Archive for August, 2017

May I Suggest, Going Back to Discussing Things?

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Charlottesville is the story of two yucky factions mixing it up and getting violent. In the aftermath, there is a lot of truth and fiction being pumped into it, by people who are desperate to prove, above all things, that they’re not with this yucky side or that yucky side. Now it’s true that as a secondary priority there is a lot of other stuff they want to say. Keep those statues! Down with capitalism! Violence is wrong! But if we’re going to be honest about it, those are distant-seconds. The most important thing anyone wants to express, far-and-away, is “I am not a Nazi” and “I am not Antifa.”

That is good, in the sense that people are behaving like they’ve got reputations worth protecting.

But it is not good, in the sense that it must be the most primitive thought expressed in a social gathering. “Hi. My name is [name], I am not a [blank].” Thousands of years of evolution, technical innovation and social advancement; we can’t manage the next rung up the ladder? How about: “I believe in [thing].” Too much?

Ah, well. Here we embark upon more painful truth: We were there already. Past it, in fact. We’ve been sliding. In generations past, we discussed things; for thousands of years, in fact, people would say “thing.” And then the rebuttal would come back: “!thing.” Then the counter-rebuttal: “If not-thing, then why (other thing)? We should expect to see (yet another thing) instead.”

Toppling StatuesSomewhere along the line, all this has fallen out of favor. And it’s recent. Somehow, something got discarded, rather like a paddle thrown out of a canoe, and now our chosen form of discourse is a bunch of fluff-n-stuff that doesn’t have much to do with actual exchange of ideas. Seems like lately it’s all demonstrations, all “protests,” all of the time, with everything. Oh sure we have our Sunday morning talk shows, but have you actually taken the time to watch one of those lately?

We do have talk radio, which encourages this. But polite society does not encourage talk radio…you’re looked upon as something of a kook-burger if you listen to it with any regularity. And I’m gathering that the free exchange of ideas is the reason why. To the people who never do it, when they look at someone else participating in it or just listening to it, it seems odd. People would do well to stop and ask themselves why. I know of one family member roughly my age, who regularly disparages another, older family member, for listening to “hate radio.” That is not an isolated sentiment by any means.

And yet…what was Charlottesville, if not hate?

And that was the ultimate end-point of the opposite of talking about ideas, no? Two sides, both with a “my way or the highway” attitude.

And I don’t see anyone noticing this part — each side had an idea that was, at least, sturdy enough to survive an introduction into a real dialogue. Lose the statues! Keep the statues! Speaking just for myself, I would look forward eagerly to an exchange of ideas about this. Not a shouting match, but a considerate, rational, focused inspection of what happens when a nation tears itself in pieces over questions of freedom, federalism, The Rights Of Man, etc….glues itself back together, and then a century and a half later takes steps to obliterate that bloody history. What happens then? Can an advanced civilization such as ours, remain ready for whatever the future brings while it rends asunder its own past? Can it maintain moral anchoring without any anchors? Can it survive the exigencies of both war AND peace, while living out each day in snapshot-mode, deliberately unaware of all that came before?

This would be a good discussion to have.

And this is something I’ve not seen people notice much, even as they busy themselves with noticing many other things. Ah well…now we have fatalities, so I suppose losing perspective on the essentials is to be expected. But what caused those, I might ask? Is there really any good reason for us to be so hyped up on street-protests, all year long and every year? I can think of no good reason. Maybe just a couple of really bad ones…like, someone is funding them because they think they have something to gain politically…and, those who participate in them know of no other way to make their point, and haven’t got anything else to do anyway. Is that it? Because those aren’t good reasons. The property damage is expensive and the deaths & injuries are tragic.

It’s a funny thing. Waterboard one terrorist and you hear all this stuff about “We are better people than that.” Nobody stops to ask, “Better than what, exactly?” Better than…taking active steps, when malevolent people threaten innocent people? The alternative is to not do anything and then say “wasn’t my fault” after the deed’s done, right? Is there any other way to interpret that tired cliché?

But then we go day after day, year after year, watching these “peaceful protests” that are anything but peaceful…the local police are consumed in whatever the event is, wherever it is, must be a great day to go stealing cars or breaking into houses in the middle of the day or whatever other malfeasance you had planned…streets blocked, shops busted and looted, homeowners threatened, all because we don’t know how to discuss anything anymore. And that’s when I don’t hear anybody at all say “We [should be] better than that.” That’s exactly when the full meaning of the statement would be much easier to define, and that’s exactly when it really should be true.

That Google Memo

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Here is the actual document. There is so much misinformation being spread around about it. Might be a good idea to hit the download button.

The background is that a senior engineer at Google contributed this 10-page “manifesto” to an inside-company group discussion of diversity efforts. Those of us who have worked in tech for a few years, who happen to be six-foot-tall straight white males with nothing interesting about their personal attributes, understand these efforts to artificially embiggen the proportional representation of said interesting personal attributes within the ranks of engineering talent. Need more chicks! It has nothing at all to do with getting the job done, but management keeps getting hung up on it. Well…any engineer who’s worth a damn is going to take note of which solutions DON’T work, in addition to the ones that do, and these “diversity” efforts don’t bring any positive results. It’s just year after year of “still inadequate female representation on our teams, we have to up the diversity” or something. Translation: There is institutionalized sexism somewhere, the stats speak for themselves, we have to work harder at getting rid of it.

So those who actually want to justify their plush engineering paychecks are put in an awkward position: They have to show good engineering discipline day-to-day, and bad discipline when management tells them, “We’re all going to work a lot harder at this drive that hasn’t offered any positive results.” And, pile on with a rash assumption that the stats must manifest prejudice. Somewhere.

Well, the engineer WENT THERE. No, he did not say the chicks are naturally unqualified or under-qualified to do engineering work. You might have heard that. You can see from looking at the document yourself that it’s a deliberate lie. There are many others being told. Anyway, what he did say is what people who’ve looked into it awhile, by which I mean more than a few minutes, know already. The chicks just don’t wanna do it. Figuring this out is not hard, since the alternative would have to be, there’s a huge glut of chicks wanting engineering jobs and their applications are being ritually blocked or turned away at some point in the pipeline. Well, where’s the glut? And where’s the blockage? Can you imagine the job of hiding such a restrictive device, in this climate…or being the device, the manager who says “no chicks on my team”?

When, all this guy did was talk about it. Oh yeah. Continuing with the background — he is fired. Oh, so fired. But if you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that already.

About the most offensive thing the guy actually did say was where he said women are, on average, more emotional. It’s true, but I try to avoid saying things like that because we live in an age wherein men are acting more like women. Nevertheless, even this was given some strong backing by real-life events when it emerged that female employees at Google were skipping work because they were so traumatized by his memo. Those who defend the firing, point to this “trauma” done to the fairer sex within Google’s workforce, as evidence that the company made the right decision. Had they taken no action, so the argument goes, the female employees could have sued due to the hostile work environment.

The other piece I linked up above, the one that substantiates the points that chicks don’t want to do engineering, falls back on this point as well: The REASON they don’t want to do it, is men make the workplace so uncomfortable. With all our awful presumptions that women don’t know tech, and stuff…

This whole thing has really made me think hard about my own career. I’ve been at this thirty years. Nearly forty, man & boy, if you count the “work” I did before I was getting paid to do it…well, let’s just count the actual work. What I’ve realized is that, as a six-foot straight white male, I’m really not completely comfortable in my job. I wasn’t comfortable in my last one. Or the one before that, or the one before that, or the one before that…anyplace I picked up a paycheck, I never was absolutely comfortable. Nor did I expect to be. After all, I was being paid to be there.

From whence arises this expectation that a workplace should be comfortable? And if it isn’t, you can sue? Oh yeah right. Lawyers.

Well, it’s wrong.

It’s just as wrong as the other flawed premise, the one Mr. Damore was targeting in his memo, that if female representation is not up to par then it must mean something is wrong with the environment. It could very well mean your environment’s just fine. You could be looking at — you probably ARE looking at — the end result of people being able to choose what they want to do in life, based on how much personal fulfillment they get from doing it, and yes, how reliably they can deliver what’s needed.

Mr. Damore’s memo is called “Google’s ideological echo chamber”…and, he was fired for writing it. His own sacking proves the truth of what he wrote, because he got fired for saying the wrong things. Nevermind whether I like it or not, or you like it or not…it’s simply unworkable.

“We have to do whatever it takes to up the female representation in our engineering teams, so SPEAK FREELY! All ideas welcome!’

“Women and men are the same, and don’t you say anything different or we’ll fire you.”

“Women are the true source of creativity and we need their participation…don’t say anything different or we’ll fire you.”

…pick ANY TWO.

If you insist on maintaining all three, as Google did and continues to do, and many other tech companies continue to do, then what you have is…drum roll please. A hostile work environment. An environment in which people of all demographic make-ups can continue to survive ONLY by avoiding the subject entirely. Or, by lying.

Or, by avoiding it just selectively…which is really the same thing as lying.

The Simpsons really nailed it. “Just tell me what to say!”

I hope people who consider themselves to be “centrists” are watching this very carefully. So many of them are hardcore liberals, and don’t even realize it. I’ve said before a few times that when the difference between conservatives & liberals is most starkly defined, it’s when each side is opining about the cause of human behavior…conservatives say it’s incentives, liberals say it’s enviornment. There should be overlap between the two, since the environment drives incentive. But THERE. IS. NO. OVERLAP. None here.

Liberals want to think it’s all got to do with the environment, because it gives them an excuse to twiddle with it. Oh, make this rule here, oh, eliminate that option over there, force people to do this thing, stop them from doing that thing…

Once you go down that road, you’re all-in whether you realize it or not. You have to ignore the incentives. Pretend they don’t exist.

Fire, or exclude or ostracize in some way, anyone who even thinks of mentioning it. “Chicks don’t wanna do it” is BadThink and not to be tolerated…even when the evidence supporting the contraband thought is, literally, everywhere.

Update 8/12/17: It’s become a full-time job just figuring out which article has something new to contribute…nevermind excerpting. A link round-up is the only way to go.

Playing Into Every Female Stereotype, Women At Google Stay Home After Memo For Emotional Reasons

Google Can’t Seem to Tolerate Diversity

How Google Has Just Harmed Its Women Employees

Purge: Amid Leftist Fury, Google Fires Engineer Who Wrote Memo Criticizing Politically-Correct Groupthink

Jordan Peterson’s interview right after Mr. Damore put “his hand in a blender”:

It’s 1984 at Google: David Limbaugh. Handy, well-written summary of events, and this: “While constitutional issues may not be involved in the Google case because no state action is involved, moral shaming has become a chilling cudgel in the hands of leftist-dominated institutions.”

Diversity flaps are often manufactured: Jonah Goldberg. “It’s absolutely true that women were once blocked from many careers. But since those barriers were lifted, women have flooded into, or even have come to dominate, all manner of fields. Is it really plausible that sexism is the primary, never mind sole, explanation for female under-representation in computer science and engineering? …The issue here isn’t diversity, but conformity.”

By Firing the Google Memo Author, the Company Confirms His Thesis: “Of course, Google can take any political positions it likes. But its overwhelming power and reach into the everyday lives of so many Americans makes it a perfectly legitimate target for criticism.”

WSJ Best of the Web: Google’s Silent Majority: “There is no guarantee that the finalists and semifinalists of coding competitions will always want to work at Google. Perhaps the company should be focused on attracting and developing all kinds of employees, including non-leftists.”

Ben and Cenk

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Full debate. Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks, the liberal, debates Ben Shapiro from The Daily Wire, the conservative.

I suppose any publicity is good publicity, but it’s belaboring the obvious to note Mr. Uygur was under-prepared for this. Evidently someone told him “just circulate a narrative that anybody who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t know anything, and they’ll fall in line”…that probably works great when the number of people who don’t agree with you is zero, one, two or not much more than that.

So he’s left stammering away about how 40% to 60% of the packed audience, doesn’t know how to use Google or something. Ends up looking like he’s just wasting everyone’s time. That’s probably accurate.

I’ve noticed a lot of liberals doing this since Obama got elected…and weirdly, picking up pace with the tactic since Trump got elected. Ah, maybe it’s me giving them the impression I don’t know anything…they like a rule, I don’t like the rule, so like a spark leaping from an electrode they figure out I must not understand the concept of having rules. And they do that with everybody else too, so I know it’s not just me. Looks weird.

Like they’re just not used to being outnumbered. And never did have a good argument to offer about anything.