The New York Times gasbag (or if you prefer, terrible writer known for selling simplistic, sometimes incoherent, ideas) gets knocked around rather deliciously.
This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs.
Indeed. But the best part is the end of the column where he unpacks Friedman's "analysis".
In Hot, Flat and Crowded, the money shot comes when Friedman starts doodling on a napkin over lunch with Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy magazine. The pre-lunching Friedman starts drawing, and the wisdom just comes pouring out: "I laid out my napkin and drew a graph showing how there seemed to be a rough correlation between the price of oil, between 1975 and 2005, and the pace of freedom in oil-producing states during those same years." ...Obviously this sounds like a flippant analysis, but that's more or less exactly what Friedman is up to here. If you're going to draw a line that measures the level of "freedom" across the entire world and on that line plot just four randomly-selected points in time over the course of 30 years -and one of your top four "freedom points" in a 30-year period of human history is the privatization of a Nigerian oil field - well, what the fuck? What can't you argue, if that’s how you’re going to make your point? He could have graphed a line in the opposite direction by replacing Berlin with Tiananmen Square, substituting Iraqi elections for Iran’s call for Israel’s destruction (incidentally, when in the last half-century or so have Islamic extremists not called for Israel’s destruction?), junking Iran's 1997 call for dialogue for the U.S. sanctions against Iran in '95, and so on. It’s crazy, a game of Scrabble where the words don’t have to connect on the board, or a mathematician coming up with the equation A B -3X = Swedish girls like chocolate.
Read the whole thing to see Friedman's 4 points - and the other relationships they can predict.Posted by armand at January 17, 2009 10:59 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Media