The Friedman Unit is now actively promoting Shai Agassi's Better Place solution to public transportation, I note wryly. The resident Pretentious Hysteric of the New York Times, in one of his fatuous sermons, informs us that Israel, in a consortium with Denmark and Nissan-Renault, is devising a nationwide grid of electric cars, with recharging stations all over the country powered by wind and solar power. Faithful readers of the Pond Scribbler's Almanac (these here pages) knew about this long, long ago, of course, but Tom's got a new angle: see, it's just like Apple with i-Tunes. The battery for the electric car is the iPod; the tunes are the...I forget, tell you the truth. I was getting nauseous. Friedman kept talking about "platforms" and generating "electrons" instead of electricity (see?! Tom knows his subatomic physics!) and all the other hi-techie baloney he dresses up his inch-deep grasp of technical matters with, and I started skimming. Point is, he tells us, it's a mistake to bail out Detroit if all Detroit is going to do is resume building obsolete combustion engine cars. It would be like investing in vinyl LP technology...
December 10, 2008
Duh. Anyway, I call Friedman hysterical for technical, psychological reasons, an area where my own inch-deep grasp of the subject doesn't lead me nearly as far astray as Freidman's unscientific maunderings ("maunder: to talk incoherently or aimlessly" - Tom's picture is next to the definition) do him, because there's no rigor to psychology in the first place. He is, however, exquisitely sensitive to contextual cues and influences, and overreacts to anything that comes into his skittish field of vision, or which occurs to his limited imagination. The Friedman Unit never pays any attention to the gross errors he has made which profoundly contradict whatever he's saying at the moment. For specific example, he never apologizes for cheerleading the Iraq invasion. That little baby finished off the USA's real chance of fundamentally altering its technological course while we still had the borderline solvency to retool. Alas, it was more interesting to Friedman at the time to experiment with "remaking" the Middle East by bombing and annihilating the Iraqis into democracy. You know, it's how he was thinking at the time. We all change, and the Friedman Unit changes every six months, thus giving rise to the Friedman Unit as a scientific measurement akin to the light year or the Angstrom Unit.
On "This Week" Condi Rice told George Stephanopolous, he of the gleaming, blue-white dentition (a radiant tone that surely never occurs in nature unaided) that "the world doesn't need a crisis in South Asia." I love that sort of insider's, in-the-know parlance. See, the fate of the world is on her desk, and she lets us know how the really hip thinkers talk about Big Events when they're hanging out in the Situation Room. I would have thought that a face-off between two nuclear-armed countries sharing the made-to-order tinderbox of Kashmir is just exactly what the world needs. Condi (the return of whose academic excellence Stanford must be breathlessly awaiting) shares her mentor's penchant for Analysis By Obvious Description. In Bush's case, it doesn't get much deeper than "Iraq is a country in the Middle East. It is an important country. Democracy frees the people to enjoy the freedom which is God's gift to the free, the gift of freedom." After a couple of Excedrin Plus (with heroin added, e.g.), you're ready to take on another of George's pronouncements. The Spelling Bee Champ is cooler than that. "The world doesn't need a crisis in South Asia." See, she's got all on her plate anyone should ask her to handle, and then here come these pesky Indian/Paki people to like totally stress her out. The SBC ought to consider that the world doesn't really need an Israeli-Palestinian crisis either, but that hasn't moved her, in however many years she's been screwing around with the subject, to focus on it long enough to change anything.
When you wonder sometimes how things get so absolutely, completely, irredeemably bollixed up, think about the "influential voices" setting the "agenda" for America's action list. Who listens to these people, and why? Could they just email each other and otherwise just STFU?