Eschew Claytons Diversity

Okay, first I need to explain that title to all the non-Aussies out there. Some number of years ago, there was a saturation-level advertising campaign for a brand of soft drink packaged and sold as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” – and the brand name was Claytons.

It took approximately 5 nanoseconds for the term “Claytons” to be used as shorthand for something that claimed to be a thing but was actually something else, usually something inferior. Jokes got made about Claytons budgets (the budget you have when you’re not having a budget), Claytons recessions (the recession you have when you’re not having a recession) and so on.

Which, of course, brings me to the current batch of diversity you have when you’re not having diversity, largely because I read some incoherent flailing about Dragoncon and a diversity track and in my testing career I see a fair amount of well-meaning discussion about needing more diversity… Except that a lot of the time “diversity” is used to mean “different skin tones but must have right-think” (which should really be left-think, given the political leanings of those commenting in that direction). Somehow diversity of experience and diversity of beliefs rarely if ever rates a mention.

Now in my view, interacting with people who have different experiences, different perspectives, and even different beliefs than me is something that helps to enrich my world-building and character development. If I can work and empathize with someone whose worldview is damn near antithetical to mine, I can understand that worldview well enough to write a character with similar beliefs.

If, on the other claw, I’m surrounded by people who share my basic perspective, any character I try to write who has a different worldview is going to be flat. Substandard. Claytons, as it were. And a gathering of people of every possible shade of human skin color or every possible flavor of sexuality is still going to be completely Claytons diverse if all of them have the same notions of how things should be.

Of course, the people who are most caught by the trap of appearance/declared sexuality = ideology are those who are most prone to view other people as defined by whatever group they happen to belong to. It’s a normal human trait to use obvious distinguishing marks to make a snap judgment on whether someone else is us or them, but that doesn’t mean that every them is the same as every other them.

Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us. Most of us don’t – that I know of – make the mistake of thinking that a defining trait makes every member of a group the same. To take a really obvious example, if you look at people with blond hair, you see a whole lot of differences. Tall, short, thin, fat, smart, stupid, and every other possible variant. Why in heck should that change because instead of blond hair you’re looking at very dark tightly curled hair? And so it goes.

People who insist that heretical badthink thoughts aren’t worthy of being included in diversity groupings are settling for Claytons diversity. They need to relax. And have a (not Claytons) drink.

(For the curious, here’s one of the ads…)

41 thoughts on “Eschew Claytons Diversity

  1. Now I’m left to wonder what Claytons (the drink) actually tastes like?

    Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth, like a Claytons diversity does?

    Hmm… wonder if I could get some here in the USA. You know, because SOMEBODY had to go and stick the idea in my head! Gee, thanks. LOL!!!

    1. It tasted like cola and was quite unpleasant.

      It was common slang here in Australia about 20 years ago. It’s rarely heard now.

      Just as common as a throwaway line was the punchline from the joke being told in the TV ad: “and now we can all get some sleep”

  2. Stealing “Clayton’s” for my vocabulary.

    Also, I’m fed up with putting people in boxes. Cats go in boxes. People go wherever they hell they please in whichever container they find most pleasing.

    1. ExCUZEme?!? Cats go wherever we darn well please, thank you. Of all the mutter, mutter…. *stalks off to go sulk in a large cardboard box*

      1. Of course you can’t box (or cave) a cat – what’s funny is that last night I read The Cat That Walked By Himself aloud to my wife…

        (and my siblings and I still have fond memories of our French exchange student reading the Heliaphant’s Child to us as kids)

  3. Sound’s like Dr Pepper’s advertising campaigns. From “I drink Dr. Pepper and I’m proud! I used to feel alone in a crowd” (which everyone remembers as “Be Part of an Original Crowd!” to “Always One of a Kind”. The message has been “Be Original, Be Unique, by Being Just Like Us!”

    1. So the real question is, did Dr. Pepper steal the idea of being uniformly unique from the Goth movement, or did the Goths steal it from Dr. Pepper. (j/k… don’t suck my blood or anything)

    2. Or, like the song says, “You’re so special!/Just like everybody else!”

  4. Okay, that Clayton’s ad was weird. I’ll admit, though, I might be almost tempted to try it just based on that (except it probably isn’t sugar-free and would play havoc with the diabetes).

    Also, I’m reminded of Mark Steyn’s definition of multiculturalism: “Feeling vaguely good about other cultures in order to absolve yourself of having to learn anything about those cultures.”

  5. “…in my testing career I see a fair amount of well-meaning discussion about needing more diversity…”

    In science and the related subject of engineering, people routinely tackle hard problems to which there is no known solution. If everybody on the team comes from the same background and education, the team can quickly exhaust their ideas. They can’t get outside their box far enough to find the answer.

    This is where the “Diversity!!!” theorists come along and say “what you need is somebody already outside your box, they might have an idea you didn’t think of.” Which might be true, actually.

    An English major, attending a basic science lecture for medical school, asked the question “but what IS a cell, really though?” when presented with the “cell hypothesis” of how mammalian tissue is constructed. This lead the assembled students to reflect that they’d never really thought about that, it was just something they knew. It was inside their box. So the skeptical question generated a useful discussion.

    But normally what happens is the English major can’t understand the discussion because the math is too hard, and their contribution is mostly “would you explain that again only slower?”

    (There is also the problem that “Diversity!!!” never flows the other way. Engineers do not get nominated for a place in the English program, because they say unpleasant things like “it will fall down” when the prof waxes eloquent about a glass bridge or a flying buttress or something similar. But never mind, right?)

    This is where “Diversity!!!” becomes an issue in STEM fields. Because the human resources types, being basically lazy and not too bright, have taken skin colour as a stand-in for difference in intellectual training and approach. Fast forward to now, race hucksters have latched on to the issue as a vote-getter in black districts. Its all political, and not helpful to science and engineering because basically it devolved into pure racism.

    So really it all boils down to a simple question. Is the company serious about solving the scientific/engineering problem at hand, or are they pursuing Leftist politics and virtue signaling their way into a new government contract?

    1. “But normally what happens is the English major can’t understand the discussion because the math is too hard, and their contribution is mostly ‘would you explain that again only slower?’”

      That’s normally the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is that the English major adds something to the effect of, “Oh, I get it now! Cells are just like the bubbles in tapioca pudding.”

      The one who knows enough to know that he needs it explained again is a comparatively helpful individual.

      1. This is much more what I’m familiar with. They won’t be argued out of the tapioca model for anything, no matter what. Electron microscopy be damned, the Tapioca Model is IT baby!

        Add some Minority Issues for spice, and you get James Damore being fired from Google for saying what’s obviously true.

        They’re usually putzes and drop out of medical school after six months because math is hard. They do shit like argue about White Privilege when they don’t like how the chemistry turned out. “Sodium and chlorine make salt? That’s OPPRESSION, man!”

        1. “Sodium and chlorine make salt? That’s OPPRESSION, man!”

          This leaves me unsure if such folks should be kept far, far away from halogens and alkaline metals… or encouraged to ‘play’ with them — in relative isolation, of course.

    2. In some cases, a bit of diversity does help. Years ago I dated a costume designer. She worked with a local production company designing the costumes for their various shows/performance art. While she was doing a show, the only way I would get to see her is if I hung around while she was working. Not being a Theater type, and having grown up on a small farm where if you want something done, you have to figure out how to do it. I was quite often able to step in and make things work where the Theater people had no idea. Eventually, I was asked to join the production board of the company. It was a fun couple years.

      1. Yeah, that’s sounds like it would be fun. Theater is one of those places where “Art!!!” meets “it will fall down if you leave it like that.” Nobody, however edgy and Ahhhhtistic they may be, wants to be left on stage looking like an utter fool when Juliet’s tower falls on Romeo.

        Sad Puppies is part of that “reverse flow is not allowed” thing. Accountant who owned a gunshop? Very not allowed in the Holy Precincts.

          1. Liberal Writer Barbie says “math is hard!” and won’t let us play in the tree house.

            New tree house currently under construction. Sign on the tree says “2+2=f*** off, Barbie.”

            That’s what you get when you mess with an accountant that sells machine guns.

    3. I had been thinking of simply regurgitating the “Tolerance is suicide, diversity is violence, compassion is misery” sound bite that I’m currently in love with. You had to inspire something more important to reiterate.

      The purpose of HR is savings in costs from litigation and employment regulations. HR picks potential hires from perfect strangers by looking at certificates (a measure of experience) and verifiable personal history (a measure of experience). They use imperfect tools, in part because perfect ones do not and probably can not exist.

      Engineering is costs from technical screwups. The economic value of an engineer is in the ability to reduce costs from technical risks and from technical consequences below the level an ordinary worker could reach. Likewise lawyers and legal costs and doctors and medical costs. Part of the STEM fad is Engineering retaining value, while humanities has declined. If everyone were an engineer, the expertise premium would decrease. Thus we impeach “even if we cut standards, more engineers are always better.”

      A bureaucracy cannot measure the valuable parts of diversity. There are people in HR who can recognize when, say, someone is only ever even near the box when they are setting it on fire. But HR as a bureaucracy is blind, except when they classify or misclassify it as dysfunctional beyond the point of use. So bureaucracies optimize for measures of diversity that they can see, and which are basically pointless. Also, a dysfunctional wreak with an engineering degree remains a dysfunctional wreak. The degree does not automatically translate into ability to find a job. Bureaucratic efforts to change degree programs, especially forceful bureaucratic efforts to change degree programs, are not certain to provide the claimed outcomes.

      So, one of the things to address is the matter of being, from an engineering perspective, a dysfunctional wreak. Bureaucracies are not great at this. Persons can possibly be good, if it is a situation where an outside hand can help. Not all situations are like that. ‘Helping hand’ bureaucracies can be enablers, or simply an additional group of acquaintances entirely void of any idea of being a really functional human being. I’m skeptical that ‘investment in education’ is going to improve the systems. “You need education to get at good job”, that comes with the cost of child labor laws which prevent the development of job skills, may be making things worse.

      I think the real issue at the large scale is regulatory costs restricting access to economic activity. I think education may be at best a distraction from this.

      On the small scale, people are people, and a dysfunctional bureaucratic effort can sometimes pick good people anyway.

      1. This is an interesting point: ” Part of the STEM fad is Engineering retaining value, while humanities has declined. If everyone were an engineer, the expertise premium would decrease.”

        It is at this point I ask the question that Leftist hate beyond all others: CAN everyone be an engineer? Or, as seems likely, does engineering require a particular, and rare, mix of intelligence and personal traits?

    4. Heh. STEM people “…routinely tackle hard problems to which there is no known solution.”
      Progressives on the other hand, routinely force hard solutions on us for which there is no known problem.

  6. I see you got the Vile treatment: “Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does”

    Glyer is such a charmingly backhanded fellow, isn’t he?

    1. Well, he’s right, just not the way he believes. Ox understood Kate quite well. If Mike can’t readily figure out the simple and clear and even obvious (so simple even an ox can understand it!) well… draw yer own conclusions. Yeah, like everyone hasn’t reached such ages ago.

    2. I thought you gave up wading in the sewers, Mr. Chupik. Testing your new hip waders, I presume?

  7. Fun one: How is engineer defined?

    There’s a push to make a master’s a requirement for a PE. I used to think it was bullshit, an artifact of dumbing down the bachelor’s to cope with America’s crappy primary and secondary education. I’ve had my eyes opened on that, and can see another side to it now.

    Engineers can and do learn a lot of stuff that is good for them to know, but is probably not necessary for the essence of engineering. There were people who were essentially engineers before calculus was invented, so even that fundamental is not strictly necessary. Engineers need it these days, and the dual education in science (which is a different profession from engineering), because the tech changes too fast for them to be able to rely on inherited rules of thumb. That is also some of the reasoning for the argument that a professional engineer should be required to have graduate schooling. Calculus can only carry a student of engineering so far.

    NCEES is an organization that the Federal government could nationalize. Schools can be nationalized. State Boards of Licensure can be coerced. A tyrannical Fed tomorrow could give you and me a PhD in Civil Engineering from Harvard, and a PE good in California. That does not mean that the body of practicing civil engineers would conclude we are fit to practice. I don’t know about you, but my expertise does not qualify me to design earthquake resistant bridges.

    Probably some of what makes an engineer is inborn. Some of it is probably ‘socially constructed’, and hence potentially something we could potentially change the frequency of. But it isn’t necessarily the obvious. There’s such a thing as a cookbook engineer, one without much creativity. Creativity isn’t needed for all engineering. Better an uncreative engineer than a creative one with lousy judgement. I think recreational drug use is a problem. Character is a problem. The sort of mysticism that makes you think you can lie away real world consequences is a problem. (In short, I think the leftist faith promotes values that inhibit good engineering.)

    Can everyone be a really great violinist? Skip the obstacles like ‘not having enough fingers’ and ‘thinking that really bad playing is wonderful’. If you hate playing the violin, will not practice, and could care less about it being played right, you will not become a really great violinist.

    Just as science in the 19th century was a bunch of nerds arguing minutia, engineering is an untrusting and relentless focus on making things work well. If the study of engineering makes you give up on all the tedious careful fiddly work, you can’t become an engineer.

    I don’t know that the traits are necessarily rare. It perhaps depends on the economy. You might be able to have two different economies, with great differences in what fraction engineering work is of the whole, with one economy training more marginal engineers to help meet that demand. If that economy has a wide range of disciplines, there may still be value for an individual to practice engineering, even if they are marginal, and would not be competitive with less work to chase after. Could it be unity? In my younger years I did that as worldbuilding. I don’t think the whole of mankind /wants/ to practice engineering.

    1. The question arises because of James Damore, and the current push to get women in engineering.

      Right now, at University of Waterloo in Ontario (also MIT, Harvard etc.) being female is worth several points on your GPA for admission. Being black and female ferinstance, you can get in with a 90% or maybe even an 85%. Female and Asian or white Canadian, 93%. White male or Asian male, 95% plus.

      There’s maybe one (1) black female in the program. I could be wrong about that of course, there may be as many as five or six. But for sure there’s not 20.

      I saw the video of Jordan Peterson at Oxford the other day, and he made a very good point. An engineer who loves the job is going to be a person who loves to deal with -things- all day. They will prefer things over people, for sure. An engineer, left to his or her own devices, will spend their holiday building something, fixing something, designing something, or generally fiddling with some -thing-, interspersed with socializing.

      Peterson, who ought to know, was of the opinion that while there are women out there who prefer things over people, and have mathematical aptitude as well, they fall on a different part of the female “normal” bell curve. They’re about three sigmas off. This is not surprising, as male engineers are about two sigmas off the male normal curve.

      But two sigmas includes a much larger part of the population than three sigmas. So a competent, dedicated, -happy- female engineer isn’t quite a unicorn, she’s more like a white rhinoceros. People have seen one on TV, but never met one.

      With software engineering its even worse, because really gifted software engineers are a bunch of 3 sigma white-rhino weirdos. (You know its true, don’t even pretend. 🙂 Making people like Grace Hopper basically four sigma unicorns.

      Now, is this inborn or cultural? IT DOESN’T MATTER. The curve is the curve. You take a person from dead center of the male or female curve and stick them in software engineering class, they are going to be bored stupid and hate it. They will suck at programming, no matter how disciplined and determined they are.

      “But but but Phantom, what about all the poor oppressed minorities?! Shouldn’t they be allowed to play too?” I can just hear all the friggin’ SJWs grinding their gears right now.

      Dear SJWs, if there is some brown lesbian in a wheelchair out there right now with the potential to solve the NP Complete problem, there is a line up of companies and universities a mile long waiting to throw money at her. She will be hunted down and dug out of her mud hut by recruiters before you can say “jackpot!” Because she will be the one already working on the problem all by herself, for free, in whatever time she can steal from her digging job at the salt mine. Her age, sex, surface albedo and locomotion issues will not be a problem, they will be beating down her door.

      Because when the person you NEED is as scarce as a white-rhino, you will not care a single damn what they look like or even if they smell bad. Any white-rhino will do.

      1. Engineering is not an unrelenting focus on making people work well. That is being a leader or being an asshole, depending.

        There are parts of engineering that overlap with leadership. That doesn’t mean it is easy to find people who can do it well.

        Lots of engineers aren’t the best when it comes to people. So it is easy to notice where lack of people skills hurts.

      2. As I pointed out to a well-meaning individual who said I was irreplaceable at Day Job, “History majors who can teach are common. Really good calculus and physics teachers are irreplaceable.” Male, female, heck, an armadillo who loved teaching physics or advanced maths and was good at it, they’d get snapped up in a heartbeat unless they had a criminal record. And then they might get hired to teach via video!

        1. Nope, not racist. Mangler of other languages. Because “white” is a misunderstanding of the original term in Dutch & Afrikaans, “wijd” – meaning “wide”, and referring to the shape of their mouth.

          Then again, misunderstanding the meaning, origin, and purpose of a term just so one can cry “ist”/””ism”/”phobic” is fairly standard, so if you’re aiming to imitate all those people who aim for racism and hit the nail squarely on the thumb, you got it.

  8. It’s very comfortable sitting in church with fellow believers who all know the same liturgy, and the tune to sing it to and how to act betimes. That the entire range of skin tone (but Asian) is on hand, and I’m singing in a different language makes no difference. It really is nice, and safe, and happy-making.

    I get it. But it’s no good if you have to bludgeon people into sharing the song, and brow-beat them into the Belief. That’s not safe, it’s a horror show. It’s like the “Anything Box” by Zenna Benderson.

    I would be thrilled if the whole world came ’round to my world-view on religion. But even if they did, they would still sing different songs, and have a culture that isn’t old school German Lutheran. And… that’s just fine. I do appreciate why the leftie faithful want to have their church spaces. They just don’t seem to understand what it costs to have them.

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