Beyond Diversity

Caveat: I am an adult Caucasian male with a college degree, middle-class status and no religious leanings or obvious physical handicaps. While this is probably the worst time in Western Civilization to be a white male, overall, white males still seem to get the breaks over other genders/races/religions/and so on.

However, I just read on yet another article about how women are under-represented at web/design/tech conferences. I’ve tried to stay out of the whole “why aren’t there more women bloggers?” and so-on blog memes, but here are some thoughts.

And I’m sure I’ll look back on this and decide that I’m an ass.


  • I think – especially with the tech industry – we’ve moved beyond the person issue. You know, “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” It’s more what you can do/say, not what you look like. What you look like can help [esp. for women, agreed], but it doesn’t cut the other way – see Dave Winer or (the invisible) Pamela Jones. Who cares what they look like/what gender they are? It’s what they do/write.
  • While I still firmly believe women and minorities – overall – have a tougher row to hoe than white males, we’re past the fulcrum on that issue today, especially in tech (with all the terrorism issues today, Middle Eastern males would seem verboten, but they are a big part of tech, and it’s really not an issue).
  • We have to get beyond this whole “hey, there are fewer [x] than [y] at this conference – we need to promote diversity!” Maybe X makes up 10% of the US population, but really only makes up, for example, 3% of router engineers. So why should one expect 10% of attendees to a router engineer conference to be X?
  • Does this mean we should all be the same? God no! Women are different than men, gays from straights, religious from agnostics and so on. It differs with each person, but diversity is good. But just because a balance is off, let’s not go ballistic. I like Thai food; I like Chinese food. I don’t want them to be the same. And I don’t want to have to eat them in the same proportion as their popularity and so on. (This sounded sooo much better in my head, but I hope you get my drift: Yeah, stuff is different; so what? And each person views different…differently.)
  • We are too fucking politically correct in this country. And – by that (for this example) – I mean we often pay lip service to political correctness without really doing anything about what we are (pretending to be) politically correct about. I think that’s nutty. Personal Counter-Example: I don’t read any blogs by African-Americans (that I know of). So what? Nothing against this ethnic group, it’s just that I can’t say with certainty that I regularly read a blog by an African-American. I read a lot of blogs, however, so I could be wrong about that. Would I be upset (and stop reading) if I discovered blog XYZ was penned by an African-American? No. Will I seek out African-American blogs just so I can read one? No. Get a grip folks.
  • Yes, sex sells, and it sells to men, especially. So women in tech/on blogs have an advantage, because they have breasts. Well, yes and no. YES: Amanda Cogdon – of Rocketboom fame – certainly did well, in part, because of her looks (her geek cred and sarcasm also scored). And I think, to a degree (differs with individuals), women are judged – even in tech – by looks. Judged by the Old Boys’ Club, a women can’t win: Hot? Not serious. Ugly? Who care what she can do…icky… NO: At the same time, it can NOT matter. Mena – not Ben – Trott is the voice of Six Apart. I don’t think anyone takes Mena non-seriously. She’s a force in the industry.
  • Diversity is just that – diverse. Doesn’t mean it’s all good for all. I’ve been reading Dooce’s blog for years. It’s by Heather Armstrong – *gasp* – a woman! I like her style; I like her points of view. But I never read her monthly memos about/to her daughter, Leta. I don’t have kids etc. Not interested; I tried a couple times and have since skipped. I also skip the sports entries of a couple of political bloggers I read. Not into that. So what? I still like – overall – all these bloggers. I don’t care for some of th stuff they write. Duh! Just because something is different/diverse does not mean everyone should embrace same.

Again, I’ll probably ask myself what I was smoking when I wrote this, but I just think we get too stupid and wrapped up over the wrong things.

Recent news headlines have been dominated by the battle over Anna Nicole Smith’s body and Britney Spears basically melting down.

Yet people and places keep exploding in the Middle East, for example.


Only Reviews Today

Since this has been a pretty quiet weekend – no work and much time away from my computer, I’ll instead treat you all with quickie reviews of some things I’ve been exposed to lately.

Control of Nature, The
John McPhee

I purchased this book – in hardcover – around the time it was released (1990), but just now getting around to reading it.

McPhee is one of my favorite essayists, and this book – thus far (I’m not done) – does not disappoint.

The book is a collection of longish essays about how man attempts (in vain…) to control nature. The first essay, for example, describes how the Army Corps of Engineers has attempted/is attempting to control the Mississippi River.

In the aftermath of Katrina, more poignant and frightening than it was at the time of publication, I’d venture to guess.

All books

Scrubs – First Season

Scrubs is one of those non-traditional sitcoms that you’ll either like or hate.

I always enjoyed it, but – having not watched it much the last couple of years – it was fun to sit and go through the entire first year over a weekend.

Damn they are clever – fantasy sequences, fun with sound effects, fun with each other.

Like News Radio and Third Rock From the Sun, you either grok this type of comedy or you don’t.

If you don’t you are poorer for it…

All movies

Lucinda Williams

A very recent release, I’ve only heard the entire CD once, and a handful of songs on the radio a handful of times.

The verdict?

A solid performance by Williams, almost as good as her “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” album.

A very typical Williams album, as well, but that’s in no way a bad thing.

Time will tell if this is a keeper or not.

All music

And the World Hates America Why?

Via Kevin Drum (Washington Monthly), sampling a Glenn Reynolds posting (to be clear, this is Reynolds typing; Drum just supplying the link):

We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists….Basically, stepping on the Iranians’ toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq.

….[T]o be clear, I think it’s perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries — like Iran — that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses.

IRAN IN IRAQ: Smoking guns Instapundit

Posted without comment. You’ll either agree with Glenn or go “ick!”. Not much gray there.

I’ve Got a Secret

As the Bush administration has dramatically accelerated the classification of information as “top secret” or “confidential,” one office is refusing to report on its annual activity in classifying documents: the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Explaining why the vice president has withheld even a tally of his office’s secrecy when offices such as the National Security Council routinely report theirs, a spokeswoman said Cheney is “not under any duty” to provide it.

Cheney won’t tell how much he keeps secret, April 30, 2006

This is an old story – almost a year old – but is getting new play because the Veep’s office says the regulations don’t apply to the vice president, as he is both legislative (president of the Senate), and executive – as in vice-president of the United States. (More here)

This strikes me as:

  • Not terribly surprising, give the current administration’s bent for privacy.
  • Huh? Does that mean he’s a fourth branch of government? (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary). WTF?
  • Arrogant – he’d just be supplying stats (X docs classified; Y unclassified and so on)
  • The VP’s office doesn’t want to release stats, as this will lead to other questions (“Why the 10-fold increase in classifications?”, “Can you supply us with the names of the documents classified?”). This could lead to uncomfortable responses, to understate.

Or maybe I’m just cynical…

Sometimes Blogger Blows

I converted over to the non-beta site on Jan. 20th, and – since that time – my archives don’t update.

This is the second time I’ve had this issue; I can’t remember why Blogger had the issue before, but I wrote a quick Perl script that did the archives: Still exists; updated today; my Blogger (non)-generated archive stopped on Jan. 20th.


I probably won’t really care about this until the weekend, but this is annoying. This is a basic issue. How could Blogger get out of beta with this unaddressed?

Update 2/8/2007: Reviewing this entry, I realized I wasn’t clear. The archives are updating, but the archive index – the page with links to all archived pages – isn’t.

So – you can read my archives…but you just can’t find them in my arhives index…so you can’t get to them….