This Explains So Much

gIt’s  a joke among people who work in applied sciences and technology; engineers are lousy at parties, and they don’t dress up well.

It’s not part of their lives, of course; their job is to keep your plane from falling apart in mid-air, to keep your gusset plates from ripping apart, to make sure grandma’s pacemaker keeps running until grandma stops from other causes.

Making small talk?  Picking out shirts that match pants?  It’s just not part of their lives.

So if around age 45 an engineer were to switch careers to, say, wedding planning?

That’d be kinda weird.

Likewise, when someone who spends their entire career keeping their opinion out of their work as a matter of vocational ethics, who suddenly starts getting paid to have one?

Matt Welch writes about Helen Thomas

I am tempted to feel bad for an 89-year-old lady getting caught in what might be passed off as a senior moment, but there’s no reason to believe that her statement and tone don’t reflect her basic views.

They also, I believe, reflect an interesting, under-appreciated, and ultimately impermanent media phenomenon: The longer someone is submerged in what they and their organizations regard as traditional “straight” reporting, the more gruesome the results are when the gloves come off. As Thomas herself reportedly said in a 2002 speech, “I censored myself for 50 years…. Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?'”

That’s a great start…

Straight reporters have been taught for six decades to submerge or even smother their political and philosophical views in the workplace. Like all varieties of censorship, this process creates resentment and distortion. Whatever it is that you feel prevented from saying, you will be more likely to scream once given the chance. This is why, for example, some of the most politically opinionated people you’ll ever meet are newspaper reporters a couple drinks in out yakking with their colleagues.

Degrading the quality of that discussion still further is the likelihood that the partisanship-averse journos haven’t bothered to construct their own self-conscious political philosophy…

This explains so much about Lori Sturdevant and Nick Coleman…

5 thoughts on “This Explains So Much

  1. I believe that Helen Thomas had several decades of “senior moments”. RIP Helen.

  2. Lousy at parties? How many liberal arts majors make vodka ice cubes with liquid nitrogen for the punch? (sneaky little buggers those were, making the drink stronger and stronger as time went on 😉

    And as for Helen, she hasn’t bothered to submerge any of her political opinions for as long as I’ve been alive. Tony Snow rightly called her on representing the “Hamas opinion.”

  3. “engineers are lousy at parties,” — pffft
    Nah. They make great pinatas.

  4. Times change.

    When I started in engineering back in the Paleolithic Era, my first boss took me aside. You see, he was a bit worried. We Ph.D. signal processing type engineers were famous for dressing unconventionally, so he was worried I’d sport the ponytail of the era and forget to bathe. Yes, we still wore suits and ties in those days, with just ties and dress slacks on casual Fridays.

    Fast forward to today, and I’ve not worn anything other than jeans to the office for the last 15 years. I’ll do Dockers when I visit the customer, but other than that, why?

    Did I mention the change was for the better?

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