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Get out the tinfoil hats

The Brits have a term for this time of year; they call it the silly season, when the news media devote themselves even more than usually to frivolous stories and people indulge in outlandish behavior. I don’t know why—sunspots, global warming, continental drift?—but this summer has been even sillier than usual in the United States.** Consider:

*A poll shows that about a fifth of the populace imagines that the president of the United States is a Muslim.

*Something called Demand Media has filed for an initial public offering. Demand publishes eHow, which pays freelancers a penny a word for some remarkably stupid articles, such as “How to Calculate Age from Birthdate.”

*Some Republicans have called for repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment—you know, the one the Republicans pushed through in 1868 to guarantee civil rights.

*An English professor pitched a fit in a Starbucks in Manhattan over a barista’s asking her if she wanted butter or cheese on a bagel. This was happening about the time that JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater became some kind of folk hero for a public outburst of bad behavior.

*The governor of Arizona, without troubling to offer anything that might look like, you know, evidence, asserts that most illegal immigrants in her state are “drug mules.”

*The Orange County Register intends to publish photographs of its reporters with their stories. There are a number of reasons that print reporters did not go into television, and I’ll let you guess what one of them is.

*Andy Schlafly of Conservapedia and the Eagle Forum recently described Einstein’s theory as “heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.” Even I, without benefit of a class in physics, knew forty years ago that conflating relativity with moral relativism was a vulgar error.

*On Sunday, Keeping Up With the Kardashians will begin its fifth season.


**No, this is not a lead-in to another post about the proposed Islamic center in Manhattan, though getting a rise out of people who would like to see bigotry legitimized has its pleasures.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:17 AM | | Comments (19)


"There are a number of reasons that print reporters did not go into television, and I’ll let you guess what one of them is."

Not wanting to be recognized on the street and then lynched?

I loved it when they decided it would be a good idea to print *full length* pictures of some Sun journalists.

What is with these crazy Captchas? Mine was "tainarge Armageddon." including the period.

As a physics major, I can assure you that any lesson of "moral relativism" is from the universe itself, rather than Einstein's interpretation. Basically, if the theory of relativity is to be equated with moral relativism, then the very fabric of our existence points to that conclusion.

Lordy, I left out's "Is Your Husband GAY?"

Does he ... act sassy, sarcastic, and ironic around his friends?

You have to see this to believe it:

very nice. rivaling the "Findings" section of Harper's. thanks.

I doubt that repealing the 14th Amendment would, as you suggest, spell the end of U.S. civil rights. The citizenship of former slaves has become a moot point. The problem with illegal immigrants' "anchor babies" has not.

Thanks at least for acknowledging that it was Republicans who got the 14th passed in the first place.

The fit-pitching professor (professoress?) mystifies me. I don't understand her argument, which she seems to insist is based on grammar? How is it "ungrammatical" to answer the question "Would you like butter or cheese?" with "No, thank you" or "Neither, thanks" or "No, I prefer it plain" or any number of other replies? It just doesn't make any sense; I don't see that grammar enters into it all. Weird.

ReCAPTCHAs are words in public-domain documents that cannot be automatically scanned into text because they are unrecognizable or otherwise messed up (the waviness is added to make spammers' lives more difficult). One word is known, the other is unknown, and what people type for the unknown word is eventually passed back to the scanning team as the most probable crowd-sourced reading of the word. Case and punctuation are ignored, but if the word is Greek, you should probably press the recycle icon.

Gee, Obama spent 20 years in a church and never heard a word the man said, was raised in a Muslim family, went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, and learned enough to recite the beginning of the call to prayer (or at least according to Nicholas Kristof of the Times), and according to ABC and the AP, "embraced his Muslim roots" repeatedly during his apology trips to Muslim countries.

Meanwhile, he's gone to church once that I know of and belongs to no D.C. congregation, a decision that's usually covered by the press. (I admit I may be wrong on this point, so I await correction).

On the other hand, I understand he gets Bible verses on his Blackberry.

Given all that, it's amazing that only 20 percent think he's a Muslim. That's flat-earther level responses.

AND the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, a church that intends to burn copies of the Quran on September 11. Yeah. Book-burning. That strikes a chord.

In Italian it's Professoressa. The Italians have not yet engaged in any nonsense about rearranging the language to suit the thin-of skin. And it has such a lyrical Italinate trill to it.

I've seen it (Christwire) and I don't believe it. I strongly suspect it's a parody site.

Having just watched Franklin Graham explaining to John King how the "seed of Islam" is propagated, I'm inclined to strongly suspect that is a parody site as well. It appears we can rule out 'journalism'.

Having just watched Franklin Graham explain to John King how the 'seed of Islam' is propagated, I strongly suspect that is a parody site too.

Hi John and rwmg, I'm pretty sure Christwire is indeed a satire site.

Being in the UK myself I would say the media have silly phases all year round these days.

Christwire is definitely a parody site. A quote from a Christwire article called "I Am Extremely Terrified of Chinese People": "Now skeptics and atheists out there will say that Chinese kill their young too, and yes, you’re right. It’s true. Reports show that each and every day the Chinese people brazenly sacrifice their young women in pagan ceremonies, so that their men may have more supplies and food stuffs to consume as they train for battle."

Though Mr. Peschel may not be persuaded, the rest of you might be interested in a look at the investigation of the multitude of statements about President Obama that have been published or circulated on the Internet:

Some are hilarious. I hadn't heard that he planned to ban recreational fishing.

Also, though I have no confidence that this will persuade anyone determined not to be persuaded, here is the Rev. Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ on the laughable canard that President Obama is not a Christian:

eHow actually has articles on how to do useful things. I like that site!

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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