Red ink & red books in the Fray

Red ink & red books in the Fray

Red ink & red books in the Fray

What's happening in our readers' forum.
May 15 2003 4:52 PM

Neo, Maoists

Red ink & red books in the Fray

Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready for My Fluffer: Keith_M_Ellis gives David Edelstein a lifetime pass here, destor23 raves "that line can't be topped," and AT0MICPunk gushes, "killer copy" for Edelstein's piece de resistance in his pan of The Matrix Reloaded.  It doesn't exactly a demand a Where's Waldo effort to find it, but the review is essential reading even if you're a Neo-partisan who'd like to contort Slate's critic with a not-so-virtual vise. 

AAdvantage Getting Slammed Against the Skymile: Yuan, Yuan, Yuan—CaptainRonVoyage, self-proclaimed "evil econ genius," doesn't understand why everyone's so verklempt over the falling dollar when "the answer is ingeniously clever, and simple" because the real issue is "the world's second-most-valuable circulated currency: airline miles":

The U.S., starting tomorrow, needs to start buying frequent-flyer miles. This will have the initial salutary effect of taking huge airline debts off their books. Even better, because of the widely-disparate rates of airline-mile ownership between the U.S. and China (and Europe and Japan, they can come, too), this will leave U.S. citizens flush with new cash, and at the same time, the rush of new dollars will deflate the dollar-pegged yuan to levels not seen since 1930s Germany. China will be crushed! America will rule forever!

For more ravings from your Flight Captain, go here. A slightly more studied look at the issue by Daniel Gross can be found in Moneybox.

What's Worse? A Patzer or a Sheister?: Fellow chess dad rob_said_that cautions fellow parents that come tourney time, "you never want your kid to be playing the child of a New York lawyer." His near-litigious nightmare is here

A couple of Fraysters criticize Traub for failing to mention the feel-good story of the tournament. Prole, for one, is indignant that

Slate couldn't spare a single sentence for the team that won? The team from an inner city Memphis school. Which by the way does NOT have a stable of grandmasters. The team's coach is the school's math teacher.

Positronicus, who is somewhat familiar with Memphis Oakhaven, agrees here. James Traub's "Confessions of a Chess Dad" can be found here

Little Red Schnooks: Kausfiles Special denizen Imhotep remarks that "I used to be a Maoist until I came here. Now I'm a ROFLMAOist. Someone scratch my tummy?" … KFA1:45 p.m.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Sound Sleeper?: Yale lecturer, former New York Daily News columnist and noted author of Liberal Racism, Jim Sleeper, enters the Fray in response to Jack Shafer's "Defending Howell Raines: He Didn't Catch Jayson Blair. You Didn't Either."  Arguing that "'Diversity' did sink the Times," Sleeper refers to

a chapter of Liberal Racism to warning, specifically and explicitly, that a strange symbiosis between Arthur Sulzberger, Jr's impish moralism and Howell Raines' penitential racialism was setting the stage for just the kind of journalistic debacle that has occurred. The chapter even opens with an anecdote about Times managing editor Gerald Boyd as told to me by Gay Talese.

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You can read more about Sleeper's attempts to "to crack open the walls of denial" here ….KFA12:10 p.m.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

White Elephants: On the Jayson Blair donnybrook, NickPasse lays out the affirmative action argument here, and locdog lands multiple jabs on the Gray Lady here, including:

we're talking about a single, highly-visible individual with a disturbingly high rate of correction, negative performance appraisals, troubles with peers since he was an intern, and numerous run-ins with his editors—of whom he had several since he was bounced from department to department by a paper curiously unwilling to terminate such an obvious troublemaker. it so happens mr. blair is black, but that, as william safire [www.nytimes.com] assures us, is purely coincidental. i find that hard to believe.

Blame Gray not Black: "They ACCEPTED slipshod work, fictional stories and dummied reports to be filed and printed as FACT. AND THEY KNEW ABOUT IT," yelpsdwnny 

If Reams Fall in a Forest: Publius ruminates as to why "No one. Not the wounded servicemen in Bethesda; not the freed POW's family; not the preacher in Cleveland who'd lost a son; no one" bothered to contact or complain to the Times. Pub's theory is here. What follows is a lively star-studded thread.

In Defense: Noted Fray conservative EFriedemann brings the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot into the conversation, noting that:

In speaking approvingly of the NYT's Jayson Blair damage control efforts, Paul Gigot noted that for an editor, the only thing worse than having a problem like the Jayson Blair mess would be getting scooped by another news outlet on which stories were falsified. As such, Gigot, not generally an admirer of the NYT, was impressed with the NYT's foresight. I would also note that Gigot and other news professionals I've seen speak on the issue have seemed reasonable in their attitudes towards the NYT. They apparently realize that, there but for the grace of God, they could experience similar problems.

From the left, WVMicko wonders, "how the hell was the Times to know that Blair was bullshitting them?" Christofurio remarks that "As institutional self-examinations go, the Times reporting on Blair's fraud has so far been pretty impressive."

Extra Point: Abre_los_ojos here and rattrap here juxtapose the Blair affair with Alabama's recent hire of Mike Shula over Sylvester Croom for its vacant head coaching position.

A Whitewash: LaContessa asks, "How then to explain the Stephen Glass disaster? Ruth Shalit? Mike Barnicle?" Prams follows, "I don't recall anyone calling for more scrutiny of the hiring of Young White Guys as a group during the Stephen Glass thing, but that sure is the unspoken message here."

I'm Gunna be on Television! On the topic of Glass and his sorta-kinda-not-really mea culpa on 60 Minutes, Gamebird doesn't buy it here, and Arrow is even less generous:

Mr. Glass could demonstrate contrition by getting the hell out of the media—AND STAYING THERE ... to participate in the publicity mill of publication, demonstrates his continued addiction to the approval or at least the attention of the crowd. I'm surprised I find my self feeling so strongly about this, as a modern American of at least average cynicism. But the public reclamation of someone like Glass, or Lewinsky, or Oliver North, or other miserable freaks of their ilk, really sickens me. Why don't they have the decency to go away and leave us alone.

The_Bell is more forgiving:

For myself, I can forgive Glass ... Like Ms. Heffernan, I believe he may very well be sincere in realizing what he did was wrong and feeling remorse about it. Although I will make no special effort to buy his book or seek out his legal advice, I will wish him well - or at least no malice—as he attempts to put his life back together. What I will not do is ever trust him again. None of us should.

Brian-1 feels that Virginia Heffernan ("The Person I'm Sharing With You Now: Is Steven Glass Really Sorry?") "is asking the wrong question. Glass flunked professional journalism. That's it. No amount of contrition makes it any better or erases his ethical crimes. He is a disgrace." ... KFA 4:40 p.m.

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Monday, May 12, 2003

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Minority Response: In what's become as routine as his anticipated Thursday hijinks in Dear Prudy, doodahman's prompt rebuttals to David Plotz's installments on the rebuilding of Iraq continue to drip with scathing incredulity: "Plotz continues his myopic and pointless verbal masturbation with another series of Uncle Sam ex Machina solutions to the problems in the aftermath of the conquest of Iraq."

Doodahman moves point by point through the piece and is joined by a coterie of Fraysters. He even finds common ground with baltimore-aureole, who zeroes in on three issues that drive the rest of the thread here. Among a range of other issues (" that marriage thing is KEY," "establish cooperative lending societies to grant small loans," and "teach these kids a bit of math and science"), doodah and b-a brainstorm to find alternatives to a "volunteer to strap on a bomb vest through the suggestion that he will go to heaven and get '72 black eyed virgins.' "

For good measure b-a wonders, "[W]hy 'black eyed virgins'? couldn't we promise him 72 brides of every eye and hair color, and more competent lovemaking skills?" Doodahman goes Dolly Madison and Sally Hemmings: "I always thought it was 72 black eyed Virginians. Go figure."

Second Period Trig: Others enter the Fray with fury. To b-a's magnet-schoolish approach, the_advocate blows back with "who the hell do you think invented math and science? Abacus existed in Babylonia (present-day Iraq) about 3000 B.C." And to the issue of lending, he insists, "Islam considers the charging of interest unethical because it can perpetuate the cycles of poverty." On the fist point, 1-2-Oscar maintains that the "abacus, however, is of Chinese origin" and generally goes after the_advocate with a shower curtain rod. On the second point (usury as anti-Islamic), b-a comes back strong:

Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia is Citigroup's largest private shareholder (more than $2 billion). i guess according to your theory he's not going to heaven and get his '72 black eyed virgins' because he did a bad thing?( http://www.forbes.com/columnists/2000/10/09/1005simons.html)

OGeeOJoy adds, "the Catholic Church also considered the charging of interest unethical, and so let the Jews in the neighborhood do the moneylending. Apparently it was not unethical to hold regular pogroms to thin the population and seize their wealth, but no one got their hands dirty lending money."

MarkHaag has been all over Plotz's series for being "indicative of the whole private-initiative-centered, NGOs-can-save-the-world attitude: 'one little program; and then another little program; and then another.'" For a lengthier discussion of his point, go here.

In addition, MH brings up a curious delineation: "[W]hat makes you think managing a culture (changing their marriage habits for heaven's sake!) is any easier, or more valid (ethically) than managing a government?"—to which ScepticTank responds, "Assuming that politics and culture are always distinct from each other leads to all kind of fuzzy thinking."

Fray quizzes and their hellspawn ( here and here) have been rampant in BOTF for the past week or so, most of which center around Holocaust facts 'n' figs. Nominated for outstanding survey response is Adam_Masin hereKFA11:55 a.m.

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Friday, May 9, 2003

A Graham of Flesh: Chris Suellentrop's Assessment of Bob Graham has the candidate pegged as this year's Orrin Hatch, despite being "knowledgeable, likable, and smart." CaptainRonVoyage maintains that "Regardless of party, economic circumstance, American voters have consistently expressed a singular preference: for the candidate who is more interesting." In this event, CRV thinks that the President is infallible over the Democratic field:

Bush II could strangle a nun with his penis while snorting a line of coke on national TV and bombing Mexico, and still clean Bob Graham's clock 100 elections out of 100. Ditto for Kerry, Edwards, Moseley-Braun and Dean. And don't get me started on Clean Joe Lieberman….Charisma, womanizing, a history of substance abuse and/or killing a man in battle are all far better indicators of victory than those tired criteria of experience, geographic origin, pedigree, character, maturity or positions on "the issues."

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BigIron doesn't disagree with CRV's theory, but throws this in as his coup de grace:

I'm sticking with my Testosteronic Theory of Presidential Elections, which holds that ther Presidential election will go to the candidate who is perceived as more manly.

According to Iron, who's a manly man? "Kerry, Dean, Edwards, and Clark are the only likely Dem candidates with a decent chance."

Second Prize in a Beauty Contest: The_Bell echoes a lot of Fraysters who feel that the softballs lobbed at Graham during last Saturday's debate were a pretext to a Veep invitation: "His low-key, almost clumsy, style may work against him as a Presidential candidate but it is perfect for the VP role." All that aside, "the thing that makes him so attractive is his home state – Florida," says Bell. Democrat Alex would rather keep him in the Senate, where an open Florida seat would be vulnerable to the Republican's taking. Mikkyld is riddled by Graham's throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater vote against taking military action in Iraq. 

Ode to Esther: MichaelRyerson shares a morsel of his memory with the Fray, a diary of snapshots, windowpanes, and maternal wisdom.

Michael: Fraywatch is composed daily less than 2 miles from Sunset & Descanso – atop Elysian Heights…KFA1:40 p.m.