Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Mustache of Understanding

Periodically I forget what a horrific writer Thomas Friedman is. Happily the internet is there to remind me.

Here are a few classics:

"It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel, as long as you remember you’re driving without one."

"The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels. "

"The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."
(This one was repeated at least 14 times between 2003 and 2006 and led to the creation of The Friedman Unit or F.U. which is defined as a unit of time equal to six months in the future".)

"The Golden Straitjacket is the defining political-economic garment of globalization. […] The tighter you wear it, the more gold it produces."

"The fighting, death and destruction in Gaza is painful to watch. But it’s all too familiar. It’s the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East, which, if I were to give it a title, would be called: 'Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?' "
- Actually the producer just called and said he can't fit that name on the marquis. He suggest it be called simply, "Shouldn't a Mosque Replace the Bar (in the Hotel)?".

For obsessives there is The Mustache of Understanding, which painstakingly chronicles the twisted uranium birdcage filled with gazelles that is the writing of Tom Friedman.

UPDATE: I just caught this one from Tuesday's column: "The market is just a second-by-second snapshot of the balance between greed and fear. You can’t spin it or sweet-talk it. And you never know when that balance between greed and fear on the dollar is going to tip over into fear in a nonlinear way."

Yes, when you take a snapshot of an abstract idea, you can't spin it and certainly can't sweet-talk it. You just hope it doesn't tip the wrong way, particularly in a nonlinear fashion.

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