Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Affirmative Action in the Blogosphere

Roger Simon had an interesting and provocative post on Affirmative Action and the Blogosphere. Well worth a read! That provoked me to write the following.

Affirmative action in the 1960's and 1970's was a good thing. Affirmative Action was needed to prove to the people who were tasked with spending money hiring workers that they were getting what they paid for. Once those people were convinced that it didn't matter much what color skin one had, or whether you wore skirts or pants, as far as productivity was concerned, the gates were open and remain o
pen. The previous bigoted attitude was based on stereotype and personal bigotry, and as far as I can tell, most of it arose from the behavior of the "haves" of previous centuries - nobility, the Church, Government civil service, etc. This is verified by the treatment of Italian, Irish, Scottish, and Asian emigrants to the United States, by the behavior of the ruling class in colonies around the world, and still openly remains prominent in some areas of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Capitalism - the productivity of commerce and industry - helps break down social barriers. There are never enough GOOD, hardworking, talented workers to meet demands. Restricting hiring because of ethnic origin, skin color, gender, or other unimportant consideration, affected productivity and reduced profits. Even without AA, industry would have had to integrate sooner or later in order to remain competetive.

A similar demand doesn't exist in the classroom - or rather, it exists, but it's been rigorously manipulated to where it doesn't result in what would be normal consequences. Failure to enforce the same standards with a small portion of the population that is required of others establishes a false sense of achievement and an over-valuation of the skills and accomplishments of that segment. This, in turn, negatively affected those that depended upon known standards to evaluate someone for a position or promotion. Affirmative Action also limited the ability of corporations and others to eliminate non-productive or incompetent "minority" members. THAT is the largest failure of AA - it establishes unreasonable expectations which are only met by manipulating the environment, rather than developing individual talents and abilities.

The blogosphere is entirely different. Anyone who has Internet access and even a modest experience with computers can set up a blog in about ten minutes. Gender, skin color, ethnic origin, religion, education, age, or social status are not key factors in who blogs and who doesn't. The two things that matter most are time and desire. It takes both. A young mother of two or three, either working outside the home or working as a housewife, has less time to blog than a male teenager or a gray-haired retiree. A hundred other factors probably also enter the picture. How devoted one is to their "day job", what other things interest them, what their priorities are, how well they manage their time, or can express themselves, should probably be factored in.

Personal roles and responsibilities probably do limit the ability of some people to blog, and married women with children, or single women in professional roles probably have less free time than the average male blogger. These are due to social roles, however, rather than limitations "imposed" by other bloggers. As I wrote on my own blog here, the reason I link to some blogs and not to others is because I link to what interests me. There are many areas that I'm interested in that I haven't found a blog dedicated to. If there were, I'd link to them. As far as fewer women than men blogging, the only reasons for it that I could understand would be cultural, social, and personal.

There's another major cultural aspect of blogging that should be considered. In society as a whole, the role of most men - husband, father, primary bread-winner, defender of the hearth - requires that they look outward into the world. The roles held by a majority of women, either wholly or in part - wife, mother, homemaker, comforter, caregiver - encourages them to look more inward. Blogging is an outward manifestation of the individual. In general, then, men would be expected to be more comfortable in that role than women.

Men and women also frequently differ on what interests them, and to different degrees of intensity when those ideas are shared. This would affect what ideas they would express, and how they would express those ideas. This in turn would affect which readers they would attract, and how many different readers they would have. There is no imposed limit on blogs by - and of primary interest to - women, but it would perhaps lessen their desire to blog - or even comment on blogs. Finally, the content and inference of linking blogs and the response from readers (comments, email) would would be offensive enough to keep some people from joining the fray. This could make a very intriguing Masters' thesis for a sociologist...

There are outside limiting factors that restrict some people from blogging. While blogging itself isn't expensive, a computer, Internet service, and software aren't cheap. People near or below poverty level are probably restricted to the point where their degree of participation is negligable. I don't know of any prisoner who blogs, or of any prison that allows prisoners unrestricted access to the Internet. The lack of a good education, especially in areas of communication and self-expression, would limit one's attractiveness as a blogger, and thus one's willingness to participate. Some people (my wife for instance, who is dyslexic and has difficulty spelling) have physical disabilities that limit their desire to expose their limitations in public. There are still places in the United States - and more elsewhere - where Internet access is either limited, horrendously expensive, or just plain nonexistent (not a lot of folks blogging from the North Slope of Alaska, the Greenland Icecap, or the center of the Amazon Basin).

Who blogs and what they blog about are determined by these factors, then: individual freedom, access, income, time, energy, social position, cultural involvement, and individual preferences. Whether they - and their blog - are "acceptable" to someone else is only limited by what they write about, and how well they express themselves.


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