March 02, 2006

Dickerson's Missing Questions

Inquiring minds want to WOTS.

John Dickerson questions Bush’s lack of questions during the latest released pre-Katrina video, but doesn’t take his argument far enough. WOTS hates when writers miss an obvious point they set up themselves.

If Bush had received multiple briefings prior to the one on the newly released video, and had been pointedly inquisitive at those briefings, then his silence is hardly explained by knowledge of the subject matter. In fact, his silence raises even more questions. Michael Brown told Bush on the video "I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe…” Dickerson fumbles around trying to come up with a question to ask Bush in response to this concern.

Here’s three: “Brownie, why after all of these briefings where I asked fabulous questions are you still concerned about the ‘catastrophe within a catastrophe’ scenario? Haven’t you done anything about it since the last time I peppered you with incisive questions? Or do you have something new in mind since my last cross examination?”

In short, if Bush’s attentiveness before is meant to explain his inattentiveness here, the only conclusion from the lack of follow up regarding still pressing concerns was that Bush wrongly felt that nothing else could be done – that “we are fully prepared” means “cross your fingers” -- or that he didn’t care. WOTS thinks its something else -- as Hal E. Chopper, WOTS’s actual helicopter pilot noted (above the din of the spinning blades), Bush never thinks anything he touches will ever go wrong. “Seriously,” Hal screamed, “he’s based his whole war in Iraq on that.”

WOTS only employees insightful helicopter pilots.

Bruce Reed Whigs Out

WOTS hates obviously wrong counter-intuitive arguments, a big problem with Slate, who would print "Mars, actually the blue planet" if it could. But e tu Bruce Reed? Brucey Bruce should know better than to try to associate George W. Bush with a political party from the mid-1800s (The Whigs, which with apologies to Dave Barry, would be a great name for a rock band). Bush has never been accused of being a student of anything (with the possible exception of male cheerleading), much less history.

If Bush were a Whig, principled deference to Congress would be the reason for his failure to veto any bill presented to him. The use of the word "principled" in the same sentence as "Bush" should raise a red flag to begin with. But Bush is no Whig anyway. No respectable Whig would ever use a "signing statement" to effectively tell Congress "this bill means whatever I think it does." Bush's frequent use of this novel scheme (one Sam Alito loves, not so incidentally) is further evidence that Bush's governing philosophy is "whatever I say goes" -- the imperial Presidency, indeed. Here, that includes agressive executive interpretation of legislation that may run directly contrary to Congressional intent -- as in the recent torture bill whose signing statment gave room to opt out of the bill entirely. In other places, it means ignoring the Constitution to spy on Americans without warrants and other less noble ventures.

The other truth, of course, is that Congress would need to pass legislation that Bush would veto. They haven't. So who is bowing down to who?

WOTS. Not bowing down to Slate since 2002. And it wouldn't have before that either.

March 01, 2006

Hitchens Fukuyama's Up.

Chris Hitchens has seen fit to criticize everyone that has ever held an anti-war position on Iraq, including relatives of dead soldiers. So it comes at no surpirse to WOTS that he takes on Francis Fukuyama’s critical account of neocons, here Hitch has been a WOTS favorite for years, because he’s so obviously in love with himself that he's lost all shred of credibility.

Take this new WOTS gem: Hitch claims that anyone opposed to the war must confront themselves with three questions (thus reserving the four questions for Passover, presumably). First, “[w]as the George H.W. Bush administration right to confirm Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991?” WOTS says yes. Second, “[i]s it right to say that we had acquired a responsibility for Iraq, given past mistaken interventions and given the great moral question raised by the imposition of sanctions?” WOTS agrees that “a responsibility” is correct, whereas, “responsibility” is not, so yes. Third, “and is it the case that another confrontation with Saddam was inevitable; those answering 'yes' thus being implicitly right in saying that we, not he, should choose the timing of it?” The rub, indeed.

The correct answer to this question is “absolutely not,” and not just because nothing is inevitable except for bad Hitchens’ columns. The overwhelming evidence leading up to the war pointed to two truths: (i) Hussein was not a WMD threat because (ii) Clinton-era bombings and sanctions worked to disarm, dissuade, and defang him. Even absent war, UN weapons inspectors were pulling a CSI: Miami all over the country, including the dramatic sunglasses work. Hussein may have been obnoxious, but he was caged obnoxious.

So whereas Hitch clearly thinks, sans explanation, that the answer to 3 is yes, it isn’t. But let’s assume dear Hitch is right. Its fine to agree that we should choose the timing of Hussein’s ouster to Exile Island. But many WOTSies would take note that the middle of an actual war against actual terrorism in Afghanistan was probably not the time to fiddle with The Great Iraqi Moustache. So if this is Hitch’s great critique of Francis (even if generally WOTS doesn’t trust men named Francis), is not only a terrible critique, it also reveals the critic (if that’s a word) to be unworthy. Of course, WOTSies knew that already about Hitch.

WOTS note: Its fun to see one discredited author trying to discredit another discredited author. Where is James Frey when you need him? Seriously, let's get Oprah involved.

Slate: Mostly Artificial Ingredients!

WOTS likes institutional originality in its reading, and so WOTS has long noticed that too many of Slate’s supposedly original articles are mere compilations of other things found in cyberspace, sometimes with a dash of salt added to avoid copyright problems (fair use has its limits, friends). Billy Saletan blurbs technology developments in Human Nature. We have Today’s Cartoons, and Papers, and Blogs, and Pictures. There is In Other Magazines, Summary Judgment, and for that matter, Slate-referential pieces like Fraywatch, the contest, and NPR. So that’s no less than 10 regular Slate features that do little more than compile other’s works.

There is nothing wrong with all of this summarizing, per se (or is it totally illegal?). But its hardly heady stuff either and it suggests more than a bit about the overall place of Slate in the pantheon of (mostly) liberal forums if half of its content is not really its own. (The actual original pieces, as WOTSies know, suggest other bad things about said place). Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t spend half his act telling other comedian’s jokes: “Boy, did you catch that bit Chris Rock did the other night? Here it is…” Who tells other comedians’ jokes? Hacks. Kenny Banya.

Does Slate want to be the Kenny Banya of comedy? Is it already?

WOTS is all original, baby. Except for Percy's hairpiece. WOTS has no idea what that thing is.

February 28, 2006

Slate's Bogus Readership Numbers

In self-serving news, Slate claims it has more than 4 million readers, here Its nonsense.

As the article admits, Slate can only count two things, page views and unique browsers. And WOTSies, as you surely know, unique browser hits and “readers” are not nearly the same thing. Think of unique browser hits like a person walking through the magazine rack of a local book store and eyeballing the particular magazine. Think of a reader as someone who opens the magazine and reviews some of the articles (one who regularly does so would be even more accurate). Slate has no way to know who fits into the latter category, because “readership” cannot be measured absent some form of sign in access (which is why many print media require it online). In Slate’s case, Slate really can’t equate readership with unique browser hits because of The Fray, where probably thousands of users venture without ever “reading” Slate’s content. If WOTS were to guess how many people regularly read a majority of Slate’s articles each week, WOTS would collectively guess (excluding Percy’s “just us” guess from the average) less than 20,000.

Besides, why read Slate when you can cuddle up with WOTS?

WOTS: A New Era Begins! Unless it doesn't.

WOTS's reigns, which are made of fine Italian leather, have been handed over to a new generation. As soon as said generation manages to pry themselves from stupid reality television talent competitions (who can starve the best while singing Motown on ice skates, next week!), Worst of the Slate will return in all of its glory.

Unless it doesn't.

Editors note: WOTS has a large staff. It also has a lot of employees. Any assumptions along the lines of "I know who WOTS is!" or "WOTS the father of Angelina's baby!" are surely as mistaken as the very apologetic bird shot was for bumping into that nice lawyer friend of our exceptionally popular Vice President.

WOTS '04

December 2, 2004

WOTS. Also thought it was just flaxseed oil!WOTS beings its return with an old favorite, the always hedging Chris Sullentrop and his two cents on political capital. Sulley doesn't understand that political capital is difference between your job approval rating and your electoral percentage. Either that, or he pretends to not understand it so he can write an article that otherwise would amount to "Bush says the words 'political capital' a lot."Meanwhile, Chris Hitchens, who is an Alexander of Macedon scholar all of the sudden now that the movie is out, casually informed readers that "Hanukkah [] commemorates the victory of the Orthodox [Jews] over those Jews who had succumbed to "Hellenism" in Alexander's time." And here WOTS had always believed that Hanukkah celebrated the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees victory over the Syrian rulers installed by Alexander who did not tolerate the Jews belief in one God. Thank you, Chris Hitchens, for reminding the world that Hanukkah was really a Jewish Civil War! So remember kids when you get your Hanukkah gelt that you are not celebrating the miracle of one days' Temple oil lasting for eight days, but rather the defeat of your weak-kneed capitulating brethern, the Hellenist Jews!WOTS casting call: If not Colin, then who should have played him?Speaking of alleged entertainment, for WOTSies old enough to remember, Virginia "Ginny" Heffernan used to take care of screwing up Slate's tv coverage. Now Slate graces us with Dana Stevens and her blog. All WOTSies really need to know about Dana's creativity is that she also goes by the name "Liz Penn." Kids, if you are going to come up with a pseudonym, you don't go with "Liz Penn" unless you are twelve. Of course, Dana's blog usually reads like the ramblings of a twelve year old girl, so maybe WOTS shouldn't judge. Sure WOTS shouldn't.WOTS's helicopter pilot is really named Hal Edward Chopper. WOTS is not sure what that means as to Dana, but one suspect Hal's parents had a career path in mind for their little boy.WOTS easy challenge. Pick a better pseudonym for a writer than "Liz Penn."In other tv news, the WOTS name-of the year candidate Sherwin B. Nuland calls the star of stupid tv show House, Hugh Laurie, "estimable." Well Hugh did play "voice" on the tv series "Treasure Island" and "Preston Pig." Dana also used the word "estimable" this week to describe her "colleague," leading WOTS to suspect that Stevens works with Hugh Laurie. If so, WOTS thinks you could kill two birds with one stone there.WOTS is blessed with a name of the year face-off this week: Sherwin B. Nuland vs. Hua Hsu!In the NyQuilissue of the week, WOTS trudged through Adam Kirsch's review of Derek Walcott's latest book-length poem to find an early contender for WOTS's worst line of the year: "If the whole world is a poem, then the poet doesn't need subjects in the usual sense." Obviously. If only the whole world were a poem... Sigh. Unfortunately, although Walcott is from St. Lucia, Kirsch does not mention that WOTS honeymooned there at the wonderful Anse Chastenet resort. WOTS and his gorgeous Brasilian bride particularly enjoyed the beach and the homemade soup when not otherwise occupied.WOTS wonders: Is there anything more boring than reading a review of a poem. Answer: Yes! Jimmy Longenbach's review of a whole poet, Richard Wilbur, which leads off with the grade-school opener "There are two Richard Wilburs." WOTS questions: Isn't one Richard Wilbur quite enough, thank you. And is "Should a Marxist poet be stylistically ornate" a question you are likely to ever get on the witness stand? If so, what is THAT case about?WOTS corrects Corrections of the week: Corrections spelled "statement" the way Dan Quayle would – "statemente." In Spanish, that might mean "the state of being in a state," which ironically, is a good description of Dan Quayle!Finally, WOTS has always suspected that various alleged Fray Editors did not actually exist. WOTS is now convinced there is no such person as Adam Christian, particularly as he rarely seems to do anything. WOTS wonders what the alleged Mr. Christian gets paid for not doing much, and how many times his female sibling, if any, has had to endure the inevitable Sister Christian jokes.WOTS thanks you for your loyal readership!

December 13, 2004

WOTS. Ocean's thirteenth.WOTS beings this week with WOTS wondering how much Chatterbox Timmy Noah got paid this week for his "Dueling Headlines," which consisted only of links to two papers' articles with mildly different slants to their headlines. Noah offered no commentary on this incredibly usual and commonplace happening, much less discussed the linked articles. At the bottom of this offering, Slate claims that "Tim Noah writes 'Chatterbox' for Slate." Um, not if he doesn't write anything. Not to be outdone, Dana "Liz Penn" Stevens chimes in this week with a whole piece that only refers us to an item already linked by a popular blog. WOTS wonders if he can get paid by only linking to his favorite articles in various papers and magazines. What, you mean Slate's people already get paid for doing that in In Other Magazines and Today's Papers, amongst elsewhere? What a racket!Remarkably, Noah makes a second WOTS entry this week for something he did write himself, his irrelevant discussion of the fact that Kerry needs but 18 electors (18!) to switch to win the Presidency, an event less likely to happen than Bush admitting he really loves them darn evil-doers. Noah actually says the elector thing "remains in the realm of the possible," leading WOTS to wonder if Noah understand the meaning of the word "realm."Meanwhile, the deadly combo of "former Slate intern" and Bill Saletan write and article so bad it required them to apologize to a pollster. And not just any pollster, and automated pollster! When Slate has to apologize to disembodied voices, it's a true WOTS moment. WOTS wonders: Couldn't someone make a lot of money by accepting apologies using disembodied voices? Wait, no, that's been done.Meanwhile, Brendan I. Koerner writes an Explainer about the five ways Yankovych's supporters tried to screw Yushchecko in the election and a "Bonus" discussing unfavorable media coverage directed towards him. Koerner somehow fails to mention that Yushchecko was probably poisoned by Yankovych's supporters, which is like discussing the Roman Senate's attitude towards Caesar without mentioning his various knife wounds.WOTS Nyquilissue of the week: Davey Greenbereg reviews two books about plagerism. WOTS thinks its hilarious that there are books about plagerism, leading to some fairly obvious questions. WOTS was disturbed, however, by Davey's implicit suggestion that historian Stephen Ambrose was properly punished for his rampant plagerism by getting lung cancer and dying.Speaking of the end, WOTS usually just throws out Slate's garbage, but this week it also sorts Slate's recycling for a trip to the plant. WOTS doesn't mean bottles and cans. No, Slate has a habit of re-printing old articles whenever a event ties into the old subject. Tuesday alone witnessed three of these throwbacks; five appeared this week. WOTS just doesn't see how this recycling helps much in a Google world (or given Slate's own search function). The Spitzer throwback was to a piece less than two months old for goodness sakes! Is it only a matter of time before Slate tosses back to a piece earlier in the week?Yes, Slate's online presence makes it different from, say Time's print edition, but recycling articles instead of finding something new to say about the subject (or finding a different subject) is ultimately a cop-out. Has throwback Kanye West done nothing worth discussing in the last seven months (he has)? Has the throwback Canadian gay marriage recognition issue not evolved at all since a year and a half ago (yep)? Has nothing changed about buying a Xmas tree changed in four years (it has)? Wait for it…wouldn't a Google search of last few days' news likely give WOTSies more timely, relevant context? You bet like you have a set of Aces against a 3-8-Q rainbow.Then again, WOTS limo driver reminded WOTS that most of Slate is just linking to old articles and "whatnot," so why shouldn't they be able to link to their own "whatnot." This lead to an interesting discussion about whether Slate was really meant to be a dressed up Drudge, a discussion which had to end because Percy needed to pick up some two-by-fours from Home Depot for his "side business" (don't ask, I didn't).WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

December 17, 2004

WOTS. Not FDA approved, so you know its safe! At its heart, WOTS is a teacher, weekly schooling Slate on the errors of its journalistic ways. So with the spirit of this Season Of Post-Fall in mind, WOTS is happy to give back a little by teaching new readers about WOTS's mission, and how you too can be a WOTSie. Friends, Romans, countrymen, WOTS gives you Timmy Noah, whose contribution this week is so everything that WOTS is about that WOTS will use it as a learning tool. Please pay close attention and you too can be a WOTSie. Timmy lauds, extols, congratulates and other synonyms himself this week for "discovering" Amazon's customer service number, boldly claiming "it was I who discovered" the number by rifling through Amazon's SEC filings, as if he were Howard Carter digging in the burning Egyptian desert. Ah, but Timmy is lying. Timmy was not the first on-line "journalist" to write about trouble finding Amazon's number or the first to print it. Others did it two years before him! At least!Timmy defends his "it was I who discovered" lie by asserting that the other websites do not have the "reach" of Slate, an argument WOTS would have liked to have seen made circa The Age of Exploration: "Lo ciento, Inglaterra" said King Ferdinand (who will speak English henceforth and be played by Alfred Molina), "but since Magellan (who was Portuguese but sailed for Spain because of free agency) clearly has more reach than you ill-toothed snobs who have not yet sailed around the globe, we Spaniards will be claiming discovery of Boston, which we will promptly rename "Porto de Calcetines Rojos Sin Pedro." Anyway, like England (played by Judy Dench), WOTS knows that all websites have the same reach if you use any decent search engine. This is the point of the web, no? WOTS also found it wonderfully ironic that the website Timmy linked to was, of all things, PCWorld.But wait, like a 3am infomercial about chopping food into its molecular components, there is more! Tim is not only lying like its hot, lying like its hot, he's recycling a lie. WOTS discussed the evils of recycling in last week's column, and was happy to see Jackie Shafer both agree with the rule and then violate himself all in one column on Tuesday. Timmy actually put out his lie this time last year, and he helpfully links back to it, which would be kinda like Clinton hauling out the VCR to replay The Point after the dress (ahem) came to light. So in case you are keeping score at home, Timmy (i) recycled, (ii) a lie (iii) admitted it was a lie, and (iv) compounded it with a fanciful justification. Timmy couldn't have given you a better holiday gift! And as all WOTSies know, its at this point you ask this question (say it with me, peeps): How much did Timmy get paid for lying, both the first time and now?With that lesson complete, WOTS will give a final holiday gift to WOTSies. WOTS will break its own rule (because WOTS Loves America) about not hitting Mickey ("Bloggy") Kaus for want of piling on. Why? Bloggy implicitly suggested this week (perhaps explicitly) that Democrats should not support gay marriage because it would be counterproductive in the war on terror. WOTS is not making this up. Lest you think this has something to do with the incredibly annoyingly practice of referring to articles of clothing in the singular (they are "nice pants" not "a nice pant" and "great shoes" not "a great shoe"!!!), Bloggy actually thinks this is a legitimate pr concern for Dems as to fundamentalist Muslims who might otherwise love America, Apple Pie, and the Democratic Party. WOTS you talkin' about? First off, even if Dems supported gay marriage whole heartedly, this discrete group of Muslims probably thinks their choice (assuming they even care about political parties) would be between the Christian rock band Bush and the Crusaders and the unplugged melodies of Dems The Nice Pant. WOTS suspects they would vote for the party less interested in killing them for no reason. But more obviously, why should Dems pander to fundamentalist Muslims on this issue? They don't pander on abortion to the far more numerous and powerful (in America) fundamentalist Christians. Bloggy is off his rocker on this one.With that, WOTS will return to his rocker so that WOTS's crack staff can gather round to hear WOTS retell the age-old holiday tales of Fray editors who also never existed.WOTS thanks you for your loyal readership!

January 19, 2005

If Shafer, a Post employee who has been taking on the Post for years, can criticize the Post in Slate, then Worst of the Slate ("WOTS"), which has been taking on Slate for years, should have a job at the Post taking on Slate. Turnabout is fair play in the enlightened age, no?WOTS will accept reasonable offers from Mr. Graham at iamwots@aol.com_________________

The Complete 2003 Archive

January 3, 2003

WOTS. Weighing its 2004 options. WOTS begins 2003 by noting that purported Fray Editor "J.D." Connor has called WOTS a "must-read." Thanks "J.D." but don't think WOTS will let up on ya for your praise. Speaking of which, it'd be nice if D.J. blogged more often in the afternoon. Oh, and WOTS's staff is still debating about whether Connor exists. WOTS note: Shouldn't "blogging in the the afternoon" be a euphemism for something? In clone war news, Jim Lewis thinks that a clone is the sister of the woman who bears it, not the daughter (insert West Virginia joke here). WOTS's problem with Lewis's article is that it did not discuss the implications of such a labeling decision, namely i) its effect on inheritance and other legal rights, and ii) whether labeling clones anything other than the norm would create a de facto "clone class," thereby setting up the kind of Brave New World/Gattaca world we'd want to avoid. Of course, for those opposed to cloning, propping up the idea of abnormal labeling is a nice tact to take against cloning, unless you just decide to not label clones unusually, as we should. After all, isn't there enough discrimination in the world already? WOTS. An uncloneable lover of the great state of West Virginia. The wonderfully named Maia Szalavitz (bless you!) must have been on drugs writing about drug testing. First, she wrote "increases in drug testing increase the numbers of offenders." Sorry Maia. Increases in drug testing increase the number of offenders caught, not the number of offenders. She also cites a "1998 study of nearly 150 teenagers." Nearly 150? 146? 149? Is 150 out of about 135,000 teens in teatment programs even close to a statistically meaningful number? Not nearly. Finally, she cites the case of "Michael" who is supposed to be somehow representative of the other 134,999 teens in drug programs. She says his negative reaction to his program's methodology "may be the rule for teenagers, not the exception." Does Maia supply any facts to support this? Not nearly. Oh, and she says teens are more subject to peer pressure than adults. Shocker!WOTS notes something Timmy Noah doesn't but should have: Not only does it stink to die around Christmas, its bad to be born then too, what with all the gift combining.WOTS question: Would you rather get one nice $100 gift or two nice $50 gifts? In nuke news, with all due respect to the Bush administration (whatever that means to you...), North Korea will sell the nukes it is now building to people (yes, people) we don't want having them! Hello! WOTS doesn't mean to be fatalistic, but, can we please, um, stop them? Thanks! WOTS note: WOTS's existence is entirely dependent on it not being nuked (and eating a high fiber, low fat diet). Now that's foreign policy for you!In hair news, with all due respect to John Kerry (whatever that means to you...), John Edwards has better Presidential hair. It remains to be seen whether Sen. Edwards can talk to dead people. WOTS wonders: Is Edwards Clinton with or without the wonk? Stay tuned.NyQuilissue of the Week: top ten best/worst movie lists. WOTS knows there are few things more boring about movies than the end of year top ten lists. Why? Because without exception, the "bests" list are filled with box office duds, movies that have had limited releases so no one sees them (sometimes not even the critics), and the "surprise" sobaditsgood. The "bests" lists usually are about critics pushing small films, not rewarding great ones that happen to be big. Critics like doing this because i) critics are sometimes the only ones to have seen the small films, ii) since everyone goes to or at least knows about really big films anyway, it doesn't matter what the critics say, so iii) critics can only maintain their facade of critic-hood by propping up movies no one sees. The "worst" lists almost always include a movie that a bunch of other critics think is a "best" (as Davey Edelstein does this year with Adapation). Plain dumb. WOTS notices the irony of it being a critic of critics of movies no one sees, as it suspects it comments on articles no one reads....Meanwhile, Slate's movie reviewers called their subjects "depressive" and "suicidal." What, bad presents this year?Note to Kaus and Shafer: Do us a favor and shut up about the New York Times already. Thank you.In other Bloggy Kaus news, Mick dismisses out of hand the idea that political/liberal radio talk shows haven't worked because they are not mean enough. He shouldn't. The number one rule of most local TV news stations is still "If it bleeds, it leads", and that's because people are drawn to noise and excitement. Liberals, unable to get noise and excitement from political radio, do what they have always done, listen to loud music and have lots of sex. WOTS reports, you decide which is better.Incidentially, Bloggy now has a car blog (yes, "autoblog" is already a dot com). WOTS wonders: How is Bloggy qualified to write this column? Maybe he is, but he hasn't said so. Speaking of loud, Ann Coulter shrill? Shocker!WOTS shoulda been an Explainer: What's the deal with the arap in Daniel arap Moi? WOTS, which kinda forgot about its weekly TMQ watch, went back and found that Slate failed to link to its former best column once during the regular football season, despite Slate's repeated links to ESPN, a fellow MSN'r. The only TMQ mention was this week's link to an old TMQ from last year. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Easterbrook, "Ye Gods!"If you are a WOTSie, you know Slate's sports coverage is usually awful. WOTS free hint: Do a weekly Breakfast Table or "Movie club" thing. "Sports club" has a nice, sporty ring to it. Get some players, coaches, refs, actual sports journalists to write the thing. WOTS prediction: Miami 27, Ohio State 16. WOTS's other potential "should be a euphemism" of the year: "catching the meme"Finally, in case you missed it, WOTS hopes you'll check out its First Annual Worst of the Slate Awards, which can be found by clicking the SAP button on your remote. WOTS thanks it loyal readers and wishes them a Happy New Year

Jan. 10, 2003

WOTS. And All That Jazz. In Iraq news, Freddy Kaplan says, "You can say we're going to war because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. You can say we're going to war to keep him from developing weapons of mass destruction. You can't really say both at the same time." Actually, yes you can. WOTS know we can say that Saddam has some limited number of weapons of mass destruction, and we don't want him to develop bigger and better ones before the cost of ousting him becomes too high, as it arguably is in nuclear North Korea.WOTS curious potential timing note: Super Bowl: January 26. Weapons Inspectors Report: January 27. War with Iraq: January 28. War with Iraq over: March 30. Baseball season begins: March 31. Hmmmmm..... WOTS "should be a euphemism" of the week: "Bishop Spong."In political wife news, Tim Noah wrote a whole wittle article about the problems with Linda Daschle and her lobbying for the airline industry that was made moot both before and after it appeared. Before, because Tom D. decided not to run. After, because Linda herself said she would have quit lobbying if Tom ran for Prez. Awww. Tim says she woulda been a liability as an ex-lobbyist. WOTS knows the American People are usually too confused about mudane lobbying rules for the candidate's wife's ex-job to matter, not that most people pay attention to those things anyway.In an effort to avoid being too political, WOTS will merely note, without further comment, that Noah also used the words "Bush" and "genius" in the same sentence. In music news, Lee Smith (retired from his closer duties) says pop music will makes Arabs love us instead of becoming terrorists. Smith apparently hasn't listened to much pop music lately. Smith also implies that Egyptian, and later, Moorish, art and architecture was not "visually interesting." WOTS knows it was amongst the most visually interesting and still is. Still, WOTS thinks that if we have to send some potential Islamic terrorists some American music, go with the following from Messr. Springsteen: "Baby this town rips the bones from your back. It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap, We gotta get out while we're young." Now that's a message we want to send to potential terrorists!WOTS's dumb review of the week: "The premiere of The Bachelorette was good!, " says usually dour Ginney Heffernan WOTS wonders what would happen to the world if Smith and Heffernan ever got together on foreign policy....In movie news, Jimmy Suroweicki, a finanical reporter, says: "Without digital technology, there's no way a visually convincing film version of The Lord of the Rings—like the one we now have—could ever have been made." Wrong. Animation. Thank you. Also, his points about LOTR's techno commentary were made decades ago. Stick to the numbers, Jimmy!In shopping news, Danny Gross misses the big reason why Restoration Hardware isn't making it: They have lousy stores. WOTS's design team (which tells WOTS that its bad to have a mirror opposite the foot of your bed) has noticed that every R.H. store is way too small and, resultingly (is that a word?) fails to display enough of its furniture. Why is that important? Because people want to know what the Ye Olde $99 Grammophone is going to look like in their living room. WOTS item related to the Salvador Dali mention: WOTS's art critic wants the world to know that one of the best Dalis is "Pierrot Playing the Guitar," which while can be seen in the Renia Sofia in Madrid, cannot apparently be bought as a poster anywhere. WOTS's misleading headline of the week: "Should the Democrats draft a General?" Chris Sullentrop never answers the question. WOTS's take: He's potentially a great pick for Veep. NyQuilissue of the Week...Atlanta has some bad sports teamzzzzz...... WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

January 17, 2003

WOTS. Unafraid of Katie Couric.WOTS loves it when writers admit their problems and then repeat them, or criticize others for doing things they do themselves. WOTS beings this week with some primo examples. First, Timmy Noah, in a piece mostly devoted to his claim that some Repubs desire more taxes on poor people, admitted previously to writing "two (possibly superfluous) columns explaining why poor people shouldn't pay more taxes," both of which he ironically linked to in his third such article on the subject. Noah then basically Kearns Goodwinizes the point of a piece by Edmund Andrews – which he quotes at length to hide the fact he says nothing original! So, in sum, Noah's article was rehash and a reword. Good job Timmy! Incidentially, there was more blue in that article (from the links) than on the Boise State football field. Too much linking will now be known in WOTS as a "Boise State Violation." WOTS had to provide eye care coverage to its employees before they would look at it. WOTS note: Legend has it that hundreds of water fowl have plunged to their deaths mistaking the Boise State "lake blue" football field for an actual lake, thus proving once again, that Dan Quayle can't spell potato. Second, in tall people news, Robert Weintraub proves again to be a total hypocrite when it comes to Yao Ming this week when he criticizes sports commentators for first bashing him and then praising him, calling it a "180-degree turn worthy of the X Games." But as WOTS reported last year, Weintraub, in WOTS Award Nominated performance, did the same thing only in reverse! In 2001, Weintraub thought Yao was worth a lottery pick. In 2002, after criticizing Yao, Weintraub said, "Is that what you want of a top draft choice?" Now Weintraub calls other sports commentators "nauseating" for essentially doing the same thing! Fun!WOTS whoops: Dan Gross, like the soon to be emabrrassed announcer who says "That guy never misses a free throw!" said Tuesday that Microsoft wouldn't pay dividends. Thursday night, Microsoft announced they were paying dividends. Whoops! Meanwhile, in Supremes news (non drunk driving variety), to avoid being too political, WOTS will only note that Dally Lithwick had this to say about Antonin Scalia: "He knows what the law is." In reality, Scalia knows what his dissent will be. Dally remarkably claims to be "moved by his brilliance." Really? Moved to what?. WOTS incidential note: The most fun question to ask and the worst question to have to answer during oral argument is "Really?" Worst failure to read the First Annual Worst of the Slate Awards: Baby pictures are back!Worst failure to read WOTS: As WOTS noticed two weeks ago, and as sharp WOTSies like Ex-Fed are catching on, somebody, please, please tell Bloggy Kaus (and Shafer) to stop, stop, stop writing about The New York Times! This week, Kaus's headline "Are good reporters starting to flee the NYT" is supported by an example of one (1!) guy who left to move back to the Pacific Northwest, where he is from, so he could work for the Washington Post, for which he had worked previously for 21 years. Quick, grab the matzah, we've got an Exodus! Bloggy, enough already! Bloggy's rants on the NYT have become more tiring than ex-Slater Hugo Lindgren's constant dribble about the Lakers. WOTS side note: According to his Slate bio, alleged Fray Editor D.J. Connor vaugely lives "outside New York" and is apparently not one of those who lives "down the street" from Jodi Kantor, who will probably move now that she's at the New York Times, unless she is part of the Exodus. (Yes, Bloggy, people are getting hired at the NYT also!)WOTS note: According to a well placed source close to WOTS, "down the street" means not more than three blocks (streets, not avenues), especially if it is really cold and you are wearing expensive shoes.WOTS guilty pleasure: You liked that dribble/Lakers comment, admit it.In ad news, the wonderfully named Rishad Tobaccowala (thanks to historyguy for pointing it out), who can no longer be smoked in New York bars and restaurants, contributed to the dumb Dialouge: "Will the internet become a significant advertising medium?" Answer (duh!) found in first sentence of week long spittle, no need to read on. Ok, WOTS would now like to slow things down a bit for dramatic effect.....seriously, this would have been a great question in 1992, but Slate, in 2003, are you kidding? On a side note, WOTS knows internet ads won't really work until they stop being so gosh-darn annoying. WOTS definite euphemism: "gosh darn."Tobaccowala (!) later says, in a combo potential WOTS NyQuilissue/line of the year, "Any reader of this discussion who is willing to spend an hour browsing the online industry sites of the Internet Advertising Bureau or Online Publishers Association will see a plethora of independent research, success stories, and compelling creativity with minimal heavy breathing or ranting to become a believer in the future of Web marketing." WOTS thinks anyone who has spent time reading the Dialouge and then reads the cited industry websites for an hour needs to get out more. Speaking of 1992, WOTS figured out another problem with tv hater Ginny Heffenan: She does far more play-by play than color commentary. WOTS knows a good movie review is about 25% plot recap, 75% commentary. Ginny is the reverse, and is worse for it.WOTS note: Wouldn't "compelling creativity with minimal heavy breathing" be a great review for a lot of movies of the non-porn variety?WOTS conspiracy-fiction writing contest: What exactly ARE the North Koreans doing in New Mexico? 1000 words or less. In honor of the University of Michigan law school, twenty extra points for showing "compelling creativity with minimal heavy breathing." Have fun!WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

March 28, 2003

(Note: For new Fraysters, WOTS is a MOAB attack on Slate's weekly targets of opportunity. It appears between Friday at 5pm and Monday at noon, unless it doesn't. WOTS has been around for a while now, which is more than you can say about most Slate writers.)Worst of the Slate, Vol. 2, Ed.4.Don't be fooled by the WOTS that I got.WOTS's trend debunker this week focuses on Johnny Fasman's claim of a mass Arab boycott of American fast/junk food. Sure, sales are down in Arab countries, but Fasman forgets that sales of American fast/junk food are down right here in America also! Coke's coke sales have been slumping here (though not in Belgium for some reason) and the Hamburgler seems to have run off with McDondalds profits. So if sales figures aren't evidence of a boycott themselves, does Fasman provide any actual evidence of mass Arab boycotts of McNuggests? Nope. Nothing. What he does provide evidence of are companies marketing their products better to Arabs. Fasman fails to appreciate the irony of supposed Arab boycotters submitting to American style marketing techniques. Oh well.In another WOTS trend debunker, Timmy Noah claims "calibrate me" is the big phrase-o-da-war so far. While "Calibrate Me" may be a song by Atom Bomb Pocket Knife (WOTS checked!), WOTS's staff had never heard it (and WOTS staff hears everything...). WOTS knows its too early to predict these things, but "irregulars" is a better choice, or WOTS early favorite, "target of opportunity," which incidentally would make a great name for an album.WOTS trend debunker, working overtime, also sends Adam Kisrch's claim of a Dante rage to Hades. The Amazon rankings of books by or about Dante (on the day of Kirsch's piece) are: 96; 2,378; 4,589; 12, 771; 90,303 and 96, 405! And the book at 96 is about Dante the way The Name of the Rose was about Aristotle (in other words, its a rip off), even if it has made other notable best seller lists. But WOTS knows that surely one book doth not a rage make. WOTS's silly line of the week comes from Explainer, which informs us about "the banks of the Euphrates River, where vegetation and mud are present." Ah, as opposed to the riverbanks where vegetation and mud and not present, like the East River!In Oscar news, Davey Edelstein says "Nicole Kidman was excruciatingly inarticulate." He then says after viewing the tape, that "she wasn't as bad as I'd thought." So, Davey, to be correct, she's wasn't excruciatingly inarticulate, you first thought she was excruciatingly inarticulate, then you changed your mind a little.WOTS is also confused why Davey thinks anyone might "have a legitimate beef" with Nowhere In Africa's Oscar win just because it happens to be about Jews in Africa. Care to explain, Davey? Anyway, everyone know the only reason the film won is because Y Tu Mama Tambien wasn't nominated, which really makes it the second best foreign film anyway. So what is Davey really saying here? On a side note, WOTS's entertainment editor watched the Oscars in HDTV and wanted WOTSies to know that HDTV really lets you know which actresses are makeup beautiful and who are natural stunners (Jennifer Garner). WOTS suspects you'll be hearing more about this as HDTV begins to take over.In other news, Danny Chiasson compares the Pope to Morrissey. Really.In tv war news, Maggie O'Rourke says "many are discovering that watching the war on TV, while drearily hypnotizing, is at best an inefficient use of time." She cites no support for this statement. WOTS hates that kind of thing.Next, Deanne Stillman offers these totally contradictory statements about the fragging incident: Compare 1) "It's increasingly clear that there is a small group of soldiers for whom anti-American fatwas issued in mosques around the world supercede the oath of loyalty they took to their nation." with the very next sentences 2)"Almost nothing is known about radical Islam in the ranks. Very little is known about Islam in the ranks, period." Her article is a total guess, at best, and relies only on vague terms like "many," "most," "some," "a few," "estimate," and helpfully, "vague." So without any actual evidence, she claims that "[c]ertainly, the military can do a better job screening its recruits." How does she know? WOTS thinks this kind of article causes irrational, reactionary fear. Shame.In other war news, WOTS potential understatement of the year: Jack Shafer says: "All of the embeds [embedded reporters] have a strong stake in the outcome of any hostile action they might encounter." Really? Nasty death is a tad more than a strong stake, Jack. Speaking of death, WOTS sees Tom Noah's piece on Sen. Moynihan continues Slate's distasteful habit of knocking down the recently dead. Why Slate does this seemingly the second some famous bloke dies is beyond WOTS. What's next? Piling on dead Marines? Please stop this. Thanks!In WOTS soap opera news, alleged Fray editor D.J. Connor is on his way out for some reason. Perhaps he is also "going back to England" like his predecessor. He hasn't said. Someone named Kevin Arnovitz is taking over. WOTS, as always, is pretty skeptical this guy really exists, so we'll see. Until WOTS decides he's real, WOTS will call him "Arny," whether he likes it or not.WOTS, happy to be back, thanks it loyal readers, particularly those who recently wrote in!

April 9, 2003

Better WOTS than never.Starting light this week, WOTS begins with Rob Walker, trying to explain why hip-hop artists brag about top-o-da-line brand name cars. Rob forgets to mention that "Mercedes" rhymes with "ladies" and that as so much of rap and hip-hop is bragging, no one is likley to be frontin for Ford. Speaking of ladies, WOTS was saddened to hear that Jennifer Garner is now single again. Right...Speaking of Jennifer Garner, WOTS thinks "a paragon of harmony and finesse" and "all discreet charm, understated, reserved, but unmistakably sensuous" is a good way to describe her, though Mikey Steinberger was speaking of wines. At least Steinberger will never be called a wine snob after his remark about "holy-sh-t wines." A wine hick, perhaps? Steinberger's also up for a WOTS observation of the year award for his line: "But you can only bite a tongue so much." WOTS did not know that.WOTS knows wine is made to be drunk. In war news, Andy Bowers needs to read WOTS before he writes his column. WOTS last week identified "target of opportunity" and "irregulars" as its two top contenders for terms to come out of Operation Iraqi Liberation (woops, that would spell OIL, so we mean Freedom, which is OIF.) His article ignores these obvious terms in favor of ones no one has ever heard of (vertical envelopment, FIBUA), many (homicide bomber) that are unrelated to the Iraq war, and curiously, Sojo, which involves the former Yankee utility player who always came up with the key hit in the clutch. Luis would be proud.Incidentally, WOTS hears Haliburton is the tops company in the world in the development of oif. Dumbest war article of the week goes to Freddy Kaplan, who on Thursday seemed to think he had some insight by highlighting meaningless side-developments indicating the demise of Hussein's regime while glossing over the massive bombing of the Republican Guard out of existence. Way to put the pieces together, Freddy! Hint for Freddy: Super-massive killing of the enemy and almost no good-guy deaths is the number one way to know that they are losing! Speaking of good guys, WOTS was saddened to hear of the passing of David Bloom. Although Bloom was not killed in combat, his death was surely the result of his embeddedness. WOTS thought from the outset that while the embed idea was noble, it was also shockingly presumptive and dangerous. Only a seriously overly confident military would intentionally send mostly untrained, out-of-shape civilians into actual combat zones and not expect many casualties. Although at times it looked like it, war isn't Easy Rider. If predictions of Iraq's tough resistance had been more accurate, who knows how many journalists would have been killed? WOTS wonders what would have happened if, say, NBC, lost two or three prominent reporters. While WOTS admires the courage of the embeds, WOTS thinks the military should exercise some serious paternalism and that the networks should reassess the value of the lives of their reporters. WOTS note: Despite Slate's trend of seriously ragging the recently dead, you didn't hear one negative comment about any journalist who died in the war. Nothing like protecting your own, right?WOTS suspicious fact: The Republicans bombed the Republican Guard. WOTS better question than Explainer: If you had to walk on a cake, what kind of cake would you walk on?WOTS hopes Mike Lewis is ok, so won't rag on his column this week. WOTS, however, thought it would have been nice if Slate had warned readers about the rather graphic picture of Michael Lewis. Lewis' injury, however, should remind WOTSies that despite the dangers of terrorism, you're more likely to get hurt ice skating, unless you don't skate, in which case, look out!Speaking of ice skating, hey Slate Sports! Those were great articles on the NCAAs, the start of the baseball season, the hockey and basketball playoff previews, and the Masters! Thanks!WOTS thanks its loyal readers. And if any of you know where to send Jennifer Garner flowers, please let WOTS know.

April 12, 2003

WOTS. Not particularly interested in grilling anyone's stomach's in hell.Speaking of which, In Other Magazines makes an appearance this week because Julia Turner, in repeating the Economist's hope that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf' get a Al-Jazeera talk show, stops there. How uncreative. Mr. Credibility should absolutely get an MSNBC talk show. The show should be called MSaSNBC. Or he could just be paired on Fox with Sean Hannity. Judge on American Idol, perhaps? WOTS question for Jack Shafer: If certain journalists unintentionally killed in war zones are "victims of their own contributory negligence" who "placed themselves in harm's way, "then why do you start your article by calling the deaths of "any journalist[] in a battle zone" "appalling and grievous." Because they are journalists? Jack, you can't have it both ways.WOTSbervation: Did anyone else think that the picture of Bush in front of the weird orange background with Arabic just below his chin was one of the most unintentionally funny pictures in recent memory. Kind of an "Hello Martian visitors, the people of the Earth are your friends" moment. WOTS understatement of the week: Freddy Kaplan's claim that we dropped lots of bombs on Iraqi forces "in order to ease the path of U.S. Army soldiers and Marines thrusting north to Baghdad." How chivalrous of us to ease our troops path! Look Freddy, we dropped bombs on Iraqis to kill as many of them as possible so we didn't have to fight a major ground war because there would be no one left to fight it against. Kaplan makes it seem like he's revealing this inevitability as some kind of surprise. It isn't, mainly because Kaplan says nothing in his piece that hasn't been reported to death either in whole or in part for days. This is the second week in a row Kaplan has failed to appreciate something obvious about the US's unique unopposed ability to drop huge numbers of bombs on people we don't like. WOTS side note: Isn't inevitability a great word? Say it out loud a few times. Trust WOTS.WOTS "should be a euphemism" of the week: An "US-PUK Operation." The key here is to pronounce the letters as words. Say it out loud a few times. Trust WOTS.Meanwhile, Slate sports is truly remarkable. Last week, WOTS sarcastically thanked Slate for all of its good coverage of the NCAAs, the baseball season, the various upcoming playoffs, and the Masters (none). In response (?), Slate recycled a truly dumb Masters article from last year. Indeed, Alex Heard's piece was a WOTS Award nominee for worst sports article of last year. Slate, really, this is the best you can do?WOTS entertainment department is wondering if Virginia Heffernan is the Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf of the television critic world. What do you WOTSies think? Also, can't you just see Dennis Miller salivating over being able to throw out al-Sahaf's name a few years from now?WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

The 2002 Worst of the Slate Awards

Dec. 16, 2002

The Staff here at WOTS proudly presents:The First Annual Worst of the Slate Awards Nominations! Please vote early and often. Votes will be tabulated by WOTS's crack staff (again, who are not actually on crack), and recounted by machine. Where voter intent is in doubt, the vote will be recounted again by a robe-wearing cleric using an electron microscope. Winners will be announced Friday night, December 20, unless we can't find the cleric. Good luck to all the nominees (sort of)!

1) WOTS "Should Be A Eupehmism" of the year:a) poking into frowsy leafb) fissile materialc) worked the freakster veind) boinging simultaneously toward the hoope) going back to England

2) Worst Writer:a) Scott Shugerb) Bryan Curtisc) Hugo Lindgrend) Virginia Heffernan

3) Worst headline:a) "How to watch the Masters" appearing after the Masters was overb) "Behind every great woman is a dead husband" headline directly above the "Charges brought in the murder of Daniel Pearl..." headline.c) "The upside of violence in Israel. Better soccer."

4) NyQuilissue of the Year:a) Steve Carter resigned from the President's Council on Bioethicsb) The feud between Cornell West and Larry Summersc) Steve Landsberg discusses the econometrics of peeling a bananad) Andrew Sullivan's dispute with Howell Rainese) Wine spitting

5) Worst line of the Year:a) "the most lamentable development of the postwar authors' fascination with the 'unconscious' was the way New Critics and the Literary Novel Industry colluded to create a warped idea of fiction?"b) Rob Walker: "doesn't two minutes of sex followed by microwaved soup sound, you know, pretty pathetic?"c) Scott Shuger calling a Frayster a "pus nut."d) Joe Klien saying Dick Gephardt "probably [has] too much mayonnaise on his sandwich." e) Jason Cohen referring to the "relics of the post-punk, pre-Nirvana '80s Minneapolis scene."f) Virginia Heffernan wondering if "a bout with drugs, if survived, can enhance late-life handsomeness."g) Franklin Foer calling Milton Berle a "very Jewy-Jew."h) Michael Steinberger: "My method of spitting has always been more or less indistinguishable from my approach to vomiting—place my head above the bucket, open my mouth, and let gravity pretty much handle the rest."

6) Worst Sports Article:a) Jose Canseco belongs in the Hall of Fameb) Lingren says Jason Giambi is the problem with the Yankees.c) Robert Weintruab says Yao a lottery pick. Last year said he wasn't.d) Lindgren says The Lakers deliberatly use the rope a dope strategy in playoff games.e) Curtis compares Drew Blesoe to Babe Ruthf) Alex Heard says the best way to watch The Masters is to drink beer, smoke pot, and sleep through much of it.g) Tommy Soccoa says people from Asia can play sports too!

7) WOTS "Whoops" of the Year:a) Sullentrop praises Bob Knight, team loses in first round of NCAA.b) Lindgren criticizes Jason Giambi. Giambi goes 3-4 with a HR that day.c) Hamas controlls Israel. Israel kills prominent Hamas leader that day.d) Lithwick writes long series about how Zach Moussaoui won't plead guilty. He tries to.e) Noah gets article on Amtrack wrong because he got the names of its trains confused.

8) Worst Links:a) Bryan Curtis linking to almost every weekb) Other Web Sites linking to Slate articles.c) Other Web Sites links to Andrew Sullivan complaint about male circumcisione) Kausfiles linking to other bloggers

9) Worst Loss to Slate:a) Michael Kinselyb) TMQc) Moira Redmondd) Scott Shuger

10) WOTS Review of the Year:a) "Al Gore is Al Gore" by Joe Klienb) "Yuck" by David Edelsteinc) Andrew Weiner compares Dan Nakamura to Phil Spector and Brian Eno.d) Heffernan calls the Emmys "totally great."

11) Worst Idea of the Year:a) Losing TMQb) Kausfilesc) Stopping the Best of Fray columnd) Beating up on the recently deade) Having TV reviewer who doesn't like TVf) The wedding siteg) "Dad again"

12) Worst Best Name for a Slate Writera) Hart Seelyb) Avi Schickc) Plotzd) Mim Udovitche) Dhalia Lithwick

13) Worst Ad1) Prius2) Qwest3) ESPN Bobbleheads4) Ritz camera

14) WOTS "family organization" member of the Yeara) Jennifer Garnerb) Peneolpe Cruzc) Jill Hennsesy

15) The WOTS Reader's Choice Award:This award has no topic. The nominees are:a) Heffernanb) Saletanc) pictures of childrend) moving to Englande) blob adsf) game theoryg) The need for a _

Notes: All nominees, even the doozies, have actually appeared in Slate over the past year. If a Frayster thinks WOTS has missed an obvious nominee, think again unless you have also written 27 WOTS columns, but WOTS will still take think about it.

Dec. 24, 2002


Welcome to the First Annual Worst of the Slate Awards, honoring the worst Slate had to offer in the last year (or at least whenever WOTS was paying attention). If you are with us for the first time, WOTS is a weekly (when it wants to be) look at the bad journalism/words filling the e-pages of Slate, your favorite (or maybe not) semi-moderate/liberal/with exceptions political/life/host of the Fray magazine (some of which might be illegal!). The nominees were annoucned earlier this month after a painstaking (not really) review of Slate and the 27 WOTS columns this past year. So now, without further ado (what is this "ado" anyway?)....WOTS proudy presents the winners!

WOTS "Should Be A Eupehmism" of the year:Boinging simulataneously toward the hoop.

Worst Writer:Bryan Curtis

Worst headline:"Behind every great woman is a dead husband" headline directly above the "Charges brought in the murder of Daniel Pearl..." headline.

NyQuilissue of the Year:The feud between Cornell West and Larry Summers

Worst line of the Year:Tie!Was "the most lamentable development of the postwar authors' fascination with the 'unconscious' was the way New Critics and the Literary Novel Industry colluded to create a warped idea of fiction?"Franklin Foer calling Milton Berle a "very Jewy-Jew."

Worst Sports Article:Bryan Curtis compares Drew Bledsoe to Babe Ruth.

WOTS "Whoops" of the Year:Tim Noah gets article on Amtrack wrong because he got the names of its trains confused.

Worst Links:"Other Web Sites" linking to Slate articles.

Worst Loss to Slate:TMQ

WOTS Review of the Year:Andrew Weiner compares Dan Nakamura to Phil Spector and Brian Eno.

Worst Idea of the Year:Dad Again

Worst Best Name for a Slate Writer:Mim Udovitch

Worst Ad:Qwest

WOTS "family organization" member of the Year:Jennifer Garner

The WOTS Reader's Choice Award:Pictures of children

Congratulations to all the winners! In closing, WOTS would like to thank its truly remarkable staff, loyal WOTSies everywhere, Billy Crystal, Emma Brune, and last but not least, Slate, without whom none of this would be possible. Happy holidays, Happy New Year and Good Night!

The November 2002 Archive

Nov. 18, 2002

WOTS. Spectacular, but in a good way.

In polictics, no politics in WOTS this week. Why? Because postmortems of elections are rarely accurate and making predictions about elections two years from now based on what happened in this election cycle is even sillier. So WOTS thinks its pretty pointless to go after all the Democractic hand-wringers that appeared in Slate recently, even if they should just all calm down and realize that our war on terrorism has made looking at Democratic intiatives like trying to see the Leonids at noon.

Ok, so a little politics....

In old music news, Dave Samuels calls Kurt Cobain "the most gifted and popular writer that rock music had seen since Lennon/McCartney" and Nirvana the "last great punk rock band in America" and the "greatest pop band in the world." WOTS doubts Plasticman could overeach as much as Samuels does, and WOTS liked Nirvana. First, Cobain was very clearly not the most popular writer since Lennon/McCartney. WOTS would guess there were more than fifty writers more popular (WOTS's crack research staff has determined that Billy Joel sold more albums of entirely his own lyrics than anyone ever.) . Second, while anyone's definition of "gifted" is their own, WOTS would suggest Simon/Garfunkel, Taupin/John, Pete Townshend, Dylan, Springsteen, Roger Waters, and hell, even Eddie Vedder (to name a few). Third, any punkster would tell you that you cannot be a great punk band and be pop, much less the best of both. Fourth, the greatest pop band in the world (and the greatest rock band in the world) in the early '90s (and maybe ever) was U2, who had just released Achtung Baby, one of the best albums of all time, and their first album of all new material since The Joshua Tree, maybe the best album of all time.

WOTS could say more about Nirvana, but, oh, nevermind.....

Note: WOTS's research staff is crack, but not on crack. At least we hope so.

In club news, Jim Holt thinks nightlife has been a little slow lately. Apparently he hasn't tried to get into Lotus recently. WOTS thinks Jim should try standing in the Centro-Fly line this winter and report back if he thinks people aren't going out.

WOTS note to Seth Stevenson, who suggests that kids should play the Potter videogame instead of seeing the movie: WOTS suggets they read the book, then get outside and get some actual physical excerise.

In sports news, Andy Latack thinks Barry Bonds is orchestrating an entire campagin to make people think he is a jerk so he will get more attention that he otherwise would. Wrong. First, Bonds isn't that smart. Second, Mark McGwire got mounds of attention and he was seen as Mr. Nice. WOTS knows anyone who hits a bazillion homers will never be "one of the crowd" no matter what persona he projects.

WOTS reminder: bazillion is larger than kazillion according to a highly placed source WOTS is particuarly fond of.

WOTS hates the underscore thing. WOTS reminds Slate that things like this give WOTS more incentive to do a good job with the First Annual Worst of the Slate Awards on December 20, the nominations for which will be revealed on December 13. Thank you.

WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

The Midyear 2002 Archive

July 5, 2002

Worst of the Slate will be on hiatus for the next two weeks, unless it isn't. (Yes, that was a great sigh of relief you just heard from Slate's writers.) WOTS apologizes it its loyal readers, particularly tho those who have claimed lately to include WOTS as part of their sex lives. WOTS hopes you get by for now without it. WOTS wishes its loyal readers a happy and safe holiday weekend!And may God Bless America, unless that is unconstitutional, in which case, Go America!

August 5, 2002

WOTS. Back In Brief.WOTS needs to point out a couple of huge WOTS victories. First, WOTS has been saying all along that Dally Lithwick needed to relax about Zach M., that indeed, he would turn out to be just like a regular defendant, and that indeed, our criminal justice system could deal with people like him just fine. Dally finally conceded the point in her kazillionith article on the subject, though WOTS thought it was unfortunate that she hid her concession in one sentence at the end of the article.WOTS note: according to a source very close to WOTS, kazillion is more than bazillion.WOTS trivia: Define Ka and Ba and tell WOTS where the terms come from. Second, the Sports Pages, Bryan Curtis's weekly irrelevancy/ cite to Jayson Stark, is no more! WOTS feels extra good about this one because the seedlings for WOTS were planted long ago when somebody wrote a false, non-researched piece about how Third Base was the worst position in baseball ever. Slate should demand a refund of Curtis's paychecks for the Sports Pages. WOTS theory: Sports Pages was killed now so it wouldn't have to embarrassingly cite to TMQ, the best football column out there and the worst mistake Slate ever made (by letting it go). Speaking of sports, Hugo Lindgren, who really is an awful sports writer, really got trashed in the Fray for his non-researched, error filled piece about second place teams. WOTS, who bows in appreciation, would also like to point out that in an article devoted to why teams perennially can't get over the proverbial hump, he failed to mention the Red Sox (second most wins ever, 1918). WOTS question: Did anyone ever actually see No No Nannette? Who?In other second place news (kind of!), Chatterbox accused Al Gore of a Whopper for a statement he didn't even make. Chatterbox needs to read his own rules or he needs to start blaming the WB for every Whopper Ari Fliescher tells. Anyway, Gore has been taken to task for so many things he never said, this is no longer much of a surprise. William Saletan, in the "no-duh" article of the week, must have been reading too many stories about West Nile virus, because aside from his discussion of the feeding habits of misquotes, he didn't exactly break any ground by saying that opposition party leaders tend to want to root around for bad things in their opponents' pasts. Or was he under a proverbial rock from 1992-2000? Virginia Heffernan didn't like another television show. Shocker. WOTSies may have noticed WOTS hasn't been around for a while. Summer malaise, not lack of material WOTSies. WOTS will be slightly sporadic for the next month or so, but as the dog days of summer wane, WOTS will be back in full force.WOTS question: Which dog best represents the "dog days" of summer?WOTS final question: Full Force. Bad rock band or bad action movie?WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

Worst of the Slate, vol. 18

Reports of WOTS's demise are premature. WOTS is back! Let's get right to it...In truly shameless episode of hypocrisy/flip-flop news, Dally Lithwick now thinks it is ok to let the American Criminal Justice System ("Prosecuting Evildoers Since 1776") deal with terrorists. After an endless series of flawed columns this summer (as WOTS pointed out) explaining why the ACJS could never deal with someone like Zacharias Moussaoui or terror nuts like him, WOTS applauds Lithwick for finally getting it right. But WOTS also remembers that after the endless series of flawed columns, when Zach decided "Hey, I don't really want to die now here, do I?" and wanted to plead guilty, Lithwick offered what amounted to a one sentence retraction of her entire flawed series of columns. This past week, she offers a dime store version of the argument she should have been making all along, an argument her critics, including many WOTSIES, made months ago. Weak.Robert Wright is finally done with his exhausting nine-inning series on terrorism (think Brewers-Devil Rays), which contained at least one reference to Star Wars (the major motion picture, not the dumb laser tag with nukes idea). If your haven't read it, it can be summed up as follows: 1) The world is a dangerous place. 2) If you hold hands with your neighbors, you might not get hurt, but you might die in a nasty way regardless. Real shocking stuff there, Rob. While we are summing up, lets' hit Shopping for this shocking news: Sugar good, Other Sweeteners, eh. What incisive journalism!It is time for Michael Kinsley to stop writing pointless articles. Mike's "time" piece was cute, but we expect more substance from the King of the Liberals, Slayer of Novak, and Destroyer of the Knights Who Say Knee Jerk. (Please tell WOTS you get that. Thanks.) WOTS note: Didn't you just love how during Bush's speech at the UN he vaguely referred to Hussein's plot to kill a former American President. WOTS's supposes he couldn't have said: "Hey, he tried to kill my daddy!"WOTS brand new recurring item of the football season: WOTS noticed former Slater TMQ was doing a little shilling for the 'ol environs this week by citing to a Slate article. Slate, which must disdain the day it let TMQ go (as TMQ has been the only legitimate sports column in Slatestory), has not chosen to return the favor two weeks into the football season. WOTS will pay attention to this development as the season progresses. So far: TMQ mentions: Nil. Movie at 11. WOTS sports predictions: The Florida Gators will defeat the Redskins this year not realizing they were not playing Florida State (did you see the new 'skins, um, duds?), however, Broward County will have Florida State defeating the Dolphins in baseball, despite exit polls indicating the Hurricanes knocked off the Marlins in jai-alai. Upon hearing this, Janet Reno will explode, unless that was just Illuminations.No need for a recount in TV land! Yes kids, after all this time, Virginia Heffernan still does not like television! In WOTS TV news, did anyone else think they were going to find Al Capone's stuff in the Great Pyramid Monday night? (WOTS thanks a WOTS staff member's close relative for that observation.) Potential WOTS "should-be-a-euphemism" of the year: "boinging simultaneously toward the hoop." Bryan Curtis couldn't hack it as a sports writer, so now they made him a movie critic? WOTS question: Does Mickey Kaus think he is accomplishing anything useful? If so, what?NyQuilissue of the Week: Steve Carter resigned from the President's Council on Bioethics. Oh, zzzzzzzzzz.WOTS Oxymoron of the Week: President's Council on Bioethics. WOTSIES all know that alleged former Fray editor Moria Redmond did not actually exist (after all, who would move back to England?). The staff of WOTS has been debating whether the alleged newer Fray editor actually exists. His bio cryptically notes that the "went to Harvard." As WOTS's limo driver noted, a lot of people "went" to Harvard (indeed, he said he went there many times to drop people off), but that didn't mean they attended school and graduated from Harvard. Anyway, WOTS's staff has come to a conclusion that J.D. Connor does exist, but that is not his real name. After WOTS's photo editor had one too many Jack and Cokes, he cast the deciding vote in favor of the idea that the Fray Editor's real name is D.J. Connor, its just that he didn't want to be associated with any character from Full House and isn't cool enough too pull of the Dr. J thing. Of course, WOTS's Broward County office is demanding more pizza. WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

Sept. 23, 2002

WOTS, high in protein, low in carbs!WOTS laughed when it read the headline "How close is Iraq to having a nuclear weapon?" Sure, WOTS thought, Mike O'Hanlon must know, what with all the classified information he has at his disposal! WOTS's own view is that since the Bush administration is not about to unleash its classified material, you either believe them that Iraq is close or you assume that tubing is all they got and don't believe them. In other war news, although Explainer seems to differ, WOTS thought war games involved putting a lot of armies on Kamchatcha and cutting east to gain entry into Europe through Iceland.In Supremes news (non-Ross version), the wonderfully named Avi Schick came up with this interesting legal notion: "Despite their plain language, however, some state courts have found that their Blaine amendment was not an absolute bar to all forms of state aid to religious schools." Hmmm, guess the language wasn't so plain after all, Schick?WOTS was temporarily excited by the Kausfiles headline: "Kausfiles achieves closure." Alas, Kausfiles still exists. Why on Slate, we have no idea.In not exactly Shakespeare news, "Poem" offered this line: "Her music-box antiphons mumbled us around the decades." Obviously.In sports, Hugo Lindgren offered reasons why Pat Ewing never won a championship. WOTS loves articles like this (and no just in Slate) because its so statistically ridiculous to assume he or anyone in any sport playing for the same team his whole career would ever win a championship. Its not like the Knicks had been on the cusp of greatness before he arrived. Ewing didn't win for the same reason no one else won during his time: Jordan. And when not Jordan, really bad luck. Period. Besides, he wasn't that good. WOTS's two potential "should be a euphemism" of the year candidates: "fissile material" and "worked the freakster vein." WOTS question for Beck reviewer Gerald Marzorati: Um, is Beck's new album any good? Couldn't tell. And, Ger, please lay off the italics. Thanks much. WOTS poll: "Tyco Kozlowski": linebacker or mad scientist? WOTS plea: Don't go to Zambia on your vacation please. Thanks. Defrocked sports writer Bryan Curtis did a movie review last week. This week its DVD reviews. Next week? 8-tracks!WOTS is hopping mad about what seems to be the demise of the "Best of the Fray" column. Listen D.J. (for those of you not paying attention, see last week's WOTS regarding his alleged name), "Fraywatch" is interesting in a SportsCenter kind of way, but we need our Plays of the Week too.WOTS's side-note person of the year nominee: The guy who jumped into the back of his carjacked pickup. WOTS continuing features:1) Ginny Heffernan still does not like television and this time, does not like football either!2) Slate is a perfect 0-3 in mentioning former best Slate column TMQ during the three week old football season. WOTS's pirate name is Iron Sam Cash. WOTS has no idea what that means.WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

Sept. 27, 2002

W to the rst o, S to the ate-lay. Qubbile with jour-nizzle coming from ill Ates-gay. WOTS in the h-ouse, dissin' Mickey K-aus, layin' down the law, takin' on No-aw. Give it up, yo, give it up yo! WOTS bringing heat down on Mickey O. O don't know, what O don't know, Ritter Raqis' finsley like Plotz n' Kinsely! Yeah, W to the rst-o, S to the ate-lay. Qubibile with jour-nizzle coming from ill Ates-gay! As you read on, please feel free to wave your hands in the air as if you just don't care. Thanks.In what is becoming a fun trend, Michael ("Mickey O") O'Hanlan asks another question this week he cannot possibly have the answer to. Last week it was "How close is Iraq to having a nuclear weapon?" This week it is "How many people would die in an Iraq war?" This is a trend worth watching. WOTS answer to this week's question: It depends how how tough the CNN camera crews look to the Republican Guard. WOTS wonders: Given all the fun CNN had last time round with Iraqi soliders who surrendered to their camera crews, one wonders whether FoxNews, MSNBC, and CNN will compete to see who can get the most Iraqis to surrender.WOTS proposal: Send those CSI guys to be the weapons inspectors. They find everything!WOTS noticed that no Slate writer has stated the real, actual, authentic, singluar reason that justifies a war with Iraq stated in one easy to understand sentence: America cannot risk that Hussein's WMD will get into the hands of terrorists somehow. Period. End of story. Thank you all and good night. In D.J. Connor news, D.J. noted about Slate's spate of Iraq articles: "If you want to read some of the better posts, but don't have time to page through them, you can start with the posts I append below the article." As of the time he posted this suggestion, WOTS noticed that D.J. had appended posts to only 1 of the 7 Iraq articles prominently displayed in Slate's banner section. Thanks for the suggestion though! WOTS, whose editor-in-chief was cited by D.J. after that lone article and later in Fraywatch (still miss BOF!), is perfectly aware that it is looking the gift horse in the mouth. WOTS query: Wouldn't "Spate" be a good name for a Slate competitor?In movie news, Dave Edelstein says "Moonlight Mile," which he intelligently calls "off" and "yuck," is the worst film of the year. Earlier this year he called MIB2 a "landmark Hollywood disgrace." So in case you are scoring kids, "yuck" is worse than "landmark Hollywood disgrace." In other tv news, didn't any of Slate's Soprano watchers, in their haste to criticize Meadow's shrink for agreeing with everything the young Meadow said, notice that after her visit to said shrink, Meadow signed up to go to school and not to go to Europe. Isn't that exactly what was supposed to happen after Meadow visited said shrink? In sports news, Tommy Scocca is happy to tell us that out of a couple billion people from Asia, those born there but living here, those born here but who have at least one parent who was born there, or whose parent was born here but whose ancestry was from there, those who sound like their name could be Asian, or those who just like a good Korean bar-be-que every now and again, including Jewish people who eat Chinese on Sunday nights, that a few of them happen to be really good at professional sports. Thanks for the memories Tommy.The always there "Other Web Sites" (might be illegal!) referenced two Slate articles this week. Sombody needs to remind "Other Web Sites" that "Other" does not mean Slate. NyQuilissue of the Week: Former mega-rich guy, now just rich, doesn't fund operazzzzzzzzzzzzz. WOTS question: Are the "pre-Celtic Minstrels" a former Boston basketball team?WOTS travel reminder: Please still do not go to Zambia on your vacation. Thanks.WOTS potential "should be a euphemism" of the year comes from Poems this week: "poking into frowsy leaf."WOTS continuing features:1) Ginny Heffernan, who does not like television, likes a TV awards show honoring television, going so far as to intelligently call the Emmys "totally great." In case you are still scoring at home, Slate's reviewers used "totally great," "yuck," "off," and "obnoxious" to decribe their subjects this week. Incisive! 2) Slate is a perfect 0-4 in mentioning former best Slate column TMQ during the four week old football season. WOTS is 20 editions old and would again, like to thank its loyal readers! Especially for putting up with WOTS's momentary hip-hop ambitions. Peace out!

October 4, 2002

Cheers! Proust! L'Chaim! Yamas! Salud! WOTS is 21.WOTS thinks its far too easy to begin with Hugo Lindgren's column claiming Jason Giambi is the problem with the Yankees (not that they have one). To paraphrase Valmont, "any of a dozen men could do it, I have my reputation think of." WOTS will note that this sad piece of "writing" is yet another in a long line of awful Slate sports articles which try to make some counter-intuitive point without any plausible argument or research to back it up. In war news, WOTS noticed that Slate's headline to its Iraq series, "Should the US invade Iraq?," is not the real question. The real question is "Should the US forcibly remove Hussein from power?" After all, we invaded Iraq the first time and look where that got us. In potential nasty death news, Jeffrey Goldberg gets his facts about the cancer causing bio-agent aflatoxin wrong when he argues for ousting Hussein. Goldberg is really concerned that Saddam has put some of this stuff on warheads that could be put on Scuds. Sounds bad! Except (as other fast WOTSies have noted) aflatoxin has to be ingested in order to cause the nastiness. So unless people EAT the Scuds, aflatoxin doesn't sound like something to worry about. Goldberg actually spends much of the article saying what he would not do: "I do not want, in this space, to rehearse the arguments for invasion.," he says. "There is not sufficient space, as well, for me to refute some of the arguments . . .against intervention", he adds. He also "will not recite the statistics, or recount the horror stories here." Now that we've got that straight. WOTS suspects Goldberg would not eat a Scud either.WOTS question: Do Scuds taste like chicken? Also why do we say "a nice Caesar salad" but not a "nice mixed field green salad" or a "nice garden salad"?Elsewhere, Bill Saletan glosses over a key point in his piece on the Senate Iraq debate. Saletan notes "Several [Senators] ask whether anyone doubts that terrorists would use Saddam's nukes against us if they got them." WOTS would like to know who those Senators are and congratulate them. As WOTS noted last week, this is the singular justification for war and has been ignored by almost everyone in the debate, including Slate's writers. Just when you think Saletan might pick up on this, he drops the ball, saying "Nobody explains why Saddam would hand them over." WOTS knows that Saddam would not necessarily need to hand them over for the neighborhood terrorists to get a hold of them. WOTS thinks it is more likely than not that if Saddam gets nukes, those nukes will someday somehow (but soon) get into terrorists hands. Shame nobody at Slate has addressed this point yet.In blog news, Bloggy Kaus admitted again this week that much of his material about the economy was already discussed in another blog which he was "pretending" not to have read. WOTS thinks this is like a hack comedian using another comedian's jokes. In fact, WOTS will now refer to this writer as "Banya Kaus." In massive philanthropy news, Jackie Shafer says Walter Annenberg was a "rotten bastard" but spent most of his article describing Annenberg's father. As if its Walter's fault that his dad was a rascal? WOTS thinks anyone who gives away his kazillions (more than a bazillion according to a source WOTS thinks the world of) can't be all bad, particularly if they give it to WOTS. In math news, Jordan Ellenberg submits a questionable but certainly flawed (which he slightly admits) argument that grade inflation is ok. WOTS knows the real problem with grading is the bell curve, which WOTS thinks gives a grade for the sake of giving a grade, not as a means to identify the particular intelligence of a particular student. In toy news, Dan Gross opines it could be "disastrous" for retailers if they can't stock their shelves with toys in time for Christmas. Shocker! Carol Kino said the New York Museum of Sex opened to the public last weekend. Um, no, Carol, it didn't. (WOTS thanks its limo driver for that info.) Also, is it ever possible to write and article about nudity without using the word titillate?WOTS question: What is tat?WOTS potential "euphemism of the year" that is pretty old but still good: "Borking."NyQuilissue of the week: Wine spitting. Seriously. That subject also provides a WOTS potential worst line of the year: "My method of spitting has always been more or less indistinguishable from my approach to vomiting" Good to know!WOTS question: What wine would be best spit with a nice Caesar salad and some Scud?In a shocking turn, Ginny Heffernan actually seems to like a television show, CSI: Miami, but does not like two of the three female leads or the way they light the male lead. A closer look at the review reveals that Heffernan likes the camera work most, which as WOTSies know, is a glowing review from Ginny.Slate is now 0-5 in mention former Slate column TMQ during the football season. Finally, an important heads up for all you WOTSies. Unless it doesn't, WOTS will be giving out its first annual "Worst of the Slate Awards" sometime in December. Between now and then, WOTS would love to hear your input about possible categories, nominations, and other ideas. WOTS also needs a catchy name for the "Worst of the Slate Award." If WOTS's Awards Committee goes with your suggestion, which should be posted below, you will win a cool prize to be determined by WOTS's crack Marketing department. WOTS thanks its loyal readers!WOTS update: This just in! Carol Vinzant says that research bears out the notion that since 1900 the stock market has done better when Dems control the White House. Sounds interesting. but don't believe it. It doesn't matter whether the research says since 1900 the market does better when lime green space aliens control the White House. Why? Because the sample size (the number of years it would take to accurately discover an actual trend and not just coincidence) of 100 years is way to small for the number to be statistically meaningful. Plus, the market really did not begin to function in a "modern" way until after the SEC Acts in 1933 and '34, which would cut the already bad sample size by a third. Thanks for playing Carol!

October 14, 2002

WOTS. Will march with the Sopranos.In Big Apple news, Timmy Noah committs a common journalistic error when he imposes the views of one writer (Frank Rich) on the entire city of New York. Based only only Rich's piece, Noah also claims York "is going through a bout of tremendous anxiety brought on by the declining stock market" and is "culturally demoraliz[ed] . . .to live off handouts from Washington, D.C." First, WOTS knows that one writer's view of things can't be imposed on an entire city. Second, anyone with a 401K is "going through a bout of tremendous anxiety" and although New York is the center of business, many of the headlines making financial meltdown have been happening to Southern based companies. As for his alleged main point, that New York is the capital of the world, not of America, Rudy Guiliani (and others) have been saying that for years. So what does Noah really add? That New York is different than D.C.? Stunning revelation!WOTS note to Steve Landsburg: People either don't think there is a B, or think B has plenty of money to give away else why would B voluntarity be tripling your donation for no apparant reason. The whole thing comes back to the simple maxim that its easy to spend other people's money. In potential nasty death news, Fred Kaplan, when discussing the differences between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Iraq situation, forgets to mention the biggest difference between them is that, um, the Soviets actually had some nukes. To sum up, Kennedy was acting to stop real nukes from being aimed at us 90 miles away from Flordia. Bush is acting to prevent nonexistent nukes from being created half a world away. Not even close, and much further than Kaplan suggests.WOTS's misleading headline of the week "Why you shouldn't watch Monday Night Football." The article actually suggests not that you shouldn't watch it, just that you should listen to the radio version while you are watching it (and hopes they will do something about the time delay). With all due respect, any sports writer who would tell you not to watch Monday Night Football should be forced to endure a never ending smorgasboard of Steve Landsberg's economic hypotheticals. WOTS's almost but not quite of the week: Jack Shafer's J-school article mentions Greg Easterbrook but not TMQ (kinda like mentioning Wayne but not Batman). So, Slate is now o for 6 in mentioning its former best column during the football season. WOTS news item: Sex sometimes causes life also. Or, as Bill Saletan might say "Any man who inseminates a woman has signed up for the responsibilities of fatherhood." WOTS forgets: Wasn't that the 12th Commandment?In ad news, Rob Walker reports that the number one show on prime time television, Friends, gets the advertisers excited. Shocker!WOTS question: Rachel, Monica, or Phoebe?In sniper news, WOTS has no doubt that Lucas Miller is a fine, upstanding detective. But when he says "Ultimately, the witness description about a small box truck likely provides the best chance of catching the sniper," surely he must have forgotten the possibility that the best chance of catching the sniper is that someone sees said sniper try to shoot at somebody in the future. WOTS was on the highways this weekend. Lots of white box trucks. WOTS note: Don't ever call a detective "officer" or refer to him as a "policeman." Trust WOTS. Virginia Heffernan reviews a map of the world and doesn't like it. Man is she picky. WOTS contest for NyQuilissue of the Week: "Is David Thompson too intelligent to be a film critic?" or "Glen Gould's Goldberg Variations." Ok quick! Which of the following lines belongs to which article: 1) "To aspire to a world of vibrations and undertones and to live in it are not the same thing." 2) "the harmonic language seems poised on the verge of incoherence without ever falling over." WOTS knows it doesn't matter. WOTS question: Is it possible to live in a world of vibrations and undertones poised on the verge of incoherence without ever falling over? Also, if you do live there, what have you been drinking?WOTS question: Anybody else love the name Mim Udovitch?WOTS religious question: If oysters are not animals, can those who keep kosher now eat them? If so, which ones should they try first?WOTS note to D.J. Connor: If you are going to have a contest, give a prize and tell us what it is going to be beforehand. It's just plain common courtesy, and we know Gates has the bucks for something good too. Oh, and cut it with this "Independent Contractor" stuff. Are you looking for Fray cred or do you really think people care about the legal status of your employment? Happy Columbus Day! Unless you hate Columbus!WOTS thanks its loyal readers.

October 28, 2002

WOTS. Signed, Sealed, Delivered.WOTS dumb headline/bad timing of the week: "Should we pay off the D.C. sniper" appeared as the main pictured lead on Slate's homepage well into the day after the sniper was caught, making the answer to the question really, really easy. Anyway, Davey Plotz compares the notion of paying off the sniper to appeasing Hitler and the Reagan era arms for hostages deal. Seriously, kids, don't try this at home. Plotz's piece is also up for a WOTS "bad timing of the year"award. At 3:54 PM on the day the police identified the suspects and about 12 hours before they were caught, Plotz said "the police still don't seem to have a single meaningful lead" and "all indications are that he can continue killing and the police can't stop him." Woops. He also said the sniper "has destroyed Halloween," which WOTS thinks was a little presumptuous to begin with considering Halloween was more than a week away. In over analyzing news, traveller Alexandra Fuller watches a Navajo woman spin yarn into artistic designs and "leaves her" five dollars for watching. Fuller thinks this is cultural prostitution. WOTS has a few points: First, was the woman charging people to watch her or did Fuller just feel guilty for some reason? If it was the later, Fuller's problem is with herself. Regardless, WOTS doesn't see anything wrong with someone trying to make a living by engaging in their traditional cultural arts. Or would Fuller rather she worked in a casino? WOTS sees very little difference between the Navajo woman and the cannon firers and blacksmiths at Williamsburg, except that at least she is authentic and is trying to preserve her culture. To top it off, if Fuller thinks this was cultural prostitution, then she is the "John" and her getting paid for writing the article is like a John selling video tapes of his encounter. Will Fuller return her paycheck? Doubt it.WOTS potential "review of the year": Chris Sullentrop sums up Kim Jong il as a "fat bastard." WOTS is sure the State Department will eat that analysis up.Hugo Lindgren's dispatches about the World Series games have appeared in the mid afternoon (3:05 PM EST) or early evening (6:55 PM EST!) on the day after the game, when everything important about the game has already been said. Perhaps realzing this, Lindgren instead talks about beer commercials, theme restuarants, and seedy bars. Hugo isn't covering the World Series, he's covering himself going to bars. Thanks Hugo. Does Slate pick up your drink tab?WOTS question for discussion: Is there any realistic way to ban the intentional walk?WOTS sports note: Congrats to WOTS's sports editor for successfully predicting the winner of the World Series (though he said 6 games, not 7). That makes him 2-2 in predictions, having previously got the winner and final score of the World Cup final. Speaking of Lindgren, WOTS's editing error of the week goes to D.J. Connor for citing to Hugo Lindberg (who?) and for calling the FDNY the NYFD. Apparently D.J. wasn't paying attention to the baseball caps. WOTS questions: Doesn't D.J. have an editor, and if so, shouldn't the editor be, um, editing?In tv news, Ginny Heffernan has this to say about a certain show: "It's no accident that I'm talking about this show as if it's art, lifesomething with gravity." She also thinks the show has a "moral crux." The show, ladies and gentlemen, is about dogs. On an entertainment side note, WOTS would like to add Thandie Newton to its "family organization," if you know what WOTS means.WOTS lament: If only Monica had been wearing Lee Performance Khakis . . . WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

The June 2002 Archive

June 7, 2002

WOTS, Director of Slate Homeland Security (DSHS), reporting for duty. In law news, Explainer (might be illegal!) failed the bar exam when it tried to argue that New York State's re-editing of passages by famous authors for use in a standardized English exam was a copyright violation because it was not a "fair use." WOTS knows (and anyone who read the statute would) that the "fair use" doctrine almost certainly would include this purely educational use. See Title 17, 107(1) (listing "educational purposes" as a factor that militates in favor of finding a fair use). Citing to Gilliam v. ABC for support, as lawyers say, is inapposite, as that case did not involve an educational purpose at all. Motion to Dismiss Explainer granted. While WOTS is at it, Steven Landsberg failed first year legal writing for failing to provide the full name and citation (and in this case, link) to the Supreme Court case his article is about. This left Slate readers with 1) the task of researching the full name of the case, and 2) finding it, if they were interested in whether Landsberg knew what he was talking about. Landsberg wouldn't have done well on the reading comprehension part of the LSAT either. As alert reader Joshua Conner pointed out, Landsberg entirely misstates the grounds on which the case was decided (too long to get into here). WOTS is also not buying his argument that there shouldn't be a draft because it isn't economical. The draft isn't about economics, its about a fundamental moral policy that no man, no matter how much money he makes, is immune from the responsibility from serving his country (and maybe losing his life) when the country really needs him. People can quibble with the morals, but Landsberg's argument entirely ignores them. In a far less important moral issue, WOTS thinks its hilarious that Sony introduced its vaunted Key2Audio technology, which is supposed to prevent CD copying, and yet still sells blank, recordable CD's and computers that record them by the boatload. Irony, anyone? Here's more: Explainer (might be illegal!) telling us that coloring on our Sony CD's might be illegal. It isn't. Motion for Reconsideration of WOTS's Order Dated June 7, 2002 Dismissing Explainer, Denied. Actually, this highlights a question WOTS has had about Slate for a while Many Slate columns exist solely to cite to other websites (In Other Magazines, Other Web Sites, The Sports Pages, Today's Papers, Cartoon Index, Terror Attack Roundup, Summary Judgment, International Papers to name many). WOTS thinks its way too many. Drudge has a lot of links also. Slate shouldn't be Drudge With Categories, it should aspire to more than that. Right? Hearing WOTS, Jake?Speaking of Drudge types, WOTS has been hesitant to go after kausfiles (if not Kaus), not because it isn't goafterable, just that WOTS doesn't think it really is part of Slate the same way Chatterbox is, for example. Anyway, WOTS noticed that Kaus admits that his verbose point about the NYT's census story had been made the day before by two other bloggers of note. Not exactly original material, Mickey? WOTS didn't bother to read the other bloggers to see if Kaus engaged in any "Kearns Goodwinizing." Speaking of not doing your job, Bryan Curtis yet again cites to Jayson Stark of ESPN. WOTS's problem's with this are well established, but even Curtis should now admit its getting a little ridiculous. Stark should be read every week, but Curtis should not be citing to him at all, much less all the time. WOTS cannot fathom why Slate pays him for his "column" anymore. WOTS will now provide you this service for free: If you like baseball, read Jayson Stark every single week. You are welcome.In annoying news, that camera ad has to go. As loyal WOTSies know, WOTS strongly opposes any "blob" ads (ads that ooze from the side or top of the screen into the middle). These ads are horrible and must be stopped. Sounds like a job for Superman!Which brings us to Chris Sullentrop's thought that superheroes don't get it on enough. Unfortunately, his evidence is weaker than Popeye sans spinach (insert others here). Batman had Vickie Vail. The aforementioned Popeye had Ms. Oyl. The X-Men (se)x-tension was transforming. You tellin' WOTS Wonder Woman didn't like tying people up with that lasso? If Sullentrop think Jedis count, then what about James Bond or Indiana Jones? And didn't Superman shack up in the Honeymoon suite with Lois in Niagara Falls? WOTS hears Jennifer Connelly will be in The Hulk. WOTS will avoid all obvious "Hulk" related jokes. WOTS would, however, like to add Jen Connelly to its "family organization" (if you know what WOTS means).Maybe one of the above named superheroes can do something about getting rid of the evil Virginia Heffernan, who as far as WOTS can tell, has no useful purpose. This week's riff on Extra and Access Hollywood did a nice job of describing the shows in the way Michael Kay used to describe baseball uniforms when he was on the radio (Yankee fans are nodding in understanding), which is to say, it didn't add much to the broadcast. Where are the Wonder Twins when you need them? Last week, WOTS questioned why Slate writer's seem to love to write about themselves so much and whether any readers cared. This week, as if to ram home WOTS's point, Bob Wright tells us some maid folded his dirty underwear in Berlin. Thanks Bob.The NyQuillissue of the week comes from the Book Club: Do you agree with Chris Caldwell that "the most lamentable development of the postwar authors' fascination with the "unconscious" was the way New Critics and the Literary Novel Industry colluded to create a warped idea of fiction?" Did you fall asleep reading that sentence? Is the "Literary Novel Industry" supposed to be the book equivalent of the "military industrial complex?" If so, isn't that hilarious? WOTS idea to improve the Book Club. Give Slate readers a two-three week heads up on what books are coming up. That way, any one interested will know what in the double hockey sticks the reviews are talking about. Speaking of hockey, why doesn't Slate cover the NHL? Hugo Lindgren has written a billion articles about the Lakers (Aquaman, anyone?). That statistic is true. A billion. WOTS checked. Yet nothing at all on hockey, even during the Stanley Cup. By the way, shouldn't the tool making people at Stanley be falling all over themselves to get sponsorship of the NHL. WOTS notes that the last sentence you read was more about insightful about hockey than anything in Slate ever. In shameless self-referential news, WOTS's Founder, CEO, Editor in Chief, writer, producer, agent, publicist, researcher, secretary, bodyguard, food taster, cinematographer, gaffer, and page, all, coincidentally, have a birthday Monday. WOTS, unlike Slate, likes to break its own stories.WOTS reminds its loyal readers: WOTS will appear between Friday, 5pm and Monday 12 noon, unless it doesn't. WOTS tries real hard to get WOTS posted by early Friday evening, but WOTS's day job sometime interferes. WOTS thanks you for your patience last week and appreciates the fact so many of you have come to anticipate WOTS each week. WOTS notes some of you stayed at work longer just to read WOTS last Friday. Please, don't do that. Go home. WOTS will be waiting for you when you return.WOTS thanks it loyal readers!

June 14, 2002

WOTS, older and wiser....This week's edition begins with dope news, non drug variety. Scott Shuger thinks the warnings about terrorist scuba divers was dumb because the scenario of scuba diving terror attacks is unlikely because of its difficulty. Wow is that a stupid argument. Ok, class, does anyone remember another terrorism scenario that seemed unlikely because it was difficult? WOTS knows that these warnings are meant to plant a thought in our minds so that 8 months from now when the owner of Joe's Scuba Adventures sees something odd, his subconscious will kick him in the brain and tell him to go all the way to the F...B...I. Shuger also thinks we might not invade Iraq this summer because its too hot. Ah, that global warming thing again! Anyway, WOTS sees no reason we can't bomb them all summer until the fall breeze kicks in. WOTS hears Autumn in Baghdad is lovely. WOTS thinks Tim Noah should leave the statutory interpretation game to people who know how to play it. WOTS agrees with Noah that not classifying an airplane as a "mass transportation vehicle" is dumb, but the blame lies with Congress for drafting a bad law, not, as Noah argues, with the Judge who correctly interpreted the law he was given. Not defining the term "mass transportation vehicle" in the statute was dumb. More dumb was the phrase "mass transportation vehicle or ferry," which, via principles of statutory interpretation, could only mean a ferry was not a mass transportation vehicle. It may surprise some of you to know that Congress is presumed to know what it is doing when it writes a statute the way it does. Anyway, although Noah correctly notes that the American Patriot Act was passed in the context of the post-9/11 hijackings, absent clear legislative history, "historical context" is not a method by which judges interpret statutes. Moira Redmond does not exist. Really. WOTS knows.In more terrorism news, WOTS thinks Dally Lithwick missed an fundamental point about the arrest of the potential dirty bomber when she argued for a new system to handle such people ("precrime"). Mr. Dirty Bomber was simply arrested to soon. WOTS thinks the Feds should have put a tail or three on him once they knew what he wanted to do. You know, like they do with organized crime. If dirty bomber man wasn't truly in the initial stages of his plan and not anywhere close to carrying it out, as the Feds say he was, think of all the information the Feds lost by arresting him instead of following him for a while. Further, by tailing him, they could have let him get to the point where a criminal conspiracy indictment would have stuck without risk the conspiracy would come to fruition. WOTS thinks its very odd the Feds pulled the trigger on his arrest under these circumstances. WOTS thinks there are three possible explanations 1) incompetence, 2) political pressure to make a show, or 3) he was much closer to carrying out the plan that is being let on. Also, Litwick needs to let go of her obsession about the Zach Moussouai trial. Last week WOTS reported that Hugo Lindgren wrote one billion articles about the Lakers. Make that one billion and one. The Lakers should be thrilled they have a beat writer at a major national e-magazine. Can't wait for that off-season report, Hugo! On a tangential point, WOTS wonders what would happen to the NBA if there was ever some 8 ft. tall guy with some skills. Speaking of tall guys, Bryan Curtis thinks Bill Walton is a good color man. Sure, and Dick Vitale is placid. Walton is arguably the most annoying person on television and if he occasionally says something halfway intelligent, its because not even he can stink all of the time. WOTS thinks the NBA has consistently the worst color men in all of sports broadcasting and needs to learn a thing or twelve from hockey broadcasters, who universally do a better job of breaking down the speedy, complex, odd angled, plays that hockey offers. WOTS question: Should they just go ahead and cancel golf given Tiger?Emily Yoffe got a dog. Who cares! Michael Lewis has a baby. How incisive! At least we now know what happened to Tabitha Soren. She's a VHI special waiting to happen. Now we know what Virginia Heffernan likes, and its Crank Yankers. WOTS was amazed at the editorial decisions in her article. Who made the decision to not spell out "BJ" but allowed "st" it all its four lettered glory, and why?WOTS contest: Use kibosh and fruition in a sentence in a non-obvious way.WOTS wishes all the Dads a Happy Father's Day and thanks its loyal readers!

June 21, 2002

WOTS, without soothsaying mutants, has to post after Slate is written. Here we go!WOTS is mad. Bill Saletan should be ashamed of himself for his blatant Kearns Goodwinzing of WOTS's editor. His article making fun of News show's stupid "Host plus Title" monikers is a direct rip-off of WOTS's editor's post on January 28, 2002. Read Saletan's post and then look at the link below. WOTSies will note how they both make fun the Host plus Title concept and, more specifically, of Alan Keyes and Sean Hannity in the same way. The link: question: How often do you think Slate writers read a good post and then sometime later either consciously or subconsciously write an article that is virtually the same as the post? WOTS has noted this phenomenon before, and given the sometimes-sharp minded commentary in the Fray, it must be very tempting for Slate writers to Keans Goodwinize.WOTS doubt: That Saletan will in any way acknowledge this. WOTS asks itself: Does it matter who Deep Throat was? Stanley Kutler says no. Chatterbox says yes. WOTS says no. WOTS Full Disclosure: WOTS knows Kutler, which is to say, Kutler once gave WOTS a very good grade in his class way back when.WOTS notes the Fraytirement of the conviently-named, sassy, English babe Moira Redmond, who as WOTSies know, does not actually exist. WOTSies will also note that the vaguely named J.D. Connor (not real name) is meant to replace her didn't bother to do a Best of the Fray column this week (although the supposed Moira replacement did post in the Fray). By the way, wasn't J(ohn) Connor the name of the kid in Terminator 2? Is this a sign of the Fraypocolyspe?In sports, Steve Chapman misses the essential point about steroids in baseball: they don't help much. Steroids cannot make you hit a 95-mph fastball with movement. Steroids cannot make you wait on on a nasty twelve to six curve ball. They may be able to make you hit the ball harder, but harder is only good if you hit 'em where they aint. The Babe, The Mick, and the Sey Hey Kid didn't need drugs to hit bombs. Ty Cobb and the Splendid Splinter didn't juice up to hit .400. Moreover, steroids cannot make you a better fielder and with the possible exception of first base, which usually doesn't require much range, probably would make you worse. WOTS knows you just can't compare steriod use in baseball to football, where size and strength is critical. WOTS observation: Does nineteen year old women's tennis pro Daja Bedanova have the best Bond name in sports? In slice of life news, Cynthia Barnes tests frozen pizzas alongside Domino's and Pizza Hut. WOTS knows none of these foodstuffs are actually pizza. New Yorkers claim (and WOTS believes correctly) that New York pizza is the best. Thus, a Far More Interesting Story ("FMIS"): Would New York's best pizza (Lombardi's, John's) beat Anytown USA's pie in a taste test? In Return of the NyQuilissue news, Sam Tanenhaus talks about sleep-inducing university type Cornell West. WOTS, drifting at mention of West's name, will not bother WOTSies with the details of the ar.......zzzzzzzz... Alert Frayster Mangar noted the "Back of the bus" headline sent the opposite message of the article. WOTSies know this continues a trend of poor headline writing at Slate. In tv news, Virginia Heffernan doesn't like Sesame Street, which she complains is "dopey and coarse." Heffernan revealed last week that she did like Crank Yankers, which apparently was neither "dopey" nor "coarse." WOTS thinks all of this is very funny, in a cookie monster kind of way.WOTS comment: "C" is for cookie and is good enough for me. WOTS sends its best wishes to Billy Joel.Finally, WOTS wants again to restate his condolences to the family of Scott Shuger, in case anyone missed it after WOTS was posted last week. Although Shuger was a frequent target of WOTS, WOTS thinks the best thing about Shuger's writing was his ability to bring up issues others had not, mainly because of the constraints of the traditional media. In doing so, he broadened the debate about what is appropriate in our current conflict. Shuger was writing primarily about what is the most important subject of our time. His work at Slate will be remembered, and is appreciated, no matter whether we disagreed with him about specific ideas. Besides, WOTS suspects Shuger liked the debates as much as we did. WOTS thanks its loyal readers.

June 28, 2002

One WOTS, under God, unless that would be unconstitutional, indivisible, with invectives and logic for Slate. In disabled news, Mike Kinsley shows a wonderful surface knowledge of the Americans With Disabilities Act when he argues that its ok to discriminate against the disabled. Kinsley ignores the key feature of the ADA: providing the disabled with reasonable accommodations that would enable them to do jobs just as well as the rest of us. Kinsley's equating by omission of the reasonable accommodations our society can provide to the disabled with the highly specialized skills involved in playing a sport is an insult, and Kinsley of all people should know better. In trial news, Dally Lithwick just doesn't seem to get that Zach Mo isn't crazy, he's just a stupid guy with an agenda. A dumb guy with an agenda going pro se and losing is about every fifth Law and Order episode. Remember those tattooed nut job gun hoarding militia types who kept yelling the out the Bill of Rights? Or that insane lawyer/killer who refused to take his meds? We've all seen how Jack McCoy takes them down. The Zach Mo trial isn't a big deal in the history of American Jurisprudence. Get over it Dally..WOTS tangential question: When will Pat Robertson get over himself? WOTS Best Law & Order Group: Briscoe, Logan, McCoy, Kincade, and Schiff. No one eats a sandwich like Adam Schiff. WOTS met Jesse Martin once. Nice guy. WOTS has yet to meet Jill Hennessey, though WOTS would like to add her to its "family organization," if you know what WOTS's means.What? Joe Klien is STILL in Europe? Can he at least throw WOTS a Toblerone? Speaking of Europe, there is a little gelato stand up the street from the main bus depot in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Go there immediately. Trust WOTS. Alert WOTSie Steven Correll (isn't he on the Daily Show?) figured out that Tim Noah's whole Amtrak article is wrong because Noah didn't get the names of the trains right. WOTS had to laugh at that one. On a related point, WOTS thinks people should take trains more and that they should be cheaper. In the NyQuilissue of the week, Steve Landsberg discusses the econometrics and of peeling a banana. Seriously. Peeling a banana.Also, Michael Lewis's kid has pink shoes. Incisive! In sports, Bryan Curtis seems to think an influx of high school "talent" into the NBA is a good thing. Aside from the dubious notion that a guy who can't go on a beer run should be running your professional fast break, Curtis fails to mention that the overwhelming number of high school draftees have been pretty big busts so far (which considering how young they are, might be the only pretty big busts they've seen, if you know what WOTS means). WOTS predicition: Brasil 2, Germany 0. WOTS thanks Kate Taylor for clearing up the name of the Korean team two days after they were eliminated! Helpful! Next week, a rundown on all those great Argentinean midfielders! In case you were still wondering, WOTS wasn't joking about that banana article. Promise. In music, Daves Plotz and Wild play one hit wonder one-upsmanship about 80's music. Except they do it without doing shots if you don't know the artist, which WOTS has heard is much more fun. WOTS most underappreciated 80's music video: Genesis's Land of Confusion. WOTS poll: Nelly, Nelly Furtado, or Nell Carter?In tv news, Virginia Heffenan doesn't like Def Poetry much (shocker!) but does real harm by mentioning Mos Def without mentioning Mos's star making turn in the Brodway play Topdog/Underdog. In other poetry news, Jim Powell writes a poem about a paperweight. Really. And yes, yes, the banana article is really true too. In actual tv news, in case you really are interested in buying a cool flat screen plasma tv, they are thousands of dollars less in New York than the prices Fred Kaplan cites. WOTS curiosity: Does Dick Cheney (a colonoscopy away from the Presidency) get his name listed with the other Presidents? WOTS feature back by popular demand: Use parched, Bananarama, and God in a sentence that is not unconstitutional. WOTS contest: Why did WOTS think of the word "parched?"WOTS thanks its loyal readers!