The Literary Drover No. 3642

I live where I live because I choose to live where I live. I know my choice has resulted in some difficulties and challenges for me personally and professionally. I know if, for example, I lived in Los Angeles-proper I would have more immediate access to producers, directors, actors, and other denizens of the entertainment trade. But there would likely be trade-offs: Environmentally-based C.O.P.D.; three, four, or five divorces; illegitimate children who loathe my existence because I am The Lousy Parent of the Year; countless legal actions manifested as a lack of morals and ethics on my part; tens of thousands of dollars annually for therapy associated with my failure in parenting, marriage, and other adult pursuits; one or two addictions that include alcohol and drugs.

The choice to live where I live instead of Los Angeles was determined in part because I decided the aforementioned trade-offs were not worth the related sacrifices. I decided that I would rather live a financially modest life (comparatively-speaking) than to realize twenty, thirty, forty years on that I had succeeded in only one way: Squandering most of my life, my talents, abilities, and skills to the supposed fulfillment of ego; along with the ruination of my self-respect.

Living as I do has allowed me clarity and focus through relative simplicity. For example, despite the declaration than spring has arrived to this part of the world, winter remains apparent, as expressed by recent events: I awoke recently to find a dusting of snow on the trees, ground, and flowers. Because it had been my intention to rise early and enjoy the dawn, the birth of a new day, which would set the tone for the day of writing that awaited, I swept away the snow from the rocker on the deck, made a hot cup of coffee, dressed properly, and sat, waiting for Nature would bring.

As I did I realized that I had company. With minimal movement I located the source of the presence: A mountain chickadee, who presumed in the early hours of the forthcoming day that I was a source of food.

I moved slightly and the bird flew to the shelter and protection of a nearby pine tree, verbally admonishing me for my physical actions. I ignored what might have been the feathered version of profanity, went inside, and returned with a handful of unsalted, shelled peanut halves that I arranged on the deck railing in a single line before reclaiming my seat and cup.

The light of the day silently arrived and the chickadee returned. Despite the fact half a peanut is almost as big as the bird’s head the chickadee decided to eat, doing so by furiously pecking at it, rendering it to bite-sized flakes and dust. By the time the Herculean-like task was completed and the meal was finished the day had arrived. The warmth of the sun provided comfort to both of us.

Full of food the chickadee moved to a position closer to me and I watched as it dozed.

The nap was short-lived because a Blue Jay and a Fox Squirrel arrived, and their apparent inability to co-exist where food was concerned upset the chickadee, which flew away.

The conflict made me smile and wonder: If this had taken place in Beverly Hills, in an upscale restaurant, as a conflict involving a lecherous movie producer and an aspiring starlet it would have been news, headlines of a salacious nature. Here, it is Life, day by day, and that fact alone provides reason to live where I choose to live.

The Literary Drover No. 2165

Many people who do not know me well are confused, gob smacked, and outraged when they determine that my politics make me a conservative because a Writer can NOT be such a thing. I politely reply, “Well, no. You got that wrong. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your agenda. Which ain’t liberal, by the by.

I have mentioned many times in many places, including this one, that I have a very low threshold for what passes for politics nowadays and I have no tolerance for the nonsense known as “Political Correctness”.

A basic reason for what many take to be misanthropic and curmudgeonly behavior on my part regarding politics is because I believe unconditionally in Free Speech – Politics and Political Correctness loathe and despise it. I can say what I want to say and you may do the same. But there is nothing that requires that I provide you a platform from which to espouse your opinions – ignorant or informed, educated or enlightened, and when you choose to express your opinions using the resources of others – an employer, for example – you must accept without exception the consequences of your actions.

Google claims to defend Free Speech. Their actions in recent years suggest otherwise. The recent and rather blunt action involving a now-former employee who made the mistake of using their technology to exercise his First Amendment Rights as a legal American citizen demonstrates what they actually think of Free Speech.

If Google actually cared about Free Speech, about what their employees – I believe they prefer “worker” – think and believe they would not have terminated the employment of the author of a memo about the differences between men and women. Instead they would have researched the matter and discussed the matter with their, um, worker, and determined a way to resolve what is not only a perception but a truth and fact regarding how men and women perform in the workplace, and how each could fulfill their individual potential.

I have read the memo that ignited a firestorm that will burn itself out time. I have read responses to the memo. Most of the responses demonstrate an ugly truth alive and well in many workplaces – a mob rule mentality born of politics, political correctness, willful ignorance, and accepted stupidity determined to suppress, censor, and obliterate the individual.

The memo:

Four responses to the memo:

An essay about what the memo is actually about:

No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science
Debra Soh, PhD

By now, most of us have heard about Google’s so-called “anti-diversity” manifesto and how James Damore, the engineer who wrote it, has been fired from his job.

Titled GOOGLE’S IDEOLOGICAL ECHO CHAMBER, Mr. Damore called out the current PC culture, saying the gender gap in Google’s diversity was not due to discrimination, but inherent differences in what men and women find interesting. Danielle Brown, Google’s newly appointed vice-president for diversity, integrity and governance, accused the memo of advancing “incorrect assumptions about gender,” and Mr. Damore confirmed last night he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.

As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone – higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations. This is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be dominated by men.

We see evidence for this in girls with a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who are exposed to unusually high levels of testosterone in the womb. When they are born, these girls prefer male-typical, wheeled toys, such as trucks, even if their parents offer more positive feedback when they play with female-typical toys, such as dolls. Similarly, men who are interested in female-typical activities were likely exposed to lower levels of testosterone.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before it’s finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

Many people, including a former Google employee, have attempted to refute the memo’s points, alleging that they contradict the latest research.

I’d love to know what “research done […] for decades” he’s referring to, because thousands of studies would suggest otherwise. A single study, published in 2015, did claim that male and female brains existed along a “mosaic” and that it isn’t possible to differentiate them by sex, but this has been refuted by four – yes, four – academic studies since.

This includes a study that analyzed the exact same brain data from the original study and found that the sex of a given brain could be correctly identified with 69-per-cent to 77-per-cent accuracy.

Of course, differences exist at the individual level, and this doesn’t mean environment plays no role in shaping us. But to claim that there are no differences between the sexes when looking at group averages, or that culture has greater influence than biology, simply isn’t true.

In fact, research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.

As the memo suggests, seeking to fulfill a 50-per-cent quota of women in STEM is unrealistic. As gender equity continues to improve in developing societies, we should expect to see this gender gap widen.

This trend continues into the area of personality, as well. Contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.

Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isn’t the result of knowing facts; it’s the result of what people choose to do with them.

This is exactly what the mob of outrage should be mobilizing for, instead of denying biological reality and being content to spend a weekend doxxing a man so that he would lose his job. At this point, as foreshadowed in Mr. Damore’s manifesto, we should be more concerned about viewpoint diversity than diversity revolving around gender.

Debra Soh writes about the science of human sexuality and holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience from York University.

I know some will read everything presented and ask, as they should: What does this have to do with Jhon Collector?

Simply, everything.