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)
"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?
Friday, April 25, 2008
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:48 AM