The week's best in the Fray.

The week's best in the Fray.

The week's best in the Fray.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
May 14 2005 11:50 AM

Needles & Threads

The week's best in the Fray.

Buoyed by busy discussions on the Kansas "intelligent design" hearings on Human Nature Fray and the allure of conservative congregations in Faith-Based Fray — and a lot of fun defining the ecology of the pick-up basketball game in Sports Nut Fray — the Fray had one of its best weeks in recent months. And leading the way were some of its biggest stars:

All blowhards of limited intelligence and simultaneously irrational and unshakeable convictions which are precisely the opposite of those they held at some earlier point in their life are hereby and forthwith to be considered political authorities until such a time as their current convictions are abrogated in favor of another diametrically opposed set of beliefs, equally irrational and unshakeable, at which point said blowhards will be designated as both a) authorities, and b) "serious."

--IOZ, here, invoking "Horowitz's law" to explain Arianna Huffington.

…The problem with this is that it begs the question. (In Latin, petitio principi.) Precisely what we are trying to discover is whether something can exhibit design without being an artifact. The major premise simply assumes that the answer is no, and then quite logically deduces that the world must be an artifact . . . because, by the major premise, everything is inescapably an artifact. There is, after all, nothing that does not exhibit design, in the sense of possessing intelligibility. The turds I leave in the toilet exhibit design, in that sense, because they were formed by quite understandable and predictable processes. Does that mean that they are artifacts?

What the syllogism has done is to obliterate the distinction we normally observe between artificial and natural. An artifact, by definition, is artificial, not natural. Yet the syllogism, if taken as valid, would prove that, ultimately, the word "nature" has no referent, because everything must an artifact. Everything exhibits design in the sense of intelligibility. The only thing that would not be an artifact, by the syllogism's major premise, is what the ancients called "chaos," by which they meant a completely random intermixture of all elements, without pattern and therefore without intelligibility. Chaos is not a concept modern philosophy or modern science has found useful…

--Fritz_Gerlich, here, somehow combining the teleological and the scatological in the intelligent design debate.

…Liberal Churches, focused on social service and piety, can and do thrive. The more demanding, in fact, the better they do. "Religious Right" churches, by the way, are often liberal by this definition - a sign that the words 'right' and 'left' are being tortured in ways that render them useless.

But if real liberals want to see their virtues thrive, there are few better places to look than inner city catholic missions, pentacostals, low episcopalians (the most pious, but the least ritualistic), and a variety of other churches.

These are not 'social gospel' churches that reduce the entire thing to a liberal political/social message. In fact, they often resist some of the modern conclusions that secular liberals have reached about HOW to achieve liberal ends. Freeing people often does not include abortion, heavy government welfare programs, and lax enforcement of laws that heavily impact minorities. Instead, they include huge amounts of personal charity work, calling people to personal account for caring for orphans and the fatherless (single mothers), helping rehabilitate ex-cons, intervening in cases of domestic violence, environmental protection, etc.

All very liberal causes.

--BenK, here, on matters faith-based.

…Traditionally, sportswriters wrote epic paeans to their warrior-heroes in the vein of Homer's Iliad, lifting verbs from treatises on medieval warfare and adjectives from Roget's Thesaurus. They couldn't calculate an on-base percentage to save their souls, but they had a feel for the game which grew out of experience, and they didn't need a slide rule to figure out which players had shined and which had disgraced themselves during any given contest. Most were nameless hacks whose work was steeped in kitschy melodrama and human-interest journalism, aimed primarily toward people who didn't really know much about sports and viewed them as light entertainment. But the good ones have always conveyed their love of the game in an infectious way.

I will freely admit that the stat-nerds know what they're talking about. I have absolutely no doubt that Michael Lewis is a better analyst and talent scout than Buzz Bissinger could ever dream of being. Sports have become a big business, and they have naturally developed an economic mentality. If I were a general manager or even a serious, devoted fan and fantasy-sports enthusiast, I'd be reading Michael Lewis' books, too. He's knowledgeable, and he's a solid writer. His work just doesn't interest me personally.

I don't buy into all the trendy "Men are from Mars and women can't do math" pop-science nonsense. I'm a scientist and a former athlete. But the sports-nerd fraternity really does seem to appeal almost exclusively to men. Most female sports fans I know, unless they are actually involved in coaching, spend roughly zero time talking about stats. The enjoyment of a sporting event for me is visceral, not rooted in ERA calculations or the number of years that have passed since a rival team last won the title.

I suspect that many male sports fans still feel the same way…

--ShriekingViolet, here, not really interested in creating runs nor learning her Fray Roland Rating.

I would argue that my time here [in the Fray] "enhances my life and makes me a more interesting person." My wife would argue that the more I burden you good folks with my bullshit, the less she will have to hear it. That seems to work out well for both of us. Marriage is compromise.

--The_Bell, here, on whether substantial posting on the Fray takes away from quality time with his better half.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Epistemology of the Posit: William Saletan's piece on the "intelligent design" hearings in Kansas, to no one's surprise, has Human Nature Fray in a tizzy. The majority of fraysters put forward two primary arguments:

(1) Intelligent Design, as a hypothesis that cannot be falsified, fails to meet the standards of science. Here's tman:

It is not science because it posits a supernatural explanation for natural phenomenon. Existing natural explanations such as macroevolution cannot account for the data, therefore an intelligent creator must exist. This is not a falsifiable claim. If the evidence does support macroevoluation, then will ID proponents concede that there is no intelligent designer? Of course not. Nor is the ID explanation really an explanation. Who designed the designer? How can we find out more about the nature of the designer? This is religion, not science…

(2) Intelligent Design is a Trojan horse for creationism.

Iron_Lungfish maintains that ID is "a shameless attempt to smuggle religion into schools under the cover of science, and that's reason enough to keep it out." Shrieking_Violet regards Saletan's article as "well-reasoned and thought-provoking" but warns here that

It is abundantly clear that most actually-existing supporters of ID are the same flaming unreconstructed young-earth mythologizers involved in the last battle over science curriculum in Kansas …

Creationists have never accepted intellectual defeat in the previous battles over science curriculum. They have only accepted political defeat. ID, as currently formulated, is a Trojan Horse. Its purpose is not to allow teachers to deliver lectures on the principles of intelligent design. Its purpose is the same as every other half-baked scheme from the creation crowd: to allow biology teachers to question and criticize evolutionary theory in the classroom.

For gtomkins1 and Sissyfuss1 the more important issue is pedagogical—what and how we teach our kids when we've got their collective attention. Here's S1:

Education is brain-washing and indoctrination – the question is what thin slice from humanity's enormous reservoir of good and bad ideas to put into little heads.

And gt1 adds:

We teach kids evolution because familiarity with the concept is basic to being conversant with the life sciences, the technological products of which intrude into our lives every day.

S1 expands further on the hazards of the scientific inquiry buffet line:

It is a ludicrous idea (which I suppose only the scientifically semi-literate can peddle) that kids in classrooms can critically choose among alternative theories (and non-theories) of human origin. To fully appreciate modern Darwinism itself requires understanding the principles of carbon dating, statistical laws of Mendelian genetics, mathematical techniques like differential equations, to say nothing of digesting a large volume of detailed fossil evidence and zoological observations. That is too much for even the prodigious little Johnny to wrap his mind around. The best we can do is teach the basic principles of critical reasoning and empiricism, and hand out a collection of factoids on which the adult world has hopefully reached some kind of consensus. Curious minds who really want to get to the bottom of it in some circumscribed domain of enquiry can eventually proceed to graduate school to satisfy their curiosity. To assert that centuries of painstaking progress in collaborative thinking by some of the best minds of the species should be continuously judged by a rolling jury of fourteen year olds is utter folly – the usefulness of democracy in science is much more limited. Why not, after all, spread out the entire rainbow – from Maori creation myths to Chinese horoscopes – and let Lizzie decide what she fancies along with her favorite flavor of bubble gum?

Which may be why BeowulfSchaeffer suggests:

I'd like to see the ID and evolution taught together, in a SCIENCE class.

Teach the two as a demonstration as science vs superstition.

Here's evolution. Show how the details of our understanding have changed as evidence has accumulated, but how the net effect has been an overwhelming amount of evidence for natural selection as the mechanism for speciation.

Discuss the numerous ways in which the modern synthesis could have been falsified (and has not been) and then present the accumulation of evidence from paleontology, biology, biochemistry and DNA research…

Next discuss intelligent design.

Note first that it is logically deficient. The idea doesn't even rise to the level of a testable hypothesis because it can't hold itself. The central argument is that complexity is prima facie evidence for intelligence to design the complex apparatus under examination…

Then point out that there are no testable hypotheses available from the claims of intelligent design proponents. They assert that complexity=design, but provide no way to test that assertion other than introspection…This is not a scientific theory that generates testable hypotheses.

Finally, observe that the source for the ID assertion is entirely driven by the result…

This morning, a frustrated William Saletan jumped into the Fray to inquire, "Doesn't anyone read anymore?":

But have you read the definition Calvert and Harris propose? It would define science as a continuous process of 'observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.' Abstract creationism can't qualify for such scrutiny.

Sheesh. Many of you would save yourselves so much grief and bile if you'd just read more carefully.

From PeterE's vantage point, "Finally evolutionists are getting some payback":

The debate over ID should be an opportunity to open up the debate over the uses of science.

While evolutionist scientists seem to present their position (as if it were only one) as pure science, school textbooks and TV nature programs take thin evidence and use it as an opportunity to drive home an ideological point: "you don't need to hypothesize a creator to explain this biological fact".

Why don't physicists feel the same need to self-justify? Because evolutionary theory is a part of a cultural battle over ontology and epistemology: does God exist; do we need to assume a creator to explain what we know? This battle was not created by a US school board; it has been going on since the Enlightenment.

Phillip Johnson says biology uses "methodological materialism" in its research. That's fine, he says. What's not fine is to assume that material reality is all there is, and then to teach kids that physical reality is all there is and all we need to know. That is teaching ideology.

In a sense, methodological materialism (like Marxist materialism) is Newtonian thinking. It does not accept the rules changes instituted by Einsteinian physics: matter is not all there is; matter is not the ultimate reality.

Finally, Fraywatch revisits IOZ's exclusive interview with the Intelligent Designer from January 26. 

In Memoriam: The Fray mourns the passing of longtime friend Robes. Complications from stage four lymphoma claimed his life this week, and a fitting top thread is running on BOTF here. Fraywatch extends best wishes to his family and friends, both in the Pacific Northwest and here on the Fray … KA 9:05 a.m.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Are You Insane? In Monday's Chatterbox, Timothy Noah sheds light on a dubious study that suggests that "conservatives have a screw loose." No different than studies that purport biological underpinnings for homosexuality—never mind that we have no clear definition of what we mean by "gay"—the study ignores that classifications such as "conservative" or "liberal" or "libertarian" are man-made constructs, and fluid ones at that. In his lede, Noah takes up the prevailing political riddle du jour, namely, why middle- and working-class people are voting Republican, against their supposed interests. 

J_Mann's explanation makes a lot of sense:

Noah writes:

Between 1989 and 1997, middle-income families (defined in this instance as the middle 20 percent) saw their share of the nation's wealth fall from 4.8 percent to 4.4 percent. Yet Al Gore lost the white working class by a margin of 17 percentage points, and John Kerry lost it by a margin of 23 percentage points.

Well, given that the President between 1989 and 1997 was Bill Clinton, maybe the working class doesn't have the same faith that Franks and Noah do that the Dems are any better for them than the GOP. If the GOP is perceived as better, or at least not much worse, then maybe voting on social issues or defense starts to make more sense . . .


Duck916's post makes a related point, while RobM1981 chalks up middle-class conservatism to unfriendly government that's being propelled by the other side. 

For more nuance, check out historyguy's post:

The article talks about the "working class," but all the linked polls demonstrating the pathology consider only to the "white working class." This is not a subtle difference. In fact, the African-American working class voters vote strongly with their economic self interest, despite disagreements with the Democratic party on some social issues. The trend is clear but not as strong among other voters fo color. The entire working class, which includes black, brown, red and yellow as well as white voters, leans much more Democratic than the White subset.

In fact, among whites, the pathological preference for voting against economic self interest is much stronger in some parts of the United States than in others. In particular, the Southern sector is ground zero for this affliction that affects only working class whites.

If that's not a sound rebuttal against pseudoscience, well…


Moneypost: Regarding Josh Levin's review of Buzz Bissinger's 3 Nights in August, Jim-In-Providence has  his own theory as to why the sportswriter-on-high has diminished in stature:

The trend starts with Bill James in the 80s, but it really takes off in the 90s with the advent of widely available and user-friendly stats software and the internet. Fans could do their own research and post the results to newsgroups like, where there would be much scrutiny and hue and cry. Suddenly, baseball writers, the guys who watched all the games, who were part of the fraternity, were no longer the sole experts. They could no longer expect that their beliefs and judgments were the final word simply because they saw the games and the players with their own eyes. People like Rob Neyer at and many of the writers at Baseball Prospectus began writing about baseball in ways that challenged (and in the case of BP, often ridiculed) some of the oldest shibboleths of the old-school newspaper beat writers. Some writers, like Joe Posnanski of Kansas City Star, Allen Barra (then of the WSJ) and Art Martone of the Providence Journal (technically the sports editor, not a writer), assimilated the new kinds of analysis and, to my mind, became better writers for it. They didn't cram their articles with references to VORP and Run Expectancy but their understanding that RBIs can be as situation- as player-dependent and that walks are good and strikeouts are necessarily bad made their arguments more plausible and thus, more readable … And wouldn't you know it – Posnanski, Barra, and Martone were pretty good writers to begin with. Most of the writers who routinely lambaste the "Moneyball" approach (whatever that is) were hacks to begin with - it's just that now it's a lot easier to see why they're hacks (Bill Plaschke is a terrific example).

In the end, for all the "brilliant" old-timers left in the lurch by a new way of thinking about baseball … there are dozens of excellent new writers making their stuff available online. As with the bloggers that Jack Shafer often writes about these days, these new baseball writers won't be admitted to fraternity anytime soon. But if admission to the fraternity means copping the attitudes of someone like Jay Mariotti, then I hope they never get in.

Jim earns Fraywatch's Web gem … KA11:55 a.m.


Friday, May 6, 2005


Air is not a special interest. Nor is strengthening the justice system. These are national concerns. One may not think they are important concerns, but they are not pork, which financially benefits specific industries. Pork is funding logging roads for Boise Cascade. Pork is increasing the already outrageous tax breaks for the wildly profitable oil exploration industry. Pork is $800 toilet seats and useless star wars missiles.

…Enacting stronger gay rights and gun rights provisions are relatively comparable although neither should be classified as special interest. Also, increasing funding for federal courts and giving prosecutors more tools to convict drug dealers are also comparable. These respective liberal and conservative issues are not "special interests" or pork. Those above efforts are simply not analogous with efforts by large corporations … to tear down the regulatory system and rule of law system that protects all Americans…

De-Soto, here, on what defines a special interest.

…It is okay for us to feel sorry for England. In many ways, she is a victim. She was victimized by superiors who placed her in a difficult situation for which she had little practical training. She was victimized by her immediate superiors who failed to adequately supervise first her errant peers and ultimately herself. She was victimized by an overcrowded, poorly run, and extremely hostile environment. She was victimized by peer pressure from her fellow guards. She was victimized by a romantic attachment to a person with an apparent streak of true cruelty. And she was victimized, in no small part, by her own incredibly poor judgement in dealing with all of this.

The one mistake we cannot afford to make in feeling sorry for her – or for ourselves – is to cast her – or ourselves – in the role of innocent. If Lyndie England makes us feel a little bad about ourselves and what is happening in Iraq today, then that is the last little piece of good to come out of this and the final way in which England has honorably served her country. Not because Iraq is an unjust war but because, in justly removing a tyrant, we sometimes engaged in unjust, and even monstrous, actions. So did the other side. That is what war is. We can justify it. However, we would do well to engage in extreme circumspection before forgiving ourselves and then forgetting about it…

The_Bell, here, on Lyndie England as victim.


The big problem with Wikipedia is that no matter how many times I tell my students (undergrads at a major midwestern university) what a reliable source for an academic article is and is not, they still insist on using Wikipedia. While it may be an interesting source of information, it's not rigorous enough to be a source for a scholarly essay. Presenting itself as any sort of an encyclopedia makes it tempting for students who are too lazy to go to the library and actually DO research. Also an interesting fact: I'd say 7 out of 10 times that I catch someone plagiarizing in my classes, their lifted information comes from Wikipedia…

MidwestEmily, here, maintaining that cyber-outlet, Wikipedia,  is not quite ready for prime time academia.

To praise Selig's handling of the steroid scandal is to praise a man who was asleep at the wheel while it happened, and who only acted when Congress decided that baseball's steroid problem was the most important issue facing the country outside of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube. Selig, exhibiting his usual mixture of flopsweat and incompetence, appeared not to have read baseball's own report on the subject. Now that he's calling for draconian punishments and hooking minnows in drug tests, he's suddenly a visionary. Please. Once a used-car salesman, always a used-car salesman.

Utek1, here, responding—like many fraysters—with a "wha?" to Nicholas Thompson's applause for baseball commissioner Bud Selig.


…is there anything, anything at all, in this world more inbred and ridiculous than the sight of two media critics media-criticizing each for media-irrelevance and media-inaccuracy within the format of their own media-based media-analysis columns? Anything?

No. -- No, I don't think there is (unless it's me criticizing the media critics on the media-bulletin-board).

Now, kids, stop fighting, or mommy's going to take away the media outlets.

Life designs itself, intelligently…

Life wants to live, to survive, multiply. Whatever it takes, life will do it - we call it natural selection, evolution. Incrementally, on the level of DNA (maybe even a more basic level than that), life meets challenges to its existence with design. Sometimes the design fails, and life fails; rather, that particular life strain fails - entire species come to a dead end as life fails to meet the challenges that species faces. Life conserves energy, seems to operate in terms of cost-effectiveness, abandons that problematic design, and continues with others…


Too many people are driven to presume to solve this mystery with religion … thus we have Genesis's first seven days, itself an allegory taken as absolute fact by far too many people. I think that drive is based in fear, fear of the unknown, of human frailty and powerlessness in the face of vast, impersonal, implacable life. Intelligent life, its own designer, seems to be the only thing that actually is - from neutrinos and baryons to galaxies, even in death and decay, nothing exists but life, life is moving to design itself, and it is so awesomely intelligent that over a vast span of time, by the smallest, most incremental adaptations, life has created us, who, with our own limited intelligence and self-awareness, are able to wonder at that sheer brilliance.

…Life, intelligent life, its own designer, has no use for religion, nor for a creator. Life is its own infinitely intelligent creator.

Montfort, here, getting ontological in Human Nature Fray.


Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Be My Guest: Poems Fray favorite Paul Guest returns to Slate and the Fray with "Water," this week's featured work—described here by White_Rabbit as "Beauty and the Geek." 

Artemesia is making a habit of her insightful Tuesday readings. Here, she delves into Guest's imagination:

What a sweet love poem this is. The narrator, in the beginning of this poem is likened to two kinds of fish; each depicted with its own form of defense or attack. The Sturgeons, with their armor-like hides in shallow tanks of water, are clothed with armored self defense, whereas the garfish have pen shaped snouts, the 'gar' of their name, Old English for 'spear.'

Was the poet thinking of himself when he wrote that the garfish had pen-shaped snouts?..And that they were sentry-like, as en garde, they moved in dull brown orbits in the tank, dull brown, the color of the military on the move?

For Artemesia's full, line-by-line read, in which she imagines "the narrator as an Archemides of love visiting an aquarium with his lady love," visit her top post here. Ted_Burke's reading is a nice companion to Artemesia's.

MarkEHaag's reading attends to form:

I especially liked the way certain longer lines broke out of the tightly compressed, short-line rhythm. The alternation between enjambed and neat lines was artfully turned, effecting surprise with every twist.

I wasn't thinking love poem when we started with the gar fish, but the two spheres bounced off each other, unravelling a metaphor with grace and wit. Interjecting the elevator made for a nice up/down play between the ecstatic/ethereal and the abyssal/sensual aspects of the romantic experience.

And here, rob_said_that applauds Guest for his instinct for the ineffable, while ShakespeareanFool catalogs the bevy of romantic images in "Water." Though she didn't top post, zinya's perspicacious take can be found buried in T_B's thread here:

There's a bit of a conundrum: The narrator reflects back to his first meeting (or very early meeting) with his love, when "early on" he found himself with a "stammer" in his throat, which his memory tells him she was able to untie with her gentle and blue-lit fingers. (I think in an intriguing contrast of how women sometimes find themselves with their hands at a man's throat tying a knot for him, in his tie... So it was a reversal here to think of the woman untying his knot, a much more problematic and enduring one for him.) But, indeed, it seems his 'knot' does not remain untied -- or did he just imagine and wish it, even that long-ago day in the elevator? For he laments that in all the days since, he has been plagued by inarticulateness, or worse happens, saying something that offended or misfired or otherwise was not "right" ... that "so little" of what he'd ever managed to say (presumably limited to things he'd attempted to say to her although that's an assumption) has been "right" ... in what sense? in being the words which would make her love him too? would make her linger? would make him feel understood?

As always, the gracious Mr. Guest enters the Fray to thank loyal PFrayers for their critiques.

War, Ugh, What Is It Good For?  Fraywatch won't mince words — War Stories Fray is in disarray, a collection of cranks and chummers. FrEd needs a miner's cap to find the rare gem in this muck. Fortunately, Duck916 took the time to offer a coherent examination of the Non-Proliferation Treaty addressed by Fred Kaplan:

I think the NPT misses the point in the post-Soviet world. Nukes and Mutual Assured Destruction did their job--war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was prevented. The two countries were able to engage in regional conflicts (Vietnam and Afghanistan) without those wars escalating into something more widespread. The rest of the world sees the value of nukes in reducing the chances of another devastating war such as WWII. India and Paskistan, while still likely to engage in border skirmishes, are unlikely to engage in a war as devastating as the Iraq-Iran war, precisely because of their nukes.

We should recognize that nuclear weapons in the hands of stable governments are not the real threat. Our main worry should be nukes in the hands of non-state actors, such as the bin Ladens of the world.

Fraywatch welcomes ambitious fraysters interested in reviving WSF to join the thread hereKA 12:15 p.m.


Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Strange Brew
: In Moneybox Fray, Utek1 turns his intellectual attention from architecture to cerevisiology. In response to Daniel Gross' contention that, "The real problem [for U.S. beer companies] is that Americans increasingly tipple with wine and hard liquor," U1 responds:

Americans are not turning to wine and hard liquor, they are returning to wine and hard liquor. In colonial days, Americans drank heavily, but beer was almost nowhere to be found. Rum, wine and hard cider were the alcoholic beverages of choice. It wasn't until the 19th century that beer drinking became popular, thanks to the enormous influx of German immigrants starting in the 1820's.

U1 delivers a brief history of hard liquor vs. suds in America:

Gin became the favorite tonic of the speakeasy crowd, because it was relatively easy to make at home (the so-called "bathtub gin"), along with other do-it-yourself beverages like whiskey and rye. Thus, one ironic outcome of Prohibition was the preference of Americans for hard liquor...

Pull up a stool with Utek1 here.

A number of fraysters—ben-sf here among them—cite microbrews as a factor in the diminishing market share of the "Big 3." Keifus disagrees somewhat, noting that

According to this 2004 article, sales breaks down about 85%/11%/4% domestic/imported/micro.

Keifus concludes that Gross "is correct in implying that any recent differences in sales are more likely due to newly competitive marketing strategies of other forms of swill than to Americans suddenly acquiring discriminating tastes or independent opinions."

Fozzy has a more positivist view of American drinking. He wonders if "part of the changing "culture" might include one that is less aimed at a drunken stupor and more at enjoying the taste of one's drink." Arkady squarely belongs in this category. His preference for Spaten Oktoberfest is spelled out here.

Meet the New Boss: Both EarlyBird here and whitetrashpopulist here aren't buying Stephen Metcalf's line on Bruce Springsteen, namely that The Boss is an "old bullshitter." (Love it or hate it, Metcalf's exegesis is more nuanced than that. Read it here.) EarlyBird writes:

Springsteen hasn't remained as authentically gritty as his younger days, because he's no longer gritty and young. He is a very wealthy, powerful, middle aged musician. What's wrong with that? His music should be allowed to evolve like the rest of his life.

Wtp maintains that:

Artists, particularly iconic ones, continually reinvent themselves and draw from a great many cultural resources in creating their always morphing artistic personas. And they all are implicated in the musical-industrial complex and the great PR machines that hype their newest expressions of weighty significance…

And wtp closes with this zinger:

how could anyone write a sentence suggesting that Hendrix robbed rock n' roll of its power. Somebody needs to eat some Voodoo chili.

Maxvintage, here, takes a page from Tim Noah's book:

…there's this odd confusion--Springsteen was good when he was his real self--which was an authentic bullshitter--and he's bad when he's his "fake self, which is... a fake bullshitter?? Surely the western claptrap is nothing more than that--as was the Tom Joad stuff and every other phase. Bullshit, a perfomance, a constructed persona. Why is the early Springsteen the real bullshitter, and his act the real bullshit, while the later Springsteen is the fake bullshit.

Ted_Burke couldn't let the Bob Segar-Springsteen parallel go unanswered:

For all his musical fanfare, for all his verbosity and blaring dynamics, Springsteen has always seemed like someone who was at the brink of saying something memorable , only to choke. Seger, in mid career, dropped any ambition he had to become the next Dylan and Beatles and developed a lyric style as natural and sweetly clear-eyed as anything Chuck Berry himself could have worked out. Seger continued to suffer from lapses of taste and inspiration , of course — remember that he never transcended his journeyman status — and produced some albums where he was witlessly trying to rewrite "Night Moves" over and over, proving nothing other than extended bouts of introspection didn't serve Seger well at all as a songwriter. Even so, it's not unfair to say that even with his aggravatingly erratic output, the best of Seger's work in a spotty career surpasses Springsteen's consistently middle-brow musings.

Splendid_IREny is "bemused by that comparison." Check out her rebuttal to TB hereKA2:05 p.m.