Monday, March 30, 2009

Anti-mustache propaganda

Some people do not appreciate TF's penetrating insights. Their loss. But I will say that the mustache will prevail. He always prevails.

Hat-tip to SC.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

High Mannerism in the Work of Friedman

For someone who frequently extols the virtues of innovation, Thomas Friedman's columns often take a staggeringly unoriginal form. Today's column, about the recession, is a prime example of what might be called the mustachioed marvel's High Mannerist period.

What follows is the outline of many a Friedman column in recent years. Seriously, you could probably program a computer to write these things.


"Are we all crazy?"
By Thomas L. Friedman

The other day, I was talking with my friend from (name of a somewhat exotic Third World country), and he told me something striking: "(Quote that expresses bafflement at some aspect of American politics or society.)"

Really, folks — have we completely lost our minds? Our politicians are all acting like children. Can you believe how stupid they are?

I fear for future generations. Folks, we need to get this country back on track. And we can easily do that if we heed my advice and (painfully obvious policy proposal, almost certainly involving renewable energy, training more scientists or a return to America's classic values, vaguely defined). If we don't do it soon, it might be too late.

"(Quote that basically restates everything Friedman just talked about)," said (some quasi-public figure and good friend of Friedman's, likely to be Johns Hopkins international affairs scholar Michael Mandelbaum or entrepreneur Dov Seidman). "(Quote that once again basically restates everything Friedman said above, only in slightly different way.)"

But I'm optimistic here. Because after all, this is America, the country that (brief, inspirational recap of America's past accomplishments).


And there you have it. Just master this simple outline, and you can try writing your very own Friedman columns at home!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lazy Sunday

To be sure, the mustachioed marvel isn't known for wearing out the old shoe leather. As he told the New Yorker back in November, "I write my books by writing my books ... I don't start with six months of research." However, even by Friedman's own standards, his last two columns have demonstrated a degree of laziness that would make even the most shameless high school slacker cringe.

First, on Wednesday, Friedman made not one, but two points for which the principal evidence was the ordering of suggestions in the Google drop-down search box:

1) "Go to Google and type in these four letters: m-e-r-e. Before you go any further, Google will list the possible things or people you’re searching for, and at the top of that list will be the name “Meredith Whitney.” She comes up before “merengue” and “Meredith Viera.” Who is Meredith Whitney? She is a banking analyst who became famous for declaring last year, long before others, that Citigroup was up to its neck in bad mortgages and would not likely survive in its present form. Do you know how many people have to be searching for you if all you have to do is put in four letters and your name pops up first? A lot!"

Do you know how much gall it takes to submit a column to the most highly respected newspaper on the planet that makes arguments based on such trivial facts? A lot!

Friedman concludes Wednesday's column with this stunning discovery:

2) "For now, though, the banks still threaten to consume the Obama presidency. Indeed, I’m sorry to report that if you just type two letters into Google — “b-a” — the first thing that comes up is not Barack Obama. It’s “Bank of America.” Barack Obama is third."

But good news, everyone! I'm happy to report that if you just type two letters into Google — "d-e" — the first thing that comes up is not depression. It's Dell, as in the computer company. Depression is eighth. The economy's going to be all right, after all!

Sunday's column, meanwhile, leads off with a full paragraph from an Onion article, to illustrate a point about American consumer excess. Tom, I'm not telling you that you're not allowed to engage in Internet procrastination. It's something we all do, from time to time. It's just that, well, it's probably best to avoid drawing attention to it. At least get out of the office and talk to a cabbie, or something.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tom's speaking fees fall; mustache in peril?

"To explain how dire the economic situation is right now, one could mention General Motors, or bring up General Electric, or, hey, there's always the latest jobs report.

The following tidbit of information, however, suggests how serious things really are:

  • Based on data obtained from dinner chit-chat painstakingly gathered throughout the day, it appears that Thomas Friedman's speaking fees have recently fallen by 25%.

Of course, this could be because his speaker profile is a bit out of date."

From Dan Drezner's blog.