Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Apparently there are people who think that the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook was an inside job, or that we were at least lied to about it on some level.
The idea behind any conspiracy theory that's worth its salt is that some incident or incidences were faked in order to distract the American public or temporarily misdirect them from the real issue. In the case of Sandy Hook, the shooting was supposedly fabricated in order to drum up support for gun control.
Of course, President Obama did push for an assault weapon ban shortly after the shooting. This is not a coincidence, it was done purposefully. If you're going to try and pass unpopular legislation, the best thing to do is wait until it's politically expedient.
The thing about that is that it leaves it open to accusations of conspiracy, because the timing seems just a little too convenient. But the thing is, people who want to pass gun control laws don't need to fabricate an excuse. They were going to get one eventually anyway, it was just a matter of when, not if.
That's all pretty obvious, but for those of you who seriously entertain these ideas that the government conspired to lie about a shooting, or even orchestrated one themselves, well you're the problem.
If you think that a fake school shooting is a good distraction to pacify the American public, then what about you? The real issue is whether or not this legislation is going to pass, and if you think obsessing over whether or not the government and media are lying to you is going to solve anything, well then the real distraction is your little pet theory. You are just as pacified, if not moreso than, everyone else because all you can focus on is trying to figure out the gears in the machine.
"Yeah, but like I won't vote for Hussein Obama or any other Democrat because I know the truth!" Good for you, you weren't going to vote for them anyway, so you're doing literally nothing except fooling yourself into thinking you have it all figured out. In the meantime, what have you done to advocate for the rights that you supposedly care about?
Conspiracy theories are worse than the supposed 'distractions' they try to expose. They're just an excuse to 'feel good' while doing absolutely nothing about the real, practical issues at hand.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
So you want to be an Alpha male...just be careful what you wish for.
Roosh, one of the most prolific and successful PUAs (Pick up artists) started a Game and Lifestyle website called Return of Kings. On this site, an author (Samseau) recently posted an article called "The Strong Do What They Can, And The Weak Suffer What They Must".
Here's a quick summary of what the article is about, beginning with a quote:
Halfway through the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians decided to complete their hegemony over the Aegean Sea by capturing the only remaining island not yet under their control, the island of Melos. Melos was originally a Spartan colony, but as the war between Sparta and Athens raged on, Melos remained neutral. This was not good enough for Athens. The Athenians took a fleet to Melos to demand monetary tribute and, should they refuse, press war.
Samseau goes on to explain that the people of the island of Melos resisted the Athenians and lost, and for their trouble the men were slaughtered and the woman and children taken as slaves. The Melians, before they were conquered, tried to argue morality, saying that it would be wrong for the Athenians to attack them since they were a neutral territory. Obviously this appeal to morality failed.
The author concludes on a very important note...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
This post is meant to ask a question, elaborately, rather than answer it. There really may not be a way to know the answer anyway.
Often, whenever women begin to move into traditionally male spaces, such as the military or competitive video gaming or even the boy scouts, you'll hear someone point out that the only reason women want to intrude in these spaces is because of penis envy. If you don't know, penis envy was a theory about women that Freud came up with that as women grow up they realize they don't have a penis and this causes all sorts of psychological mayhem. Nowadays, in a nutshell, it means that a women subconsciously wishes she was a man.
I'm not big on this theory, for reasons that I won't go into here, but I suspect that at some level there may be a grain of truth to it. Not that there is envy of men's netherbits, per se, but rather envy of what may be perceived as "male freedom" which may or may not actually exist.
This freedom is a freedom to be aggressive/assertive, to be confident and secure, to be dominant, and to explore and so on. To quote Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park (the good one):
What's so great about discovery? It's a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.Now, this quote only works if you subscribe to my theory that the subtext of the Jurassic Park film is (intentionally or not) a commentary on human gender relations, and the anxieties over these issues that men and women have...I think it's plausible, and in the early 1990s the timing is just right. But I may be wrong.
Less subjectively, an influential essay was written called "Men Explain Things To Me" by Rebecca Solnit. If you know a bit of your recent history, then you'll recognize this essay as the probable origin of the term 'mansplaining'.
The general gist of the article is that men feel the need to confidently explain things to women, even if the women know better than they do, as a way to minimize women's intellect or silence her.
So that you don't have to read the entire article, here's a few choice quotes. The first quote's set up is that she's at a posh party in Aspen when the host asks her and a friend to stay after everyone leaves so that he can ask her about the books she's written:
I began to speak only of the most recent [of my published books] on that summer day in 2003, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, my book on the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.She continues:
He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. "And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?"
So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I'd somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book -- with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.
So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, "That's her book." Or tried to interrupt him anyway.
But he just continued on his way. She had to say, "That's her book" three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a nineteenth-century novel, he went ashen. That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn't read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless -- for a moment, before he began holding forth again.
Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don't. Not yet, but according to the actuarial tables, I may have another forty-something years to live, more or less, so it could happen. Though I'm not holding my breath.As another example:
A few years after the idiot in Aspen, I was in Berlin giving a talk when the Marxist writer Tariq Ali invited me out to a dinner that included a male writer and translator and three women a little younger than me who would remain deferential and mostly silent throughout the dinner. Tariq was great. Perhaps the translator was peeved that I insisted on playing a modest role in the conversation, but when I said something about how Women Strike for Peace, the extraordinary, little-known antinuclear and antiwar group founded in 1961, helped bring down the communist-hunting House Committee on Un-American Activities, HUAC, Mr. Very Important II sneered at me. HUAC, he insisted, didn't exist by the early 1960s and, anyway, no women's group played such a role in HUAC's downfall. His scorn was so withering, his confidence so aggressive, that arguing with him seemed a scary exercise in futility and an invitation to more insult.That's a lot of quoting, so I'll try and make this short and sweet.
I think I was at nine books at that point, including one that drew from primary documents and interviews about Women Strike for Peace. But explaining men still assume I am, in some sort of obscene impregnation metaphor, an empty vessel to be filled with their wisdom and knowledge. A Freudian would claim to know what they have and I lack, but intelligence is not situated in the crotch...
I'll grant off the bat that men are probably more apt to be the ones doing this arrogant and condescending 'mansplaining'. Anecdotally, I've really only seen this sort of thing in men, and can't recall a single time I've experienced this exact sort of thing from women. Women have their own version of this, but I'll save that for another post.
When I said this essay was influential, I meant that it went on to become something of a movement. Besides being the origin of the term mansplaining, it also started the "Men Call Me Things" phenomenon as seen here and here and so on.
But let's take these men as an example. Sure, men in general feel more pressure to sell their confidence, intelligence, and dominance especially to women. Men are told those are the things that give them worth as men.
But more specifically, what kind of man tries to school the author of a book about her own book? Obviously a pretty self-centered man.
But let's take Rebecca Solnit as a counter example. While she's writing about the trials and tribulations of being an upper middle class white woman,
She's the kind of person who writes books, and gets invited to dinners by Marxist authors in Berlin - she's very worldly you see. But of course, you would travel to Aspen and Berlin to socialize too if only baby formula wasn't so expensive.
To put the icing on the cake, she even says this about the Aspen party, "The house was great -- if you like Ralph Lauren-style chalets..." And about the other party goers she says, "The people were all older than us and dull in a distinguished way..."
Yes, the luxury cabin is all right, if you can look past the Ralph Lauren-style chalets. Nevermind that many people reading her essay would be happy just to have that kind of luxury and wouldn't know the difference.
What kind of woman uses an essay that's supposed to be about women's disenfranchisement to tell us about the kind of (generally great) person she (thinks she) is? Obviously a pretty self-centered woman.
All right, I guess I wasn't done quoting. The point is, calling a lot of the more frivolous aspects of feminism "penis envy" is really missing what's at play here. Her essay was so influential because within its words is an arms race between men and women. Not an arms race over genitalia, but an arms race over identity and self-centeredness.
This is why The Game works, and why selling an identity to a woman is not only a good tactic, but increasingly a necessary one. Notice that she only calls the Aspen party host an "idiot", not because he confidently explained things to her, but because he coincidentally happened to be wrong.
Point is, if you don't have the identity, if you won't mansplain with the right kind of confidence (and know-how), then you're dead in the water. But before you get mad at women for putting you, as a man, in this ridiculous position, remember that an arms race requires two opposing sides.
Every time you pedestalize (rather, idealize) a woman, or even every time you take women off of a pedestal (devalue) and start to look down on them to be more successful with them, you're just developing your counter weapons.
Idealizing and devaluing...hm, that sounds familiar...
Idealizing women, and then becoming disillusioned when you fully comprehend how women do not and cannot measure up to that ideal, is a way of attempting to brandish your higher yield arms to one up her own.
Yes, it's a messed up system, and a messed up way of doing things, but then if that's just the way things are, what are you gonna do about it?
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Some guy sued a gym for banning men from the premises for 442 hours a year, so that women could have the gym to themselves, while still charging men the same amount of money as women.
Now, normal people can recognize this as the gym asking men to bankroll a privilege that only women get to enjoy, but not so much for Jezebel. In fact, I think the word they used to describe the plaintiff was, "shitnugget".
But that's not really a surprise, because none of the authors on Jezebel have an IQ in the triple digits.
Jezebel quotes the plaintiff's words:
Tellingly, the gym's policy...assumes that only men can objectify the opposite sex. But if TV shows like Sex and The City taught us anything, it's that women can be just as forthright.
And who's to say [men] don't have [their] own body hang-ups? We know for a fact that increasing numbers of men suffer from anorexia and bulimia as well as 'bigorexia' - the need to be as muscular as possible. Rates of men having cosmetic surgery are also increasing year-on-year, so the facts speak for themselves.Here's the Jezebel author's response:
I agree! It's fucking shitty of us to marginalize boys and men with eating disorders, and we should do something about it. That's a completely different subject, and, for that matter, one that Lloyd doesn't really give a fuck about other than its use as a handy citation for his argument.If you follow that link, you'll see that the solution - according to Jezebel - is to give men and boys with an eating disorder "a hug". I'm not making that up. Seriously...you can read it for yourself.
"We should do something about that." That's like saying, "Yeah, whatever, I'll get around to it." Which happens to be a favorite phrase of mine.
This is lip service, and nothing more. The point being, as much as feminists may like to claim that feminism is about helping men and boys too (and maybe they will, who knows?), our society just can't afford to wait.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to sit around and wait to find out if they ever get around to it. And personally, I find working at the local food bank to be very fulfilling. Which really was the point of writing this in the first place, to encourage you to look into this sort of volunteer work if you haven't already. If you're not bathing in money, and I'm personally not, then it's a great way to make a difference.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Years ago, my brother and I were talking about how, by amazing coincidence, I had heard the same exact story within a short timespan almost word for word from two different pastors who definitely didn't know each other. I joked that there must be a website called Pastor'sStories.com, but it turns out that the website is actually called Desperate Preacher.
Conveniently, that anecdote perfectly sets me up for a post about why a lot of modern Christian sermons are awful and (so that no one will accuse me of just being cynical/negative) what can be done about it.
Apparently "Pastor" is one of those occupations that draws a lot of uncreative personalities, as you can see in this WSJ article. Next time you're in church, if in fact you go, the sermon, anecdote, or presentation you see may not actually have been written or created by the pastor of that church.
A lot of this apparently brushes up against ethical concerns about plagiarism, with some pastors completely unconcerned about properly crediting sources they use for part or all of their sermon.
I'm not really concerned with the ethical debate, though some of the tamer examples do definitely lie in a moral gray area. The plagiarism is just unethical and has no place - no debate.
What really concerns me is what this really reveals about the priorities and even the personalities of the people with trust to "lead the flock". To quote from the WSJ article, Rev. Steve Sjogren advises, "Don't be original, be effective!"
For some pastors then, the ends justify the means. So long as you can reach your audience, put people in seats so that they hear the gospel, or counsel people about their needs then anything goes. This includes telling an anecdote as if it actually happened to you, even though it didn't (which some people call lying).
In short, being an effective speaker is considered more important than being honest. Hmm...that sounds familiar.
The real problem with this is that it leads to a bigger problem.
Here's a list of sermon titles I compiled after five minutes of reasearch.
Getting Ready for the Rest of Your Life
Live Your Calling
The Life You Were Meant To Live
A New You For a New Decade
Don't Waste Your Life
Recognizing What You Have
What do all of these sermon titles by popular preachers have in common? Don't try to figure it out, I'll give you the answer: They all contain some variation of the word "you". You, you, you.
These sermons find their appeal by appealing to their audience's self-centeredness. Church is, I suppose, a place where people go to contemplate the mystery of God and The Gospel and so on. What message does it send if, instead, people are contemplating themselves?
I'm not genius, but if I had to guess I'd say it sends a pretty poor message even if it's one that people want to hear. And of course, by doing this these pastors have become wildly successful and have "reached" (supposedly) a lot of people. But for what?
It seems to be the case that these pastors have sacrificed their integrity, and the integrity of the Gospel, for a selfish populist message. Even worse, these preachers are
What can be done? Accountability for one. Pastors who are incapable of, or unwilling to, generate their own messages need to be spotted and outed.
Another solution is going to sound a bit harsher, but if you can't get people in the seats of your church without lying to them, or without appealing to their selfishness over The Gospel, then you seriously lack the conviction of your faith and perhaps it's time to consider that you just weren't blessed to lead a flock.
If sacrificing the integrity of The Gospel is the only way to draw a crowd, then perhaps it's better not to draw a crowd. But of course you don't have to give up, there are ways to draw a crowd who only wants to hear what they want, not what they need, without sacrificing the real message. It's time to *gasp* get creative.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Here's an out-of-context quote:
That wish for normality, that desire to belong to a group is what causes the whole concept of “normal.” I don’t know anymore who I was reading the other day, when a character says “What if nobody really is normal? What if everyone is just pretending?”I took this quote from this website, and it's sort of a tangent from the author's main point but it really stuck out as an important idea.
I’d say it makes no difference, really. Partly because the concept of normal and people acting externally normal makes it easier for rulers to control you and particularly to hold over you the threat of exclusion form the group; and partly because eventually you internalize what you pretend to be.
When I write about self-centeredness (somewhat hypocritically, mind you), I don't do it just because I dislike selfish, narcissistic people. Selfishness is, perhaps obviously, a very destructive force or rather people who are selfish become a destructive force themselves.