What a Nice Event Horizo

Do I look taller? Thinner? A little stretched?

My watch is still ticking at the same rate. But that is a local reference.

Anyone have a clock at rest that I could observe?

black_hole

The “Left Singularity” is (I believe) Jim’s invention to describe the ever-accelerating movement left. Gay marriage was a strange idea in 1990, a progressive totem in 2000, rejected soundly by voters (and Obama) in 2008 … and in 2015, major league baseball teams position themselves as appropriately left by filing pro-amicus briefs in support of gay marriage.

A singularity (of course just a fancy name for black hole) is a very distorted place, and once you go in you never come out. A person who falls into one may not notice however — locally everything seems fine, and it is the outside world that distorts, slows, and eventually disappears.[1]

My employer is flirting with a left singularity.

Google is a left-wing organization, in two ways. First, its founders and executives support left-wing politicians, left-wing causes, left-wing fads.

But Google is also left-wing in another, non-political manner, in its style of internal speech and debate. The hallmarks of the left — holiness competition, the vanguard of the people, no one more extreme is an enemy — are present whenever anyone discusses a non-political subject that is relevant to the company.

As long as you advocate in favor of Google’s goals (“focus on the user” is a popular phrase, and can be used to justify pretty much anything), you can criticize any product, even call out executives by name.

There were important countertendencies which prevented this culture from interfering with mundane business operations:

– Left-wing agitation at Google is not a power move. The people who are best at rabble-rousing are famous within the company, and well-regarded by many. But the “likes” on their social media posts must be their own reward. No one ever got promoted or more money or even a better project as a reward for agitating.

– Really high octane activism is for losers. (Remember Ward Churchill and his charming habit of getting tenure by threatening people?) Googlers are intelligent, capable, and well-compensated. They don’t need to join a rent-a-mob for beer money. Nor do they have an incentive to jeopardize a good career by doing anything really crazy.

– There is a sense that talk is cheap and complaining is easy. “First World Problems” is a catchphrase. The really famous and capable engineers, the ones who get ACM awards, are too busy to spend a lot of time on fiery posts or incendiary memes. So are the executives. The senior folks mostly content themselves with occasional progressive platitudes.

During my employment at Google I have viewed its left bias as a quirk. Annoying, but mostly harmless. I could keep my head down and concentrate on my job.

But then social justice happened.

The first few instances were not alarming. A woman said “harassment happened” and announced her[2] intention to quit. This poor soul obviously had serious problems. (She referred to herself in the first person plural.)

There were a few tut-tuts of sympathy, and nothing much happened.

But then the instances got more frequent. And people got more interested. Holiness competition happened.

(There was also a very unpleasant incident recently in which a senior executive was anonymously threatened over a policy change that was unpopular with many Googlers. It’s a big company, and it just takes one bad apple … but still, this is a line that has never been crossed before.)

Today, ex-Googler Kelly Ellis claimed to have been harassed, named the alleged culprit, and called out virtually every senior Googler she had ever worked with.

Said “harassment” consisted of the person telling her … that she had a nice-looking body part. (If you can’t handle that, modern Western society is not for you. Try a nunnery.)

The reaction, obviously, was enthusiastic hosannas, enthusiastic denouncing of anyone else who was insufficiently enthusiastic … in short, a lynching. Note that no proof was presented, other than Ellis’ word.

And I realized … people at Google have no defenses to social justice. None. They’ll believe whatever is told them, lap it up, ask for more.

Just that bare fact is itself terrifying. Imagine an organism’s cell that lets anything through its wall. “Got some genetic material for me to replicate? Hey come on in!” Imagine a child left alone who does anything that a passerby wants. Imagine giving your money to anyone who asked for it.

Maybe the social justice warriors are beyond reach. Maybe there’s no use.

But if you are one, and you’re reading this — or if you’re a relatively apolitical Googler who wants to know what the hell is happening to the company, and why do all the stars outside the porthole appear so red — here are some questions:

1. Do you really think the alleged victims of harassment are trustworthy and sane?

Would you trust them to look after your dog? Would you loan them significant sums of money?

2. Why is it shameful and silly to fall for email scams that ask you to send money, but virtuous to automatically assume all claims of sexual harassment are true?

3. Is there any allegation of harassment that you would not believe?

4. Has social justice theory been subjected to any critical review? Can you be confident that social justice theory is supported by statistics? By facts?

5. Do you always help destroy peoples’ lives and reputations based on little evidence? Or is it just something you do when there’s nothing good on TV?

[1] These metaphors are fun. In real life anyone who got close enough to a singularity for the physics to matter would be crushed by tidal forces and fried a billion times over by radiation.

[2] It being the wonderfully progressive 21st century, “her” may be a courtesy title. But that does not change my point, just adds to the creepiness factor.

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