BREAKING: Excitement, anticipation grow!


"Question of the year" unveiling delayed until tomorrow:
In this morning's New York Times, this letter proposes a "word of the year" for 2017.

For us, that word would be "anthropology." Explanation below!

Meanwhile, excitement grows concerning our unveiling of the "question of the year" for the annum just past. That unveiling has been pushed back until tomorrow.

For now, what "words of the year" would we recommend dropping from the journalistic lexicon? Several come to mind:

For starters, journalists should stop describing comedians as "artists" who are producing "art." Just a guess:

If people hadn't told Louis C. K. that he was an artist producing art, he might have kept his head about him, destructive behavior-wise.

(As an example of the misuse of these terms, we cite this excessively thoughtful thought piece from Tuesday's page A2.)

Also, could we drop the word "story?" In theory, journalists produce "news reports," "analysis pieces" and even "opinion columns." When they keep describing their work as "stories," can mischief be far behind?

Below, we'll recommend another word we might disappear. But first:

In our view, the journalistic event of the year may have been the "reimagining" of the New York Times' page A3, found in hard copy only.

Our view? The low-IQ childishness of this reimagined page may reflect a Peter Pan dream at the soul of upper-end press corps culture!

Do our upper-end journalists long to stay children forever—children producing silly stories and zeroing in on trivia?

We can't answer your thoughtful question. But on this morning's page A3, these were—we kid you not!—the first three "Noteworthy Facts:"
Of Interest

"Vapor Wake" dogs are Labrador retrievers that can pick up whiffs of explosive particles in the warm air that trails behind people as they walk.

The Sherwin Williams paint color Spalding Gray, a shade of gray with subtle undertones of chocolate, is named after a dog (of the Weimaraners breed) that is named after the actor.

Roller derby, which started in the United States in the 1930s, has surged in popularity in the past 15 years or so. In the Middle East, teams have sprung up in Cairo, Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
To the extent that those passages even make sense, do they involve "Noteworthy Facts?" We're not sure they do! But so it goes on this preternaturally childish page, on a daily basis.

(In today's "Here to Help" section, we're told what "experts" say about the way to discard a Christmas tree. "Expert" is the other word we'd recommend discarding.)

Back to today's announcement. Why have we chosen "anthropology" as the word of the year?

Simple! We're suggesting that we change the framework, or paradigm, through which we view the behavior of our badly floundering species.

We're suggesting that we move away from the "rational animal" paradigm, a framework which has obscured our vision for millennia now. In its place, we should move toward a framework in which we cease to expect rational conduct from any of our various tribes, understanding that we're basically a life form whose conduct is biologically determined, perhaps a bit like zebras or manatees, even butterflies.

Let's drop the artists-and-experts bunk and see ourselves as we actually are! Tomorrow, though, we unveil it:

With a nod to Krugman's latest column, the question of the year!

Other key points from the Times: According to today's A3, "Jennifer Finley Boyle's elegy for a dog, a beloved dog whose death marked the closing of a chapter in Ms. Boylan's life, was a sensation on social media" yesterday.

Not that there's anything wrong with it! People, we're just saying!

Also this:

What did Meghan Markle's top suggest? Yesterday, in Thursday Styles, Vanessa Friedman examined Markle's "sly statement."

Friedman, of course, is viewed as an expert. We're suggesting that it may instead be manatees all the way down!

It's brand new paradigm. Go ahead! Give it a try!


  1. Somerby says: "If people hadn't told Louis C. K. that he was an artist producing art, he might have kept his head about him, destructive behavior-wise."

    This is an odd statement. First, Somerby has obviously never taken a psychology class. Otherwise he might understand more about motivations of others, and his own. Perverts engage in odd behavior because of compulsions and obsessions -- they have an internal need to satisfy. It doesn't matter what you call them or whether they think of themselves as artists or not. Somerby needs to re-read his Nabokov to understand Humbert Humbert and folks like Louis C.K. are close kin. They're gonna scratch that itch no matter what their occupational title.

    None of the words Somerby decries were invented during the past year. Journalists have always called their articles "stories" and it didn't prevent them from behaving more like journalists in the past, when there was only print and entertainment was unrelated to the news.

    Somerby continues to deride the NY Times coverage of things that matter to other people. The Times should write only what appeals to him, obviously. If women want to think about Markle's attire, Somerby clear thinks girl stuff is stoopid and doesn't belong in his newspaper. And if it might be helpful to tell people what to do with their tree after Christmas, that too belongs elsewhere, not where most people can see it, but where?

    And Somerby again uses the word "anthropology," just because someone told him to think about different groups of people as tribes. He never bothered to take an anthropology class at Harvard either, so he will continue to abuse that profession throughout the new year. Can't wait for that!

    1. Much of Louis C.K.'s bad behavior occurred before people started calling him an artist. He stopped doing it after he got more famous and had something to lose.

  2. The Howler Wheel of Topics has landed once again on the Noteworthy Facts page of The NY Times, which Somerby must quote at length to show us how childish our (liberal?) media has become. Although Somerby vows to cease being surprised at the irrationality of our species as evidenced by trivialities such as these, he nonetheless seems surprised by it, citing the "re-imagining" of page A3 as the "journalistic event of the year." This despite citing similar trivial efforts from the pages of the Times for years now. So far, the Howler is still comfortably ensconced in familiar territory. Readers can only wait with bated breath for the next installment of lengthy retyping of gross trivialities lurking in the pages of the Times, while willfully ignoring all other content in that day's paper. Surely, no other newspaper in the world would ever include such nonsense.
    And just as surely, there can be no other possible explanation for the inclusion of said "nonsense" than the one offered by the Howler: the deliberate destruction of liberal minds to etc, etc, etc. Perhaps The Howler could descend from his lofty perch of purity and "all talk all the time" and try to run a media company that tries to meet a budget and actually pay journalists so that they can follow their chosen profession....oops, I mean become pseudoprogressive careerists.

    1. the nyt has to cater to power or they will lose acccess to it. they will always sacrifice hard truths over access. they a powerful institution jist like the ones they pretend to cover. if you want truth or intellectualism, you are on your own.the nyt can only give you psuedo versions of truth and intellectualsim.

    2. You may be right, but in a capitalistic economy, it's hard to see how to create a media outlet that contains only pure "truth" or "liberal views" or whatever that has any scope or importance, that is able to produce its output, distribute it, and pay its journalists or writers, without going under. At some point, financial considerations enter into any enterprise, with their attendant compromise. Either you have paid subscriptions, you sell ads, you have a wealthy benefactor, etc. I'm not saying criticism isn't warranted, but it's juvenile in my opinion to ignore the reality of our society. I also believe it's inaccurate to claim that there is zero truth to be found in the pages of The NY Times. There is good reporting in there. You have to look for it.

    3. no one cares what you think,. no offense,somebery will write what he does until he dies despite your boring, banl protestations.

    4. You did not address the substance of my criticism. It's a valid point, whether you find it boring or not. And I suspect there are some who do care, do speak for yourself.

    5. No one cares stop lying to yourself young'n. You don't matter. Nothing you say here matters

    6. And, as long as Somerby writes his blog, I will feel free to comment, praising when praiseworthy, and critical when I disagree. Just giving you a heads up.

    7. And I thought perhaps, by your initial response, you might actually want to discuss the issue. Obviously, you won't, or can't, do that. My apologies for assuming good faith on your part.

    8. ya do whatever. np.

    9. "I also believe it's inaccurate to claim that there is zero truth to be found in the pages of The NY Times."

      You may want to skim NYT (and other establishment rags) to find out what they want you think. And from that, sometimes you might be able to figure out what's going on.

      So yeah, useful information can be extracted from it.

  3. Thanks, Bob, for that informative discussion on education, you know the one where you cited some random statistics and then said no one would care? I feel so much more enlightened now. Also, thanks for the concern you showed about poor kids, which you illustrated by telling us that liberals don't give a f**k and then moving on to the much more important task of repeating the "noteworthy facts" from the Times verbatim. Sounds like you're ready to devote the Howler to nothing but a full-blown, unrelenting enumeration of man's foibles, with more snark than sympathy. Way to go, Bob!

  4. When I was a kid, the Times and Herald Tribune were NYC's intellectual newspapers. The Daily News, whose slogan as I recall was "New York's Picture Newspaper", was for the less literate. It clearly bothers Bob to see the Times running stuff that used to appear only in papers like the old Daily News.

    1. The Times ALWAYS had stuff like this. It's nothing new. Most newspapers, going way back historically, have included entertainment and fashion news, self-help and advice columns, etc. It's boneheaded to pretend it's only a recent phenomenon, as Somerby does. Take a look at an old Times from the 60's or 70's. You will find movie reviews, fashion news, entertainment news, advice columns, all of it. It's been a staple of newspapers for a long time. Somerby acting as though it's new it that he alone has "discovered" the problem is stupid.

    2. Also, Somerby attributes nefarious motives for the inclusion of "non-intellectual" stories, but fails to note the (perhaps unfortunate) need to survive with increasing fracturing of the media, particularly with the internet. Newspapers in general are flailing. In order to survive, they try to broaden their appeal. Somerby specially faults the Times when they are just facing the same difficulties as all other traditional publications.

  5. Hey Bob, I just saw at foxnews (thank god for it, btw: the least worst mainstream news source these days) that some substitute zombie-hostess on the Morning Joe show declared that the Satan-in-Chief is going to annul the 2018 elections if D-zombies win.

    Just curious if you might want to watch and analyze that episode for us...

    1. Putin's going to annul the 2018 elections? I did not know that.

    2. Vladimir Vladimirovich has disqualified his strongest opponent and warned the USA not to interfere.

    3. They certainly are doing a bang up job of keeping their zombie followers attuned whenever female teachers do it with their "teen" students

  6. The word of the year is "omnicide".

  7. Certain follies perpetrated by Mistah Somerby irk more than others. His recent pique concerning the word "story" when used to describe news articles is particularly annoying.
    Check the OED for early usages and utterly vitiate his silly bombast on this subject. Here's a quote from Scribner's Magazine in 1898: "‘Where's your story?’ asked the city editor. ‘There wasn't any story to write,’ replied the new reporter."
    And another from Sphere in 1942: "Each regional editor acquires stories from his own Embassy or exiled Government as well as sending out his own reporters for stories of special interest to his country."
    In short, Bob can inveigh all he wants, but the use of "newspaper stories" long precedes his irritation. In other words, it's thoroughly pointless to argue with the English language and its permutations; what's more, if your hobby horse is persnickety irruption, you need to find a better hobby or a larger pony.

  8. If I could drop a word, it would be "attack", when used to mean "criticize". I would reserve the word only for physical attacks.

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