Friday, December 29, 2006


To kick off what should be a very slow blogging day at the head end of a slow blogging weekend, I'll link to a very funny piece by Matt Taibbi, back when he was still at the not-yet-horrible New York Press. It's an ostensible review of whatever book Thomas Friedman was peddling at the time, but it serves mostly as a chance for Taibbi to make merciless fun of a pompous windbag.

(No. He doesn't even know who I am, I assure you.)

A brief excerpt, but I strongly advise you to check out the whole thing (big H/T to Scott at Lawyers, Guns, and Money -- H/T's have to be big when you basically steal from them, methinks):

After golf, he meets Nilekani, who casually mentions that the playing field is level. A nothing phrase, but Friedman has traveled all the way around the world to hear it. Man travels to India, plays golf, sees Pizza Hut billboard, listens to Indian CEO mutter small talk, writes 470-page book reversing the course of 2000 years of human thought. That he misattributes his thesis to Nilekani is perfect: Friedman is a person who not only speaks in malapropisms, he also hears malapropisms. Told level; heard flat. This is the intellectual version of Far Out Space Nuts, when NASA repairman Bob Denver sets a whole sitcom in motion by pressing "launch" instead of "lunch" in a space capsule. And once he hits that button, the rocket takes off.

And boy, does it take off. Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.

God strike me dead if I'm joking about this. Judge for yourself. After the initial passages of the book, after Nilekani has forgotten Friedman and gone back to interacting with the sane, Friedman begins constructing a monstrous mathematical model of flatness. The baseline argument begins with a lengthy description of the "ten great flatteners," which is basically a highlight reel of globalization tomahawk dunks from the past two decades: the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Netscape IPO, the pre-Y2K outsourcing craze, and so on. Everything that would give an IBM human resources director a boner, that's a flattener. The catch here is that Flattener #10 is new communications technology: "Digital, Mobile, Personal, and Virtual." These technologies Friedman calls "steroids," because they are "amplifying and turbocharging all the other flatteners."

Again, check the whole thing out. Very funny and very smart from start to finish.


Anonymous Applesaucer said...

lol. Yeah, I can't stand Friedman either. But all the media jock sniffers (e.g., Charlie Rose) love him.

By the way, I made the mistake of reading one of his columns the other day and he actually said the Mets' offense is likely to be worse in 2007 than it was in 2006.



8:56 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

he actually said the Mets' offense is likely to be worse in 2007 than it was in 2006

Hey, even a "maroon" like Friedman is right some of the time.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Christ, what an idiot. I've never understood why he was popular, but I think Tiabbi nails it -- he sounds so sure of himself, the other idiots just follow along.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

he sounds so sure of himself

That may be it. I find his writing to be . . . well, unreadable, but I admit he's easy to follow and to agree with when he's on the tube. he comes off as confident and articulate, without ranting or pontificating.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

What, no Movie?
Ed is sad :(

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

What, no Movie?

I assumed (correctly, it seems) that like last Friday, traffic would be low all over the internets.

So, the FSMOMYOTD being such a web-wide hit, I figure I'll wait til everybody's back and ready-for-fun to unveil the next entry. 2007's first.

Ed is sad :(

Think how Mike felt last week as he saw perhaps 1/3 of the normal traffic (what is one third of two people?) show up to view a FSMOMYOTD in honor of the great Kentucky Fried Movie.

I can't repeat the horror.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Marked Hoosier said...

Just going to throw it out there... it works better when you don't admit to cherry picking your links.

Just sayin'.


12:11 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

See, that's why I don't use a site counter.
Well, there are more reasons, one, I don't know how, and two, I hope I have about 10 readers, and don't want to get sad if that number is lower.

I must admit, I have never seen KFM. Flog away.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

No sir, I will do no flogging. I'll save that, as well, for a day with more witnesses!

By the way, Ed, you're one "easy" victory over the Raiders from getting to razz me all over the web, no?

And Marked, as to the cherry-picking issue, with my millions of regular readers, the last thing I need is some sort of copywrite problem, right? I mean, if someone discovers that I've earned my $16M this year by STEALING from other sites, think of the law suits I'll face.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

By the way, Ed, you're one "easy" victory over the Raiders from getting to razz me all over the web, no?

You are trying to jinx them just so I can't have the satisfaction of busting your chops you Bastard :)

Speaking of razzing, did you see the geek now has "off topic" threads, so people don't have to read through Giants, Jets, Rangers, Isles and other stuff. Sadly, they still have to suffer through the posts of the pompous one.

Happy New Year to you and the others who visit the neighborhood!

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

You are trying to jinx them just so I can't have the satisfaction of busting your chops you Bastard :)

NOT my intention! What do think I am?

Who's the "Pompous One"?

1:23 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

pompous one - You know, the guy who knows all, never loses an argument, likes to call trachsel lovers "trachselistas"
aka - Ramon.

He needs shoulder surgery for patting himself on the back over the Zito thing. "I was right, he is overpaid" blah blah blah.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ahhh. As I'm sure you've noticed, I rarely hit MetsGeek since October.

October 19, to be exact.

The few times I've checked in, didn't see Ramon. He posting under an alias?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Nah, just the usual "funny" names. Lately "Ramon from Southwest Germany"
He noted yesterday that Amsterdam is good for hookers. He then bashed another poster, who of course used that info to his advantage.
I saw you there stirring yesterday the pot for ridiculous trade ideas, or was that another Mike?

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

Hey, where's the FSMOMYOTD?

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Nice to read the other comments!

I knew today would be an exceptionally low-volume day here in the Tubes, so I gave The Elders the long weekend to recharge the batteries. We'll deliver the first episode of The New & Improved FSMOMYOTD '07 next week.

Plus, I have to dig deep into the vaults so I can try to find a flick you've seen. This is a full-service blog.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Where's my movie of the week!?!?!?!?


8:42 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Out with the old, in with the new, Mr. Saucer.

The New & Improved FSMOMYOTD '07 will deliver for you.

9:34 AM  

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