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The Last Word



For the record, this has been one of the nastiest episodes in recent Times history, and that takes in a lot ground. Let’s review the paper’s grand foppistry. First, editors allowed Okrent to print a sweeping attack in his final column—a nasty, sweeping attack against Krugman for which Okrent provided no evidence. Then, when Krugman wrote the Times to complain, the paper buried their columnist’s letter beneath a stack of a dozen others, all of which informed Times readers that Okrent is the world’s leading genius. Have you ever seen a letters column gimmicked in so clownish a way? Finally, Okrent’s specific complaints appeared—and they turned out to be the work of a cosmic dilettante. But then, much of Okrent’s political analysis was like this, starting with his hopelessly ill-reasoned “liberal newspaper” column—the column which other Manhattan high-rollers now praise as his most brilliant work. Okrent’s cheap-shot attack was deeply unprincipled. The New York Times should hang its head for allowing such a thing to occur. (Final note: The attack occurred in the Sunday newspaper. The resulting debate occurs on-line, where a smidgeon of readers will see it.)

Heh. Indeed. Ouch!

However, I can’t really abide criticisms of Okrent’s invention of fantasy baseball. Why, think of all the geeks who would have a marginally better chance of breeding without him! Really, the American gene pool owes him a debt of gratitude almost as much as Gary Gygax himself. (Now, admittedly, even in the ultra keeper league I belonged to in Montreal, several of the players claimed to be married. But I think we all know the explanation: they were Potemkin facades erected so they could keep their jobs at the cracker factory.)

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