Our Very Own Friedman

April 19, 2009

It is fascinating to read Seriously Sandeep these days. Sandeep’s use – or rather abuse – of metaphors is fast approaching Thomas Friedman levels.

Like this:

You need to really think from another bodily orifice to impute symmetry between the two.

Another bodily orifice? Which bodily orifice do people usually think with? Is this morbid obsession with orifices due to the influence of Es Y’golonac?

And then there’s this:

The news fresh from the oven is how the mass of concocted turd that Teesta Setalvad threw against Modi came back and landed on her own face after seven years.

WTF? Seriously, WTF? How do you concoct a turd? Does it involve carefully monitoring how many beans and pulses you eat? And even if you did concoct a turd, who in their right minds would preserve a turd for seven years?

Let’s not forget the man’s Pioneer op-ed:

The frenzied shindigs surrounding the battle fortifications bring both amusement and concern at the eve of every election especially after the demise of single-party dominance in Indian politics.

I can imagine a situation where you have shindigs inside battle fortifications, when the fortified army has enough resources to last out a siege and decides to party. But if you’re talking about the stuff surrounding fortifications, it’s usually siege weapons and infantry companies. Rarely shindigs. And forget the shindig. What the hell does that sentence mean? How do you parse it? I fed it to the Stanford Parser (thanks, Arnab!) and it took almost 1.75 seconds to come up with this. It still doesn’t make sense. This, by the way, is the man who wrote:

It also, further, suffers from the same potomania that characterizes Marxist writings: a glaring paucity of clear thought and a tendency to use a thousand words instead of one.

What can explain this outpouring of mixed metaphors? My theory is that at any given point of time, there must be one ranting desi blog that is obsessed with shit. Last year, it was Jagadguru and poopi. And now it is Sandeep with his turds. When He stopped blogging in January, it was not to abandon us. Rather, He has returned as Seriously Sandeep. Blessed is the Jagadguru!

The World is Flat

October 3, 2008

So I finally got around to reading The World is Flat. My cousin who I’m staying with (and whose usual reading is self-help books) had MED for it and in a moment of weakness I succumbed.

I didn’t find it as terrible as Prof. Ed Leamer’s scathing review (so scathing, he takes no less than 51 pages to scathe through) makes it out to be. The difference drawn between wholesale reform and retail reform was one of the better parts of the book, and the first time I’ve actually seen it drawn outside of a one-off newspaper op-ed or blogpost. On the other hand, the breast beating about declining standards in American education and what should be done about them, are entertaining to read but manage to contradict the rest of the book stunningly.

The overall impression I got of the book is that Thomas Friedman is to business journalism what Navjot Singh Sidhu is to cricket commentary. While there is an actual concept at the bottom of everything they talk about, these guys fall in love with their metaphors, to the point where the metaphor takes on a life of itself, and it becomes impossible to find the funda. Such is life.

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