February 28, 2006

WOTS '04

December 2, 2004

WOTS. Also thought it was just flaxseed oil!WOTS beings its return with an old favorite, the always hedging Chris Sullentrop and his two cents on political capital. Sulley doesn't understand that political capital is difference between your job approval rating and your electoral percentage. Either that, or he pretends to not understand it so he can write an article that otherwise would amount to "Bush says the words 'political capital' a lot."Meanwhile, Chris Hitchens, who is an Alexander of Macedon scholar all of the sudden now that the movie is out, casually informed readers that "Hanukkah [] commemorates the victory of the Orthodox [Jews] over those Jews who had succumbed to "Hellenism" in Alexander's time." And here WOTS had always believed that Hanukkah celebrated the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees victory over the Syrian rulers installed by Alexander who did not tolerate the Jews belief in one God. Thank you, Chris Hitchens, for reminding the world that Hanukkah was really a Jewish Civil War! So remember kids when you get your Hanukkah gelt that you are not celebrating the miracle of one days' Temple oil lasting for eight days, but rather the defeat of your weak-kneed capitulating brethern, the Hellenist Jews!WOTS casting call: If not Colin, then who should have played him?Speaking of alleged entertainment, for WOTSies old enough to remember, Virginia "Ginny" Heffernan used to take care of screwing up Slate's tv coverage. Now Slate graces us with Dana Stevens and her blog. All WOTSies really need to know about Dana's creativity is that she also goes by the name "Liz Penn." Kids, if you are going to come up with a pseudonym, you don't go with "Liz Penn" unless you are twelve. Of course, Dana's blog usually reads like the ramblings of a twelve year old girl, so maybe WOTS shouldn't judge. Sure WOTS shouldn't.WOTS's helicopter pilot is really named Hal Edward Chopper. WOTS is not sure what that means as to Dana, but one suspect Hal's parents had a career path in mind for their little boy.WOTS easy challenge. Pick a better pseudonym for a writer than "Liz Penn."In other tv news, the WOTS name-of the year candidate Sherwin B. Nuland calls the star of stupid tv show House, Hugh Laurie, "estimable." Well Hugh did play "voice" on the tv series "Treasure Island" and "Preston Pig." Dana also used the word "estimable" this week to describe her "colleague," leading WOTS to suspect that Stevens works with Hugh Laurie. If so, WOTS thinks you could kill two birds with one stone there.WOTS is blessed with a name of the year face-off this week: Sherwin B. Nuland vs. Hua Hsu!In the NyQuilissue of the week, WOTS trudged through Adam Kirsch's review of Derek Walcott's latest book-length poem to find an early contender for WOTS's worst line of the year: "If the whole world is a poem, then the poet doesn't need subjects in the usual sense." Obviously. If only the whole world were a poem... Sigh. Unfortunately, although Walcott is from St. Lucia, Kirsch does not mention that WOTS honeymooned there at the wonderful Anse Chastenet resort. WOTS and his gorgeous Brasilian bride particularly enjoyed the beach and the homemade soup when not otherwise occupied.WOTS wonders: Is there anything more boring than reading a review of a poem. Answer: Yes! Jimmy Longenbach's review of a whole poet, Richard Wilbur, which leads off with the grade-school opener "There are two Richard Wilburs." WOTS questions: Isn't one Richard Wilbur quite enough, thank you. And is "Should a Marxist poet be stylistically ornate" a question you are likely to ever get on the witness stand? If so, what is THAT case about?WOTS corrects Corrections of the week: Corrections spelled "statement" the way Dan Quayle would – "statemente." In Spanish, that might mean "the state of being in a state," which ironically, is a good description of Dan Quayle!Finally, WOTS has always suspected that various alleged Fray Editors did not actually exist. WOTS is now convinced there is no such person as Adam Christian, particularly as he rarely seems to do anything. WOTS wonders what the alleged Mr. Christian gets paid for not doing much, and how many times his female sibling, if any, has had to endure the inevitable Sister Christian jokes.WOTS thanks you for your loyal readership!

December 13, 2004

WOTS. Ocean's thirteenth.WOTS beings this week with WOTS wondering how much Chatterbox Timmy Noah got paid this week for his "Dueling Headlines," which consisted only of links to two papers' articles with mildly different slants to their headlines. Noah offered no commentary on this incredibly usual and commonplace happening, much less discussed the linked articles. At the bottom of this offering, Slate claims that "Tim Noah writes 'Chatterbox' for Slate." Um, not if he doesn't write anything. Not to be outdone, Dana "Liz Penn" Stevens chimes in this week with a whole piece that only refers us to an item already linked by a popular blog. WOTS wonders if he can get paid by only linking to his favorite articles in various papers and magazines. What, you mean Slate's people already get paid for doing that in In Other Magazines and Today's Papers, amongst elsewhere? What a racket!Remarkably, Noah makes a second WOTS entry this week for something he did write himself, his irrelevant discussion of the fact that Kerry needs but 18 electors (18!) to switch to win the Presidency, an event less likely to happen than Bush admitting he really loves them darn evil-doers. Noah actually says the elector thing "remains in the realm of the possible," leading WOTS to wonder if Noah understand the meaning of the word "realm."Meanwhile, the deadly combo of "former Slate intern" and Bill Saletan write and article so bad it required them to apologize to a pollster. And not just any pollster, and automated pollster! When Slate has to apologize to disembodied voices, it's a true WOTS moment. WOTS wonders: Couldn't someone make a lot of money by accepting apologies using disembodied voices? Wait, no, that's been done.Meanwhile, Brendan I. Koerner writes an Explainer about the five ways Yankovych's supporters tried to screw Yushchecko in the election and a "Bonus" discussing unfavorable media coverage directed towards him. Koerner somehow fails to mention that Yushchecko was probably poisoned by Yankovych's supporters, which is like discussing the Roman Senate's attitude towards Caesar without mentioning his various knife wounds.WOTS Nyquilissue of the week: Davey Greenbereg reviews two books about plagerism. WOTS thinks its hilarious that there are books about plagerism, leading to some fairly obvious questions. WOTS was disturbed, however, by Davey's implicit suggestion that historian Stephen Ambrose was properly punished for his rampant plagerism by getting lung cancer and dying.Speaking of the end, WOTS usually just throws out Slate's garbage, but this week it also sorts Slate's recycling for a trip to the plant. WOTS doesn't mean bottles and cans. No, Slate has a habit of re-printing old articles whenever a event ties into the old subject. Tuesday alone witnessed three of these throwbacks; five appeared this week. WOTS just doesn't see how this recycling helps much in a Google world (or given Slate's own search function). The Spitzer throwback was to a piece less than two months old for goodness sakes! Is it only a matter of time before Slate tosses back to a piece earlier in the week?Yes, Slate's online presence makes it different from, say Time's print edition, but recycling articles instead of finding something new to say about the subject (or finding a different subject) is ultimately a cop-out. Has throwback Kanye West done nothing worth discussing in the last seven months (he has)? Has the throwback Canadian gay marriage recognition issue not evolved at all since a year and a half ago (yep)? Has nothing changed about buying a Xmas tree changed in four years (it has)? Wait for it…wouldn't a Google search of last few days' news likely give WOTSies more timely, relevant context? You bet like you have a set of Aces against a 3-8-Q rainbow.Then again, WOTS limo driver reminded WOTS that most of Slate is just linking to old articles and "whatnot," so why shouldn't they be able to link to their own "whatnot." This lead to an interesting discussion about whether Slate was really meant to be a dressed up Drudge, a discussion which had to end because Percy needed to pick up some two-by-fours from Home Depot for his "side business" (don't ask, I didn't).WOTS thanks its loyal readers!

December 17, 2004

WOTS. Not FDA approved, so you know its safe! At its heart, WOTS is a teacher, weekly schooling Slate on the errors of its journalistic ways. So with the spirit of this Season Of Post-Fall in mind, WOTS is happy to give back a little by teaching new readers about WOTS's mission, and how you too can be a WOTSie. Friends, Romans, countrymen, WOTS gives you Timmy Noah, whose contribution this week is so everything that WOTS is about that WOTS will use it as a learning tool. Please pay close attention and you too can be a WOTSie. Timmy lauds, extols, congratulates and other synonyms himself this week for "discovering" Amazon's customer service number, boldly claiming "it was I who discovered" the number by rifling through Amazon's SEC filings, as if he were Howard Carter digging in the burning Egyptian desert. Ah, but Timmy is lying. Timmy was not the first on-line "journalist" to write about trouble finding Amazon's number or the first to print it. Others did it two years before him! At least!Timmy defends his "it was I who discovered" lie by asserting that the other websites do not have the "reach" of Slate, an argument WOTS would have liked to have seen made circa The Age of Exploration: "Lo ciento, Inglaterra" said King Ferdinand (who will speak English henceforth and be played by Alfred Molina), "but since Magellan (who was Portuguese but sailed for Spain because of free agency) clearly has more reach than you ill-toothed snobs who have not yet sailed around the globe, we Spaniards will be claiming discovery of Boston, which we will promptly rename "Porto de Calcetines Rojos Sin Pedro." Anyway, like England (played by Judy Dench), WOTS knows that all websites have the same reach if you use any decent search engine. This is the point of the web, no? WOTS also found it wonderfully ironic that the website Timmy linked to was, of all things, PCWorld.But wait, like a 3am infomercial about chopping food into its molecular components, there is more! Tim is not only lying like its hot, lying like its hot, he's recycling a lie. WOTS discussed the evils of recycling in last week's column, and was happy to see Jackie Shafer both agree with the rule and then violate himself all in one column on Tuesday. Timmy actually put out his lie this time last year, and he helpfully links back to it, which would be kinda like Clinton hauling out the VCR to replay The Point after the dress (ahem) came to light. So in case you are keeping score at home, Timmy (i) recycled, (ii) a lie (iii) admitted it was a lie, and (iv) compounded it with a fanciful justification. Timmy couldn't have given you a better holiday gift! And as all WOTSies know, its at this point you ask this question (say it with me, peeps): How much did Timmy get paid for lying, both the first time and now?With that lesson complete, WOTS will give a final holiday gift to WOTSies. WOTS will break its own rule (because WOTS Loves America) about not hitting Mickey ("Bloggy") Kaus for want of piling on. Why? Bloggy implicitly suggested this week (perhaps explicitly) that Democrats should not support gay marriage because it would be counterproductive in the war on terror. WOTS is not making this up. Lest you think this has something to do with the incredibly annoyingly practice of referring to articles of clothing in the singular (they are "nice pants" not "a nice pant" and "great shoes" not "a great shoe"!!!), Bloggy actually thinks this is a legitimate pr concern for Dems as to fundamentalist Muslims who might otherwise love America, Apple Pie, and the Democratic Party. WOTS you talkin' about? First off, even if Dems supported gay marriage whole heartedly, this discrete group of Muslims probably thinks their choice (assuming they even care about political parties) would be between the Christian rock band Bush and the Crusaders and the unplugged melodies of Dems The Nice Pant. WOTS suspects they would vote for the party less interested in killing them for no reason. But more obviously, why should Dems pander to fundamentalist Muslims on this issue? They don't pander on abortion to the far more numerous and powerful (in America) fundamentalist Christians. Bloggy is off his rocker on this one.With that, WOTS will return to his rocker so that WOTS's crack staff can gather round to hear WOTS retell the age-old holiday tales of Fray editors who also never existed.WOTS thanks you for your loyal readership!

January 19, 2005

If Shafer, a Post employee who has been taking on the Post for years, can criticize the Post in Slate, then Worst of the Slate ("WOTS"), which has been taking on Slate for years, should have a job at the Post taking on Slate. Turnabout is fair play in the enlightened age, no?WOTS will accept reasonable offers from Mr. Graham at iamwots@aol.com_________________


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