Subject: Truth and Dollars
Re: " Life and Art: Billy Elliot"
From: Ben W
Date: Wed Jan 31 10:08 a.m. PT
Irish and British filmmakers are willing to misrepresent history and the people of these countries to any extent for the dollars that are in it. The Brits involved in Billy Elliot misrepresented the Miners' Strike—the epochal event of Thatcher's Britain, the most divisive and impactful event of the decade. The Irish and British movies which American viewers enjoy, thinking themselves "discerning" with their spurning of Hollywood cliché and bias, are, in fact, just as bad, just as inaccurate, just as beholden to commercial interests and just as uninterested in telling historical truths.
[Find this post here.]
Subject: Protection and Advantage
Re: " Dispatches: Davos"
From: Brian Burgoon, Department of International Relations, University of Amsterdam
Date: Fri Feb 2 12:39 a.m. PT
Much of the supposed Southern opposition against [rights and standards] initiatives doesn't come from the South's poor but from their government representatives. Many labor groups in developing countries have actually joined forces with their Northern counterparts in calling for formal protections and labor rights—knowing full well that they need to maintain their competitive advantages through lower wages and some standards in order to grow. The governments putatively representing these voices, however, are flat against such protections—in no small part because these governments speak more for corporate elites who want to clamp down on labor rights.
[Find this post in full here.]
Subject: When It's OK To Argue
Re: "The Breakfast Table: William McGurn and Wladyslaw Pleszczynski"
Date: Tue Jan 30 5:28 p.m. PT
Are John Ashchroft's opponents [inspired by] bigotry? Only if you argue that any belief, political or otherwise, is acceptable. For the most part, our society does not. Certain beliefs, however honestly felt, are considered unacceptable. Nazism and communism to name two. This is not to suggest that Mr. Ashcroft's beliefs are equivalent to either, or for that matter even to say that they are unacceptable. But once you decide that some ideas are out of the pale, it then becomes only a question of where you can draw the line. Honest people can disagree about that.
[Find this post here.]
Subject: Taking Diseases Seriously
Re: " Assessment: Mad Cow Disease"
Date: Mon Jan 29 3:30 a.m. PT
David Plotz asks why mad cow disease, like other "flashy" diseases such as Ebola, polio, and AIDS, has created such a frenzy. The reason is because they attack affluent citizens in developed countries where, it is assumed, illness should not be an issue. Plotz suggests that the concern with Ebola was that maybe "someone from the Congo with Ebola had got onto a plane"—you can almost hear the unfinished "and landed somewhere where human life matters."
[Find this post here, part of an exceptionally large Fray.]
Posters at The Breakfast Table Fray have always felt proprietary, and now they are not only asking for more arguments, but being picky about the disagreements that do come: See Joseph Britt's comment here. It gets worse: They are asking to take over "The Breakfast Table." Subversion. We can barely bring ourselves to repeat what they say (here).
Best Fray of the Week was on this "Ballot Box" about faith-based programs. Scroll down and read the Fray Notes at the bottom of the article, or try out our developing "Two Tier Fray." You want the whole untouched Fray, fine, you know where to go. But click the "View Fray Editor's Picks" button (just above the list of messages) to get the cream of the debate: a list of recommended posts. Favorite line: "You may need soup or you may need hellfire. But you could—under Bush's plan—take either without federal strings attached."
More Highlights: A whole jazz world followed this "Culturebox" on the Burns series. There was informed comment on "Net Election" from the co-directors of the Web White & Blue project, Mike McCurry and Doug Bailey, here. And Walt Mossberg explained how the Department of Energy got him onto the front page of the Wall Street Journal, included with other good comments after this "Chatterbox."
Fray Insult of the Week: Explainer looked at jailbreaks; an ex-con described escaping from an Iowa prison and another poster replied: "Escape? From an Iowa prison? What's the difference? Inside or out, Iowa is just one big prison anyway—in fact, there's probably more intellectual activity inside Iowa state prisons than outside."