The Royal Mathematician to the Gormogons, that other Dr. J, writes into the Czar. And this caught him by surprise, because the Czar looked up and down the length of this email and could not isolate a single instance where the Czar screwed up Physics 101 and Dr (KN)J had to correct him. Write this day down.
O Dread and Majestic Czar,
The whole subject of politically-correct labels is one that has amused and irritated your Royal Mathematician for years. In addition to the abominable “African American” appellation, there was at one point, a “Spanish Surname” protected category that was equally problematic. This was, of course, designed to affirmatively act in favor of some folks, mostly of Latin American heritage, who (or whose ancestors) have been historically treated poorly, but it also included, for example, some Castilian Spaniards of my acquaintance whose ancestors had never been treated as less than near-royalty. The category, however, excluded another acquaintance of mine whose Spaniard ancestors were treated rather poorly in Spain, then again in Latin America – his name is Appelbaum and he is descended from an old Jewish family that has been in Spain off and on since before the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.
One of my office-mates during my postdoc years was a white South African mathematician who routinely checked the “African American” ethnicity box – he said, “I’m African and I’m in the process of becoming an American citizen – if the term doesn’t apply to me, then what does it mean?”
On the other hand, among the current congregants of my church we have a delightful family from Botswana who are here for graduate school. Our young pastor, out of force of externally-enforced habit, will occasionally refer to them as “African Americans.” I can’t count the number of times I have said to him, “No, Tim, they’re simply Africans.”
Royal Mathematician to the Gormogons
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.