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Items: Fanfic, parodies, blogs, etc.

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I had a generally unpleasant day, so here's an assortment of items that cheered me up:

  • Darth Vader's blog. For example: "Okay, I admit it. I cut off the kid's hand. Everything went downhill after that." Some of the comments are even better than the blog.
  • The Incredible Hulk's blog. (Thanks to Aaron for the Hulk and Vader links.)
  • I just encountered Hitherby Dragons for the first time. No way do I have time to read the main story-arc entries, but here are a few non-arc entries:
    • Aslan Shrugged: The Wardrobe. Mr. Lewis, meet Ms. Rand.
    • The Interpretation of Spam, a short-short about spamomancy. Not a parody of anything in particular (I don't think), but does contain the line "Like in Disney's 'Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.'" Other favorite line: "The noise dreams of signal."
    • Morpheus Explains the Qaballah. Excellent opening line, in particular. Oh—that's Morpheus as in The Matrix, not Morpheus as in Sandman. (Huh; surely someone has written Morpheus vs. Morpheus?)
  • I don't know enough about Thomas L. Friedman to have an opinion about him one way or t'other, but I found these entertaining anyway:
    • "Flathead: The peculiar genius of Thomas L. Friedman," one of the most entertainingly negative reviews I've seen in a while. The reviewer's complaint mostly boils down to "Friedman is a master of the badly mixed metaphor."
    • "The Datsun and the Shoe Tree," an entertaining Friedman parody by "Thomas L. Freetrademan." Sadly, may be offline at the moment, but it was online last night so I'm guessing it'll be back soon.

    Most of those last several items came directly or indirectly from Crooked Timber; I came across them because I was searching for [vast cool unsympathetic] and the first couple search results were Crooked Timber pages.

5 Comments

I hate to defend Friedman, since he bugs me, too, but it's important to point out that the vicious attacks on his writing style come from people incensed by his politics. I haven't heard a ton of people who say "Oh, I agree with Friedman on the war, and on its importance in the new and better world that globalization is creating, but he mixes his fucking metaphors so I can't read his stuff." No, it's Matt Taibi in the NY Press saying that Friedman supports "Everything that would give an IBM human resources director a boner" who complains about the metaphors.
In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, at least, part of the point of the style was our ways of talking have become divorced from the things themselves to the point where everything is a jumble. In a world where (as he famously claimed) kids in Cairo wear Yankees caps with Bin-Laden T-shirts, why not have sharks that spout, and opening windows in falling walls?
Now, my main problem with Friedman is that I find him fascinating when he's talking about things he has seen first-hand, but as a columnist, he writes about everything, and he doesn't extrapolate well. Then, you know, he failed (as did I) to point out that a high-risk/high-reward foreign policy is not a good idea when the government is run by incompetants and crooks with a passion for secrecy. He has admitted this, since, but then retreats to his fantasy that the continuing jumble of global stuff will create a sort of primordial soup, from which will crawl all the new conditions for world peace and prosperity.
Animals crawl out of soup? What?
Thanks,
-V.



Regarding Matt Taibbi's Friedman review: Taibbi is clearly a talented writer who can write a funny, original book review, but I suspect his vitriol is driven at least in part by jealousy...and I think Taibbi totally misses the bigger picture on Friedman.

I am a Friedman fan; I think he is one of the most intelligent columnists out there, and I just bought the book that Taibbi lambasted.

One of Friedman's best ideas, and one that he pounds on frequently, is his "Geo-Green" strategy, that many have expounded on before Friedman, but not as many have written about it as compellingly and for such a wide audience. Friedman's point is that we need to have a massive national effort to create technologies that will reduce our dependency on foreign oil, for all the obvious reasons.

Friedman calls for the president to use the bully pulpit and the purse for an inspiring call to action to make this a top national priority, much as Kennedy did for the moon landing idea in the early 1960's.

But I suspect that even if the president took these exact steps that Friedman recommends, and gave Friedman some credit for it at a press conference, Taibbi would probably criticize Friedman for the technique Friedman used to unzip his own fly in the bathroom before the press conference.


Good god, did you people read Taibbi's piece? He's attacking Friedman's intellectual weakness. Demolishing Tom's stylistic quirks are just the hook for Taibbi's article. Friedman's a hack with a gift for reducing complex issues to neat and tidy looking chunks of crap. Middle-brow in the extreme.


I hate to disagree, Mr. President, but I did read Mr. Taibbi's piece, and I think my point up there was precisely that Mr. Taibbi was demolishing Mr. Friedman's writing style because he disagreed with Mr. Friedman's overall point. I think doing that is nasty and vicious, and is essentially an argument ad hominem of the weakest kind.

And isn't an op-ed column for the Times (sorry, the Times Select) pretty nearly the definition of middle-brow? I mean, suppose that Mr. Krugman wanted to stick to the highbrow of which he at least used to be capable. He'd be published on the NBER website, right? If he were capable of lowbrow and wanted to do it, he'd be on cable news. But he's writing middle-brow, and so is Mr. Friedman, and I hate to say it, but so is Mr. Taibbi. Complaining that Mr. Friedman is writing middle-brow is about as illuminating as complaining that Grand Theft Auto is violent. Yes, and?

Thanks,
-V.


One of the posters made critics point.

"One of Friedman's best ideas, and one that he pounds on frequently, is his "Geo-Green" strategy, that many have expounded on before Friedman, but not as many have written about it as compellingly and for such a wide audience. Friedman's point is that we need to have a massive national effort to create technologies that will reduce our dependency on foreign oil, for all the obvious reasons.

Friedman calls for the president to use the bully pulpit and the purse for an inspiring call to action to make this a top national priority, much as Kennedy did for the moon landing idea in the early 1960's."

This is just silly for variety of reasons, which anyone with a true understanding of either economics, business, politics, or technology knows. There's no deeper understanding.