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  • Unconscious bias and hiring

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      • #2279778
        Jamie
        AskWoody_MVP

        Diversity Unconscious bias and hiring By Amy Babinchak One effect of the protests that followed the death of George Floyd is that the term “unconsciou
        [See the full post at: Unconscious bias and hiring]

        5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279811
        woody
        Da Boss

        Just a note… I’ve had lots of stream-of-conscious rage directed at me about this article. We’ll publish some of the well-considered discussions here in this thread, but rants aren’t welcome.

        At AskWoody we’re gender-neutral — as should be obvious, I would hope.

        As for “blacklist”/”whitelist” — I used to use those terms without giving it a second thought. Now, I do give it a second thought, and don’t use the terms any more. I retired my “Sainted Aunt Martha” trope because some took offense where none was intended. (Microsoft retired its “Crabby Office Lady” — who wasn’t a lady — long ago.) And I learned decades ago not to use the phrase “more than one way to skin the cat,” when I seriously got my tail chewed out. Seriously.

        It isn’t just “PC” and it isn’t just “woke.” It’s more a question of empathy. And I’m all for empathy.

        • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by woody.
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        • #2279861
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          Context matters.

          No one is thinking of black or white people when they say blacklist or whitelist. The context is totally different, and the word does not mean the same thing in both of them. Language is always context-dependent, and a negative connotation in one context (if you find “blacklist” to have a negative connotation in the first place) doesn’t carry over to another context just because the same word was used.

          Black and white are just words, innocent in and of themselves.  The word “blacklist” has nothing more to do with black people than the black plague, a black cat, blacktop, blackjack, or blackout curtains. Seriously, do you think of black people when you think of any of those things? Only one of them has an overly bad connotation, and that’s the black plague, of course (which I associate with medieval Europe).

          Do people think of the bubonic plague when they see a black cat? They share the same adjective “black,” but they have nothing to do with one another. If there’s no unconscious bias that makes people think of a terrible disease when they see a blackjack table at a casino, I don’t see any reason to believe it would carry over to black people either.

          There are lots of uses of “black” and “white” that don’t have anything to do with race, and I can see no good reason to drag race into things that don’t have anything to do with it.  That makes things be about race when they never were, and that in turn keeps everyone focused on the “us” and “them” aspect of everything rather than focusing on what we have in common as human beings, which is nearly everything. Wounds don’t heal by continuously being pulled apart.

          If anything contributes to unconscious bias, I would think that continuous emphasis of identity groups based on inborn, immutable characteristics would be it. If it exists, it’s not something you can “think” away; to really get rid of it, you have to start seeing people as unique individuals and not a member of a group. You can’t see someone as a member of a group you are not a part of and not naturally be inclined to compare and contrast. There is no such thing as separate but equal.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.19.4).

          12 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2280506
            amybabinchak
            AskWoody_MVP

            No one is saying that the terms are racist in themselves, nor that the person using them is. It’s more of a death by a thousand cuts scenario. If I were black and the only references I saw to the word black were all negative that would become internalized. This is why it’s so important for children to be able to visualize themselves as successful through role models and why it is so important that we make these small and insignificant changes to our language. It’s a very small thing that can contribute to a very large improvement

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            • #2280579
              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              Children need to understand context also. If they don’t get context, they are going to misinterpret many things throughout life. If you tell a child that words mean different things in different situations, they can get that. It’s important that they do! Understanding context is a necessary communication skill, and not just in matters of race relations.

              It’s simply an error to carry a connotation from one context to a dissimilar one, and I don’t think that excising all of the perceived negative uses of “black” from our language in order to head off potential errors of thinking in children is a good idea. The number of ways that kids could come to erroneous, negative conclusions about things if they ignore context is infinite.

              Kids believe all kinds of illogical things, but unlike most adults, they’re cognitively open enough to discard the silly ideas as quickly as they picked them up when they get better information, and they will do this many times as they get older. It’s all part of the process of growth and development.

              I can also think of one example where “black” is a positive thing… being “in the black” in accounting. Conversely, there’s “waving the white flag,” to denote surrender or giving up, often used as a synonym for cowardice, for a negative example.  Anyone have any others?

              Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.19.4).

              7 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279831
        Richard de Lacey
        AskWoody Plus

        Somewhat surprised to see this article “Unconscious Bias & Hiring” appear in the newsletter, since apart from the “whitelist/blacklist” point it has little to do with technical PC content. However, as it has, perhaps I can make the following comments. By definition, if bias is really unconscious there is nothing we can do to recognise or correct it (as implicitly acknowledged by SJWs who claim white people cannot avoid being racist). We can only accept responsibility for conscious bias – it is the conscious intention more than the actual terminology that makes an expression acceptable or not.

        If someone sees prejudice (racial or other) in terms like “whitelist” and “blacklist” that is a reflection of their own over-sensitivity and intolerance, not a reflection of racism or any other “ism” on the part of anyone else. And if the majority of people have been unaware for a considerable length of time that these terms are “racist”, that’s probably because they simply aren’t.

        I absolutely agree that resumes should be evaluated fairly across the board, but if an applicant for a position is unwilling to acquire the best resume techniques to improve their chances of selection, that is their failing, not the employer’s. If the position is a technical one, then it is logical for applicants to include their own technical expertise in their resumes, and women are just as capable of this as men, n’est ce pas? Or do you perhaps feel they aren’t, but are incapable of making whatever points they wish to make themselves? That sounds dangerously patronising… Of course in your own business you are entitled to do and say (more or less) what you please, and if you take a conscious decision to seek out and help those with weak resumes, that is admirable, but the job of a hirer is usually to find the best candidate for the job regardless of personal attributes, and pay more attention to applicants who take the trouble to research the employer and prepare a good resume beforehand. Your article demontrably shows bias against men, so your moral integrity is somewhat flaky here.

        By all means change terms you use. By all means tell subscribers what these new terms are, mean, and replace. But I would suggest don’t do it to please an emotive challenge that will only keep moving the goalposts (ask JO Rowling how that’s going these days), and in doing so impose your new emotional revelation on others by turning the “discussion” on them into some kind of virtue signalling moral crusade that the unenlightened majority of people, who have never even noticed that such terms are, somehow, discriminatory, should suddenly feel guilt over. This is a technical IT newsletter, highly valued for its technical contribution – please, let’s keep it that way and keep politics in another forum.

        rdl

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        • #2280510
          amybabinchak
          AskWoody_MVP

          Richard,

          Please see my reply above about the blacklist issue. I do take offense to the idea that someone who doesn’t use the word blacklist is intolerant. What is it that they are intolerant of? Only intolerant of change comes to mind. The change to allow/deny list happened more than a decade ago. I’m just now catching up myself.

          Regarding your comments about my moral integrity being flakey. I guess you feel strongly enough to lash out and attack me. I’m sorry that you feel so threatened. My article is about making a correction and learning from my poor practices and sharing that learning. Hiring is a very important skill. One that has an IT business owner I’ve had to develop to compliment my technical skills. Most IT business owners started out as techs and have had to learn through the school or hard knocks how to make a successful business. That skill involves being flexible, continuously learning and making adjustments to how you do things so goals can be reached. If that means learning how we can read resumes better then that’s a skill we need to develop.

           

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2280601
          Elly
          AskWoody MVP

          Your article demontrably shows bias against men, so your moral integrity is somewhat flaky here.

          There isn’t any moral failing in recognizing a problem and trying to do something about it… and in the tech industry, where simple self-reported figures look like this:

          Women-in-Tech-Chart-2020

          It is unconscionable to not try to do something that is more effective.

          From Research: To Reduce Gender Bias

          “When you have evidence that gender, race, age, or other differences are affecting your selection process, despite their not being relevant selection criteria, you have error in your process.”

          When the statistics show such marked disparities, despite many large companies attempting mitigations, it should become obvious that something else should be done. What we have been doing just isn’t working. The graph I posted isn’t from companies 30-50 years ago, it is from data collected this year.

          However, also from the Harvard Business Review, Why Diversity Programs Fail has some good insights.

          “People often respond to compulsory (diversity) courses with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.”

          Companies and organizations implemented diversity programs, invested in diversity programs, and sent managers who had discrimination complaints against them back for more training… and it hasn’t worked. For women in tech, it too often means a hostile work environment.

          What does work? Well, look around at the Lounge, here… a culturally and gender diverse, on-line, tech community… Contact with other ‘groups’ works… Posts are made here from countries around the world, daily… Mentoring works… people who help others become invested in seeing that they succeed… Voluntary participation (rather than mandates) works…

          Woody does an awesome job, and this Lounge is really a special place… and it wouldn’t be nearly so special if those people that disagree with each other were unable to engage in civil discourse…

          Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

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      • #2279853
        RayT
        AskWoody Plus

        You state this in your article “I knew to look at the men’s résumés as being mostly bluster and fluff“. Seriously? You paint men as being dishonest, unable to tell the truth about their accomplishments.

        Your unconscious bias is showing. In a big way. Don’t brag about what you have done for women when you intentionally paint men as being less than truthful in their résumés. I have hired many women over the course of my career. I have found most résumés to be inflated and distorted when it comes to past employment, regardless of gender, skin color, sexual orientation, political orientation, whatever. Don’t single out men as being the dishonest applicants.

        • #2279906
          wavy
          AskWoody Plus

          That actually sounds like conscious bias to me!!

          You state this in your article “I knew to look at the men’s résumés as being mostly bluster and fluff“. Seriously? You paint men as being dishonest, unable to tell the truth about their accomplishments.

          It might have been nice to compare to pages long job offer with the old ‘biased’ one for reference.

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
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        • #2280511
          amybabinchak
          AskWoody_MVP

          It’s pretty well known that men pad their resumes significantly and will apply for a job that they won’t meet the criteria of. Whereas a woman is more likely to not include anything but the most significant competencies and only apply if she is fully qualified. Is it a bias, sure. Do we have to compensate for it. Absolutely. That actually was my point. Perhaps my words were too harsh.

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          • #2280550
            DriftyDonN
            AskWoody Plus

            perhaps, but “pretty well known” is a little light on facts….ya know what I mean? I’ve been around a long time,read many resumes hired n fired and I don’t recall ever hearing or reading that statement written in stone.I have worked with and for both sexes and found good and bad, truth and lies. But never one and not the other. It IS pretty well known men don’t have children but woman do. Fact included. It’s sad that mankind has become so cynical about every little thing.

            Is there a difference between bias and opinion? Don’t they both have effects on each other? Chocolate or vanilla? Bias or opinion?

            Discrimination is another subject altogether but let’s not mix the 3 in one post!

            "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

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            • #2280645
              woody
              Da Boss

              I assure you, men have children. This, I know firsthand. On multiple occasions. 🙂

              2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279854
        WSDKS01
        AskWoody Plus

        An excellent article that raises important points. All one can do is make changes within our own sphere of influence and that which we control. As an employer, it is good to see reality recognized. keep it up.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279881
        zasdman
        AskWoody Plus

        We as a race, just need to stop taking things so personally… When someone says something and you take offence to it, you are assuming that you know everything about that person and all that they have been through in their life. You will never and can never know the story and path that anyone has taken to get them to this point.

        Don’t take it personally, because even if someone says something that could be seen as hateful, its not about you… its about them, their journey and experiences through life.

        Jamie’s personal story and experiences have brought her to this topic, I as a man do not take offense, the story was not about me… Jamie is just doing what she feels is best for her personal story, don’t we all do that for ourselves too?

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279884
        woody
        Da Boss

        Personally, I would only make one change in Amy’s article. I would change this:

        I knew to look at the men’s résumés as being mostly bluster and fluff

        to say

        I knew to look at all résumés as being mostly bluster and fluff

        I had the extreme good fortune to work for a powerful, smart lady early in my career. She burnt the sexism right out of me.

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      • #2279889
        Barker13
        AskWoody Plus

        It’s puzzling why this article was published in the AskWoody newsletter. By it’s own admission, AskWoody is supposed to pertain to:

        “News, tips, advice, support for Windows, Office, PCs & more”

        But, I suppose it can pertain to anything it wants to.  The same as a cookbook could theoretically include a page on how to change the oil in a car. But then, it would be pretending to no longer be a cookbook anymore on that page.

        The article in question could have been published in any number of more appropriate places that cater to hiring, finding job applications, and various endless outlets for social commentary.  This is not to say it’s a bad article – it’s not.  But in the future a more appropriate venue might be considered. Because in the end, people looking for “News, tips, advice, support for Windows, Office, PCs” have a lot of choices on the internet and in print.

         

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      • #2279898
        Richtea.B
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve been following Woody’s lists in their various incarnations for many years and find them a reliable source of information.

        I was disappointed to see this article given such prominence. Unconscious bias may or may not exist. It may or may not matter. Either way, discussion of it doesn’t belong in a computer newsletter. It’s not just “empathy”, it’s something far more serious and the whole concept has sinister undertones. A subject worthy of discussion, but not here.

        8 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279903
        davews
        AskWoody Plus

        I was also saddened to see this article in the newsletter. I subscribe to it, and in fact am a paid member, to receive relevant articles about computing. This one is nothing of the sort. As soon as I saw George Floyd I stopped reading. I will not be renewing at the end of the year.

        6 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2279958
          woody
          Da Boss

          Sorry to see you go!

          I hope you find enough content here to justify making another donation when renewal time comes up.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2280023
          Susan Bradley
          AskWoody MVP

          Dave, I would hang in here.  Technology is 50% tech and 50% people.

          Susan Bradley Patch Lady

          6 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2280097
          zat_so
          AskWoody Plus

          I was also saddened to see this article in the newsletter. I subscribe to it, and in fact am a paid member, to receive relevant articles about computing. This one is nothing of the sort. As soon as I saw George Floyd I stopped reading. I will not be renewing at the end of the year.

          Presumably you have found enough useful information in previous newsletters to subscribe and become a paid member. Is one article that you find inappropriate in its inclusion really grounds for unsubscribing?

          ETA: I meant to make this a reply to https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/unconscious-bias-and-hiring/#post-2279903

          • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by PKCano.
          • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by zat_so. Reason: Added link to OP
      • #2279925
        NetDef
        AskWoody_MVP

        I’m the owner of a very small IT managed services and security consultancy company – with no employees but several subcontractors.  Personally found the hiring article useful and relevant.  Will happily take several key lessons from it to use in my own business.  It’s written from an IT hiring perspective but can see where it can – and should be – leveraged for any industry.

        If someone thinks IT does not need to wend it’s way thoughtfully through – people – office politics – empathy – issues around discrimination – etc – then they’ve not been working IT in a diverse environment. Or they have been ignoring the most important part of their job:

        Computers and network systems are tools.  This technology is, and has always been, about empowering people on both sides of the datacenter doors.  IT professionals, end-users (knowledge workers?), customers, partners, developers, staff, owners and management.  Why would we not pay attention to all sides of the equation?

        ~ Group "Weekend" ~

        6 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2279943
        cervin
        AskWoody Plus

        It seems like a lot of the issues brought up here come down to levels of assertiveness.  A less assertive or confident person will have a more humble resume than a bolder one, just as they will interview differently and handle all other aspects of their lives differently.  Yes, there can be cultural or other reasons the trait is more common among men than women, but there are also plenty of exceptions.

        It may be a good strategy to tease more out of a candidate, especially if assertiveness isn’t an important trait for the job.  However, it’s a little ridiculous to expect every employer to do this, and to only do it for women.  Additionally, depending on the job, they may be purposely weeding out the less assertive candidates.

        I would certainly love a more empathetic, caring world.  But there are areas where a certain amount of cold ruthlessness is appropriate and/or necessary.

        If you’re running a gym, you’ll want to find the people who are the least fit and coach their development.  If you’re running a special forces training program, you’ll want to find the people who are already the fittest and to screen out the rest.

         

        • #2280512
          amybabinchak
          AskWoody_MVP

          cervin,

          I wouldn’t presume to know how every business in every industry should handle themselves. This article speaks to my experiences, in my IT business.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2279951
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        The article under discussion might not please those who believe that the Newsletter is exclusively for technical (and “tech”) matters. But I believe that it is directly relevant to the business of hiring, firing and promoting technical people (and, in fact any kind of people.) Something that, ultimately, determines what we get out of “tech” companies in terms of products and services. Or the kind of bosses that we get. Or that we are.

        Unconscious biases, the automatic rising of red flags when we meet someone different in certain particular ways from us, is something entirely natural and also something that growing up should make us able to get  over with. But there are so many things that can rise those red flags that the process of learning fairness, which is part of learning to be a good person, to be more fully human, takes the rest of our lives.

        And no, trying to be fair and being vigilant of one’s unconscious biases, trying to keep them down when they manifest themselves, is not the same, at all, as political correctness. Proponents of political correctness try to keep others down by “correcting them”, but are not eager to correct themselves, as they tend to be people with very little time for self-criticism.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

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      • #2279953
        cptomes
        AskWoody Plus

        this isn’t a social commentary or hr/hiring website.  it’s a technical site.  keep it clear of politics or it’s going to get twitterified/facebooked into uselessness.

        Hey look! Another Feature Update!

        You mean I shouldn't click Check for Updates?

        Why does it keep saying "Something Happened"?

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        • #2279961
          woody
          Da Boss

          I hear ya. That’s why we have great moderators….

          4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2280249
        Noel Carboni
        AskWoody_MVP

        I read the article this morning and mulled it over all day. As far as “reading a woman’s resume” vs. “reading a man’s resume”, I feel compelled to comment…

        Like it or not, the “resume game” has evolved to the point where first-level screening is a more or less mindless process (either a literal machine filtering or a cursory speed reading to match key terms). In real life, if you’re trying to hire a (non entry-level) Javascript language software developer it is prudent to look for the word Javascript in the resumes of candidates. Yes, you might pass over someone who could learn a new language quickly. But if the prospect didn’t think to write “Javascript” in their resume, are they going to be a good match for a job developing in that language?

        Frankly, lists of tech terms, aggressive self-selling, exaggeration, and – let’s be frank – outright lying on resumes are common and expected in this reality. My point is that it’s pretty clear to everyone that a job search is not the time to be meek or humble.

        Does Tide say “Our soap cleans your clothes okay, all things considered.” or do they say “Our advanced formula gets your fine garments whiter and brighter than anything on this planet or any other!”

        Marketing. It’s a fact of life. As Dr. House said, “Everybody lies.” I don’t claim it’s good, but neither do I ignore it because it is reality.

        My question is:

        Why should we expect women to be more conservative in stating what they can do or want, to the point where we should interpret their resumes differently?

        Mine is not a question biased toward or against women. I just want to know why.

        Without a common-sense answer to the above, I’m not sure I am willing to accept advice to “read men’s and women’s resumes differently”. This is not a knee-jerk reaction; I’ve got some experience. I’ve reviewed a fair number of technical resumes from both men and women, have done interviews and hiring, and have managed teams. My observation has been that the passion of applicants who are smart, careful, thorough, and ready to really contribute stands out regardless of gender.

        -Noel

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        • #2280514
          amybabinchak
          AskWoody_MVP

          I hope that someday we don’t have to expect that women are more conservative in touting their qualifications or speaking up during a meeting, or asserting themselves in many situations. But today isn’t someday. Today is today and today women are still looked down upon for being assertive and women find themselves having to walk a line between being seen as feminine and being seen as b******, even when they use the exact same phrases that men do in the exact same situation. It’s not fair but that’s the world that we’re currently living in and it is visible in their resumes.

          Someday I hope to be able to answer your question differently

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      • #2280387
        John
        AskWoody Lounger

        History had a long ugly past of miss treating people not just of color with slavery which happened not just in the US. But it also had times when Chinese were used for labor for mining and were treated very badly. People were also kidnapped for work on ships and frankly it was a bad life for many. But times changed, we learned from our history, we don’t do those things anymore. In fact some who were slave owners had a change of heart. Learning from history is important, destroying history makes us forget what we have learned so we don’t repeat it. Reminders of good and bad times is important, and allowing the few to erase it because they are uncomfortable is not helping our future.

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        • #2280515
          amybabinchak
          AskWoody_MVP

          It’s not about erasing but rather as you say, putting the past where it belongs

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2280581
        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        Hey guys, not picking on you, but continuing the conversation…

        I absolutely agree that resumes should be evaluated fairly across the board, but if an applicant for a position is unwilling to acquire the best resume techniques to improve their chances of selection, that is their failing, not the employer’s.

        Why should we expect women to be more conservative in stating what they can do or want, to the point where we should interpret their resumes differently?

        Unfortunately, research has shown that when the same résumé is submitted with only a change of name, it is evaluated differently. The same exact resume, with the same education, skills, job experience, formatting and font, is viewed differently, depending upon whether it carries a male, female, and/or culturally identifiable name. So when Amy Babinchak says, “I realized that I couldn’t rely on the résumé to tell me who might be qualified,” she is right!

        Just in case you’ve never heard of research documenting the extent that the single variable of a name figures when evaluating résumés, here is a relatively non-technical, current article:

        Resume Bias: Gender, Names, Ethnicity [2020 Study]

        As far as I know, the studies that revealed gender bias back when I was studying such things in college never posted to the internet, but were published in journals. This is something that is well studied and documented for decades! (I’m now retired… its been many decades!)

        When you add variables beyond name bias, and recognize that both men and women are found to have unconscious biases that play out to the detriment of women, taking steps to reduce the impact, modify evaluation criteria, and actually hire, mentor, and promote women are reasonable… and not close to anything resulting in reverse discrimination against men, especially in the tech industry.

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2280588
        Cee Arr
        AskWoody Plus

        At my age my chances of hiring or firing anyone are zero.  Fact is I have followed Woody for many years because of the help and advice he always offered on computer related subjects.  I paid my money and joined Askwoody for that very reason and have never had reason to be anything but satisfied.  This thread, whilst important, is not what I expected to see on this site. It helps not a bit on keeping on top of updating and other computer  problems.  Taken and accepted for what it is but the reason for this web site is computers. Your well written article would be better served in a forum more suited to its theme.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2280646
        woody
        Da Boss

        This thread has had a good run – but moderating the thread has swamped our limited resources. We’ve also reached the point where the amount of heat exceeds the amount of light.

        I’m sealing off the thread now, with the hope that everybody will be more empathetic. That is what this is all about.

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