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Interview with Susan Fowler (nytimes.com)
210 points by bmahmood on Oct 22, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments



Hey engineer at Uber here. I'm a male engineer started working at Uber two years ago. I'm seeing a lot of comments here that is discrediting Susan Fowler's accomplishments in taking TK down, and I would like to correct the notion that the culture/TK himself/Waymo is what brought TK down.

To preface I've work both at Google as an engineer, and frankly speaking the engineering culture at Uber didn't differ all that much. Both org had the same amount of soft misogyny, politics, and HR that protected its highest performers. In fact a lot of characters mentioned in Susan's blog post works at Google today. So what led up to the downfall of TK? Susan Fowler's blog post. What she described is what a lot of people go through in every company, but she was brave enough to post her experience using her real name. I'm willing to bet if she never posted her blog post none of this would've happened, and it would've been business as usual at Uber.

Susan Fowler exposed the weakness in our culture and it catapulted an internal French Revolution where every head had a possibility of getting axed. This put our executives in a disarray and naturally external enemies decided to strike at us when we were weakest. The Waymo lawsuit only happened when it did and only effective as it was because of the chaos Susan Fowler initiated.

So please stop discrediting Susan Fowler, what she did was really the catalyst, the trigger, for Uber to set course on a better path. It's just too bad she wasn't able to stay and see the real impact of her words. Ubers a great place to work now.


> The Waymo lawsuit only happened when it did and only effective as it was because of the chaos Susan Fowler initiated.

This seems a bit much. Why on earth would Google wait to sue? Their case was not at all dependent on internal turmoil at Uber.

Fowler deserves a lot of credit but there was significant chaos pre-blog-post (#deleteuber) and after (Greyball). Uber was having a new crisis every other week it seemed, all stemming from a cavalier, bro-y culture. That all added up, Fowler's post included, to a leadership change.


I think there's a misunderstanding of TKs character. At least internally, whenever there was a critcism externally against Uber whether it be deleteuber or greyball our engineering team only grew more determined. The more backlash from the media it made us closer together and stronger. TK was the most inspirational after external media attack and even after Waymos lawsuit he displayed vigor and confidence that we are the righteous ones and that alphabet is going to lose this battle against us. There's a misconception that these attacks weakened our culture or confidence in our leadership. It's the opposite it was a signal that we were moving fast and changing the world, and TK was at the helm defending us.

This narrative and solidarity broke down soley due to Susan Folwer. I really want to emphasize this point. Her blog post is the only piece of controversy that really made ourselves question whether we were doing the right thing. The only time we saw our great leader unable to justify our hypergrowth and the only time I personally saw him break out in tears, was the all hands discussing Susan Fowler's blog post.

So again please don't discredit Susan Folwer's blog post.


> So again please don't discredit Susan Folwer's blog post.

I didn't. I said you're over-attributing the Waymo lawsuit to it. You didn't respond to that.

As for whether Fowler was the sole factor in "TK's" ouster and none of the other crises had a material impact, well, that's a strong claim. Benchmark's letter alludes to cavalier business practices as well: "[Operating without a CFO for over two years] cannot be justified, given the scale and complexity of the business, and is symptomatic of the broader problems with past management practices."[1] There were more problems at Uber than just morale.

[1] http://fortune.com/2017/08/14/benchmark-employee-letter-uber...


Wow you sound like a disciple of Kalapick's and or someone who is waiting to get rich off working at UBer via stock options or something else!

I hate Uber so much and I'm so glad to see Lyft jumping up the app store charts. Uber let 1k get stolen from me and 1000s of others and their response was basically laughing at us; customers who trusted them with their bank accounts. Their blind arrogance is disgusting and Im so glad to see it's biting them in the butt!


This crosses into personal attack, which is not allowed here. I'm sorry you had that negative experience, but please don't direct it at fellow community members.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I think that Susan Fowler is the single most influential individual in Uber's history, even more so than Travis Kalanick.

1. #deleteuber was a flash in the pan. It fizzled because it was based on a falsehood, that Uber had broken an airport strike by cancelling surge. Uber cancels surge for all notable events. Lyft somehow avoided judgement, despite also failing to honor the strike. The impetus behind the campaign was a combination of that strike action and Kalanick's presence on President Trump's ill-fated executive council.

2. Greyball is a multi-million dollar suit, it will likely be settled for less. Because Uber was only foolish enough to abuse it in a couple of cities (according to news stories and law suits, who knows what legal discovery will unearth!), the scope is limited. Furthermore, the cities that ban Uber also ban Lyft.

3. Lyft's meteoric growth in 2017 can be primarily linked to the sexual harassment stories about Uber. They even based their entire advertising campaign on it, "how you get there matters," emphasizing the moral superiority of using Lyft over Uber. The ad campaign is incredibly poignant and effective. Lyft has deftly turned the fiasco to its advantage.

Susan was able to accomplish what no person had successfully done by publishing an account on her blog of what happened. Because she had not sued the company for damages, she was not held to silence from a legal settlement. Any opponent claiming she was an opportunist had no evidence, because she didn't file suit nor was seeking damages.

Because of her, an entire chain of events was set off. The intense public pressure, that slammed customer growth, hampered recruitment, and impacted Uber investors' social lives (yes, that was a major factor!) was primarily from Fowler's revelation of the company's indifference to sexual harassment.


  2. Greyball is a multi-million dollar suit, it will likely be settled for less. Because Uber was only foolish enough to abuse it in a couple of cities 
For starters: It cost them their license in London. Transport for London didn't look kindly at those shenaginas and apparently didn't believe Uber that they didn't employ those dirty tricks in London.

What's the source for Uber only abusing it in a couple cities? Uber?

The problem with that is that Uber is one of the utterly least trustworthy companies in existence. I, for one, assume that the lie by default, whenever they make a statement.


> #deleteuber was a flash in the pan. It fizzled because it was based on a falsehood, that Uber had broken an airport strike by cancelling surge. Uber cancels surge for all notable events.

Not to get too caught up on this, but #deleteuber was in response to them being perceived as breaking the strike by operating at the airport at all. So the fact that they cancel surge for all events wasn't accepted as an excuse. Canceling surge just provided more fodder.


Partially but again, Lyft did the same as Uber.


I believe that it’s likely that neither company was aware of the strike until it had already begun.


Fowler's post was huge. Can we at least agree...

1. The Waymo lawsuit did not only happen because of Fowler's post.

2. There were multiple morality-related crises that contributed to Kalanick's ouster. (Lyft's ad campaign could be referring to the whole stew.)


Point 3 seems to be a case where correlation does not imply causation. Basing an advertising campaign with an oblique reference to the issues at Uber* doesn't mean the campaign is effective.

* most people I talk with are only vaguely aware there are issues at Uber, including many drivers, Uber users, and non-Uber users.


None of it happens without Kalanick, no Uber, no work machismo work culture, no blog post.


Without the joker, Bruce Wayne is just another wealthy socialite.


Let me make something abundantly clear here.

There's absolutely ZERO discrediting of Susan being done in my comment that TK is responsible for his own downfall. I'm being completely misunderstood here.

My desire is simply to ascribe blame and responsibility where I believe it lies - at TK's feet.

If TK had not behaved as he had, and a. cast a blind eye to the offenses against Susan, and b. engendered a culture where others continue to deny and sweep offenses under the carpet, none of this would have happened.

Susan would not have been the victim of such awful treatment. It is so good to see her get out of there, and thrive after all that's happened!

YES it's good that she blew the whistle, but it's STILL HIS FAULT and HE is his own undoing.


"I'm seeing a lot of comments here that is discrediting Susan Fowler's accomplishments in taking TK down, and I would like to correct the notion that the culture/TK himself/Waymo is what brought TK down."

I'd like to take this opportunity to plug Joanna Russ' book, How to Suppress Women's Writing. It's hard to find now, but a very entertaining read.

Specifically, in this case, I believe this is the "she didn't really do it" step, or possibly the "but it's not really very important anyway" step.


>Ubers a great place to work now.

I’m sorry, but companies’ cultures don’t change that fast and it’s not even really clear how much power Kalanick has actually ceded. Was the entire chain of command from the HR staff that tried to shut women up to the execs that passed around a rape victims medical records cleared out?

I don’t doubt that a place like Google has many of the same problems and agree that Fowler should get a great deal of credit for her courage. But actual change is a long and far more difficult process than what has happened at Uber.


I’m also an Uber engineer

> was the entire chain of command [...] cleared out?

Yes, like 80% of the C suite left. The orgs that had been the worst have had high/mid level management departures too. Our Chief People Officer Lianne has been incredible.


> ... Ubers a great place to work now.

Male engineer (not at Uber) checking in. I find myself pretty astonished at these reports of other men's behavior. And yet, it seems to be widespread enough that some women indicate it's not as rare as we might think.

So, regarding "Uber's a great place to work now" -- is that based on testimony you've heard from women there? Because if not, I'd wonder whether you really have enough evidence to make a claim like that.


It's not really a claim, just my personal opinion. I mean there are women engineers who I talked to and they definitely most agree it's better. We all agree on one thing. Ubers a completely different company. Ask anyone that works here.

There are some who I've spoken with that told me that their previous company (think Google/Facebook/Microsoft caliber companies) which had worse culture of misogyny even compared to pre Susan Fowler Uber.


Ask yourself the following questions:

- would you intentionally treat women badly?

- are you responsible for the actions of other men?


Fowler did a very brave thing. Most people who do "blow the whistle", however, end-up with nothing more than a termination and blacklisting.

People like to think that silicon valley corporations are very different than their traditional counterparts, they're NOT. HR will always, always, ALWAYS protect top-performers and the interests of the company in front of literally anything else, especially individual employees.

I think more folks should read "Corporate Confidential." Yeah, it's not backed up with "research," but the arguments are compelling and it cogently explains how Susan Fowler's situation could happen at almost any other large company.

Uber will perhaps be able to avoid another giant sexual harassment fiasco, but they're not going to fundamentally change as a result of this and neither will any other company.


The lesson you want us to take away from Fowler's victory is to accept that the status quo is impervious, to give up hope and never try?

How about we instead look at what Fowler did right so that she didn't get "termination and a blacklisting"? Then we can perhaps accelerate the progress that whistleblowers bring to industry and society.


Fowler is paying a _very_ high price for speaking out, not everyone can do that, and I don't think this should be expected of anyone. It is a sacrifice. Will her actions pave the way to make such overt sexual harassment less common in corporate environments? Perhaps.

I can tell you right now, however, that HR departments will _NEVER_ have the back of employees. They will do whatever perfunctory actions are mandated by law, but they will eject whistle-blowers and anyone else who they perceive as a "problem" at the first convenient opportunity.


> Ubers a great place to work now.

Any troubles in recruiting since then?


What interests me the most about this entire narrative is the gentle coincidence that this all dovetails with a tit-for-tat media narrative between Google and Uber, just as the self-driving-car battle ignited between these two companies, over engineering intellectual property.

Speculation aside, observe that just as lawsuits regarding trade secrets opened up, Uber’s gasket blew with Susan’s story, and then months later James Damore’s gasket blew.

Is there a curious interpretation of this? Why are Google and Uber mentioned hand-in-hand ever since winter, 2016? Is this a question worth asking?


Ubers a great place to work now.???

That's why they are asking for bonds(you can't leave the company for the time stipulated in the contract) in India and paying superfluous money.

SDEs hate bonds because we can't leave the company if we don't like the work etc etc


What is superfluous money? I honestly have no idea what that means.


I wish the article connected the dots of her path from studying physics at the University of Pennsylvania to working as an SRE at a San Francisco tech company. It seems like that might be an interesting part of her story.

I loved the anecdote of her buying her own leather jacket when Uber couldn't be bothered to buy them for women. Brilliant.

The title is a bit unfortunate in that it makes her sound like an Attorney General but that's nothing to with her but the NY Time's Maureen Dowd who has a penchant for sensational titles.


>Uber couldn't be bothered to buy them for women

Let it be known the manager who made the decision not to buy jackets for women only worked at Uber for a year, made a magnificent mess of SRE, and went back to Google with a more senior position. This same guy made a data science manager (who has a PhD in theoretical chemistry) take notes during his meetings, and who coincidentally was one of his only female reports.

Fuck you NSK.


The fact that the old Uber HR did nothing to prevent sexual harassment clearly puts the blame on (upper) management. Yet, the specific cases involved people lower down the chain, and it is indeed a revolving door between Google, Facebook and other prominent tech companies. The same bad actors are still around and just have moved on.


We currently have two physics doctorates working in the same department as me. The trajectory for both was the same - they wrote code as an integral part of obtaining heir doctorate, and realized they could 1) get a job today and 2) make a lot more money working as entry level SREs than as physicists.

They're both intelligent and willing to learn; traits that mattered a lot more to us than a CS degree. Both also moved to follow the job, and neither regrets it. One worked on her doctorate at CERN, the other at a US facility (I don't recall the name off hand).


Tangentially in the 90's one of my high school classmates got his masters in physics and was working on a PhD in electrical engineering when his research professor had him working on software analyzing state of Texas forestry data ( I thought this was a weird cross pollination). He preferred software to the difficult career path ahead for staying in physics (compete for work in labs /PhD/research/tenure or teaching until tenure) and after getting his PhD worked his way up from programmer to CTO of software companies in Austin.


[flagged]


That deafening silence is hopefully encouraging you to reflect on why you decided to write this response.


I'm not skeptical about her physics achievements, so I don't agree with your opinion. I don't understand why this post was flagged.

Down votes are for communicating "I don't like this post." Flagging is for violation of community guidelines, or just plain abusive comments.

To respond to your claim, I'd like to point to you her blog post on the subject. She does a good job of explaining how she went from zero to being knowledgeable about physics in this post: https://fledglingphysicist.com/2013/12/12/if-susan-can-learn.... Essentially she always was interested in the subject but didn't believe she was smart enough to pursue it, until she was encouraged to take an introductory course.


I generally am against rallying against people with more "out there" opinions, like in this case, as I think it's toxic to establishing common grounds for a healthy discussion with people we fundamentally disagree with. Even so, I'm myself guilty of this knee-jerk reaction to downvote/flag stuff I disagree with. I believe this is how you get to the incredible tribalism-fueled divide between "the left" and "the right" in the US right now, and what pushes moderates into supporting people like Trump (not that dissimilar to how many dictators got to power in the past).

That being said, in this particular case I have to wonder, what the fuck is the relevance of her physics credentials in this story? For one, she worked as a SRE and got hired based on her capability to do the job (whether you think interviews are a good gauge of job performance or not should be irrelevant), but more importantly does her being a good performer or not have __anything__ to do with how much she should be valued as a human being? Is blatant sexism and trampling someone's fundamental rights OK if said someone is low on the social hierarchy or meritocracy? The mere way this argument seems to be formed is fundamentally strange to me.


IIRC, when a comment has too many downvotes the software in HN transform it to flagged.

(I'm not sure about the threshold and I'm not sure if that is still enabled, because there are a lot of tweaks in HN that are enabled or changed without announcement.)


It's my understanding that down votes are for posts that are off-topic, or don't contribute to the discussion. And flagging, as you say, is for violating community guidelines.

But sadly enough, people do use down votes for posts that they don't like, and flagging for posts that they really don't like. So it goes.


I used to share your opinion about down votes, until I read in the HN guidelines that there was no explanation for what down votes really were for, while flagging was explicitly defined.

It seems the HN cultural practice is to down vote posts people don't like or just disagree with. I would rather people reply, but I can't do anything except for practice what I believe is right: I'll down vote a post that doesn't contribute to the discussion, as you do.

Since "doesn't contribute to the discussion" is vague and subjective, I can't claim particularly high moral ground.


I think the one good thing about the Harvey Weinstein scandal is that it has brought to light that the issue of sexual harassment is not just a Silicon Valley problem, it's a problem that is almost universal in our country. I've written here several times here that articles similar to this one are more likely to backfire as they help perpetuate the idea that the tech industry is hostile to women and they should stay away. I've been thinking the best way to eliminate sexism in tech is to bring more women in to the industry. But hopefully, this increased awareness throughout the country will bring it to an end, not just in tech, but in every sector of the economy.


Let's be real, males using positions of power to obtain sex isn't exactly a US-only problem, it's fundamental hardwiring of virtually every primate species.

I don't think any country at this point is particularly amazing at containing those primal tendencies, but happy to be proven wrong.

Either way, just like with violence and crime, we need to continue the journey of education of what is and is not acceptable behavior in the civilized world in 2017 and hope that that, combined with the legal system, keep those primal urges (that evolve much slower than our technology and our moral progress) in check.


Saying it's "fundamental hardwiring" is not science, it's speculation at best. Figuring out what's cultural versus genetic in humans is a difficult scientific problem that can't be solved by vague analogy to other species.

If you want to be "real" just avoid pseudo-scientific claims altogether. If you think there's science behind something at least cite a paper.


Not posting links to papers also doesn't automatically make what I said any less true.


True or not, it means that between two strangers on the Internet, there's no reason to believe you.

"Why do you think that?" "Someone in an Internet forum said so."

Nobody does that.

Telling stories from personal experience sometimes works. (Take Susan Fowler's essay for example.) Linking to articles from credible sources can work (for example, the NYT article). Asserting scientific statements without backing it up doesn't.


It’s far from perfect, but Scandinavia frowns upon anything too blunt in that direction. Depending on the country, they have influential female politicians, board members, etc. Trying to leverage position of power for sex is presumably highly unlikely to get you anywhere else than the front page of a scandal magazine.

I’d recommend interviewing men and women living there for some context on what a word like that could be like.


> Let's be real, males using positions of power to obtain sex isn't exactly a US-only problem, it's fundamental hardwiring of virtually every primate species

I'm sorry, but did you just make a generalizing statement linking a difference in behavior to sex? Logically, you can invert your comment to say that females use sex to get power. Neither of these things can be said. Ever. Isn't this sort of thing precisely what got James Damore run out of town on a rail for, just a few months ago?



Good profile overall, but I think it should have delved a bit more into her visible accomplishments before the blog post. This wasn't some random person levying these accusations, it was someone who'd spoken on multiple occasions and written a book for O'Reilly. Had she had a lower profile, the blog post might have been received very differently.


While her post did send shockwaves inside Uber and the Silicon Valley at large, I think, it was Mr. Kalanick's incriminating involvement in the Waymo - Uber lawsuit that ultimately sunk Mr. Kalanick. He simply had to go.


Susan's a great mind and I have had the pleasure of chatting with her in person, but there is definitely some historical revisionism going on here.

Travis created a bad Uber culture in general. He was done in not by Fowler specifically but the fruits of his failures as a leader blossoming into several parallel disasters of which Waymo was probably the major major fiasco of the bunch.


Pretty sure VCs smelling blood in the water is what took Kalachik down. Consequences of denying company of its do founder were obviously overlooked. Overall, if you read something by Susan Fowler, read her book instead


The metaphor that I’ve used for a lot of things (notably “viral content”) and that was first suggested by I believe MEJ Newman (complex graph theory) is, paraphrasing: It’s like measuring the size of the match to predict the size of the forest fire.

Susan’s blog was a match; internal issues (entitlement that made something like Levandowsky thinkable) and the tension they created (among the dwindling number of female employees for instance) was the increasingly dry underwood. I suspect that, a year later, the same blog post would have had no echo because all the female engineers would have had left at that point.


That is kind of how I remember it happening. After the revelations in the blog, there was a lot of talk and discussion here and other sites. Some people were fired then.

But only after Waymo became involved, there were rumors of the board moving to push him out.

It would have been nice if her allegations brought him down, but sadly it doesn't seem that way. In other words until investors saw their money potentially going down the drain in a lawsuit with Google, they kind of looked the other way.


You are somewhat right.

Freada & Mitch Kapor (early Uber investors) published their blog post a few days after the Waymo lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit was filed within a week of Fowler's blog post being published. The Kapors' letter was exclusively focused on Kalanick's company culture, public conduct, and gross mismanagement of sexual harassment in Uber.

The Benchmark lawsuit, brought in April, mentions the failure of Kalanick to disclose to the board the risks of the Otto acquisition as the second item of six grievances.

My opinion is that it is unnecessarily cynical to assume that investors didn't care about the company's tolerance of sexual harassment and Kalanick's poor behavior, especially since it was central to their public repudiation of Kalanick.


I don't see why teaching that ethics comes before career isn't a priority. There's a validation that either the victim or the enablers are put into a morale delma to worry about their career over ethics. Shouldn't we be addressing that too? That there is no dilemma, it's just a regrettable mistake to do that.


Her background is pretty non-traditional. Such people tend to be independent and consequently have a lot of integrity -- they do the career destroying things that almost nobody does.

    The only woman on the board then,
    Arianna Huffington, who had vowed
    that the culture of “brilliant
    jerks” must end, had been trying
    to help Mr. Kalanick by advising
    him to sleep more and meditate.
    But he caused another kerfuffle
    when he chose to meditate in the
    lactation room.
This sounds like an environment where people were really banking on no one ever saying anything about anything -- which is just not a prudent thing to do.


> Her background is pretty non-traditional.

Howso? There are quite a few Ivy League physics grads in the bay.


I suspect the original comment was referring to the home-schooling and intense Stoic education early on. Ivy League physics grads are indeed pretty part-and-parcel; people who had to go to Dean's office to get in, less so.


"Her background is pretty non-traditional. Such people tend to be independent and consequently have a lot of integrity"

Uh is that something you can support with facts? She's just an independent person with integrity. I don't see how it has to be a consequence of what you qualify as a "non-traditional background."


It has been my observation over a few years of working but it is ultimately no more than that — a personal observation.

For facts I could list people I have known or read about — but that is just anecdata, and my direct observations are not subject to verification. How would one structure a good solid study on integrity, to get solid facts of this kind? The absence of such a methodology does not, unfortunately, mean we don’t have to think hard about people and integrity.


[flagged]


> "From what I heard"

That's not good enough. Please don't post inflammatory comments to HN.


Bit off topic. The article mentions a book about ants. Any ideas what it is?


No idea, but just go on Amazon and buy a book on ants if you want to learn more about them. And you should. To quote E.O. Wilson, "If you're not interested in ants then you're probably not a very interesting person."


Unlikely to be that one, but the most interesting book about ants that most of my friends read during high school was this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_of_the_Ants_(novel)

It’s a novel that is SciFi-ish in its construction but actually, it’s more an expose of a general theory of complex systems build by naive agents, stigmergy (coordination by traces).


> “Did you read that interview with the C.E.O., Travis, where he talked about how Uber helps him get girls? He’s a misogynist. I could never use his product.”

I know nothing of the interview he’s referring to here, but how is it misogynistic to use your company to get girls? Was he picking up Uber employees or potential hires?


The phrase "get girls" is even itself misogynistic since it's already an objectifying phrase. That doesn't necessarily mean that the person using it otherwise deserves being judged and identified as a misogynist. But the judgment of Travis is probably based on a lot of other factors than that one phrase.


He called it Boober IIRC.


It's the difference between loving someone and using them.


Yes that's all there is to human interactions, either love or objectification.


> “I think, right now especially, with Trump in the White House, who knows what’s going on with North Korea?"

Why are people so worried about going to war with North Korea? There are concentration camps in North Korea. Are South Korean and American lives worth more than the lives of those in concentration camps? The USA tried to create a free Korea during the Korean War and failed because of China and Russia. We need to try again to clean up this mess.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoeryong_concentration_camp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodok_concentration_camp


Concentration camps? Good grief.

For heaven's sake please don't do this here. It is a poster child of what we don't want: off-topic, political, ideological, generic, inflammatory. Did I miss anything?

Here's a tip: if we end up at "Stalin and Mao" we've reached internet information death. That's one of the black holes whence no thread emerges. If you need to go there, please do it somewhere else.


> Concentration camps? Good grief.

So I shouldn't talk about this here but you're going to start with me? Please follow your own suggestions. Did I miss anything?

Please refer to the guidelines:

> Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say face-to-face. Don't be snarky. Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.

> Here's a tip: if we end up at "Stalin and Mao" we've reached internet information death. That's one of the black holes whence no thread emerges. If you need to go there, please do it somewhere else.

I read books. Here's a tip: Don't be condescending. It violates the rules here.


I'm sorry to have come across as condescending. Communicating this stuff is hard! I've probably had to post something like this at least a thousand times, and the Sisyphean statelessness of it can get frustrating.

Meanwhile, even though commenters here are supposed to know the site guidelines, you may not have had any idea that you were doing anything wrong. If so, I can understand how this would be an off-putting way to hear about it.


I'm not at all confident in the ability of the US to "clean up this mess". Similar arguments were made before the war in Iraq. I won't defend Saddam but I don't think you can argue that the average Iraqi ended up better off.


You are overssimplifying the situation. Iraq and NK are/were both dictatorships but the similarity ends there. Cultural differences go very far.


No, you're over-simplifying this by assuming we can resolve a humanitarian issue with a war. We can't. Even conservatives like Steve Bannon know this. The Iraq War plus its aftermath has a death toll approaching 1 million, 1/6th the size of the Holocaust.

Conflict with North Korea will be even worse.


You are catastrophically underestimating the size of the Holocaust. 6 million is only the Jews murdered by Nazi operations. Another 5+ million non Jews were murdered, plus, since we're comparing follow-on effects of war, many more millions of military fighters and civilians bombed.


Very true. Thanks for pointing this out.


You're responding to the wrong commenter.

No one knows how many people die in North Korean concentration camps every year. But you can be sure that the total number of deaths will increase every year that the Kims are in power. There is no solution but war.


> No one knows how many people die in North Korean concentration camps every year

It's less than 70,000 each year, which is how many have died due to the Iraq war. If North Korea deserves war, what does the United States deserve?


Exactly, we don't even want to give Puerto Ricans the support they need, so what's the chance Trump won't drop some bombs, declare victory, then leave millions to rot?


Iraq war Was fundamentally different. NK is extremely hierarchical, once the leadership is removed, the country can be reconstructed much easier. I can't say I care about Seth Bannons opinion.


China, who knows them best, seems to disagree. Otherwise they would have taken care of the Kim family years ago.

There were similar "this is different! It will be easy!" arguments made for Iraq as well, especially when people suggested it could be like Vietnam (in the quagmire sense, not US causalities sense)


I disagree with the premise and the conclusion.


Stalin and Mao supplied Kim Il Sung in the Korean War because they didn't want democracy to spread to Asia. China and Russia are still obstructing the US with the same goal of preventing democracy. If we don't do it no one will. The Kims have proven their ability to retain power.

Some people think death is better than having to live in North Korea:

http://www.worldtribune.com/senior-north-korea-official-and-...


Russia and China govert have no problem with foreign "democracy", just like USA has no problem with communism, per se. They are all just opposed to small nation's allying with their enemies.

The history of USA and Latin America makes this clear.


After Stalin died his letters were released and he was denounced. His letters confirm that China and Russia did have a problem with democracy and that it was the impetus for their support of Kim Il Sung during the Korean War.


At this point it has nothing to do with "preventing democracy" (if it ever did). All countries want to prevent the massive refugee crisis that would exist if North Korea suddenly falls. I think something should be done but I don't think anyone currently has a good answer to that situation.


You are acting as though it's questionable whether Stalin and Mao got involved in the Korean War to prevent the spread of democracy. Check out the book The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot. It covers the history of the Korean War and Stalin and Mao's actions. Also, a really great story about the famous fighter pilot No Kum-sok.


That’s a quite peculiar read of the history. The real story of Korea is something more like:

-The United States propped up the corrupt and vicious right-wing ruler Syngman Rhee, who was responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings of his political opponents. And also not a real fan of democracy

-His reign of murder and repression created a context in which, Kim Il Sung, by opposing him, could build on his reputation as an Anti-Japanese occupation guerilla to become a populist hero.

-Who, in the imperial conquest by proxy battle known as the Cold War, then became the Chinese and Soviet’s man in the Korean Peninsula.

So neither side really fighting for or against the spread of democracy. Just their own interests. And everything is still a mess as a result!


"So neither side really fighting for or against the spread of democracy."

In fact, South Korea continued to be ruled by repressive dictatorships until 1987:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korea#1979


[flagged]


> What ar we creating celebrities out of people who blogged about their experiences?

Because ambivalence and good measure doesn't seem to be trendy anymore. This applies to other subjects, sadly.


You're wrong, she wants to be the social crusader. She has the ear of Silicon Valley and she believes that she must use this opportunity to educate us on things that she believes are important. She's not wrong.


How is someone else doing this to her? I assume she allowed this interview to take place.


I'm just saying this generally, not really weighing in on this case, but:

If you've ever been the subject of an interview or two, there's a decent chance you've had the common experience of not being presented as you expected. Experienced folks know how to basically tell journalists what words to write because journalists otherwise put all sorts of strange things and misinterpretations in.

You certainly can't put the style and overall presentation of the article on her in this case. Being interviewed doesn't mean you chose to present yourself the way the journalist ends up doing.


Why else would they interview her?


I'm not saying there's any malice here!

The interviewer and interviewee have the same core understanding: describe stuff about the person relevant to the human-interest angle about the interviewee.

What happens is as an interviewee is that you sit down with an interviewer and talk to them like you would meeting anyone, tell them about yourself and how you came to be involved in whatever the interesting thing that led to the interview. Then, you read the article in surprise about how they put some weird spin on a random little side-note or anecdote or made a connection between two things you said that aren't really connected. And it becomes obvious that they did those things because they actually don't know you at all and are grasping at telling an in-depth story about someone they just met and knew nothing about really.

Go ask anyone who's been interviewed this way. You'll find it common that the published article presented things in ways the interviewee thinks are weird, inaccurate, just confused or out of proportion.

The only real point is: don't assume the interviewee has any responsibility or desire for promoting themselves in the style of the article. That's not likely the case, even if it happens sometimes.


Susan Fowler's narrative is sort of the "dual" of the myth of the "little dutch boy" who stuck his finger in a dyke, preventing disaster through a very small act.

[0] http://www.pantheon.org/articles/l/little_dutch_boy.html


I'm glad the website you linked credited that "myth" correctly. I was surprised when I moved to the Netherlands that no one had ever heard of this child with his finger in the dyke to save the town.


I enjoyed reading that, but why did the boy put his finger in the hole if he was worried about being late to school?


The phrasing is confusing, but I think it means the boy knew he would be late if he helped, and the consequences of being late, but chose to act anyway.


All China has to do is encourage this and America will self destroy its own software companies . Meanwhile America can do no such thing to China due to their censorship and tight controls.

Lets see what happens.


> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


She didn't bring him down... HE brought HIMSELF down. Kinda clickbait-y, if you ask me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


So true. Karma!


I think the notion of the article is wrong. She did not bring down Travis. The misogynist culture he helped to create did.


Are you kidding me? She took career-risking action to bring a problem to light, and you just want to point to an abstract non-entity as having responsibility for an outcome? Give credit where credit is due FFS, sheesh.


> abstract non-entity as having responsibility for an outcome?

The patriarchy is routinely responsible for despicable outcomes.


Her writing exposing [the misogynist culture that he helped create] was a major catalyst, so the phrasing "she brought down the CEO" is fair. Maybe be better at picking semantic nits?


Please don't take this thread (or any thread) in a hostile direction, even if someone is picking nits. Your comment would be much better with just the first sentence.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I don't even know if it was that, honestly. I think the whole Waymo thing had more to do with it, or it would have happened sooner.


The Waymo lawsuit was filed about a week after Fowler's blog post was published. The huge public outcry and massive customer switch to Lyft was based off of the news of the sexual harassment lawsuit. The general American public is largely ignorant about the Waymo lawsuit. The public is well-informed about the sexual harassment revelations.

Right now, many potential customers have permanently associated Uber with sexual harassment. This is far more of an existential threat to Uber than a $1B lawsuit.




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