Kissing to be Clever

Dear Prudence Fray puckers up.

Upon Thy Cheek I Lay This Zealous Kiss: In regards to the  Prudie letter from the remedial kisser from New England whose boyfriend suggests she enroll in kissing lessons, a floored baltimore-aureole writes that the “letter is the kind she used to publish months ago, but got away from. so unbelievable you suspect they’re made up to meet a publication deadline.” B-A’s small question:

[W]ould this innocent lady’s boyfriend, upon marrying her, subsequently remand her to a brothel for lovemaking lessons because he was dissatisfied with her concupiscence?
Taking stock of the Prudie hijackers, we look to doodahman for a couple of shekels worth of guidance. First off, Two Cents lays out kisser typology:
You get the swirly kiss girls that stick out their tongues and act like Dennis Fong giving you a DNA swab. Then there’s the gaping hole kissers, who open their mouths a wide as possible while you cover their gaping maw like Mick Jagger giving CPR. And then there’s the “corn-peckers”, who treat your face like chicken coop floor, until you feel like Suzanne Pleshette in The Birds.
Then the prescription:
Regardless of whether you continue with the Cascades Casanova, practice DOES make perfect. There is no school of kissing ‘cept the streets (metaphorically speaking, of course). So get out there and start studying. Begin with drunks passed out in bars, then work your way up to conscious people. Start a study group. Hire a tutor (they’re listed under “escorts” in the yellow pages.) Become a Washington intern. Hang out with professional athletes.
Elboruum’s “Dear Rudence” takes a different tack:
It is Rudie’s experience that a kiss is an expression of the soul, that good kissing is something you either do well, or do poorly, but isn’t something that can be learned. Fellatio, on the other hand, IS a skill that can be learned, and it has always been Rudie’s experience that even the poorest kisser can make any man forget the fact with a nice blow job… The next time he complains about your kissing, just give his member a thoroughly world-class, vac-u-suck, phallibath.
Christofurio interprets the beau’s imperative a little differently:
[M]aybe what he really meant was that you should take a class in the music of KISS. Personally, I have a tough time telling the difference between Gene Simmons and Gene Siskel, so I might benefit from that one… 
A Bile of Dough: In a week that had barmy Fraygrants threatening him with subpoenas, Fray Editor thanks Meletus for this star-worthy hilarity.  Meletus joins laocoon and Splendid_IREny as the Fray’s newest astral wonders…KA8:55 a.m.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Butcher, Baker…Condi-stick Maker: Though the Bush Administration has quashed rumors that Jim Baker will assume the role of Fixer of Baghdad, Zathras believes that “[t]he Baker trial balloon was a fact,” even if “[w]ho sent it up, who shot it down, and why, remain mysteries.” While Fred Kaplan offers his observations in War Stories, Zathras believes that reading the tea leaves of the Washington Post’s report requires greater insight into the concerns of the administration:

What concerns Kaplan is casualties and grumbling among the troops, but what most concerns the White House, according to the Post and other sources, appears to be Paul Bremer’s insistence that much more money will be needed for Iraqi administration and reconstruction than the administration had expected.
Zathras offers his theory of what went down here. What interests Thrasymachus
is how incredibly isolated this Administration is becoming. The world community hates them. The Republican Congress is investigating them. Significant portions of the intelligence community and the armed services seem to hate them… and the flap between the “outs” in the State Department .. and the “ins” in Defense has now reached such epic proportions that respected elder statesmen of the GOP are starting to intervene… . against the President’s faction!
More from T here. And viewpoint takes aim at the previously unassailable National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice hereShort the Embassy in Addis Ababa and Gimme a Put on an Airbus 380: According to Sissyfuss1, “the PAM was rightly scrapped, but for the wrong reasons.” Referring to the Department of Defense’s Policy Analysis Market through which “investors would place bets on events in the Middle East occurring by a certain time.” (For a full read on the PAM, see Daniel Gross’ Moneybox piece.) S1 challenges Gross:
If Arafat’s Machiavellian mind is so inscrutable, intelligence experts will do no better than markets. How could the PAM hurt in that case?
To Gross’ point that “a havoc market wouldn’t benefit from the rationality that regular financial markets require,” BenKrik retorts that
IRRATIONAL DOES NOT MEANS UNPREDICATABLE. Irrational means not necessarily acting in his best interests. A driver that always goes ahead, no matter whether the light is green or red may very well be irrational, but is perfectly predictable.
Jack_Baltimore pshaws, “How much freakier and Strangelovian can the Bush Administration get?” More from JB
Here’s the idea: since we now, in our modern, enlightened, religious fervor, invest in The Market the same kind of omniscience we previously reserved only to God Almighty, it would be a cool thing to harness this New God to make predictions for us, so we better know when the next terrorist will let loose a bomb in Tel Aviv, or Kim Jong Il finally goes off his rocker and drops the Big One on Seoul, or the Saudi’s are finally knocked off their thrones.
For TheToad, PAM’s intrinsic imprecision makes it useless:
The problem with a futures market for terrorism is that such a market would have a systematic bias towards secrecy built into it. Information would not be perfect, it would either unavailable or deliberately distorted and you would need very sophisticated actors (most of whom work for the world’s intelligence agencies) to make sense of it.
ShriekingViolet expresses similar skepticism, claiming you can’t have a commodities market without a commodity: 
The fundamental problem is not that PAM encourages “gambling on death”, but that it is casting terrorism as a commodity. Which is a strange metaphorical role for a “service” that has zero demand… NEGATIVE demand if you will. The likelihood of a terrorist act being committed is not an epiphenomenal probability such as demand, or an aggregate phenomenon such as the outcome of an election, but rather the result of a single person’s or a small group of people’s will. Within political philosophy, such an act–deriving fully from the will and in conformity to an ideological ideal–is precisely the OPPOSITE of a commodity.
No truth to the rumor that you’ll soon be able to buy notes on Bob Graham’s daily journal revelations…KA9:25 a.m.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Kausfiles Fray: Though it was a light publishing week at Slate, KF loyalists continue their crackling dialogue and political needling. NeoCon tosses an Andrew Sullivan morsel into the Fray that poses whether President Bush is truly a conservative, given W’s apparent comfort with governmental power. This launches several active discussion about a workable delineation between neoconservatives and traditional libertarian conservatives, answered by BigGovernmentKills here and here. James and laocoon weave a tremendous thread that tries to identify empirical truths in the morass of political claims we hear daily from pols and pundits: “What becomes frustrating is when you approach a discussion with the assumption that you are debating a question of demonstrable truth, when beneath the surface of your opponent’s position is a refusal to process data because they are arguing from the perspective of values.” Laocoon’s beautiful first reply can be found here, a sample from his oeuvre that earns him a star. For good measure, Birkbeiner provides a rebuttal in the thread here, and zinya’s always dependable contribution can be found here.   Jurisprudence Fray: It’s not surprising that the return of Dahlia Lithwick to Jurisprudence – this week writing on the missteps of the Department of Justice in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial (“ Ashcroft’s Folly“) – elicits a collection of pensive posts, highlighted by BeverlyMann. Here, Beverly maintains that the origin of Ashcroft’s gaffe was his lack of anticipation “that the case would be assigned by the federal district court (i.e. trial court) clerk’s office’s computerized random judicial-assignment system to a Clinton appointee.” Beverly goes on to write that Lithwick “misreads the signal of the Court of Appeals in refusing to intervene in order to assist the prosecutors now.” The signal? According to Beverly, it’s one of timing not judicial philosophy. Beverly suspects that the ruling of said appointee, Judge Leonie Brinkema, will be overturned by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. GMG speaks up with some legal prescriptions, and mikkyld is troubled by the notion “that somehow there should be different brands of judges sitting on the bench.” To destor23, the “ central issue” resides in the DoJ’s flouting of the sixth amendment, “that Moussaoui is being prevented from mounting a plausible defense because the government is denying access to what everyone agrees will be an exculpatory witness.” Questioning Ramzi Binalshibh’s credibility as a witness, baltimore-aureole plays the contrarian by asking, “don’t you think it’s just a little bit possible that the government is COUNTING ON Judge Brinkema dismissing the charges against Moussaoui?” BOTF: Geoff clear[s] up some confusion about Catholics” in a mere four bulletpoints. Tiresias answers Geoff on Papal infallibility here, while TheQuietMan follows up with some probing questions here and here. From the Fray’s Neologism Packaging Plant, check out the new rollout from Abre_los_ojos here.… KA2:40 p.m.

Friday, July 25, 2003

On message: While culling InstaPundit over the weekend, Joe_JP found a conservative blogger on the site who proclaimed of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, “I’d vote for him,” irrespective of the fact that “Blair, at heart, is a socialist.”

It interests me that someone who clearly opposes much of what the Prime Minister stands for is still willing to vote for him. Why? Inspiration, eloquence, and a message the listener wants to here.

Joe continues with a perspicacious post on the alchemy of leadership and message. Referring to a busy top thread from laocoon that begins, “I sure wish I had a Tony Blair to vote for next year,” JP draws a delineation between reactive—albeit legitimate—criticism of the administration (“what we do in the fray mostly … “) and a more transcendent exploration of “certain issues that concern us,” whatever the political ramifications may happen to be.

Question time: Michael Kinsley’s “Humor, Humility, and Rhetorical Courage” expands on what, besides the British accent, draws Americans of all feathers—from Icarus Hawks to Lonesome Doves—to Blair. 

AngryPatriot here and artointc here attribute Blair’s erudition to British political rearing, whereby “Blair is practiced in being succinct and to the point, because the British political process *demands* it” with brief campaigns and, as laocoon points out, “that pesky House of Commons row when the PM must actually face and answer questions from hostile opposition MPs.”

Neddy notes that

Like many British politicians before, their popularity in the US (Churchill, Thatcher) had long expired in their homeland whilst still being regarded as heroes in America.

Kinsley takes a lot for his statement that, while he admired it for the most part, Blair’s “speech was built around a very tired cliché—the importance of freedom.” SlipperyPete takes umbrage here. Splendid_IREny retorts with the best defense of Kinsley, with an honorable mention to DBR_Storyteller here and Retief here:

When Kinsley referred to “a very tired cliché,” he was merely commenting on the prevalence of the mention of freedom in politicians’ speeches. In this light, a “political evergreen” like freedom does become a cliché. This does not mean that Kinsley does not believe in the freedoms on which our country is based nor does it imply that Blair does not believe in freedom. Simply put, Kinsley was saying via “very tired cliché,” that the overuse of the word freedom does not lead to any true discussion of freedom as a concept, which was how Blair used the word.

To Readme’s point that “Blair’s revelation that America will not be the No. 1 country in the world forever, whatever we do, is important news indeed. And it took a foreigner to clue us in,” BeverlyMann here, teapotdynamo here and doubtingthomasina here refer Kinsley to Howard Dean. Here’s doubting:

He said it, in nearly exactly those words, a few months ago, and the press, if they paid attention at all, ridiculed him as politically tone-deaf. Exactly how do we parse the difference in politics between courage and tone-deafness? Maybe here we have a prime example of Kinsley (whom I adore, by the way) being seduced by that English accent?

Hardie Labour: “A reference to an unrepentant socialist in front of a rabidly conservative US congress makes Blair all the more fascinating as a speaker,” writes diamondback87 here. D’back is referring to Keir Hardie, the Labour Party’s first leader, on whom Kalimac provides some good biographical info hereKA12:05 a.m.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Webhead Fray: Steven Johnson (“Digging for Googleheads“) mixes it up in the Fray with MsZilla who, in addition to reiterating points expressed by Geoff (The problem with Google is you …)and T_Weldon_Berger (God helps those who help themselves) in a couple of snarky, well-articulated posts, prescribes—with actual bullet points—sensible Google search techniques to ward off some of the quirks encountered by Johnson. The author answers his critics in various threads, and top posts one of his own here addressing Google’s intrinsic biases, “The point is that when Google quite understandably fails to read your mind, it doesn’t direct you randomly to the wrong URLs—it directs you to certain types of URLs more often than others.” Later, Johnson returns to discuss Googleheads’ unmindfulness of said biases, “That they seem logical to many of you is a sign that you have internalized the skewed logic of Google’s system. You’ve grown so accustomed to figuring ways around its biases that you don’t notice them anymore. Which is great—I’ve done the same thing myself. But that’s not reason to ignore those biases altogether.”

International Papers Fray: Regarding Tuesday’s International Papers report (“Tourist or Terrorist”), Splendid_IREny writes, “June Thomas mentions the ’long and dishonourable Irish republican tradition of hostility to Jewish national aspirations,’ going further to assess that this bias has ‘permeated the official culture of the Irish state, as well as of contemporary paramilitary groupings.’ Is it enough, under the circumstances of this latest terrorist investigation, to let go unexplored, the historical context for this alleged solidarity?” June Thomas clarifies that “it’s the Daily Telegraph that made this claim.” Splendid looks forward to exploring “an ongoing dual solidarity/enmity between two areas of the world that could not be more disparate, culturally or historically.” For Larry2 here, the parallel is obvious: “Gee, I can’t imagine why the Catholics, whose land has been colonized by foreigners and who are treated as second class citizens in their own country, would support the Palestinians, whose land has been colonized by foreigners and who are treated as second class citizens in their own country.”

Culturebox Fray: Time suckage has a new window on your monitor, and its handle is Friendster. Douglas Wolk explains the whole phenomenon in his Culturebox piece, “Six Degrees of Procrastination.” Splendid_IREny pops up in Culture Box, as well, with a gem that leads with “I thought immediately of the Groucho Marx line that Woody Allen borrowed for Annie Hall, from which I’ll paraphrase: ‘I’d never want to join any club that would have someone like me as a member.’” For chango, “Enemies are generally more fun, much more reliable and far less expensive.” Here he recommends, “a website that traced the relationships between people who hate one another…Kinda like Chatterbox.” In contrast to Splendid, assfractal regards Friendster as a positive force, “equal parts—a dating site, a hipster resume post, and a forum for unfettered, public immaturity. But in a good way.”

Finally, sad news from Colonel Bull Kurtz on the passing of the Fray’s most notoriously inflammatory poster, a man who elevated hate speech to performance art: “Patrick J Lillis (you knew him as ‘Fearless’) died when the flamethrower he was repairing exploded late Saturday night in his garage. The police believe he had been trying to make his own napalm with gasoline and Knox gelatin, and a faulty tube connecting the fuel tank to the nozzle failed to hold.” While he was a polarizing weedwacker of a voice, Fearless Pat nevertheless gave us such zingers as “shit or get off the Pol Pot.” The Colonel notifies the Fray that “Fearless asked in his will that- in lieu of flowers- donations be made to the Eric Rudolph legal defense fund. As well, I would like to ask you posters on the Slate to help with the handling of his animals. Goethe and Blondi - his Bolivian police dogs - need a good, loving, Aryan home. Currently they refuse to eat since they were trained to do so only at Fearless’s command, but we’ll figure it out. Also, if anyone would like a combat-trained gas detector Canary- Hindenburg- I’d like to find him a home as well.” Chango pays tribute to FPL in this week’s Black Hole Awards. Though WVMicko expresses grief, he’s bemused by Pat’s WMD: “Knox gelatin? Any idiot knows that you make homemade napalm with Ivory soap. 99 44/100% pure!” WV will be fielding questions on such matters in Home Fires Fray…KA7:35 a.m.