Albinos Of The World Unite!

You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Brains

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Being as I am an aspiring dead white male, I believe I could weary of hearing harsh words about what guttersnipes we are, and sludge, and sharpers, and impediments to civilization, and rapists and slave drivers and Marines: yes, and just no damned good. For one thing, I think we are a splendid lot. For another, I notice that most of the yapping comes from life’s camp-followers—from those who didn’t and can’t and aren’t likely to. Yet they seem perfectly willing to live in a world that white European males built. It is not a dignified performance.

Now, graciousness is a trademark of this column. And a good thing, too, as otherwise I might say, “Them as can’t compete can shut up. Talk to me when you have credentials. Now bugger off.” But no. I won’t say it.

I may think it though.

Permit me a suggestion to those who appreciate us not. (See? I’m trying to be helpful.) I address it to race hustlers, to bilious feminists of immoderate inutility, which is all of them, and to the gelding professors of the Ivy Leagues.

Look around you and see whether you can find anything, with a moving part, that isn’t the work of white European males. You might start with your refrigerator, which you probably don’t understand. What about your hair dryer? You do know how an electric motor works?

Yes, I know what the grade-school textbooks say. The electric motor sprang from the work of the Guatemalan Native-Peoples thinker Rigoberta Tloxyproctyl who, while planting cassava with a sharp stick, discovered the npn junction, foresaw the integrated circuit, and founded Intel. Previously she had invented the amniote egg.

From the same books you would conclude that the central figure of the Civil War was not Robert E. Lee but Sojourner Truth, that the Iliad was written not by Homer but by Marge, and that civilization had been invented by grub-eating, pre-literate if you are optimistic occasional cannibals of color in the Amazon basin who barely understand the engineering underlying the loincloth. (If engineering is what underlies loincloths. I’ve never looked.) Mendacity is no substitute for achievement.

Now, I suspect that these uprooters of white maledom don’t appreciate their blessings because they don’t understand them. Familiarity breeds a sense of understanding, but not understanding itself. If miraculous things are always there, it’s easy to regard them as just part of the world, like bananas in the tropics.

Consider. If you showed a television set to a bushman in New Guinea, and asked him how it worked, he would say, “Hoo! Bad juju, boss. Heap spirits dey in it, talk talk.” He would have the judgement to be astonished by what is, after all, astonishing.

Now imagine asking the same question of Al Sharpton, or Gloria Steinem or, let us say, the head of Harvard’s Department of Micronesian Lesbian Studies, Carnita Tlacuache-Lombriz.

She: “Uh, well, waves. You know. In the air. Oppression, people of color, capitalism….”

Me: “Yes, Ms. Tlacuache-Lombriz! Splendid! You are on to something. But can you be more precise? What kind of waves? Surf, perhaps? Tidal waves, or little bitty shiny waves? As in a millpond.”

“Well, no. Some other kind of waves. I think. Oppression, people of color….”

You would find that she knew as much as the bushman. She knows the same amount about her watch, refrigerator, automobile, microwave oven, and stereo. They are, to her, low-hanging fruit, or what money is to Democrats: something that is just there.

All of these things, note, are products of what such as Steinem call “white male linear thinking.” (It used to be called “thinking,” until people noticed the albedo and steroid chemistry of those who usually did it.)

Here we come to part of the reason for their bad behavior: These folk are genuinely, blankly, appallingly ignorant of things around them. To Ms. T-L, for example, a computer is a commodity, like soap. It’s just there, has buttons, usually works.

And she is right. A computer is a commodity. But she has no idea why it is a commodity, or why this too is miraculous. She doesn’t know, or avoids reflecting, that her laptop rests on an towering edifice of physics, chemistry, and electronics, of which she is supremely innocent, resting on mathematics and theory also elaborated by tens of thousands of—yep—white males whose books she has never heard of.

To the white male (ok, slightly geeky) mind, a computer is something quite different. It is a stack of intricately interlocking abstractions. At the bottom (somewhat arbitrarily) you find solid-state physics with its band theory and lattices and dopants and a lot of formidable physical chemistry; a level higher you have transistors, address buses, interrupt hierarchies and row latches; next, DMA and video controllers and file-allocation tables; then software, optimizing compilers and top-down programming.

These for the most part are not easy ideas. When they are easy, as programming is, the response of men is to write programs so complex that they have to think about them in teams. Overwhelmingly these things arose from…white males, mostly European.

Other men (white, European, and mostly dead) of phenomenal brilliance developed the underlying math and theory: Gauss, Newton and Leibniz, LaGrange, Shannon, Hamilton, Galois, perhaps Minsky if you think finite automata actually have anything to do with computers, and Turing, none of whom Ms. T-L has heard of either.

Given that she probably couldn’t solve a quadratic if you gave her a band saw and a large staff, she can’t understand what it is that she doesn’t understand. Nor, one may suspect, can Al Sharpton, nor those goofy alleged teachers who are always nattering on about how little boys need to be drugged.

But let me approach the matter from another angle. I propose (again trying to be helpful) that those who don’t like white males try spending a week without the things that white males have foolishly provided for them, so that they can complain in comfort.

Ms. T-L could begin by taking her fillings out. (Dentistry is not low-tech. Try making a drill burr spin at 350,000 rpm or whatever the current figure is.) Then she could denude herself, preferably after warning bystanders, since everything she wears was made on machines designed by evil white males, using metallurgy and engineering demonically invented by other evil white males. Next she could toss everything electrical and mechanical. She would soon find herself sleeping in a hollow log and eating bugs.

Which would be marvelous. I suggest January. In Fairbanks.