Columbus Day Thoughts

My Facebook friends have been posting Columbus Day items that reference our theft of this great continent from the Native Americans, e.g., “A store had a sign outside that said ‘Columbus Day Sale.’ Does that mean that I can walk in there and take anything that I want without paying?”

Do we have the mental energy and space to reflect on what we might owe the 5 million current descendants of the American Indians? The favored/featured victims in the media lately seem to be (a) transgendered individuals, and (b) women. Those two categories together account for at least 160 million people. If we are going to fret about these 160 million disadvantaged souls can we truly reflect on the fact that the 5 million Native Americans would be crazy rich today if we gave them back their land and paid rent for it?

[Separately, “What Really Keeps Women Out of Tech” is the New York Times’s latest entry in the war-on-women theme. The author says that she “earned a bachelor of science degree in physics in the 1970s but left the field” (a curious statement by itself since, ordinarily, one would need a PhD in physics simply in order to enter the field of physics) and is now a teacher of creative writing. She describes research in which women were frightened off from computer nerdism by Star Wars posters, which could well be a reasonable reaction to the extent that the posters included any depiction of Jar Jar Binks. Neither the author nor any of those reader comments approved by the NYT asks the question “Why would a young American woman want to spend years training to be a computer programmer when she could have the same spending power (median pre-tax pay $74,280) simply by having sex with three computer programmers and collecting the resulting child support? (or by having sex with one dermatologist)” Nor does anyone ask “If, as the author suggests, women don’t major in CS because, though they yearn to sit at a desk for 50 years and code, they feel that they don’t belong with all of the guys already in the department, wouldn’t we expect to find a large enrollment in CS departments at colleges that are 100% female?” Nor, finally, does anyone ask why the author, who chose a career in creative writing/hanging out with humanities majors, and the quoted psychology professor, who chose a career in psychology, are so passionate about women other than themselves becoming programmers.]


  1. Izzie L.

    October 12, 2015 @ 12:47 pm


    For some reason, the NY Times keeps giving this woman a platform. She said almost the same thing in October of 2013:

    You would think that they could vary their hunt for equality – for example an article about why so few men are kindergarten teachers or why so few women are stonemasons.

    Strangely, Pollack’s solutions involve interior decorating and fashion design: If computer science classrooms were “decorated not with “Star Wars” posters, science-fiction books, computer parts and tech magazines, but with a more neutral décor — art and nature posters, coffee makers, plants and general-interest magazines” , then more women would sign up. Also apparently, the men in computer science need to dress better. “If the actor wore a T-shirt that said “I CODE THEREFORE I AM” and claimed to enjoy video games, the [female] students expressed less interest in studying computer science than if the actor wore a solid shirt and claimed to enjoy hanging out with friends.”

    Can you imagine the nerve of these men, leaving computer parts and tech magazines around in a computer science class? How sexist can you be? And literally advertising on their chests that they are dedicated to and enjoy their work! This type of outrageous sexist behavior should be outlawed in our brave new egalitarian society.

    Luckily, these are problems that are easily fixed (by gay men). All universities need to do is hire some interior decorators and fashion consultants for their male students and women will flock to coding.

    These folks are beyond parody.

  2. Stewart Griffin

    October 12, 2015 @ 2:40 pm


    Do those bemoaning the past mass immigration of Europeans to America fight against current mass immigration into America? Perhaps, not as it is ‘stolen’ land or some such.

    Do they rail against mass immigration into Europe today? It’s not as if the European still in Europe can be much blamed for their non-ancestors leaving to America sometime in the past. They could post items to Facebook attacking all the African, Asian and Middle Eastern entry into Europe. Somehow, I doubt they will.

  3. Paul Legato

    October 12, 2015 @ 3:10 pm


    The vast majority of psychology doctorates (73%) are awarded to women.[1] Should we worry that this constitutes a systemic bias that deters men from studying psychology?

    Women get the majority of PhDs in most social sciences and health fields, in fact.


  4. Ed

    October 12, 2015 @ 3:56 pm


    What happened to the native Americans is often brought up by advocates for more immigration as some sort of argument in their favor. I have always found this to be really strange. Its really an example of what happens if you can’t keep the foreigners out!

    Actually the latest scholarship holds that most of the people living in the world were wiped out by diseases, to which their immune systems were not exposed to before, that came with the initial contacts with the Europeans. The Spanish did NOT this to happen, they wanted to Christianize the natives and put them to work (interestingly, only the English speaking settlers talked about wiping out the Indians; other Europeans preferred to keep them around to trade with or to be put to work). It would have been impossible to keep Europeans, when Europe was experiencing a population boom, out of territories that had been emptied. The areas of the New World that had the highest pre-Columbian population densities retained at least Mestizo majorities and a good deal of the pre-Columbian culture.

    I think compensation of people belonging to particular ethnic groups for what happened to their ancestors is a terrible idea, since everyone can point to some group of ancestors victimized by some historical atrocity or other. The best you can do is to let the Native Americans who want to keep their traditional lifestyles to do so, and to welcome those who want to integrate into the dominant culture.

  5. Ryan

    October 12, 2015 @ 4:59 pm


    So, the more “successful” your genocidal extermination program is, the less guilty you should feel about it? Since there’s hardly anyone left to make amends to? Odd logic.

  6. PJay

    October 12, 2015 @ 5:00 pm


    The women in tech thing makes no sense whatsoever. Most female engineering and other STEM graduate students are from countries where, not only are you discriminated against in those fields, you are thrown down a well for being a female infant or flogged for showing too much hair from under your hijab.

    Case in point, Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female Fields Medial winner. She is also the first Iranian to win a Fields Medal.

    Iran is not known as a country that encourages….female empowerment.

  7. Izzie L.

    October 12, 2015 @ 5:24 pm


    PJay, with all due respect, Iran is not Afghanistan under the Taliban. They educate their girls. Mirzakhani attended a magnet school before university which attracts almost the same # of male and female applicants. For undergrad, she attended Sharif University of Technology , which is 27% female. This is similar to the ratio at Cal Tech until a couple of years ago when they caught the affirmative action bug or similar to the ratio of male vs female APPLICANTS (not admittees) to MIT.

    Pollack is still ridiculous but not for the reason you stated.

  8. Smartest Woman on the Internet

    October 12, 2015 @ 6:40 pm


    @philg: …so passionate about women other than themselves becoming programmers

    Yes, funny, it’s always journalists and politicians.

  9. PJay

    October 12, 2015 @ 7:13 pm


    @Izzie L. I know. My mother is from Abadan, Iran.

    The point is, most female scientists and engineers currently enrolled in graduate programs are from Asian, South Asian or Middle Eastern countries, not the United States.

    There are no Women’s Studies programs or STEM for Women programs in Iran.

  10. philg

    October 12, 2015 @ 8:12 pm


    PJay: You just proved that sexism is worse in the U.S. than in Iran, Arab, and Asian countries! More evidence that we shouldn’t believe the propaganda that we are fed by the U.S. media. While Americans fight over who can be the biggest victim, women in China had quietly started massive companies, moved up to top executive positions, etc. See for how South Korea and China have a much higher percentage of female CEOs than the U.S. or the EU. The U.S. seems to be the leader in talking about career opportunities for women and in demonstrating concern. But China and South Korea show that talk is cheap.

  11. Alan Cima

    October 12, 2015 @ 8:43 pm


    Izzy – “Also apparently, the men in computer science need to dress better.”

    So the bottom line is this isn’t about discrimination against women in tech, it’s women making the decision that they don’t want to go into a field filled with such inferior men?

  12. Jdh

    October 13, 2015 @ 8:24 am


    Sheryl Sandberg to Eileen Pollack: “Lean in”

  13. PJay

    October 13, 2015 @ 9:23 am


    @philg True, add Japan to the list, as well:

    Maybe we need to bring the niqab to America, abort more female babies and get more women serving tea. Then, after that and after our President comments on how women are babymaking machines, and only then, will we see positive change for downtrodden American women….

  14. Izzie L.

    October 13, 2015 @ 12:14 pm


    “All we can do is ask them [Japanese women] to do their best per head,” he [the health minister of Japan] asserted in a gaffe heard around the world, reinforcing gender stereotypes …”

    Apparently (per Wonkblog) it is a gender stereotype and sexist gaffe nowadays to point out that only women are capable of bearing children and if they fail to do so, there will be no next generation (unless you import them from some other country). While it is true, barring further developments, that this is an indisputable biological fact, it is still somehow rude and gauche to point this out in public.

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