August 24, 2010

"The bogusity of the New York Times' story about how technology leads more park visitors into trouble."

Nice takedown by Jack Shafer. (But isn't the correct spelling "bogosity"? Try saying it. I know the adjective is "bogus," but people don't say "bogusity." They might say "bogusness," but not "bogusity.")

Anyway, the problem is something that's common to journalism about trends (including that ridiculous Daily Caller piece about blog payola). A headline declaring a trend gets readers' attention, but then you need a lot of examples of the things that constitute the trend. The writer has some things that look like a trend, but he's got to beef up the article with more examples or it's not a trend. But he's itching to get to trend!!!! so he includes things that don't really fit, and then the whole thing looks stupid.

It's really annoying for the reader, because the trend!!!! declaration worked, and you've already read it and rewarded the website with traffic before you realize it's not quite a trend. What can you do? Resolve not to read trend pieces anymore? But then you still see the headline and it makes the impression that there is a trend!!!! and now you're been deprived of the evidence that there isn't a trend.

Now, I'm reading the comments at the Shafer piece and see that some of his readers are pouncing on the "bogusity/bogosity" spelling issue. I'm glad to see that others share my priorities. There's also this from one "nerdnam":
Well, what's her name's plastic surgeon just died after driving off a cliff immediately after twittering a picture of his dog at the beach. The dog survived, luckily. So I see a trend here.
Oh?! "Heidi Montag Mourns Death of Her Plastic Surgeon." Oh, lord, look at the expression on her face! Isn't it ironic? You plastic-surgerize — what's the verb for "surgery"? — somebody's face and then you die and her face is incapable of looking convincingly sad. Her gigantic breasts don't look sad either, but they make it into the People Magazine photograph, and because they stand as monuments to your work, that's not ironic at all.

Hmm. That People article no longer contains the information about tweeting that is referred to here:
According to People, Dr. Frank Ryan's jeep Wrangler careened off of the Pacific Coast Highway on Monday....

People later reported that Ryan's former girlfriend confirmed that his accident was caused by texting and driving. He had posted a Twitter message about hiking with his dog just before the accident. The dog survived the crash.
One more dubiously technology-related death. Maybe confirmations from former girlfriends don't cut it anymore.

18 comments:

AllenS said...

A lot of New York Times stories have a bugosity problem.

Chase said...

I realize that Ann can write about whatever interests her - it's her blog after all.

But how I miss the discussions about real things, such as when she somewhat regularly and bravely dissected David Brooks columns in the New York Times - today's column is of actual relevance to all American's daily lives and is the most important thing in the Times today - and not so much on the ridiculous stuff that we all know the Times editors are congenitally disposed to print.

Such comments there were back then!


Sigh

Ann Althouse said...

@Chase Actually, it's not. IDavid Brooks fills another column talking about something that's been talked about a lot after beginning with an interesting story from the past that he happened upon and purports to connect to Obama. It is breast surgery though, which makes it more connected to this post than to the bottom of Brooks's column.

bagoh20 said...

I really don't understand the Heidi Montag thing. I mean, was she really having a hard time getting laid before?

After you are an attractive woman, and she was very attractive before, that kind of plastic surgery only adds the assholes to your fan club, and makes the decent men doubt your quality.

On second thought it is a pretty good warning sign. So keep it up hotties - it tells up front what your thinking, and we can work with that.

The verb for surgery is "cut".

Lem said...

Since her plastic surgeon died I'm assuming shes getting a new one.

Will the new one work around the dead surgeons work or will he undo the dead surgeons work and start over?

Maybe they have a code of etching.

edutcher said...

It's more than a little astounding that supposedly educated people have absolutely no command of the English language. And I'm assuming most of them are sufficiently old enough that this can't be blamed on the teacher unions.

And these are supposedly our intellectuals and opinion makers.

I think 'bogosity' would translate to 'bogus nature'.

Plastic-surgerize is 'alter by plastic surgery'.

Maybe they're trying to be hip.

Ann Althouse said...

edutcher said..."It's more than a little astounding that supposedly educated people have absolutely no command of the English language.... Plastic-surgerize is 'alter by plastic surgery'."

It's more than a little astounding that you would take that tone and then not recognize that I was asking for a verb and implicitly noting with interest that there isn't a verb form of the noun "surgery." We use the noun and add another word, which is what you did. Care to climb down from your haughtiness there?

bagoh20 said: "I really don't understand the Heidi Montag thing. I mean, was she really having a hard time getting laid before? "

It's not a question of how good you need to look to find a sexual partner. It's a question of how good you need to look to be a successful actress. She was not good enough looking before the surgery (and she is still not) to be successful at her level of acting talent.

Ann Althouse said...

"command of the English language"

Hey, English language, get the hell out of here.

Scott said...

At the U of MN, I took a couple courses from Prof. Tom Conley (now at Harvard), who used to love to create new words like that. In describing the nacent quality of something, he would add the suffix "-icity" to it, as in "Italianicity".

He might have called it "bogusicity".

t-man said...

Jim Treacher had a funny Tweet a few days ago along the lines of "In a modern day Gift of the Magi" Heidi Montag attends the funeral of the plastic surgeon who rendered her unable to cry"

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

edutcher said..."It's more than a little astounding that supposedly educated people have absolutely no command of the English language.... Plastic-surgerize is 'alter by plastic surgery'."

It's more than a little astounding that you would take that tone and then not recognize that I was asking for a verb and implicitly noting with interest that there isn't a verb form of the noun "surgery." We use the noun and add another word, which is what you did. Care to climb down from your haughtiness there?


No haughtiness, just surprise that the best and brightest can't express themselves better than some high schooler, particularly since so many of them seem to feel superior to all of us in Flyover Country. I didn't get that you were trying to make the point about non-existent verb forms from, "what's the verb for 'surgery'?".

Bear with me, I have three neurotic dogs going berserk because the tree surgeons are outside surgerizing our pin oaks.

Hagar said...

Isn't there an Eric Bogosian honcho on "Law & Order"?

ricpic said...

Before his unfortunate (but hilarious) death Dr. Ryan refused to further inflate plastic surgery addict Heidi Montag's titanic ta tas with these immortal words: "You're cut off!"

deborah said...

edutcher
>>>...It's more than a little astounding that supposedly educated people have absolutely no command of the English language.... <<<

"Supposedly educated"? There's more going on here than pin oaks being surgically altered. Maybe the Blonde didn't want to horse around last night.

Ann Althouse said...

Apparently, some people do not enjoy word play...

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Re: verbs for nouns- I like it better when there is a proper version of the word, but it has a completely different connotation.

Yesterday I was telling a story about a man I had interacted with who suffered from dementia. Without thinking about it (matching the form of the question I was answering), I said that he was demented. It didn't sound very nice.

bagoh20 said...

"It's a question of how good you need to look to be a successful actress. "

Most successful actresses look like she did before, not after the surgery. In fact, most successful actresses without makeup and lighting look worse than she did before the surgery.

And plastic surgery used to get an actress gig is the exception. Everyone is doing it, and it seems more common among the better looking than the homely. I think it is very rarely more than an emotional decision and compulsion, even the first time, and definitely the serial ones.

Peter said...

Sorry but driving off a cliff while texting has little to do with death by technology and much to do with death by stupidity. One wonders how the bozo got through Med School without the brains to know that driving takes a definate minimum of attention.

I'm somewhat pleased I retired before texting. The dead kids (and adults) we poured out of cars died the old fashioned way, drinking, speeding, groping and not wearing seat belts.

What is a Heidi Montag? Oh and I'm glad the dog survived. Over the last forty years or so, each added year of my life has increased the way I like most dogs better than most people.