Wednesday, March 4, 2009

billionaire's dilemma

god, i'm so disappointed in myself. i must confess, dear reader, that i actually agreed with at least one david brooks op-ed from a couple of weeks ago. i'm still reeling. it's not like brooks came up with any original thoughts, but he at least managed to admit that we all contributed to the current economic situation. (probably from all our whining?)

so now where am i supposed to direct my disdain? can someone help?

matt taibbi, who writes for the new york press, which i think is a free daily/weekly, excoriated tom friedman's "hot flat and crowded" and "the world is flat" in two separate "reviews." if you feel the need to screed (ha--i know, it rhymes) but just can't work up the requisite level of anger/sarcasm/bon mots, take a few minutes and read both articles. i'll wait.

thanks for coming back.

taibbi takes friedman to task for his lazy generalizations and hapless metaphors: e.g, "Approach-and-rhetoric wise, however, it’s the same old Friedman, a tireless social scientist whose research methods mainly include lunching, reading road signs, and watching people board airplanes. " "His description of the early 90s:The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened, making the world much flatter than it had ever been but the age of seamless global communication had not yet dawned. How the fuck do you open a window in a fallen wall? More to the point, why would you open a window in a fallen wall? Or did the walls somehow fall in such a way that they left the windows floating in place to be opened?"

hmm. even i thought that was kinda mean, albeit entertaining. i dunno, i thought maybe taibbi was overreacting. there was a rather sunny profile of friedman in the new yorker a while back about what an authority he is and how well respected he is. and the man can sell books, although a book about how "Aliens have taken control of the minds and bodies of most human beings, but one woman won’t surrender" is like 4 on the nytimes best seller list, so i guess that don't mean much.

so who's right? i've not read the lexus and the olive tree or from beirut to jerusalem, so i decided to take a gander at his most recent column. if you haven't noticed, i harbor some doubts about the need for op-ed columnists, but at least they should digest the news and tell us how this affects us, right? they should be able to provide insight...or at least a new way of viewing a problem?

well, i suggest you look elsewhere if you're seeking enlightment, even of the dimmest sort. friedman decides upon two "signs of our times" by (1) quoting some "banker friend" of his, and (2) using GOOGLE SUGGEST. i can see the smirk on your face. i'm not kidding:

[G]o 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!

and then he goes on to blab about god knows what. maybe some of it is substantive, but you can't overcome a handicap like that intro and his research "methodology." dude.

anyway, friedman's whole point is that the banking system is in super deep shit and it's gonna prevent obama from tackling the myriad of problems facing america. oh yeah? give me some proof. i'll let friedman take the reins:

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.

you know you get when you type in t-o-m into google? tom cruise, tomtom, tom and jerry BEFORE tom hanks! omg, our national anxiety is causing us to convert to scientology and chase unattainable goals while using a GPS system. why can't we all just fucking relax and just watch joe vs. the volcano??

1 comment:

cold4thestreets said...

Matt Taibi is a golden god. His war with Erica Jong, whom he insists on calling an "eight-hundred-year-old sex novelist," pleases me immensely. Also, he may exceed David Foster Wallace in most wonderful deployment of the word "fuck" in writings both lyric and meaningful.

As for Tom Friedman, I have read From Beirut to Jerusalem, a book that takes seriously the gargantuan problems faced by Arabs and Israelis alike, and which regards the former as human beings deserving of more than their lot in life. Tom Friedman in his current form, however, cares for only two things: Neoconservative values and his mustache. Both are repulsive to me.