Readers on Zac Unger's baby; more Wellstone rally.

Readers on Zac Unger's baby; more Wellstone rally.

Readers on Zac Unger's baby; more Wellstone rally.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Nov. 1 2002 11:45 AM

Divine Interventions

The Fray prays for Percy Unger and rallies behind Wellstone's ghost.

Preemies and premiums: After an enormous outpouring of support and prayer for Diarist Zac, Shona, and their preemie daughter Percy (great example: MsZilla's here), the Fray got fairly quiet. Some posters are hanging around to tackle the tough issues:


  1. Should the Ungers have adopted rather than go the surrogate route? miss mae begins a thoughtful thread here; Christe, herself a surrogate, responds here.
  2. Should insurers and their policy-holders pay for such expensive care? See Chris's "Baby of Technology 2" here.
  3. Where can the Ungers find a good meal in Modesto?
  4. What should they do about insurance? Barbara, a lawyer who has worked with health insurers for a long time, has some potentially useful advice here. One part (in which insurance lackey concurs):

Zac, you need insurance counseling. Your post contains some misinformation that could be costing you a bundle of money. The most glaring is that the insurance company has a rule on whose insurance company has to cover a baby when each parent has different insurance. There is no such rule. Your wife should have been able to pick up coverage of your infant from day one. ...

Bloody shirt waving 101: Mickey Kaus has kinda-sorta defended the hybrid memorial/pep rally for Wellstone as a "human response" here. Sarvis goes all out here:

Wellstone wasn't a politician? He wasn't a fighter? If his very essence was the fight for his beliefs, why then should it stop at the very moment we celebrate his life?

Wellstone's death was a huge blow to the deepest spirits of true liberals. As distasteful as many find it, a pep rally is EXACTLY what we needed.

Rather than focus on the politicization of Wellstone's death, we should be focussing on the character of that politicization. Is the core message close to one that Wellstone would have approved of? Did Wellstone have to die to remind progressives that liberal is not a dirty word? Apparently. We'll see if it lasts. ... 8:40 a.m.


Thursday, Oct. 31, 2002

Sweeney McNasty: The Book Club discussion of Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity has brought out the mean readers in force. Nicole sees Eggers as a major control freak here; Big Bill thinks Eggers is a bully here, and Tootie from Roughing It sees the vengeance under the random acts of kindness here:

I do think it's lucky that someone managed to tear Mother Teresa and St. Paul away from e-mailing bile in the name of image-maintenance long enough for them to perform their random acts of kindness. Be careful of Eggers. His toys are all sharp and he throws them. ...

I'm going to dress up like beatific magnanimity for Halloween. Someone e-mail McSweeney's so I can find out how.

(My bit is here.)


TGIFrida: Carol Kino's review of Frida laments the absence of Kahlo-at-work scenes. ("So how about just a single shot of Frida's studio, a close-up of her paints and brushes, or the metal panels she used in place of canvas?") Kassandra and lyamhound debate the oddness of artistic biopics that ignore the artistry beginning here. As K puts it:

[I]f it's always the sex life and never the work that is the subject, that sends the implicit message that the work isn't really interesting, that only sex is interesting. Which is an incredibly boring message, in the long run.

Utek doesn't thinks Fridais evidence of filmmakers' condescension. Instead, he believes the film actually solves a long-running Kahlo problem here:

If Frida Kahlo's art gets short shrift, compared to her suffering and her love life, it's because Frida Kahlo's art was not that good. The only reason people were ever interested in her was because her life was so melodramatic, and because certain feminists saw aspects of her life as being emblematic of the Overshadowed Female Artist, and of female suffering in general.


(Such flame bait, and no responses. ...)

I come to bury Caesar, and to solidify my base going into the weekend ... : The Wellstone memorial service is being bashed from all sides, starting with Will Saletan's piece here. But few can whip up a frenzy like locdog, whose "Walter Mondale, lord of the dead" (also here) is a rare achievement. It begins this way:

[I]f we were to reverse engineer paul wellstone from the spectacle witnessed last night, we might conclude that he was a shameless partisan who would let no tragedy, however great, dissuade him from ensuring democratic control of the senate … 10:55 a.m.


Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2002  


Shinola: Everyone loves to hate lawyers, and the Jurisprudence Fray has been full of big-firm-associate bashing. But no one hates lawyers like doctors, as this joke from Julia and this postfrom Dr. Dave prove:

Do you honestly want me to feel sorry for a bunch of overpaid lawyers? A 17 hr. workday is pure luxury. There isn't a single surgical resident in this country who would love the opportunity to only work 17 hrs. a day for a whopping $125,000 a year.

Still, the Fray includes many defenders of beset New York lawyers—perhaps because so many star posters are, or were, or live with, beset New York lawyers. Keep a Clear Eye sticks up for associate angst beginning here, but his most provocative post is here:

In many ways, its counter-intuitive to view highly paid people like lawyers, (some) entertainers, and athletes as exploited and oppressed. Certainly, they all have options. Certainly, many of them are selfish and nasty people.

However, people who sympathize with those at the top always have reasons to disparage those who are abused. They've always find reasons to sneer at blacks for racial discrimination, women for rape and sexual harassment, and manual workers for low pay. And the story is the same. Those being oppressed always had a choice.

But in fact, these rationalizations are always garbage. Nothing that can justify the treatment of these law associates. And that's even more the case for those who make less money and have less status.


Even this is not enough for history guy who is waiting for the baby lawyers' Norma Rae here. (For those who want to know what big firm associates actually do, you can read them duking it out over hours here.) ... 11:00 a.m.


Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2002  

The base Machiavell: Reaction to Chatterbox's Machiavellian theory of conservative sorrow at Paul Wellstone's death is pan-ideological suspicion. Peter Kauffner defends the conservatives here:

It is silly to think that conservatives will actually miss Wellstone's presence in the Senate. But his death does provide the opportunity to dwell on some of his positive personal qualities, qualities that the right tends to value more than the left.

Krauthammer once had a column about how conservatives view liberals as idiots, while liberals think conservative are evil. Wellstone was a rare liberal who could deal with conservatives as fellow Americans rather than as crypto-fascists and members of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Rather than strategize or sanitize Republican niceness, marylb offers a theory of Democratic speechlessness here:

Noah, perhaps the silence from the left is in direct proportion to the centrist shame of knowing that those issues that had value to Paul have value. The fusing of the political parties has some penalties. Why are those in the Republican party speaking out? Because they can with no sacrifice of dignity. The opposite may be true where Democrats who no longer want to say the words "affirmative action" in public are concerned.

For more Democratic Leadership Council bashing, see here, here  and the capper, Caliban Weeps' excellent "pox on both your parties," here. (There is also a defense of the DLC here)  …

Like Feed, but he knows he's on: Not many takers for today's Chatterbox dis of Alexandra Pelosi and her home-movie-turned-HBO-documentary of GWB on the campaign trail. Perhaps because Shelia makes the essential point here:

I don't care if her documentary is about the President of the United States or a 3rd grade teacher from Omaha, if you commit to someone that you won't publicize the material you're shooting, and then you do, your ethics suck, plain and simple … 9:20 p.m.

The Rookie, part deux:Joe defends Angels' pitcher John Lackey from Hugo Lindgren's damnably faint praise here:

"something less than extraordinary" is a bit [of a] petty way to describe a rookie who starting (again) on short rest pitched five innings of one run ball, and [could] likely … have pitch[ed] another …

The thread then veers into humorous tv criticism, as will this Fraywatch ...

MLBTVPR: Now that the "fall classic" faces such daunting counter programming—"Sunday Night NFL and The Sopranos, not to mention "regular season" hockey, "pre-season" basketball, the Moscow gas attack, the Wellstone story, the snipers, and the Lifetime Movie on female athletes and bulimia"—Jimmy the Celt ponders how to save baseball here:

My solution: radical retro. Back to the '50s! No night games. No interleague play. No intra-league playoffs. And absolutely no games scheduled beyond October 12th. I will not insist that teams travel on Pullman trains and stay up late playing pinochle and drinking rye whisky, but that would be good, too …

Nasty stuff: Michael Blackman (a Mondesi fan?) notes the absence of any meaningful plays at the plate here:

Neither team seems to have an outfielder who can get a ball home or close to it. Has anyone kept track of the number of runs scored as the result of these mediocre plays? Dusty's son is the smallest object to come close to home when scoring was on the line.

macbob pegs Bonds as "the greatest 2-tool player of our time" here, and offers a JFK-esque "magic Barry" theory to explain why he didn't shake hands with his teammates. And it turns out you can count out Orange County, if you are Mr. Senryu here (although you have to take your lumps in the subsequent thread) …

The 11th insight: Last week, Meph predicted that the World Series storyline would be all Bonds (see Thursday's entry below). After reading Hugo Lindgren's entry for game four, Meph was forced to admit he was wrong here:

I actually, if foolishly, thought that there would be some little bit in the article about the game that wasn't about Barry Bonds (or Bonds v. Rodriguez). I even thought that the other Giant hitters would get some small amount of credit and the Giant pitching would be an "afterthought." Turns out the other Giant hitters and the pitchers weren't even worth an afterthought … 2:40 a.m.


Monday, Oct. 28, 2002  

Round up the usual ... : Now that two sniper suspects have been taken into custody (and charges are being filed), the Fray will shift into its long-term "justice watch" mode. A brief (and incomplete) wrap-up of sniper Fraying ...

There was excellent Fray discussion of the sniper(s) all over, from Today's Papers to Best of the Fray. Response to the most recent Explainer—"Did profilers blow it?"—is running in two directions. One strain blames the media for giving these pseudo-experts face time (for a nice example, see Rowan's defense of a press-shy version of the profession); the other complains of anti-white profiling. History guy riffs on that complaint here. But twiffer asks an important practical question here:

the profilers quoted and deferred to by the media were wrong. big surprise, as they weren't actually working with the investigation; thus no access to any additional evidence than the media …

how did the profilers actually involved in the investigation do?

Slate's initial Flatfoot argued that the vehicle was a better lead than the gun. Very quickly, Military Guy and several others questioned our Flatfoot's suggestion that the sniper was using a bolt-action rifle, suspecting he was using a semi-auto. (Muhammad was allegedly caught with a Bushmaster—the semi-auto replica of the military's M-15.) More prescient were Military Guy's new wrinkles on the initial profile. As everyone was, he was led astray by the "white van" and then the false reports from the shooting at the Home Depot on Oct. 14, but he was (apparently) right about the mode here back on Oct. 9:

I suspect he's firing from within his van. He probably has the back set up as a firing platform, complete with sandbags for a supported shot from the prone position (lying down). He picks his target zone, parks the van about 200 yards away with the back pointed at the target, then opens partially one door. He fires from well inside the van, ensuring his weapon does not protrude outside. This muffles much of the sound and keeps him from being spotted. After he fires, he gets up, shuts the door, crawls into the driver's seat, and drives off.

The Chatterbox Fray dealt with the sniper's "dual citizenship"—an issue which still has not received sufficient play in the larger news outlets—the meaning of the "duck in a noose" and DavidPlotz's suggestion that the police at least consider paying off the sniper. (The suspects were apprehended shortly after that entry. Now, it is fodder for AdamMasin's "Worst of the Slate.")

Sniper discussion frequently veered into gun control debates (especially in the Cagle Fray, largely because of this folio of cartoons). With the suspects in hand, Ranger reaches the height of sarcasm and defends the NRA's position ("Enforce existing laws, don't write new ones") here:

Malvo and his mother had no immigration papers. His mother got a job immediately in a restaurant. INS took a pass on deporting him. Muhammad had a protection order against him when he applied for the murder weapon. The system took a pass on denying him the weapon.

What we need are more laws for criminals to break.

Stay tuned: for more catchup and the World Series wrap ... 11:10 a.m.


Thursday, Oct. 24, 2002  

Take me out ... : Meph is disappointed that the consensus World Series storyline is all Barry-Barry-Barry. (Reading aloud? That should sound like "Marcia-Marcia-Marcia.") Meph is so disappointed, in fact, that he has even predicted tomorrow's stories tonight. We'll see if he's right:

Well, the Giants won and the series is now 2-2. No doubt we will now be treated to a host of stories about how the threat of Barry Bonds and his 3 intentional walks is why the Giants won the game. The other Giant hitters will be applauded for "taking advantage" of the opportunity presented by Bonds' presence in the lineup, and the improved Giant pitching— the real reason why the Giants won game 4 and lost game 3—will be an afterthought.

(The best real-time sports talk was in Ballot Box.) ...

Victor the Predictor: And speaking of predictions, Deodand is one of many to note that it was easy to foresee Dahlia Lithwick's verdict on Ken Starr's new book here:

I don't need Dahlia's evaluation of Ken Starr for two reasons: (A) while I love her dearly, I already had a real good idea about what Dahlia would say about Ken Starr if the matter ever came up, and (B) I already have an opinion about Ken Starr and Dahlia is unlikely to convince me that Starr wears horns and carries a pitchfork, just as conservatives are unlikely to persuade me that Starr sports a halo.

He doesn't need Ken Starr's book, either. ...

Dadgummit: Kate is peeved about William Saletan's reporting on the Arkansas senate seat here:

So glad Slaten found someone toothless in Arkansas; it would be a shame if the ill-tempered correspondent had to make up NEW hillbilly jokes. ...

Fast culture: Readers of Bo Fuller's Well-Traveled series on The Outlaw Trail don't quite buy her description of her visit with Navajo weaver Rose Yazzi as "cultural prostitution." Longtime reservation resident Ernest sees the glass (or bedstand) as half full here:

So why is being (even briefly) introduced to a new culture a negative? Why is it "cultural prostitution" for age old customs to be shown as they have always been practiced? ...

C U L8R Boi: No Fraywatch for a couple days. Back Monday. ... 2:20 a.m.