A heaping helping of posts from our reader forum

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Aug. 29 2002 11:57 AM

Live Free or Fat!

A heaping helping of Fray

It is overstating things to call deterrence games a kind of advertising—Now with even more massive retaliation!—but the Best of The Fray is nothing if not systematic overstatement. Can Iraq be deterred, or is Richard Perle's war necessary? Fraysters Beverly Mann's ghost and John took opposite sides, both compellingly.

Like a schoolyard bully, America may be compensating for its weight problem. Peter Marshall noted that whatever the aim of the Bush administration's campaign against obesity, our cultural value meal still includes a biggie size order of self-esteem. (Happy Canadians contends that even American advertising is lazy.)

What chance does a teeny-weeny $195 million campaign stand in the face of HBO's svelte-pregnant hidden persuader extraordinaire, Sarah Jessica Parker? In a post-9/11 New York, hollins argues that Sex and the City has traded its upfront UHB-fab consumerism for product placements. (Later posts let us know Carrie Bradshaw has always had a thing for McDonald's—and yet so thin!)

Still, Ender sees hope, and it's cheap. For two bits, you can start the great conversation of democracy all over again, now that our coins offer some American ad campaigns from the past.
 
Subj: Give Deterrence a Chance
Re: "Assessment: Richard Perle"
From: Beverly Mann's ghost
Date: Aug. 23, 2002 11:52 a.m.

The premise for the argument for a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq is almost entirely that Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. But the premise doesn't account for the critical difference between the retaliatory capacity of his own people (zero) and the retaliatory capacity of the United States and of Israel (devastating) in response to an attack on themselves or on a defenseless third country or people. Back in the 1980s, when Hussein was chemically poisoning the Kurdish population in Iraq, the United States should have intervened with a threat to retaliate in kind. Had we done so, we likely would have the evidence now that Hussein is as susceptible to credible retaliatory threat as were the succession of leaders of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Or, alternatively and only remotely plausibly, weand the rest of the worldwould know that we have little rational choice but to invade Iraq and overthrow his regime.

[Find this post here.]

Subj: Not a Chance I Would Take
Re: "Assessment: Richard Perle"
From: John
Date: Aug. 23, 2002 1:40 p.m.

No one seriously believes that Hussein will use his military forces to launch an attack on U.S. interests (precisely because of our retaliatory capability). But … are you assuming that out of fear of our military capabilities Hussein will zealously and effectively work to ensure that his weapons (or his weapons know-how) will not fall into the hands of raging, irrational, self-destructive terrorists? Is small pox technology, for example, as safe in his hands as it is in the hands of, say, the Canadian military?

I don't think that you can work in intimate association with terrorist organizations, acquire the means to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and yet keep a solid wall between the two activities. And that's the problem that a war with Iraq would address.
 
[Find this post here.]

Subj: Fat Fashion
Re: "Chatterbox: A Sluggish War on Indolence"
From: Peter Marshall
Date: Aug. 22, 2002 6:54 p.m.

Today, I saw on some morning TV show that some designer has come out with a new series of flattering fashions for fat kids, and there was a parade of grossly obese kids blubbering down the runway, showing off all the self-esteem that having fashions for them can inspire. That's what the money is doing in this country, and you can bet they're on the winning side.

Don't fight the fat. … Flatter it and make it feel worthwhile, even kind of special. Wrap it up in political correctnessthese are great kids, and we need to recognize that real people look like that, and everyone's good looking, and they deserve to be recognized as beautiful too. Right? ...

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We'll get what we deserve, though: a bunch of psychopathic, idiotic video addicts with little or no thought of their own, with no strength of body or character, unhealthy in spirit and flesh, weak and docile, sucking on the teat of the world. A fine heritage for Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Henry, and Lincoln indeed.

[Find this post here.]

Subj: Less Consumerist?
Re: "Television: Breakfast at Empathy's"
From: hollins
Date: Aug. 22, 2002 12:48 p.m.

"The show's themes now seem less consumerist..."

I find this quote remarkable, given that season five has been beating us over the head with product tie-ins. …

[T]here was the scene with Carrie drinking a McDonald's milkshake, carefully held with the logo facing the camera. She happily droned on for 20 seconds about how much she loves McDonald's strawberry shakes. Longtime viewers were amazed that Carrie would be seen in a McDonald's, much less publicly sing its praises.

[Find this post here.]

Subj: Live Free or Die
Re: "Moneybox: The State Quarters"
From: Ender
Date: Aug. 27, 2002 10:15 a.m.

For my kids the most interesting objects in the penny jar are the foreign coins and currency that I never quite managed to spend before coming home. … So I can't help but smile when I think of how a child in China, Iran, Cuba, etc. ... will study The Old Man of the Mountain on New Hampshire's quarter. Some might find him, most won't. Either way, they will eventually turn to their parents for confirmation or help in the form of a translation of the inscription on the design and the big, bold words just next to it, "LIVE FREE OR DIE."

[Find this post here.]

Fray Notes
Turn your washer into a cash cow!
While discussing recycled ad mascots, zeitguy put himself through the culture's permanent press cycle here.

Now you see her … :
Geoff toutedthe chance to get close to Anna Kournikova at the U.S. Open; I hope he didn't have traffic problems.

City of words:
The Poems Fray is filling up with 9/11 poems. As the United States gears up for memorials hokey and profound, this evolving archive represents the efforts of some to put the worst things into their best words.

J.D. Connor is assistant professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard. He is working on a book about neoclassical Hollywood.

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