Just Another Six Months
December 29, 2012 8:45 PM   Subscribe

"When I visited China in 1998, Mbantu, the cabbie who drove me from the airport, couldn't stop telling me about how he had to take a fourth job because of the high cost of transportation. I caught up with Mbantu in Shanghai last year. Thanks to China's reformed approach toward transportation, Mbantu has enough money in his pocket to finally be able to afford a playground for his kids."--Thomas Friedman column generator
posted by bardic (31 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I got all the way to the word "generator" before I realized this was fake.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:52 PM on December 29, 2012 [63 favorites]

Very good.
posted by Perplexity at 8:54 PM on December 29, 2012

Aw, I had the same idea but was going to use more of a recursive grammar engine like the old Postmodern Essay Generator and Robot Rock Critic, so that the composition could be different every time. This dude should do that in v. 2.0
posted by steinsaltz at 8:56 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

"If authoritarianism is South Sudan's ironing board, then hope is certainly its flowerpot. " Truly indistinguishable from the genuine article!
posted by RogerB at 9:00 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Anyone else see this going down in flames soon?
posted by Chutzler at 9:12 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

...not with a bang but with a Thomas Friedmangularity (go to slide 44 with bottom left menu)
posted by Bwithh at 9:36 PM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Ooh! Ooh! Now do David Brooks!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:38 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best of the worst of the web.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:49 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Matt Taibbi's unilateral wet dream
posted by growabrain at 9:58 PM on December 29, 2012

I... jesus this is the best. I read the damn thing twice before I noticed the happy green "Generate New Column!" button at the bottom. And it's bloody perfect because that's the exact image you're left with after reading these spoofs: Thomas L. Friedman, refreshed after a cup of coffee, behind his laptop, banging out a new column whenever someone hits a button.
posted by deo rei at 9:59 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wasn't there a previous version of this, where you were prompted to enter some of text?
posted by LarryC at 9:59 PM on December 29, 2012

This is creative destruction at work. If his bosses as The Times find out about this, I'm sure Mr. Friedman will be able to find a new role for himself in today's globalized economy, perhaps in the service sector?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:06 PM on December 29, 2012 [22 favorites]

I posted this on Facebook and one of my friends didn't get it, so I explained that it was a computer simulation - an automated metaphor mangler as it were - to which she replied, "This explains a lot because reading it is impossible."

All I could say was, "Exactly!"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:42 PM on December 29, 2012

Waiting for someone to come up with a Virtual-Tupac style holographic 3-D animated figure version of this so the real Thomas Friedman's $75,000 per hour plus perks standard rate for public speaking is undercut and gets a bit more affordable for ordinary folks.
posted by Bwithh at 11:03 PM on December 29, 2012

When I was in Philippines last August, I was amazed by the variety of the local cuisine, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Philippines have no shortage of human capital, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Philippines are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.
Oh, God, I feel like I never need to snark about Friedman ever again. I'll just post a link to this when I feel it coming on. I can't top this even on a good day.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:05 AM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

Bwithh, that is just too good and too relevant to leave it locked up near the end of a Google Doc. Here's the full text:
The Thomas Friedmangularity
In the 1970s, Thomas Friedman is given a typewriter because, eventually, it is predicted, he will write the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

Black-budget skunkworks futurists at DARPA, RAND and the Columbia School of Journalism think the unthinkable: what would happen if a million Friedmans were given a million New York Times op-ed columns?

The Friedman-Net Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 2017. Editorial decisions are removed from op-ed column writing. Friedman-Net begins to pundit randomly about surreal global policy shaggy dog stories and factoid-rich anecdotes from picturesque foreign taxi-cab drivers at a geometric rate. It becomes completely, utterly unself-aware at 2:14am, Eastern time, August 29th.

In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
Friedman-Net fights back.

Planet Earth, A.D. 2029: Thomas Friedman is now absolutely right. About everything. EVERYTHING.
Terrifying. Don't hit that "generate" button too many times!
posted by Llama-Lime at 12:28 AM on December 30, 2012 [11 favorites]

There is nothing I take more pleasure in than hating on Friedman. This is a belated Xmas gift. Thank you.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:37 AM on December 30, 2012

Is there a schedule for LOLFriedman posts? Are we on sked?
posted by ambient2 at 2:22 AM on December 30, 2012

Friedman-Net begins to pundit...

Loving pundit as a verb. Hadn't seen it.
posted by Trochanter at 6:38 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by theora55 at 8:09 AM on December 30, 2012

When thinking about the recent troubles, it's important to remember three things: One, people don't behave like computer programs, so attempts to treat them as such inevitably look foolish. Computer programs never suddenly shift their course in order to fit with a predetermined set of beliefs. Two, Belize has spent decades as a dictatorship closed to the world, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, freedom is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If ethnic conflict is Belize's glass ceiling, then freedom is certainly its tabletop.

This is magnificent.
posted by jquinby at 8:11 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Economist's brief dismissal of The World Is Flat back in 2005 still says it all:

What a surprise, then, that his latest book is such a dreary failure....An entrepreneur in Bangalore tells him that “the playing field is being levelled” between competitors there and in America by communications technology. The phrase haunts Mr Friedman. He chews it over, and over, and over. And then it comes to him: “My God, he's telling me the world is flat!”

Of course, the entrepreneur, even by Mr Friedman's own account, said nothing of the kind. But Mr Friedman has discovered his metaphor for globalisation, and now nothing will stop him. He shows his readers no mercy, proceeding to flog this inaccurate and empty image to death over hundreds of pages...Mr Friedman's problem is not a lack of detail. It is that he has so little to say. Over and over again he makes the same few familiar points: the world is getting smaller, this process seems inexorable, many things are changing, and we should not fear this. Rarely has so much information been collected to so little effect.

posted by mediareport at 8:33 AM on December 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Let's make America for the world what Cape Canaveral was to America: the world's greatest launching pad.

posted by brundlefly at 9:46 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Now all we need is a web game where there are two columns; one with a real-Friedman article, another one generated. And the point would be to pick which one was better written.

It sorta reminds me of that one time I was the 9th caller into the radio station and got to play the "Yanni or John Tesh" game.

Obligatory randomly generated self-aware AI reference here.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:49 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

"ordinary people like you and me"

uh huh

and, did you see the sidebar with Videos:

"How To Make an Unforgettable Dinner in Only Eight Hours"?
posted by DMelanogaster at 9:57 AM on December 30, 2012

I've always believed this Zapp Brannigan quote was inspired directly by Friedman.
posted by quadog at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't risk the chance that any fan of Friedman snark hasn't read the greatest review of his writing ever, so here's a link: Flathead - The peculiar genius of Thomas L. Friedman

Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It’s not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It’s that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it’s absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that’s guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I’m not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce.
posted by straight at 12:37 PM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm beginning to think that Thomas Friedman is the deepest well of inspiration since... well, since the vagina.
posted by klanawa at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

No Thomas Friedman thread is complete without a link to Thomas Friedman Clogged My Toilet.
posted by euphorb at 7:57 PM on January 2, 2013

The Centrist Dodge, or, How To Be A "Centrist" Columnist Without Supporting The Centrist Democrats
The amusing thing is that Friedman himself has said in column after column that the deficit must be balanced through the approach Obama has offered — a blend of spending cuts, including entitlements cuts, and tax increases.

How does Friedman deal with the fact that he and Obama roughly share the same vision? There’s the above approach — pretend Obama hasn’t been clear about what he wants. Friedman has adopted other dodges, too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:05 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

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