The Silly Things We Read

Read enough and you’re bound to come across some pretty silly things. The Curmudgeon has been collecting some of them, and now, he shares.

In a Money magazine article titled “Nice Nest Egg. Now Simplify It,” the writer told her readers

Face it, once you reach retirement, you’ll want to spend time traveling or volunteering…

The Curmudgeon will ignore the “face it” part because it’s just plain stupid, but “traveling or volunteering”? Really? Yes, that’s why we retire: to travel and do volunteer work on those unlimited resources most of us expect to have when we retire, during the little time we have between doctors’ appointments, and with all that energy we’ll still have when we’re old and stooped and arthritic.

In the November 3 edition of Forbes, a consultant wrote extensively about how he single-handedly saved General Motors. He had a good relationship with the company’s CEO and wrote that

It is not unusual for a CEO to lose his job when his company is forced into bankruptcy and a major restructuring.

Nor should it be!

Fantasy football, The Curmudgeon acknowledges, is its own little world – not quite real football, not quite true fantasy. Maybe the lingo is more different than The Curmudgeon realizes, as he found in a December 17 Philadelphia Inquirer article singing the praises of Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles in which the Inquirer writer noted that

Now you can bet your skid-marked Raiders fanny that all three of Charles’ fantasy squads are heading for a title match next weekend, thanks to Charles’ extraordinary five-touchdown, 215-combined-yards romp.

The Curmudgeon doesn’t know who deserves greater blame: the person who wrote this or the editor who read it and said, “Sure, I’ll put that in tomorrow’s paper.”

And then there was the December 17 Philadelphia Business Journal headline that read “Urban Outfitters pulls religiously insensitive socks.”

What – did they have little images of the baby Jesus on the toes?

In a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the Duck Dynasty/bestiality brouhaha, a reporter used another reporter as a source – never a good idea – but then compounded his mistake by describing that source as “Marc Malkin, one of E! News’ most respected reporters…”  Two silly things here:  first, that anyone on E! could be considered a reporter; and second, that anyone who presents news or information on E! could possibly be respected.

Late last year, singer/celebrity Selena Gomez announced that she was canceling a tour of the Far East.  Why?  She explained that after “many years of putting my work first, I need to spend some time on myself.”

After “many years”?  The singer, of course, is only twenty-two years old.

The Christian Science Monitor, not normally given to hyperbole, ran a headline that read “Microsoft:  Ballmer replacement won’t be selected until 2014.”  It ran this headline on December 17, so what it was saying, in effect, is that Microsoft wouldn’t be hiring a new CEO in the next two weeks.  Not exactly news.

The November/December 2013 issue of the liberal magazine American Prospect included a review of a book about soul food, which the reviewer takes great pains to make clear refers to the food of African-Americans that goes back to their African roots – although in a few cases he seems to be on shaky ground in demonstrating that those roots actually exist. At one point the reviewer writes that

I wouldn’t advocate for culinary justice if African American heritage foods were not being constantly remixed by white hipster chefs and others and re-spun as pan-‘Southern’ cuisine brought into the 21st century.

First, one general observation: What the hell is he jabbering about?

Second, regular visitors to this space realize by now that The Curmudgeon’s politics swing pretty far to the left, but this is going waaaay, waaaaay too far. “Culinary justice?” What the hell is that? It sort of comes across like he wants African Americans to get a royalty for every piece of extra crispy that the Colonel sells.

Well The Curmudgeon, for one, ain’t payin’ no royalty on his extra crispy.

In a New Yorker article about attempts by New York City and New York state to tax Airbnb, the short-term home rental company that for some reason hotels seem to feel so threatened by, the article consults a certain Ms. Joie Reinstein, whom it describes as “a professional trend forecaster…” Excuse The Curmudgeon but…professional trend forecaster? Seriously? This is an actual job?

Well, maybe it is for someone whose first name is “Joie.”

A New York Times article described the growing interest of major political donors in taking a more active role in the formulation of the strategies their money is underwriting. The article holds up as an example the work of the notorious Koch brothers, who provide enormous amounts of money to very conservative causes and require accountability for how that money is spent and the results it produces. A hedge fund manager describing the Koch brothers and their approach told the Times that

It’s adaptive, data-driven, and they are the most propitious capital allocators in political activism.

“Propitious capital allocators”?

Oh, now we see: they’re the biggest donors. Why couldn’t the guy just say that?

The instructions on the bag of edamame tell the consumer that “Defrostness is unnecessary…”

Thank goodness; who wants to hassle with defrostness?

A ridiculous article in the March/April/May edition of The Washington Monthly about how having a grandchild would be to Hillary Clinton’s political advantage states of Mrs. Clinton that “In nearly all polls over the last four years, Democratic voters have found her competent, strong, intelligent, and imminently electable.” While a (very tortuous) case might be made that the author actually meant “imminently electable,” it’s far, far, far more likely that she meant “eminently electable,” don’t you think?

One of the rationales for things like government stimulus spending during a recession is that the economy can’t recover unless there’s spending and if no one else is willing to spend, then government must. It’s a basic principle of Keynesian economics, and even conservative economist Milton Friedman (side note: this is the second time in less than a week that Milton Friedman’s name has appeared in this space, so The Curmudgeon may need to do some rethinking about how he approaches these pieces) once joked that as a last resort, the Federal Reserve could just drop money out of helicopters. Apparently Ben Bernanke, just a few years before he became Federal Reserve chairman, referred to that concept in a 2002 speech, leading the March/April/May edition of The Washington Monthly to observe that doing so earned Bernanke “the persistent nickname of ‘Helicopter Ben.’”

Really? Have you ever, under any circumstances, heard anyone ever refer to Ben Bernanke as “Helicopter Ben”? Do you think you know of anyone, under any circumstances, who has ever heard anyone refer to Ben Bernanke as “Helicopter Ben”?

Of course you haven’t. The observation’s absurd; it’s just some magazine writer trying to show what an insider he is. Well, he doesn’t come across like an insider; instead, he comes across as a boob.

A Philadelphia Inquirer article about a Pennsylvania state senator indicted for using her legislative staff to plan a political fund-raising event attempted to explain how those events are organized but went a little too far when it described the annual fund-raising event for one elected official as “one of the hottest tickets in town.”

A political fund-raising event a “hot ticket”? Hardly. A “hot ticket” is a ticket that’s hard to get, but when it comes to political fund-raising events, anyone who can afford a ticket can get one. Hell, if Osama bin-Laden had been willing to fork over the $500 he would have been welcomed at the event with open birkas.

In another Inquirer article, the paper reported on a wrongful death suit filed against a hospital over the death of local radio personality E. Steven Collins. In the report, the Inquirer notes that Collins was known as “the unofficial mayor of Philadelphia.”

Maybe around the Collins family dinner table, or perhaps on his radio show, but allow this curmudgeonly Philadelphian of fifty-six years to assure you that nowhere else was the late Mr. Collins ever known as the unofficial mayor of Philadelphia.

This isn’t so much silly as it seems ridiculous. The Curmudgeon is a regular reader of The New Yorker – and you should be, too – and that magazine has extensive cultural listings. Those listings are really just for people who live in New York, to let them know what’s going on around town, but occasionally The Curmudgeon just skims them. That perusal bore fruit recently when he read a listing in the “Dance” section titled “Rocio Molina/’Affectos’” that began

Molina is one the most intriguing new figures in flamenco…

The Curmudgeon finds this funny for two reasons: first, that there are “intriguing new figures in flamenco” and second that there’s someone out there who follows such things and then writes about them.

(The Curmudgeon also realizes that this may be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black, considering some of the rather obscure things about which he chooses to write.)

The March/April 2014 edition of The American Prospect refers to McKinsey & Co., the ultra-brainy consulting firm, as a “blue-chip consulting firm.” “Blue chip,” of course, describes a type of stock and McKinsey is owned by its partners and is not a publicly traded stock. But that’s what you get from a liberal magazine that doesn’t understand money and financial matters and that assumes that anyone who does is evil.

Philadelphia magazine revels in belittling those who aren’t as cool as the cooler-than-cool semi-journalists who provide copy to sit between the publication’s glossy ads. It did so with its usual aplomb in April with a looking-down-my-nose-at-the-rest-of-you piece by a numbskull whose column is titled “The Gastronaut” in which the “author” writes “Assuming you’re a normal sort of person who eats out a couple of times a week…” Really? Is that what all the normal people are doing these days?

Finally, The New Yorker recently featured a piece on the creator of the Under Armour company. The article seemed mostly designed to make the guy look like a jerk, and one of that founder’s co-workers certainly contributed to the cause when, describing the company’s growing business among boys, she said “You’ve got ‘Under Armour’ popping out, you’ve got the basketball short – it’s so attitudey, it’s got swagger.”

That’s right: it’s “attitudey”!




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