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March 4 2005 8:02 PM

Needles & Threads

The week's best in the Fray.

[Dunkin Donuts'] success, and the rabid loyalty of its customer base, is the product of three things: coffee, breakfast sandwich, doughnut. These three products are all presented in the same manner-quick, cheap, delicious. Both Krispy Kreme and Starbucks miss the mark, they market a luxury and lifestyle accordingly … Dunkin's is so successful because it markets itself, and the products work brilliantly, as necessities… When you wake up with a hangover, when you're getting a quick breakfast for a large group, when you're in a rush and need a little something in your gut and a little pick-me-up, you go to Dunkin Donuts … The coffee is seen by many New Englanders as the perfect marriage of pleasure and necessity -especially the Ichor of the Gods that is their iced coffee. That's the brilliance of Dunkin's-they make their products seem like foundational foods-no frills, and they make that foundation consistently satisfying. So you can take your wireless ambiance, Jewel, and $4.50 cups of coffee, and you can take your lump of lard deliciousness and little else, hell you can take your lovin'-it mcgriddle and shoddy coffee. It doesn't matter if you're working at the factory or teaching comp.lit or chilling with excel in your cubicle. Because when you're just getting up, or you're looking for a late night pit stop, or you need a lift in the midafternoon, the Northeast turns its lonely eyes to Dunkin's, and nobody else. It's not a chain, it's a food group. Ortho_Stice, here, on the brilliant simplicity of Dunkin' Donuts.


..Those pesky judeochristians can never agree on just how to subdivide [the Commandments]. Jews start in on the second verse; Catholics and Protestants prefer to skip over the whole Egypt thing and start on three. Well, we can quibble, can't we? After that, it all goes to hell, so to speak. The Jews, working from the original Hebrew, are more verbose on their 2nd commandment than the Protestants, but they pretty much agree that graven images, AKA idols, are a bad, bad thing. Roman Catholics, of course, have no such compunctions. IOZ knows--he's visited the Vatican. The One True Church skips the whole idolatry thing and reads: 2. Thou shalt not take the name of theLord thy God in vain. This Catholic second is the third for the Chosen People and the Detritus of the Big Bomb named Martin Luther. The Catholics continue a step ahead by making their third commandment the commandment to keep the Sabbath, while Jews and Proties insist it's number four. The Catholics continue to screw the whole thing up: They don't kill where the Js and Ps honor their folks; they don't steal where Js and Ps don't commit adultery; in their final couple, RCs divide the wives from the servants and oxen, whereas both Jews and Protestants remember that one man's maidservant is another man's wife; it's all just point of view.

Careful readers may also notice that the final verses of Exodus 20 contain a few more commandments pertaining to the proper use and construction of burnt offerings and stone alters. Eleven and twelve? Who can say?

In any event, we're really just discussing the Jew's Articles of Confederation anyway…

IOZ, here, bringing you these fifteen…these ten commandments in BOTF.


Elie Wiesel noted that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Noah notes that the opposite of truth is not lie, but B.S, the indifference to truth. I'd note that lies are tools of those who hate, while b.s. is the tool of those who don't care about truth.

…Now take this statement, from Bush's 2003 State of the Union:

"Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein."

There are no lies here, and each factual assertion is literally true. Its still pure b.s -- possibly the worst example of Bush's use of it. The two clauses of the first sentence, which tie a belief about Hussein to 9/11, are factually unrelated, leaving the impression that Hussein was involved with 9/11. The second sentence mention of "shadowy terrorist networks" is framed by two Hussein references even though Hussein had nothing to do with Al-Qaida. The third sentence connects directly connects (in the mind) Hussein, deadly biocehmical weapons, and the 9/11 "hijackers." Of course, Hussein had no such weapons, there was no evidence he would "arm" Al Qaida, and he had no connection to 9/11 or any hijacking.

The b.s. here is revealed by the lack of lies -- the careful arrangement of wording to avoid lying while still leaving an uterrly false impression. B.S. is really fraud, which may involve a material misstatement of fact (lie) or a material omission (leaving a false impression) with the intent to do so.

TheAList, here, further defining bullshit.


The Slate 60 is interesting this year as always.

With all respect to the donors of gifts to their communities and worthy institutions, the evidently less attractive field of philanthropy directed at immediately needy people deserves some thought.

If you had a large sum -- say, $10 million or more -- you wanted to use to help people in difficult economic straits, to whom and for what purpose would you give it?

To a church or other religious organization? To poor people, directly? To a specialized organization (for example, one that operated health clinics or supplied educational services)? Would you look past the needy in this country and aim the money at people overseas? Or would you go in the other direction and direct all the money to one locality? Lastly, would you give to an existing organization or try to start one of your own?

The Slate 60 is annually one of the less-read Slate features, so this Fray may not be the best place to post this. Perhaps this is a survey Slate's writers should respond to. If more wealthy people have not given large amounts of money to help the truly needy perhaps they have just not known how.

Zathras, here, on the Slate 60.

What I don't see is why even a staunch originalist like Scalia has to jettison the original conception of the Eighth Amendment. Why not just accept that the "floor" the Eighth Amendment sets is pretty low? After all, that's all the amendment is really doing -- setting a bare minimum. States, or Congress, are free to go as far above the floor as the people want. That's how you can really find a consensus. Even if the Eighth Amendment allows the death penalty for 12-year-olds (because it was allowed when written), that doesn't mean we have to have the death penalty for 12-year-olds. As it is, no state has such a law, nor does federal law. Whether the Eighth Amendment allowed it or not, enlightened people are always free to make sure their laws rise above that bare-bones floor. But if significant swaths of the population see no problem with, and prefer to dispense, rough 18th century justice, isn't that the best evidence of all that no consensus exists anyway? The Eighth Amendment still offers some protection; just not very much. The rest depends on how enlightened the people are. If you don't like the level of enlightenment, then work to change peoples' opinions and these rough laws (or even amend the Constitution to abolish the death penalty). That's a real evolving standard -- and I don't know why it's so unacceptable.

HLS2003, here, on the evolving standard of "cruel and unusual punishment."


Gtomkins1 has a very different policy on media relations than these senior administration officials. A very senior person, but a very junior non-administration non-official, I never hide behind anonymity, but I have a very strict policy that I must remain at all times obscure. Not only does this require meticulous attention to detail in what I write (Opacity is hard work!), but the more important element of total obscurity has been a stupendously successful lifetime struggle to never rise to the level of public recognition (not to mention remuneration!) that my awesome talents surely deserve. These comments are, as always, strictly under the record.

gtomkins1, here, off the record, on the Q.T., and very hush-hush.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on Roper v. Simmons stirs up several of the Fray's longstanding debates, namely the death penalty, what constitutes an adult in a civil society, and the Fray-legalist's favorite — what Dahlia Lithwick refers to as "an all-out war between the proponents of a living (or at least medium-rare) Constitution and those who want to see it dead (or perhaps well-done, with a nice pinot)." William Saletan focuses his critique of the decision on Antonin Scalia's dissent and the series of flip-flops, half-flops, and near-flops that may or may not have been rendered by the Supremes, most notably by Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy. But is Nino living in a glass house? 

Inconsistently Consistent: No, says froststreet here:

While I love to expose Scalian hypocrisy, there is a sense in which Scalia is being totally consistent here. He opts for the moral judgments of majorities as expressed through legislatures over the moral judgments of particular individuals as expressed through judicial decision-making. This is a perfectly consistent philosophical framework, although in particular applications it can lead to inconsistent substantive results. The judges Scalia accuses of flip-flopping are really just weighing the interests of the minorities affected by the statutes in each instance and arriving at different conclusions based on different factual situations -- which is something Scalia hates.

There seems to be a lot of grudging support for Scalia among liberals in the Fray. Here's wolun888:

I am the last person to be considered a fan of Scalia's jurisprudence. But to be fair to Nino, the article's argument is flawed since Scalia's vote in Hodgson didn't have anything to do with the moral capacity of a minor. It was based on the fact that he "continue[d] to dissent from this enterprise of devising an Abortion Code, and from the illusion that we have authority to do so."

GeoffsPneuma just finished reading A Matter of Interpretation to better understand Scalia's judicial patterns. Geoff concludes that "Scalia is weird like that":

[Scalia] observes that the Seventh Amendment provides: "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved."

This proves that the Framers of the Constitution were using very specific language when they enumerated rights.

Thus, when they also claimed, in the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech" we must construe that they were also using very specific language to denote a very specific term. It's Scalia's position that "freedom of speech" isn't some expansive general principle, but must in fact be a "term of art" from the eighteenth century English common law perspective…

…his efforts to define "original meaning" allow him to pare out as many inconvenient facts as necessary to leave his point standing unchallenged...

Degsme expands on this point:

Scalia presumes that it is possible to fathom out the exact meaning of original intent in the language.

That in and of itself is a self-delusional fallacy. Proof of the fallacy can be found in the way it violates chaos theory precepts, if nowhere else. After all, since Scalia isn't living and breathing in the same time, he can't be exactly sure he's got it right. Sure he THINKS he does, but that's just an emotion based response.

In this way he is the same as the Randroids who spout objectivism and get very emotional in defending their views precisely because it appeals to their emotional makeup.

Anyone care to defend the much-maligned Sandra Day O'Connor? How about RadCent here:

She said (this is a paraphrase): Even if they are less culpable, they may still be culpable enough.

This simple statement cuts through all the BS and puts decision-making in such matters back where it belongs -- in the judgments of juries and judges who try the cases. There is no single age of reason, no single age of full adulthood, no single age for anything.

And PubliusToo rips both the "fallacy of the findings of the majority," as well as Scalia's flawed — and often unconstitutionally majoritarian — originalism. Like RadCent, PT feels that O'Connor "nailed the point." Count mike1729 among the O'Connor supporters in the Fray here.

BarberOfSeville, stylish as always, takes aim at the originalists-slash-strict constructionists:

It takes great suppleness of mind to pronounce that the meaning of "cruel and unjust punishment" should be left not to the "subjective views" of nine living, breathing (some barely though) individuals in dark robes, but to the considered opinion of a handful of slave-owners who, apart from being unfamiliar with inventions like DNA evidence or modern plumbing, pose the additional disadvantage of being unreachable by usual means of communication. The rallying cry to replace plutocracy by cryptocracy is oddly charming, but only one among the numerous intellectual feats of the movement. Take, for example, the great Scalia's law of jurisprudence -- that standards may be allowed to evolve only after "overwhelming opposition over a long period of time". He is effectively saying that people should leave him alone with his duck hunting and lecture tours, and if some 48 states or so ever came to decide that frying underage defendants is not something they can stomach, he can be summoned back to beat Wyoming and North Dakota black and blue with the 14th. I wish I had the skills to make such a stirring plea to my employers, demanding paid unemployment for life.

The Bill of Rights is there to protect a few cherished rights and principles from mob opinion. The latter, it is worth remembering, condoned segregation, disenfranchisement and violent oppression only till the other day. If the operative words of these protective clauses are to be interpreted by the mob leaders themselves, we are back to mob rule through a wonderful circularity. Woe be upon the traitor who may look to the rest of civilization for non-binding ideas -- the world which has supplied the statue of liberty, most of the human stock, the scientific inventions on which American might is built, and so on and so forth.

And Ex-fed, here, breaks down Lithwick's steakhouse war as one between "rules" and "standards."

Teen Age Riot: Demosthenes2 takes the utilitarian tack in sizing up the moral readiness of teens. He also makes this point:

Yet, we've no inclination to make the same judgment call about sex—when a 16 year old minor engages in sex with an adult we imprison the adult … because we assume the incompetence of the minor. But then, we're addressing sex, rather than murder—violence we're fine with; it's sex that really gets our dander up.

The_Bell feels that "the Supreme Court reached the correct answer in the case of Roper v. Simmons for all the wrong reasons":

The majority in this case appears to have chosen "easing" this country into the international mainstream that capital punishment is inherently cruel and unacceptable. They ruled that the mentally retarded cannot be executed. Then they ruled the same was true for minors under sixteen. Now they have expanded the population of those who can never be executed to include all minors. They cannot ban the death penalty on its own merits because that would be rushing their argument. So instead they try to pick at the "special nature" of the groups they choose to exempt. Then later, they will conclude that all these special groups represent not the exceptions but the rule.

Crimson Tide: Harvard Rules author, Richard Bradley, responds to Stephen Metcalf's review of his book. Bradley responds:

Stephen Metcalf finds a lot to like about Harvard Rules, and I'm grateful for his serious engagement with theissues my book raises. But he allows himself one cheap shot thatmerits rebuttal. Early in his otherwise thoughtful review, Metcalfcalls the book "little better than a hatchet job, built on scuttlebuttand Nexis searches."  That line is wrong on every count.

Harvard Rules
is tough on Larry Summers, but it's not a hatchet job. It gives Summers credit where credit is due. However, it does accurately describe the mood of anxiety and division that Summers' leadership has created on the Harvard campus, and details specific incidents behind this state of affairs. Metcalf may not have noticed, but there's been a little rebellion at Harvard lately. Readers of Harvard Rules will understand that that
upheaval is not just about President Summers' remarks on women in the sciences, but his imperious leadership style generally.

And about that "scuttlebutt and Nexis searches" stuff? Sorry, but no. I spent 18 months in Cambridge reporting Harvard Rules, conducting hundreds of interviews. The tough charges I levy against Larry Summers are based on that reporting. If it is wrong in any way, Metcalf should say so. He does not.

Instead, Metcalf faults me for not recognizing the "culture of flattery" that he thinks pervades Harvard. Yet when I report conversations and accusations that are less than flattering, Mr. Metcalf calls this "scuttlebutt." Isn't that called having it both ways?

Get in on the war of words hereKA10:05 a.m.

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Monday, February 28, 2005

Judging by the relative quiet in the Fray, the Academy Awards seemed to have had most fraysters snoozing at the back of the class less than an hour after Chris Rock finished his pyrotechnics.

Swanky but not Seasoned: Splendid_IREny unleashes a begrudging congratulation to Hilary Swank, but quickly disclaims that, "it wasn't your night":

If nothing else, you might have learned to give a proper speech. Could you be any less inspiring, any more business-like? You could not have been any more droning than if you had been reading the grocery list of protein shakes you drank while being whipped into fighting shape by your trainers (curiously no word of thanks to acting teachers, people who inspired you to even begin acting). Not for a minute should you congratulate yourself for remembering your husband this time. You cad. You work-in-the-making. You gave it away with your comment about being the girl "from the trailer park." It wasn't acting as much as it was remembering, was it? And I don't say this lightly, Hilary: I'm working-class, too. But, if it had been me, I would have stepped down in a heartbeat; I would have given either Bening or Staunton the award. (And, side note: what kind of life are you leading that you need to thank your lawyers?!!)

Both Bening and Staunton are women of class, of elegance, of acting power. They are measured. When called upon to speak, they are in control of their breathing apparatus. In your vast list of thank yous, next time, you might remember the diaphragm. That's training. That's experience. That's life. Actors like Bening and Staunton are doing a little more than sensory recall in front of the camera. Anyone can die onscreen and pull our heartstrings.

Congratulations, but this wasn't your night, kid. A lady would have known as much, and stepped aside, were she not so breathlessly eager.

SI's BOTF repost thread begins here. Fray Editor fears for the well-being of any actress who names her publicist as her best friend. TheAList's Oscar Wrap Up includes digs at Robin Williams, the fashions of Samuel L. Jackson, and the Chris Rock-Sean Penn pissing match we should have seen.

Catty Corner: Julia Turner's critique of Oscar fashion launched some fun stuff in Culturebox Fray. Ang_Cho suspects "that there is an inverse relationship between the male:female earning differential and the noteworthiness of female Oscar fashion." On why female Oscar fashion trends have gotten so boring, Ang writes:

The blanding of women's fashion is a sign that women are being treated as men's EQUALS in Hollywood. In 2002, for example, men DEVIATED from the tuxedo template and garnered notice (Samuel Jackson, Ben Kingsley and Will Smith, for example) whereas women stuck to the formula depicted in the article.

DeaH concurs, "As long as women are mostly known for their clothing, they will never be mostly known for their work." So maybe blah ensembles are an emblem of equality. But CaptainRonVoyage insists, "If you want better Oscar fashion, stop rewarding actors who look and act like mannequins." So far as last night's red carpet fodder, Ele_ give us some best 'n' worstsKA8:55 a.m.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Rock Solid: Splendid_IREny's take on Chris Rock's politics nails it: it's all about context. Rock's Booker T-ish shtick shouldn't be parsed from (a) his primary audience and (b) his presentation. SI here:

Rock is dangerous in the way Lenny Bruce was dangerous in that he tells the truth. Granted, he's not saddled with Bruce's problems, and that's what's so absurd about the Drudge contingent and all their misgivings and hand-wringing over Rock's handling of the Oscar ceremony. Rock's comments are nothing he should apologize for; in fact, those comments are what's going to increase the television audience for the Oscars.

…Rock will continue to do what any good comedian does: He takes a cultural and social pulse. That the pious Drudgers and Drudgettes can take him so literally without listening literately guarantees Rock will get some new material. And that the same people won't get it.

Chmike wants to know:

when did being against crime, believing that decisions on terminating a pregnancy should not be taken frivolously, and thinking that money is better spent on tangible wealth-building assets than bling for your car become traits exclusive to conservative Republicans? The notion that these concepts are antithetical to Liberals and Democrats is exactly the type of misconception that conservative authoritarians love to propagate.

Whether there's merit to Rockophobia or not, the Academy has got to be loving the tizzy, writes lucabrasi here, particularly "in a year when its main nominated films are hardly of Hobbit/Titanic popularity."

The ConstitutionState: There's lots of good stuff in Supreme Court Dispatches Fray in response to Dahlia Lithwick's reporting on Kelo v. New London, in which the municipality wants to condemn some private land (compensating the owners) and hand it to private developers for a revitalization project for the blighted area. Many of the posts, such as WatchfulBabbler's here and Geoff's here, take Lithwick up on her challenge to fraysters to "win this case (for either side) in just four words." O_Hellenbach deftly points out the paradox of the case:

The interesting thing about the New London case is how it confuses people's sympathies. The same people who think big private development by megacorporations is wonderful stuff that's great for everybody also tend to take a dim view of the government taking people's property. On the other hand, big-government types who think it's fine to condemn private land for the greater good of all are also likely to bristle when large powerful business interests convince the government to force little people out of their homes so that a rich powerful developer can make a killing.

And Joe_JP injects privacy and the Takings Clause into the conversation, alluding to a post authored by OzarkLawyer on the subject here that melds the legal and the personal. 

HOVagrants: Is RachelCA1 a bad person? After watching several poser carpoolers zoom past her on the 405 in rush hour traffic — a commute that takes her over an hour, Rachel realized:

When was the last time I even saw a cop on the freeway in morning traffic? I never do, unless he's responding to an accident. And even if there were a cop, he's not going to be spending his time inspecting the interiors of cars in the car pool lane. And even if he WERE inspecting the interiors of cars in the car pool lane, he couldn't catch all of them. So what did I do?

I got in the car pool lane and made it to work in 15 minutes.

I felt a little guilty, but I would have felt like a fool if I'd stayed put in that horrific traffic (it was worse than normal, due to an earlier accident).

I'm going to do this every day.

The way I see it, I'm risking a $300 fine for a car-pool violation. If I get caught, I'll gladly pay the fine, but I doubt that I'd get caught more than once a year if I used the HOV lane every day back and forth to work. I'm probably saving $300 in gas and brake pads by driving at a consistent speed rather than stop-and-go anyways.

Assign Rachel a civics grade here. Zinya sees the HOV lane, however ineffective it may be at times, as "a symbolic statement of societal priorities we ought to be heeding."

Guilty Pleasures: There's nothing new in m-'s screed on the gluttony of the American piglet, but it still makes for a fun read. And Fray Editor was surprised to see EarlyBird expound on the virtues of the slow food movementKA 4:45 p.m.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

As a precocious young political junkie, Fray Editor was presented with The Making of the President series by FrayMom one Chanukah (most definitely on night 3 or 4, when the books and Far Side calendars were traditionally doled out) in the mid-80s. Kennedy-obsessed FrayMom grew up on Theodore White's seminal series, and when she observed that pre-adolescent Fray Editor was beginning to absorb politics with the same sort of ferocity, she figured it was time to introduce her kid to the narrative of politics. Fray Editor devoured the White volumes and, for the first time, realized that politics wasn't so much a battle of ideologies, but a living historical novel whose characters were far more textured than their comparatively insipid ideas. 

As much as Fray Editor enjoyed White, it wasn't until the cool, pothead-in-training bunkmate at summer camp from Newton, Massachusetts shared his copy of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail that Fray Editor truly embraced non-fiction as something other than the transcription of order, and a campaign as more than a linear proceeding.  It was magical and transcendent that something I studied in Mr. Tyree's Social Studies class could be conveyed on the page with utter impunity.  How could something so deliciously profane not betray the truth, but actually illuminate it?  Needless to say, Fray Editor never saw politics in the same light, nor did I ever scrutinize it with the same credulity.

Occupational hazard requires Fray Editor to spin through the blogosphere to read the musings of our armchair imitators.  While Thompson has influenced a generation, few have seized the mantel.

Fraysters on the life and death of Hunter S. Thompson:

…I think what is most interesting about Thompson is not his contribution to the Gonzo style of journalism, designed to excite and shock rather than passively inform, nor his upfront excesses from drug use to characterizations, but his raw candor. That rawness of personality, that upfront in your face, 'take it or not, who really cares' and damn the torpedoes is something that we've lost in a day of scripted appearances, controlled access to the press based upon content, spin and management of the theme from softball questions from paid journalists and columnists on the take to stages that paradoxically communicate the desired result of a policy by projecting slogans on the walls ('fixing social security') regardless of the contrary consequences.

Thompson had become, like our affinity for truth and protest and suspicion of authority, a relic of a time when individual awareness was more prized and a belief in the difference one person can make were more a part of our make up.

… It's a shame that Thompson hit his peak and followed a curve in ways that reflect the ascendancy and decline of our candor and questioning. It's a shame that we care so little for candor these days and instead seem to care more for 'appearances' over the underlying truths that motivate our actions … and that there wasn't much place any more for an in your face teller of tales about reality designed to excite and shock. We, somehow, became inured to shock and rejected candor for the illusion of safety.

Thompson will be missed for that candor more than anything else—that fearlessness reflected in his work, if not his life.

--Demosthenes2

[Find this post here.]  

Thompson was an American Original. You might disagree with his views or his lifestyle, but you cannot dispute his honesty. He never pulled a punch, never considered the consequences to himself; he always called it as he saw it. He was vicious, merciless, pitiless, and played to win (almost) every time (aside from the rare occasion when he bet with his heart instead of his head). These tendencies came from the most ironic of sources -- Thompson was a supremely sensitive person. He felt pain and fear and disgust and the sting of injustice and indignation for hypocrisy more than any other author I've ever read … The Rage that he channeled the ugliness of the world into was among the purest things put on paper during the 20th century.

…The fact is that no matter where you fall on the political spectrum if you're interested in politics today you owe a lot to Thompson. He wasn't a Liberal or a Conservative or a Communist or a Libertarian, though people have tried to paint him as all of the above. He was that rarest of creatures in today's political landscape: a true, involved, Independent … He developed his political belief system for himself. He questioned ALL authority, Republican or Democrat. He was a true Individual; very few people have a right to call themselves that today, despite the fact that many do…

By being the voice of insanity he was the voice of reason. He didn't always stick to the facts, but he always told the Truth, even when it hurt and even about himself (see: "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved"). He was a patriot and an outlaw and a creator and a one-of-a-kind original…

--Evidence

[Find this post here.]

It was always about struggle with Thompson …

You might say that he regarded his mind as like a car he'd continually try to ratchet up, jack up, juice up in the hopes of getting the engine and suspension to take a sharp corner faster, meaner, noisier, with the thought of eventual disintegration for the moment blocked out by the sheer mania and exhilaration that such speeds and near misses give you. But his mind fried, he wrote less, he mumbled more in public utterances and talks, he broke bones, his manner was a text book illustration of the word "fried."

It was as if the synapses that had fired and given the world "Hells Angels" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" had fused the ends of his nerve endings and made it an impossible operation to change style, outlook, interest. Other writers of similar aesthetic, ala Mailer, Wolfe, found new voices, bigger subjects, subtler means to put forth their arguments with existence. Thompson was frozen in time, attempting to sustain himself on sparking fits of rage and guile, coming up with little that was new, as it must be for an artist to keep a pulse worth beating.

The real pisser is that he lived all these years knowing that he hadn't another good book in him. This might have been his biggest pain to endure, and it might have the one he meant to stop once and for all.

--Ted_Burke

[Find this post here.]


…Thompson wasn't a leftist. He recognized palpably that when speaking of the people in power, it isn't the people that matter, but the power. He saw that the old adage about power corrupting is mostly false; only the already corrupt or the eagerly corruptible seek office and power, which is why the system so lauded by the memoirists of the Republic will be neither saved nor reformed. His lament, although uttered in his own peculiar diction, should be familiar to all of us: that no one good or honest enough to be president, would ever run. But he saw worse than that; he saw that as a people we prefer organized thievery to anarchy; he took Franklin's aphorism--that those who'd sacrifice freedom for temporary security deserve neither freedom nor security--and suggested, with a raised eyebrow, that Americans fall inescapably into the latter category. Thompson destroyed himself with drugs, liquor, and firearms because he knew it was preferable to being destroyed, which will be the fate of most of the rest of us…

Hunter S. understood and explained better than Foucault and a whole generation of academics the mechanism of madness and the nature of a power that conceals itself even as it acts. He consciously made himself into the medieval madman--the only figure permitted his heresy. He said a man's body and mind are inviolable to all forces but a man's own volition, and he said that if any sonofabitch ever tries to take your land, you ought to shoot him. Increasingly, we're left only with Democrats and Republicans; the more I live, the more I see these callow imitators replacing free men.

--IOZ

[Find this post here.]


The Colonel is shocked and saddened to report the untimely passing of one of his intellectual heroes, the celebrated, vitriolic, exasperating, impossible-to-fuckin-categorize and thoroughly inimitable Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor/instigator of "Gonzo Journalism." Thompson exemplified the spirit not only of the seventies, but America itself. Not the narcissistic, pompous, disco-beat thaumaturgy of retread 60's radicals searching for salvation in carrot juice and communes, but the scathing rage and fury of a man who sought to reconcile his love of drugs and guns with his deep hatred of counterculture frauds and mainstream hacks with their maudlin caterwauling and insipid moralizing.

The irony of his self-inflicted escape from this pen of shit and iniquity is that, as of this morning, say 0800 hours, a parade of "tributes" in the most treacly tone imaginable will begin to flood the airwaves and cyberspace, each trying to outdo the last in finding "good" in a man who was dedicated above all to one thing: his liver, and its annihilation. The Colonel has seen too much of this life to ever criticize the man who has "done it all," found his mouth filled with the foul taste of hypocrisy, and decided to destroy its presence with limitless quantities of Scotch, Bourbon, and rotgut brewskis.

Let the mourning begin, however false, however foul. The Colonel will remember one of his influences for his own inimitable style by way of one of his most depraved and emblematic anecdotes: Thompson, warned by his doctor that his gullet was being fried by a duodenal ulcer spewing copious amounts of bile and acid from his stomach to his throat, decided that the special effects of gin could not be lost to his pickled body. He procured a medical hypodermic needle with a five inch needle, filled it with Tanqueray, and injected the fucker DIRECTLY into his stomach, giving him reprieve from enforced sobriety.
That's Gung-Ho dedication worthy of a Marine, fellas.

Hunter S. Thompson: you will be missed, but you will not be mourned. We know better than to insult your memory like that.

--Col-BullKurtz

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…as a teenager, I had one hero: Hunter S. Thompson, archetypal anti-hero and gonzo-journalist extraordinaire. Like William Burroughs and Ed Abbey, men I would come to later, Thompson was always digging, needling, scraping and peeling away, trying to pierce through to the fundamental rottenness he was convinced lurked beneath the shiny veneer of so much of our hypocritical, self-satisfied, unquestioning American ways. As a person, Thompson, like Burroughs, left much to be desired, but the spirit was all nobility, even when the vessel was confused, strung-out, stupid. Like Abbey, he wrote incisive, cutting, and funny pieces where the villains were often unfairly portrayed and one-dimensional, but from which you came away convinced of the fundamental "rightness" of the author's take on things.

--Collegiate_Friend_o'_Tempo's_Kid

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