Children were the hot topic for the week containing Mother's Day. Readers commented on nannies, Pregnancy for Dummies, and "Dad Again," with Adam Morgan asking a key question: "Do small children imitate extreme right-wing politicians? Is Michael Lewis's response, akin to a tired and wearied electorate willing to tolerate almost anything except more turmoil, how you parents have responded?"
Subject: Tyrants Against Terrorism
Re: "Readme: Answering Sharon"
From: Cantinflas Vive
Date: Thu May 9 10:54 p.m. PT
If we make ending terrorism the trumping condition over all other things, we are forced to collaborate with tyrants and undermine democracies. Terrorism is much more likely to flourish in a democracy since an effective tyrant can quash all subversive elements. The people in North Korea are probably too hungry to become terrorists. The overall "war on terrorism" needs a broader ethical basis than merely the (usual) evils of terrorism.
Subject: We're All Rats at Work
Re: "Frame Game: Robot Rationalizations"
Date: Thu May 9 10:40 p.m. PT
We eat animals, for goodness sake. Are you telling me that it is more cruel to artificially stimulate a rat's pleasure center than it is to kill and eat it? I already get artificially manipulated, by the way. It's called a paycheck. "You mean I did all that work and all I get are these little slips of green paper?" …You don't need electrodes to motivate humans. We're smart enough to be manipulated directly through propaganda, financial gain, vanity, you name it.
Subject: Popularity for Presidents
Re: "Assessment: President Ulysses S. Grant"
From: Edward Furey
Date: Fri May 10 10:16 a.m. PT
The "good man" stuff may be fashionable, but on a deeper level, the public isn't buying it. The most popular recent president remains Kennedy, and Johnson is disliked more for the disaster in Vietnam than for his ambition. … Grant and Adams are important figures despite, rather than because of, their presidencies. Both were important patriots, playing major roles in the creation and preservation of the United States. … If the only standard of "goodness" is absence of sexual scandal and great achievements, it will remain a tough sell. A few years there was an attempt to make Coolidge "cool" again. It came to nothing.
Subject: Help Wanted
Re: "Home Fires: Happy Mother's Day, Nanny!"
Date: Mon May 13 10:50 a.m. PT
One huge problem with this situation is that it's often live-in, which is just asking for indentured servitude. Firmly set hours and working conditions would seem to me to be the most important precondition for good nanny-parent relations. But of course, that would ask that the parents be reliable, precisely what they most seek to avoid by hiring a nanny.
Cato the Censor thinks that internal political debate, which had gone into abeyance post-9/11, is coming back. "We will soon resume our debate. I can't wait." We're not sure it ever left the Fray, but his post is a good one.
Continuing Fray features: Adam Masin usually posts "Worst of the Slate" in "Best of the Fray" on Fridays, and Loree and Dave run KFDR Talk Radio in "Kausfiles Special" on Sundays. Both produce fine discussions.
New Stars this week went to "Ballot Box" regulars Elmer Fudd, Todd T (who doesn't really approve of stars; we'll remove it if he asks us to), and BD. White Rabbit got one for his posts in "Poems" and "Best of the Fray."
Announcement: After two and a half years as Fray Editor, I am going to leave Slate and eventually return to England. I'll miss the Fray and the many friends I have made there, and I very much hope you will make life as fun and interesting for my successor as you did for me. I am still here for another couple of weeks, so although there's no longer much point sucking up to me, don't think you can do whatever you like.