The Social Media Value of Idiot Columnists

It used to astound me how many idiots (morons, blockheads, nitwits, pinheads, etc.) still write for major media outlets.

John Tierney, columnist for the New York Times, is a case in point. It’s really too bad I’m far from the only one who thinks this.

Looks smarter than he is

Looks smarter than he is

And occasionally Daniel Hamermesh writes inane things on the Freakonomics blog (such as classic about the environmental dangers of exercise bicycles, or his piteous bemoaning of the hardships of tenured faculty in a depression)  … though he was right about raising taxes recently.

But today I was reading the Toronto Star, which had this headline: “This mother to try potty training at 3 months.” First person by a mom to be … one of the paper’s  living reporters, who is

planning to start practising elimination communication: a method that teaches parents how to read their wee one’s signals so the infant can go in a potty (with assistance, of course) rather than a diaper.

I found myself laughing (communication? they can barely even roll over at 3 months!) and then skimming … and then skipping straight to the comments, which included these:

  • Good luck with that, I wonder if you’ll post if you fail?
  • I think pulling the “better for the envrironment” platitude is disingenous. We want kids to be kids but not if it inconveniences us.Then we’ll accelerate them. I’ve never seen a 10 year old who cannot go to the bathroom by himself/herself. Let nature take its course.
  • This article is hilarious…how can anyone take toilet-training at 3 months seriously? Next they will want to have babies dressing themselves by 6 months, or taking their own baths at 1 year! C’mon people, let babies be babies!!! If you’re worried about the environment, use cotton diapers like we do!

So now I’m entertaining a pet theory that either the Toronto Star and the New York Times have a bunch of nitwits on staff and has to fill up the space with something, or …

This is the dawning of a new era of clever journalism, where the journalist “plays the fool” (for Tierney I fear it isn’t an act), and their ludicrous rantings are really just a placeholder, and the real action is taking place in the comments section.

I’m really hoping it’s the latter.

The next John Tierney

The next John Tierney

John Tierney, the New York Times’ Staff Twit

John Tierney has worked for the NY Times since 1990. Why someone hasn’t fired him is news to me. First, he wrote “Recycling is Garbage,” which argued that it was more cost-effective to throw stuff away than recycle it. According to Wikipedia, that story broke the NY Times’ hate mail record. Imagine.

Unfortunately for the NY Times and the rest of the world, the Times hasn’t figured out what a dangerous dumb-ass he is. Case in point is a story running today, “10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List.”

Granted, some of the 10 are faux scares. But many more of these “scratches” are a thinly veiled libertarian (Tierney’s one) attempt to say “f–k the environment” in genteel Times verbiage. Example:

5. Evil plastic bags. Take it from the Environmental Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions — to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution. And they take up much less space in landfills.

True, sort of. If you compare disposable bags to one another, plastic is a less energy-intensive bag. But the way you frame the debate is everything. He’s just comparing disposable bags, as if they’re the only two options. And he’s assuming they’ll end up in landfills!!

Tierney is blithely ignoring the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is toxic swamp plastic debris that’s twice the size of Texas. Let me repeat that: twice the size of Texas. Or this pithy little stat courtesy of “Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.”

Or this one: “According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic.”

Or this one: “There are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.”

Oh, and while you’re having a good time in denial, might as well ignore …

8. The Arctic’s missing ice. The meltdown in the Arctic last summer was bad enough, but this spring there was worse news. A majority of experts expected even more melting this year, and some scientists created a media sensation by predicting that even the North Pole would be ice-free by the end of summer.

So far, though, there’s more ice than at this time last summer, and most experts are no longer expecting a new record. You can still fret about long-term trends in the Arctic, but you can set aside one worry: This summer it looks as if Santa can still have his drinks on the rocks.

I “can still fret” about that, John? Gee, thanks you patronizing dickhead. I’ll feel so much better knowing “Santa can still have his drinks on the rocks.”

Want to know my biggest worry? It’s that the Times will continue to print Tierney’s asinine stories.