Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ANOTHER ONE JUST LIKE THE OTHER ONE. I am delighted to learn that Conor Friedersdorf -- a junior leaguer who wants to be James Poulos when he grows up -- has been retained by The Atlantic. To write about "ideas." I thought they'd send him out on missionary work, maybe to the San Fernando Valley to turn porn starts, for seasoning before giving him a sinecure. But things move fast in this our modern age.

To be scrupulously fair, he isn't always annoying, but his first essays don't bode well. This is from "Iran, Twitter, and The American Information Elite," the 10,000th item this week about how we're all going to free Iran with twitter and maybe a benefit concert:
And those out of the know? They aren't any longer just grandmothers, the apolitical, and the middle manager in Scranton who gets all his news at 11 o'clock after the game. Now people who watch The Daily Show, subscribe to The New Yorker, and read the CNN subtitles as they run on the 24 Hour Fitness treadmill possess radically less information than a self-selecting group of their fellow citizens, granting that they mostly catch up on any given piece of information in a matter of days.
In other words, thanks to this foreign catastrophe, rightwing social-media nerds are the cool ones at last -- suck on it, Jon Stewart dweebs! For the next few weeks, whichever candidate the priests who run Iran will allow to be its President, all U Street will resound with Friedersdorf and his buddies acting like the guys from Entourage, bellowing "I swear by my life and my love of it, we own this town" into the night.

He also asks whether science fiction is our "Richest Literary Tradition," then says with a straight face, "Sam Jordison thinks so, assuming that the metric used is how many new words a genre contributes to the English language. His post is at its best when it delves into particular linguistic contributions." Now, it's possible he noticed that the Jordison article is a jokey space-filler ("Firstly, I thought it might be useful to have a tiny nanotech robot that flies around your mouth cleaning your teeth for you. This I would call an 'enanimal'") and was just playing along. Likewise maybe he had already heard of Long Bets, or other famous philosophical and political wagers, or human nature, and only wrote this to keep his commenters on their toes.

Actually I have nothing against young Friedersdorf, and wish him well. It's hard to keep up a couple of blogs, and don't I know it. The real joke is that The Atlantic keeps taking on these enthusiastic writers, either very young or (in the case of Sullivan) slow-witted, who though perfectly well educated write about America, human beings, and the world as if they just took a three-day crash course on them and are willing to wing it. Which is how they can talk about restoring society to a feudal state as if it were a neat new idea they just came up with, and such like.

Hunting of the Snark is both meaner and funnier about this, which is why I waited till the end to tell you about it.

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