Needles & Threads.

A commemorative spin through the Fray.

This past week, the Fray lost one of its most enduring contributors, REW-OEM — or Bob — as he was known to his readers, friends, combatants and admirers in the Fray. In memorium, samples from his Fray oeuvre can be found below. “He would work for hours, sometimes days, to try and find a way of saying what he felt in his head and heart. He was a very caring and creative man. He was very bright. He was a great father and mentor for all of us,” writes his son. A window into Bob: Subject: Thoughtful Threads v Threadbare ThoughtsRe: “Saddam and the Doctrine of Last Means” [top post by TheBell]          From: REWOEM-3Date: Dec 2 2001  8:02 a.m. PTThanks for ringing in once again. This has been a productive discussion and I hope for and look forward to craigm’s re:post. When the responses are coherent, challenging and thoughtful - it’s fun to weigh-in (or ring-in) and continue to wonder while waiting for the feedback and critical commentary. If only other SLATE threads were as substantial.

In reading some of your other posts, I admire your ability to abjure the idiotic and offensive while still finding the commendable kernel of insight in otherwise lame posts. I wish I could do as well. I’m trying to learn to pick my battles, but it’s hard for me to avoid slipping into slashing sarcasm when the RE:’s are salacious, foul, Bible-thumping or boringly banal. Any helpful ideas as to the correction of my often arrogant over-reaction would be appreciated. (I’m still a SLATE neophyte having first posted barely a month ago.)  It really isn’t very satisfying to seek to diminish an already dim bulb, or demean the pig-headed by frying their pork-fat thoughts in the skillet of hot, over-confident intellect. I sense that I’m “reducing” myself in the attempted “rendering” of the fat-headed, fatuous, fanatical and feculent (additional F-words, one and all). Sorry - I just couldn’t help myself. You’ve been great - keep up the good work, and any recommendations would be appreciated.[Find this post here]Subject: Slate Fray Finds Hitler: Poetry DefeatedRe: “Hearing Aid: Sometimes poetry should be seen and not heard”       “Queer as Volk: A new book claims Hitler was a closet case”      From: REWOEM-3Date: Dec 4 2001  4:58 p.m. PTAdam - I read your article with interest and found disagreement. But today HITLER’s sexuality wins the war of words. For every poetry post, there are ten or more neo-Hitlerite’s speaking their perverted sexual minds. I’m embarrassed by the Nazis, hard-up thinkers and empty-headed responders. The great sadness is that poetry is no longer of any concern. Spoken, written, or simply imagined. Poetry is dead. When long times ago, we wished in words and wondered as to inner thoughts, we entered the mystery of language, and posited the indistinct possible. But the magic of the instant-internet and it’s openness to the Fuck-Me/Suck-Me/Up-Your-Ass immediate who-cares commentators means that thought - much less poetry - is dead. I’m very sorry. I cried. Yesterday afternoon, in my mind, I sat in the chapel at Little Giddings and wondered about the poet-bank-teller and his cats and Christian comments. But I was very alone. Excepting the children in my mind, force fed in poetry, there was no one else there. An older New England woman in white and poetic lonely thoughts had come later yesterday afternoon, but she’d died on leaving and is now gone. Just before she left to cease the search, I spoke with her of roses and she remarked to me of the fire. And I saw the place I’d never known before - for the first time. And realized that I was forever lost. Adam - trust me. Few, if any, will read this. Fewer yet will care. Fewer still will comment. It’s not the readings - it’s the writings. In the electronic explosion of access and knowledge - we’re losing the way of the word. Poetry is dead. Long live the electronic King and the X-Box experience.

There’s a huge pine at the north end of our home, just at the top of the hill - it’s destined for white, bright lightning destruction. I hope only to be sitting in it’s life-time shade and shadow when it happens. It will. The worth of the word - spoken or read in rest of bed at night - is dead. We’re e-connected and e-enabled to a new way. And it ain’t about fucking past poetry.[Find this post here]Subject: In Memorium: The Red Paper PoppyRe: Top Post, Best of the Fray     From: REW-OEMDate: May 26 2002  4:40 p.m. PTGrowing up in the late May of a small town in the early 1950’s where the major after-school excitement was jumping on the bell ringing rubber rope at the local Texaco, running like hell, and then finally breathless turning to see if the squeegee toting attendant had appeared to curse the false gas pumping opportunity, Memorial Day of Decoration Day birth was important. For several days in advance of May 30th, the aging veterans of the foreign wars to end all wars, stood silently, but demandingly, at strategic shopping locations and sold the red paper poppies. Sometimes, they even went door-to-door, pushing poppies and respectful remembrance. Several months ago in the wake of 9/11, driving to a business meeting, I was listening to a public radio piece about the significance of memorialization in light of the recent Twin Towers tragedy and the past tragedy of Oklahoma City. The learned and thoughtful talk was all about spaces, parks, appropriate structures and even high tech laser light shows. The Vietnam Memorial was frequently referenced (and I agree, it’s a very moving place). But no one ever mentioned a red paper poppy. There were apparently passé. But to the grandmother of my youth, the mother and aunt of dead warriors, Memorial Day was an important and solemn occasion. We visited and decorated grave sites, we spoke quietly of lives lost and never fully lived. And we all wore red paper poppies. In the 1960’s, the crepe of red paper poppies faded. Memorialization was federalized to an American work-week relieving three-day barbeque and became best know as the last Monday in May. And now you never see a red paper poppy anymore. And you seldom think about a dead soldier (except in beer bottle terms). And you rarely ever visit a grave, and wonder what was given, and why it was so damned important that you had to die for it. Memorials constructed with millions of dollars may not be as powerful as the simple red poppy remembrances of the millions.[Find this post here] Subject: Gesamtkirschwerk HaikuRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REW-OEMDate: Jul 3 2002  9:54 a.m. PTHaiku to Gesamtkirshwerk

Green yellow growing

Phallic plantain pleasure fruit

Gesamtkirshwerk brown.

I suspect the German haiku is a very limited poetry form![Find this post here]Subject: Best of the BestRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REWOEM-5Date: Sep 12 2002  7:45 a.m. PTThe Legends:

Second, the Count Basie nomination, would also add Bix Beiderbecke.

The Movers and Shakers:

Modern Jazz Quarter !!! I know, I know, but what about Getz, Coltrane, Herbie and so many others. Still, it’s got to be MJQ.

Best Album Ever:

“Sketches of Spain.” Hands down, no doubt! MD changed the jazz world forever with a single vinyl moment.


Don’t really know. Awaiting input. And by the by, who is Paul Hardcastle? A few years ago, my kids gave me a couple of CD’s that I really enjoyed.

Have I lost all standing as a jazz devotee by venturing beyond the 1960’s?

Bob[Find this post here] Subject: Resigning, I Said, Kiss My Acapulco AssRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REW-OEMDate: Nov 4 2002  5:48 p.m. PTIn my letter of resignation today, I quarreled with the concept of corporate trips and trysts. Over the past 15 years, as my reward for doing my job reasonably well, I could have gone to: Palm Springs, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Marco Island, Aspen, Paris, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Acapulco and numerous other desirable destinations of consuming corporate greed. OK, it’s true, in 1995, I failed in true virtue, and took my kids and wife with me to Acapulco. Excepting the minimal meetings of IRS accountabilty, we had a wonderful time both before, and after, the two hours of sign-in, sign-out meetings of Karate Kid corporate waxing-on, waxing-off compliance and wonder. We’d never gone before and never went again. While the moment was great fun; it was a bad mistake that we often discussed. In our home town, there were people trying life in cardboard boxes under the railroad trestle. Kids who couldn’t talk because speech had been beaten out of them. And a drunken old man who’d lost his teeth and now dirty-hand covered his mouth in shame. Thank God, our kids think about those so sad people far more than Acapulco sensation. I’m very proud. I can resign in the confidence of the next generation. And Sir & Madam, if you’re a truly Acapulco-bound and a financially deserving worker-of-wonders, please kiss my liberal children on the cheek. They will be waiting for you in the double-wide Kenmore/Whirlpool box just under the trestle of tragic life. Life is more than just a vacation, sometimes it’s a life-caring vocation. Thanks kids, for all the insights,

Bob & Dad [Find this post here ]Subject: Final Fray Thoughts & Best WishesRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REW-OEMDate: Nov 13 2002  10:45 a.m. PTFriday morning the movers will come to close up my office, box up 15 years worth of files for return to my company, remove the furniture, and by 5:00PM we should be able to turn the lights off for the last time. My work resignation is official on 11/30 so we’re a bit ahead of schedule on the office. On the home front, we’re looking forward to a final Thanksgiving with family members, children, in-laws and friends. A day or two or more of feasting, recollection and fun after almost three decades in our community. On the Monday following, after the big-screen has cooled down from four days of football frenzy, the movers, packers and shakers will box-up our lives and we’ll be off to our home in Florida. We have mixed feelings. Four of five children were born here, they all grew up here (we moved here when our oldest son was barely six months old). But it’s kind of nice to be moving on to a new adventure. But, for me personally, leaving home isn’t any more difficult than leaving the Fray, my other home for the past year plus of involvement. I started on the political and commentary Boards (BB, CB, and many others) had no idea what the BOTF was. I had a lot of great other board experiences:

(1) Early on, I was stalker. I read the political Slate articles and then watched for The Bell, texwiz, locdog, and many others. They were all so opinionated and flawed in their thinking, but still interesting and cogent.

(2) After a time, I began to respond. They were still very annoying and surely needed sound direction. I queried, questioned and quarreled. And yet, they countered with approval and acceptance, albeit strongly disagreeing on my liberal principles.

(3) Moira began to check-mark REW-OEM for a few reasonable posts. I was affirmed.

(4) After 6 months or so, I received a Moira STAR. She noted that I had a strange name, REW-OEM, and even stranger thoughts on multiple topics.

With growing acceptance, I was loving the Slate experience and I came to BOTF. Coincidentally, about the same time I was **STARRED** I began to suspicion that something was wrong. Sometimes I didn’t think clearly (maybe you noticed once or twice) and by late afternoon my ideas were pretty jumbled or unreasonably or even nastily argumentative. These concerns were shortly confirmed in medical terms. I abandoned **STARDOM** because it wasn’t deserved, and thereafter, except for a few last adventures in other boards of reasonable thought, I became a BOTF poster. It was really quite different.

(1) It was more social and friendly than the boards of political battle, I came to know and love the personas of BOTF.

(2) It was relational and yet still very thoughtful. I ventured into the expression of personal feelings (a Mothers Day or wedding thoughts post are likely the most memorable).

(3) It was often funny and frivolous.

(4) I made friends, and unfortunately, enemies, especially as I ventured into the PoemFray (except for Haiku thoughts, 17 syllables, that I can still manage).

And then I began to sense it was over. My personal confusion was so evident and growing that I resigned and resigned and resigned. I think I’ve resigned from Fray participation a record number of times. I was gone for awhile (or responding in thin disguises) and the medications helped, but Bob’s problem was still evident. I came back because it’s fun and you are all great. I’m glad I did, I met a few more great people (even a graduate of my Golden Brahman undergraduate institution, he’s now a respected Harvard attorney and very competent Fray commentator). I had great good fun this week with a birthday probability question. It was what I could still do, short and sweet, quips and quick answers. When, at the end of a long day, I ventured outside of that, well, it was a disaster.  I know, this post is far too long.

But I sincerely want to say:

THANKS, to the Fray thinkers who have brightened my mind,

THANKS, to the Fray friends who have consoled and understood,

THANKS, to the Fray opponents of respectful disagreement.

APOLOGIES, to those I have offended,

APOLOGIES, to those with whom I’ve been unfair,

APOLOGIES, for the less meaningful or appropriate responses.



Bob[Find this post here ]Subject: Still Life In Small Word FilesRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REW-OEMDate: Apr 2 2003  12:12 p.m. PTPrologue:

I live in small words and Word files.

In the good moments, I write as fast as I can and chase my thoughts to the write-ending File Save. Then, in the next better morning, I come again and re-read the spent ideas and tailings of my yesterday mind, delete the major defective portions, and then try to make some sense and write again.

It’s a very slow process.

A few weeks or more ago, I surrounded my reality of dimming life with words and death wishes in this forum, but then I stayed far too long.

I offended some without good cause (Oscar 1-2, Chango). I ignored freely offered kindness and consideration (locdog and many others) and even failed to respond to the words of very real caring (Persephone).

My self-consumption is so damnably confusing and consuming. My profound pardon to all of you for either my insult or insensitivity.

I too often feel alone in this straddle space between the life files of the real and the word files of the virtual.

It’s so strange. The real is so unreal; and the virtual is just the mind’s fond pretend. A few ideas in the small Word files…
[Find this post in its entirety here ]Subject: Have You Ever Been to the Country FairRe: Top Post, Best of the FrayFrom: REW-OEMDate: Jun 26 2003  11:12 a.m. PTSometimes, I Think About the County Fair… I’m sure I have absolutely nothing to say. I guess I just never really believed that I bought the right ticket to a full life. Your comments on today’s recent headlines and new thoughts and cogent challenges spin by my mind in a blur and leave me with the fervent wish it just were not so. But by late calm of this afternoon, I know that I am better suited to the park bench where I can sit and watch the slowly turning ferris-wheel of life go up and down, round and round, and the two-ticket tilt-a-whirl of circling up-sets and up-chucks, and my most confusing feelings. And then when I remember I had young laughter, and then I can then toss my thoughts aside and recall life. I went to the 4-H thing today. There were rabbits the size of large dogs, hogs that weighed more than my SUV, and cows that gave and gave and gave, without ever beginning to milk the question. They were slimey lemon-lime-key merangue pies with blue-ribbons stuck in the sugars of “you-better-throw-it-away” tomorrow or die. There were apple and peach pies that were so properly made they could be served in a future the next life’s century of consumption. And there was rhubarb, pumpkin, mince and all the other unfortunates. I also saw vegetables. Carrots fat beyond possible consumption. A potato for a family of six-starving Irish. A huge rutabaga with an attitude. And a bright red tomato with botanical sex on its mind. Later I had a fried and sugared elephant-ear. And then I sat on the bench provided for the old and pre-maturely infirm. I sat alone and then said, “I have nothing to say.” I’ve been to a County Fair or two. I guess I don’t need the vegetables. I can live without lemon pies. I don’t even need the beef and pork. But I still really need the real and hopeful people.

Bob[Find this post here]

Friday, August 15, 2003

Lights Out: WVMicko takes the gloves off in  Ballot Box Fray, calling out Slate’s chief political correspondent, William Saletan, for Saletan’s slam on Howard Dean. Saletan takes Dean to task for allegedly dressing up his signing of a civil unions bill while Governor of Vermont in 2000 as an act of courage. According to Saletan:

Dean had no choice but to accept such a bill … The court instructed the legislature to grant gays “inclusion within the marriage laws themselves or a parallel ‘domestic partnership’ or some equivalent statutory alternative … He did encourage the legislature to pass a civil unions bill. But the alternative he averted was legalizing gay marriage, not preventing gay domestic partnerships.

WV retorts that Dean was, in fact, being courageously pragmatic in achieving an unprecedented, palatable law:

Saletan’s opinion — or spin — is that Dean did this only to cripple the law by making it a “civil union” law instead of full, in-your-face gay marriage. Well, Will, I do have to point out that that vital distinction — the fig leaf of preserving the term “marriage” for those who are actually man and wife may well turn out to be the key to making the whole concept politically acceptable to America. But I suppose that making policies good, workable and politically acceptable is, in the mind of a critical journalist, a weakness. Belittle it!

More from WV, including his argument that Dean stepped up and “push[ed] through a law the right way rather than let the courts legislate,” can be found here. Saletan responds to WV here:

Hey, Dean people. Get control of yourselves. Your candidate is going to get the same scrutiny as everybody else. If you respond with distortions, wild accusations, and foul language, you’re not exactly helping him.

This isn’t the first time Saletan has jumped into the Fray to spar with Deaners. Saletan faces his accusers on the issue of Dean and the war here, and takes on a feisty Dean supporter who feels he treats John Edwards with kid gloves here. Meta4 takes up for Saletan here, while Geoff — no fan of the candidate series…

Slate appears to be wasting your talent on this ridiculous assignment, and it’s impacting the quality of your analysis for ALL the candidates.

…nevertheless thinks Saletan’s “article on Dean was poorly reasoned.” Geoff reasons with BB Fraysters hereKA1:45 p.m.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Whip-Smart: Goodbye Black Holes, ‘yello Supernovas. For those on extended leave, chango instituted the dubious Black Holes—the Fray’s equivalent of the Razzies—to dishonor “those bloated forms that emit cancerous radiation, process and belch forth vast amounts of hot gas and watch as the world revolves around them.” But RIP, because

something odd—something unexpected happened…you improved … It is in this spirit of recognition that I would like to single out a few of you who make this place truly great. Now many of you have already been awarded a star, but there are a few among us who deserve something more. This is why I have decided to award you with a Supernova: for continued brilliance among the stars.
With this announcement, chango tosses his first bouquet to the much-maligned and recently defrocked, Ender:
Ender has honed posting into a craft that few can match. He is always provocative, always creative and never afraid to take a risk. He can be infuriating as well as inspiring, but is always motivated by one prime directive: to make the Fray the best place it can be.
Lifetime achievement award or a Most Wanted poster? You be the judge. The Kinesiology of the Fray: The challenge: How to condition the Fray? How do its hardened veterans muscle up and get back into shape to address, what Adam_Masin refers to as, the need for “some new, worthy, blood to fill the Fray’s veins“? An interesting debate reigns between Hauteur (fka Cicero) and Ender over the alleged deterioration of the star Fray poster, a veritable kids-these-days row. Here, and more elaborately here, Ender—who tends to agree with the general premise of Adam’s post—appeals to current stars to disarm and hand in their glimmering achievements in order to return to a simpler, and presumably superior Fray era. Over in Fraywatch Fray, Hauteur responds that
I also encountered some of the early star designees, and I was less than favorably impressed. So who’s correct, myself or Ender?

Obviously, we are both correct, because quality is in the eye of the beholder. Right, as if you did not see that one coming. It’s not as if the early star designees were bad, by any means. It’s just that they were not generally better than today’s average designee. Let’s take two of the latest to get their stars: Meletus and TheQuietMan. Both are outstanding writers. No one fair-minded could call either of these posters second rate star designees. The old crowd was not better than the new.
Veterans can deposit their two coppers in Fraywatch Fray. Seriously, Folks: While we’re navel-gazing into the self-referential, another alluring topic in the Fray has been “taking posting too seriously,” as well-framed by aboleyn here and definitively posed as a straw poll by Geoff and answered by the Fray’s vox populi here. In response, TheQuietMan offers a typology here. It’s no surprise that Hauteur weighs in here on the subject as a contrarian “no”:
But it occurs to me that the inveterate ‘lighten up, posting is just for fun’ poster often takes this attitude as seriously as any uptight worrywart he/she might encounter. Many regulars make a fetish, very nearly a religion, out of posting just for lighthearted fun, and so much so that they take real offense at the suggestion that there may be more to posting life than just clutching at self-indulgent pleasure. So what is this attitude except ‘taking posting too seriously?’
Bless his bleeding heart, WVMicko is serious about the reclamation of Ballot Box Fray
We have an election coming and Ballot Box is gonna see a hell of a lot of incoming newbies. That Fray is where opinions will take root and votes will be earned, and I want ‘em. Other posters may have other side on which they want to fight … Fine, it’ll keep things lively. But “Bush sux,” “No, Bush rocks!” doesn’t do anybody any good.
Likewise, Hauteur feels strongly that posters should fan out from Best of the Fray and post topically in other Frays. One of the prevailing theories among star posters is that, upon earning elite status, stars—even those with the Fray’s best intentions at heart—confine themselves to the golden ghetto of BOTF. That’s wrong, writes Hauteur to WV:
[A]ll star designees have different reasons for posting; but wouldn’t it be interesting if more of them considered these issues important enough to accept as obligations?
A possible solution?
I could see asking star posters to spend one week, out of a month of posting time, mucking about in an assigned Fray board. Perhaps we could draw names out of a figurative hat in order to make the temporary exile from BOTF fair to all volunteers.

Now wouldn’t it be interesting if twenty or so star posters participated in this? What would happen if, say twenty-one were divided between three boards with moderate hit rates? What would happen when the regulars encountered upwards of seven star posters hammering it for a week on their board?
Splendid_IREny, one of the Fray’s most ecumenical and eclectic posters, laments the lack of quality traffic in the exurban Frays:
Before I received a star, I often received checkmarks and would look forward to being engaged in some type of discussion. Sometimes it happened, but many more it did not. So, I felt sort of strange, like the REM song “New Test Leper.”
Nothing like a bevy of self-examination to decry too much self-examination. That’ll be $185, please … KA5:20 p.m.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Can It! Jonathan Rauch wants spammers to pay to play (“Make Money Fast!!!!“) by giving e-mailers “legally enforceable conservatorship” of their mailboxes. Rauch’s solution is “to make spammers pay their targets, instead of forcing the targets to pay for spam. Everyone could charge a different entrance fee for access to his or her inbox.” BenK interprets Rauch’s plan as a “tax on the unpopular“:

In fact, the cost that people will have to pay to send you email will say amazing things about your own self-perception. Just like posting on a dating service and not paying the fees. The presumption there is that you are so attractive that people will pay to email you in the hopes, just the barest of hopes, that you will deign to reply. Not even guaranteeing, of course, that the reply will be polite, or that it will result in a meeting, or anything.
In that spirit, WilPowerMom asks,
can we make some emails free? Such as friends and family? And charge for emails from ex in-laws?
Z28racer sees a host of problems, including
Processing these cyber-postage transactions requires trustees, not unlike certificate authorities. The infrastructure this would require would push the cost well beyond the one to five cents that the author proposed.
MamboMan-2 replies that
As for cost, people would pre-purchase their email “postage” from their ISP. This would be analogous to buyng an EZ Pass for getting around where there are toll roads and bridge tolls. Just as one sees a deduction on their toll tag as they go through a toll booth, they would see a deduction as they send email.
Both Z28 and Mambo agree that it’s smart to “put the onus at the ISP level,” but VNk thinks the ISPs are fundamentally in bed with the spammers:
ISPs that provide users with those mailboxes would love for their customers to rent larger mailboxes. But relatively few people actually need 10MB on a server for e-mail … unless their mailbox is getting stuffed with trash … part of the problem is that a lot of the people in the best position to solve the problem have a strong disincentive to actually do anything …
Black Helicopters and Keyboard Brigades: Rob_said_that, too, subscribes to the “fat chance” school of spamination. Of Rauch’s plan, rob pshaws:
What can be conceived, in computing, can be cracked, and they will crack whatever pay-as-you-go scheme that those who wish to be spam-free can devise. Others will get the bill, but the spam won’t cease. In addition to being too utopian … your idea suffers from one other failing. Even if it were to work it would legitimize spam, and therefore not allow us to satisfy our desire to catch and beat the living daylights out of those who would (and do) clog our in boxes with their infuriating trash.
Thrasymachus harnesses rob’s ire and begins enlisting for the Volunteer CyberMilitia hereComparing spam to junk mail, satish_desai points out that
Making Uncle Sam the moderator or fee-collector did not help stop junk U.S. mail. It has been growing year by year. What is the guarantee that e-mail will behave differently under Uncle Sam’s supervision?
… which still leaves us with spam-as-Thai-takeout-menu. Jonathan Rauch writes in with a late report on two in-the-works plans to beat the spammers:
You pay them $10-$15 a year for a mailbox that strangers have to pay to get into. This amounts to renting a mailbox than owning your own, which is what I think will be needed to make this concept work on a large scale.Here’s a USA Today story on Microsoft’s interest in making spammers

Finally, Evil_Burrito takes a contrary view, maintaining that spam has made him a better man:
Thanks to SPAM, I now work at home and make $1,000 per day, buy all of my Viagra online, have a great big dick, and have lost more than 100 pounds with miracle fat burning pills. I have a business partner in Nigeria, who I am helping to transfer huge amounts of cash to the US, because I am a trustworthy person, who has been recommended to him, and I am buying real estate with amazingly low bank rates.
Reports out of Ibadan place Evil at the center of the recent fuel blast … KA 5:20 p.m. Sunday, August 10, 2003

Poems Fray: Benjamin Gantcher’s narrative poem, “Insomniac,” didn’t attract a lot of fans, save Catnapping444416 here, who appreciates how Gantcher “describes the way sleeplessness almost hurts his skin…how it messes with the order of things,” and Ted_Burke here who writes that “this poem kept me awake.” Seamus takes on the work most aggressively with a close read of the first five lines here. Off the syllabus, Geoff won over PF with “Poet’s Disclaimer,” as did shannpalmer for “Director of Special Pops.” Leave it to PF’s unofficial muse, MaryAnn, for stellar criticism and sound advice.

Everyday Economics Fray: Why do gays toke? A lot. Schadenfreude points out that Steven Landsburg approaches the question “from an economist’s viewpoint. I suppose a Freudian would just shrug and say that it’s all part of the pattern of oral fixation.” Schadenfreude brings up a host of other salient points, as does Sissyfuss1, who feels that Landsburg is overlooking the fact that since smoking is more common among men, “the smoking habit among gays is self-reinforcing. If most of your prospective partners are smokers themselves, you have little incentive to cut down on your habit.” KellyAnn brings up the point that “the overwhelming majority of adult smokers started as teens,” and that “[t]he question might more appropriately be framed as what is it about gay teens that leads them to smoke at such a high rate.” HoundDog here and bp294 here take up the different sides of a singular argument. And e-coli’s post is a scathing indictment of Landsburg’s methodology and issues the author the Pepsi challenge.

Chatterbox Fray: Yes. Chatterbox.  Tim Noah has a full week with five columns in five days, and Fraysters respond accordingly en masse. As an adjunct to Noah’s column on the prospect of Dirk Kempthorne as EPA Chief, WatchfulBabbler illuminates the Fray on another interesting Bush administration EPA appointment. BeverlyMann maintains that a Kempthorne appointment will “help lift the shroud” of the administration’s true intent and help the “Dems … explain to the public” Bush’s dubious environmental policy. But Thrasymachus suggests that this could energize “the Green Party base while scarfing up a huge trough of industrial contributions must seem like a win-win situation to the Republicans,” while Deej thinks this proves that “the Bush administration is so sure of securing themselves a second term,” that it’s taking a free pass with Kempthorne. To the California recall, where Fraysters jump on Noah for making a Zugspitze out of a zit in regards to the ‘bot’s “Nazi Problem.” EFriedemann is “apathetic about Schwarzenegger,” but is satisfied with the fact that “Schwarzenegger has chosen … to do yeoman charitable work instead” of a wholesale denunciation of his father and nation’s leaders, many of them close family friends. MoscowMike finds Noah’s piece to be a “repugnant screed,” and shouts to the missus, “Quick, Myrtle, grab ol bessie, we’es a-huntin nazzies!” Miguel feels “Ah-nold’s charity, educational and humanitarian work speaks volumes more than a thousand verbal denunciations of Killer Kurt would,” but is nevertheless “deeply troubled by his continued embrace of the Evil Waldheim,” and finds an “obvious double standard” among conservatives who choose to look the other way on this one. AdamMorgan writes in defense of Noah, “I think the point is that any connection, however informal, with those who participate in genocide must be severed, as an example of the strict barrier that must be maintained between those who should be included in society and those who must always be excluded.”

Jurisprudence Fray: Dahlia Lithwick’s “Saving DNA for a Rainy Day” and JFers discuss the legal ramifications of throwing the book at genetic material. The_Bell generally agrees with several of Lithwick’s points, but “draw[s] short of Lithwick’s allegations that DNA’s only apparent viable role—at least for now—is as a tool for the defense and never the prosecution.” Here, Gene-2 spins a web encompassing seemingly every side of the debate on admissibility of DNA evidence, while Adam_Masin takes an even more skeptical position on its credibility here and concludes by asking rhetorically, “Rather than indict what amounts to a description of a person (but not the person), why not just lengthen the statute of limitations?” Destor23 writes that “One could argue that the statute of limitations is more important with regards to DNA and related genetic identification technologies because our understanding of biotechnology is in a state of rapid flux right now. DNA collected a decade ago was collected using methods and standards that might well be outdated now and that might seem comically primitive twenty years from now…” Finally, to Lithwick’s invoking the old adage that “it’s better to let 10 guilty men go free than to try an innocent one unfairly,” Vepxistqaosani2 asks, “Why is it better that 10 guilty go free than one innocent be convicted? Why not 100, or 5, or 2 – or all of them? If we simply stopped prosecuting people, we could be assured that no innocent person would ever be troubled … at least, not by the state.” … KA10:50 a.m.

Friday, August 8, 2003

Uncomfortably Numb: Christopher Hawthorne’s narrative slideshow, “ The Om Factor,” elicits one of the best Arts & Culture posts of the summer from Thrasymachus. T. finds a vacant anonymity in the works generated by the Om “movement”:

But OMchitecture’s not a reflection of feeling. It’s a reflection of Novocained numbness. It’s reminiscent of modern architecture, but in its original form modern architecture was exuberant… this… isn’t. It seems all about not being noticed, and not engaging in dialogue because, feeling nothing, it has nothing to say.
Read more on why T. feels that “[w]e shouldn’t build too much while we’re in this mood,” here and here. CaptainRonVoyage counters with the notion that, in the larger contour of architectural progression,
“Omm” is probably not a major new movement, but “Wow” architecture was no major movement, either.
On the spatial aesthetics of Om, CRV goes on to write that
The “Om” buildings in the slideshow contain some really wonderful interior spaces that invite exploration, meditation and interaction with other people, things the “Wow” buildings often didn’t bother with…
While CRV lauds the interior focus of the Oms, T. responds here, stating that
I’m not entirely sure of that… for every person who will ultimately live (or work) in a given building, there are literally thousands of people who will have to live (or work) with it.
CRV decides that he and T. “may be able to strike a consensus.” Find out how here. RTev, here, insists that Wow structures, such as Koolhaas’ new Central Library in Seattle (n.b. FrayEditor recently toured the site) don’t necessarily betray function.Spledid_IREny authros a post true to her name with “ Modesty that call attention to itself.” She poses this critically inciting question:
If, as Frank Gehry says, “architectural excess” is “dead in the water,” what subtlety is there in buildings that one knows are there, but are advantageously invisible?
MaryAnn takes a stab at Spledid’s question here, with a smart follow-up from Splendid here. In response to a pithy top post  here from newly starred TheQuietManthat suggests Wowchitecture was “the architectural equivalent of the NASDAQ rise to 5000,” twifferthegnu  wonders if
Om would have been the replacement [for Wow] without 9/11…
To comment on whether Omchitecture is profound quietude or self-consciously flashy  restraint, please dig in at Architecture Fray.As I Recall: When we last left the Sacto High Student Council election, America’s favorite ‘bot hadn’t yet performed his Electoral Anschluss on Leno. CaptainRonVoyage scribbles the best analysis in his political notebook in Kausfiles Fray titled, “ Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Tocqueville?” CRV observes that
As more and more weirdo candidates enter the race, the publicity factor increases, thereby increasing the incentive for more PR-seekers to enter the race in a kind of bizarre B-list feedback loop. Thus it seems pretty safe to assume that every oddball candidate that enters the CA recall race probably brings in more votes to retain Davis than they do for themselves. This may be the CA Dems’ version of the Iraq “flypaper” strategy…
More CRV:
Nobody mentioned also that by faking out everyone with his announcement, Arnold effectively screwed his buddy Dick Riordan worse than the job he did on Lou Ferrigno in Pumping Iron I. 
For up-to-the-minute updates on the circus, visit Mickey Kaus’ blogging ticker at Kausfiles.MichaelRyerson finds the prospect of ‘Nazi’ entering the “political lexicon” curious. Of Schwarzenegger and Tim Noah’s piece on the ‘bot’s Waldheim worries, MR writes
Regardless how appropriate the allusion may be, when people in these parts observe some one is acting like a Nazi or goose-stepping or jackbooted or brown-shirted, the resulting cries of ‘hyperbole’, ‘thoughtless’, ‘repugnant’ ring forth from the aggrieved. Well, does Arnold have a problem? Reading Timothy Noah’s latest column in Chatterbox it would seem The Austrian Oak is rooted rather deeply in the soil of the Fatherland.
While MikeBeers is no fan of the recall or the ‘bot, he has to “call a spade a spade. Waldheim was a big deal. This is not.” AdamMorgan is “shocked Coleman had the $3500” to file, prompting CRV to suspect that “Todd Bridges had to knock over another bank” to foot the bill.  This thread is here, if you have the urge to yuk it up at the expense of NBC’s most forlorn cast in network history… KA2:00 p.m.p.s. Department of Astral Affairs: TheQuietMan and James enter the orbit this week. Congratulations.