Super Bowl Special

On Roman numerals, Roman endings, Roman Catholics, and Romanowski.

Pirates of Mission Bay: Bucs fans or citizens of Raider Nation, many Fraysters don’t buy Romesh Ratnesar’s takedown of the West Coast Offense. Two key points.

1. W.C.O. is about control from the box:

Ratnesar: In the WCO, a quarterback’s imagination and creativity are subordinate to timing, accuracy, and strict adherence to “the system”; the actual strategizing is done by groups of coaches watching the action from stadium skyboxes.Gaucherre-2 here: Sorry, mister, but the Raiders often play no-huddle style, and Gannon frequently (like 50% of the time or more) changes the play when he sees how the defense is lined up against them.

2. Disrupt the timing, and the W.C.O. goes down.

Ratnesar: The Bucs are loaded with the kinds of big, fast defenders who can disrupt Gannon’s rhythm, hound his receivers, and prevent them from turning short passes into big gains.Johngcecil here: it is almost impossible to “disrupt the timing” of the west coast offense AS LONG AS THE RECEIVERS GET OFF THE LINE QUICKLY, because the quarterback takes such a short drop and the pass is off in about half the time of a traditional 7-step drop passing set. this ability to get off the line is the specialty of jerry rice and tim brown - that, and running really precise patterns. you don’t think that every team who played the 49ers in their prime didn’t try to “disrupt the timing” of the west coast offense?

(Undiscussed is the recent conventional wisdom 180 on Raiders Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman, whose flavor of W.C.O. was long blamed for Jake Plummer’s arrested development. Call: Fraywatch doesn’t like the Raiders, but we respect them, even giving the points. Update: Dwayne was right (see below); bring back the old Trestman c.w.)

Finally, TonyAdragna and macbob intelligently battle over Al Davis’s legacy beginning here  …

Dwayne took the Bucs, but that was with the old helmets: Jackson Lears and Eric Banks describe an America locked in a perpetual struggle between the aleatory and W. Edwards Deming. Flyn still remembers Sister Mary Petronella’s warning: playing marbles “for keeps” is a mortal sin.

Silly as it may sound in this century, there is no doubt in my mind that a nation that makes bucks off the weakness of the citizens deserves the Roman ending it will see.

And speaking of Roman endings, Joe_JP remembers Caesar’s remark upon crossing the Rubicon: “alea iacta est.” But Joe also answers Flyn’s Sister here:

Gambling also gives different classes of people something to do and a reason to come together. Take guys … women talk all the time … heck they spend more time talking in the bathroom than most guys do to each other on a daily basis. Poker games puts them together to bond and such. Bingo games serve the same function for old people … btw that sister of yours probably doesn’t think that is a mortal sin … Lotto games forces poor people to take part in making the tax system even less progressive than it is.See, totally logical, really … 8:10 a.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2002

Sufin’ USA: Lee Smith’s Culturebox on America’s love for Sufism and Pico Iyer’s new novel leaves many baffled, some impressed, and others feeling cheated. Seeking wisdom? zeitguy knows his Sufi path. His take on the poets?:

Rumi spoke with the clarity and inventiveness of a street hustler, but he spoke about the ineffable. Other Sufi poets went even further astray from expectations of literary, spiritual, or elitist use of language in their expressions of holiness.[Now,] they will be retailed in drive throughs, and provide the language and music for Mitsubishi ads. The wonderful thing about Sufism, is that it doesn’t matter whether you want fries with that or not …

Revolution begins at home: Over in the Dear Prudence Fray, doodahman takes up the problem of “Wit’s End,” a woman with a husband who won’t do housework here:

First, if he doesn’t want to do any work himself, he needs to kick in the extra dough to hire an illegal alien to do it. That might mean his having to switch from Heinekens to Pabst, or from cocaine to crystal meth, but so be it. Incidentally, if you still want to go the threat route, the effective threat is to quit your job to stay home and take care of the house full time—thereby causing an acute crisis when he has to choose between exploiting you for labor or for cash …

Ask what your country can do for you: At least as far as pedestrian access and rehearsal space are concerned. Jack Shafer pegs the proposed Kennedy Center approach as a New Jersey toll plaza. andkathleen agrees here:

Who knew $400 million was so uninspiring?That design is so underwhelming…admittedly, the area needs a bit of cosmetic surgery, but maybe we should start with a Botox shot instead of the Joan Rivers Special.That $100 million gift to Poetry magazine is looking better and better …

Punk, but punctual: Diarist Neal Pollack has responded to little_ourkie’s anti-South-Austin-slacker diatribe by pointing out “everyone in the band lives in North Austin, not South Austin. And we all work hard. I’ve been called many things, but never a slacker.” Pollack also defends both his “literature as punk rock as literature act” and the town in his long post … 6:20 a.m.

Friday, Jan. 24, 2002

Politics of loss: Much of the Fray response to Emily Bazelon’s and Dahlia Lithwick’s Book Club on miscarriage  consists of shared stories of personal loss (I’ve marked some, but they should be read whole). There is a substantial current that thinks women who grieve when they miscarry are either being inconsistent or dishonest when they support abortion rights. The best debate on the subject comes early on, in a thread begun by logicat-2. logicat attributes  grief over miscarriage to “anti-abortion propagandists”:

They have peddled the notion … that fetuses are the same as babies and that therefore to lose a fetus - be it by miscarriage or by abortion - is as painful and traumatic and heartwrenching as losing a child. It’s not …

ElboRuum thinks  denying women’s reactions is just more evidence of an underlying fear of choice, whatever logicat’s legal position might be:

acknowledging death or loss or trepidation about ones own decisions, in my humble opinion does little to pander to the anti-abortionists. When things end, humans react. It’s that simple …saying that one form of loss is greater than another, in the esteem of all, not only is fundamentally flawed a concept, but flies in the faces of the people who value the concept of choice itself in the most egregious way, by taking it away from them.

The best turn in the debate, though, comes in the next exchange. Temaj-2 sees the range of women’s reactions as a political challenge for the abortion rights movement here:

I think the abortion rights movement needs to be able to confront some of the ambiguities surrounding abortion, rather than sweeping them under the rug as logicat would have us do. The fact that women who have had abortions have a range of emotional reactions may not be politically convenient, but truth often isn’t.

ElboRuum disagrees. A woman who grieves makes a bad target for demonization; she’s too human:

That people can make this choice and have normal human emotions dispels the notion of what the anti-abortionists would love to paint as a callous act perpetrated by callous people. It humanizes loss, whether that loss be necessity or accident, chosen or happenstance. It puts the argument in terms everyone can understand, and that deflates the primary thrust of the anti-abortionists, that people who would consider having abortions are morally bankrupt individuals who should not be permitted that choice.

And as long as we are stressing humanity, historyguy points out here  that

There’s a tragic irony in this sentence:”Layne observes that feminists are generally much more comfortable celebrating happy outcomes than they are grieving for a lost fetus …” A preference for happy outcomes over pain does not distinguish feminists from the rest of humanity. Both happiness at the celebration of a birth, and discomfort at grieving, can be found in every social and political stratum. I’d bet that miscarriages affect women of the left, right, and center, whether working or at home, similarly–and awfully.

The upshot?

Insofar as feminism is a political movement, claims that feminists suffer uniquely are also bad politics … Focusing on commonality of experience might give greater political weight to feminist calls for funding pre-natal medical services aimed at miscarriage prevention, as well as providing appropriate healthcare, including psychological care, for survivors of miscarriages …

Trial balloon or lead Derg-ible?: Responses to David Plotz’s dispatches from Ethiopia take him to task for failing to see just how he is being played by the democratic government. wewhite is the first to dump on the government:

Mr. Plotz is far too kind to the Ethiopian government. It may be democratic but it also decided to engage in a brutal, and by all accounts pointless, border war with Eritrea.

The underlying economics are also in play. Tiresias doubts that food aid will ever help Ethiopia out of its predicament, and offers a long, speculative post on the problem. His point for Plotz is:

[T]here is one reason that Plotz sees plenty of food in the city: that is where there is money to pay for it. It is not just a question of, say, infrastructure to enable people to grow food–it is also a question of developing enough of a money supply to allow some people to purchase it. And that’s where I don’t see how large international grants can really accomplish much.

As for Plotz’s melancholy at the disappearance of Ethiopian Jews through emigration, Jojo sees evidence of the “neo-Orientalist outlook of American Jews towards co-religionists in exotic places.”

“The last Ethiopian Jews are an end to the Jewish Diaspora.” Uh… speak for yourself. As a Jew in South Africa, it certainly seems to me that the Diaspora is still around. And isn’t Plotz from the U.S.A.? Isn’t there a Jew running for President there? Thought I heard something about that.

Drums along the Waller: As Diarist Neal Pollack struggles to get his band together, BFD points out that The Fray is an ideal solution for someone suffering from a drummer shortage. Drummer or not, ERPettie has had it with “punk”:

Why can’t we just let the idea of punk die? It’s a relic of young boomers and old gen-xers that has absolutely no lingering relevance or resonance. It quickly became what it set out to counter, and when people discuss what “punk” is, they sound sillier than the people who tried to distinguish between “rap” and “hip hop”. Disco dies and should Punk should be buried next to it.

But if we let it die, where do we put a response like this one, from mssoul?:

neal pollack is dumb. i’ve had beers with him, back when he attempted to live in philly. i was not impressed by his meta-antics, his obnoxious lit, or the convection oven of his head. i’ll be reading the rest of the diary, but only to make myself angry.

.Nettlesome: Due to certain technical difficulties at National Fray Editing Headquarters, this is yesterday’s second installment. Today’s Fraywatch will arrive later … 11:30 a.m.

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2002

Hubbard’s cupboard: Betty_The_Crow doesn’t see Council of Economic Advisers Chair Glenn Hubbard  as anyone’s toady: “Are you a yes man if you do your own bidding? I don’t think so. Glenn Hubbard is more like the Wizard of Oz.” He just happens to be in sync. Her suggestion for the real toady? “Recovering deficit hawk” Stephen Friedman. As for the underlying economics of “deficits now for growth later,” Shoeless thinks that’s a “hard sell”:

[O]ne is challenged to accept a linear causal relationship poised singularly on the occurrence of deficits, most especially when the very deficits constituted a magnitude of red line excess in remarkable abundance.

His alternative?

[S]omeone ran up “the deficit in the short-run,” but cooler heads prevailed and “long-term growth” was achieved when the deficit problem was addressed. … Historically speaking, long-term growth has always been a facet of the American economy that has refreshingly occurred irrespective of what political mind held the economic rudder at any point in time. … 5:00 a.m.