Dear Reader (and members of the radical faction of Up with People that dances out this “news”letter with life-affirming, family-friendly performances that make all decent people want to blow their brains out),
By now everyone knows about the NASA cheif propeller-head who never seemed to think twice (until this week, at least) about the fact that he was hired to be the Stuart Smalley of remedial-math-and-science students in Sudan. “Listen up, little Muhammeds, as the head of NASA, let me tell you: You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, we rocket scientists like you.”
What I’m hoping is that Charles Bolden, a decorated Marine, just sucks at diplomacy and was basically making it up, because it’s actually a little scary to imagine that the president of the United States actually told the chief administrator of NASA any such thing. Did he tell the head of the Social Security Administration to remind gays of their rich history of interior design and keen fashion sense? Has the poobah of OSHA been informed that his foremost priority is to buck up Chinese living abroad about their entrepreneurial achievements?
What’s so weird about Bolden’s statement is how condescending it is. It sounds like a compliment, but it’s actually something of an insult. Bolden’s charientism can’t possibly win him much good will from the Muslim world, because the people paying attention in the Muslim world already know about their scientific legacy and telling them that they’ve forgotten it really comes across as a lecture about how they aren’t living up to it.
I mean, would it ever occur to Bolden to remind Israeli kids of the Jewish history of excellence in math and science?
Alas, that’s not a very long list. Boston’s not much of a college town, either.
A Beat Behind
The other day, I wrote a piece for USA Today on what the Weigel episode says about the legacy media. One of my points was that the ideological homogeneity of the mainstream press causes them to miss stories the public wants to hear or read about. If the public didn’t want to hear such stories, Fox News wouldn’t be successful. If you are a Daily Kos type liberal — in which case I’m at something of a loss as to why you’re reading this — you might say “but those Fox viewers are just the conservative shock troops of the Republican noise machine,” blah blah blah. Putting aside the fact that this isn’t true, so what if it were? Conservatives are news consumers too. You can look it up.
Moreover, if the media were truly neutral and objective, why would it matter if certain stories have a conservative valence to them? Shouldn’t a press blind to such considerations run stories that are favorable to conservatives something close to half the time? Actually, when the country is run by Democrats, shouldn’t a press corps allegedly dedicated to speaking truth to power runmore stories that conservatives might want to hear, both because conservatives are out of power and because the press is supposed to truth-squad the government, no matter who runs it? Note: I’m not saying news should be deliberately spun in a conservative direction, I’m saying that news – i.e. facts, events, revelations etc – that tend to bolster conservative arguments shouldn’t be dismissed because they bolster conservative arguments.
The news business is one of these rare (though hardly unique) businesses that cares too much about what their customers think – not what they think about their product, but what they think about the world. If newspapers appreciated their roles as businesses just a bit more, they wouldn’t have gotten into quite the mess they’re in, because they would be meeting the consumers’ demand.
Anyway, there have been a lot of such stories in recent years – Rathergate, the TNR-Beauchamp story, Van Jones, etc. – where the MSM has been a “beat behind,” in the words of New York Times editor Jill Abramson. Again, ideology is only a partial factor. News outlets should care about water cooler talk, about what people want to hear, not just what editors want to tell them (don’t make me revisit the gory details contained in the Robert Wone G-File).
Well, according to Byron York [BROKEN LINK], here’s the tally of stories on the Bolden affair from the MSM:
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the New York Times: 0.
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in theWashington Post: 0.
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on NBC Nightly News: 0.
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on ABC World News: 0.
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on CBS Evening News: 0.
And I Suppose Pravda Was Unpredictable?
Since we’re on the subject of media bias, a reader reminded me of this classic from the AP last year:
Chanting “Whose street? Our street!” hundreds of people rallied on Wall Street on Friday to protest the billions of dollars in federal bailout money to big business.
Monica Moorehead, managing editor of the left-leaning newspaper Workers World, said the crowd gathered to protest the capitalist system which helps AIG and other companies she said steal money from us.
The crowd was waving signs reading, “No more money for Wall Street.”
For your edification, here’s the website for Workers World.
From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee
Let us not forget that some in the space-travel community have different views of the contributions made by the Muslim world.
Food, Glorious Food!
I am still mad at the producers of Top Chef for their infuriating, idiotic, left-wing-agitproppy school-lunch episode, but I should say the show has improved in the last two episodes. Sadly, I still find pretty much all of the contestants either boring or unlikable.
But since we’re on the subject of food, I thought I would let interested parties know that the Fair Jessica and I finally ate at David Chang’s Noodle Bar over the Fourth of July weekend in NYC. It was friggin’ supercalifragilisticexpialidociously good. We’re big fans of the David Chang cookbook, but we’ve never been able to get into any of his restaurants before. On a lark, we swung by last weekend, and we ate pork buns that would ignite futterneid in the most observant rabbi. If you don’t know about Chang, here’s an f-bomb-laced New Yorker profile.
Announcing a New G-File Feature!
I have waited several years for another, better qualified National Review writer to pick up Bill Buckley’s legacy of logophilia. To date, I don’t think anyone has. So, I am now going to start sprinkling the G-File with rare, cool words. I don’t know how long I will continue the practice because 1) I am forgetful, 2) I’m often quite drunk, 3) unlike the MSM, I am a slave to my readers and if they don’t like this feature, I will drop it like a crying baby that turns out to be a hideous, crab-like alien creature with a razor-edged, brain-stabbing tongue that just happens to be swaddled in a baby’s blanket, causing me to momentarily mistake it for a baby, 4) I am not Bill Buckley and therefore may not have the mental faculties to continue this feature indefinitely, and 5) I may collapse from karoshi, causing me to send out my last G-File with nothing more than a brief string of vulgarisms (unleashing the momentary euphoria of lalochezia) and then nothing more than the random letters crushed under my massive melon-pated forehead. Something like “Rat farts whfBV DCCCssssssss.”
But the question for the time being is: Do I offer a glossary at the end explaining these words? Or do I send you folks out into the wilderness to look them up on your own? Well, since we’re just starting, I’ll do the former.
Charientism: This is an insult couched in graceful language or a taunt hidden behind a jest.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously: Shut up.
Futterneid: This is one of my favorite words. It is the envy one feels when someone orders better food than you. For usage, see one of my favorite columns here.
Karoshi: Japanese word for death from work exhaustion.
Lalochezia: The emotional relief (though hardly akin to having your second chakra taken care of) that comes with using vulgar or profane language.
Last week, I said that some letter was from the coroner from CSI. It wasn’t. Lots and lots of readers wanted me to correct this error (which I eventually did in the Corner). But many of these readers wanted me to somehow correct in the G-File itself. Not this one, mind you, but last week’s G-File. This is a bit like asking me to correct the grammar in a note I’ve already inserted in a bottle and thrown into the ocean. Yes, I could have sent out a second e-mail with the correction in it. But my hunch is that for every one of you who wanted this, another 137 of you would have hated it. There’s nothing more annoying than when you get e-mail correcting previous e-mail when it’s not necessary. Okay, I guess there are a few more annoying things. A cubicle mate who taps on his glass eye with his pen when he needs to think, for instance. Or an obese man with a schoolgirl’s bladder sitting in the window seat on a plane. But you get my point.
Occasionally I will get things wrong in the G-File (“Occasionally?” – The Couch). You will just have to put up with it. As Edmund Burke said, “I must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.”