mikelee999

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  1. (Note from MSK: Content deleted for hate speech and bigotry.)
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  5. Where I disagree with the essay that started this thread is mainly in issues of degrees. First, there are very few "moderate" Muslims. Second, the percentage of "extremist" Muslims is quite large. On the first point, let's not equivocate what we mean by "moderate Muslim." Do we mean A. a "go to church on Friday" kind of Muslim? Someone raised Muslim who is more or less observant more or less from fear of social or divine punishments? Yeah, he faces Mecca every morning at 4am, but if he had his druthers, he'd rather sleep in and then crack a beer and have bbq pork chops for lunch and forget about all this jihad drudgery. B. a radical (compared to other Muslims) who has thoughtfully rejected or reinterpreted most of the nastier aspects of his religion and is "working from within" for reform? There are a lot of A's out there, few B's. Mainstream Muslims, even lazy tepid ones, believe in things that most Americans wouldn't put up with from anyone else. Compare & contrast Muslims with the Aryan Nations guys up in Idaho. Would you have a member of the Aryan Nations church as a social friend? Well, isn't mainstream Islamic doctrine just as racist and sexist as what those Idaho yahoos preach? In many respects, it's actually worse. Mainstream Muslims have a lot more in commmon with members of the KKK than they do with you and me. Are 90% of Muslims likely to ever become bomb throwers? No. Were 90% of the German public likely to join the SS? No. Doesn't mean that anti-Semitism wasn't mainstream in Germany like...well, anti-Semitism is mainstream in Islam. Sure, plenty of Muslims are moderate in their fervor for anti-semitism, just as were most Germans. But it's pretty easy to whip them up or at least regiment them when they're needed for the cause. With regard to the second point, about how there are a lot more extremist Muslims than most nice people want to admit, 9-11 reset our moral disgust baseline with regard to Islam, and in the wrong direction. Nowadays, all we ask is that they stop blowing people up and we'll give them a gold star that says "moderate." Just eschew beheadings and we'll overlook the fact that mainstream Islam, including as practiced in most mosques in the USA, is a miserable, racist, sexist, intolerent, repressive, secretive, expansionist cult that sucks even worse than Scientology. Everyone would admit that's true if their cult didn't have a billion members. Nobody knows what percentage of Muslims are terrorist sympathizers. As far as I can tell, most are, though most aren't at the fervent end of the scale. Many outright lie about it. Many more deny it and then you get into a slightly extended conversation, and ah, here it comes now.... Check out the signs you see at any given Muslim student demonstration, like the ones recently at Berkeley. This is what they're willing to let you see in public. Or find that You Tube video of David Horowitz from about the same time (on Youtube, search david horowitz muslim student). As an aside, I'm proud to say that I've been callling out Muslims for 25 years now in public and occasionally in person. That Horowitz video was familiar to my own experiences. Muslims have all their talking points and doublespeak down, much like politicians. But most of them haven't been well-prepared for dealing with the next level of scrutiny. Many times I've used that same tactic Horowitz used: Try to corner them to unequivocally renounce evil. Only once have I seen anyone do so in private and they were too scared to go to the next level--announce that you believe this at your mosque next Friday. Make no mistake: lots of Muslims, if not a majority, sympathize with Palestinian bombings and fatwas against Rushdie and South Park. And those who don't don't dare say so in public because they know how nasty the mainstream of Islam is and what would happen to them if they did speak out. Now, maybe I have a skewed sample in skewering Muslims, since I don't harass a Muslim about his beliefs just because I know he's Muslim. He has to say something in front of me that's stupid and obnoxious. So, in case I've missed them, could someone please point me to some moderate Muslim web sites, you know where Muslims are telling other Muslims to knock it off with South Park and suicide bombs? Last point, now, I promise-- In its social and organizational dynamics, Islam is much more like organized crime than it is like Christian organized religions. It's a tangle of nasty factions competing for turf and offering "protection" and trying to achieve monopolies over various criminal enterprises. Muslims don't even believe in their own beliefs in the same sense that Christians do. Psychologically, Muslims treat their beliefs more like the code of Omerta than like doctrines. (This is one reason why Muslims don't go through contortions trying to reconcile contradictions in their sacred writings--the most recent trump the former, and that's that. There are very few fundamental, immutable rules or beliefs in Islam.) Muslims never got the Westphalia memo, and, like the mafia, they don't respect the legitimacy of Western social institutions and are always trying to corrupt and control them. A good way to think about Sunni vs Shia is to think of them like the Colombians vs the Sicilians. And Hamas and Hezbollah as Crips vs Bloods. The same goes for how they corrupt competing institutions. There's no difference morally or in effect between the French or BP or Bill Clinton getting millions from Muslim "states" than a senator from Nevada taking bribes from Michael Corleone in The Godfather. I'm ok with saying we're at war with Islam in the same sense that we are at war with the Mafia. It's important to keep the level of violence down to a dull roar and make sure they mostly kill each other. Now and then, they're going to go too far and you have to round up a bunch of them and shut down the speakeasy's. But I do agree that you have to be careful to limit the metaphor and understand that this war is going to be as long-fought and incomplete as the war against organized crime. This is not a pessimistic view. The pessimistic view is that the rise of Islam in Europe is inevitable, that Islam is some irresistable Vandal force and the West is hapless decadent Rome. Not hardly. Islam is a bunch of low-IQ, low-skill punks and thugs who got as lucky from having oil as Al Capone did from the government banning alcohol. They're far richer and more powerful than they deserve to be except for a lucky economic accident that gives them a huge stash of cash. I think you can expect the dynamics of the struggle with Islam to be similar, if writ larger. Extending the Mafia metaphor, a lot of people think that 9-11 was Islam's St Valentine's Day Massacre (which made the Chicago cops finally got fed up with Capone et. al. and start settling their hash). I disagree. We saw 9-11 as an overreach by one particular Muslim gang. So we rounded up a bunch of them and busted their heads as a warning to the rest. We have yet to realize that it's the whole Muslim gang ecosystem we have to disrupt. I'm really afraid that Iran and Pakistan will give us the Muslim equivalent of the Valentine's Day massacre eventually, and at that point we will really go Elliott Ness on them. No way will we let them take over the really good neighborhoods of the world. Total war is going way too far over the top. But I do like, "If they bring a knife, you bring a gun..."
  6. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Wet Blanket Committee (previously the Objectivist Bed-Wetters Club) for once again demonstrating the finely honed art of GOB (Gratuitous Objectivist Buzz-kill). I feel well and truly GOB-smacked. I asked people to nominate pop songs Rand might have liked and the first response was to offer a song she'd have hated. Isn't that ironic? Don'tcha think? Followed by general grey-poopon denigration of the few who actually tried to play the game lightheartedly. I'm going to go listen to Garbage. I do loves me some Shirley Manson. I'll crank "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" up to 11 and toast ya'll ya'll. Im only happy when it rains Im only happy when its complicated And though I know you cant appreciate it Im only happy when it rains You know I love it when the news is bad Why it feels so good to feel so sad Im only happy when it rains Pour your misery down Pour your misery down on me Im only happy when it rains I feel good when things are going wrong I only listen to the sad, sad songs Im only happy when it rains I only smile in the dark My only comfort is the night gone black I didnt accidentally tell you that Im only happy when it rains Youll get the message by the time Im through When I complain about me and you Im only happy when it rains Pour your misery down...pour your misery down You can keep me company As long as you dont care Im only happy when it rains You want to hear about my new obsession Im riding high upon a deep depression Im only happy when it rains...pour some misery down on me
  7. Tonight I'm ripping and replacing speakers in our bedroom. I'm playing random tracks to get the sound balanced and I come across this, from Rod Stewart, an album called Human: I been lookin' in the mirror somethin's gettin' clearer Wonderin' who am I Just a chemical solution caught in evolution Only livin' to survive Or am I just another lifetime lookin' for a lifeline Cryin' when the sun don't shine Am I runnin' through the ghetto maybe I should let go Of all the dreams inside But who am I to reach so high And who am I to raise my eyes Want to live I want to die I can't do anything I'll tell you why I'm the one who took a walk on the moon And I made the seven wonders too There is nothin' that I cannot do Cause I am human There is nothing that I cannot be I'm the one who sailed the seven seas And I know that it is all in me Cause I am human The blood that's runnin' through my veins It tells me I'm the same as all the other ones gone by In the air that I am breathin', emotions that I'm feelin' Underneath the same blue sky And I know if I believe it, then I can achieve it Nothin's standin' in my way Then maybe history will make a place for me And I'll be livin' for that day But who am I to reach so high And who am I to raise my eyes Want to live I want to die I can't do anything I'll tell you why I'm the one who took a walk on the moon And I made the seven wonders too There is nothin' that I cannot do Cause I am human There is nothing that I cannot be I'm the one who sailed the seven seas And I know that it is all in me Cause I am human Not born to make mistakes, not born to fade away Not only livin' to survive Don't tell me I am nothin', know that I am somethin' Brother, don't ya realise I'm the one who took a walk on the moon And I made the seven wonders too There is nothin' that I cannot do Cause I am human There is nothing that I cannot be I'm the one who sailed the seven seas And I know that it is all in me Cause I am human This made me go listen to Chris De Burgh. Chris is a Christian mystic and I'm pretty sure his song The Getaway was Atlas Shrugged-inspired: The moon is on bright side, But we've thought of everything, Send the word to the prisoners Tonight, we getaway, When you hear signs of confusion, Come drifting through the door, Get your belongings together, Don't leave nothing behind, And hey boys tonight we getaway, To the other side, Head for the wall and getaway; We're sick and tired of hearing, That the world is gonna blow, So there's something we'll do to the leaders Before we go; Let's stick'em in a room together - Yeah!! - And make them fight it out, Until they see nothing from nothing Will leave nothing at all, And hey boys, tonight we getaway, To the other side, Head for the wall and getaway; And hey boys, tonight we getaway, To the other side, Head for the wall and getaway; Open the door - open the door - let me out - I wanna go - Das ist auch unsere welt, This is our world too, Oui c'est notre monde aussi, Hey boys, tonight we getaway, To the other side, Head for the wall and getaway; "We'll give you anything you say" Hey boys, tonight we getaway, To the other side, Head for the wall and getaway; "We'll miss you more than we can say" And, from Chris too, The Spirit of Man: I'm chasing a shadow, I can't see a thing, It's dipping and diving like a bird on the wing, And every time I get near it just seems to slip away; There's a fighter inside who will never give up, We are what we are and it's never enough, Write the words in the sand that this man will come again; You may run from the sea, and the words disappear, Oh you may fall to your knees, But the power is here, to survive; It's shining again, It's shining again - the spirit of man, It's shining again - the spirit of man; Ah remember the first day of man on the moon, The whole world was watching, a whole world in tune, It was hard to believe he was the same as me and you; Oh look back to the future and look down the years, It wasn't all battles and bad news and tears, We have brought to this place a desire to have a dream; We may reach for the stars, and fall from the sky, Oh in the darkest hour the spirit of man comes to life; It's shining again - the spirit of man, It's shining again - the spirit of man, It's shining again - the spirit of man; And we work - aha - for the good things that we can have, Yea we work - aha - for the family and home, Yea we work - aha - for the D-Mark and the dollar, Yea we work - aha - for the woman on the phone, Yea we work - aha - for that moment of elation, Yea we work - aha - for a chance to get away, And we work - aha - just to let imagination, Come inside and take me away; We may reach for the stars, and fall from the sky, Ooh in the darkest hour the spirit of man comes to life; It's shining again - the spirit of man, What do you wish you could have loaded on Ayn's iPod? Baby, we were born to run!
  8. I like the Beastie Boys. You like Kate Bush. We may fight for control of the playlist at a party, but we won't come to blows unless we think that morals are like tastes in music. I'll distinguish morals from ethics here, and start saying ethics, which is what Shermer is really talking about. Rand considered it immoral to eat macaroni and cheese if your systolic blood pressure was higher than your cholesterol. Shermer means ethics, which Rand, more or less, defined as morals that relate to how you treat other people. Ethics can't be derived from statements like water freeeze at 0 centigrade. What a news flash. Ethics are about conflict. Serious conflict. And goals. Serious goals. I'd like to see what ethical goals Shermer really would be willing to demote to mere tastes. The moral equality of all persons, regardless of race, religion or gender? The right to believe or not believe in whatever religion you wish? It's time we put the people who consider these kinds of things to be preferences to a test of the courage of their lack of convictions. Screw prove it. It's time we dare these people to eat it. Like on Survivor when they make them eat octopus testicles.
  9. When I was 19, I was mortally offended by the post office. Roads pissed me off too. I wished the deaths of my enemies and almost all Americans were my enemies for having no problems with government roads or the post office. Bunch of looters they were. It took me a long while to realize that people who agreed with me weren't automatically good people and an unfortunately longer time to figure out that people who didn't agree with me could be way better people than me. I suspect this kind of juvenile dementia isn't idiosyncratic, but is characteristic of many young Objectivists, who share many of the psycho-epistemological characteristics of young Palestinian terrorists. (As have I.) I went "on strike" for a decade and still am not sure how much of that was "on principle" and how much "on not wanting to get a real job." I'm going to say 30/70, optimistically. After I stopped striking, life got a lot better and I worked a lot harder. Coincidence, probably. One of the things that Rand said that stuck in my craw was that it wasn't justified to violently seek the overthrow of the government as long as free speech was possible. She was so right. If you can't make your case while the government is letting you make your case, your case sucks. I love America. I'm plenty free here. I pay the government 60% or so of what I make and I can say what I want--even about the government--and do what I want without fear. Oh, but what if I didn't pay the 60%? They'd make me sorry. But as long as I pay it, I am safe and comfortable and I'm welcome to subvert the system to my 40% heart's content. That's a great deal. My employer restricts my freedom far more than my government and I can tell him to go to hell when I please too. I travel where I want when I want across 3000 miles of territory without a single government agent knowing, unless I cross a border claimed by another government. Oh, no, Bush is enslaving us! Really? Your mom enslaves you more. Maybe your problem is with your mom. Not only is America worth saving, it's worth building. Get over your puritanical Objectivist self and do something worthwhile to contribute. There is no excuse for going on strike in the USA. Rand's dystopia not only didn't happen, it's on the run. Push harder--it's getting better. Running away now is the sure sign of the pinhead rationalizing cowardice.
  10. And it's time you should take if you're going to address these issues and be taken seriously. Should the law distinguish between adults and children? After all they are equally human. There are many other criteria besides whether your human or not that make a difference in how the law treats you. Yes, in the majority of cases, a woman who abandons her children is worse than a man who does. Again, I'll point out that I'm not talking here merely about what's legal or illegal. I'm talking about taking the measure of a person who would do such a thing, and examining their reasons, looking at the context. Women are, merely by the nature of pregnancy and birth, more intimately connected to their children than are men. Women typically have a bigger moral obligation to a child because they got pregnant and decided to deliver the child. Once again, keeping in mind that I am not limiting my comments to what should be legal or illegal, but to judgments about what is right and wrong, more or less valuable morally-- Yes, men have an extra obligation, by virtue of being bigger and stronger, to deal more effectively with physical threats than women do. In the same sense that someone who is more intelligent has an obligation to achieve more. Your life depends on the majority of men in your society accepting a role in protecting you. You are just so well-protected that not only don't you realize it, but I wouldn't be surprised if you think American men create more violence than they suppress. If you can find anywhere that I said a girl who's good at basketball is a bad girl, then you've at least won the point, since I agree with you. I typically do agree with blindingly obvious statements. I have no problem with girls playing basketball. I have no problem with girls competing with men and winning. I do have a problem with girls constantly trying to rig games they're not good at. That's very bad for society, honesty and the long term future of the human race. Case in point--the new Nike commercial with the bitchy women pretending to be fierce going on about their "skills." Name one sport the women mentioned in that commercial when talking about their "skillz" where women compete, much less dominate. We know what your position is--I'm asking you to defend it instead of just repeating it. And, the truth is that you just lost this debate by allowing an exception for "things like pregnancy." Mike Lee I hope that penguin doesn't fall behind the tellyvision set
  11. Very eloquent and compelling post, Michael! I'd like to offer some ideas that may help to de-tangle these issues: First, not all violations of moral principle justify forcible intervention or punishment of the violater. This is an obvious point, but one worth listing here. Second, the seriousness of a moral violation is almost completely unrelated to forcible intervention against the violator is justifiable. Stealing a candy bare should be illegal. Saving a candy bar for yourself for the plane ride back from the Sudan, rather than offering it to a starving child, should not be illegal. Third, in many cases, morals aren't binary, with either you're acting morally or you're not. There are degrees. Objectivists get this when it comes to achievement. It's immoral to mooch off others when you are perfectly capable of supporting yourself. But there is nothing immoral about working just enough to pay your bills, but not achieving much more than that. However, working your butt off to make a serious contribution and do important work is more admirable than just getting by. The same analysis can apply to compassion and other virtues. Gotta run, so I'll leave obvious applications of these principles to the reader... Mike Lee Hit and Run
  12. Stepping back just a little from the discussion of whether there's anything wrong with not having children, what about the consequences for Objectivism as a philosophy? I haven't done a serious survey, but I'll bet that Objectivists reproduce at a rate far lower than average for people living in their neighborhood. I'll also bet that it's not too controversial to say that Objectivists typically reproduce at lower than replacement rates. As this thread shows, it's pretty hard to come up with compelling philosophical reasons why having more children is something good Objectivists should start doing. If it's true that the average Objectivist does not reproduce at replacement rates, and it's true that having children is not a particularly rational act of self-interest for most people, then if everyone were to be converted to Objectivism, that would end the human race within a few generations. Is everyone OK with that outcome? Mike Lee
  13. First, it's Ms. Rand to you, not Miss Rand, Mister. That's a joke. Second, Rand may have been a total beeyotch, but she wasn't an idiot. She understood the uncomfortable fact that genitalia matter. A lot. Especially to people who think that genitalia shouldn't matter. For purposes of this discussion, I don't care a tinker's dam for lesbians, gays, transsexuals and people who may have been dealt other ambiguous or mixed biological cards. Their peepees are as determinative to them as anyone's, even if they are getting multiple radio signals. I think it's nice that we, as an enlightened Western society, accommodate those who aren't biologically in the middle of the bell curve, and we should take advantage of their ability to decorate dinner parties, fix cars, arrange furniture, and look like Marilyn Monroe, but they're not the point of this discussion, ok? The truth is that men and women have different capabilities. The question is, do any of these capabilities have moral corollaries? I say yes, and because I have to go eat dinner, I will leave it at that. Mike Lee Am I the Only One Who Gets It?
  14. I went to great lengths to point out that I was not speaking of legal enforcement. However, it is not patently obvious that law should be gender-blind. In fact, it would be nearly as remarkable for the law to make no distinctions between men and women as to make no distinctions between adults and children. Legal sex-based distinctions are far more the norm than sex-neutrality. I think the Hayekian burden of proof is on you to look at each of these distinctions and explain why they are irrational rather than to discard all of them out of hand. Your list of gender roles is, I'm sure you'd admit, incomplete. You might also admit it is biased toward the negative. I'd say it's also tendentious and that several of the roles you cite are actually rants against guys you've known. I added more roles to the list, and it's not at all clear that violating the roles I added isn't morally significant. It's not prima facie that there is a unisex list of equal moral obligations on both sexes. Women who abandon their children are viewed more harshly than men who do. Men who chicken out and run away from danger are viewed more harshly than women in the same circumstance. Why is that wrong? Along with being honest, let's be serious. The modern West is the best. Human beings in general have never before come close to the freedom, opportunity, achievement and security that Western civilization provides. In comparing the middle east (excluding the Western values state of Israel) to the West, you're comparing shit to ice cream, as if swirliness were the fundamental attribute. Thats out of context. Im talking about gender roles specifically, not all social expectations. Social expectations are not ipso facto wrong, but a great many of them are wrong. It's not out of context. It's pointing out how the amazing amazingness of Western civilization nurtures the individual of any sex, and reduces the harms of legacy expectations of all kinds. If you think that your life and potential is primarily determined by gender roles that says a lot more about you than it does about the power of gender roles. To clarify, you're arguing for a straw man (or woman). "Strongly influenced" is a lot different than "determined." Yes, there are girls who are better at basketball than boys, but if you take any 10 boys at random and any 10 girls at random, and make basketball teams, the girls will get whipped, unless they play naked. And you'd better start thinking more about what happens to women when men fail in their traditional roles. You have strong self-interest in this, even if men have done such a good job of guarding your borders that you don't get it. By coincidence, I'm reading Tom Clancy's "Without Remorse" which shows this way better than I could say it. And it's fun as hell. Being sex/gender-blind is the social engineering position. Think carefully: the burden of proof is on you. Mike Lee Hot chicks can say anything they want
  15. Thanks for the list of gender roles. This is a pretty decent list (though I think that some of the roles you've listed are more a rant against some roles than actual roles in themselves). Rather than nitpick the list, I'd like to move the discussion to how such roles/rules are determined and enforced, and to the benefits in general of roles. In Western democracies, gender roles are only weakly, if at all, enforced by government. Yes, in the USA, only men get drafted and women are unduly enriched in marriage and divorce, but these are exceptional and avoidable inequities. In general, the West protects your right to reject social roles and rules far moe than it enforces them. I even know people who were raised Muslim who've successfully rejected their religion and roles because the West is so good at protecting and supporting people who wish to do so. I would count a rule/role as socially enforced if there is a high everyday likelihood that when you are expressing or violating it in public, you are going to receive overt or tacit approval or disapproval from random strangers. If you're a boy growing up in BFE, Louisiana, who wants to wear makeup, it may be easier for you if your parents move to San Francisco, where one day you may grow up to be police commissioner. But even in BFE, LA, you're likely to be allowed to grow up without being put in a white bag, buried to the waist and then stoned to death. So what I have to say below applies only to first world societies where we've mostly gotten the government out of the business of enforcing gender roles. There are far too many people who are ideologically-inclined who fail to keep context when comparing what is with what they think should be. They end up primarily expressing deep contempt for Western society's failings and neglecting appropriate gratitude--and even reverence--for how wonderful the West is compared to everything else. There are many Libertarians I've known who feel like they're being raped when they have to pay sales tax. I was one of them, when I was an adolescent. My take is that if you still feel this way past age 22, you're still an adolescent. I'm not saying this teenager shoe fits you, Studiodekadent, but it does fit the list of roles you cited. There are many other gender rules/roles you could have cited that are positive: Men should protect women from physical threats; women should be nurturing and loving to children, etc. There are also a large number of Western roles that apply to both sexes and that neutralize the power of the roles you've cited: Thou shalt grow up to fulfill your full potential; thou shalt be tolerant of other races and lifestyles, Thou shalt say Please and Thank You, for examples. There is a free market in gender roles in the USA today. There are many competing roles and expectations, and people are free to pick and choose which ones fit--and whose approval they are going to care about. In any big city, or even in a small town, a boy wearing makeup is likely to receive both approval and disapproval, though the ratios of approval to disapproval are likely to be different in different places. No, it's not perfect. It's sad for the little gay boy born to homophobic parents, but, keeping context again, not all that sad and no worse than the plight of the artistic kid born to dullards or the natural jock born to effete intellectuals. There is a widespread--nearly universal--assumption shared by feminist intellectuals that enforcing gender-neutral roles would be a wonderful thing. This assumption reminds me of the Marxist assumption that free markets are inherently exploitative and that supplanting them would lead naturally to utopian freedom and prosperity for everyone. I'm reminded, because the intellectual narcissism and failure to understand what they critique is exactly same in both feminism and Marxism. (And the totalitarian style displayed by feminists when they get control of a university is similar to that of Marxists when they get control of a country.) The great majority of people demanding gender-blindness aren't demanding that women be drafted or that women volunteer for the military and qualify for half the Navy SEAL spots. Or even that women drive half the trucks or be half the crew on every oil rig. Where is the feminist gender role expectation that women should start doing their equal share of the dirty, dangerous work that makes their mini-vans possible? In practice, this demand for gender-neutral roles has so far resulted in two things: First, the feminization of gender roles for men. For example, consider the momentum toward banning scorekeeping in children's sports. Or how boys aren't allowed out to play out of mommy's sight anymore, despite the fact that the dangers aren't really significantly greater than 50 years ago, just seen through a fear-filled feminized lens now. Secondly, there has been a devaluing and delegitimization of male virtues and roles. For example, women tend to undervalue or are often oblivious to the fact that all that stands between them and living in a state of perpetual rape is good, strong men ready to do violence to anyone who tries it. Only in comic books, science fiction and video games are women willing and able to handle such jobs. But rather than appreciate and defend what their lives depend upon, feminists instead scorn martial virtues as immature and outmoded. (By the way, women who disdain male competition and aggression are inviting the same rude shock that Marie Antoinette got. Women who shelter their sons from male roles are making it more likely that's exactly what their daughters are going to get. Marie Antoinette is archetypal as a pampered woman in denial about the barbarians at the gates, and thus an actual, if not ideal, role model for many upper-class American women.) Gender-neutrality has not been about liberation and choice, but about sewing a new straight jacket outlawing either sex from doing or valuing anything that is not within the reach or interests of the other. Its about the lowest common denominator. There is a strong case to be made that this feminization of our society is not an unqualified good or something that is even survivable. The bottom line here (what a male way of putting things!) is that women need to think much harder about the consequences of getting what they want when it comes to converging gender roles. Or they may end up standing shoulder to shoulder with their men--on the same chair squealing Eek! a mouse. Mike Lee Why can't a woman be more like a man? That's not a rhetorical question.