The Silly Things We Read, Vol. 3

We read newspapers, we read magazines, we read web sites, we read the back of our box of Cap’n Crunch, and some of those things we read set our eyes to rolling. As he has done before – here and here – The Curmudgeon has collected a few of those things he thinks are worth sharing.

The Philadelphia Business Journal headline read

Exclusive: Philadelphia Union signs new $11M deal with Bimbo

No, this isn’t another example of misogyny in professional sports. Bimbo, in this case, isn’t the kind of woman every guy secretly wants to be with, if only once: it’s a large company based in Mexico that bakes Entenmann’s cakes, Arnold breads, Thomas’s English muffins, Sara Lee goodies, Boboli pizza crusts, and many other well-known names. But still: that’s a helluva headline.

“Many people would argue that Philadelphia is America’s best sports city,” a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist suggested.

Um, anyone who’s not in the Philadelphia area?

The same columnist asks “…I wonder if it’s possible to be a great sports town without a PGA Tour stop.”

Aside from the contradiction between the two statements, since on one hand the columnist has presented the assertion that Philadelphia could be America’s best sports city and on the other he questions whether any city can hold that distinction without hosting an annual professional golf event, which he knows Philadelphia does not, someday someone will have to explain to The Curmudgeon what one has to do with the other because as we all know, golf is a game, not a sport.

A Philadelphia Inquirer column began “In December of 2008, the Obama administration repaid the United Auto Workers for their political support by bailing out the nearly bankrupt General Motors.”

That certainly would have been a neat trick, considering that Mr. Obama didn’t become president until January 20, 2009.

dunceThe August 2014 edition of Philadelphia magazine was a wellspring of silliness. First, with its penchant for trying to make something of nothing it wrote about a recent “trend” in which men with successful careers abandon those careers to start their own men’s clothing boutiques. For some people, it seems, three examples in a city of 1.5 million constitutes a trend. One of those new boutiques, the magazine noted, is located in the Queen Village section of the city, and it writes of its owner that “He’s since put the neighborhood on the map by giving sharp New York and California labels like Howe and Circle of Gentlemen their first brick-and-mortar outlet in the city.” Whether the boutique will survive is not yet known but the neighborhood is well known by residents of Philadelphia and beyond and has been pretty established “on the map” for more than 100 years. But maybe when the assertion is coming from someone who’s only about fourteen years old…

Next, Philadelphia referred to someone named Nicholas Elmi as Philadelphia’s best celebrity chef. Ever heard of him? Didn’t think so, and that means he’s no celebrity. Still trying to make mountains out of molehills – something The Curmudgeon knows nothing about – it referred to men’s clothing made by the Penfield and Woolrich companies as “heritage clothing.” Heritage clothing? Huh? Finally, the magazine has an annual “best of” feature in which six self-proclaimed cool kids, emphasis on kids, sit around a table and decide which local businesses they like and to which they can give special plugs in their magazine. The Curmudgeon doesn’t know how legitimate this process is today but he does know that when he was in college he worked for someone who essentially bribed his way into the feature (and it was an incredibly inexpensive bribe, too). A lot of times it’s not so much who the magazine picks as a winner as how narrowly it contorts its categories to reward its favorites. “Best emergency massage”? Seriously? You have to wonder who gave them what kind of illegal massage to persuade them to create a category like that.


And so is this: Fortune magazine informs us that the A.C. Nielsen company – you know, the folks who are responsible when your favorite television programs get canceled – has someone whose job title is “senior vice president of reputation management and public affairs.” Seriously: reputation management?

A dental practice that calls itself “Doc Bresler’s Cavity Busters” – seriously, who would go to a dental practice with that name? – took a full-page ad in Philadelphia magazine to sing its own praises. Among the information offered: that the company “…is the official Pediatric Dentist of the Philadelphia Union…” the area’s professional soccer team. Pediatric dentist – for a soccer team? A team on which all of the players are not…of pediatric age? Silly.

The August 2014 edition of Money magazine featured an article titled “How to Reach One Million Dollars” that begins “Forget the myths – and other misinformation – about what it takes to succeed in the quest for a seven-figure net worth.” The Curmudgeon finds three things silly about this opening sentence: first, that if anyone is guilty of perpetuating financial myths, it’s magazines like Money; second, that the authors of the article – four of them! – then proceeded to mis-state or exaggerate the myths; and third, that the suggestions the article makes essentially demonstrate that the “myths” are not really myths at all – except maybe when overstated.

princessThe newly crowned Miss America committed a crime that’s apparently unspeakable to some people: she served an internship at Planned Parenthood. A Philadelphia Inquirer article slyly observed that “She did not perform abortions” – probably a good thing inasmuch as most Miss America contestants are not exactly doctor material. What struck The Curmudgeon even more than this silliness was the article’s headline: “Miss America’s internship leads to unplanned controversy.”

Because most controversies, we all know, are planned.

A July/August Columbia Journalism Review article speculated about an emerging trend in which journalists seem to be controlling decisions about what information should be disclosed in the public’s interest. The article observed that “What is so odd about this government bullying [note: of a newspaper in England] is that it comes at a moment when the press is actually accruing power on matters of national security.”

Really? From The Curmudgeon’s perspective, the press constantly punts on such issues because reporters are afraid that if they divulge secrets today, their sources will dry up tomorrow. That’s why all of the major leaks in national security issues recently haven’t been reported by people employed by major American newspapers. In fact, The Curmudgeon would argue that the only reason Woodward and Bernstein were able to dig as deeply as they did into Watergate was that national politics wasn’t their beat – the story was originally assigned to them because they covered Washington, D.C, not the federal government, and the story was originally a local crime story about a burglary – and they didn’t have any federal government sources they were at risk of losing because they didn’t report about the federal government. If it had been left to the White House press corps, we’d still have no idea that Lucky Luciano and Al Capone had nothing on Richard Nixon in the career criminal department.

The same edition of the Columbia Journalism Review included a review of a new book on the history and development of Washington “think-tanks.” The reviewer notes that “Newly reliant on public attention, think tanks became marked by relatively fast, assiduously promoted research transmitted via readable reports.”

“Readable reports”? As opposed to… unreadable reports?

giudiceThe Fox News web site recounts Real Housewives of New Jersey celebrity trash Teresa Giudice’s reaction to being sentenced to jail – and to dealing with her teenaged daughter about it.

“She was like being strong for me. I could tell. She was like ‘Mommy, don’t worry about it. I’ll be there. I’ll help daddy with the girls.’ She was like ‘That will make me a better mom,’” Teresa Giudice told Cohen with tears in her eyes. “You know, she was like ‘That will prepare me for when I’m a mom.’ And I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’ It broke my heart when she said that.”

Like, wow. Giudice could practically be, like … a Kardashian! (Also interesting: the folks on the ABC News site cleaned up some of the disgraced reality star’s troubled syntax.)

In an article in which Time magazine sought to explain how Republicans swept into power in Congress last year, it was trying to suggest that 2014 offered the perfect storm for them because of some very vulnerable Democrats who were up for re-election and the lower voter turnout associated with mid-term elections. But in describing that lower voter turnout, it wrote of “…the midterm cycles when only about 90 million hardcore voters, about a fourth of the total electorate, show up at the polls.”

Tsk tsk, Time. “Electorate” is defined as people eligible to vote, not the entire population, and today, a little more than 200 million of the 322 million Americans are eligible to vote. 127 million did so in the 2012 presidential election. For Time’s numbers to work out, the U.S. would need a population of about 540 million; right now, it’s about 322 million.

In other words, someone at Time needs a calculator – or at least more fingers.

This is something The Curmudgeon never would have seen if he didn’t take a quick look at Google News and Yahoo News regularly in search of ideas for his monthly news quiz. A publication called the Hollywood Reporter had an article that began

George Clooney has been through his share of firsts lately: besides tying the knot with Amal Alamuddin, the actor has officially hit his first Comic Con.

Just one problem: getting married to Ms. Alamuddin was not a first for Clooney; he was married once before. Perhaps to the Hollywood Reporter, only marriages when a star is a big enough star to write about actually count.

For work, The Curmudgeon obtained access to a marketing web site’s archive of instructional articles. The work project for which he did this ended and he stopped visiting the web site, and after nearly three years, the web site’s owners noticed – and sent him an email inviting him back. Part of that pitch said, “Help us help you have a better inbox experience! “

Because isn’t that what we’re all after – a “better inbox experience”?

A headline on the web site: “Philadelphia hosts consecrated virgins.”

Insert your own joke here.



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