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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 10/08/99 -- Vol. 18, No. 15
Table of Contents
Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619, firstname.lastname@example.org Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218, email@example.com Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt, email@example.com HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer, firstname.lastname@example.org Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
National Public Radio dropped the fact that Home Depot has noticed that more of their customers are women than they had realized. I have given this some thought.
We are told that men have the upper hand over women in business. That is true, though to a degree that appears to be constantly overstated. Take my company. You have to go many levels up above my head before you reach a level where men predominate over women by percentage. You have to go up to the levels where people are allowed to talk about how important diversity is--"providing leadership" they call it--in lieu of going to diversity training. In my experience it seems that if you are required to attend a diversity meeting rather than just to endorse it, you are probably not at a level your attitude is what is the problem.
But we are told at these meetings that we live in a patriarchal society where men have more control over how money is spent and spend more on themselves. I would love to believe this one but to tell the truth, I really do not. The signs I see around me all point to women being the ones making most of the purchasing decisions in our country and they were long before the Women's Lib Movement took hold. I call as People's Exhibit Number One ANY department store in any mall or shopping area. Three quarters of the main entrances will lead to women's clothing and the rest will probably lead to something gender neutral. The men's department is generally hidden away in a dark corner probably. Now why is this? Do you think the word has just not reached Macys which gender REALLY has money to spend on themselves? Somehow I do not think that is very likely. This is their business and they know who has the money and is spending the money on themselves. Their conclusion sure looks like they think women are the spenders.
Don't stop at just the department store. Go to People's Exhibit Number Two, a directory of the department store, and count how many stores cater primarily to women, how many cater primarily to men. I did and found a two-to-one ratio. Even that was a smaller ratio than I had expected.
Compare the average beauty parlor and the number of products for sale against the average men's barbershop. If it is a men's barbershop there will be two or three bottles of smelly stuff. If they cater to women there will be rows of mousses and dyes and hair preparations of all kinds. In my area we have several nail parlors opening up. Many of the women I see who patronize these parlors are in low-paying jobs, but they still apparently have more money to spend on themselves than men in significantly better paying jobs. Outside of malls and not including barbershops, what businesses around cater primarily to men? I see none. But I do see clothing stores for women on the main street of my town. Women I know make a day of going out and shopping for clothes. Most men place the excitement of shopping for clothing on about the same level as going to the dentist.
Now at this point in the discussion I usually hear that men spend on different sorts of things. They buy big-ticket items for themselves. The example usually given is cars. And some do buy big cars. But how many of us have had a Porsche in our driveways, owned by anyone, in the past twelve months? The men I know buy cars as family utilities, not as luxury items. The cars get counted as men's spending even thought it is for the general good of the family. The same people would not think of counting women's grocery shopping as being money the woman is spending on herself. And of course they shouldn't. There are always exceptions, but if you look around it really seems the real spending power in US is more with women than men.
So let me then ask, where are the real rewards in this country, in having the earning power or having the spending power? The focus has been on earning power and on the basis of that alone people draw the conclusion that the overall lot of men is so much better than the lot of women. I cannot speak for others, but if I had the choice of my current situation or of doubling my spending power but at the same time having my earning power go to zero (all else being equal), I know which choice I would make. And who has the spending power? Go ask Macy's. [-mrl]
John Jetzt sends us the following:
Your piece about presidential dining evokes the following.
Some years ago I saw a coffee-table-style book entitled, "The First Ladies' Cookbook." It was a collection of alleged favorite recipes, one from each first lady, each with a picture of the dish. It went back to Martha Washington, and concluded with whoever was the then present first lady. Almost all the recipes were for fancy banquet-type dishes, like Beef Wellington. The entry for Bess Truman was apt for Truman: Tune Noodle Casserole: Mix canned tuna, a can of peas, and some noodles. Serve.
Keith Morrison (email@example.com) posted these to Usenet; they are reprinted here with his permission:
The Things I Will Do in a First Contact Situation
1. If any member of the contact team disappears for unknown reasons and then reappears acting in a strange manner, I will assume an attack and prepare accordingly.
2. I will not assume that because they are more advanced in matters technological they are therefore more advanced in matters moral.
3. My troops will be out of sight and instructed to fire only on a direct order or if they are fired upon.
4. After the disasterous first contact which resulted in much death, I will not invite them to the capital in order to clear up the mistake.
5. If the aliens are slaughtering people somewhere else, I will regard any sudden peaceful overtures to me with appropriate skepticism.
6. The phrase "peaceful coexistence" when used by an alien can be translated as "War, Earth Boy" and will be responded to accordingly.
7. I will pay close attention to the alien's dietary habits, their reproductive process or any other biological factor that can result in me being eaten, implanted or dissected.
8. Any pansy who whines about the aliens being "Just misunderstood" after they've blown up New York will be shot. If they've just blown up Pittsburg, we'll give them a second chance.
THREE KINGS (a film review by Mark R. Leeper):
Capsule: Set in the day or two following the Persian Gulf, THREE KINGS begins as a light- hearted caper film but turns into a grim view of the realities of the Middle East and American policy. This is an adult film, demanding but intelligent. A good film even if it is not always pleasant. Rating: 8 (0 to 10), high +2 (-4 to +4) Spoiler warning: there are mild spoilers of the first quarter of the film in this review.
It is in the hours after the cease-fire in the Persian Gulf War. Iraq is still in a state of chaos and barbarity even as the war ebbs from it. We focus on volunteer soldiers, none of whom actually fought but jubilant over the victory. Nevertheless their duty continues as captured Iraqi soldiers are being strip-searched before being interned. One is found carrying a map in a well- protected place. Sergeant Troy Barlow (played by Mark Wahlberg), Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube), and Private Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) realize that the map must show where the Iraqis have hidden gold bullion looted from Kuwait. They decide to make a little extra-curricular expedition to liberate the gold for their own purposes. Special Forces Captain Archie Gates (George Clooney) has been escorting TV journalist Adriana Cruz (Nora Dunn), but when he gets wind of the treasure map he decides to ditch Cruz and push his way into the expedition and a share of the gold.
The village where the gold has been stored is a hotbed of Iraqi rebels who have been promised American support if they would fight against Saddam. They are overjoyed to find four armed Americans show up at last to help them defend themselves. However despair returns to them when Iraqi soldiers show up. The leader of the soldiers offers the Americans a compromise. The yanks can take the gold and leave the rebels to the Iraqi army. They even are happy to help the Americans load "Saddam's gold" onto the American vehicles in order to be rid of the conquering army and to proceed with their sadistic duty against the rebels. The Americans are only too happy with the deal until Gates realizes what his complicity in the betrayal of Iraqi rebels will mean. He decides he cannot leave the villagers to their fate. This sets in motion the most deadly chapter of the war for the four volunteers.
Essentially the plot could have been a Western with just a few substitutions. However the plot is less important than the background of THREE KINGS. The film really becomes a serious political examination of Americans in the war, America's clumsy and dangerous foreign policy, and just how it affects other cultures. In it bleak characterization of political policy it stands with films like THE KILLING FIELDS. In the eyes of this film as the Iraqi government suppresses and tortures its own people, the Americans blunder around in quest of low oil prices. Meanwhile opportunistic news reporters fight for new stories of what is happening, losing interest once a story has already been covered by someone else, trying to get ahead in the world of news industry politics. And even while this is happening people like the Iraqis struggle to get American style appliances like blenders and cellular phones in the callous struggle for another culture's idea of the good life. This is very dark and very angry.
Adding to the deliberate pain of watching the film is the photography of Thomas Newton Sigel (who filmed THE USUAL SUSPECTS). He intentionally washes out the color to give a feel of the hot sun to the Mexican locales standing in for the Iraqi desert. Occasionally the photography becomes a bit gimmicky, predominantly in the more violent scenes. David O. Russell directs his own screenplay to be certain to get each little angry note. The Iraqi rebels come off the best, but American policy, the Kuwaiti consumerism, the supposed stupidity of American Southerners, and the Army bureaucracy, all get their turn under fire.
THREE KINGS may not be a pleasant film to watch, but it is intelligent and certainly has to be the best film about the Persian Gulf War yet. I give it an 8 on the 0 to 10 scale and a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]
Quote of the Week:
No animal should ever jump up on the dining room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation. -- Fran Lebowitz