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Some Wednesday Links

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Here’s a Victorian woman (really any woman). She feels “Squeezed” but I’m sure that’s just her neuroticism at work.
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  • Cervantes

    The propaganda folder isn’t “every few days,” it’s twice a day, every day. That’s what it takes to keep the fragile ego of Orange Julius from completely disintegrating.

    • Kevin

      He’s such a fragile mind. It’s quite something.

      • tsam100

        Something = fucking DISTURBING.
        I don’t even know how to process having a chief executive who needs validation more than anything else. Not only is it creepy and weird, it’s a giant, blinking neon sign to the whole world that says ‘HERE IS MY WEAKNESS FOR YOU TO EXPLOIT’

        • BiloSagdiyev

          It’s about as weird as North Korea explaining to us what they’re going to do to us like some bad movie mastermind. It’s nice that these two have found each other, but… the rest of us may pay a horrible price.

    • I believe it’s not currently as frequent if I’m remembering the article correctly.

      • Cervantes

        I’m afraid you’re not remembering it correctly:

        “Twice a day since the beginning of the
        Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president.
        The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up,
        around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press
        Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the
        20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources
        say.”

        • “In the two-plus weeks following the departure of both Spicer and Priebus, White House officials say, the document has been produced less frequently and more typically after public events, such as Trump’s recent speech at the National Boy Scouts Jamboree in West Virginia.”

          • Cervantes

            That may be why he’s showing signs of accelerating deterioration. They should probably start doing it 3 times a day .. . .

          • royko

            Probably because with the way things have been going, they were only able to come up with about 3 pages for him, mostly of alt-right tweets.

  • Dr. Waffle

    That Google manifesto was one of the most tedious things I’ve ever read. He could’ve saved all of us time by just writing “Lady brains aren’t good enough for tech.” Instead we got 10 meandering pages of regurgitated MRA talking points and Murray-esque pseudo-science.

    • For people who believe that women can’t excel in STEM fields, these doofuses sure are taken in by all sorts of bafflegab.

      • Dr. Waffle

        I’m not surprised. A lot of STEM bros are attracted to libertarianism, after all.

        • NonyNony

          As someone who teaches engineers, I’m going to put the blame squarely on the E in STEM for this (with the T side not doing much better). Engineering is rife with all kinds of pseudo-science nonsense. And it’s a real problem. For a field that you need to spend 5 years to get a degree in and that there’s an expectation of continuing education for throughout your career, there’s a shocking amount of anti-intellectualism in the engineering field.

          • N__B

            As an engineer who manages engineers and is currently reading ten to twenty resumes every day on a possibly hopeless search for a mid-level manager, I agree. Somehow our profession was hijacked by morons.

            • LurkinLongmont

              Morons? No. ASD types, definitely maybe.

              • NonyNony

                You can be highly specialized in one area and a moron everywhere else.

                I know far too many people with PhDs who behave exactly in that way to think otherwise.

                • CP

                  You can be highly specialized in one area and a moron everywhere else.

                  Yep. This describes a gigantic part of the conservative electorate.

                • Daniel Elstner

                  I remember someone asking me incredulously how I as an engineer could defend Clinton so much!

                • tsam100

                  Math skills will do that.

                • Daniel Elstner

                  Thanks, but that’s kind of the opposite of what I meant to express.

                  Being an engineer isn’t my only identity, and I genuinely believe that Hillary Clinton was a worthy (albeit not perfect) candidate for the office, and that Trump is plain dangerous.

                  I did my Abitur (A levels) in History and Math. Go figure. :)

                • McAllen

                  But enough about Dr. Jill Stein.

                • twbb

                  Apparently this guy also lied about having a PhD.

                • Put him in touch with Seb Gorka, and he can fix that up right away!

                • btfjd

                  William Shockley won a Nobel Prize in physics, and was a hopeless racist eugenics promulgator. Charles Murray also comes to mind.

              • N__B

                Nothing about ASD makes you an asshole who spouts idiotic biological determinism and social darwinism. Being a moron, OTOH, makes those fallacies seem logical.

              • Origami Isopod

                Yeah, no. “Asshole” is not on the spectrum. Let’s stop blaming this shit on developmental or psych issues. It’s a character problem.

                • Hob

                  Well, Lurkin didn’t spell anything out, so maybe they meant Asshole
                  Spectrum Disorder the whole time.

            • BigHank53

              hijacked by morons

              One of the issues with engineering is that the high school and college education that earn you that degree, and then those first entry-level jobs, all focus on relatively simple problems with clear-cut right and wrong answers. You either got the number right when you did your integration or you didn’t. Your beam is strong enough or it isn’t. Your sort routine sorted the file or not.

              So people like this ex-Google jerk have a minimum of fifteen years of experience telling them that problems can be solved by applying your one-size-fits-all process which renders up a simple right-or-wrong answer. He’s obviously never had to deal with a problem where prior assumptions can’t be trusted, he’s never had to select an imperfect solution due to other stakeholders, and he’s sure as shit never had to deal with the consequences (coders!!) of fucking something up beyond repair, and planning a project accordingly.

              • N__B

                One of the reasons most engineering schools instituted some form of senior project (AKA capstone project, AKA senior research) was because those projects have at least a smattering of the real-world design practice of having to establish your own criteria rather than simply meeting ones handed down to you on stone tablets. I don’t know if Mr. Goog had that type of experience or not – he’s young enough that he should have – but I feel like I’ve actually seen an improvement in mindset among the younger cohort that had this experience in school.

                At least the ones who really worked rather than blow if off.

                • AKA capstone project

                  Checking Wikipedia to help me improve a joke, I just learned that for at least 25 years—since, in fact, “capstone project” and “capstone course” began to be used in my educational institution of last gainful employment—I have been conflating capstones with keystones. Now that I know the difference, I don’t understand at all how the metaphor is supposed to work. Calling a particular course or project a “keystone” would suggest that it holds the whole major together—an admirable ambition. Calling it a “capstone” as I have now learned to understand the term suggests…what? The course or project protects the earlier work in the major from being weakened by fluid infiltrating from above? The course or project is a decorative flourish that tops the major off with something stylish?

                  I just can’t cope with this.

                • N__B

                  The capstone is the last thing put in place. When you set the keystone in an arch you’ve completed the arch but there is typically more stone being set above.

                • So the metaphor comes down to “this is (one of) the last course(s) you’ll take (in this major), and nothing else (in the major) depends on it”? With the parentheticals included, any last-semester major course satisfies the condition, which is inconsistent with my experience of how academic administrators envision such courses; with them, particularly the second, excluded, why the fuck should this be a selling point for a course (from the point of view of the instructor and the major department)? Gaah.

                  The keystone metaphor, as amplified by you, is a much better guide to what this instructor tried to accomplish. Double gaah.

                • N__B

                  I think both stone metaphors have their place. For me (and I predate capstone projects at Rensseltute), I’d argue the keystone for was the classical-analysis course I took first semester senior year while my capstone was the independent-study bridge design I did in my last semester because I really wanted a senior project.

                • Jon Hendry

                  Think of it like the pointy stone at the tippy top of a pyramid. You’re building up to it. In theory you can’t do the capstone course or project without having mastered the material building up to it.

                  It isn’t just a matter of sequence or timing of a course you happen to schedule. It’s more like a doctoral dissertation in a PhD program, though of course not at that level.

                • sibusisodan

                  If that last sentence wasn’t a clever pun, I want all the kudoses back I just assigned to you.

              • stepped pyramids

                I’ve had multiple people explain to me recently that hiring should be based on an “objective assessment of skill” or something along those lines. I replied that if someone actually figures out how to do that for programmers they could become richer than God licensing out the process.

                • Daniel Elstner

                  Indeed, there is a reason our company usually doesn’t do any formal testing at all. You can assess the trivial stuff that lends itself to testing, and you can ask silly gotcha questions. Neither is particularly fruitful.

                  The downside of not doing formal testing is that hiring depends on recruiting people who are already “in the network”, which can discriminate against people outside the prevalent culture. But we also do internships to counter that.

              • N__B

                Also, separately from my other answer to your comment, this is disturbingly close to the reason athletes are so often privileged jerks.

              • Hob

                Besides the fact that he didn’t go to engineering school, I have to say that unfortunately it is very possible for someone to have many years of real-world experience in the field and still have a terrible case of Engineer’s Disease. The clearest example of this I ever saw was a guy who was a senior software engineer at my job and had been part of at least a dozen major collaborative projects there, and still believed that any sort of compromise, or the evil of “pragmatism” (a word he somehow managed to deliver with a contemptuous sneer even when he typed it), should be resisted at all costs (primarily by acting like a gigantic asshole). His evidence: every software project involved some kind of compromise… and every software project eventually had some kind of hassles arise. It was one of those unfalsifiable axioms like “mortality is caused by original sin.”

                Something he liked to say when he was particularly fed up with all the pragmatism was that he should have pursued a mathematics career instead of CS, because mathematicians understood that things were either correct or they weren’t.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Where’s that XKCD panel….

            • Domino

              Pretty sure this blog (or at least in the comments of one post) went over that phenomenon – with the agreement that engineers are prone to “I have an advanced degree with a large amount of knowledge about very specific, important things. Therefore I also know what the best policies for the country are”.

          • anonotwit

            Part of it is that the loons can usually get a degree in engineering without having to examine in too much detail what science actually thinks of their looniness. There are exceptions (creationist Kurt Wise studying under Stephen Jay Gould comes to mind), but the science encountered in an engineering major is more likely to be applied.

            Also, there are a lot of loons these days. They have to go somewhere.

          • heckblazer

            FWIW, the fired asshole has a bachelor’s and master’s in biology.

          • Daniel Elstner

            Agreed. I really hated the dismissive attitude of my engineering professors towards science. Particularly the silly insistence on elaborate separate conventions and notations, rote-learning of various special-case calculation schemes, etc, all of which tended to completely obfuscate the comparatively easy to grasp physical concepts it built on.

            Instead of explaining how nature fits together, engineers often like to play magicians and obscure things. Experience is generally vastly overrated in the field; you can do something the same way for 40 years and still have a poor grasp of what you are doing conceptually.

            All this reminded me a lot of pseudoscience like astrology or homeopathy. The practitioners learn a huge number of arbitrary rules and earnestly apply them, but lack any grounding in science. Not that far from how bad engineers operate.

            I will step off my soap box now.

            • Daniel Elstner

              Addendum: I have to say I really liked engineering math though. What I enjoy most about engineering is applying sound theory to practical applications, and boy does engineering math pay off in that regard.

              I also like to tease my mathematician friend with all the concepts I worked with he barely knows in the abstract. :D

            • To be fair a lot of times when doing engineering your mathy/physics solution just doesn’t work in real life, so you rig up an ad hoc solution and, eventually, it does. This produces a good amount of the engineering hubris in my experience.

              • Daniel Elstner

                Hm, there is certainly some art involved in applying theory to practical applications (which is why it is so satisfying), but in my experience never in a way that would actually invalidate the theory. That would be a big deal indeed if that were to happen.

                I had most of my inspirational experiences when applying Fourier transforms and other elements of Signal Theory in hardware. It really feels like magic, and definitely isn’t something one would come up with without the theoretical background. Linear algebra is also very powerful when doing 3-D graphics in software; theory and application are essentially the same thing here.

                It certainly depends on the particularly field though, some allow for more direct mapping from theory than others.

                • It doesn’t invalidate the theory, it’s more like: we could either spend time and energy to look for other sources of variance and factor them into the formula, or just put a catch here and use this heuristic if it catches.

                  If you do the latter you often get something that works and you feel like you’ve got some special artisan ability.

                • Daniel Elstner

                  Yeah, that reminds me a lot of working with PID controllers. Since they are designed to self-regulate, you can get away with a lot of fudging.

                • Good to know I gave away the game of what I’ve been working on.

        • Murc

          I’m not surprised. A lot of STEM bros are attracted to libertarianism, after all.

          A field that self-selects for highly motivated Type-A autodidacts from privileged backgrounds with poor social skills has a real libertarianism problem, you say?

          I am shocked.

          • PohranicniStraze

            Can’t argue with the first part of the description, but privileged? In my experience, the privileged goofballs end up in the business school, while the engineers tend to come from working- to middle-class backgrounds.

            • Murc

              STEM encompasses things like comp-sci, which are LOADED with privileged goofballs. I ought to know; I am one.

            • Origami Isopod

              Since when is class the only type of privilege? They’re still male, not poor, and heavily white, aren’t they?

            • Jon Hendry

              ” the privileged goofballs end up in the business school”

              And then there’s Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

              It’s the privileged who are dedicated to or limited to being goofballs (Bush, George W.; Trump, Donald) that end up in the business school.

      • Hypersphrericalcow

        I went to grad school for computer science a decade ago, and within the *first week*, I had multiple other students start talking, unprompted, about how 9/11 was an inside job.

        “Have you seen this movie Loose Change? It’s on YouTube. It asks a lot of interesting questions.” – actual quote

        • Bubblegum Tate

          On a somewhat related note, I find the “hey, I’m just asking questions/trying to start a dialogue” defense for saying dumb, horrible shit to be infuriating.

          • Hypersphrericalcow

            The fact that GoogleBro’s “essay” started with two paragraphs of saying that was a pretty good indicator that the rest of it would be a dumpster fire.

          • Origami Isopod
    • NonyNony

      I thought that this was a good discussion on why the jerkwad doesn’t even understand what makes for a good engineer:

      https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

      IME it’s exactly right, but I know senior engineers who haven’t figured it out.

      • N__B

        I’ll keep saying it: the second point in that response is fantastic. It’s something that everyone who talks about “STEM” needs to learn.

        • NonyNony

          If I had my way, “Engineering is not the art of building devices; it’s the art of fixing problems” would be somehow burned into the brains of every engineering student at every university across the country. And you wouldn’t be allowed to graduate with an engineering degree until you understood what those sentences mean.

          • Origami Isopod

            If I had my way, “Engineering is not the art of building devices; it’s the art of fixing problems” would be somehow burned into the brains of every engineering student at every university across the country.

            It wouldn’t hurt to burn something similar into the brains of quite a few software developers, either.

        • Jon Hendry

          People like ManifestBro want it to be (after getting rid of the community college-level Technology) Science, Engineering, Math by MEN

          • N__B

            I like a good semen joke as much as the next man seminarian, but unfortunately the techbro mentality is just as prevalent among the techs as it is among engineers.

            • Jon Hendry

              I was trying to suggest a status hierarchy. The nastier Google Bros probably look down on community college students, which is where you find courses of study in “Technology”: “Electrical Engineering Technology” majors, etc.

              I could be wrong but I’ve never seen a 4 year degree in something called “yadda yadda Technology”, only 2 year community college degrees and certificates.

      • stepped pyramids

        Yeah, it’s perfect. I’m making a bookmark of that specifically so I can refer to that second point in the future.

    • Murc

      I’m going to be honest. I thought the thing was well-constructed. Not from a perspective of “proving my point” but from a standpoint of “smoke and mirrors.”

      The language in it is very, very carefully curated to be shorn of the more well-known forms of right-wing code and to use the appearance of even-handedness and play on the liberal desire for good-faith readings and on intellectual honesty. He carefully lays out a lot of generically true bromides (“We should foster an open and accepting community”) and then builds out from there to get to douchebag conclusions. I’ve seen that argumentative technique before; when you get challenged on your conclusion you retreat to your premise and try to draw your opponents into fighting there.

      The “tells” are the Randian land mines he buries in there, like when he talks about how we should eschew empathy. (That was when the veil really slipped.)

      It really was well put-together. I could not have better constructed an MRA/alt-right screed that was designed to really piss off people on the left while getting a lot of wishy-washy centrists to say “well, hold on, this guy is wrong about a lot of shit but he has a few good points in there” and for alt-right douchebags to say “dude is being attacked for speaking truth to power.” And that’s precisely what happened. He achieved his goal.

      • i thought it sounded like an engineer trying to engineer society.

        that’s what i hear when libertarians talk, too.

        • Murc

          Well, we all want to engineer society.

          This guy just thinks you can do it the same way you build a bridge, which, as you say, is common to engineers and libertarians.

          • stepped pyramids

            If only software engineers generally employed the degree of rigor and care necessary to build a bridge in their day-to-day work.

            • if only we didn’t have to build bridges on top of pilings that are still being built on top of soil that might be ripped away and replaced with something else tomorrow (and you’ll be lucky if someone sends an email more than 12 hours in advance of doing it).

              • stepped pyramids

                Also, the way our society seems to have decided to handle the extra costs of good engineering for infrastructure is to simply not build at all.

              • Daniel Elstner

                It sucks when only we programmers can appreciate the need for sound design, because we are the only ones who actually see the code and have to work with it every day. For most physical products customers can do at least a cursory assessment whether something is well-made or not, but with software it’s just a black box (even if they get to own the source code).

                As there is little hard data to go with, what happens is that customers usually buy on lowest price first, and then slowly move towards paying in proportion to panic level. The opacity makes it a very dysfunctional market with wildly varying hourly rates. (Makes you wonder why tech dudebros tend libertarian.)

                The company I work for mainly serves the “panic” sector of the market, so we can take high rates. The downside is that it can be very frustrating to always play the firefighter trying to rescue shitty designs and code.

        • Origami Isopod

          Which is funny, given how much they rail against social engineering.

      • Cheap Wino

        The “generically true bromides” weren’t carefully laid out so much as obvious precursors indicating some bullshit is on the way. Very mansplainy.

      • Will Stamped

        He’s aping Scott Alexander’s style at Slate Star Codex. I’m pretty sure several of his citations in the manifesto are to it.

        • stepped pyramids

          Exactly. Roy Edroso refers to that rhetorical technique as “Come, Let Us Reason Together” and that’s still my favorite way to describe it. A long, tedious piece that uses length and equivocating language to give the false impression of being logical, impartial, and carefully worked out, but where most of the text is actually irrelevant, self-negating, or contradictory.

          Reminds me of the buffoonish ambassador in Asimov’s Foundation who very expertly manages to say absolutely nothing and to draft a very reassuring treaty that boils down to “we have no obligations to you, bye”.

          • Murc

            This annoys me somewhat, because, well… I do want us to come and reason together! I’d like to invite people to do that. It’s important and productive and also potentially fun.

            I’d like that to not be hijacked by assholes.

          • CP

            I didn’t have a name for that until now, but I know exactly the phenomenon you’re describing. I have an uncle, ex-military-turned-businessman, who absolutely specializes in the “come, let us reason together” genre and continually writes long screeds that are exactly as you describe. Of course, it’s not “let us reason together,” since when people try to actively engage, he’s not really listening to them – the words out of your mouth are just taken as a cue to start the next long pile of word-vomit that’s been rattling around in his head.

            • twbb

              It’s fun to respond to those people with the friendliest, most even-tempered tone you can while accusing them of being thoroughly illogical. The friendlier the “see what I’m teaching you” tone you can manage with them, the madder you can make them.

              • Origami Isopod

                Doesn’t work too well unless you’re a fellow white dude. They just run right over you – or (literally) scream at you that you’re being “emotional” or “angry.”

          • twbb

            “Roy Edroso refers to that rhetorical technique as “Come, Let Us Reason Together” and that’s still my favorite way to describe it”

            That’s a pretty good description; I tended to refer to it as the “fake Socratic method.” It has long, long been a tactic among online libertarians who think they can drag you against your SJW will to where they are.

            They tend to get very, very angry when you stop them at the first wrong assumption they try slipping through.

          • Thus shall it be dubbed the “Brocratic Method.”

            • sibusisodan

              Equalitus: Brocrates, greetings.

              Brocrates: Friend Equalitus, greetings to you.

              Equalitus: Brocrates, we have a well meaning but naive question we want to ask in order for you to demonstrate your philosophical brilliance.

              Brocrates: Please continue.

              Equalitus: Is it not the case that genders are equally apt? Why then do we not see many female philosophers?

              Brocrates: Equalitus, truly you are well meaning and naive, a conversational foil who definitely exists. Indeed it may seem that genders are equally apt and thus the lack of female counterparts in this agora presents a problem. However, this is not so, according to the latest studies in evolutionary philosophy, and behavioural philosophy, which I shall enumerate entirely dispassionately under the following thirty-seven heads.

              [Cont. for at least 94 pages]

              • epidemiologist

                Where is the double plus upvote, it seems to have gone missing

              • I’d like to think I provided the relatively easy assist for this game-winning 3-pointer.

                • rudolf schnaubelt

                  I scored a goal once when a teammate’s shot bounced off my back. My only goal in 4 years.

              • wjts

                Excellent (particularly “evolutionary philosophy”), but could be slightly improved with a “by the dog/dawg” joke.

              • Jon Hendry

                Did Plato have a Man Cave?

    • LurkinLongmont

      I can go shorter. “Gurlz haz cooties”. So Google-bro never got past 5th grade emotionally.

    • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
  • McAllen

    And of course, a man being fired for insulting thousands of his coworkers is a blow to free speech, to the point that Wikileaks offered to hire him.

    • Dr. Waffle

      Right-wingers: “Why does the left oppose free speech in the work place?”

      Also right-wingers: “Firing union organizers should be legal.”

      • CP

        Yeah, this is what’s underlying my complete indifference to the whole thing. I’ve seen various conservatives and centrists running around with their hair on fire for days now about how this is an unconscionable attack on free speech and yada yada… But you know what? If this asshole had been using his “free speech” to call for higher wages, better benefits, longer breaks, or more union-friendly environments, we never would’ve heard of his firing. And if we had, conservatives would’ve rushed to remind us that working for Google is not a protected right and that corporate-persons have a perfect right to purge their system of troublesome employees.

        Did the guy deserve a second chance or at least a less abrupt process than “you’re fired?” Maybe (and then again maybe not), but it’s a moot point, because we’ve spent the last four decades bulldozing such protections and creating an environment in which employees can be fired on a whim and have no recourse against it. Having made their bed, these people can fucking well sleep in it.

        • Bubblegum Tate

          It’s a shame I can only give this one upvote.

    • Murc

      Well, I mean. I don’t particularly have a problem with him insulting thousands of his co-workers. I don’t even necessarily have a problem with him doing it on the company dime depending on the context; after all, someone who walks into a boardroom and says “we have a toxic corporate culture that needs fixing” is also insulting thousands of their co-workers.

      I have a problem with the substantive content.

      • Howard_Bannister

        Also, announcing that you cannot and will not give female coworkers a fair shake in a company where advancement is largely based on peer review? Is pretty much announcing you have created a hostile workplace, in the legal sense of the term, a workplace where a protected group is discriminated against solely on the basis of gender.

      • stepped pyramids

        There’s a difference between not having a particular problem with it and having a problem with him being fired for it. I would like stronger protections of employee speech at work, particularly via unionization. The status quo, though, is that if you write a document disparaging a bunch of your coworkers and management and share it with other employees you risk being fired.

        And, like you said, the merit of that firing is primarily based on the merit of the document. I actually would be inclined to defend this guy if he’d limited his argument to “conservatives are discriminated against at Google”, although he doesn’t really make the case for that at all. But the political element is essentially a smokescreen for his personal attacks against coworkers.

        • NonyNony

          I’m actually leaning towards the opinion that the personal attacks on co-workers were a smokescreen for a “please fire me – I’m no good at this job and I know it, but if you fire me over being an asshole to women I can get to go on the teevee and become a conservative hero.”
          I know firsthand that kids can be pretty damn stupid – especially Engineering-bros, but this is a level of stupid that seems like it might have been on purpose.

          • Murc

            Mmm, I think this guy was genuine in his beliefs. No bad faith or ulterior motive is required for someone to write something like this, because precise equivalents or produced a hundred times a day.

            • sibusisodan

              This is why the idea that he merits more charity or closer attention baffles me. Can’t we just wait a week for the next one?

        • Yestobesure

          Yea the vague injection of politics into his screed seems like a way to 1) rally some allies by make this a liberal/conservative thing and 2) don the mantle of self-righteousness for having the “courage” to express an unpopular opinion

      • Hypersphrericalcow

        But when you insult thousands of coworkers in a way that turns you into a massive PR liability for the company, which you should have been able to predict, it’s not surprising that there will be significant consequences.

      • Origami Isopod

        You are falling into the rational dude trap of assuming the “substantive content” is the only problem here. It’s not. If you shit up your working environment by making co-workers feel afraid, resentful, etc., you’re a liability no matter how skillful you are at your job. Your job includes collaboration and communication.

        • Drew

          Having just re-read crucial conversations, yes!

        • Murc

          I’m not sure I agree with this as an abstract general statement. There are a number of situations I can conceive where things that make your co-workers feel afraid and resentful are not only necessary, but positive goods.

          Someone coming into a toxic work environment and agitating like hell for everyone there to clean up their act is going to make their co-workers feel afraid and resentful, and will have a difficult time collaborating with them, but that person is doing something valuable that needs to be done, yes? No?

          • Origami Isopod

            Yes, they are, but how does that apply to someone coming in and making the environment more toxic? This is “both sides” logic.

  • Murc

    Can someone answer me something cleanly about the Google manifestbro I’ve been unable to determine through all the hue and cry?

    Did the dude just drop out of nowhere to post his ridiculous misogynist screed, or was he actually doing it on a company board where the topic was encouraged to be discussed freely?

    I ask because people have tried to draw me into “well, whatever the lack of merits of his viewpoint, surely he didn’t deserve to be fired for it?” discussions. This is an important discussion, as it has to do with labor rights, and I don’t know how to participate in it without information that’s been very hard for me to get. Some people have been telling me “well, what if YOU got fired for your political speech?” and the obvious response to that is “I don’t bring my political speech to work or try to influence company policy based on it. If I tried to do so, there are absolutely lines I could cross that would get me fired that would be entirely reasonable on the part of the company. That’s a risk you run when you get in an ideological fight within an institution; sometimes you lose and they kick you out. Whether that’s okay or not in any given situation is complicated.”

    The comeback to that is “he was on an internal message board specifically dedicated to people speaking freely about the topic without fear of reprisal.” Other people have shot back on that with “oh, no he wasn’t. He was in a generic user group where people could suggest things about the company with no specific expectation that what was acceptable there had a looser standard than what would be acceptable elsewhere.” And then that turns into a slapfight and I have a hard time discerning which, or neither, of those two possibilities is true.

    • Howard_Bannister

      https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

      This is some good discussion of exactly what happened from somebody with some insight into the process that would lead to disciplinary action.

      • stepped pyramids

        That is a superb piece. I’ll have to keep a link to it on hand, because it makes the argument about “female skills” in engineering much, much better than I’ve been able to.

      • Murc

        That’s an excellent rebuttal of the substantive points but doesn’t really go into things like form and process and when its okay to say shit and when it isn’t.

        Put another way: this guy posting this stuff at home, outside of business hours, would not have made him any less wrong or more right, but also wouldn’t have been any of Google’s business.

        This guy standing on a table in the break room and belting it out unprovoked would have been super fuckin’ inappropriate and gotten him fired even quicker than it otherwise did.

        But if there were a place where Google was inviting people to speak freely and say what they think, and he took them up on that invitation, that makes the labor question (as opposed to the substantive content question) murkier.

        • McAllen

          Put another way: this guy posting this stuff at home, outside of business hours, would not have made him any less wrong or more right, but also wouldn’t have been any of Google’s business.

          I disagree, at least given the current state of labor protections. This guy has made clear that he cannot be trusted to work with a significant portion of his coworkers.

          Now, if we lived in a society with more protections for workers, it might be that this guy would be protected too, and that would just be the cost of protecting less assholish workers. But since those protections don’t exist there’s no reason to got to the bat for this guy.

          • Murc

            I disagree, at least given the current state of labor protections.

            I’m not speaking as a matter of current formal policy and labor rights here, but as a matter of what should be the case.

            • McAllen

              I am too. I think if you think women don’t belong in your workplace you should not work there.

              • Murc

                I think what a person thinks should be completely irrelevant; the only metric should be their actual behavior while specifically on company time.

                • TinEar

                  This isn’t an attempt to “get” you, I’m just curious how far this philosophy can go. What if the example is an ACLU lawyer who is an active contributor to Stormfront? Or a muppeteer who writes articles for NAMBLA?

                • Murc

                  What if the example is an ACLU lawyer who is an active contributor to
                  Stormfront? Or a muppeteer who writes articles for NAMBLA?

                  Are they doing their job to a sufficient standard and treating their co-workers, while at work, with outward displays of professionalism that meet basic guidelines?

                  If so, that’s none of their employers business. Period.

                  To flip that around: someone should be able to work as a janitor or accountant or HR rep at Goldman Sachs, clock out for the day, and walk across the street to join a pack of protestors while tweeting about how Lloyd Blankfein should have been thrown into a hole to rot for the rest of his life, because he’s amoral, barely human scum. And Blankfein should be able to do precisely nothing about this as long as this person cleans his office properly or makes the books balance.

                  Having said that said it seems unlikely either of the people in your initial example would
                  seek out such employment, or be able to preform to standards if they
                  did. But having said THAT, people have an amazing ability to
                  compartmentalize.

                  I use myself as an example; I’m constantly all over peoples personal shit at work. I really SHOULDN’T be, but folks are very eager to tell their IT people “go in there and fix it, I don’t care.”

                  This means I’m aware of some people who are… bad people.

                  But I don’t treat them like people I wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire when I’m at work, because I’m a professional and I adhere to professional standards. What I think about them in my own head isn’t any of their concern.

                • McAllen

                  To be glib, there is a difference between a white supremacist and a socialist. I realize as a legal matter it’s more complicated than that, and a law that protected the socialist would probably have to protect the white supremacist to an extent. But speaking as a random internet yahoo? It would be good to fire the white supremacist, and bad to fire the socialist, and I don’t really think it’s wrong or hypocritical for me to think that.

                • CP

                  Totally this.

                  As you say, it’s more complicated as a legal matter and it’s basically
                  impossible to make laws that don’t protect both. But on a “random internet
                  yahoo” basis, yeah. One of the things I hate most about our “both
                  sides do it” media and far too many people who follow in its footsteps is
                  that, for the sake of balance, you’re supposed to pretend that things like
                  socialism and white supremacism are just equivalent – morally equivalent,
                  logically equivalent, or anywhere close to equivalent in the dangers they pose
                  to society – viewpoints in a debating society.

                  When in reality, I’m sorry, but no, one of those viewpoints does
                  not
                  deserve the same amount of respect and deference as the other
                  from me, and I see no point in pretending otherwise.

                • TinEar

                  Sure, and on the most basic level I more-or-less agree.

                  But in this case the guy didn’t just hold that opinion and post it on Reddit in his spare time, he posted it/distributed it internally at his company. And the thing is even if I agreed with what he said, I think I’d have to come down on the side of firing him. Not because he has an opinion, but because the way he expressed that opinion creates a hostile workplace.

                  From my perspective the issue isn’t so much of Corporation vs. Employee in this case, as it is One Employee vs. These Other Employees. The situation is one where Google had almost no choice BUT to fire him. On a heartless and practical level because they’re choosing between an unlawful dismissal lawsuit and a hostile workplace class-action. On a less heartless level because “Dude, you are making everyone uncomfortable and no one wants to work with you anymore”

                  The question of whether he said it in a “general forum” or one where people had been told to say whatever they like isn’t really relevant to his firing. It might be relevant to the question of whether someone ELSE deserves to be fired for creating that situation in the first place.

                  But once someone has created that hostile work environment, regardless of intent, you’re sort of boned. Short of “We fucked up so we’re closing the whole company” someone is going to have to leave. It can be the guy who made the hostile environment, or it can be the people targetted by the hostility.

                  And sorry if this doesn’t seem like the most directly natural follow-up to our own subthread. I’m reading the whole thing as it’s written and trying to keep up, and it seemed better to stick to this one thread than scatter my thoughts all over the place.

                • TinEar

                  Oh and on the issue of the janitor who goes across the street to protest, I think you need to consider the power dynamics involved as well (as we always should in case of harrassment, hostile workplaces, etc) However fiery and violent the janitor’s streetside rhetoric, he has a hell of a lot less ability to create a hostile workplace for his CEO than a male engineer at Google has over his female peers.

                • Souris Grise

                  You may not treat them as people you wouldn’t spit on even if they were on fire. You may endeavour to treat them professionally. But how successful are you with that? Can you accurately judge, for example, your facial expressions during any interaction … without using a mirror?

                  (Of course, the act of observing yourself could influence what you’re observing. And those regular mirror checks could lead to a rep around the office that out-weirds the bad people’s bad stuff. Only a caution.)

                  Also, do you work with the bad people everyday? Is your performance, in part, dependent on their performance? Who could fire whom? Such factors can interfere with an ability to compartmentalize without giving the game away. Some people are better at it than others. And some people think they’re better at it than others. We all know that one. ;) (BTW, not suggesting you ARE that one, okay?)

                • Jon Hendry

                  “Are they doing their job to a sufficient standard and treating their co-workers, while at work, with outward displays of professionalism that meet basic guidelines?”

                  What if they interview job applicants? Do you just assume their writings about women, non-whites, etc don’t effect their evaluations interviewees who are women, non-white, etc?

                • Origami Isopod

                  And his actual behavior while specifically on company time made his female colleagues feel like they didn’t belong there – especially since he was involved in their review processes. Why are you devil’s-advocating this nonsense?

                • Murc

                  And his actual behavior while specifically on company time made his
                  female colleagues feel like they didn’t belong there – especially since
                  he was involved in their review processes.

                  Right, but I kept seeing people saying “he was told that the forum he was in was one where he could express views freely.” If that’s actually true, from my perspective the company is the one that done fucked up. It’s possible for that to be true at the same time this guy is both substantively wrong and substantively wrong in ways that make him a bad person.

                  It does not, however, appear to actually be true. Which means that not only was his firing justified, it was also necessary.

                  Why are you devil’s-advocating this nonsense?

                  I don’t think I am?

                • Jon Hendry

                  “Right, but I kept seeing people saying “he was told that the forum he was in was one where he could express views freely.””

                  There are situations where you are encouraged to “express your views freely” but that still doesn’t mean you should post something like “Anyone interested in pegging me while I’m dressed in a PVC Nazi gimp suit”?

                • Origami Isopod

                  “Anyone interested in pegging me while I’m dressed in a PVC Nazi gimp suit”?

                  What, did the internal White House social media forum get leaked again?

                • Origami Isopod

                  It feels like you’re missing the empathetic piece here. I know you actually have empathy, you’re not Nieporent or the like.

                • This is weird given your strong focus on politician
                  psychology as helpful
                  indicta of their future behavior. Heck, lots of behavior has a state of mind component (eg intentions infliction of emotional distress).

                  The fact of the matter is that this will always be messy. The tools we use to protect people against nasty exercise of corporate power can be used against people we want to defend. Bright lines are handy but systematically subvertable.

        • stepped pyramids

          Put another way: this guy posting this stuff at home, outside of business hours, would not have made him any less wrong or more right, but also wouldn’t have been any of Google’s business.

          Yeah it would. Because it’s about Google. It might be risky to distribute a disparaging memo about your management inside the office, but posting it on your personal blog outside of work will get you fired pretty much anywhere.

          I haven’t heard anything about an internal forum of that nature. If there is one, and it’s openly readable (or else how would the memo have gotten out?), that is an incredibly stupid idea on Google’s part.

          ETA: If he had written a general blog post on the subject of diversity programs rather than specifically calling out Google’s programs, that would be different.

          • Murc

            Yeah it would. Because it’s about Google. It might be risky to

            distribute a disparaging memo about your management inside the office,
            but posting it on your personal blog outside of work will get you fired
            pretty much anywhere.

            My point is that it shouldn’t.

            I have a strongly held belief that if we’re going to require people to work to eat, there should be an immensely strong dividing wall between what your employer is allowed to consider actionable when it comes to disciplining and firing you. It basically boils down to “are you on company time? If the answer is ‘no’ then what you’re doing is none of their fucking business, with the possible exception of engaging in illegal activity, and even that should only be their business from the standpoint of ‘you have directly wronged us’ or ‘a person in a jail cell is unable to report to work, which is grounds for termination.'”

            What happens in your life as a private citizen should not be any of your employers business, period. You should be able to go online and call your boss a terrible human being and your co-workers a pack of drooling imbeciles, but as long as that’s completely divorced from your work (you aren’t sharing proprietary company information publicly) and isn’t illegal (you’re harassing them or stalking them) the company shouldn’t be able to do jack shit about it.

            If there is one, and it’s openly readable (or else how would the memo have gotten out?),

            … eh?

            We have internal forums where I work. They’re not openly readable; if you’re not an employee AND a member of the relevant groups, you can’t see what’s happening there.

            But this would not preclude anyone who CAN see what’s happening there from pulling a post or a document and then moving it outside that closed ecosystem.

            that is an incredibly stupid idea on Google’s part.

            … it is?

            Lots of companies have internal forums where they invite employees to talk about the state of the company and make suggestions about what should change. Some companies take it one step further and establish formal guidelines saying “you can submit anonymously and/or speak freely here without fear of reprisal.” I have a friend who works for a start-up that does just that; their “forum” is their ten-member locked-down facebook page but that’s the formal policy.

            • stepped pyramids

              Who the hell would want to work with someone who went online every night and insulted them? This isn’t even a matter of criticizing management. If one of my coworkers was going online and writing about what a dumb piece of shit I was online every night I would try to get them to stop. If my employers couldn’t help — and it doesn’t matter if they’re a corporation or a worker’s syndicate — I would fucking quit. So would a lot of people.

              Is one employee’s desire to fart where he pleases really more valuable than other employees’ desire that he not fart in their faces?

              We have internal forums where I work. They’re not openly readable; if you’re not an employee AND a member of the relevant groups, you can’t see what’s happening there.

              That’s what I mean by ‘openly readable’. Once what you’re writing is readable by coworkers other than people in your chain of supervision and/or HR, what you write can contribute to a hostile work environment. I certainly think employees should feel comfortable lodging grievances against other employees or company policy with their supervisors, and that this isn’t frequently the case is deplorable. But any workplace will suffer from one coworker openly deriding others.

              Lots of companies have internal forums where they invite employees to talk about the state of the company and make suggestions about what should change.

              Having something like this without reasonable limitations (e.g. “don’t make a suggestion that thousands of your coworkers are incompetent because of their gender”) is an incredibly stupid idea. Yes.

              • Murc

                Who the hell would want to work with someone who went online every night and insulted them?

                Not a lot of people. What of it?

                Is one employee’s desire to fart where he pleases really more valuable
                than other employees’ desire that he not fart in their faces?

                “The internet” doesn’t belong to you, tho. Neither do social media platforms.

                If one of your co-workers is harassing you, that’s different; harassment is, you know, illegal. But if they’re just going to their facebook page and writing “Entry # 500 in why Stepped Pyramids in the Dumbest Person Alive” then I would submit that this is none of your concern professionally speaking. You do not have to read their facebook page or follow them on twitter or read their blog. You may choose to do so. But as long as he doesn’t bring that to work, you don’t get to bring it there either.

                Nor would it be any of your concern, professionally speaking, if this person were politically opposed to you and were also, say, a regular commenter here at LGM who spent a lot of time telling you that you were not just wrong, but morally abhorrent.

                • stepped pyramids

                  If one of your co-workers is harassing you, that’s different; harassment is, you know, illegal. But if they’re just going to their facebook page and writing “Entry # 500 in why Stepped Pyramids in the Dumbest Person Alive” then I would submit that this is none of your concern professionally speaking.

                  Yeah, I don’t think we exist in the same emotional universe here. That kind of explains a lot of our previous interactions.

                • sibusisodan

                  Given what you told us about previous examples of your interactions, Murc’s off the cuff example of permissible social network behaviour seems…unwise.

                • royko

                  “If one of your co-workers is harassing you, that’s different; harassment is, you know, illegal.”

                  That seems pretty naive. There are a lot of things Person A can do to Person B that are harassing but not illegal. Heck, there was a whole subgenre of movies in the 80s/90s about this very thing — Fatal Attraction, SWF, Hand that Rocks the Cradle — at least through the first two acts of the movie, until the perpetrator starts killing people. There are always going to be ways that a person can legally make someone feel threatened.

                  Even if it’s not actual harassment, if one person is going to be hurtful to his coworkers, I’m not sure he just gets a pass because he waits until he steps off company property to do it. They still all have to work together the next day.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Heck, there was a whole subgenre of movies in the 80s/90s about this very thing — Fatal Attraction, SWF, Hand that Rocks the Cradle — at least through the first two acts of the movie, until the perpetrator starts killing people.

                  Which, telling of the anxieties of men in Hollywood, were all about women doing the harassment. To which list you could add Disclosure.

                • Murc

                  You know.

                  Now I kind of want to see gender-reversed remakes of those movies.

                  I suspect they would make many people VERY uncomfortable.

                • Origami Isopod

                  They would be filmed to titillate male viewers, as all “women in peril” movies are.

                • Murc

                  You ever get tired of being right, Origami?

                  Seems like you’d get tired of that.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Ha. You’re OK, Murc, even if you frustrate me sometimes.

                • wjts

                  But if they’re just going to their facebook page and writing “Entry # 500 in why Stepped Pyramids in the Dumbest Person Alive” then I would submit that this is none of your concern professionally speaking. You do not have to read their facebook page or follow them on twitter or read their blog. You may choose to do so. But as long as he doesn’t bring that to work, you don’t get to bring it there either.

                  The problem I have with this analogy is that I’m extremely dubious that someone who devotes enough of their off-the-clock hours to compiling a list of the 500 ways their coworker is the dumbest person ever would be capable of not bringing that with them to work.

                • Murc

                  The problem I have with this analogy is that I’m extremely dubious that
                  someone who devotes enough of their off-the-clock hours to compiling a
                  list of the 500 ways their coworker is the dumbest person ever would be
                  capable of not bringing that with them to work.

                  Then they should be fired for doing so, and they’ll deserve it.

                • There’s no formalist way to mark company vs personal. That is, there are de facto company activities which are not de hire.

                  Take the list of why someone is dumb. If most coworkers are reading and commenting on that list, it might well be de facto a company list. Like FOI items, you can shield it by just going outside nominally corporate venues.

              • DJ

                I have a sneaking suspicion that internal corporate social media (which is all the rage at my company right now) is going to become increasingly disfavored, as people raised in the trollverse of modern social media start treating their corporate intranet like they do non-work social media. The potential for harm is very large.

                • Murc

                  Corporate social media seems like it’s a pretty hard sell to begin with. People are already very fatigued when it comes to social media, why do they need ANOTHER platform that’s limited to just their company? Facebook’s big strength is that anyone anywhere can get on it. (Also it’s biggest weakness.)

              • Drew

                Right, if I’m Hispanic, why should I have to work with someone all day who OPENLY thinks we should “deport all the sp*** to Mexico”? Doesn’t it cut both ways? What about the rights of people who are the subject of reprehensible beliefs to not have to work with their would-be oppressors?

            • royko

              There’s one thing to have an open forum to discuss the state of the company, another to have it be completely restriction-free and consequence-free. That seems extremely risky, for the company, the employees, and the workplace environment. What if they post a full on racist screed? Disturbing sexual fantasies about a coworker? There have to be some limits.

              I do believe in a separation of personal life and work life, although I’m not sure I’d be quite as generous with the line as you. If he’d posted the same sentiments somewhere anonymously and been outed, the result would have been the same, but I feel he should deserve some protection in that case. On the other hand, if he posts these ideas on a public blog, I’m not sure he deserves protection. He’s choosing to take a public stance on it and doing so is damaging his role at the company. I tend to think your private life should be off limits, but your public personal life isn’t quite as isolated.

            • Bruce Baugh

              It’s not just that the guy is a smug bigot. It’s that he’s wildly, grotesquely anti-empirical about it. As some of the responses pointed out, there is a global literature on the specific documentable benefits of various kinds of diversity in hiring and promotion. He not only ignores it all – the way he writes shows that it has never entered his head to check if there’s any kind of study of this stuff, at all. He’s in the position of a civil engineer who never thinks to look at a materials manual, or a programmer who neither performs user testing nor knows that there is such a thing as UI design studies.

              He is deep into Dunning-Kruger territory in exactly the way that far too many white guys in particular are. He thinks he’s living in a neo-Platonic world he can suss out entirely through his (guaranteed objective) reason, rather than the complicated but interesting one where data matter. Now, people do manage to compartmentalize all kinds of things. But the fact of his doing this at all shows to all his colleagues that on at least some very important matters, he’s contemptibly stupid in a dangerous way.

              • Murc

                I think he’s actually being more skillful than that. He tried outright stating “hey, maybe my own biases are blinding and influencing me here.”

                And it’s like gee, you think, buddy?

                He either really believes that and is bad at follow-through, or was using it purely as a rhetorical shield.

                • Bruce Baugh

                  That specific kind of phrasing is always entirely BS, or very nearly always, and nothing else in his piece gives us the slightest reason to believe there’s any sincerity at all. He’s completely convinced he’s got a hotline to truth.

                • Murc

                  That specific kind of phrasing is always entirely BS, or very nearly always

                  I don’t feel like I can judge on this particular issue, because, well… I use that kind of phrasing a lot. Because, you know, I’m wrong a lot.

                  And when I’m saying something where the back of my mind is telling me “you do think you’re right, and you’re confident in that belief to back it up with words and action, but there’s a very real and non-trivial possibility you are wrong. Qualify your words. Demonstrate some intellectual humility and self-awareness of your ability to fail” I make sure to stick in the disclaimer.

                  I am aware that doing this is in and of itself a form of intellectual arrogance. It’s a hard circle to square. ^.^;

                • I once had a friend point out that I used qualifying language to disarm my rhetorical opponents, and how that was against the spirit of actual Socratic “reasoning together”.

                  So I kept my open mind, but stopped prefacing my arguments by “Well, I might be wrong…” or “I may have my own biases here” etc. Seems to have fixed it.

                  As long as you do know you’re fallible and act accordingly, you can drop broadcasting that fact, since its something insincere people do to frame an argument on their turf.

                • sibusisodan

                  I’m British. If I don’t use such qualifications, They* ban you from ever having Rich Tea Biscuits again.

                  *Please don’t ask who They are. Please.

                • Origami Isopod

                  “SELF-DE-PRE-CATE! SELF-DE-PRE-CATE!”

                • sibusisodan

                  I would, but I’m not very good at it.

                • N__B

                  We’ve all read Charlie Stross. We know who They are.

                • Origami Isopod

                  So your friend thinks the actual spirit of “reasoning together” means an arrogant refusal to admit you’re wrong?

                • No, just not leading with “I might be wrong” or some other mollifying statement as a rhetorical trick so that I can fall back on it if my argument fails at some further point. It basically functions as a hedge so that I can make a statement, while claiming not to actually endorse that statement later.

                  Make the statement with conviction. Engage in discussion. If you’re wrong, admit it. Congratulations, you taught or learned something (or both!)
                  vs.

                  Make the statement with prelude qualifiers. Engage in discussion. If it looks like you’re wrong, go back an muddy the waters of exactly what you were saying based on your original qualifiers so that you can salvage your sense of being right or possibly reposition yourself to attack their argument from another angle oblique to your actual original position, just to get a win. Congrats, you’re an asshole!

                • I think it’s useful to indicate when one is being more than ordinarily fallible. Eg if one is reporting research one doesn’t fully understand or lacks confidence in, I think it’s a useful signal. Lots of people us IANAL to indicate that their interpretation is untrained (which still might be good, but sometimes law interpretation requires specific knowledge of eg case law).

                  Doing it routinely messes up this usefully signally function. It can be helpful in specific circumstances when your dialectical partner responds well to this specific sort of deflation. (It’s sometimes helpful with some students esp those prone to being uncritically accepting of instructor pronouncements).

                • I was working under an assumption that there’s an (at least somewhat) adversarial orientation to the conversation, like in political debates or discussions .

                • Even there, unless it’s a universal trope (like with the brits) I don’t think it’s a good idea to blur the lines. Better to encourage the community to acknowledge the varying levels of epistemic confidence which are present and respond appropriately.

                • If you’re wrong and sincere, it’ll come out in the debate. I don’t see any benefit to inserting what could either be sincere caveats or rhetorical “weasel” phrases into the prelude from the point of view of assessing the truth of the claims.

                • Drew

                  On the flip side, this seems too close to just assuming bad faith. It is in my nature to be very (let me phrase this as pretentiously as possible) epistemically humble. People who know me and talk to me know this. If you’re a weasel, it will likewise come out.

                • sibusisodan

                  The forum matters. Comments on a blog, where your history is open to other commenters, makes it easier to communicate, and detect, sincerity.

                  An awareness that you’re taking part in a conversation, which is what that kind of disclaimer does, helps.

                  With a finished publication, when the writer does no homework to demonstrate what their likely biases are, throwing that disclaimer in is just a cheap trick.

                  It’s an attempt to benefit from the humble posture of conversation where no conversation is possible.

            • bender

              It seems to me that an internal forum of that kind is legally dangerous for the company unless it has very specific written rules about content and modes of expression and the rules are strictly enforced.

              When I started a tech job in the late Seventies, my section had a very informal written logbook in which we techs could leave messages for the next shift about something we had worked on but hadn’t finished. It wasn’t a formal log that we were required to leave signed entries in at shift end; it was just a peer-to-peer way of passing information to other techs. After a few years, management got rid of the logbook. They didn’t say why, but my guess was that we were generating unsupervised written records that might end up being used against the agency in a lawsuit.

        • Hypersphrericalcow

          This is related to the matter of whether it’s acceptable for employers to look at potential employees’ social media during the hiring process. On the one hand, yes, that’s their personal life, and it should be irrelevant to whether they can do the job. On the other hand, if you go to their Facebook page and it’s full of rants about how the Muslims are destroying America … what are the chances that they’re not eventually going to say something like that at work?

          • CP

            On the other hand, if you go to their Facebook page and it’s full of
            rants about how the Muslims are destroying America … what are the
            chances that they’re not eventually going to say something like that at
            work?

            I’m not unsympathetic to this logic. The problem is that, IMHO, if given a license to explore your social media, Corporate America is far more likely to use it to ferret out suspected socialists, liberals, and people-who-might-ask-for-a-sick-day-once-in-a-blue-moon, than to ferret out Islamophobes, antisemites, and GamerGaters.

            • I don’t get this social media thing. If you’re in a high level job, what are the odds you saying no you can’t see my personal social media is going to be the deciding factor in getting an offer? Let alone you’d probably just have a clean scrubbed one anyway.

              If you’re in a low-level job, why on earth does corporate care? How is it worth the time or effort to look into these things. Is it like the quizzes that JC Penny et al. would give employees that basically just asked obvious questions to determine whether or not you could at least identify what was sociopathic behavior?

              • TinEar

                The truth is that all that crap is crap. Outside of determining core competencies (“Do you know how to write code?” “Do you know how to read?”) or the complete obvious (“Prospective employee forgot to wear pants to interview, couldn’t stop swearing, and groped the receptionist”) there’s really no way to determine who to hire out of a random group that is significantly more effective than pulling a resume from the pile at random.

                Hiring someone is a risk. These “give us your passwords” bits and idiotic questions about an applicant’s “greatest weakness” are a pointless, time-wasting, and expensive attempt to mitigate that risk. But it doesn’t work.

                • CP

                  Hiring someone is a risk. These “give us your passwords” bits and idiotic questions about an applicant’s “greatest weakness” are a
                  pointless, time-wasting, and expensive attempt to mitigate that risk.
                  But it doesn’t work.

                  You said it.

                  But it’s ass-covering. It’s something that’s been done for so long now, and is simply assumed to be valuable, that if you don’t do it, you’ll be criticized for not being careful and diligent enough in your hiring choices, and every problematic employee ever will be your fault. If you do do it, then when your employees turn out to be problematic, you can simply point back to the idiotic interview/vetting process, throw up your arms, and say “what do you want from us? We did everything we could!”

                  A similar thought process applies when it comes to TSA security measures. And when it comes to immigrant bans. And, for that matter, when it comes to torture. Does it work? Well, do it anyway. If you don’t, and things go wrong, it’ll be your fault. If you do, and things go wrong anyway, your ass is covered.

              • Origami Isopod

                If you’re in a low-level job, why on earth does corporate care?

                Lifestyle policing. Exertion of power.

            • Hypersphrericalcow

              Oh, I absolutely agree. It’s a thorny problem, and I don’t really have a good answer to it.

        • epidemiologist

          Murc, I think you’re right that the context where this was shared matters– and that’s true inside or outside of work.

          I don’t think employers should be monitoring employees’ personal beliefs or behavior outside of work. But if they do become aware, the same problem has to be dealt with. Two or more people can’t work together now, and it’s pretty much down to the poor behavior of one of them.

          Even if we accept that some people are capable of working with and being fair to colleagues of whom they have a very low opinion, what about the colleagues themselves? It’s harmful to be publicly disparaged, and undermining to be made to work with someone who would do that like nothing happened. Why should anyone– but particularly someone in a group that is discriminated against in their field– have to bear that professional burden for someone with a demonstrated tendency to be embarrassing, ignorant, and cruel?

          • Murc

            Why should anyone– but particularly someone in a group that is
            discriminated against in their field– have to bear that professional
            burden for someone with a demonstrated tendency to be embarrassing,
            ignorant, and cruel?

            Because we require people to work in order to live, and if we’re going to do that, even embarrassing, ignorant, or cruel people deserve to be able to do so long as they’re capable of leaving that shit at the door.

            If we had something like an extremely generous UBI, I might be on board with the idea that we should use ideological litmus tests and consider off-the-clock, out-of-work, legal behavior as being sufficient cause for firing people. We do not.

            There’s also the fact that we as a society have an extremely poor record when it comes down to defining what is and isn’t egregious enough behavior in the private sphere to warrant professional consequences. EXTREMELY poor. I don’t trust companies to get that moral calculus right in general even if they’re capable of getting it right in specific instances, and thus I favor removing the power from them entirely. It will protect more people than it hurts, I think.

            • “Because we require people to work in order to live, and if we’re going to do that, even embarrassing, ignorant, or cruel people deserve to be able to do so long as they’re capable of leaving that shit at the door.”

              This would be acceptable I guess if there were going to be some equal distribution of suffering but we know this plays out like “white douche has a problem with women and/or POC” so inevitably the women/POC suffer. And it’s ALWAYS going to be this way.

            • epidemiologist

              That is a good point and I don’t want to minimize it. I agree with you that not being able to make a living isn’t an acceptable punishment even for being terrible.

              However, there is no affirmative right to work at a particular company, in a particular position, or with particular people you’ve gone out of your way to antagonize. And I don’t agree that the need to not disparage your colleagues is an ideological litmus test.

              I think you’re right that if someone can keep it from affecting their coworkers, their personal beliefs aren’t and shouldn’t be their employer’s business. But that is a big assumption! With regard to sexism, my experience is that many people who think they are being neutral or at least subtle, aren’t at all. It would be nice if there were some neutral solution where terrible harassers aren’t punished by losing their livelihood, and the people they are prejudiced against aren’t held back or even forced out of the workplace unfairly. But since we don’t live in that UBI world, and someone will be hurt by continuing to employ an open misogynist or by firing him, what’s the just choice?

    • NonyNony

      people have tried to draw me into “well, whatever the lack of merits of
      his viewpoint, surely he didn’t deserve to be fired for it?”
      discussions.

      They tried that with me too. My response is: “pretend in every instance where he’s talking about women in his little manifesto that he sent out to the company he said ‘Jewish people’ or ‘black people’ or ‘Italians’ or ‘Irish’ or ‘Hispanics’. Do you still think he doesn’t deserve to be fired for it?”

      It’s pretty obvious to me that someone sending out a manifesto to his co-workers like that should be fired with due haste because he’s creating a toxic work environment for everyone in whatever ethnic sub-group he named. Why is it so hard to see that the same thing is true when the group being targeted for attack is women?

      (Also he should be fired because he’s a terrible co-worker who has just hung a sign around his neck saying “I’m a horrible person who will be impossible to work
      with”, but that’s only my experience talking after many such encounters in the workforce and it may not be as obvious to people who didn’t do a stint in either software development or IT. Anyone sending out manifestos like that is a liability to any team and it will likely show up in their work in other ways. It would not surprise me at all to find out that this person had already irritated a number of people internally, had been disciplined, and this was actually the final straw that got him shit-canned instead of just his first instance of crossing a line with his co-workers. People who send out things like that just can’t help themselves – they’re not good employees.)

  • N__B

    So, the woman in Squeezed is horned. Is…is she a cuck?

  • Cheap Wino

    That twitter thread was devastating. Nearly perfect. I particularly liked, “Every woman alive could have written that Google Bronifesto from the brief “imagine what every sexist dullard you work with would write.” SO true.

  • CS Clark

    The article about male online gamers says “the researchers say the findings support an “evolutionary argument” that low-status men with low dominance have more to lose and are therefore more hostile to women who threaten their status in the social hierarchy.” Sounds like the researchers are reinforcing the same evo psych alpha male ‘you’re only nice to women to spread your DNA’ bullshit that most loser gamers believe, so fuck that noise.

    • Murc

      … eh? I mean, this:

      low-status men with low dominance have more to lose and are therefore
      more hostile to women who threaten their status in the social
      hierarchy.”

      Seems obviously true. These people are Trump’s base, yes? They’re the people whose only source of status was that they had dicks. That means they have a lot more to lose in relative terms if having a dick no longer makes you special, and logically that seems like it would be a serious aggravating factor for some pretty grotesque misogyny.

      • Cheap Wino

        Hmm. It doesn’t seem obviously true to me. I can easily imagine the Google brofisto dude (and a decent percentage of the guys he works with) being a complete ass to women behind the cover of an anonymous nym on xbox. Not claiming to know this is the case, just noting that it’s not obviously true.

      • CS Clark

        Because it’s not a general status thing but as status=mates thing. From the actual paper (my emphasis):

        “In contrast, evolutionary theory suggests that sexist behaviour is in response to a threat to a male’s position in the hierarchy, which if reduced, limits his access to potential mates. Evolutionary theory thus predicts that a male’s behaviour should be moderated by status and performance, such that only lower-status males that have the most to lose with a hierarchical reorganization by the introduction of a female competitor will be hostile towards female players. It also predicts that higher-status males should decrease the frequency of negative comments and increase their frequency of positive comments as female-voiced players represent a potential mate.”

        • Murc

          That’s an… interesting… chain of logic.

          I mean, there’s some stuff in there that makes sense. I’m pretty sure the fact that we’re evolutionarily and societally disposed to seek to reproduce is true, because, well, if it WEREN’T there’d be few of us.

          And it is true that societal changes that erode patriarchy are going to threaten dudes who would like the company of some ladies but had no real way to get that company that didn’t involve leveraging patriarchy because it turns out they’re not actually good dudes and most ladies do not like dudes who are not good.

          But then it goes off on this weird tangent about small or specific group dynamics based on these broad facts and that logical leap seems… poorly supported at best.

          • “I’m pretty sure the fact that we’re evolutionarily and societally disposed to seek to reproduce is true, because, well, if it WEREN’T there’d be few of us.”

            If (If p then q); then (if q then p). is a logical fallacy

            If evolution gave us a built-in psychological force compelling us to reproduce, we won’t be few.

            We aren’t few, therefore we must have a psychological force compelling us to reproduce given us by evolution. See the fallacy?

            Now, the fact that the hypothesis is consistent with observation does give some evidence to its truth, but in evolutionary psychology people weave it around into a web of extrapolations backed up by presumed logical necessity. Even if it starts as science, its difficult to prevent it from degenerating into mere speculation.

        • DJ

          evolutionary theory suggests that sexist behaviour is in response to a threat to a male’s position in the hierarchy, which if reduced, limits his access to potential mates

          I guess I’m out of touch… I thought “EvoPsych” was thoroughly discredited in evolutionary theory.

          As this quote seems to indicate, EvoPsych loves the idea that males want lots and lots of mates and will do whatever they can to fulfill this desire. But there’s plenty of evidence that this isn’t true; species whose offspring require a high degree of resources to raise to sexual maturity tend towards “tight partner bonding” in order to guarantee reproductive success. In other words, the male of such a species has a vested (evolutionary) interest in helping to raise his offspring to increase his chances of genetic success.

          There’s also no evidence “in the field” that status among human males correlates to reproductive success. It appears “in the field” that essentially all males who want to procreate, succeed in procreating, regardless of their status. It’s not as if there is some widespread phenomenon of wealthy males having lots of children and poor males not; in fact that contradicts a primary argument from the right about poverty and procreation, doesn’t it? Of course, consistency is not a strong suit in conservativism.

          • I thought it was too, at least among biologists actually trained in evolutionary theory. It always seems that the researchers who still lean on it are from the pseudo-quantitative social sciences. The most recent one someone emailed me to my fury was from a theology professor.

          • Porkman

            “There’s also no evidence “in the field” that status among human males correlates to reproductive success. It appears “in the field” that essentially all males who want to procreate, succeed in procreating, regardless of their status. It’s not as if there is some widespread phenomenon of wealthy males having lots of children and poor males not; in fact that contradicts a primary argument from the right about poverty and procreation, doesn’t it? Of course, consistency is not a strong suit in conservativism.”

            This depends on the society and culture. Look at the Bin Laden family or any culture with lots of wives being the norm. Western society doesn’t have it, but classic Islamic society or Chinese society definitely does. Wealthy, high status men often had large households with tons of wives. Seriously, go read the wikipedia on polygyny… It’s not universal, but it’s certainly not rare.

            • TinEar

              It’s also not evolutionarily relevant because wealth is not, biologically speaking, an inheritable trait.

              • Porkman

                Wealth is a marker of status. Status is super evolutionarily relevant. Lots of animals show behavior changes based on changes in status. Male lions in stable prides vs. the ones out alone. Female wrasses change sex when there isn’t a dominant male around.

                • DJ

                  There’s also plenty of contrary evidence that indicates that status is cultural and not evolutionary. Chimpanzee have strict hierarchical groups with mating preference based on male status. And yet genetic diversity among chimps is high, which corresponds nicely with observations in the field that low status males regularly mate clandestinely with females.

                  Extrapolating the mating practices of one species onto another is highly problematic; chimps are not lions, and it is hardly surprising that they have different mating practices as a result.

                • Porkman

                  That’s not the point of bringing up chimps or lions or even wrasses. The idea that humans have instincts and hormone triggers based on perceived status shouldn’t be controversial. It seems obvious as every other social animal has these systems.

                  To assert that wealth couldn’t cause the human version of these systems to trigger because it’s new on an evolutionary timescale seems like a pretty bold statement.

                  The link on the 10 men who could rival Genghis Khan was interesting but doesn’t really disprove the point about status and reproductive success.

                • DJ

                  The idea that humans have instincts and hormone triggers based on perceived status shouldn’t be controversial.

                  I think it’s entirely controversial and is not supported by the evidence. Observationally, low status human males appear to have just as much success in propagating their genes as high status males.

                  The link on the 10 men who could rival Genghis Khan was interesting but doesn’t really disprove the point about status and reproductive success.

                  I agree it doesn’t, in fact the text of the article seems to confirm the status thesis, as it makes the assumption that these ten hypothetical males must have been high status (a claim for which there is necessarily no evidence, as these “successful” males are anonymous).

                  I nonetheless think it should be viewed as evidence for my claim that, while the Genghis Khan case seems surprising, it’s actually mostly due to the logic of genetics and the fact that he is not anonymous, rather than the fact that he was particularly adept at spreading his genes.

                • TinEar

                  Alright this is going to sound repetitive but bear with me.

                  Status is not (again, biologically speaking) an inheritable trait.

                  If
                  you want to argue that the success of an organism is based on evolved
                  traits, you have to provide a mechanism by which those traits are passed
                  down. You cannot just say “Genghis Khan had high status and was
                  biologically very successful, therefore Genghis Khan had more suitable
                  genes”. That is backwards. You have to identified the evolved traits
                  and genetic mechanisms which made Genghis Khan more successful.

                  In
                  the case of humans this has been difficult, because we are an extremely
                  socially complex species. It becomes very difficult to weed out the
                  genetic advantages from the political and social advantages. In the
                  case of Genghis, for example, it’s believed he started out as the son of
                  a mongol chieftain. His reproductive success (questionable itself, as
                  DJ has touched on) is largely a product of political structures, that is
                  to say the practice of tying allies together through marriage bonds and
                  family lines.

                  Genghis’ political success (conquering Asia and
                  creating the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known) likely
                  had more to do with an incredible skill for diplomacy and co-operation,
                  rather than the brutality he is more commonly associated with. For that
                  matter, it would also be a product of the men Genghis kept in his
                  employ, the diplomats and advisors and warriors who shared in and
                  manipulated his decisions, carried out his orders, and built his empire.
                  Men who in many cases would have been less reproductively successful,
                  but who possessed many of the same traits that got Genghis HIS success.
                  It’s also helped along by the fact that Genghis traveled a LOT, itself
                  a product of technology and just plain old good timing.

                  Now some
                  of those traits MAY have genetic components, it’s true. But so far
                  we’ve been unable to exactly pinpoint which ones, or in what way. And
                  this is where the work of the serious evolutionary psychologist only
                  begins, as we embark on a series of experiments and investigations to
                  determine A) What traits of Genghis Khan contributed to his enormous
                  political success, and B) Whether any of these traits have a genetic
                  component.

                  But “Genghis Khan was super-successful and had a lot
                  of kids” is not a meaningful statement on his genes, or the role of
                  evolution in psychology or society. You can’t just say “Probably it was
                  his genes”

                • Porkman

                  “Whether any of these traits had a genetic component.” Why is the assumption to start from 0 traits are genetic? Shouldn’t the priors be some sort of mix.

                  In any case, the original point was DJ saying, “There’s also no evidence “in the field” that status among human males correlates to reproductive success. It appears “in the field” that essentially all males who want to procreate, succeed in procreating, regardless of their status. It’s not as if there is some widespread phenomenon of wealthy males having lots of children and poor males not;”

                  My reaction to that was that this seemed to be assuming a Western cultural framework (no polygyny) with access to modern things like adequate maternal care and antibiotics.

                  Poor people who died childless or had all children die before adulthood were probably more common.

                  I thought DJ was ignoring cultures both historically and geographically by assuming modern conditions prevailed and that Western cultural norms prevailed. Genghis Khan was a clear example of high status being correlated (for whatever reason… genetics, politics, etc.) with reproductive success from the field.

                • Hogan

                  What is “status”? Is it the same thing across cultures? Is it anything but “exceptionally high access to reproductive opportunities”?

            • DJ

              Yes indeed, but this is where evolutionary theory can help to separate the (genetic) wheat from the (cultural) chaff. Plenty of societies create hierarchies based on status, but what is the impact on genetic success? A king with a dozen wives and a hundred offspring certainly looks highly successful, but if among his millions of subjects, they have millions of offspring, then the king’s genes are drown out, a mere bit of noise in the massive genetic pool.

              • Porkman

                “It is estimated that 1 in 12.5 of the whole population of Asia and 1 in 200 of the whole population of the world is directly descended from Genghis Khan.”

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

                But it doesn’t matter if you don’t reach Genghis heights of paternity. It’s like the joke about the two guys running away from the bear. “I don’t have to run faster than the bear… just faster than you.”

                If your genes cause more of your children to reach successful childbearing age, they will be more prevalent in the next generation.

                • DJ

                  My understanding is that if you go far enough back in time, you can select any anonymous person and “prove” that 1 in 200 people is directly descended from them.

                  In other words, while this claim appears striking at first, it’s actually mostly a result of the logic of genetic statistics and the fact that this particular person is not anonymous.

                • Porkman

                  You have a link for that showing that the time is 800 years?

                • DJ

                  “At Least Ten Other Men Could Rival Genghis Khan’s Genetic Legacy”

                  http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/least-ten-other-men-are-fruitful-genghis-khan/

              • John F

                Ahem:

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

                edit: DOH! got beaten out by a whole hour

          • TinEar

            It is and it isn’t. There’s two versions of Evolutionary Psychology. “EvoPsych”, in which I basically make up a (probably inaccurate) story about how cavewomen picked the red berries because the blue ones were poisonous and that’s why you’re right to think women and asians can’t drive. That’s the one you’ll usually see breathlessly reported on, where Science! has been used to conveniently demonstrate our pre-conceived notions are, in fact, all correct, if the prehistoric past we just imagined based on basically nothing is in fact true, and if a mechanism exists by which said imaginary Flintstone stuff could be passed down genetically. This version and basically everything it has ever produced has been repeatedly discredited, yet continues to enjoy outsized popularity because if you tell people what they want to hear while wearing a labcoat you can basically do what you want.

            The other kind, “Evolutionary Psychology”, is done by boring researchers you have never heard of and is kind of interesting in that it questions how much of human nature is, in fact, human nature. The problem is it has trouble drawing any sort of conclusions at all because when done responsibly, you’re basically left with “we don’t have enough information” in most cases. It’s mostly about trying to find a physical biological mechanism that would allow “culture” to be passed down. It’s pretty questionable how USEFUL any of this is, but it isn’t inherently offensive and it’s sometimes a little interesting.

            There’s three if you count the fact that everything Evolutionary Psychology claims to be able to do is already covered far more thoroughly, effectively, and accurately in the fields of sociology, history, and philosophy. Rename those fields “EvoPsych” and maybe you can steal some of that sweet STEM funding and respect for something that isn’t completely stupid.

            • xq

              It’s mostly about trying to find a physical biological mechanism that would allow “culture” to be passed down.

              Nah. Modern evo psych is really just researchers using evolutionary theory to generate hypotheses which are then tested using the experimental psychology toolkit. And it really doesn’t compete in subject area with sociology, history and philosophy all that much; it really is fundamentally a subdiscipline of psychology and is interested in the same sorts of questions. I get the impression most people with strong opinions on evo psych haven’t read much of it.

          • John F

            “It’s not as if there is some widespread phenomenon of wealthy males having lots of children and poor males not”

            I think for much of human history, most of humanity was at a subsistence level and it was in fact true that “wealthy” males had more children (or had more children survive to adulthood) than poorer males.

            That dynamic no longer operates in much of the world.

          • N__B

            But there’s plenty of evidence that this isn’t true; species whose offspring require a high degree of resources to raise to sexual maturity tend towards “tight partner bonding” in order to guarantee reproductive success. In other words, the male of such a species has a vested (evolutionary) interest in helping to raise his offspring to increase his chances of genetic success.

            I was going to say “Perhaps MRA are krill” but of course that’s unfair to krill.

          • Jon Hendry

            “I guess I’m out of touch… I thought “EvoPsych” was thoroughly discredited in evolutionary theory.”

            Anyone know how EvoPsych papers have fared vis a vis the “Replicability Crisis”?

        • TinEar

          Thanks for reading the actual paper. I had been assuming it had just gone through the stupid-filter of science reporting and just ignored the bit about “evolution”.

          So we have interesting data and a reasonable conclusion that unfortunately was arrived at partially via gibberish.

    • Evolutionary psychology is the essence of hard evidence-free armchair speculation disguised as science. I hate it with a burning passion.

      • sibusisodan

        You’re just saying that because taking that belief gave your ancestors an evolutionary advantage in their niche.

    • Jon Hendry

      ” Sounds like the researchers are reinforcing the same evo psych alpha male ‘you’re only nice to women to spread your DNA’ bullshit that most loser gamers believe, so fuck that noise.”

      I think it’s more like their self-esteem is based on their ability to play games, which they also take to be a masculine activity, therefore their proficiency at gaming is a proxy for their manhood. Their only status in terms of dominance is their gaming skill. They might not have any social status at all, apart from the respect of their raiding party fellows. In Warcraft or something, they may be high-status leaders.

      Women who play games eat away at these men’s mental notion that gaming is a masculine activity. Women who excel, and beat them, eat away at their self-esteem and perceived status as men.

      If women play games, and are better at it, or could possibly be, then to these men their sole source of self-esteem and confidence in their masculinity becomes devalued and possibly meaningless. Then they have no status at all.

      So, I guess, they lash out at women to drive away the threat.

  • tsam100

    Love the art piece!

    Side note–it reminded me a bit of Kate Winslet playing Hela in the upcoming Thor movie…

    • Howard_Bannister

      Er… Cate Blanchett?

      • N__B

        I’d love to see Kate Winslet playing Cate Blanchett, but I’m not holding my breath.

        • sibusisodan

          If only we could cast Tilda Swinton in the Kate Winslett role.

          • N__B

            I don’t the CGI exists that could address the yawning gap between Swinton’s eyebrows and Winslet’s.

      • tsam100

        Yes. I always mix them up.

        • N__B

          One was disappointed by Leo DiCaprio in 1912, the other was disappointed by him in the 1940s.

          • tsam100

            Bet they’re all humble now that he gots an OSCAR

            • N__B

              He got an Oscar for disappointing a bear.

              • tsam100

                Oh…that one must have hit close to home for you…

  • bargal20

    Return of the lollipop heads.

  • twbb

    “Here’s an obsessive, neurotic 10-page screed explaining that other people are neurotic.”

  • N__B
  • Owlbear1

    I mean this in the kindest of ways, Nice Rack!

  • epidemiologist

    Thanks for that Twitter thread! What a palate cleanser after the threads where that same topic is being discussed here.

    I loved this:
    “So if you’re a man and you’ve got to bore on at a woman trying to do her
    job without getting told to fuck off, that’s a systemic advantage.”

    I recently had an office mate borderline stalking me, and one of the first behaviors I wish I’d taken more seriously was him constantly coming by my desk to gas on at me, even if I was busy and said so. Lol, sometimes guys don’t know they’re boring! Well, it escalated into unwanted gifts, finding and messaging my personal email and Hangouts, interfering with me studying for qualifying exams, and interrogating me about my exact comings and goings in the office. I started taking the long way to the bathroom and developed a twitch just sitting at my desk at what is otherwise the best job I’ve ever had.

    Even the ubiquitous, relatively harmless end of these behaviors– like wasting other people’s time being super fucking boring– have something really ugly underneath. They are a problem and, truly, no one has to act that way. (I manage to not interrupt people for most or all of my day, every day, and to just apologize and leave if I do.) They’re undermining, both in the message that your time and work aren’t valuable, and in the actual impediment to getting your work done. They’re anxiety producing, even scary. I don’t think any of the men here defending any part of this dumb Google bro’s manifesto have any sense of that. And hey, guys, good for you, that sounds really great!

    • Murc

      Good lord.

      I would say that’s not borderline stalking, that’s just… straight-up stalking. Coupled with gross unprofessionalism. Who the fuck DOES that?

      • epidemiologist

        Happily, someone who has so far respected the directive from HR to stop contacting me, which is why I hesitate to just call it stalking.

        • I’m so sorry for your experience. I’m glad HR responded well.

          There seems to be a class of “soft” stalker who are really persistent until they receive official attention then they head elsewhere. My sweetie had one like that. Nothing deterred him until we got a cease and desist letter and then done was done.

          I guess what I’m saying is that just because you stopped it doesn’t make it not stalking. (Maybe it wasn’t! But there does seem to be this phenomenon of glass jaw stalkers.)

          • Murc

            I used to think some of those guys just had poor social skills that they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong until smashed in the face by reality.

            These days not so much. There are people who are genuinely on either the autism or aspergers spectrum, but for the most part they’re easily identifiable because someone who us autistic is autistic all the time. Someone who is a creepjob is only a creepjob when they want to be, because they know either consciously or unconsciously that they want their creepiness to be a secret; they want folks, when told about it, to say “He’s never been like that when he’s around me.” It makes gaslighting easier.

            • One important point is that it may not be fully worked out as a full blown, self conscious theory. This doesn’t excuse the behavior in the least but many stalkers have a fucked up response system with respect to social signals even explicit, vocalised expression. One of the things the literature emphasized is total cut off of contact. For various classes it never helps to respond. Positive, negative, conciliatory, or screaming…any contact is positive and the goal. If you wait through 50 calls to reply with a “fuck you stop calling” they’ll read that as “it takes 50 calls to get a response” and then try to get through the 50 calls faster.

              It’s easy to think you’re making progress. These sorts of stalker can be charming and understanding. You say “these are the boundaries” and they are all agreement. But for them it’s a starting point. They will wait for your to “warm up to them” which really just means that time has passed. You don’t have to give them anything for them to think you have. (And this is one way they work on you…people feel guilty!)

              The fact that it’s not a conscious strategy makes it, in many ways, harder to deal with. They often think they are being normal and friendly and loving even. And they really really believe it

              (There are other kinds of stalkers including self conscious ones setting out to eg get revenge, natch.)

            • epidemiologist

              I agree. The awkwardness is all about plausible deniability IMO. In my circles I am seeing more recognition of that, and focus on how the behavior affects the victim rather than on the intent, and I definitely credit that for my good-so-far outcome.

              Related to our exchange below though, I want to point out some of the professional consequences of this pretty mild situation. I had to work from home for two days right before a vacation, not everything was doable from home, and as a result some of my work was delivered a week and a half late. If this person had continued to bother me, one of the proposed solutions was moving one of our desks to a totally different floor. I have a dream desk currently, by two department heads who find my work interesting, and have gotten jobs and collaborations from people walking by and seeing that I have a specific technical skill. It would be basically a punishment to give it up. Yet it could have been necessary for my personal safety and comfort at work.

              Obviously we can’t and shouldn’t police every interpersonal interaction. But I do want to point out that if you become aware of someone’s sexist behavior, as a stranger to them, or as a man, or as a manager, it probably is because the behavior was pretty egregious. That is especially true because, as you say, many of these people are perfectly capable of turning off the behavior in front of you. This memo is so dumb and boring on the scale of sexist tech behaviors that get leaked. On the scale of stuff women deal with day to day, an explicit public statement that you’re less-than because of your gender is up there. Normally people will just interrupt you, or waste your time, or somehow see your analytic contributions as more administrative. And even that stuff has consequences.

          • epidemiologist

            Thank you! I have read that sooner is better in these situations, I guess before they get too invested? Of course the sooner you do something, the less clear cut the situation will be. It did work out for me, so easily it almost feels like I got away with something.

            • Sooner is really better just for your sake. No need to suffer just to “make it clear”.

              If HR went this way my guess was that it was pretty damn clear cut. Even if he was “just” a little clueless, it doesn’t hurt to give him a clear sense of boundaries.

              (This is a problem stalking targets often face…having a hard time labeling the behavior as stalking. With my sweetie’s, it wasn’t evident for a long time. He just seemed a bit creepy and a bit lonely and a bit overenthusiastic. These sorts are good at making you feel complicit too, which makes it harder to cope with. Inside their loop is a bad place to be. Breaking the loop hard is essential.)

              I’m glad you “got away” with fixing an unpleasant situation!

    • Origami Isopod

      But, of course, if you don’t give these men all the attention they think they deserve, you’re “a bitch,” you’re “unfriendly,” etc. etc. Yet, when things escalate, you’re blamed for “leading them on,” not calling the police/the boss/etc.

      Even if they’re a total stranger accosting you in public. The assumption is that women are there for men and that you have or should have no greater priority than to stroke their egos.

  • blackbox

    I don’t understand why the manifesto is being publicized so much, with stacks of direct quotes in every article, with many including the nutjob’s assertion that people are thanking him for publishing it. I think this is exactly the wrong tactic to take with someone who (as most who write “manifestos” do) clearly sees himself as a brave warrior awakening people to the evils of diversity efforts and the notion that people are just people and not divisible into air-gapped groups based on phenotype. Stop fucking giving this loser attention.

    • Origami Isopod

      If you’re talking to the media, sure. But since that horse has left the barn, this toxic shit is circulating, and it’s important to rebut it on social media.

  • FOARP

    Have to be honest here and say I’m pretty disappointed with a lot of the discussion around the Google Memo on this thread:

    – I don’t see a lot of engaging with what was actually said in the memo. I’ve skimmed this whole thread and not seen a single quote longer than a few words. Maybe I missed some, but it certainly looks like a lot of people are relying on what others have said about it rather than assessing it themselves.

    – There seems to be a degree of one-up-manship in hating on it.

    – There also seems to be a degree of “I see lots of people I disagree with on other issues defending it therefore it must be bad”-style reasoning going on here.

    – The repeated use of the word “Bro” as a seeming insult. Or straight-up insulting the guy.

    – People asking questions about the guys views (e.g., asking why he doesn’t understand the value of diversity) that are to some extent answered in the memo itself (i.e., he specifically states that he’s in favour of greater diversity and thinks it a good thing). Again, this gives the impression that the people asking the questions didn’t actually read it but instead relied on the views of others.

    Here’s four actual scientists who actually work in the actual field of actual research the memo was actually talking about:

    http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/

    You notice how they didn’t feel they had to be insulting to critically engage with it? How they don’t out-and-out endorse his views but also see a lot of it as fairly uncontroversial?

    I know this is 2017 and all, and we don’t listen to experts before deciding what feels right, but for Christ’s sake can we have more grown-up debate about things like this?

    • Jon Hendry

      Part of the problem is that he, apparently, thinks that STEM skills are the primary attribute that should guide hiring. And thus, Google shouldn’t bother hiring people who are otherwise stellar candidates with huge potential but maybe just haven’t done a lot of technical work.

      It’s like he’s fine hiring a diverse staff as long as everyone fits his idiosyncratic idea of what proper Google employees are like.

      Plenty of skilled technologists come from non-STEM backgrounds. Especially programmers.

      • FOARP

        “he, apparently, thinks that STEM skills are the primary attribute that should guide hiring.”

        That isn’t an unfair interpretation of what he said.

        ” And thus, Google shouldn’t bother hiring people who are otherwise stellar candidates with huge potential but maybe just haven’t done a lot of technical work.”

        Am missing the bit where he said that.

        “One of the people included…”

        And the other three? That’s a group of three professors and not-totally-terrible universities and a PhD from an OK university, talking about a subject they have relevant expertise in, and broadly agreeing.

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