Friday, March 26, 2010

Best of the Fray

Yet another relocation, only this one final, at Best of the Fray.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Update

Updated to new blogger template. Added to sidebar: Blogroll of where everyone is today as well as updated link to New Fray Best of the Fray. How far we've come.

Monday, February 26, 2007

WikiFray

We've moved to WikiFray.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why I like dailykos

By: Gregor_Samsa
filed under: |


Feyerabend said it best in "Against Method". Every single proposition unto itself is an orphan. Without the supporting legs provided by an entire paradigm, it's a sitting duck, a dead parrot (…and I await a knock on the door from the metaphor cops). Ptolemians had a field day poking holes in Galileo (not the kind of holes imparted by the Catholic Church) in the days before Newtonian mechanics. Jesus was not the first messiah, nor the last, and where would we be without the apostles? The point is, no great advance in human thought has ever been achieved without utilizing the synergies between like minds. The trouble with the fray ("The tower of Babble on" – Ducadmo, circa 2006) is its narcissistic nihilism (note: nihilistic narcissism works as well). No sooner has one posted a "work in progress" (e.g. a 9/11 conspiracy theory) than a flock of vultures descend from all sides and tear it from limb to limb (a shredded cockatoo, a mutilated humming bird...). What I like about dailykos is that they care about letting their ideas breathe, about nurturing them to maturity. They embrace the burden of looking witless, reactionary and unfashionable today, but they aspire for a deeper understanding tomorrow. They are progressives, but not in the sense you think. You people, entombed in your snark and self-congratulation, will never understand this. If dailykos is an echo chamber, at least there is light at the end of that tunnel (and don't give me that cliché about an approaching train). Do you know why you prefer diversity? For the same reason the lion prefers a teeming rain forest (I'll have to check on that).

Maybe dkos will be washed away by the tides of cyber history. But if anyone has a chance of leaving a mark, it's them. The only contribution you are capable of is canned laughter for sitcoms.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Out to Lunch

Back in ...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Suck On This

By: The_Bell
filed under: |


After British authorities exposed a plot last week by terrorists to bomb trans-Atlantic flights using liquid explosives smuggled aboard by multiple individuals in the form of everyday household products, both U.S. and British officials have added liquids and gels to the list of prohibited airplane carry-on items. This includes such substances as shampoo, toothpaste, hair gel, makeup, perfume and suntan lotion. Baby formula and medicines are exempt but only in limited quantities and subject to additional screening.

Take it far enough and the liquid-less air cabin could force a change to the attendant's friendly question of "coffee, tea, juice, or soda?" to something along the lines of "coffee grounds, tea bag, fruit, or sugar with caffeine?" One would have to take these offerings, along with the obligatory pack of dry roasted peanuts, and suck on them during the flight. Then again, this raises new problems. Is saliva a banned or permitted liquid?

As far as that goes, the human body is about seventy percent water. We are huge walking bags of liquids and fatty gels surrounded by a thin layer of meat. First terrorists turned airplanes into bombs, then they tried to turn shoes into bombs, and now we have caught them trying to turn liquids and gels into bombs. They have already shown their willingness to die in these attacks. Is it really so far-fetched to believe they would turn their very bodies into bombs if such a feat were technically possible/practicable?

Nobody doubts the threat from extremist Islamic terrorism is still real nearly five years after the September 11 attacks or that airport/airplane security is still necessary. Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups can be counted upon to continue their jihad of violence against the West until the bitter end. Yet why do these groups continue finding ready converts who will die in order to kill Americans?

The promise of a hero's reward in the afterlife? Maybe that is some of it but we cannot avoid the fact that our foreign policy and propaganda have done little to convince the bulk of the Muslim world that our objective truly is fighting global terrorism. Instead, too many still see it as a global attack against Islam by the West. In Afghanistan the Taliban is enjoying an unprecedented (military) resurgence. Iraq has become a killing fields for Muslims of all stripes against both Westerners and each other. Gaza and the West Bank are increasingly walled off/fenced off blockade zones. And Lebanon has been plunged back into devastating war just when it was shaking off the yoke of its longtime occupation by Syria.

None of these situations are (entirely) the fault of the United States. Yet in our preference for unilateralism in our own foreign policy and our biased support of Israel, we have done little to create a perception of trustworthiness in the Arab/Islamic World.

Newsweek reports that last weekend, London's Heathrow Airport was also forbidding all books and newspapers as carryon items. While passports and other travel documents were exceptions, Bibles were not. The magazine describes one episode in which an elderly woman traveler, near tears, is forced to give up her "rather snazzy, leather-bound Bible with gold-leaf pages and the title Good News that she was clutching for dear life."

It struck me how ultra-conservatives, who often favor extraordinary measures by government in the war on terror while simultaneously disparaging government restrictions of Christian expression, would view this. If terrorists did somehow gain control of that airplane and destroy it, that elderly woman would die bereft of her greatest means of comfort. When security measures become so severe and restrictive that Bibles are verboten, it must seem to them as if the terrorists have already won a subtle yet demoralizing victory.

That is how an awful lot of us less-than-ultra-conservatives feel about the loss of liberties experienced in the name of fighting terrorism by the U.S. government. An awful lot of hardship is being endured by an awful lot of people without an awful lot of real progress to show for it. I am reminded of the story of Jesus and the woman by the well in the Gospel According to John.

Jesus answered and said unto her, "Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. The water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Let us just hope Jesus never tries hawking his Water of Life on a plane traveling between Great Britain and the U.S. You can get sent to Gitmo for that. He, like the rest of us, will have to make due with his own spit and suck on it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cuba

By: daveto
filed under: | |


I wanted to see it before Castro died. And I wanted to see it as a Cuban (or as close to that as I could manage), hence the stay in Havana.

I probably asked a dozen or so Cubans what they thought would happen after Castro died. Early responses tended towards "carry on", with brother Raul likely doing the carrying on. Many would expand on this, with the general theme that things were getting better (economically; bottomed out after the break-up of the USSR), and that they really like what they've got: free education, free medical, minimal crime, and a standard of living perceived as better than most of their neighbours', etc.

Towards the end of my stay I was getting more interesting and varied responses, and mostly on the negative. Some didn't hesitate to disrespect and mock Castro (especially after a few drinks), some echoed the acid words of his ex-wife(?) that he'd turned Cuba into an island jail. Many, you could tell, hoped (desperately!) for a thaw with the US and an opening (re-opening) of Cuba to Americans. This though they likely knew (through mainly painful experience of several previous generations of Cubanos) the downside of being an American playpen. But money talks.

As an aside, Cuba's still pretty much shuttered. TV channels are state-owned and educational or propagandist, immigration (new blood) is about zero, so, outside of tourists, you've got conraband Internet and contraband satellite tv as peepholes on the outside world.

Anyway, at some point I realized it wasn't a coincidence that the answers changed (towards the negative towards Castro) as I became less of a tourist. Early on I was getting the 'pat' response. I could have been a spy(!) .. bottom line, opening up to a complete stranger wasn't worth the risk. But walk the walk, even for a tiny bit, and you get some acceptance. That was my feeling.

Finally, America will be disaster for historic Cuba. And for Castro's Cubans, who (Habanos, at least) have a fierce pride and live a lyrical if somewhat sparse and uncomplicated life.