Monthly Archives: July 2014

Happy Birthday

Thomas Friedman was born 122 Friedman units ago today.


You Can Tell Just By Looking

From Friedman’s description of his tour of Infosys Technologies Limited in Bangalore: “Young Indian engineers, men and women, walk briskly from building to building, dangling ID badges. One looked like he could do my taxes. Another looked like she could take my computer apart. And a third looked like she designed it!”

Source: Thomas L. Friedman. 2005. The World Is Flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 6.

… the Sun Rises in the East, Too

Twenty Friedman units ago, our pundit was on a sabbatical working on The World is Flat. After an anecdote about playing golf in Bangalore, Friedman gets to his deeply flawed premise: Just as Columbus showed in 1492 that the world was round, Friedman in 2004 had discovered that … well, read the title of his book.

“When Columbus set sail, he apparently assumed the Earth was round, which was why he was convinced that he could get to India by going west. He miscalculated the distance, though. He thought the Earth was a smaller sphere than it is. He also did not anticipate running into a landmass before he reached the East Indies. Nevertheless he called the aboriginal peoples he encountered in the new world ‘Indians.’ Returning home, though, Columbus was able to tell his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, that although he never did find India, he could confirm that the world was indeed round.”

He apparently assumed the Earth was round. Of course he did. Educated people in Europe (and elsewhere) were well aware of the Earth’s shape in the fifteenth century. The idea that they did not was a myth invented in the 19th century that has been thoroughly debunked. See for instance: But why let a little research get in the way of a good story that supports your glib generalization?

Source: Thomas L. Friedman. 2005. The World Is Flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 4.

Friedman on the Case

It’s an even-numbered year, which means it’s just about time for Thomas Friedman to start beating the drum again for a centrist, technocratic third party (or as he puts it, Third Party) that will somehow get things done by ignoring the realities of power politics. All that stuff doesn’t matter, you see, because the Internet … or something.

During the last election cycle, Friedman used his column at least 10 times to call for a third-party candidate for president. Of course, he never proposes any reforms that would make a third party viable, such as parliamentary democracy with proportional representation. This old Tom Tomorrow cartoon captures Friedman’s position perfectly. See, it’s not all Iraq all the time around here.