EppsNet Archive: Race

What Can Be Done About Gender Diversity in Computing?

6 Oct 2015 /

That is the question posed in, among other places, the October 2015 issue of Communications of the ACM.

Since gender is no longer a biological imperative connected to one’s physical anatomy, there’s now a simple answer to this. Men (and women, but that’s not relevant to this question) can identify as either gender, independent of reproductive organs and chromosomes, and a thoughtful consideration of the uniqueness and validity of every person’s experiences of self requires a societal stamp of approval.

Google or Facebook or any organization that wants to improve its gender diversity metrics can offer some modest incentive (could be financial, could be you use the women’s locker room at the company gym … use your imagination!) for workers to identify as female. Have a 50 percent female workforce by Friday!

Now that I’ve written this down I’m thinking that maybe I should be starting up a diversity consulting firm rather than giving the idea away for nothing. Room for expansion: Racial identity is fluid now as well (see here and here).

Thus spoke The Programmer.

The Bamboo Ceiling

7 Jun 2015 /

Michael Wang had a 4.67 GPA and a perfect ACT score. He placed first in the state of California at the AMC 12 – a nationwide mathematics competition. He performed with the San Francisco opera company, and sang in a choir that performed at Barack Obama’s first inauguration. He volunteered his free time to tutor underprivileged children.

He applied to seven Ivy League schools and was rejected by all seven.

I saw recently that a local kid from Fullerton High School here in Orange County was accepted at all eight Ivy League Schools. His name is Fernando Rojas.

Fernando Rojas

Here’s another young man, Harold Ekeh, who was also accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Harold Ekeh

Last year, Kwasi Enin was accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Kwasi Enin

A study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400). Espenshade found that Asian-Americans needed a 1550 SAT to have an equal chance of getting into an elite college as white students with a 1410 or black students with an 1100. I suspect that disparity has, if anything, widened.

If you’re Asian and applying to Ivy League schools, don’t hesitate to check the box next to “Black” or “Hispanic.” Or Eskimo. Eskimos are kind of Asian-looking.

Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years

12 Feb 2015 /

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. . . .

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement. . . .

Since 1970 the number of black elected officials in the U.S. has grown to more than 9,000 from fewer than 1,500 and has included big-city mayors, governors, senators and of course a president.

But even as we note this progress, the political gains have not redounded to the black underclass, which by several important measures—including income, academic achievement and employment—has stagnated or lost ground over the past half-century. And while the civil-rights establishment and black political leaders continue to deny it, family structure offers a much more plausible explanation of these outcomes than does residual white racism.

In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

One important lesson of the past half-century is that counterproductive cultural traits can hurt a group more than political clout can help it.

See You in Hell

31 Jan 2015 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Greetings from the underworld!

I just read about a father and son teaming up to punch out the son’s high school basketball coach because the teen wasn’t getting enough playing time.

Basketball duo

What a heartwarming story! A lot of young black men don’t have a male role model in their lives.

See you in Hell . . .

Civil Rights Symmetry

27 Jan 2015 /

Why does a Civil Rights Bill forbid me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employee but allow me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employer? If I turn down a job offer, should I be required to prove that my motives were not discriminatory? … Why am I permitted to apply racial criteria when I select a spouse but not when I select a personal assistant?

— Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist

Testing a White Privilege Theory

22 Dec 2014 /

According to an article titled “The Thing About White Privilege,” “job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a callback for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.”

What happens when someone with an Asian sounding name applies for a job? Serious question. Does the answer support a white privilege theory? What about someone with an Indian sounding name? A Middle Eastern sounding name? A Jewish sounding name? Test your theories against reality rather than just slinging bullshit and ignoring information that inconveniences you.

P.S. I followed the link above and learned that “applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” That’s 10 percent vs. about 7 percent. Anyone who thinks “50% more likely” is the best way to express that is up to some shenanigans.

Halle Slams Gabriel!

26 Nov 2014 /

Halle Berry

Halle Berry is at least 50 percent white, the girl’s father is white . . . do the math on how white the girl is supposed to look.

See You in Hell

26 Nov 2014 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

CLAYTON, Mo.— A grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager whose death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson became a national flash point on race, justice and policing.


Greetings from the underworld!

  1. Why is Michael Brown always described as “an unarmed black teenager” rather than “a violent troublemaker” or “a current resident of Hell,” both of which are at least equally accurate?
  2. Anyone who thinks an unarmed person doesn’t pose a threat has never been punched in the face.
  3. If you have a gun and I don’t and you let me take the gun away from you, all of a sudden I’m not unarmed anymore.

See you in Hell . . .

Martial Artist, Self-Taught

25 Oct 2014 /

“I’m taking a self-defense workshop for women this weekend.”

“My wife knows martial arts.”

“What kind of martial arts does she know?”

“I’m not sure. She’s self-taught. She’s Asian, she thinks she’s good at everything Asians are supposed to be good at: martial arts, badminton . . . some people might say she doesn’t know martial arts at all, she’s just violent and crazy.”

That’s Why It’s Called the Opposition Party

6 May 2014 /
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist, former Republican and currently Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, on why he changed parties:

I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president. I’ll just go there. I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.

It was so intolerable that Crist left the GOP in 2010 — four years ago — and he’s just bringing this up now?

Has anyone asked this fool why Republicans have been unfriendly to all other Democratic presidents? Or why Democrats have been unfriendly to all GOP presidents? What is his theory on that?

Is he really this stupid or is he counting on his target audience being this stupid? I suspect the latter . . .

See You in Hell, Carl Douglas

5 May 2014 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

“It put a smile on my face that finally [Donald Sterling] would be unable to deny the racist allegations against him,” said Carl Douglas, a lawyer who represented former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor in a lawsuit against Sterling.

Carl Douglas is best known as a member of the O.J. Simpson defense team. O.J. Simpson has done some regrettable things, like murdering a couple of white people, but at least he’s never made negative remarks about Magic Johnson photos on Instagram.

See you in Hell . . .

P.S. Carl Douglas the lawyer should not be confused with Carl Douglas the “Kung Fu Fighting” singer. Him, I like.

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

3 May 2014 /

I had a friendship with [Donald Sterling], so for him to then make these alleged comments about myself … there’s no place in our society for it. — Magic Johnson

There’s no place in our society for what? For people who say, “Don’t post pictures of Magic Johnson on Instagram”?

I say there’s no place in our society for affected morons who use intensive pronouns (“myself”) in place of personal pronouns (“me”).

Someone made a cutting remark about a friend behind their back? Absolutely shocking! If everyone knew what their friends say about them behind their back, civilized society would collapse.

Grow up, you simpleton . . .

See You in Hell

3 May 2014 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Congratulations, Americans! Your lives have become so trivialized that you think the most important issue facing your country is how many Magic Johnson photos get posted to Instagram.

See you in Hell . . .

I’m Done With the NBA

1 May 2014 /

I’m choking to death on all the pious platitudes re Donald Sterling. I hope that TMZ will make a recurring feature out of providing glimpses into the private lives of NBA executives, coaches and players. The level of sanctimony amongst these juvenile moralizers will drop off a cliff.

To cite an obvious example: The Clippers are currently in a playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. The coach of the Warriors, Mark Jackson, describes himself as “an African-American man that’s a fan of the game of basketball and knows its history and knows what’s right and what’s wrong.” He goes on to encourage people to boycott Clippers games and says, “We cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit.”

Jackson is an ordained minister. He and his wife run the True Love Worship Center in Reseda, Ca.

Jackson was also, a couple of years ago, the victim of an extortion attempt involving dick pics he sent to a stripper with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

TMZ should do one of those man-on-the-street interviews and ask him, “Coach, you’re a religious man who knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Let me ask you . . . do you think a man who has extramarital affairs with strippers is the kind of man who should be allowed to profit as a member of the NBA family? Do you think a man like that has the moral stature to stand in judgment of the private lives of others? When someone’s private transgressions become public, should they just be able to say ‘Oops’ and move on?”

I just want to see all of these pretentious phonies laid low . . .

NYT Misrepresents California’s Affirmative Action Results

23 Apr 2014 /

In reporting on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold a Michigan ban on the use of racial preferences in admissions to public universities, the New York Times looks at results in other states that have banned racial preferences.

Here’s what the Times says about my state, California, which voted to ban racial preferences in UC admissions in 1998:

Hispanic and black enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles dropped sharply after voters approved a statewide ban on affirmative action. Those numbers have not recovered, even as the state’s Hispanic population has grown.

That is a misleading analysis for a couple of reasons:

One: Affirmative action was banned at all UC campuses, not just Berkeley and UCLA. Ignoring all the other campuses allows the Times to say that black and Hispanic enrollment “dropped sharply” when there was actually only a 2 percent decline in black and Hispanic enrollment in the University of California system as a whole.

Among other campuses, black and Hispanic enrollment was

* up 22 percent at UC Irvine
* up 18 percent at UC Santa Cruz
* up 65 percent at UC Riverside

There’s been a redistribution of black and Hispanic students, but not a sharp drop in enrollment.

Two: It doesn’t make sense to look at changes in enrollment without also looking at changes in graduation rates.

The number of black and Hispanic students graduating from UC schools

* in four years: up 55 percent
* in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher: up 63 percent
* with degrees in science, mathematics and engineering: up nearly 50 percent
* with doctoral degrees: up 20 percent

UCLA and (especially) Berkeley are elite universities. Black and Hispanic students who were admitted based on genetics rather than academic qualifications couldn’t compete at that level and had to drop out.

Who was helped? The dropouts? No. The qualified applicants who were passed over? No. It was a lose-lose scenario.

Now that students are admitted, regardless of race, to schools that they’re academically qualified to attend, graduation rates are much higher.

Always look askance at analysis of college admission policies in the absence of information on graduation rates.

See You in Hell: The Fritz Pollard Edition

1 Mar 2014 /



[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, expects the league to institute a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using the N-word on the field.

The N-word. Let’s see . . . the N-word is “National,” the F-word is “Football” and the L-word is “League.”

Wait — what?! I’m now being informed that the N-word in this case is “nigger.” That’s what the Fritz Pollard Alliance wants to penalize. OK, that’s a great idea, Fritz Pollard Alliance, and by “great” I mean “bullshit.”

Has anyone at the Fritz Pollard Alliance read the Harry Potter books? In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort is known as He Who Must Not Be Named. He’s so powerful and scary and evil that you’re not even allowed to say his name! The only person who’s not afraid to say Voldemort’s name is Harry Potter.

I wish someone would ban my name from being spoken. I hate to hear my name bandied about — “Satan this” and “Satan that.” It makes me seem unremarkable, like someone you might chat with at a dinner party or meet at Starbucks for a coffee.

If people were banned from speaking my name, every time someone did speak it, accidentally or on purpose, it would be like “AUUUUGH! SATAN HAS BEEN UNLEASHED FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL!” I’d be 10 times more fearsome than I am already.

You see where I’m going with this, Fritz Pollard Alliance? Banning the use of a word makes the word more scary and powerful, not less.

Who knows better than me that if you make a thing forbidden, people will want that thing more than ever? I call that Satan’s Paradox.


Except for the N-word, all racial, ethnic or religious zingers, epithets and provocations remain A-okay with Fritz and his boys. The Kailee Wong Alliance has proposed that calling a Chinese player a gook or a Vietnamese player a chink, instead of the other way around, be grounds for automatic ejection, but adoption of the proposal is considered unlikely.

See you in Hell . . .

EppsNet Book Reviews: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

23 Feb 2014 /

I bought this book and read it because it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. See, it says so right there on the cover: “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.”

Did you know there was a time in our country’s history when black people were bought and sold as property, sometimes by other black people? And did you also know that 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?

Human slavery is deplorable, yes, but at this late date, can it be deplored any more than it has been already? If you have new depths of insight into the hearts and minds of the participants, by all means offer them, but Jones doesn’t have them. Reading The Known World is like reading a history book, albeit with a little more authorial contempt for some of the characters.

It’s customary in book reviews to mention authors whose work is called to mind by the volume at hand. The reviews included in my copy of The Known World cite

If you want to say something nice about a black author writing about the American South, you can’t go wrong with a Morrison or Faulkner comparison, although comparing an author writing his second book to Faulkner (or García Márquez) makes as much sense as comparing a young composer to Beethoven or Mozart. (I can’t comment on the Toni Morrison comparison as I have to admit I haven’t read her work.)

The author that Jones most reminded me of is Kurt Vonnegut, who once wrote

I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, which I think I have done.

Jones follows the Vonnegut model of introducing a lot of characters of equal importance and weaving their lives together via seemingly insignificant details. Vonnegut has written better books than The Known World — most notably, in my opinion, Breakfast of Champions, although many people prefer Slaughterhouse-Five — but he did not win, nor was he ever a finalist for, a Pulitzer Prize.

So it goes.

Rating: 3 stars

Kids Should Study Math and Science, Say Adults Who Never Studied Math or Science

17 Dec 2013 /

The New York Times has been editorializing recently on the nation’s need to enlarge our pool of science and math students, with a particular focus on girls and minorities, and to encourage them to pursue careers that will keep the country competitive.

Here’s a list of the members of the NYT editorial board, including academic major(s), which I obtained from their online bios. See if you notice anything unusual.

Andrew Rosenthal, Editor
(American History)
Terry Tang, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
(Economics, Law)
Robert B. Semple Jr., Associate Editor
David Firestone, Projects Editor, National Politics, the White House and Congress
Vikas Bajaj, Business, International Economics
Philip M. Boffey, Science
Francis X. Clines, National Politics, Congress, Campaign Finance
(none listed)
Lawrence Downes, Immigration, Veterans Issues
(English, Journalism)
Carol Giacomo, Foreign Affairs
(English Literature)
Mira Kamdar, International Affairs
(French Literature)
Verlyn Klinkenborg, Agriculture, Environment, Culture
(English Literature)
Juliet Lapidos, Culture
(Comparative Literature, English Literature)
Eleanor Randolph, New York State, Northeast Region, Media
(none listed)
Dorothy Samuels, Law, Civil Rights, National Affairs
Serge Schmemann, International Affairs
(none listed)
Brent Staples, Education, Criminal Justice, Economics
Masaru Tamamoto, International Affairs
(International Relations)
Teresa Tritch, Economic Issues, Tax Policy
(German, Journalism)
Jesse Wegman, The Supreme Court, Legal Affairs

Did you notice that no one on that list, including the science editor, has a degree in anything related to math or science?

Now you might say, “Well, I’ve never heard of any of these people so why should I care what they think?” That’s a fair point.

But still, one has to give them credit for having made it in the big city, despite their lack of interest in math and science. So why encourage students to pursue educational goals that they themselves had no interest in, when this lack of interest has evidently not been a hindrance? Why is this a credible course of action?

See You in Hell, New Orleans

4 Sep 2013 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

A 1-year-old girl was shot dead in her babysitter’s arms in New Orleans, prompting the city’s mayor to declare “enough is enough” as police hunted for two suspects with little help from witnesses.

Londyn Samuels, who was just learning to walk, was struck by a bullet fired into her 18-year-old nanny’s back as she carried the toddler home from the park.

There’s a train they call the City of New Orleans, and it is on a fast track to Hell.

First of all, let me say for the record that everyone is equal in Hell — regardless of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, blah blah blah, or any other legally protected status.

That said, when I see a headline like 1-year-old shot to death on New Orleans street, I know when I click through, I’m going to see a black face on the other side.

White people have their own peccadilloes, but they don’t shoot babies in the street.

As for the second part of the headline — “Enough is enough” — an 11-year-old New Orleans girl rocking her baby cousin to sleep was killed a few days later when gunmen started shooting into her house.

It’s getting to where I myself am afraid to go to New Orleans. Ha ha, no I’m not, but you see what I mean.

Anyway, here’s some advice from a guy who’s been around: If you’re black, and you want to be remembered fondly, or remembered at all, make sure you get shot by someone who’s not black.

For example: a kid in Florida named Trayvon Martin was shot by a Hispanic man with a white name: George Zimmerman. Everyone remembers Trayvon Martin. Even the president talks about him. Black “leaders” shuffle his parents in front of various assemblages demanding Justice for Trayvon.

He’s remembered lovingly by people willing to overlook the fact that he was trying to beat George Zimmerman to death when, unfortunately for him, Zimmerman pulled a gun and shot him.

Trayvon Martin is . . . well, let’s just say that God doesn’t like violent troublemakers, despite being a violent troublemaker himself. What a phony.

Londyn Samuels

Londyn Samuels

Londyn Samuels is in heaven, of course. She led a short, blameless life.

But because the man who shot her was black, not only is no one demanding Justice for Londyn, witnesses won’t come forward to ID the shooter, and no black “leader” has directed so much as a “shame on you” toward anyone involved.

See you in Hell!


6 Aug 2013 /

The office park where my a friend of mine works was burglarized over the weekend. Surveillance cameras captured the whole operation.

“They were Mexicans,” he said. “They look like professionals. They were wearing hats and jackets so you couldn’t see their build or anything.”

“So how are you identifying them as Mexicans if you couldn’t see them?” I asked. “Because they were stealing stuff?”

Next Page »