Angry New Yorker

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The Unbearable Buffoonery of Being Thomas L. Friedman

Remember the saying "better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than speak and have all doubt removed"? Whenever we hear this epigram the prolix pundit Thomas L. Friedman comes to mind. After reading his breathless book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, back in 2000 we realized "here's a man smart enough to be able to read the map, but not smart enough to realize his map is often upsidedown." That's a very dangerous combination.

And apropos of nothing we were killing a few minutes this evening when we spotted the ever energetic Mr. Friedman regaling Charlie Rose with his bullet-point world view presentation. [ed. note - you'd think with a guy this tight with the intelligentsia someone would sign him up for presentation lessons by now, because while chewing the cud with Charlie he was hopping in his seat and flailing his arms like an overly-caffeinated palsy sufferer. ]

But we digress. Here's a tip for spotting a blowhard pundit: eventually they all come around to the conclusion "we aren't graduating enough people in engineering and science." As corollaries to this earth-shaking theorem, the windbag spouting this inevitably isn't in engineering or science; doesn't work with engineers or scientists; and doesn't realize that, hey, we don't really need 50 million engineers and scientists in a country of 295 million to keep the lights on, computers humming and to come up with a few dozen good ideas each week.

Then, as surely as electrons repulse each other what happens is once we climb on the "won't someone churn out more engineers" train the next boom cycle derails and suddenly untold legions of unemployed and unemployable programmers, physicists, engineers and bushels of other scientists are standing on street corners.

In the spirit of global sharing, we have a tip for good Mr. Friedman: "what we need, Thom, are more people with good business ideas and business models so we can keep the engineers, chemists, biologists, researchers, physicists and other scientists we have happily and productively employed." However, to drop a dime in your krazy kitty we'd be more than happy to send you back to school to get an engineering degree. We'll even give you a choice of CalTech or MIT; that's - Calcutta Technical Institute and Mitrandishia Institute of Technomics. Just let us know which you'd prefer and, then, say hello to the rest of the Class of 2007!!

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