Monday, February 13, 2023


I had a passing thought on pronouns.

When I was a young employee in a professional environment we did not fixate on "pronouns". We already had a unique identifier. It was our name.

If we consistently delivered value to the product or the process, people quickly learned our names.

If we failed to add value then we were a commodity and we had pronouns or were identified by the generic "buddy" or "kid".

We aspired to add value so we would be recognized as valuable and sought-after members of the team.

I remember one instance when an unexpected deficiency had been found in a design late in the development cycle. I walked into a conference room where a half-dozen folks had been tagged to "fix" the problem as quickly as possible. 

There is no drug more powerful than when you could feel the best-of-the-best relax as they saw you walk into the room because they felt more confident when they learned you were on their team.


My sense is that young people today crave a sense of importance. They think it comes from having people cater to their unique and contrived pronouns.

I suspect that sense of "importance" is about as satisfying as a meal of cotton-candy and ice water. People might dance-the-dance but it is because of the fear of external reprisals rather than out of sense of homage or respect for your professional, your earned reputation.

I think the big to-do about pronouns is silly.

We will all be much farther ahead when we can simply say "Earn it" vis-a-vis "respect".


  1. When First Place is eliminated, blue ribbons banned and everyone gets a trophy just for showing up then actual accomplishments become irrelevant. Growing up under that paradigm has led to a generation of useless people who expect a full days pay just for clocking in and refuse to believe they actually need to accomplish anything.

    1. Well said Dan, I was going to say something similar. I really do think the "participation trophy generation" has proven a flop as a parenting perspective.
      Correllary to that I think is the snowflake syndrome. Everyone is unique and special, praise flows non-stop, because we don't want to hurt their delicate feelings. Instead of correcting the error (smacks back of head: don't be stupid you moron), we support the positive (gently soothing voice: try this way instead).
      Said another way:
      No pain, no gain.
      This is an endemic problem in our society (like racism (/sarc)), see our prison culture. No reason NOT to go, 3 hots and a cot, see all my friends, espn and cable tee vee. As prison softens, recidivism rises. Correlation does equal causation! Prison life is not a deterrent for many people! (I can wax poetic as to why, but frankly irrelevant!) No pain, no gain. Prisons purpose is as a deterrent, but has been softened so much, its easier than life outside for many. And we wonder why crime is rising? We've removed the deterrent between jail and bail 'reforms'. Another example of a "great idea" people refuse to admit doesn't work due to ideological reasons!
      I'll take a leap here and blame the rise of wimmens: they can't raise men, and since they've been put in positions of power and allowed to rule over more and more, our society degrades further and further. Half the EU defense minister are Bints! Never carried a rifle, leads continental army! Da Fuq?!?!
      Yeah, sure, philosophize all you want, till Joe's cows come home, but the trajectory is plain as day, even Baltimore City school students can tell.

  2. They want to be IMPORTANT without having to put in the effort to 'learn' the things that will allow them to contribute and be important.

  3. We used to field MDI's data scheme at work. The wireless engineers came up with a single board to do the work of three. I installed one of the first ones on a trip out in west Texas. It was the most difficult site to get to. And the fleet radios and data units were the oldest we had. The card didn't do it's job. I got blamed for the failure.

    An engineer went down and did the troubleshooting, and found it wasn't able to function with the older tech. I volunteered to be the lab rat and take the redesign and plug it in locally, where we had the same older tech. It took a couple months, but they finally got a design to work. And it worked well.

    The swag that came with the success of that project still makes me smile. They were small things like an embroidered shirt, an attaboy letter, and a small sentiment on the solder mask the of the actual device. Meant a lot then, still does now. And the respect of my engineering team for being a part of the solution, that was more important than anything else to me.

    You can't pick your nickname, or your position at the table. Those are earned.

    Dan and his follow up commenters are spot on.

  4. The sum-up line that came to me about walking into the room with the group dealing with the problem is that they can look up and think either:

    "Oh good, [name] is here."
    "Oh God, he's here."

    I've said both, unfortunately, more often the latter. I've been on projects where the decision maker tells us, "We're going to get [name] in on this, too", and I revise all estimates for time, difficulty, and aggravation up an order of magnitude.

  5. This must be really good if the Brits are getting into it.


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