Archive for the ‘Poisoning English Language’ Category

My 42 Definitions of a Strong Society

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Yes, once again it is time to dig into the obsessive-compulsive-list-making “what’s been ripening in the innards of the smartphone” file. And nobody disagrees with me about any of it.

At least, when talking-out-loud most people don’t disagree with much of it. Being a liberal, lately, seems to involve saying something to the effect of “Oh in a perfect world I wish (insert some of what follows here)…BUT…we have all these problems, so therefore we must ‘invest’ in my program.” And being a “moderate” liberal versus an “extreme” liberal, seems more than anything else to have to do with how quickly the liberal gets to that “but.”

Regarding what makes a society free, strong and healthy, there does not appear to be a lot of disagreement. Except for craven disagreement, the disagreement that must cower out of sight, hiding behind red herrings.

Some of these things can be measured, in service of producing an actual number. Where that is possible, and the number is found to be in a decline, that place is coming off the rails. So you can probably form a guess about my thoughts regarding the direction our country has been heading for the last year.

1. Taboo versus Law. There is a vast, yawning gap between laws that are written down, and unenforced cultural taboos that are universally observed as a sign of respect the individual pays to the sensibilities of the community. There is an abundance of little things that are frowned-upon, and because they are frowned-upon they are very seldom done. They carry absolutely no penalty whatsoever. In fact, making any kind of “hard” law against some of these things, is one of the taboos.
2. Stigma is firm but soft. Rule #1 notwithstanding, nobody ever has to profess a false belief, or keep their silence about a genuine belief, to keep from losing their property, their business, their kids, their spouse, their house, their job, their stature in the community, or anything else. Hey let’s face it: If thinking a certain thing is evidence that you’re a wonderful person, and then you get penalized for thinking something else, then thinking that thing is no longer evidence of your wonderfulness, now is it?
3. Men do things. Able-bodied men, of all ages, are knights. They defend women, children, old and handicapped people, from trifling inconvenience as well as danger and bodily harm. They never, ever remain sitting when a lady approaches.
4. Failure. Universally available, and free. No person, enterprise or industry is “Too Big To Fail” — ever. Failure is regarded as something that is always possible, to be avoided at all costs, but never to be ignored or sidestepped once it is earned. Depriving a man of the failure he has justly earned, is rightfully seen as just as deplorable as depriving him of wages he has justly earned.
5. The high wall. Coarse humor and other material are kept away from children, as well as adults who might not prefer it. The girly mags kept behind the clerk, rather than at knee height out front; the blogger who takes the effort to write “not safe work work language in this video”; the curtain in front of that special room in the back, at your video store; South Park scheduled on the cable teevee for 10pm or later. These are fundamental building blocks of any civilized society. The spicy stuff is freely available, but walled off.
6. Promote strength and not weakness. If an individual falls short of a physical or mental challenge, he is encouraged to try again, and discouraged from developing the one-time failure into a lasting disability.
7. Keeping and bearing arms. There really isn’t any telling who does & doesn’t have a gun, but it’s probably not too far from the truth to suppose everyone is carrying something.
8. Egalitarianism. A penalty for a crime is constant, regardless of the class, economic status or birthright of the convict.
9. Take your place. Children wait for grown-ups; grown-ups make sure the women go first; the women see to it that, among them, the elderly and infirm go first.
Nucular10. Say it. At work, rest or play, nobody ever mumbles; misspellings are exceedingly rare; if an idea is worth expressing, it’s worth expressing properly.
11. Earn your pay. The employee sees his employer as a partner in the business — nobody ever does half-ass work, or less work, to avoid making his co-workers look bad. He does what the boss says, not what the union boss says.
12. Non-Discrimination is a taboo and not a law. Opportunities are not awarded to, or withheld from, people because of their religion, race or gender (unless applicable).
13. Getting rich by watching the rich. People don’t pay greater attention to indigents and ask “Who is at fault?” They pay attention to those who are better off, and ask “What wise things did he do that put him in this position?”
14. Independent thinking. It starts early on. Teachers teach and grade children to produce a good outcome, not to follow a certain sequence of steps.
15. Children wait. Children are afraid to interrupt adults. When they play or are otherwise too distracted to move out of the way of someone else, they do their playing in low-traffic areas, where they aren’t likely to obstruct.
16. Faceless kingmakers. There are no anonymous panels of experts artificially creating other experts. When men carry great respect and authority, the people who show them this respect are ready to list the wonderful things those men have done, not the titles, awards and other gimmicks bestowed on them by anonymous commissions or third-parties.
17. Faceless kingmakers, continued. With regard to #16, nobody can earn respect, authority, titles, awards or other gimmicks by talking a certain way; they have to accomplish something, and it has to be something measurable.
18. Rehabilitation and Recidivism. If a man continues to prove himself unable to live safely among others, he is ultimately put to death.
19. Ownership. People ask “Is it my place to pass judgment?” before asking “Would I have done it the way he did it?”
20. Individuality vs. Groupthink. Groups just aren’t very important. The individual is the de facto master of any given task, challenge or situation. Very few things in life are decided by a vote anywhere, or for that matter by passages out of some kind of rulebook. Committees, where they exist, exist only for brief periods of time and decide practically nothing at all.
21. Mind-altering substances. No one ever uses hallucinogenic drugs. They see their fortunes in life as being linked to their ability to think things out capably, so they just don’t want to mess with that.
22. Nobility of labor. People spend time doing their own manual chores; many of them possess an abundance of tools that they have designed and constructed themselves. It is impossible to do any of this when you engage in the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late; and, I suppose, it is perhaps not possible to avoid the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late, if you haven’t done something like this in awhile.
23. Keeping up with the Joneses. Nobody ever wants to buy something just because someone else they know bought the same thing.
24. Headwear. Men and boys never wear hats indoors. Ever. Headgear above…or a roof…never, ever both. Simply not done.
25. Strong and silent. The more powerful the leader is, the shorter his speeches are, the greater the passage of time before he gives one, and the less likely it is that he’s ever heard to blame his predecessor for anything.
26. Family first. Nobody who lives in a household ever tolerates disparaging comments about anybody else who lives in that household.
27. As the ladies go, so goes civilization. Girls give their attention to boys who are serious about what they’re trying to do, and show some drive when they’re trying to do it; not to whoever “makes me laugh.”
28. School. In school, when one child picks on another child and the other child tolerates it, the officials see to it the weaker child “mans up” and that the stronger child is punished — BOTH of those, not one or the other. The lazy school official who turns a blind eye, or enforces discipline only upon children who’ve shown the intelligence and civility to respond positively to it, and in so doing allows this adolescent boy-coming-of-age juice to pickle, like improperly-fermented homemade beer — he is universally regarded as the lowest and most detestable form of bureaucrat, something toxic to natural human development, inimical toward manhood. And that goes double for erring in the opposite direction…handing down some ill-thought-out “hard rule” (see #1) trying to make bullying into a relic from the past. Not gonna happen. Bullying is not something to be expurgated, it is something to be handled.
29. School, continued. With regard to #28, children who can communicate with other children but not do the work, are seen as needing improvement; children who can do the work but who lack “communication skills,” are seen as successful and worthy of emulation.
30. Husbands. Women and men mate for life; all of her children are biologically his.
31. Charity. When any member of the community is enduring urgent need, nobody is condemned with such disdain as the other member who could help and refuses to — except for whoever else wants to force him to. Nobody seeks to make himself, or anybody else, “better” by passing some obligatory law requiring charity. (Again, refer back to #1.)
32. Charity, continued. With regard to #31, to receive such charity and then gripe about it in quality or quantity, is regarded as one of the lowest possible transgressions.
33. World travel. The most respected community members are the ones who have traveled to other countries. But before they traveled they personally worked to earn the solvency needed for their traveling. Traveling is not used as a bully pulpit to promote some sick vision of hyper-internationalism, or to promote materialism and extravagance as if luxuries should be prioritized as staples of life.
34. Central, unifying language. There is one and only one dominant spoken and written language, and whoever isn’t functional in it, does the best they can to learn that one before any other.
35. Immigrants speak the language of the community. With regard to #34, whoever immigrates to this place, speaks that one dominant language before their mother tongue — even at home.
36. Children speak the language of the community. With regard to #34 and #35, children of immigrants are taught to speak the language of the community before their mother tongue — at home.
37. Parents don’t raise boys and girls, they raise men and women. Parenting is seen as a process of making kids capable first, and “safe” second. A parent who delivers a child to adulthood, happy healthy and whole but not capable, is seen as a failure at parenting (see #4).
38. Taxes pay for things, where they are unavoidable. Taxes are never levied, increased or exempted to reward or punish classes of people. Social experimentation by tax code is an unknown thing. Taxes are collected for the purpose of funding vital government activities, and for no other reason.
39. There is a(n unwritten) Hays Code. The fiction that people enjoy, has heroic characters who do good things, villainous characters who do bad things, and nobody ends up prosperous at the end by avoiding honest work or by breaking the law.
40. People acknowledge each other. The everyday greeting is not only desirable, not only obligatory, but sacred. Men who once fought over a woman, take the time to do it with each other, friendly or not. Very few tasks justify withholding a handshake, eye contact and a decent Hello. And for this reason, people don’t spend much time at all with their “personal tunes.”
41. Weaknesses are not coveted. Nobody ever brags about, or connects an identity to, an inability to do something other people can do. People do not greet new acquaintances with that most odious of self-introductions, “I don’t know anything about computers.” People don’t form relationships around weakness. People don’t say “That’s my friend Carol, she doesn’t know how to cook.” They say “That’s my friend Carol, she’s the best interior designer around.”
42. Armageddon is not breathlessly anticipated. Very rarely does anyone talk about the entire world ending, for any reason.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

This Is Good LX

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Future Present
Posted on March 29th, 2009 by Scipio

Our archeologist, while rummaging among the ruins of our fallen civilization, met a ghost from the long dead race of Americans. The wraith boasted much about what we had been as a people.

We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here and around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn’t get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn’t care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.

The archeologist asked, “If you accomplished all of this, then why did your nation collapse?” The ghost answered, “Because we went insane.”

“Please explain.”

The ghost took a breath and said, “We traded beauty for ugliness, truth for lies, liberty for comfort, love for indifference, responsibility for frivolity, duty for entertainment, history for sound bites, and children for pleasure. We had gold, but we tossed it aside and replaced it with cleverly designed dross. We turned men into women and women into men and marveled at our new creative power. We stopped looking up to Heaven and began to keep our gaze firmly fixed on the ground. We abandoned the old God for a host of hip, cool and slick new ones.”


“Those new gods turned on us. At first they granted us our every wish. They laughed with us. They danced with us. We all ate, drank and made all sorts of merry. All of us exulted in our power. And then…” Here the ghost stopped for a moment. His mouth was half open as if trying to speak. His body shuddered as it remembered an ancient terror. “But there were some among us who felt something was wrong, dreadfully wrong.”

“How so?”

There’s more…much more. What’re you still doing here?

R and R-Lite Instead of D and D-Lite

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Cylarz has a challenge in the comments section that really makes you think. His intent is to show how absurd is the notion that Rush Limbaugh is running much of anything, along with the idea that anyone, anywhere, is somehow forced to listen to him:

Imagine what life in this nation would be like if our parties were Republican and Republican-lite…instead of Democrat and Democrat-lite. The former is what the political scene would look like if everyone were listening to Rush.

It is my conviction that American consensus-politics are revolving on the rim of a large wheel. It is a merry-go-round that spins into & out of, not so much conservatism and liberalism, but fantasy and reality. Right now we’re on the 1976-77 sector of the wheel, wherein we just installed a hopey-changey youthful-charismatic guy who’s gonna solve all our problems. This is an exceptionally narrow pie-slice of the wheel’s orbit. It’s over in the blink of an eye. We see life’s problems are ours to solve and it’s not realistic to elect some savior-champion to deal with them on our behalf…we see it some more…we see it some more…lesson learned. For a few more years.

This dream Cylarz has, is at the opposite side…and is perhaps a little bit wider. It’s the 1969-1973, 1980-1986 side of the wheel.

So it’ll happen. It’ll happen, and we’ll get tired of it. All this stuff is inevitable, as the wheel keeps on turning. That’s my point. We kick the democrats out of power when we get tired of fantasy; when we notice, that to keep liberal ideas even looking good, there’s this never-ending pressure on to pretend simple things are complicated, and complicated things are simple. After awhile we get tired of that and we kick ’em out. We fire the Republicans when we notice, gee, it’s been awhile since we engaged the government to solve a problem and watched the problem disappear before our very eyes, wouldn’t that be neat? (The conservative platform is constructed around the paradigm that this isn’t really the purpose of government; in that way, the Founding Fathers worked under well-defined conservative bias.) People will listen to Rush, to learn what they should’ve learned before they went to vote. It’s already started to happen. It’s that human instinct to think and think and think some more about “did I turn off the stove?” when the car is zipping on down the freeway and it’s way too late to do anything about it.

But imagine if things were that way, and they stayed that way? I notice when we’re in the fantasy zone, we really are D and D-Lite. Oooh, look at me, I’m a compassionate conservative, I can blow money away on bullshit projects just as fast as my democrat “friends”; vote for me. When Republicans are in power the liberals don’t engage in some contest to see who can be the most-moderate lib. They just get all pissy and mumble the word “fascism” a lot.

So lessee…what would happen…

That last election would have been between Fred Thompson & Sarah Palin…and…Joe Lieberman and Ron Paul. Dr. Paul would be considerably more hawkish, his concerns about the constitutionality of the War on Terror ejected from his platform. Gen. David Petraeus would now have a fifth star. We would have pulled out of the United Nations.

A massive stimulus bill would have injected trillions of dollars into the U.S. economy over the next decade-and-a-half…in the form of a tax cut.

Barack Obama’s formidable oratory skills would be deployed where they would do the most good: On a radio or television program, trying to compete with Rush Limbaugh.

The front page of my local newspaper, and yours, wouldn’t speak very often to the plight of: state legislators pretending to care about balancing the budget, homeless people, unionized workers, ignorant addle-brained students who can’t graduate high school because they haven’t learned anything, prison guards, single moms, troubled youth, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They’d live in a larger, better-informed world. Their headlines would very seldom deploy words like “BUDGET” and “DEFICIT” and “PROGRAM” and “NEED”…instead, you’d see proud, hopeful words in those daily headlines like “FREEDOM” and “OPPORTUNITY” and “LIBERTY.”

Your television “news” program wouldn’t talk too much about liberal programs are going to do. They’d be better-anchored to reality; they’d talk about what tax cuts have done, versus what liberal programs have done.

When some big major mega-city that’s been run by democrats for generation after generation, runs into a predictable budget deficit…you’d hear about it that way. An important part of the news report would be an editorial analysis of some rival city, floating along free of the concern of ever-enlarging social programs, without the deficits and without the liberals running everything. The news report would go through the budgets, line by equivalent line. After all, it isn’t useful news unless we explain why the problem occurred, is it?

Kids can pray in the classroom. Every classroom. If they don’t know English yet, they’re sent to remedial classes to learn it, before they learn another thing. Kids know how to fire guns, shoot arrows, build fires, tie knots. Intelligent Design? It’s recognized as precisely what it is: Just an idea that the universe, particularly the bits of it that make life possible, is here because of non-random activity as opposed to random activity. And then it’s debated. As science. Which it is.

Oh, and before I forget: This asshole is locked up for good, and/or fried crispy.

A convicted sex offender due to be released Saturday from prison after serving 11 months warned in letters that if set free, he would reoffend, even against children. In the letters, Michael McGill begged authorities to keep him locked up for life.

“Please throw the book at me … I’m harmful to others I should be locked up for life,” he wrote in block letters that resemble a child’s writing. “I will sexual abuse men. Do this for the safe (sic) of others then I be able not to hurt anyone else. Judge I’m begging you to put me away.”

In another place he wrote that he had told his two 7-year-old male victims, “I will do more sex crimes with boys 4 to 14. I will molest with boys 15 to 18.”

Neither the Polk County attorney’s office, which prosecuted McGill and distributed his letters to other agencies, nor the Iowa Board of Parole, nor the attorney general’s office, which handles civil commitments for sexually violent predators, says it can do anything to prevent McGill’s release.

Feminists are about as powerful…oh…as they are right now. See, we still have that going for us. People have only partially lost their minds. They’re still not ready to trust feminists again just yet. Feminists get together in their little clubs, isolated from everyone else, sharing notes with each other along with instructions to help-me-hate-this-thing-over-here. That’s the form in which they want to exist. Everyone else, walled off from them, gets work done, makes money, and has fun doing it.

At work, you can still be sent to sensitivity training — if you’ve somehow demonstrated this is necessary. Departments of people are not sent to mandatory sensitivity training. People are not randomly sent to sensitivity training. You can’t unilaterally decide you were harassed; it really does depend on the will and intent of the alleged harasser. And nobody makes any money off of the sexual-harassment racket. If they’re in some position that is created to deal with this in some way, they do it as volunteers, because the issue is supposed to be so important to them…which only makes sense. In other words: Lawyers don’t run things.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit CalendarIn your work cubicle, or in your office, you can put up a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar. If anyone comes by to mutter so much as a peep of protest, that is the one treading on thin ice…not you. The phrases “objectification of women” and “unrealistic unhealthy body images” are about as socially acceptable in that world, as a racial epithet is in this one.

Family comedies do not conclude with a feel-good comedy-tragedy ending with the dad whacking himself in the head realizing he’s been a jerk, or an asshole, or a killjoy, or a workaholic. If anything, they end with the kid whacking himself in the forehead, belatedly realizing he should’ve been listening to his Dad.

Neighbors talk to each other. They have block parties. You don’t need to drive 40, 50, 60 miles into the county to discharge a pellet gun or a firearm. Once the shooting-range is set up, you can do it right in front of City Hall. On weekends, the whole town gets together for target shooting. Somewhere else, they have a beer garden. (You can’t go to the target shooting after you go to the beer festival, because alcohol and firearms don’t mix…yes, Republicans and conservatives do get that. Most of us bathe daily and have all our teeth. Really!)

Men do not stand by, brain-dead, clutching a purse outside the womens’ toilet, awaiting their next orders. They talk to other men. They get together and compare notes. They each express admiration for the sidearm the other fella has purchased to defend his lady and his children, should any bad guys be stupid enough to enter uninvited in the dark of some terrible night. They brag about who achieved the tightest grouping on the targets. And they fantasize, together, like giddy little boys, about muscle cars. Women get together and compare notes too. They don’t brag about whose boyfriend bought them the largest engagement ring, or who took charge of the family menu or what they told the hubby to start eating, or how they keep him from hogging the remote. Their rivalry is engaged, instead, in terms of who does the best job bringing her husband beer. “Oh yeah? I’d never think of handing it to him without the cap already popped off…and it’s always ice cold.”

Vice President Palin is even more influential in her new role, than Dick Cheney was in his. She’s a true role model. Women suddenly want their hair made up into her ‘do, just like they wanted to emulate Hillary’s back in the 1990’s. Palin’s face, in this universe, is everyplace Obama’s face is in this one. Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, USA Today…et al. (Obama’s face, in turn, could be on a milk carton somewhere.) Everything female is Palin, Palin, Palin. Women want to learn to fly airplanes, to fire shotguns, to ride ATVs, to clean rifles and pistols, to drive a dogsled…and to field dress a moose. The fashionable cliche, assuming there is one, is “Yoo betcha!”

Tenth Amendment, all the way. Some states and counties allow gay marriage and others don’t; some states and counties allow pot, and others don’t. Some states and counties are officially Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Scientologist, if they can get the votes. Nothing is singled out for social stigma, be it positive or negative. So a married gay man just might be an abuser and a generally bad husband, just like a married straight man — “loving” is no longer a euphemism for “same-sex.” And if you smoke pot, you just might have an addiction problem…just like someone who drinks, might have an addiction problem. That means, friends and family might be inclined to intervene if the signs are there. And anyone can be a religious fundamentalist whacko; not just the Christians. If your child needs medical care but you think his sickness is Gods’ will, the nanny-state might eventually interfere — if you’re showing signs of possibly lopping off your daughter’s head because she’d dating the wrong fella, the nanny-state just might interfere with that too. True equality.

When kids get into fights on the playground, all the trouble is reserved for the kid who threw the first punch. The kid who threw the last one, assuming that’s someone else, hasn’t got a single thing to worry about. And that’s precisely the way the world politics work, too.

You may say I’m a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.

Long-Distance Drive-Through Ordering

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Call me a luddite if you want, but I don’t like it.

In 2006 we reported that McDonald’s was testing a system in which drive-thru orders were being taken by employees at a remote location, usually in another state altogether. Nearly 2 years later, the system has proven successful in some areas and is being used in over half of the McDonald’s in Hawaii, according to KITV. Apparently, the system enhances the speed and accuracy of orders and most customers don’t even realize the difference.

The article says,

McDonald’s began trying the idea four years ago in Illinois and Missouri. Out-sourcing drive-through order workers began in Hawaii two years ago. Recently it has expanded.

KITV went to one drive-through Wednesday and found the company is still working out the kinks. At the Keeaumoku Street McDonald’s, the people taking drive-through orders were in another time zone. “I am currently talking to you from El Paso, Texas, sir,” the drive-through operator said.

KITV asked the Texas call-takers if they are having a difficult time understanding people from Hawaii. “We’ve been out here for about seven months, so it kind of takes me a while just to understand,” the worker said.

The long-distance call-takers send back the orders to the restaurant via the Internet. There the restaurant employees take the cash and hand over the food.

We suppose that fast food is meant to be fast, so if the system works then why not? Who hasn’t been to a drive-thru that could have benefited from a little more speed and accuracy?

This is not new by any means. The article above is from a year ago, and some of the others on the same topic are from 2006.

It arouses my suspicions mightily to see these little hiccups pertaining to dialect, explored as an afterthought. Just something I can’t prove: The fast food customer with a camera and microphone shoved in his face, doesn’t care a whit about understanding the cashier or having the cashier understand him.

But if you could somehow acquire his opinion in the privacy of a voting booth, things would be turned around right-quick.

I do not, do not, do not like to have an endless-loop conversation about whether my side order is fried rice or chow mein because there’s only phony communication goin’ on. I do not like pretending to communicate with people. I don’t like going through the motions when both sides are just muttering syllables and have lost any hope of exchanging a real idea. I do not like it, Sam I Am.

I am Ashton…

Not a racist thing, either. Race is not the issue. I simply do not tolerate arguing with people to give them my money, or playing lucky-lotto when I place orders for food.

The lack of specificity about things that are supposed to be specific — in all walks of life, not just fast food — really wears on a fella after awhile. I drive up to a fast-food restaurant and I’m talking to some guy in Tallahassee? How does that make the order accurate? What’s that do to the age-old problem of “where are the napkins” and “where’s the sweet-n-sour sauce”?

But what the hell do I know. If I was born 75 years earlier I’d be that grouchy old man who insists he can’t see the difference with color TV.

Thanks For Cearing That Up

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

My intuition tells me there’s a little bit too much attention to vague notions of “diversity” involved in your education system there, Ms. Rhee…maybe the time’s come to focus on something else.

On That D-Word

Monday, July 21st, 2008

CIO World has an article for executives who want to achieve the ultimate IT mission, which is doing more with less. Oh no! It isn’t about that at all! It’s about fostering diversity.

“We’ve heard jokes—more than jokes—about not being able to understand the accents of people at the call center,” says the CIO [of one Fortune 500 company], who asked not to be identified for this article. “Our team decided that we had to make it clear that we won’t accept that kind of behavior. Our business case is that in today’s environment, you have to be able to accommodate different cultures and lifestyles.”

The matter was discussed in leadership team meetings, with managers expected to communicate the company line to their own staffers. Surveys, interviews and call tracking were used to determine the extent to which real language barriers existed. In a small number of cases, where the mockery was “severe and pervasive with an individual,” the CIO says, the behavior became an issue for human resources.

Diversity has become a byword of good management in corporate America, with information technology organizations intoning the mantra as often as anyone. “Diversity is a characteristic of a good group,” says Ken Harris, CIO of Shaklee Corp. “Part of an IT manager’s job is understanding diversity and allowing it to flourish.”

Do I agree? Absolutely yes, if the word “diversity” is subject to the most positive definition imaginable. If I turn to my dictionary I see it says…

di·ver·si·ty (n.)
1. the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness.
2. variety; multiformity.
3. a point of difference.

I think it’s fair to say that when we absorb this word as a glittering sugary bit of fluff, what we have in mind is something a little different: Apathy and neutrality. “I Don’t Give A Good God Damn” ness. Someone can get the job done, and if it’s a white dude or a black one or a red one or a yellow one, or a woman, or a transgender…what the hell.

Well, in promoting it, we more often adhere to the dictionary definition which says you do care. If this guy over here is one color, that guy over there has to be something different. I don’t think most people have that in mind when they acknowledge the “benefits of diversity.” Furthermore, if you listen to people in authority talk about it long enough, you realize this dictionary definition isn’t what they’re talking about either.

Ten people, all of the same ethnic minority, work for you. Two of ’em quit and you replace them with white guys. The dictionary definition, above, says you just increased “diversity”; everything was the same before, now you have eighty-twenty. But that isn’t the concept we have in mind at all, is it?

No, apparently not:

Technology may be tougher to diversify than some other disciplines. For one thing, IT shops have a history of being largely male in makeup, with a certain boys’-club reputation.

I would argue an important part of the source of that “boys’-club reputation” is a pinheaded mindset that because a certain thing exists a certain way, it must be a ring of chauvinistic males making it that way. It ain’t necessarily so; fifty thousand women made the choice to drop out of the IT profession between 1999 and 2003 in the wake of the dot-com bust. Part of the reason may have to do with staff availability:

Women aren’t less capable of doing math and science, but they do tend to be less available when it comes to working long hours after having a child, unless they have a husband with a 9-5 job. Those all-night programming sessions or the week-long visits to foreign fabs to make sure a chip design is implemented correctly are costly to families. For the type of competitive person who ends up in the technology field, deciding between giving 110 percent to solving a technological problem and giving 90 or even 100 percent when junior is sick, is too frustrating. So they back off, because if the game is rigged so you can’t win, smart people pick a new game.

Is that sexist in its own way? Absolutely yes. But she has a point. Men and women are not the same, and we have some fields that don’t attract women — not all of them glamorous. There isn’t much of a movement afoot to diversify the field of garbage men, for example; or truck drivers. We can have a thousand out of a thousand straight white men in those positions, and nobody says boo about it. Shouldn’t that bother someone?

Well, there’s a reason it doesn’t. There are some jobs women don’t want.

Now to be fair about it, in my years in IT I’ve met some women who were very ambitious and showed more than their fair share of left-brain acumen and capability of mastering the concepts needed. But remember — this is a numbers game. If the overall population is 52% female, and there are fewer than 52% of females in the IT jobs, someone has a new cause.

That simply isn’t right. Nobody should be forcing women into IT if she doesn’t want to be forced into it, and as you swell the ranks of those female IT professionals, you’re going to be running into that as an issue. There just aren’t that many takers.

Now on the language thing…yes, it’s a rare thing that you actually have to choose between solving a problem, and continuing to converse with one specific guy in another country who’s working on the other side of a language barrier. Sooner or later, you can break through. But there are times when that simply isn’t an option. You just can’t understand what the guy is saying, and vice-versa.

And so backed into that corner, I can’t help but wonder what the intrepid systems engineer does about the problem when he works for the anonymous CIO quoted at the top of the story. That CIO admits to sending people to human resources. Wow! Imagine having your career ended because someone else is supposed to be able to speak English, but can’t.

I suppose the problem would go into the “ether.” People who work in IT, I noticed, had a strong tendency to work on the things they knew how to work on. Whatever required “how-to-do” research had a much higher likelihood to just keep gathering dust in the in-box, under stacks of other things. Productive? Certainly not. But safe. There’s nothing racist about not working on something.

That, or I expect the phone “reset” button would be hit accidentally. Yeah, just hang up on the guy you can’t understand, call back and hope to get someone else.

Seriously, this is utopianism. And utopianism is dangerous no matter what its immediate goal. For it assumes 1) things should be a certain way; 2) if things are not that way it’s because there are people running around who have the wrong mindset; 3) if we obliterate people with the wrong mindset, and keep on doing it, we’ll eventually get to where we want to be.

I’ve only seen that work in one way, so far — and that’s with getting rid of crime. Lock up criminals until there’s no more crime being committed. Wouldn’t it be great if we all committed to utopianism on that issue, the one in which it effectively works? But we don’t do that. We’re much more inclined to use utopianism to solve things that aren’t really problems at all…like that, statistically, nerds tend to be boys, and they like talking to people who speak the same language.

Dude. They’re nerds. Professional nerds. Tasked with doing their nerdy things. Once tasked to achieve things as part of a team, they are required to exchange technical concepts in intricate detail. If you had to do that, you’d prefer to speak to people proficient in your own language, too.

And trust me on this — if & when a nerd-chick does happen along, and she can speak the language that is needed, she’ll be accepted into the nerd-crowd. Quite eagerly. Especially if she’s just as likely to be around when a server craps out at three in the morning, as the next fella. You won’t need some diversity program to make it happen, it’ll happen naturally…but she’ll still be outnumbered five-to-one, or more.

That’s just the way things are. If they conflict with Utopian ideals, and you want the Utopian ideals to win, it’ll come at the expense of getting things done. That means servers that go crash in the night, stay crashed.

So, what’s more important?

Now THAT Is What I Call a Media-Construct Candidate

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Because you-know-who has now tossed so many people under his bus, that now they’re starting up a “Can I Get An Amen Here?” campaign to throw the “throw ‘im under the bus” cliche…under the bus.

Exactly who is throwing whom and from where did this much-abused phrase come?

Long a staple in the sports realm, the phrase experienced a resurgence in popularity (and overuse) earlier in the presidential campaign when Sen. Barack Obama eventually threw his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., under the bus, denouncing him.

The euphemistic phrase, which now also means jettisoning a political liability, has taken on a twisted and ubiquitous life of its own. The presumptive Democratic nominee seems to be a leader of the pack among under-the-bus flingers, slingers and tossers, according to cable news pundits and blogosphere scribes.

Mr. Obama has been accused of heaving his white grandmother; his former foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power; the former head of his vice presidential vetting committee, Jim Johnson; the Muslim community; public financing of presidential campaigns; his not-quite-e-mail-pal, Scarlett Johansson; and even his short-lived customized presidential seal — all under the bus.
Trying to appeal to people’s sense of righteousness and decency, many writers in recent months have railed against the phrase, saying it’s well past its prime. Some have even called for a moratorium on use of the metaphor, but politicians, pundits, journalists, politicos and others have not seen fit to oblige. It seems “to throw (someone) under the bus” won’t go gentle into that good night.

Uh, well gee that might be because right about now there’s a point to throwing it around. It’s a little unusual to wish for a word or phrase’s demise, at the moment when it’s service to linguistic demand is at it’s peak.

Wow, that’s almost an in-kind contribution. Changing the English language in the middle of the Obamessiah’s campaign, so that even if someone wants to say something bad about him there aren’t any words with which to do it.

Good luck on that.

English is Official Language in This County

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Every year, municipalities and counties of every state will declare thousands of things to be illegal, some of which were perfectly legal beforehand. Cherokee County, Georgia, just got done declaring something illegal that is already against the law.

We have been instructed by our betters who went to journalism or law school to regard this as a controversial move. What the officials of Cherokee County did, was recognize the throughly half-assed and slack-jawed job the Federal Government is doing to protect the nation’s borders, and start going after landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. They also approved a program that would allow some probing into the status of anyone applying for public benefits, and made English the county’s official language.

Cherokee commissioners have maintained that illegal immigrants drain local resources. And because the federal government hasn’t tackled the issue, commissioners said it was up to them to send a message to those living in the county illegally.

A public hearing last month on the ordinance drew a large crowd, and for Tuesday night’s meeting there were as many people crowded into the county courthouse atrium as there were inside the meeting room, which holds more than 100.

Some bunched up against the double doors, pleading with sheriff’s deputies who at times threatened to remove people who didn’t stop shouting or back away from the doors.

The vast majority of those waiting outside were interested in rezoning matters, but a handful of people on both sides of the immigration debate were left standing outside, too.

They included Billy Inman of Woodstock, whose only son was killed 6 1/2 years ago by a drunken driver who was in the country illegally.

Inman cheered news of the vote.

“I lost my son to an illegal immigrant,” Inman said. “I ain’t no lawyer, but legal is legal and illegal is illegal. Somebody’s got to do something. It’s a problem in every city across this country.”

But Estebaan Zuniga, a drywall worker from Woodstock who said he has a green card, said he didn’t think illegal immigrants were going to leave in droves as proponents hoped.

While illegal immigrants are concerned about the new laws, he said, many probably realize that the ordinances are being challenged in court.

And if they do leave, he said, it’s Cherokee County that will suffer.

“This will hurt the economy,” he said. “Why don’t they do something to help the economy?”

Because it’s against the law, dipshit.

This shouldn’t even be challenged. Shouldn’t be controversial in any way. It’s made that way, because the “proles” are letting the elites run things too much. Where things like this are controversial, they are controversial among political activists who think they can win something by making it controversial. Real people, almost without exception, would let this go forward without complaint. It might not be their favorite cup o’ tea, but they’d let it proceed without silly court challenges.

I know some liberals, just like I know some conservatives. I think everyone who makes their daily bread from actually working, rather than from stirring up the crock in some way, would admit this much: If you’re in a position of power, and you think action is demanded on some greater level when someone dies from “global warming” compared to when someone dies from the illegal alien invasion — this would be incorrect. There would be something wrong with you and you shouldn’t be in a position of power. You can’t pick and choose which deaths matter and which deaths don’t, based on what pet issue you want pushed and what issue you want repressed.

A bunch of courtrooms are going to start dedicating resources to figuring out whether or not the United States Constitution allows this country to have borders. Borders that actually matter, that mean something. Well, whaddya want to bet that some of those courts, will have already allowed a gun control measure or two to go forward, in some way, with nary a peep of protest.

Constitutional? “Shall not be infringed” is right in there. Look it up. “Borders shall be meaningless and people should be able to walk right on in anytime they want to make a buck”…last I checked, I was having a little trouble homing in on that. We aren’t watching our courts, and as a result it’s becoming a subjective opinion what the Constitution does and does not say. Well, it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s factual.

Memo For File XXXIV

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

I was notified by bulk e-mail of a new article in Ziff-Davis, a name which I have come to associate with quality musings on state-of-the-art technical developments for twenty years now. I do not remember how my address came to be added to the broadcast list; it’s intended for Information Technology geeks as well as healthcare professionals, and I have been both of those. Unfortunately, there is very little in the article having to do with leading-edge technology. In fact, it appears to be written up to provide a service, not to those who would read it, but to someone, somewhere, who wants it written-up.

Health insurance provider Aetna hopes to use the Internet to make doctors and nurses more culturally sensitive.

The company on Nov. 17 announced that clinicians who are part of the Aetna network or who have filed a claim with the insurer can take online courses in cross-cultural care for free.

The online course is part of a suite of other resources for ethnically diverse populations, including a training video as well as multiple brochures in Spanish that cover issues from diabetes and patient safety. Physicians and nurses who complete the training receive credit toward their continuing education requirements.

Several studies have found that minorities receive worse care than white patients, even if differences in severity of disease and income disparities are considered. Separate studies have found that patients who are better-trained in self care actually do take better care of themselves and are less likely to require more expensive treatments and hospitalizations. However, both initial diagnosis and subsequent counseling by clinicians are less effective if they do not account for cultural factors, such as attitudes toward accepting help, traditional medicines and reporting problems, according to the studies.

Now, one of the things that gave me some initial confusion was this fairly unpolished passage which seeks to assert “minorities receive worse care than white patients“. It was not so long ago that I was being treated to a feast of articles boasting that, boom chucka lucka lucka, “whites” have become, or are about to become, a minority themselves in urban areas in the United States. Here it is a few years after that, and even in the most PC article celebrating one of the most PC events, generously sprinkled with all the PC platitudes, “white” and “minority” are still thought to be antonymous terms.

Well, the population-shift information seems to be genuine in substance as well as in the ramifications involved, so it’s clear to me we’re turning some kind of corner here. So I thought before I read too much meaning into the word “diverse” I should go look it up…as usual, in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit. And boy, what an eye-opener I found there. Seemed like a great idea to record it for posterity. It may not be up there too much longer.

The term “diversity” has no fixed definition upon which sociologists can agree. The term was used by the Supreme Court in the original decision regarding Affirmative Action in the 1970s. Thus, it has been tied to Affirmative Action, and could be considered a legal term, but in recent years has been used more broadly in relation to Globalism. It has also replaced “multiculturalism” on college campuses in the US and assumed much of the same meaning.

Recently diversity has been used to justify recruiting international students or employees. In this context it could be more like eugenics, which is quite different and potentially the opposite of Affirmative Action. In Biology a natural ecosystem needs a diversity of life forms in part to support Evolution and the idea is extended to modern society. (Interestingly, many recent college Biology books use the word Diversity in their title.) This mixing of science and racial issues was common during the era when Eugenics was popular, and it appears to be making a come back. Like Affirmative Action the word Diversity appears to be non-controversial but is highly controversial, particularly if it is made to mean Eugenics. (Eugenics is associated with Nazism.) Of course, diversity has different meanings in other parts of the world where it does not have the same political history.

The term “diversity” is often used in conjunction with the term “tolerance” in liberal political creeds which support the idea that both are valuable and desirable. Many critics of diversity claim that in the political arena, diversity is a code word for forcing people to tolerate or approve people and practices with which they might not otherwise voluntarily associate. Other critics point out that diversity programs in education and business inherently emphasize some minority groups (e.g. blacks, Hispanics, and homosexuals) and do not give equal time to groups (e.g. Jewish immigrants, Filipinos, Asian-Americans, Roman Catholics, and European immigrants) which lack the “disadvantaged” label. These critics claim that “pluralism” is a more accurate term for the presence of variation, and that, under the banner of “diversity,” groups actually forbid criticism of groups that are, in essence, privileged by their minority status. Many politicians, such as Tony Blair, José Luis Zapatero and Gerhard Schröder have praised the ambiguous concept of diversity.

Supporters of the contention that “diversity” is a social goal worth sacrificing for hold that cultural diversity may aid communication between people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, leading to greater knowledge, understanding, and peaceful coexistence. However, modern critics of diversity counter that bringing people together in a forced way often results in some breakdown of social cohesion, especially when the perception exists that diversity goals take precedence over quality in hiring, contracting, and/or academic admissions.

“Diversity” is a confusing term in American politics since no single ethnic group can claim majority status in the United States. When the “Caucasian” label is broken down into its component parts, dramatic differences can be seen between those of Arab (including Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian), Celtic, Dutch, Armenian, German, Persian, Hebrew, and Eastern European descent, all of whom share the overly broad label of “Caucasian.”

In this political context, the word diversity is often differently understood outside of North America: for example in the UK and most parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the US concept of diversity does not wholly exist as there are few US-styled affirmative action programs. This is not to say that others are not supportive of the underlying agenda of US diversity, but it is usually described in different words, such as the terms “respect”, “tolerance” and “multi-culturalism.” “Respect for Diversity” is one of the six principles of the Global Greens Charter, a manifesto of Green parties from all over the world subscribed to.

In the US, diversity may be a euphemism for the inclusion of individuals or groups thereof who are not of European descent. For example, the National Football League’s “Diversity Committee” has imposed a mandate overtly favoring African Americans by fining organizations who do not interview enough African Americans for positions which have been historically dominated by whites. There is no such policy imposed for failure to ethnically diversify positions, such as wide receiver, running back, and defensive back, which are traditionally dominated by blacks. In other words, the “diversity committee” is concerned with coaches and coordinators, but not with positions that are nearly 100% black.

This use of “diversity” as a buzzword also extends to American academia, wherein an attempt to create a “diverse student body” typically supports the recruitment of African-American and Latino students, as well as women in such historically underrepresented fields as the sciences.

Recently the term “diversity” has been used to encompass a much wider range of criteria than merely racial or ethnic classifications. The term is now used to express dimensions of diversity such as age, gender, religion, philosophy, and politics.

It is hazardous to use such a loaded term in such a dynamic environment where the meaning of the term is subject to such rapid and meaningful change. “Diversity” is supposed to convey lots of positive implications, but the trouble is that the concept exists on multiple levels. And connections exist between those levels, so that these level-protuberances move together.

On a social level, “diversity” is a decidedly positive thing. On a purely linguistic level, it is not. It is decidedly nothing, except neutral. My dictionary says the word is supposed to address a plurality of things, and means “differing one from another.” And on an engineering level, it is a negative thing, or at the very least used to describe some sort of challenge that is supposed to be overcome. That is, after all, how the word is used in the ZD article — “the online course is part of a suite of other resources for ethnically diverse populations…”

Captain ObviousI’ve come to be highly suspicious of the word “diversity” and no, it isn’t because I’m a six-foot-tall sandy-haired white guy who’s straight and right-handed and possessing all ten fingers. All of which I am. No, the D-word should be promising me something, I figure. Where it is celebrated as something positive, I perceive it to represent a busting-out from the good-ol’-boy network. I have been seduced into believing that…perhaps…since it’s been quite a while, looking back, since anyone has strung together the words that would out-and-out promise such a thing. But I think most of us would agree, that’s supposed to be the implication. Diversity is a condition, or a goal, and where it is either one of those the status quo just isn’t going to fly. People will think outside of the box — or else they will be forced to. Diversity is, or should be, or is expected to be, antithetical to TTWWADI which means “That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.” The diversification of a clientele, or any kind of audience, is an event by which it will become necessary and unavoidable that a different way will be found to do those things. That should have enormous appeal to people like me. White or not, I notice my contributions to any group endeavor decline steeply where TTWWADI is worshipped like the false god that it is. I’m one of those free-thinkers that isn’t so good at the TTWWADI thing.

That’s the promise — by implication, if by no other means. And yet, that isn’t the way things work out. When the rubber meets the road, wherever people talk about diversity and other related glittery terms, you can be sure TTWWADI reigns supreme. Part of the reason for this, it seems, is that management is in a state of perpetual confusion about what “diversity” is supposed to mean. There’s an awful lot of urgency involved in broadcasting the cosmetics of it, almost as a market device — “we honor and respect diversity here!” — and that has a lot of value for upper-management. I’m using “upper-management” as pejorative term there…the layer of management that is sufficiently high up, so as to avoid actual work, or contact with those who do the actual work. In those enclaves, the middle-managers and lower-managers who are more concerned with day-to-day meeting of objectives, have the attitude of, yeah, oh well, whatever.

It’s the philosophical separation between the two, I’ve learned, that helps to promote an environment of TTWWADI and stifles creativity. When the managers who are closest to the work, begin to distance themselves from that feeling of ownership, they become actors instead of managers. It seems to be unavoidable. They start to re-define their own jobs downward, evaluating themselves based on their execution of “correct” steps rather than on their successes. The two words “supposed to” start to fuse into a singularity, which is common in such situations: “We aren’t going to do it that way because you aren’t supposeda.” “When you do this, you’re supposeda do that.”

Such middle-managers probably don’t go home and start handling their own stuff this way, especially when it comes to spending money on goods and services. When resources are scares, the goals are personal, and success is within reach but still a good distance away, “supposeda” goes flying right out the window. When you go to work and your whole job is all about “supposeda” and not an awful lot else, it negates the feeling of ownership. You don’t act, in corporate parlance, like you “own the company” anymore. Your job is no longer to ensure success, but instead, to guarantee that if & when failure does arrive it isn’t your fault.

And at that point any of the benefits to “diversity,” whether they were promised outright or merely imagined, are effectively blocked. Not only have they not materialized; they no longer can. You aren’t functioning, anymore, in an environment where people think outside the box — or at least, are rewarded for doing so.

Another problem with diversity, or rather, what we call that: It is negative. It is hostile. The Wiki article quoted above makes a rather thorough point of this, probably in violation of the online encyclopedia’s neutral-point-of-view policy:

In the US, diversity may be a euphemism for the inclusion of individuals or groups thereof who are not of European descent. For example, the National Football League’s “Diversity Committee” has imposed a mandate overtly favoring African Americans by fining organizations who do not interview enough African Americans for positions which have been historically dominated by whites. There is no such policy imposed for failure to ethnically diversify positions, such as wide receiver, running back, and defensive back, which are traditionally dominated by blacks. In other words, the “diversity committee” is concerned with coaches and coordinators, but not with positions that are nearly 100% black.

One of my favorite challenges to this, has been to ask the following hypothetical: You manage a staff of four, all of whom happen to belong to a minority group. Two of your staff quit, and you end up replacing them with two six-foot straight right-handed white guys. What did you do to the “diversity” of your group? Did you increase the diversity, decrease it, or did you keep it the same?

Nobody who had the true meaning of the term in mind, would dare say you “decreased” the diversity of your group; but in the accepted contemporary meaning of this intangible noun, that is exactly what we are supposed to say you did. If you accept that, then necessarily, you have to accept that diversity has come to mean an absence of white guys. To argue against that, is to argue in favor of the traditional meaning of the word…the mathematical meaning, you might say. The dictionary definition. Which would logically determine that when you hired the white guys, you increased the diversity of the group. Well, I don’t see anyone, anywhere, using the word “diversity” that way.

Eugenics? That seems to be taking the concern a bit far. Nazis? That’s even more questionable. I don’t think we’re in the process of herding white people into concentration camps. But let’s be clear: What we have come to call “diversity” is, without a doubt, a racial term. It applies to race. And it applies differently to some races than to others. It has something to do with being self-policing…your racial makeup becomes too white, and you aren’t going to need an outside entity to point it out to you. You’re making a promise to wake up, on your own, and say “Hey! We’re too white! We gotta do something.” On whether this applies to being too — something else — nobody has made any pledges anywhere, let alone lived up to them. Nobody claims to discipline their own organization, to keep it from becoming too this-or-that, too female, too Spanish-speaking. Actually, if they did make such a promise, I’m gathering that would be an affront to what we call “diversity.” So, yes, it’s an anti-white thing. We accept this. We just don’t talk about it much.

The third problem I have with what we call “diversity” is that it is bathosplorific. It seeks accolades for exploration but exploration has to do with conquering previously unimagined and unexplored frontiers. Exploration is exponential and has to do with expanding things. To engage in a process of removing what might be offensive, is a sterilization process and where it is concerned with movement at all, it has to do with movement inward. The dichotomy reminds me of the South Park episode “Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo” where the Mayor promises to “put together a crack team of my best workers to make sure this will be the most non-offensive Christmas ever!” When did Guinness start that entry, and who the hell ever asked for it? There is a huge difference between saying “such-and-such a Christmas display offends me”…which we hear quite often nowadays…and saying “I’ll be sure to remember whoever can put on the most non-denominational and non-offensive Christmas ever” which is something we don’t hear at all.

I coined the term “bathosploration” to point out the fundamental difference between laboring in perpetuity toward a superlative and laboring in perpetuity toward an ideal. We have a tendency which is instinctive, to remember people who achieve things in the direction of a superlative. Columbus discovered such-and-such a continent, so-and-so walked on the moon, this guy was X many feet & inches tall. Breaking records. When you endeavor toward an ideal you can break records too. But we don’t remember accomplishments like those, and there’s a good reason why. At some point, they are guaranteed to become trivial and counterproductive. Guaranteed.

Now as we engage in the more glorious objective of laboring toward superlatives, the labor toward an ideal may be tied into this. One example that comes to mind, would be a faster car. Last year’s model might have gone 204mph, maybe you can get this year’s model to go 207mph. That would be exploration…expanding…innovating upward instead of downward. At two hundred mph, the wind resistance is enormous, so an important contribution toward increasing the maximum speed would be changing the aerodynamic drag. We’re at 0.29, maybe we can get it to 0.28. That is laboring in perpetuity toward an ideal. The ideal would be zero, which is logically impossible, but we can certainly get closer and closer to it. Just like the South Park Mayor trying to come up with the “most non-offensive Christmas ever.” Always some room to make it a little less offensive than before, right? So sometimes, laboring toward a standard of purity, is a prerequisite to laboring elsewhere toward a new frontier…breaking a new record.

In such situations, though, the trudging-toward-zero is a means-to-an-end. It is decidedly subservient to the opposite trudging-toward-infinity…the effort to break the speed record, and go upward from where we were before.

In what we have come to call “diversity,” the endeavoring toward the ideal, becomes an end in itself and this is what makes it bathosplorific. What we’re trying to accomplish by being diverse, is never quite spelled out, nor can it be. It has something to do with equal opportunity regardless of race — although due to the other matters explained above, plainly, it isn’t that. And it’s certainly competitive. My department may be more diverse than it was before; but your department may be more diverse than mine, and if that’s the case, whatever gains I’ve managed to make my department diverse, don’t mean a whole lot. To recapture the meaning of diversity, I have to diversify my department to an extent greater than yours. And if/when I manage to achieve that, the diversity in your department will come to be effectively meaningless.

So although it is competitive, it is doomed, like all bathosplorific efforts, to triviality and wheel-spinning. You can get only so “diverse,” which means no two people have the same (or similar) backgrounds if we’re talking dictionary-diversity, or there are absolutely no white guys if we’re talking real-world diversity. Whatever your definition is once you sort out all the confusion, there’s some point where the struggle must end — at zero. Once you’re there, if you want to do an even better job next year, what exactly do you do? There’s no good answer to that, and that’s what makes it bathosplorific. Diversity may want all the credit of being an explorative, record-setting enterprise; but it’s an enterprise of getting rid of things, not of setting wildly extravagant goals and then reaching them. In short, it’s a process of destruction and not creation. It’s a process of sterilization. And nobody ever achieved anything with that, other than to avoid getting fat, dirty or sick. That’s about all.