The Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator

Man, this is something that could and should have been done a long time ago: The Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator. Friedman is a first-class hack whose columns are little more than a pretty arrangements of words that add up to something so trite and obvious that you can’t believe you even bothered to read it.

20 comments on this post.
  1. slc1:

    Of course, compared to hacks like Charles Krauthammer, Friedman is an intellect of monumental proportions.

  2. A Hermit:

    But will Friedman start using this himself to generate columns? The cab driver I spoke to on the ride from the airport suggested that the next six months will be critical in answering this question…

  3. Reginald Selkirk:

    But will Friedman start using this himself to generate columns?

    Maybe he does already. Who would know?

  4. A Hermit:

    LMAO…this was perfect…

    “…capitalism is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If authoritarianism is Malawi’s curtain rod, then capitalism is certainly its flowerpot.”

    Classic Friedman…

  5. iangould:

    I object to your description of Freidman’s columns, specifically to the use of the word “pretty”.

  6. Doc Bill:

    I think that was a typo. Ed meant to write “petty arrangement of words.”

    I just generated an OpEd on health insurance that was fantastic Freidman!

    Recently, I was irritated enough with one of his columns that I trekked to his website to express my disgust, not that he would give a rat’s ass. Basically, he wrote a reasonably (for him) well-thought out column then in the last sentence completely reversed his thesis. It was a stupid throwaway line that had no place in what he wrote.

    Anyway, now he doesn’t even need to work. He can click a button, copy, paste, email and collect a check. Sweet work if you can get it!

  7. marcus:

    He was just in my bookstore yesterday (comes in a lot, Aspen ya’ know). If he comes in today I’ll be sure to point out this column to him. :)

  8. Ed Brayton:

    A Hermit wrote:

    The cab driver I spoke to on the ride from the airport suggested that the next six months will be critical in answering this question…

    You are hereby awarded one internet. Brilliant.

  9. Gregory in Seattle:

    The really funny thing is that it is not generating anything: it is just bringing in columns that Friedman actually wrote.

    I think. I mean, how could anyone tell?

  10. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne:

    . . . little more than a pretty arrangements of words . . .

    Can you give us any examples of Friedman’s word-arranging that strike you as pretty? Because I’m just not seeing it.

  11. crayzz:

    I’m actually interested in the code they use to generate this. The programmers have managed to produce a program that imitates human prose. Shitty prose, but still.

  12. vmanis1:

    I spent a few minutes on it the other day. It looked to me like a pretty straightforward Mad Lib generator (`If ___ is ___’s __, then ____ is its ____’), stocked with templates taken from a bunch of Friedman’s columns.

    A friend of mine once wrote a 1-page program that got 17/20 on the British Columbia written driver’s licence test of the time. (The test was a random selection of questions from a test bank of a couple hundred questions written by some faceless bureacrat of long ago, with syntactic cues to the answer, such as, `if the question begins with MUST YOU, the answer is YES’.) The passing grade was 16/20, though I don’t know if the program ever did a road test. My friend was very amused when I told him that the person ahead of me when I wrote the exam had failed it. It takes a special kind of stupidity to be less intelligent than a one-page program.

  13. Patrick from Michigan (Yes, that one!):

    You don’t like Thomas Friedman?

    Huh, I guess you do have a redeemable quality! ;)

    …and we have something in common. I don’t like him either.

  14. Patrick from Michigan (Yes, that one!):

    Not only that… Have you seen that guys house?!?!!

    His House

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  16. slc1:

    Re Patrick @ #14

    At one time, his wife’ family was worth 4 billion dollars, although their wealth ad declined precipitously of late. However, they still aren’t paupers.

  17. dingojack:

    Now if someone mated Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator with the Deepak Chopra Quote Generator….
    Dingo

  18. Raging Bee:

    Dude, you need to understand that Thomas Friedman is not a billiard ball, and any attempts to treat him like one are a waste of time. Billiard balls do not change their number or position on the table when you click on a link. He may be a migratory bird though…

  19. Raging Bee:

    dingojack: EEWWW, you’re a pervert!

  20. Patrick from Michigan (Yes, that one!):

    Re: #15 @ slc1

    Yeah, I am inclined to believe that, with a house of that sort.

    I don’t fault a man for his success or money. I fault him for being an idiot.

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