Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Thank God 2013 Is Almost Over Edition
You’d think this low attention-span low-energy stretch of time between Christmas and New Years would not be the time to drop a big story, but you would be wrong, and that is why you are not the newspaper of record. Sorry not sorry. The New York Times dropped an enormous six-part Benghazi investigative piece yesterday and then just stone cold strolled off planning where to put the Pulitzer.
Publishing it on Saturday instead of Sunday has the added net benefit of giving the rest of us the whole weekend to watch the wingnutosphere explode with cries of yabbut Obama! yabbut cover-up! yabbut Muslin! as they try to squish the NYT story into their nonsense narrative. Benghazi is your current Vince Foster, America. Sometimes you don’t get the ridiculous conspiracy theory you want, but you always get the conspiracy theory you deserve.
We’re not sure if the news that Big Dog Bill Clinton will preside at Bill De Blasio’s inauguration will cause wingnut head ‘splosions too, or if it is just the kind of thing they think liebruls do, because we all run in packs. Either way, they’re sure to be SO MAD about something because that is what they do.
We also learn from today’s NYT that the Japanese were apparently covetous of America’s awesome “Teach the Controversy” textbook wars, and decided they needed to get one of their own. Yay!?
Textbooks would also be required to state that there is still a dispute about whether the Japanese Army played a direct role in forcing so-called comfort women from Korea and elsewhere to provide sex to its soldiers, even though most foreign historians say the brothels could not have been run without the military’s cooperation. […]
The suggested changes follow years of nationalist attempts — long backed by [Prime Minister] Abe — to whittle away at negative depictions of Japan’s wartime activities. Those who oppose textbook revisions say they are beginning to see the contours of a new strategy: forcing change at the local level that has sometimes failed at the national level.
Perhaps they might consider hiring some of the authors of American Christianist textbooks, as they seem to already have a rather attenuated relationship to the concept of truth.
We’ve been forcing ourselves to read that stupid Korner Office Konvos thing that the Times has been running all year, and it has been like a competition to see what is the silliest cliche that a synergistic master of the thought leadering could come up with, and it looks like they saved the dumbest for last, as a sort of year-end treat or year-end punishment, depending on your view.
Tell me about your management style, particularly now that your company is growing quickly. How do you keep silos from forming?
I’m sort of a peripatetic manager, and I sometimes describe myself as a “hyperlink.”
Nope. Nuh-uh. Please join us for a kickstarter fundraising ride on the Nope Train to make sure no one ever refers to themselves as a “hyperlink” ever again. Along the way, we’ll stop at No Thank You We Do Not Want To Hear From James Franco On Selfies Station and then we will spend some time in Ye Olde Self-Actualization Towne, largely as a cautionary tale.
On a cool mid-September afternoon at the California horse ranch of the life coach Martha Beck, two blindfolded, crouching men came to an impasse. The men had been told to think of themselves as animals and to use only their sense of hearing to try to locate and tag each other — all in an effort to awaken the senses and instincts presumably deadened by desk jobs and smartphones.
But neither one would move, so nothing was happening. One of the men, a lawyer who seemed to have chosen to embody a bobcat — or a mountain lion, maybe? — waited for the other to approach. The other man, a tech executive who was some sort of monkey and had rolled across the ground a moment earlier, was now still.
“The way we do anything is the way we do everything,” Ms. Beck told the two frozen men as they tried to figure out their next move. Ten other men, who were not blindfolded, looked on, shifting, waiting for their turns. They were assembled for Ms. Beck’s first-ever all-men’s coaching weekend, which she had titled “Escape From the Man Cage.”
The fact that there is something titled “Escape from the Man Cage” with no apparent irony whatsoever makes us weep for humanity. Also, we’ve just sent a note to the Editrix asking for an amendment to our employment contracts that ensures we will never have any team building exercises that require us to pretend we are animals.
Regrettably, there are no terrible etiquette questions for us to mock this week, as the things people asked are actually pretty sane. Is it rude when acquaintances turn their backs on you and make plans together? Yes, sure is! Do you have to let your son bring his girlfriend to the holidays even though his girlfriend was the person that kept you estranged for a few years? Sadly, probably yes. Should you ask out the lady you see at the coffeeshop? Yes. Seize the day. Fortune favors the bold. See? These are all perfectly normal things to wonder about, unlike the usual parade of greed, rage, and confusion that marks the etiquette column. Good for humanity, bad for mocking.
You know what will never stop being simultaneously terrible and mock-worthy? The house-buying habits of the extremely wealthy. The purchases will always be absurd, like the building this year where the average price was $3,200 per foot. PER FOOT. The condos will always contain things no one needs in a house, like a full-size replica of Versailles or something, and they will always be designed and built by someone called a “starchitect.”
“When I first started in the industry in the 1980s, branding wasn’t thought of,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, “but now it is the basis of the design sensibility.” These days, Mr. Miller said, touting a famous name is “the minimum barrier to entry for a luxury development.” He added, “If you don’t have a have a name brand associated with a project, it isn’t considered in the upper tier of the market.”
It’s simply dreadful to think about spending a gazillion dollars on your grownup Barbie Dream House and finding out you didn’t have it built by someone with sufficient star branding power and therefore it is worthless. WORTHLESS! Tear it down and start over. You have the money.
If it was possible to burn down an abstraction, we would light all the matches under Ross Douthat’s tenure as a columnist at the Times. We’d also light up Friedman and Dowd’s equally terrible columns, but they’re not here this week so our rage isn’t quite as focused on them. This week, Douthat takes a look backwards on his year and his biggest mistakes, prediction-wise. While our compendium of Douthat’s mistakes would stretch around the world several times, Douthat limits himself to just three, all of which are basically of the “I was wrong, but I was also right, hmmmmmm?” variety. Take for instance his trenchant take on New Pope:
Given the subsequent media fascination with Francis, my attempt to minimize the papacy’s importance in American religious life may have been somewhat premature. More important, I was entirely wrong about the Vatican’s image being inextricably tied to the legacy of the sex-abuse crisis. To date, the new pope has done much less than the underappreciated Benedict on that front, but nobody in the Western press seems to care: even as American bishops continue to mishandle abuse cases, Francis’s blend of charisma, asceticism and inclusivity have been sufficient to reverse a decade of bad press for Catholicism.
Translation: “I still think of Old Star Wars Emperor Pope as the pope and I will never give up the dream that Catholics will one day return to the glorious levels of distance and oppression he achieved and I underestimated that you people would like a pope that actually cared about people and did I mention I’m now concern trololololing about the sex abuse scandal that I otherwise ignore.” See? We speak such fluent Douthat after this year that we could probably convert Ross to English, disingenuous to truth, in our sleep.
Here’s hoping our new year and yours brings less Douthat because that is a resolution everyone can get behind.