The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, April 25, 2008

9/11 Conspiracies...



I've had an ongoing conversation with a friend who believes 9/11 was a total conspiracy. There are three things that leap out of her scenario that automatically trips the "bullshit" alarm.

1) her theory demands that BOTH the planes were auto-controlled into the towers, AND the towers were set to demolish. Since I believe that the plane-hits alone would be enough to trigger a war (which she believes was the point), the idea of setting the WTC for demolition in addition is overkill of a grotequely inefficient and dangerous kind. As far as I know, there would be no way of coordinating a demolition on two buildings that size without massive eveidence: stripped walls, thousands of pounds of explosives, hundreds of workmen preparing the building for weeks. No such activity was reported by survivors.

2) The sheer number of conspirators, including tens of thousands of physicists, structural engineer and demolition specialists who, by their published comments or massive silence are either fools or knaves.

3) If you want to trigger a war with Iraq...uh...wouldn't it make sense to have some Iraqis on the plane? Duh.



Just for the sake of argument, does anyone see any obvious flaws with my logic?

##





What do celebrities owe? Wesley Snipes has been sentenced to three years. Sigh. I'm not suggesting it was unfair--his co-conspirators got a lot more time. I'm suggesting that it is sad, and a waste. Celebrities definitely get a break in jury trials, and even the way they are often treated by the police. The downside is that they have so much light on them that they make great object examples. My grief comes from knowing the man, that's all.

##

This morning I did a little Googling on the matter of men and women in the world. I think it's a fertile arena, because I think that examining the relationships between men and women has a lovely parallel to the internal wars all human beings wage.



What I looked for was an answer to the question: "worldwide, what is the comparative life satisfaction of men and women?" If I make the basic assumption that men and women are equal in basic qualities of perception and honesty, then if, for instance, the average woman experienced less subjective life satisfaction than the average man worldwide (depending on the divide), it would be a powerful argument that women get the short end of the stick.



I only looked into it briefly, because I thought the best thing to do would be to throw the subject open, and let you guys educate me. But the first data I came across that seemed at all valuable seemed to be from a feminist-perspective study at a university (if I posted this some months ago, I'm sorry. I only got four hours of sleep last night, and I'm a little foggy)





http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:KIwPU8ya_I8J:www.faculty.ucr.edu/~sonja/papers/SL2001.pdf+do+men+or+women+feel+more+life+satisfaction&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=11&gl=us&client=firefox-a



ᅠᅠ

"An apparently paradoxical finding in the literature is that women show

higher rates of depression than men, but also report higher levels of well-being.

At the same time, the majority of studies find no gender differences in life

Life satisfaction. These conflicting findings can be resolved by considering the range

of affect that men and women typically experience. Women report

experiencing affect -- both positive and negative -- with greater intensity and

frequency than do men. That is, women tend to experience greater joy and

deeper sadness -- and experience these emotions more often -- than do men.

Hence, measures of depression and subjective well-being, which include

affective components, appear to capture the extreme lows that leave women

vulnerable to depression, as well as the extreme highs that allow for greater

well-being. By contrast, men and women report similar rates of global life satisfaction, which is primarily a cognitive assessment.

Despite similar levels of life satisfaction across gender, women and men

appear to derive life satisfaction from different sources. For example, Ed

Diener and Frank Fujita (1995) found that social resources (i.e., family, friends,

access to social services) are predictive of life satisfaction or both men and

women, but they are more predictive of life satisfaction for women. Perhapsᅠ

women’s roles as the conservators of contact with friends and family -- both a

blessing and a burden -- lead to their relatively greater reliance on social

support. By contrast, factors that may be more relevant to men’s personal

goals, such as athleticism, influential connections, and authority, were found to

be related to life satisfaction for men, but not for women."

##



I found that interesting, and more or less in line with what I've observed. My feeling is this: men are high-performance short-lived worker/fighter drones. The EXACT same psychological tendencies and hormonal cocktails that make it possible to respond to aggression or predation with efficiency also burns us out, separates us from our emotions, and makes us trend more toward violence (than women) even in family situations.



This is horrible, and must cease. No argument that the rates of violence toward women by men are inexcusible. No excuse...but there ARE reasons. And the trend toward violence, and hierarchicalism, doesn't really serve men, although to (what I consider to be) a superficial level, it appears to.



For me to believe that men have this worldwide edge, at least one of two things would have to be true.



1) Men would have to direct more violence toward women than they address toward other men. They do not, by a long shot.

2) Women would have to routinely consider their lives to be less satisfying than men. I can't find this data. Perhaps you can.



And there is a third thing that is almost as important, but is too subjective and therefore vulnerable to being twisted by my own wishful thinking:



3) Men would have to get a higher percentage of those things considered most ultimately valuable in life. By my standards, they do not.

##

That #3 is tricky, and I admit it. But if you got a group of men and women together, especially mature men and women over 50, let's say, and ask them what the very most important values in their lives might be...

Or if you asked people on their death beds what they wish they'd spent more time doing...

Or listened to the great spiritual and moral leaders about what makes a good life

And considered those answers to be the real keys to the kingdom, I submit to you that men don't get more of that stuff at all.



What DO they get more of? The stuff teenaged boys dream about. Power, glory, wealth. In other words, fool's gold. In fact, to broaden that, men get more of the things men value. But then, women get more of the things WOMEN value.



Which means that if you make the mistake of thinking that the things immature men value are actually the most important thing in life, you'll make the further mistake of concluding that men are qualitatively better (or much better) off than women. Conversely, though, if you accepted WOMEN'S values as the most important things, women would come off better, with better relationships, more time with family, more honest expression of emotions, etc.



Looking at the quote from the academic paper above, one might explain women's reactions by stating that, although they are in greater pain than men, they have greater depths of strength to deal with it. Very interesting--so, then, not only are men brutal, but they are weak. I ask a question: is it possible to sustain the belief that women have it worse than men without taking the parallel position that women are superior to men? It seems to me that that might be a bit difficult.

##

If a poison gas rolled through a town, triggering men to kill 20% of the women and 40% of each other, despite the fact that it was men doing the killing, this situation hardly worked to the advantage of men. This is kind of how I look at testosterone poisoning. Nature decided upon this particular chemical cocktail to produce warriors and hunters. Societies formed afterward, reinforcing the glory of testosterone, and encouraging young men to march merrily into cannon fire. A side effect is explosive violence (especially when mixed with alcohol), stifled emotions, shortened lives.

Those boys bought the lie, a lie that is quite efficient at producing empires and acquiring resources to keep children alive. And women are definitely more controlled under such a system. The problem seems to be that, pre-technology, the systems where women are freest are also the most vulnerable to external predation.

Can you see the paradox and dilemma? Women are punished when they want to be Alphas. Men are punished if they want to be Betas. Women express their emotions more, so we hear about their pain. Men repress their emotions (no one cares!) and as a result suffer in silence.

This makes sense of the world to me. Remember that list of things that I wanted to see equal between blacks and whites?

1) Infant mortality rate

2) Incarceration rates

3) Life expectancy

4) Inherited Wealth

5) Net Worth

6) Death by violence



As far as I can see, it's a toss-up if I apply this same standard between men and women. Women have it better on life expectancy, incarceration rates, and death by violence. Infant mortality rate? Not sure how to measure that, since men don't have babies. Net worth? Men win. Inherited wealth? Well...I'm not checking my facts on this this morning, but some years back I heard that most inherited wealth was actually in the hands of women. Perhaps one of you could fact-check that for me.

Obviously, one could say that that list doesn't apply. But remember: this is the stuff that for about ten years, I've hoped and dreamed and prayed for concerning my ethnic group. White women trump black people on ALL of them, so I am skeptical about some feminist rhetoric. And women in general at LEAST equal men in these categories.

There are other categories, certainly. As I said, these may not be valid applied to gender. I am quite sure that some will say that, because so much violence is directed at women BY men, the fact that far more men than women are victims to violence is irrelevant. And as I said, I think that deep down inside such people believe women to be superior--are, in essence, female chauvinists. Which are morally equivalent in my book to male chauvinists. Or am I missing something?

10 comments:

suzanne said...

Infant mortality rate? Not sure how to measure that, since men don't have babies

HUH?!!!

infant mortality
at which the USA ranks ridiculously
high
refers to death of infants not of the bearer of the chuild
so it applies equally to males and females

and worldwide the deliberate killing
of female newborns
or using ultrasound before birth
and then aborting the females
is an established fact
especially i n China and India
it's what has caused the scarcity
of women in china . . .

Mark Jones said...

I just read about Wesley Snipes' conviction (and sentence) today. On the one hand, I'm sorry that he's getting hammered--and pretty blatantly so precisely because he's high profile and can be used as an example. On the other hand...apparently he bought into the fringe tax protesters' claim that the income tax is illegitimate for various technical/legal reasons.

I'm surprised by his naiviety. Even if they had the facts on their side (I don't think they do, but even IF everything they allege is true), the government is NEVER, EVER going to admit it. The government will be much more aggressive about enforcing the law in such cases than it is with ordinary tax cheats--yeah, they're breaking the law, but they're trying to overturn the system, they're just trying to save themselves money.

Steven Barnes said...

Suzanne--what I meant to say (like I said, I'm a little sleep deprived) is that men don't have babies separate from women, so you can't measure "men's babies" as opposed to "women's babies."
#
I find killing of female infants to be the most hideous form of abortion, which is the worst form of birth control. I in no way suggest that looking at those stats is not valuable--just that it wasn't one of my original criteria for measuring racial progress. And I never stated that those six standards are an ultimately legitimate way to measure black/female, black/white or Male/female relations--just that the results of doing so were, to me, of interest.

Steve Perry said...

Coming from a guy who knows about slavery, I'm surprised that you seem to be glossing over the idea that through most of history, women and children around the world were essentially property, had few rights, and that if you felt like thumping the wife and kiddies around for whatever reason, it was socially acceptable and your right as head of the household.

If you killed your husband, they hanged you.

Until WWII, most women didn't work outside the home, had no way of making an income, and often the abusive husband was the devil she knew, with no reason to believe that leaving him and finding another one -- also not real acceptable socially -- would be any better.

When did women get the right to vote? When my grandmother was twenty-one.

"The hand that rocks the cradle ..." sounds to me a lot like "the hand that picks the cotton." Neither is valid when it came to power and who really had it.

When the judges, lawyers, legislators, businessmen, doctors, and police are all white men, as they were through all but recent history here in the U.S. ,that playing ain't level for anybody who isn't a white man, is it?

Steven Barnes said...

I don't doubt that men controlled that aspect of life for women and children. I'm asking a different, and I think, subtler question: there is obviously a grotesquely huge difference between the way women look at their relationships with men, and slaves looked at their relationships with their masters. I've never heard of a runaway slave returning voluntarily, or a free black voluntarily surrendering to the chain. This strikes me as being a fair representation of black feelings about slavery.
#
Conversely, all over the world, while one DOES hear stories of both generalized and specific woe connected with Male-Female relations, one also sees a glorious tradition of song, story, poem, and universally spread attitude that a LARGE proportion of women find the idea of marriage wonderful, and always have. This strikes me as being just as representative. Clearly, what slavery offered slaves and what marriage offers women are very different things. I don't deny that men get the better selection of their toys. I suggest that that shit isn't as important as men think it is, and it's a distraction from the realization that they are being ripped off horribly elsewhere. That the truth isn't that men are using women, or vice versa, but that nature is using us both, and that part of that damage is the domineering and violent behavior in men. I'm willing to bet that not one person reading this blog will say that violent, domineering behavior is healthy. Anyone? Then all these men are behaving in an unhealthy way...that admittedly destroys them as well, but turns them into something which is useful for keeping wolves and enemy tribesmen at bay.

It's like they're infected with something that is useful in one way, and will kill them in another...and then are blamed for being infected.

All I have to do is look at all the battlefields of the earth, heaped with the endless bodies of young men who bought the "be a Man!" Kool-ade, and know that there is a cost for being "Manly" that is never factored into this: that you get to strut like a peacock and act all bad, but about once every generation we're going to seriously fuck up a gigantic chunk of you. They didn't make the rules. NO ONE DID. But we have the chance to wake up, stop blaming each other and ourselves, and move beyond it. Yes, I would like ZERO violence on this planet, if it were possible. But I doubt seriously I could get there with the current popular explanations for why it all happens.

Anonymous said...

"What DO they get more of? The stuff teenaged boys dream about. Power, glory, wealth. In other words, fool's gold. In fact, to broaden that, men get more of the things men value. But then, women get more of the things WOMEN value."

OTOH, men and women and intersex adults (and boys and girls and intersex children old enough to know what these are) value things like food and physical health. Is money fool's gold when it's the difference between eating and starving? Is power fool's gold when it's the power to survive refusing unprotected sex?

"'The hand that rocks the cradle ...' sounds to me a lot like 'the hand that picks the cotton.'"

Maybe less comparable to racism than to anti-Semitism? I got the impression that blacks get accused of pretending to be oppressed but secretly running the world way less often than Jews do (and I'm not sure what the accusers say about black Jews).

Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised if a "Protocols of the Elders of Harlem" strain of white supremacism emerges during the President Obama administration.

"one also sees a glorious tradition of song, story, poem, and universally spread attitude that a LARGE proportion of women find the idea of marriage wonderful, and always have..."

Which ideas of which kinds of marriage?

"...This strikes me as being just as representative. Clearly, what slavery offered slaves and what marriage offers women are very different things."

Marriage doesn't offer the same things to all women. Someone may gain decades of partnership with a man or woman she loves from marriage. Someone else may get nightly rapes by a man she hates from marriage.

"It's like they're infected with something that is useful in one way, and will kill them in another...and then are blamed for being infected."

Good point. Nobody should be blamed for being infected! Deliberately going and infecting others is something else (remember, some infected people, do make an effort to not make even more victims, and they don't deserve to be lumped together with the ones who don't give a damn) and *that* is what deserves the blame.

"All I have to do is look at all the battlefields of the earth, heaped with the endless bodies of young men who bought the 'be a Man!' Kool-ade,"

Especially in the thousands of years and countless wars that passed before stuff like carpet bombing was invented! I heard that civilians are making up a higher % of wartime deaths in recent history.

Anonymous said...

"I've never heard of a runaway slave returning voluntarily"

I have heard of that.

In his books _Disposable People : New Slavery in the Global Economy_ and _Ending Slavery : How We Free Today's Slaves_, author Kevin Bales mentions cases of ex-slaves returning to slavery because they didn't receive the financial support they needed to get back on their feet after leaving the slaveholders (for example, not getting the support they need to afford housing other than what the slaveholder provided).

I'd post the quotes here but I already returned those books to the library. However, _Rebuilding Lives : An Introduction to Promising Practices in the rehabilitation of Freed Slaves_ is available online at https://www.freetheslaves.net/NETCOMMUNITY/Document.Doc?id=60 , and in pages 70-71 author Helen Armstrong says

"...Encourage clients to practice living without debts. Suggest that they should not usually ask for loans. This is especially important where depending on loans can become a path into slavery...

"...All clients should learn how to protect themselves against getting into another bad work situation.

"When former slaves cannot support themselves, they are in danger of being entrapped into slavery again. For example, some former sex slaves are forced back into prostitution because that is all they know..."

Steven Barnes said...

Anonymous: I said "runaway" slaves, while you are referring to "freed" slaves--while your point is still interesting, these are two different things.

Steve Perry said...

So, another analogy, and maybe flawed. If slaves in the U.S. were as smart as their captors -- and I take that as a given -- and they hated slavery, also hard to argue against, then why didn't they rise up and klll Massa en masse? There were more of them on any given plantation then there were white overseers.

I expect it was because they were also smart enough to realize that the power structure would be sending guns in a hurry.

Power structures are designed by those who have the most power and who want to keep it.

Through out history, the men have been the most privileged in most societies, and while there were certainly benefits to the women and female children, those were less about them than about the men who controlled them. THe hand that rocked the cradle has never ruled the world.

Granted, until relatively recent times, biology was destiny; nature designed pair-bonds and tribal ways to keep people alive and reproducing. And I don't think there was a generalized male conspiracy per se, but that was the default pattern -- guys with the strongest arms and the quickest wit ran the show, and the one with the most drive and weapons to back it up sat on top of the pyramid.

Women who bucked the power structure were punished, sometimes with death. It is only in recent times that laws have come to actually protect women and minors, and in this country, anybody who is not white.

It's still the default that the guy with the most guns runs the show, and he is helped to get there by folks who want him there, for their own reasons.

It's not that you are politically incorrect. It's just that you are wrong. Anybody in a predominately European society -- and that includes us -- who isn't white European has historically been oppressed -- Jews, Africans, Asians whoever.

By the by, did you see Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Bill Moyers' Journal last night? Man comes across a whole lot differently when you expand the sound bites and put them into context. He's got a right to gripe -- most of what he had to say made sense to me, especially given his background.

Anonymous said...

"while your point is still interesting"

Thanks! Also, check out http://www.freetheslaves.net/

"And I don't think there was a generalized male conspiracy per se..."

Definitely not! Men are way too diverse a group of people with different opinions and goals to manage to conspire like that. Likewise, there's definitely no generalized female conspiracy.

"...but that was the default pattern -- guys with the strongest arms and the quickest wit ran the show, and the one with the most drive and weapons to back it up sat on top of the pyramid."

More accurately, "people with the strongest arms and the quickest wit ran the show," and then when not everyone gets the same nutritional and educational opportunities guess which children get to develop the strongest arms [hint: while men on average end up larger than women, I've also heard of oppression stunting muscle growth in some boys so that on average poor people end up smaller than their rich neighbors] and quickest wit and run the show in the next generation...?

"Women who bucked the power structure were punished, sometimes with death. It is only in recent times that laws have come to actually protect women and minors, and in this country, anybody who is not white."

...and people who got discriminated against for other stuff (being non-Christian, being gay and/or trans in some jurisdictions, etc.).