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March 14 2003 12:07 PM

Flower Power

The Fray on cutting daisies and picking dandelions.

The Saddambusters, starring Michael Redgrave as Grag Jenkins:Kneejerk_liberal calls Fred Kaplan's piece on the MOAB "Nothing but war porn" here (DeaH would agree here). Most of the debate surrounds the power of the bomb. Nuclear yields are calculated in TNT equivalence and many Fraysters argue that Kaplan doesn't translate the MOAB's 18,000 pounds into TNT (for example, Thrasymachus here). It seems that the MOAB's explosive is 27 percent more powerful than TNT, which makes its yield 22,860 pounds of TNT, if AustinKnight is correct here.

Diary of an Adnan: Speaking of armaments (and catching up with Chatterbox's "Six Degrees" series) the_advocate provides a link to a graphical representation of the Khashoggi circle here; I don't know what it is, but it's cool. …

Al-Qaidaball: The Fray takes up Dahlia Lithwick's suggestion that Zacarias Moussaoui is "less the 20th hijacker than an unbalanced al-Qaida utility outfielder—the dreamy girl who stands between the second baseman and the center fielder and picks dandelions." Slough calls him "the guy in the Al Qaeda team photo who's cropped off the screen" here, while historyguy points out:

That dreamy girl picking dandelions between second base and centerfieder isn't a utility outfielder. She's a shortfielder, filling an unneeded position invented for Little League teams with too many kids.

Up in the major leagues, that guy sitting on the bench all the time, playing only during the second game of double headers, or on the fifth or sixth consecutive game day for the team? The one waiting for someone to get injured? He's a utility outfielder. And he's no star, but he's a paid profesional, competent at the job, and if it were a terror team instead of a baseball team, he'd be a threat … 8:55 a.m.

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Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003

He'd have to grow a mustache, but … So, why is Spencer Abraham really at the OPEC meeting in Vienna? To "jawbone individual OPEC members in the hopes of lowering oil prices" as Chatterbox contends? GarySimpson doesn’t think so. "I would assume that the Secretary was lobbying for a larger oil quota for post war Iraq." He also points out that

The U.S. will be in an odd situation regarding oil production in post war Iraq. Someone will have to name the new Iraqi representative to OPEC. …

Why not name Abraham himself?Or, as J_Mann puts it here:

it's curious to me that an Arab-American cabinet official is meeting with OPEC, and Kaus, Matthews, and GhostofEchoes haven't trotted out the accusations of dual loyalty. . . 10:15 p.m.

A Biskinder, gentler history: The sanctification of the 70's in Trio's Easy Riders, Raging Bullsfestival brings out the Fray contrarians. Thelyamhound reminds us (if we forgot) how much good filmmaking there was in the 80's with his comprehensive graf here. So why are the 80's maligned and neglected? Dug4000 has an idea here:

Here in New York, it's hard to miss the ads for Trio's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," or the annoying subtitle - "How the Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood."

You see, Baby Boomers didn't just change Hollywood, they saved it. … If you listen carefully, you can hear the faint sound of them patting themselves on the back from coast to coast. … 9:40 p.m.

Clark, you missed all the fun: Wrapping up the Superman series, Fraysters weigh in on the ethics of biological enhancement. David Plotz seems to have preempted many of the arguments in favor of radical changes, but BenK offers a more psychological explanation for some of the opposition as part of his longer post. One thing he's learned from teaching bioethics:

One assumption that I've realized doesn't hold much water is "what we plan to do is no different than what we do now." Why doesn't this hold water? Because half the time, people don't realize what we are doing already, and the other half the time, they are desperately trying to ignore or suppress their gag reflex to the thing that is already being done. The new stuff is the stuff they think that can AFFORD to oppose.

When it comes to actual supermen, Kicksave looks elsewhere  for bioethical advice:

If The Wrath of Khan taught us anything, it's that normal humans, out of fear, will persecute and exile the caste of genetically-enhanced Supermen, only to have them return at a future date with a vengeance.

Finally, Utek points out that parents have dangerously silly ideas of what an ideal child might be here; while Ikura takes that to its libertarian extreme here: Let kids modify themselves!9:15 p.m.

Today's technology today:CaptainRonVoyage can’t believe Intel is betting the farm on the Centrino's built-in wireless as Paul Boutin contends; BarkinJ explains what's at stake in the "Centrino" designation, and that

The real breakthrough here is the processor. The Pentium M can run on remarkably little power. This means these laptops can run for five to eight hours. That's akin to "forever" in the laptop world … Intel is marketing the processor technology along with 802.11b [the Wi-Fi standard] presumably because wireless internet is really the best use for a laptop that gets six hours of battery life.

Paul Boutin chimes in to explain why Intel is pushing the wireless capability:

Intel is leading with on Wi-Fi rather than battery life in its marketing launch, and for good reason: To grow their business, they not only need to win over laptop upgraders, they need to create new first-time buyers. Otherwise, they'll be fighting over the same notebook CPU pie with AMD, Transmeta, and the PowerPC. For that, "Unwire your life" is much more powerful than "double your battery life." … 11:20 a.m.

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Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2003

Or we could just pronounce it fronch: The Chatterbox Fray is chock full of good posts on the rechristening of french fries as freedom fries, but nothing can match the majesty of rob_said_that's string of quatrains. One of a dozen:

Our women never put on rouge
Our winter sports eschew the luge
Our soldiers never camouflage
Our hospitals must not triage …

Stephen_Dedalus surveys what might be left of our dietary lexicon:

Since so much of the world is against the war, we're going to have to change many more names than those for fries and toast. At least for now, we can keep english muffins, the australian crawl and spanish rice. I hear english muffins are on the brink, though. ...

I'm not as think as you drunk I am; I'm thinker: Several good, technical responses to David Plotz's most recent Superman entry on memory (see the bottom of the piece). One remarkable bit of news (to me) from Engram, who isn't making this up:

Alcohol improves memory (yes, alcohol!). … I'm not talking about the memories that you tried to form while under the influence of the drug. I'm talking about the memories that you formed just prior to getting plastered. Many studies have shown that those memories are actually enhanced. One such study with a great title is called "Forget Drinking to Forget: Enhanced consolidation of emotionally charged memory by alcohol."

Slate: Now with more radio buttons! Responding to Paul Boutin's webhead entry that promises to match readers with their ideal spam filter, DeaH laments the creeping Cosmo-tization of Slate here:

I knew it was only a matter of time. I mean, look at some of the titillating "cover" photos we've recently had. (By the way, more half-nude muscular menplease?) Now we have the quintessential Cosmo feature: The Quiz. In few short questions, Slate was able to match me up with my dream filter! How groovy! Now, for the next quiz, I want to find out which party I'm better off in bed with. Or, even better, match my clothing style to my stance on the war! ... 10:41 a.m.

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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003

Spirtually exercised: An embarrassment of excellent responses to Christopher Hitchens' most recent Fighting Words, on Christian opposition to the war. Brewmn laments Hitchens' ad hominem tendencies here:

Is the fact that pedophilia is rampant in the priesthood really relevant to the question of whether or not the coming war is a just one? …

As a fellow atheist, I generally discount any arguments based on divine insight. However, I will take the painstaking logic of an Aquinas over the scattershot, emotional, logically irrelevant appeals of Hitchens any day. Does he really feel Richard Perle is a person with more moral authority than Jimmy Carter?

(Baltimore-aureole and Tiresias debate Jimmy Carter's culpability for the Desert One debacle beginning here.)

More moral authority than the Pope? WatchfulBabbler, himself no dove, lays out the case for the Pope's consistency on the issue of political violence here. One tiny part of his extensive post:

In a world of torn relationships and constant violence, war can only beget war; in the view of the Church, only by breaking that cycle of violence can peace be attained. We may deride this as an overly optimistic view, but the Pope would point to the downfall of the Soviet Union as history speaking on his behalf. Seventy-five years may be a long time to us, but to the kingdom of God? The merest flicker of flame.

There's also plenty of bite. See, for instance, Betty_The_Crow's guide to the Hitchens funhouse here, gtomkins here, or doodahman's latest "International Man of Idiocy" installment here. Last, instead of indulging Hitchens' anti-Christian bias, Zathras thinks Slate should fill Fighting Words with Fray posts here:

It would be cheaper, and though Fray posters that specialize in denouncing Those Kind of People tend to be vulgar, unskilled in the use of the written word and maybe even a little stupid everyone would understand that they were doing the best they could. Hitchens by contrast is just phoning it in. …

And speaking of the other cheek … BenK responds to Rob Walker's Ad Report Card on Nike's latest spots with a reading that shades into politics:

The streaker ad doesn't even use american style photography. It seems a little fuzzy, the colors a little undersaturated for an american audience. The accents are queen's english, the humor droll, dry, understated. even the security is non-american; slow, patient, almost caring... deeply ineffective. Sorta like U.N. peacekeepers. …

The Barbara of Baghdad?: Ender sees a hidden agenda herein Michael Young's remark that "Taking a page out of British imperial history, the Bush administration intends to name a woman …" to run one part of postwar Iraq:

I don't know about you, but I found this a poorly veiled (possibly unconscious) attempt to draw a parallel between U.S. intentions towards Iraq and failed British imperialism. …

Think of it this way, if Bush appoints a man rather than Barbara Bodine could we expect to read something like this: "The Bush administration makes a clean break from British imperial history by naming a man as administrator of the zone that includes Baghdad"? I think not. … 8:40 a.m.

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Monday, Mar. 10, 2003

Provigil strange I kept in the air one night: Responding to David Plotz's most recent Superman entry on Modafinil, a drug that might circumvent the body's need for sleep, Keith_M_Ellis reports on his underwhelming experience with it here. This and his other contributions to the Superman fray have been excellent. Keep an eye out for future posts (easy to spot with his well-earned star). Couture911 on the other hand has a heck of a Provigil story here.

Inedal asks a good question: "If modafinil [is] so good, then why are the [Air Force] pilots popping amphetamines?" He or she gets two answers: there's insufficient evidence (KME here:"Modafinil is a mystery, it's new, and there haven't been many, if any, studies on using it as a stimulant in this fashion") and they are (Couture911 here). Can anyone else settle this?

As usual, Fraysters are looking out for Slate's bottom line. As schwartz noted here:

This like all articles here, seem to lack necessary links. I would have loved to see an add to cart at each item.

Plotz only offered a vague plug for the online "Discount Mexican Pharmacy." Retief says,I got your discount Mexican pharmacy right here:

In Mexico they already have a cure for your mid-afternoon drowsiness. We call it the Siesta. For awhile we tried rebranding it as the PowerNap, but it still isn't getting as much traction in US workplaces as it deserves. …

Add it up: The Fray tallied its 6 millionth post over the weekend. Confirming the worst: it is in Ballot Box, it consists entirely of a hackneyed internet abbreviation that indicates the poster is easily amused by a lame joke about the French lack of valor, and it includes a spelling error. (Post 5,000,000 was perhaps the greatest technical feat in the history of the Fray, so some fall-off was inevitable.) It took the Fray just under 116 days to go from 5 million to 6 million, for an average of 8,620 posts a day. … 10:25 a.m.

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Saturday, Mar. 8, 2003

Writers on The Storm:Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, responds to Chris Suellentrop's Assessment here. Pollack sees U.S. foreign policy caught between the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, "given how far down the road the Bush Administration has taken us, I think that we have no realistic choice but to go to war this year." And yet

I think the Administration has handled the diplomacy and public diplomacy of coalition building very poorly, and I am deeply concerned about the impact this will have both on postwar reconstruction and on our ability to garner allies for the inevitable next crisis.

Personally, he is clearly tired of "[h]aving had my name tossed around so often by so many who seem to have read only the subtitle of my book" and seems to concur with Suellentrop that "A more appropriate subtitle for the book would have been The Case for Rebuilding Afghanistan, Destroying al-Qaida, Setting Israel and Palestine on the Road to Peace, and Then, a Year or Two Down the Road After Some Diplomacy, Invading Iraq," when he says The Case for Invading Iraq "was not my choice!" ... 10:40 p.m.

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