"War Stories" on why NORAD didn't intercept the 9/11 airliners produced howls of rage in "The Fray" and a fiery response from an unrepentant Scott Shuger. The other big topic was Enron at "Ballot Box," at "Chatterbox," at "Moneybox," and at "Assessment."
Subject: Second-Guessing Terrorists
Re: "War Stories: IGNORAD"
Date: Fri Jan 18 12:18 p.m. PT
It is interesting to wonder what would have happened if a pair of U.S. fighters had intercepted the airliners. But based on the shock of 9/11, it's obvious that essentially no one considered that suicide airliners was a likely scenario. So, if those planes had been deterred somehow (by aerial collision, shoot-down, whatever), and an airliner had never actually crashed into a skyscraper intentionally, can you imagine the second-guessing that would take place in the aftermath?
Subject: Blame the Accountants
Re: "Ballot Box: Enron as Whitewater"
From: Paul Decker
Date: Tue Jan 15 3:24 p.m. PT
There are lots of potential Enrons out there. … The problem is not that the public accountancy system isn't working. The problem is that the system, as it is currently designed, can never work, because the personal incentives of the individuals in the system force them to suboptimize the goals of their employers. Until some politician is willing to stand up and take the lead in reforming this system, bypassing attempts at short-term political gain in the process, these crises will keep happening.
Subject: Important Distinction
Re: "Frame Game: Wok the Dog"
From: Ashwan Karamchandani
Date: Thu Jan 17 11:54 a.m. PT
Don't let anyone ever tell you that you must respect other cultures. Yes, you should tolerate them, but you are not obligated to respect them. Let 'em do what they want and just make fun of them. Some Americans eat mountain oysters and turkey fries. (Pig and chicken testicles, respectively.) It isn't necessarily wrong, but feel free to make fun of them.
Subject: Hating Tribunals
Re: "Politics: Learning To Love Tribunals"
Date: Wed Jan 16 11:21 a.m. PT
Military tribunals may not be unjust, either in theory or fact. But the tribunals envisioned, or implied, or as presented by the President's order, were a slap at the idea and reality of our civilian system of justice; a very strong implication that our system is broken and cannot be trusted; and a grave breach in the form and substance of our constitutional government. The fact of the tribunals is troubling, and so is the fact that they can be secret.
A startling outbreak of tolerance: Fraysters never think anything is none of their business, so we were astounded that after reading William Saletan's "Wok the Dog," most of them found the idea of eating dog meat unpleasant but felt Koreans should be left to get on with it. Read the Fray Notes, here.
Slate writers were busy in the Fray this week. As we said above, Scott Shuger answered his critics on War Stories, and you can hit "More by This User" for the full Shuger experience; and Slate's movie critic David Edelstein (always one of the best Fray participants) climbed out of his own section to comment when "Culturebox" went to the movies with an article on director Wes Anderson.
A star—the 50th—went to 1-2-Oscar. Try here: Martin Luther King Day always produces edgy discussions in the Fray, and this was a helpful contribution. Mfbenson got a star, too, as did New Conservative, who may now like to withdraw his outrageous claim that we're running out of star material. All three of them are particularly to be commended for following up on their posts and trying to answer other readers' questions. One recent star, Adam Masin, gave us his thoughts on his new shininess here. Everyone else in "Best of the Fray" is busy watching and commenting on the latest feud: between Ender and the oddly named Star of Moira. We are not getting involved and hope it will be over soon.
Inspired by "Readme" on why conservative books sell, REW-OEM did his own research into the best-seller lists and reached this conclusion: "[T]he brainiest people in the broader America are fat and unfit adults, children fascinated with wizards, and astrology-believer buffs." Earlier, Zeitguy, talking about fame and vocations, had used the phrase "badminton among us gnomes"; that now sounds like a best-selling title for a book.