Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Should Have Known Me When I Was Younger

Boy#2 is a member of IEEE. Here is what I learned by visiting IEEE's website today: That it is the largest professional association for the advancement of technology, and that when you say its name you say "I Triple E." (Knowing that makes me a little sad, because I had always imagined it was pronounced like a scream. AYEEEEEEE!)

Anyway, every day the good folks at IEEE send out an e-mail news bulletin to the group's members. This morning, Boy#2 reports, the bulletin sent at 8:03 a.m. led off with this headline:

"With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program"

I winced a little when I heard it, but apparently not nearly as much as the headline-writer's boss winced, because Two says that a couple of hours later this follow-up e-mail popped up in his inbox.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the headline in today's Tech Alert: "With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program." The actual title of the article is "The Making of Arduino."
I'm an IEEE member, and a mom, and the headline was inexcusable, a lazy, sexist cliché that should have never seen the light of day. Today we are instituting an additional headline review process that will apply to all future Tech Alerts so that such insipid and offensive headlines never find their way into your in-box.
Spectrum's insistence on editorial excellence applies to all its products, including e-mail alerts. Thank you for bringing this error to our attention. If you have any additional comments or recommendations, do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the editorial staff.
Sincerely yours,

(Person Who Is Editor of This News Bulletin)

Well. First let me say that I do not think the "Even a (insert people class here) Can" is a good phrase to be used in any context whatsoever, because this construction inevitably insults the intelligence and/or capability of the people class mentioned. Go ahead--try it using any ethnicity, gender, or human sub-group. "Even a Flying Purple People Eater Can" (make a good pie crust, count to 10, shingle a roof, whatever) and you'll find yourself thinking, "Wow, that must be super easy because Flying Purple People Eaters are really stupid and inept."

So I was not particularly crazy about the construction, but the extent to which this editor exploded made me almost nostalgic for my younger self, when I was just as prickly and apt to take offense at any aspersions to my abilities. I was a mom, but no one had best even hint I couldn't do any cotton-pickin' thing I chose to do.

I'm mellower now. I know I am unlikely to ever be able to program and that doesn't really bother me. I can do a lot of things pretty darned well (including knotting a maraschino cherry stem with my tongue--take THAT, Arduino) and quite frankly, I'm okay with not being able to do everything.

It's like that old Dolly Parton quote that went something like this: "I'm never upset when someone calls me a dumb blonde because I know I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde." I have grown comfortable with the limits of what I can and cannot do; the hard edges of my ability to be insulted have softened.

That doesn't mean I won't ever challenge these limits, and maybe some day I will discover that by golly this mom CAN program because now she has Arduino! But if not, I won't be particularly distraught because I know that even if I'm a mom, I'm not stupid, and I'm not inept. I'm just mellow.

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