Wednesday, September 29, 2004

You Don't Want To Miss A Thing

That's right, the Aerosmith contribution to astronomy, echoed by the awesomely-named Lembit Opik in the Guardian. Lembit, a Liberal Democrat MP in the UK, has always had free rein to pursue some of his more esoteric interests. And talking about the danger to the earth from giant objects is one of them. Lembit's credentials are ideal since, like Toys In The Attic-era Aerosmith, he fears no ridicule. Although the disadvantage of being Welsh Liberal Democrat MP is that you find it difficult to capitalise on a huge Hollywood blockbuster to raise awareness. In fact, you can't even capitalise on a huge Hollywood Blockbuster accompanied by number-one Aerosmith-penned single to raise awareness.

Lembit tries to make us appreciate the danger by noting that a rock just missed the earth by only a million miles. This won't work, since average human brains are even less able to contemplate millions of miles than millions of dollars. Lembit needs to rip a page out of the financial journalist's book. Reduce the numbers and risks to very human conflicts. The way the third-world debt relief issue has changed from "developing countries owe [insert astonishing figure] to developed creditors", to "UK Chancellor Gordon Brown is doing something about this, why aren't the others." Lembit obviously loves the scientists, but probably needs to start talking to the military guys, find a way to make the issues apocalyptic yet human. Say "George Bush wants to use missile defence to fatten contractors. Why won't he use it to track space objects and divert them." Better.

No time really to go into the Guardian's cake-and-eat-it attempt to link to an eBay story while ridiculing eBay stories. We guess that "Man writes hopelessly elaborate CV" wouldn't have made it past the online subeditors....

And finally, we picked up the New York Press Best Of Manhattan issue. We literally picked it up. In the Key Food on Fifth Avenue. Not through Gawker's whinging. Hell, no. Now, when we first moved to New York, we were entranced by the knowing, snide tone of the press. It took time pressures and a stern rebuke from Felix Salmon ("you will learn to love the Times, long and asinine headlines and all" - he was mostly right - we at least pay it attention) to wean us off the Press, and we keep our Voice consumption down the listings.

Reading through the Best Of..., which used to keep the uneasy co-existence of left and right (the NY Press trademark) under wraps for one issue a year, was hugely dispiriting. Was it the pages and pages of recently-graduated arrivals going on about how clueless NYU students are? Was it former publisher Russ Smith bleating about John Kerry ("George Bush is cooler. He just is")? Was it that the Manhattan picks were well-researched but stupidly expensive, while the Brooklyn ones were brutally obvious (though props to the Ratner-bashing)?

About thirty pages in, we noticed the voice, or to be more accurate, the person. The knowing first person plural. The "We". "We got mugged". "We ate dumplings". "We didn't get paid for this article". We had always assumed that the we was an asexual device that distanced us from the fray, a respectful homage to Ian Kerr's financial markets column in Euroweek. And let us pretend we have a huge staff (we do that in our dy job too). No it isn't. Three years on, and we still haven't moved out of the hateful shadow of the New York Press. You see, there is an "I" in Gringcorp. But do we unleash it?


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