Matt Taibbi on Thomas Friedman

February 3rd, 2009

I've never been a fan of bestselling pop econ/business/sociologist author Thomas Friedman; since I read The Lexus and the Olive Tree several years ago I rapidly came to the conclusion that he said things that were either obvious or stupid. But he did so in a way that markets very easily to business travelers, and so like Clive Cussler, he carved himself a lucrative "literary" market, selling to salespeople on their way to regional scaffolding conferences.

At any rate, one of the best deconstructions of Friedman's particular ouvre was just written by Matt Taibbi over at the NY Post.

I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with Thomas Friedman for more than a decade now. For most of that time, I just thought he was funny. And admittedly, what I thought was funniest about him was the kind of stuff that only another writer would really care about—in particular his tortured use of the English language....

"The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels."

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol.

Self- Deterrence

February 3rd, 2009

Joke: Neighbor's Dog

January 29th, 2009

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me and I gave him a few pats on his head; then he followed me onto my porch, slowly walked over to the rug, curled up on it and fell asleep.

An hour later, he stood up, stretched, and wandered off.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, and walked up onto the porch where he resumed his spot on the rug and slept for about an hour.

This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful, sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:

'His name is Bosco. He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 of them under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep.

Can I come with him tomorrow?'


January 29th, 2009

I stayed home sick yesterday (yes, I was sick), which gave me an extra high domesticity level; in addition to making dinner I did a bunch of other stuff, including baking cookies.

My wife passed through the kitchen and nabbed some cookie dough, leaving her spoon in the sink.

Later, while the first batch of cookies were baking, I fed the cat, and put the spoon in the sink.

Later than that, she came into the room where the boy and I were playing, licking a spoon with a thoughtful expression.

I had to check.

The cat food spoon was still in the sink.

Embracing Failure

January 26th, 2009

Lots of things have me rolling my eyes and/or spluttering in anger today, but this one seemed worthy of mention. Apparently, the over-budget and behind-schedule reconstruction of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge may be using defective Chinese steel. (Well, we know it's Chinese. The "defective" part is the question.)

It's really the last sentence that tells you what you need to know.

Inspectors hired by Caltrans to monitor the fabrication of steel girders that will support the tower's roadway reported finding cracked welds last year, Caltrans records show.

The discovery has raised the question whether Bay Area taxpayers are getting a substandard product that could wear out prematurely and require costly repairs in a decade or two.

Caltrans and others in charge of the bridge construction say the welds are safe and that fixes have been made - but also say the inspectors interpreted the welding standards too rigidly.

Meanwhile, the inspection outfit that sounded the alarm has since been replaced.

I could rant for a while, but then you already get it, don't you?