Apr 27, 2020
Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Let’s Put This Whole Jill Abramson Mess Behind Us Edition
Hahaha you know what is NOT front page news at the Times today? Jill Abramson’s unceremonious departure from said Times, which is still front page news everywhere else. The NYT tucks it back on page 20, and it’s about a self-serving little statement from Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who is slowly digging himself a hole to China. Short version: not his fault, totes her fault, NYT loves the ladies. Shut the fuck up, Pinch.
There’s also an ill-timed piece in the Book Review section on books about women at work, including mini-reviews of books about increasing gender diversity, how women can increase their self-confidence, and influential women reflecting on their mistakes. We can’t decide if it is worse if the Times threw this in there after Abramson’s firing as a sop to the ladies, or if it was already a planned piece that no one thought to kill. In either event, really? REALLY??
IN an attempt to redeem itself (fuck you, NYT, we are still mad at you), there’s a lengthy feature on the origin story of the Koch brothers and their entry into politics. It’s depressing and its thorough, which is what we expect from our New York Times.
Go cheer yourself up by reading the profile of Tom Colicchio, “Top Chef” star and everyone’s secret boyfriend. Besides being the perfect combination of encouraging and stern on the show, Colicchio is also a super-activist about food safety and food access, which is a fancy way of saying he does not think it is cool that people have to starve to death thanks to the Congress being hijacked by assholes.
The speech Mr. Colicchio gave when he was at [a fund-raising dinner], to present an award to MSNBC for its coverage of hunger issues, was not your typical charity oration. Congress, he declared, immediately delving into details, had just passed a farm bill that had cut $9 billion from the food-stamp program, and the House of Representatives, he said, was poised to slash the bill by several billion more.
“Do the math,” he pleaded. “We can’t make up for this. Now more than ever, it’s important that we call our leaders out when they support cruel and punitive policies that are bad for this country.”
Yep. What he said. Also, swoon.
Sadly, none of us probably get to work anywhere with cool Tom Colicchio. Instead, we all inhabit the cubicle hellscape that is the setting of this week’s worst “Workologist” (GOD WE HATE THAT NAME) question.
I work in a professional corporate setting, and it has become common for people to clip their fingernails at work. Even my boss does it; the other day I had my notepad on her desk, and noticed a large fingernail clipping next to it. And several other co-workers do it, too. This isn’t something for the office.
Of course the Workologist person gives a measured and considerate response to this that involves looking at HR policies to see if they forbid unprofessional behavior of sorts and relying upon that to open a gentle and perhaps humorous dialogue on the matter, but here is our take: JESUS FUCK DO NOT CLIP YOUR NAILS AT WORK. Unless you’re a filthy blogger who works from home, in which case have at it. But if you work in any sort of setting where other human beings are also too there with you, what the fuck?
It’s probably a symptom of some sort of Stockholm Syndrome that there’s nothing in the social etiquette advice column thingy this week that strikes us as overbearingly terrible. About the worst we get is sad person who wants their wedding gift back.
Several weeks before a distant relative’s wedding, I sent a bowl from Tiffany that was not on the couple’s registry. I received a thank-you note immediately. The couple wrote that they loved the bowl and were already using it in their apartment. The day before the ceremony, they called off the wedding. Guests were informed that gifts that were bought from the registry would be returned, and gifters would be credited by the stores. Since Tiffany was not on the registry, I assumed they would return my bowl to me directly. Nine months later, it hasn’t been returned. What should I do?
Social etiquette guy notes that it is indeed good form for people to return their gifts if they call off the wedding, rather than just sending a note that says “haha, suckas” but there is an exception if people have ALREADY USED THE GIFT. We are not etiquette experts, but this seems self-evident. We would not like a used bowl returned to us in the event of a failed romance, because that is grasping and weird and seems slightly unsanitary somehow.
We spend so much time yelling about the palaces of the super-rich in New York City that we thought we’d switch it up a bit and yell about the palaces of the super-rich in the Hamptons. It’s good to keep it fresh, you know? The article on this absurd $21 million house in East Hampton will offend you both by its opulence and the New York Times’s precious language in describing said opulence.
[I]ts rooftop deck, dominated by a whimsical oversize cedar bench nicknamed “the Giant Lifeguard’s Chair,” has captivating views of the Atlantic Ocean. […]
The elegant house has five bedrooms, five full baths and three half-baths. It was designed by Dennis Wedlick of BarlisWedlick Architects; the landscape architect was Craig Socia, whose knack for unusual water features and sylvan nooks is evident throughout the property. […]
The house faces north toward its elaborate assemblage of perennial gardens, stone walls and Asian-inspired cabana. The tennis court is sequestered at the northwest corner of the lot and reached by a floating cedar bridge with twig railings, another architectural amuse-bouche.
Whimsical benches? Sylvan nooks? ARCHITECTURAL AMUSE-BOUCHE?? These are indeed all words, but they are all put together in exceedingly stupid ways, and if anyone ever described a place we were going to live as having an architectural amuse-bouche, we would punch them again and again.
Speaking of (metaphorical, people, jesus) face-punching, little Tommy Friedman has the second column of his two-part magnum opus on “The Square People,” which is a term Thomas Friedman has entirely made up out of whole cloth for people that are in some way agitating against oppression and keep in touch via cell phones and the Internet, because it is yet another way for Friedman to make Big Observations about foreign policy in some nonsense way where he pretends to tie everything together.
Indeed, “The Square” — as the place for these newly networked political forces to gather, collaborate and pressure for change — is truly disrupting both traditional politics and geopolitics. But the big thing to watch going forward is which Square People can go from disruption to construction — can take the energy and inchoate aspirations of their Square followers and turn them into parties, elections and better governance. Surely, the most interesting of these dramas today involves The Square People of Ukraine versus Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Surely it does! Except that we learn that Turkey is also too full of Square People but they sort of suck at disrupting things and Tunisia has the bestest most Squarest People right now. Man, we just wasted SO MANY brain cells trying to make sense of this, but we’re giving up now.
You guys, we kind of do not hate Maureen Dowd’s column this week. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t love it, but it did not make us pitch our laptops out the window. MoDo decided to tackle the problem of student protests driving away planned commencement speakers, but instead of letting it drift into a weird meditation on how Bill Clinton should never give a speech again because penis, she actually tackles Condi Rice pulling out of her speech at Rutgers and reminds us that Condi was once a person of great promise who decided she cared more about succeeding than anything else, and that she should have taken the podium at Rutgers and apologized for everything she did.
[Rice] should have invaded Rutgers, occupied the podium and said her piece about her failures on peace. And the students shouldn’t have jumped the gun. After all, there was always a chance, a small one, admittedly, but a chance, that Condi Rice would have looked into her soul and told the story of what happens when you succumb to the temptation to sell it.
And that, dear graduates, family and friends, faculty and honored guests, would have been the most amazing and instructive commencement speech of all time. […]
What a wonderful lesson she could have taught those graduates about the perils of succeeding at any cost, about how moral shortcuts never lead to the right place.
She should have said she was sorry about everything — except becoming one of the first two women permitted to join Augusta National.
Haha none of that crowd will ever say they’re sorry for any of it, but we respect MoDo’s fantasy life a lot more than we do that of Ross Douthat.
Douthat has taken a break from calling college students slutty slut sluts to weigh in on foreign policy this week, because someone at the New York Times decided Ross Douthat was some sort of polymath that should weigh in on everything. We will also take this moment to note that Ross Douthat still has a job at the Times, while Jill Abramson does not. Just let that sink in for a moment and then go read some really thoughtful Ross analysis like this column, in which Ross tells you that Obama is the suck suck suckiest on foreign policy, unlike such luminaries as George W.
But most presidents do win some clear victories. Not everyone gets to end the Cold War, but there’s usually some diplomatic initiative that leaves a positive legacy (even Jimmy Carter had the Camp David accords), some military or humanitarian intervention (even George W. Bush had his AIDS-in-Africa initiative) that looks like a success.
Yet except for the killing of Osama bin Laden — an “except” that has to be qualified by Islamist terrorism’s resurgence — if Obama’s presidency ended today I have no idea what major foreign policy achievements his defenders could reasonably cite.
Christ. Can you imagine the poor NYT intern that had to go find a single thing that George W. Bush did not fuck up, and at best was only able to come up with something — funding to Africa to fight AIDS — that came with a massive pile of controversy and fail over its bullshit moralistic requirements that chunks of money be used for abstinence education. And then Ross pivots, as Ross is wont to do, to pretending Bamz has done nothing foreign policy wise by just asking the Gentle Reader to pretend that Obama’s foreign policy efforts — efforts which included killing the architect of the greatest tragedy on American soil ever, a tragedy in large part either capitalized upon or ignored by Obama’s predecessor, and beginning the process of extracting us from the ill-advised twin of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — don’t really count because Ross Douthat had A Point to make and it was that Bamz is just not gonna get to sit at the cool kids table with Ronald Reagan.
You know what, Ross? Just because you fap every night to thoughts of Saint Ronnie does not mean the rest of us — including Barack Obama — do. Keep your Ronald Reagan foreign policy masturbation fantasies to yourself next time, buddy.