The Fray's White Sox fans and their pathos.

The Fray's White Sox fans and their pathos.

The Fray's White Sox fans and their pathos.

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Aug. 19 2005 12:04 PM

Pale Hose in Different Area Codes

The Fray's White Sox fans and their pathos.

Outstanding Portrayal of a Slate Columnist by a Shadow Contributor: The nominees are GeorgeW6, 39 years senior to a shriveling Jonathan Ames, and doodahman for another subversive hijacking of "Dear Prudence" with his My Two Cents feature. It's important to note that, for all of doodahman's stylized counterculture, the guy comes correct with some very …well … prudent counsel—stuff that even locdog can get behind. In a single declaration, dood manages to tell a teen besieged by sexual peer pressure that:

It's quite possible for you to have sex too soon. But it's almost impossible for you to have sex too late. Worse case scenario, you'll spend your twenties trying to catch up…

…In which case, by all means, write back.

Abstinence, legal-age consort … eat your heart out, Dobson. 

Honorable mention goes to relm for his portrayal of Robert Wright … and let's toss another nomination Khentov's way as well

Baines of Our Existence: As if being subject to wearing softball uniforms in the mid-70s and having to play second fiddle in their own city to a franchise whose fan base uses its home venue as nothing more than a beer garden isn't enough indignity, the Chicago White Sox are being dismissed as paper tigers in 2005 despite owning the American League's best record.  Worse, writes Mike DeBonis, the White Sox's abject history isn't even afforded the sort of romantic pathos bestowed to the Cubs and, before last season, the Red Sox. Artegall writes that the White Sox have rightly earned their place in the dustbin of baseball's collective imagination:

No one talks about the Curse of the White Sox precisely BECAUSE the 1919 Sox committed such a real affront to the baseball gods. It's no fun talking about your team getting cursed if they actually deserved it.

Look, the Curse of the Bambino is a story for fans to tell younger fans, and of course to put Dan Shaughnessy's kids through college; a campfire story, really. It's colorful. It's whimsical. It's quaint, even. It allows you to talk about Babe Ruth and Ban Johnson and "No, No Nanette."

If you talk about the Curse of Shoeless Joe, you're telling a story that involves the words "gamblers" and "indictment" and "Arnold Rothstein." It's not a lot of fun to tell, or to hear. And it's not a story you want to tell your kids. It doesn't even have a happy ending; it finishes up with Kennesaw Mountain Landis coming into the tent like an angry dad to make everyone turn off their flashlights and go sleep. "And then the eight acquitted players were banned for life . . . ." Wow, that makes me feel good about the team.

Nobody tells the man-with-the-hook story at campgrounds where a real serial killer has been. That's just not funny, man.

For a comparative look at Cubs vs. White Sox…

The South Siders are Che Guevara to the North Siders' Paddington Bear. They're Miles Davis to Al Hirt. They're bourbon whiskey straight up to a sloe gin fizz sipped through a straw…

… visit rob_said_that's post here.

Trekkies on the DefenseMickey Kaus reports on an informal Canadian study that suggests that an overwhelming majority of sexual offenders had "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest."

Frayster JackLifton went so far as to e-mail Kausfiles to noted Star Trek chronicler Diane Carey. JL reprints Carey's reply in his post:

The comments about Star Trek and sexual deviancy or domination because Captain Kirk couldn't make a lasting relationship are off-base and over-reaching. Star Trek was part of a dramatic/adventure style of the 1950's and '60's, including such serials as Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, Combat, The Rat Patrol, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, The High Chaparral, and many others. They all had in common the classic male adventure hero who had one-episode relationships in which the love interest had to go away, die, change her mind, or otherwise be eliminated by the end of the episode, in order to keep the format open and variable. The box had to remain the same for next week's writers. This brand of adventure, while seeming to be male-oriented, was very popular also with women, teens of both genders, and family audiences. Star Trek in particular was written by some of the best science fiction and television creative writers of the time: Dorothy Fontana, Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon, Jeremy Tarcher, and others, and produced by several different and excellent television producers like Gene Coon. The actors in Star Trek were experienced radio, theatrical and series-TV performers with excellent instincts and stage presence. The licensed Star Trek books were and are written by people like me, then a 26-year wife and now a mother of three who likes good adventure and moral exercise. To inflict running sexual deviance or underlying psychoses in Star Trek, all the writers and producers would've had to possess the same Freudian frustrations. That is simply not true, nor even possible. To cite narrow interpretations of one 1960's television show out of context, and to go slumming for base double-entendres is unfair to the writers, actors and audiences of the wonderful flowering years of adventure television.

Diane Carey
New York Times Bestselling author of 45 novels,
Star Trek's first Bestselling author, and author of many "anchor" books in the Star Trek novel series.

For more on Trekkie nookie, check out omnibus1reader hereKA8:55 a.m.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Have You Bought Their New EP? Clearly, Utek1 hasn't—and doesn't plan to. Responding to Amanda Schaffer's critique of current trends in evolutionary psychology, Utek1 feels that EP's are getting waaaaay ahead of themselves:

…evolutionary psychologists evidently have no problems ascribing the thinking and motivations of prehistoric man on any number of subjects. To me, this seems like a warmed-over version of Social Darwinism, which always seemed to be explaining why the rich and powerful had the right to kick around the poor and the meek. The questions that these philosophers asked were always suspiciously self-serving, as if they were looking for some veneer of "scientific proof" to justify their own prejudices. A lot of these questions weren't even worth asking from a scientific perspective: why is X population better than Y population? That's not science, that's propaganda.

But you know, I haven't bothered reading the evolutionary psychologists very carefully, so maybe I'm missing something. Maybe they do know what went on in the minds of cave men and women. So on the off chance that they know more than I do, I hereby pose a simple question to any evolutionary psychologist who happens to be reading this, based on behavior that was, inarguably, practiced by cave men some 15,000 years ago.

Why did they paint
this horse?

Did they revere the horse? Did they think that painting the horse would help them kill it? Would painting this horse make them feel strong and fast? Was there a story connected to this horse? Was it attached to some ritual? Was it a god? Was the painting meant as decoration? Was it supposed to be beautiful? Terrifying? Educational? Was it something to do to stave off boredom? Was it primitive graffiti?

And why were the cave paintings at Lascaux so much more spectacular than the artwork left at other caves? Why did some people leave chicken scratches, while some cave dwellers left behind spectacular panoramas? Where did they learn such amazing technique? I mean, who was this guy (or gal)? Was it one prehistoric genius who created mankind's first masterpiece, or was it a tribal community dedicated to some multi-generational project? Why did they paint at all? And why then, and there? Why weren't they painting before? And why did they stop?

Once the evolutionary psychologists can prove the answer to this basic question, then I can turn to them for wisdom on why the descendents of these cave-dwellers somehow wound up fetishizing underwear, or investing in pork futures, or voting for George W. Bush...

..Or didn't.

Got epistemology? Join Utek1 here

For the Glory of Alma Mater: Bruce Reed's innuendo about John Roberts' adolescence—both his aversion to "giggling blondes" and his willingness to dress up as the mannish Peppermint Patty in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown—has Fray liberals, including rob_said_that here, rolling their eyes:

Look, I'm a liberal with pretty solid credentials, a New England elitist aesthetic, and an anti-religion bias — yet even I think this particular attack on JR is a little unfair. So what if Roberts was a chauvinist in prep school? Who doesn't have embarrassing moments from adolescence which, if revealed during middle age, would cause you a lot of grief? If you didn't do anything questionable during high school (prep school for you upper-class folks), you probably weren't learning very much.

Do we really expect the silly views of a teenager to survive to adulthood without modification, revision, even total abandonment? OK, I'll give you Grateful Dead fans—but I'm sure most people wouldn't want anyone to see that photo of them doing the Double Feature at the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or dressed in KISS makeup, or with a Don Johnson haircut and Miami Vice jacket. And as for what we may have written on paper, for publication or otherwise, surely there ought to be a statute of limitations. There's a reason courts seal the records of juvenile offenders and later expunge them if the adult shows no recidivism. Can't we extend the same courtesy? And don't specious arguments like this one merely detract from real objections to a candidate. This is the kind of thing Karl Rove might consider; surely we're better than that.

Meanwhile, J_Mann pokes at Slate's newest blogger here, accusing Reed of a hackneyed "sometimes I'm joking, sometimes I'm making serious policy arguments" school of rhetorical bet-hedging.

SUV-Standard: Not quite buying the moral/environmental imperative proffered by Daniel Akst, RedDeath  pokes some holes into the treadmill o' guilt offered by TerraPass and others for the SUV driver. In his piece, Akst highlights several programs through which SUV drivers can cut a check in an attempt "offset the damage your SUV does to the atmosphere by spending your money to reduce industrial carbon emissions and to promote the spread of clean energy"—a sort of Sally Struthers racket for gas-guzzlers. The guilt-ridden even gets a decal for his behemoth! RD isn't buying:

These types of programs … are economically wasteful … The $274.00 that the author spends per year clearing his conscience in regards to the environment, would be much better spent on two pairs of American made shoes.

And, in fact, buying the shoes would likely have a similar affect on the environment. Since American factories pollute much less than those in the third world and developing countries, buying American goods is a way of both creating positive economic activity and reducing pollution.

However, you don't get a nifty bumper sticker that shoes what a great person you are.

Juice Box: Fraywatch, who has been traveling, thanks justoffal for tipping him off to this narrative on the steroid rumpus by _zuko_.

Saudade of the Week: From DawnCoyote, hereKA 8:30 a.m.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Unit 731: Sixty years and a day after the United States dropped the second of two atomic bombs on Japan, MsZilla looks at the generation-old moral debate through the prism of Japan's Unit 731:

…I got into a rather nasty argument with someone I know who really got ticked off about it. I don't know why; he's from Mexico. But this anniversary seems to have kicked something off in him. He thinks that the American government should have made a huge movie about how awful this was and show the whole world what an awful thing we did to commemorate the whole thing and the American people should be held accountable. I pointed out the US reconstruction of the entire country after the war, and I told him it was a little silly of him to be holding me personally responsible for something that happened six years before my mother was born. He just repeated himself that it was horrible. I'm afraid I kind of lost my temper. I told him okay, I'd do it. I'd write his script. Just as soon as he writes and distributes in wide-release in Japan and China a solid documentary about Unit 731. He didn't know what that was, so I sent him the links that are farther down this post. He hasn't answered me back. I may have lost an acquaintance there. It's true, though. The Japanese have several dirty secrets of their own from that time.

Unit 731 was one such deep dark secret. Josef Mengele had a Japanese counterpart, and he worked unhindered on a scale his German alter-ego never dreamed of in the Chinese province of Manchuria. Mengele just had prisoners and Jews to work with. Isshi had his prisoners, plus the entire province and he used it. He did experiments on prisoners; killing over 9,000 at one facility alone. But his real work was out in the countryside. He field tested several biological agents, killing tens of thousands of civilians with bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases. He also experimented with gasses and poisons, and is credited with the base research that resulted in the nerve agent Sarin. He was never brought to justice and died unrepentant in 1959. For some good summary info, start with this and here. There's a great Wikipedia entry on it here or a Google on "Unit 731 Manchuria" will get you a long list of other sources to go through, too.

Fritz_Gerlich's reply:

"The debate over whether the atomic bombs should have been used will never end, nor should it." It should never end not only for in the interests of justice and remembrance to those who lived and died those events, but also because since that time nuclear weapons are with us forever, and not only with us, but soon with pretty much everybody. What the world thinks today of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will help define future thinking about the use of nuclear weapons. It may help determine whether New Delhi or Tel Aviv or Riyadh gets nuked ten or twenty years from now.

I'm quite aware of Unit 731, the Rape of Nanjing and the Rape of Manila. I've never tried to excuse Japan's crimes. I also don't excuse Japan's continuing failure to own its past. I am, literally, the only person I know who despises a film by Kon Ichikawa titled in English Harp of Burma (also The Burmese Harp). The movie has always been lauded in the West as a pacifist morality tale, which it is, superficially. At a much deeper level, though, it is a subtle statement that only we Japanese understand each other. Outsiders cannot understand us. Nor can they judge us. In other words, exactly the mindset that made Japanese militarism possible in the first place.

But whether two Japanese cities (that were chosen precisely because, having no significant military or industrial targets, they had not been previously bombed) should have been turned into mass human sacrifices, is a completely separate issue from Japanese war crimes, for which Japanese leaders and military commanders were tried and punished after the war. Unit 731 is irrelevant to that question, just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were irrelevant to the charges against the men in the dock at Nuremberg (a defense some of them actually tried, by the way).

Get in on the thread hereKA5:15 p.m.

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The Tail Wagging the Dog: There are two minds on the left as to where power resides in the ruling majority. Some secularists and civil libertarians maintain that the barbarians at the gate are evangelicals who've wrested control of the Republican majority from the cuddly, pallid Episcopalians and monied paternalists endowed with noblesse oblige who used to stand at the portals of power. Then there are the skeptics, like Thrasymachus, who believe that religious dogma is being pawned by leaders of the conservative movement as a means to consolidate power. T. writes an open letter to religious conservatives, evoking conservative luminary Russell Kirk:

Nobody "upstairs" in the conservative movement really thinks the way you do. To them, you're useful dupes.

Conservative intellectuals like to peddle religion as a socially useful instrument of control, but they don't buy into it. In point of fact, most of them can't buy into the crude religious dogma they've been selling you.

In the works of C.S. Lewis, you'll find a good modern example of the kind of intellectual contortions that intelligent, well-educated people have to engage in if they want to be doctrinaire Christians. It's nearly impossible.

But it's important to them that the likes of you be indoctrinated with strict religious teachings to restrain your bestial nature. As Russell Kirk put it, "the common man tends to dislike abstractions." If you can be satisfied with religious ghost stories, then you must, ipso facto, be someone who should be left to the tender mercies of the Church, since reason and your own moral sensibilities can't keep you in check.

For that reason, conservative intellectuals have decided to lie. As Russell Kirk put it, "reflective men and women [must] labor for the restoration of religious teachings as a credible body of doctrine" for you, but as to themselves they're aware that "[n]o one can sincerely embrace a religious creed merely because it might be socially beneficial to do so. -Kirk, Civilization Without Religion?

…In essence, it's the substitution of "pious frauds" and "noble lies" for the darker truth. It's the doctrine of conservatives back through Strauss and Burke and Machiavelli. Plato too, actually.

They don't believe in Jesus or Hell or the Resurrection; but it's extremely important to them that you do, so they can keep you under control.

Just about every prominent conservative thinker is in on this little joke. And now you are too. I'm interested to see what you make of it.

What say locdog in response?

even today, in this puritanical hell we conservative Christians have wrought, the liberals have somehow managed to find a way to turn our universities into ideological echo chambers--what the aging burnouts who currently run them would have called "conformity factories" back in their own time. and let's not even get into primary or high school education. i'm opposed to teaching creationism in our schools, but every time i hear one of you pinkos start bitching about it i just want to retch, because those same aging burnouts who've turned higher education into an orwellian nightmare are writing the history books that spend 7 chapters on the internment of japanese americans during WWII while barely making mention of, say, the american revolution.

hell, i'll stipulate everything you said in this article and still be ten times less the idiot than you, or anyone else who believes that "conservative Christian" is a bigger scam than "liberal atheist" or "secular humanist" or any other categorization of flawed, fallible man you care to apply.

Can They Hackett in '06? J_Mann is an OH-2 resident and feels that Democratic candidate Paul Hackett's 48 percent can be more faithfully attributed to the Ohio GOP's mess than taken as a harbinger of a national Democratic tidal wave in 2006.

Assassin of the Week: Don't mind the shifty formatting, because 300andahalf's post debunking of Elisabeth Vincentelli's Music Box piece is well worth the read. Check out 300's litany of complaints about Slate's music writing hereKA 10:10 a.m.

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Monday, August 8, 2005

For Your Reference: Though Wikipedia maintains that a vanity page is grounds for deletion, don't tell that to SwingLowSweetDeej. Subscribing to the "say something good or say something bad; but say something" school of publicity, Deej announces that he has expanded The Fray's Wikipage, pimping BOTF strong in the process:

While each Fray typically has a parent article that Slate publishes, the discussions in each of the forums are often of varied topics, independent of the main thrust of the forum. Some of the forums do not currently have a Slate parent article or department, but these forums, Best of the Fray in particular, can have thriving discussions spanning a wide breadth of human interests.

Ender has been chronicling the Wikipedia campaign and the debate over whether BOTF and the Fray warrant inclusion in everyone's favorite info-emporium. Apparently, dubious Wikipedia entries must endure a process referred to as "VFD"—Votes for Deletion. The discussion encompasses some interesting, relevant, and wholly masturbatory questions. For his part, locdog implores Wikipedia to nix what was merely a BOTF entry at its inception:

as a BOTF regular, i beseech you wikigods, please, in the name of all that is holy and just, delete the BOTF entry. as i perused your six-part pikachu tractate or your even more elaborate explorations of the rim job and the Mandalorian War, i became increasingly convinced that not only is this probably not the best showcase for BOTF, but that no sane person would voluntarily come within 100 furlongs of you freaks or anything you consider "notable." –locdog

So far as Fray Editor can discern from the arcana of the Wiki-chat, consensus prevailed that changing the entry from BOTF to a more general exegesis on the Fray and its attributes was more sensible. The most endearing quality of this discussion is that whether to include a BOTF of Fray entry into Wikipedia has evolved into what Wiki's FCYTravis calls, "World's longest VFD vote in history."

Why doesn't that come as a surprise? … KA4:35 p.m.

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Friday, August 5, 2005

Senor Bomb: Doodahman's Dan Senor Boycott, which began here, has officially come to a close. For his part, dood explains:

The motive for the boycott is not that the positions of known liars and frauds are aired. Those positions rise or fall on their own merits and the more they are discussed, the clearer we can see them for what they are…

Haven't these people had a more than ample opportunity to spread disinformation, change their stories, hide important information and restrict the debate into an unrealistic and dishonest frame? … Why the hell do we need to tap Dan Senor into the debate? Surely somebody who is not tainted with actual involvement in this crime would have done a much better job, even if only because they are not personally tainted with it.

I have never had a problem with debating the war issue, even though the efforts of the media, including Slate, have all been to narrow the range of viewpoints so that the real truth, that this war was phony and fraudulent from the get-go, gets no hearing whatsoever. We are, in fact, forced to debate the issue in an Alice in Wonderland world where administration officials known to be bloodsucking liars and corporate shills are accorded every honor and credit normally reserved for folks with a reputation for integrity when, the real world, such people would be hooted out of the room…

We return you now to regularly scheduled programmingKA7:05 a.m.

Fat Doesn't Enlarge People, the Media Do: Aided by an MSN link to Seth Stevenson's Ad Report Card on Dove's "Real Women, Real Curves" series, hundreds of new users jumped into the Fray last night to assault Stevenson, even though Fraywatch finds nothing remotely sniping about his portrayal of Dove's lineup of "real women." I always enjoy, in mild doses, when a torrent of non-Slate regulars storm the Fray, if only because it's during these incursions that the forum is boiled down to its essence.

Scuseme brandishes the predictable Madison Avenue hammer:

It is because of media, that women have a poor self image in general anyway. It's media, that gives the world its ideas on what the female figure should look like. None of those women in that ad are fat, by any means. But you're an idiot!

And this

Wow, if this isn't an example of discrimination and hate speech, I don't know what is.

Replace the word "fat chicks" with "muslims", "jews" or "homosexuals" or some such thing and the FBI would arrest this person.

I guess since "fat chicks" aren't loved by the media and hollywood, they are free game for those people who can do nothing but hate.

Then you've got dinoman_73, who is grateful for the Dove ads because

any ad that can get women to feel good about how they look is 30 minutes I don't have to spend listening to my wife complain about having to go on a diet to look "good."

Finally, you have proud, self-proclaimed "fat chick" pimpstressV being courted by self-proclaimed lover of fat-chicks, Smart_Assessmets [sic] in this threadKA5:45 a.m.