.

    Do you have any idea how difficult it is to divine the workings of a platform built up over the course of 11 years by one person? *headdesk*… the company can’t even hire anyone else. I was the only one willing to take that on.

    NIH is the bane of my existence… I freaking hate this mentality with an unbridled passion bordering on murderous rage.

    And the offender in question is a libertarian….meh

  224. 224
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @slippy:

    LOL!!!

    I second your remark, and owe you a beer. heh

    Cheers

  225. 225
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @PIGL:

    Heh.

    I just tell them, I see your “Atlas Shrugged” and raise you “Stranger in a Strange Land”

    dystopian Sci-fi pulp fiction ideology can be fun! Like a game of Magic! *facepalm*

    Cheers =)

  226. 226
    gordon schumway says:

    @Morzer:

    Gotta go with what I’ve seen. Sorry, Gordon, but the description I have given fits with the overwhelming majority of a rather large number of mathmos I have known over the years. You may not like it, but I didn’t make the mathmo world.

    I question the depth of your experience. I live it every day and have for many years. There are approximately 200 mathematicians within 100 ft of me right now and, for example, I could survey them and am confident I would find very few were wearing black. (Also, ‘mathmos’ is certainly not an expression I’ve ever heard…)

  227. 227
    Librarian says:

    I assume that some of these libertarian techies must have gotten some government financial aid at some point in their educations, making them hypocrites of he highest order. Also, I don’t care how libertarian they are, sooner or later they are going to need more government help of some kind, whether it be SS, Medicare, or whatever, and they are in for a rude awakening when they find that their ideology is total bullshit.

  228. 228
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @suzanne: LOL!

    good to know you were willing to expand the horizons of the Libertarian in question.

    Now he can add sex to his short list of lived experiences.

    heh.

    Way to take one for the team… =)

  229. 229
    Barry says:

    @Big Baby DougJ: “I know lots of mathematicians (I am one) and the only glibertarian among them is a tech guy. Truth be told, they’re mostly Snooze Hour addicts.”

    It’s probably the tech – working with machines, and seeing people as the problem.

  230. 230
    dan says:

    All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

  231. 231
    mrmcd says:

    Being a software engineer and knowing quite a few tech people, including the usual assortment of raving lunatic Ayn Rand and Ron Paul worshiping types, I don’t know if the distribution of political opinions is really all that different than the other professional spheres. I’ve always thought of glibertarians as the default option for people who are basically right wing Republican assholes but couldn’t bring themselves to swallow the mandatory Jebus and NASCAR love that goes with it. That, and Republicans who also want to smoke weed. If there’s a higher than average concentration of glibertarians in tech jobs it’s probably for those reasons.

    That being said, for every right winger tech person I’ve also met at least one or more faux Buddhist obsessively tweeting about kombucha, organic dog food, and all the opposite political stereotypes. They’re just less memorable than some headcase gushing spittle fueled rants about how lazy minorities and unions are keeping back their glorious Galtian utopia.

  232. 232
    Barry says:

    @/dev/null: “I am happy to report that non-American geeks seem to be largely immune from the libertarian delusion. Well, I haven’t met any yet anyway.”

    It’s a uniquely American view, IMHO.

  233. 233
    Barry says:

    @moops: “The highest end of the education/training/intelligence band is not libertarian.”

    Interessssssssssssssssting. That would explain a lot – people who are smarter than the average, but not that smart, combined with a lot of Dunning-Krueger.

  234. 234
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @RareSanity:

    “Laziness is one of the most important traits of a good engineer, especially in corporate environments. That tells me that I never have to worry about you getting bogged down in the paralysis of analysis.”

    Agreed. Adding, Lazy programmers don’t write the same code twice.

    I like engineers with messy desks. The guys that are so organized, and particular about appearance, are usually trying to hide the fact that they’re not very good. What good engineer has the time to keep a desk spotless and well organized?

    My spouse has demanded that I move my office to back end of our place. I can’t say I blame her. I’m a slob when it comes to work. Disaster breeds creativity? or is it the other way around? (I kid)

  235. 235
    John says:

    @moops:

    The highest end of the education/training/intelligence band is not libertarian.

    It seems to be chronic amongst the mostly-competent technical types.

    That’s been my observation, too.

  236. 236
    Barry says:

    @Kyle: “Maybe some techies get lucky and find a home in small, nimble startups with minimal bureaucracy that approximate some freewheeling libertarian ideal, but I can’t imagine any sentient being remaining a libertarian if they work in a non-management capacity for any length of time in a large corporation.”

    I think that most of them would find out just how fun a ‘freewheeling libertarian ideal’ is, when they worked 80-100 hours/week, and found out that their last paycheck bounced and their stock options were worthless. Or other fun things, like the company was bought and never went public, so again their stock options were worthless.

  237. 237
    eemom says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    as a fellow mom, your account of your son’s experience cuts to the core. There is nothing more agonizing for a mother then seeing her child hurt. I am so sorry.

    Fake telephone numbers and the other things you mention — it is absolutely horrifying that children can be this cruel.

    Anyway, don’t mind this bloggish buffoonery. It is just DougJ in full-out clown mode, leading his merry brigade of subsidiary clowns.

  238. 238
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @Kyle:

    I really don’t think the “Libertarian ideal” really plays out in small startups. At least not in my experience…

    Small startups work like a family business – (the good ones anyway)… There’s a sense of being in it together that really runs counter to much of what big L Libertarianism is about.

    In the startups I’ve worked for it’s not so much about “rugged individualism” (scare quotes intentional)..In my experience anyway. It’s about community, teamwork, and being a part of something that’s bigger and better than any one individual could achieve…

    I can’t even imagine where you came up with that notion of yours. It runs counter to anything I’ve ever seen in my experience working with a “healthy” startup… working with one right now BTW… and working *for* another BTW. And I have my own biz to boot. Plus I cut my teeth professionally during the .COM boom, so I’ve had plenty of exposure to startups. Both successful, and NOT successful. The successful ones (in my experience) tend to be centered around community, collective ownership of success or failure, and looking out for each other – and as a result, the company itself.

  239. 239
    A Mom Anon says:

    @eemom: Thanks,it just annoys the hell out of me that autism is used to describe a lack of empathy,ALOT. If that was true then most of the kids in my son’s class would be labeled autistic. It’s hard enough on a family to have an autistic person that is struggling,but to have more shit piled on hurts.

  240. 240
    beergoggles says:

    This might just be confirmation bias for Dougj and a lot of the commenters. Most of the nerds and geeks from school that I know grew up to be liberals or socialists. Most of the people in the IT field I work with are liberals. There are a few older people who have libertarian views but I think that’s a generational divide.

  241. 241
    kc says:

    It was on TCM, not AMC. Give TCM some luv!

  242. 242
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @A Mom Anon: (and @eemom)
    I smell burning straw man…

    correlating Asbergers / CS geeks / and Libertarianism
    is not the same as linking Lack of Empathy and Autism.

    Seems many people are pointing at the lack of socialization that many people who are coders have – many also have Aspergers conditions…

    That much is true, particularly amongst adult coders who grew up with Aspergers and no resources for dealing with it appropriately.

    Maybe the problem is just that one or two people have said this.. mpbruss, and Ed Marshall are the only two here that have even made the direct correlation.

    You two are making this about your kids. Nobody brought your kids up. You two are making it about an argument that hasn’t been made. (other than maybe by the two commenters I mentioned.

    And you’re blaming Doug J for this? Where did he make that argument you claim.

    Stop clutching your pearls and derailing the discussion.

    And if you want to call people out for being boneheaded, than at least get the people right.

    Signed,
    A non-libertarian coder (probably w/ aspergers)

  243. 243
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “I think the lesson that is finally starting to sink in is that young women tend to show more interest where they have a sense of the social connection of the field. Engineering flat-out sucks at communicating that, but it’s more apparent in some fields like biomed than it is in others like EE.”

    My best bosses in engineering were women. Generally better engineers than the men, because a mediocre women engineer gets a ton of crap thrown at her in a way a mediocre women engineer doesn’t.

    Also, for most engineering problems, you don’t need a technically great engineer, you need a competent engineer. And you need one who’s going to work to the spec and consult with colleagues about what they don’t know or understand. An engineer who can’t communicate or write is a liability. Unlike Law or Medicine where there’s still individual practioners, engineers work in teams and someone trying to be The Heroic Individual Genius will usually f**k it up, leaving their colleagues to either undo or ignore their work.

  244. 244
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @mrmcd:

    That being said, for every right winger tech person I’ve also met at least one or more faux Buddhist

    Guilty as charged.

    By the way – I love your “True Scotsman” argument. Nobody is capable of being a Buddha, or Jesus Christ for that matter. We’re all faux something or other. We’re human, and
    I’d often like to punch vegans (maybe that’s the Faux part in me!)

    When I choose to interpret your statement as
    “Sanctimony is one of the hallmarks of facile thinking”, then I can agree. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and say I can agree with the general thrust of your post.

    faux buddhist though – lol, only someone that’s never really put a whole lot of work in to understanding Tibetan Buddhism would make that claim, I think. The irony was mildly entertaining… Note that I’m specifically *not* implying that Tibetan buddhism is the answer to all of the ills of society. One True Wayism is antithetical to much of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Sanctity of an ideal is generally considered a worldly attachment that causes human suffering. IOW, Obsession is a bad thing(tm). Ask a buddhist.

  245. 245
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @BDeevDad: As a recovery young person with more money than sense (and one who stupidly believed at 20 that unions were employment for the unemployable) I think you are on to something maybe?

    It probably does have a lot to do with having more money than sense. Based on an back of the napkin attempt at reflection on my earlier and stupider years – One maybe does tend to feel invincible and unstoppable, and one maybe does wonder about all the “losers” who aren’t fortunate enough to be in your own shoes.. Ahhh the blinders of youth.

    Caveat: I was never a big L Libertarian, but I was a lot more sympathetic to it, despite wondering why they were so obsessed with a sci-fi trash novel author…

    well, I’m older now, and don’t make as much money – because I prefer independence to cash, but whatever…

    I think your observation has merit… looking back at my own early years of making six figures and having zero responsibilities…

  246. 246
    flamingRedDingo says:

    must. leave. thread… too many comments…

  247. 247
    A Mom Anon says:

    @flamingRedDingo: Go read the comments mentioning Asperger’s again. Way too many people connect autism with a lack of feelings or empathy and my point was and is that that’s not true. That in turn leads to more than a few people thinking that since autistic people don’t have feelings anyway then it’s ok to treat them as outsiders and less than. Also note I never named anyone. I just asked people to consider that not everyone with Asperger’s or autism is the same.They are individuals who feel whether you or anyone else sees it or not.

  248. 248
    John says:

    @John:

    The highest end of the education/training/intelligence band is not libertarian.
    It seems to be chronic amongst the mostly-competent technical types.

    That’s been my observation, too.

    Although, on reflection, I’ve known some very good engineers who were libertarians, the specific examples I’ve seen were self-taught. That is, they’d taught themselves the systems, but didn’t get the theory. It wasn’t important to them: they wanted to just build things that did cool things without wondering about other things.

  249. 249
    Ohio Mom says:

    Fully admit I haven’t read the whole thread yet but I think a big problem is that engineering students are not forced to take any / enough humanities classes. They are generally not exposed to sociology, psychology, or any other field that gives you a humanistic lens through which to view the world.

    As an art major, I had to take a math appreciation course. I think STEM students ought to take a humanities appreciation course where they are exposed to ideas like blaming the victim, othering, etc. Couldn’t do them any harm. I’d love to be a fly on the wall the day they’d learn most welfare recipients are white.

  250. 250
    Paul in KY says:

    @A Mom Anon: Man, I feel for your son. I got some of that stuff too in HS, not fun at all.

    Please tell him that life doesn’t end in HS, in fact he has his whole adulthood out there & the losers in HS will fade away.

  251. 251
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “The two Steve’s were libertarian/Randians at some point.”

    Not necessarily: Woz wrote that in response to the draft: hating the draft was hardly confined to gLiberatarians.
    I’ve no indication of Woz’s personal politics (no campaign contributions that I found), but he gives loads of money and time to his local school district, when I’d have thought a good libertarian would be sending them to a private or charter school.

  252. 252
    flamingRedDingo says:

    Fully admit I haven’t read the whole thread yet but I think a big problem is that engineering students are not forced to take any / enough humanities classes. They are generally not exposed to sociology, psychology, or any other field that gives you a humanistic lens through which to view the world.

    Education doesn’t grant a humanistic view point. It puts the viewpoint in context.

    Lived experience is arguably the best tool for teaching the fundamental appreciation for the humanities, and definitely the best tool for teaching empathy (adding the two aren’t necessarily related)

    Some people just aren’t really wired to appreciate the humanities as much as the “hard” science stuff… just like some people glom on to humanities and avoid the hard science (they don’t have a knack, don’t enjoy it and wouldn’t seek it out)…

    And anybody getting a 4 year degree or better is required to get humanities credits as well – much like your math appreciation course…

  253. 253
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @A Mom Anon

    read the comments mentioning Asperger’s again. Way too many people connect autism with a lack of feelings or empathy and my point was and is that that’s not true.

    Oh, I did. And I even pointed out the two people that made that direct correlation on this thread – non of which were doug J, and none of it is at the volume you seem to think requires such a lengthy diversion on your rebuttal of that.

    For the record. I agree that too many people conflate lack of empathy and autism or aspergers even. It pisses me off too – most people that even study it don’t know fuck all about what they are talking about and THERE IS A TON OF MISINFORMATION ON THE ISSUE. Hear hear!

    But this is not a thread about aspergers, autism and empathy.

    And *you* are the one making that implication. Other than three voices in the wilderness on this thread, YOU are reading that into peoples comments here, as well as the article itself.

    Beyond those two people I mentioned earlier (and eemom too), you are speculating, and putting words in people’s mouths.

    It’s a straw man. I stand by my assessment. You didn’t rebut it at all. You just repeated yourself, forcing me to repeat myself again.

  254. 254
    JustMe says:

    Fully admit I haven’t read the whole thread yet but I think a big problem is that engineering students are not forced to take any / enough humanities classes. They are generally not exposed to sociology, psychology, or any other field that gives you a humanistic lens through which to view the world.

    I find the opposite — that people in STEM fields have taken a lot of humanities classes, while those in the humanities and arts tend to have never had a good grounding in math and science.

  255. 255
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @JustMe: Cheers.

    Adding, I know a lot of artists who are also engineers. Ever been to burning man ;)

    Also there’s some historical precedent for great thinkers that are able to embrace both. DaVinci, immediately comes to mind =)

  256. 256
    fuckwit says:

    Because, free-market captialism is exquisitely, massively amazing, the undisputed, hands-down no-fucking-contest winner, at making cheap tech gadgets ubiquitous.

    Moore’s Law. That’s why tech people are so often glibertarians.

    The unregulated free market is terrible at almost everything, but there is one thing that it is an awesome force for creating: CHEAP GADGETS.

    And if you are a gadget-head, your whole world is swimming in libertarian success stories: your iPad, your Android, your 50″ HD LCD TV, your XBox, your Wii, your octal-fucking-core i7 with water-cooled heat sink GPU and 32GB RAM and multi-terabyte RAID array gaming system. GLIBERTARIAN WIN.

    It is very, very easy to fall into the trap of extrapolating from that geekdom experience and feel as though we can cut that Moore’s Law engine loose to solve all the world’s problems.

    That’s why.

  257. 257
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @fuckwit:
    As far as I am concerned:
    ray kurzweil > steve jobs
    einstein > hawking
    noam chomsky > nicholas wirth

    gordon moore doesn’t even rate on my great thinker scale.

    and I’m a committed IT nerd…

    there’s quite a few of us INTPs around in IT – we tend to be the systems architects with development background rather than strict code monkeys – but we’re hardcore asocial nerds too. ;) INTP types tend to gravitate to that – you don’t see us that much, but we’re a part of almost every company… =)

    just sayin’

  258. 258
    Big Baby DougJ says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    I realize this thread is dead but I just wanted to say how much I dislike the asperger’s/autism argument here. I think it’s a bit offensive.

  259. 259
    Felinious Wench says:

    @flamingRedDingo:

    there’s quite a few of us INTPs around in IT

    That explains it. :) Techie INFJ here.

  260. 260
    RSA says:

    And if you are a gadget-head, your whole world is swimming in libertarian success stories: your iPad, your Android, your 50” HD LCD TV, your XBox, your Wii, your octal-fucking-core i7 with water-cooled heat sink GPU and 32GB RAM and multi-terabyte RAID array gaming system. GLIBERTARIAN WIN.

    A true glibertarian hates iPads, XBoxes, and Wiis (closed platforms) and is probably suspicious of Intel, but I grant you the rest. :-)

  261. 261
    You And I And George says:

    When I got into corporate software from physics 15 years ago, I expected a bunch of RMS hippies and social liberals. What I found were glibs, lots of em. I was shocked and dismayed.

    But I don’t think Heinlien deserves to be lumped with Rand. He wrote complex and entertaining stories, not propaganda, and he was rigorously committed to science and observation, not ideology.

    I got a lot of real wisdom from Heinlien and never became a glibertarian.

  262. 262
    vonhonkington says:

    if you guys want to observe some of this “in the wild”, head on over to hacker news (news.ycombinator.com). the vibe i get is that everyone presents themselves as independent, creative, and efficient.

    also, they’re so enlightened that can’t tolerate to work for anyone else, so they have their own tech startups. if someone doesn’t have these things, it’s just a matter of eating, dressing, sleeping, anything-ing like someone who does, and eventually the magic will rub off on you and VC firms will be pounding down your door.

    anyone can do it (it can sound like a get-rich-quick support group), but if you fail, it’s your own fault for not clinging closely enough to tech startup ideology.

  263. 263
    The Populist says:

    I know a friend who knows a few key people in the tech world. The simple answer is these folks tend to see the world much like the net, free to say and do whatever without restraints.

  264. 264
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @Felinious Wench:
    ah a fellow “black-sheep” techie? hehehe

    Cheers!

    I thought my wife was INFJ, but through informal MBPTI tests we discovered she was probably INTP as well…

    I think there are some rather strong common threads amongst INTP and INFJ’s as they play out in our approach to computer stuff … and either way is dramatically different than some of the more “strictly engineering” coder types…

    OTOH I’d rather have them writing the hardened bits than me – they tend to like TDD… I’m cool with that, despite the fact that I hate writing unit tests. (I love the concept)

  265. 265
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @The Populist:

    Anecdotal, and second hand.

    Your comment had no substance and no cred.

    Thanks for playing though.

  266. 266
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Techies like libertarianism for a simple reason – it allows them to believe that they’re superior to all other people. Really, that’s why most people seem to believe the things they believe, but religion is too explicitly anti-intellectual for most tech-heads to bother with.

  267. 267
    Cap'n Magic says:

    Peter Schiff? His father is doing hard time for saying the Income Tax is illegal. Coincidence?

  268. 268
    ZB IV says:

    As a engineer who is not heartless enough and is realistic enough NOT to be glibertarian, I have to say that most of the people I know in the tech world are that way. There’s a combination of issues here.

    1) Right wing propaganda works. You tell someone in the upper middle class that half the people in this country don’t pay income tax, and omit the fact that they only get 2.5% of the income, and they figure they’re getting screwed. Most tech jobs don’t qualify as hard labor, but they do require long hours, and travel. We work as hard as anyone making similar money. The idea that someone’s freeloading absolutely pisses them off.

    2) Tech people are classic low information voters. They don’t do well at nuance and evaluating whether people are good sources of information. They make a call, and they go with it.

    3) We studied in college, while the rest of you liberal arts pukes were out drinking. So many of us feel like you hippies don’t get it, and should have worked harder so you could be techies too. And if you didn’t, the government shouldn’t do a thing to help you. The idea that other people may not have the ability to do what we do (ie- rough childhood/general intelligence capability) doesn’t even occur to them.

  269. 269
    KSE says:

    Speaking as a techie, I’d prefer to think that the overlap doesn’t have much to do with the profession itself! Because I can’t stand these a-holes.

    I’ve always pegged it as being a proclivity towards concrete thinking. Even the most complicated problem I have to work on is one where I can pretty much visualize all the gears and levers in my head, because as complicated as computers and networks are, the individual parts generally operate under simple, logical and easy-to-understand rules. The appeal of libertarianism/Randism/Austrian econ may be that it too sweeps away all the messy organic nonsense of the real world and substitutes rational actors pursuing their own self-interest.

    It may have been mentioned in this thread but there also seems to be a huge overlap between engineers of various stripes and the creationist movement, possibly for similar reasons.

    It doesn’t help, of course, that most techies consider themselves smarter than the population at large (hey, me too!). Having convinced themselves, and probably one or two of their ill-socialized and unworldly brethren, they no longer feel any need to examine their convictions. Kinda reminds me of some poor sap I read about who considered himself a chess master and set up a public exhibition where he played 50 simultaneous games… of which he lost 49. The sole game he won was against his own mother, who it turns out was up til that point pretty much the only person he’d played against.

    I do suspect that not getting laid enough might be a factor though, it always seems like it’s the least-charming and least-likely-to-bathe who suddenly light up when the conversation turns to Ron Paul.

  270. 270
    Sheesh says:

    @MikeJ: Fuck emacs. vi forever!

    (The Holy War demands I post this. Er, and I also see it forced Odie too.)

  271. 271
    Sheesh says:

    @/dev/null: Isn’t the whole point of blogs (or really blog “communities”) confirmation bias? Heh, indeedy!

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