Searching For Common Ground? Look Harder


August 10, 2012 by David Gillaspie


Do you have a friend who breaks down the big questions you ask? If not, find one so you don’t make big mistakes when the stakes are high.

You’ll know in your gut when you hear good advice. You’ll feel a pain in other places when you know the advice you seek is faulty.

I asked my local wizard about the let down I had when I read about a couple of writers pulling their own plug with poor judgement.

Jonah Lehrer said his quotes from Bob Dylan were accurate. Then he said they weren’t. That last answer got him excused from his writing gig. Add the recall of his best-selling book from all sources, a book that already sold over 200,000 copies, and he’s circling the author drain.

Smart guys do smart things, especially one writing on brain science. But Jonah needed to be happier than happy, smarter than smart. This thirty-one year old whipped up some Bob Dylan. Didn’t he know the rest of the world was so Dylan-ized that everything he ever said is on record?

Lehrer’s times will definitely be a-changing.

And speaking of Time, which I wasn’t but it’s a convenient segue, Time Magazine suspended Fareed Zakaria for his transgressions with the written word.

From the New York Times:

“Time accepts Fareed’s apology, but what he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well,” said Ali Zelenko, a spokeswoman for the magazine. “As a result, we are suspending Fareed’s column for a month, pending further review.”

That’s called a proper attribution in the quote stealing game.

Here’s the reminder we all learned in every level of school: Do Your Own Work.

These two writers are current nominees for a Mixed Martial Authors trip to the octagon. They are famous authors with bright futures that they scrubbed for the easy way out. Cheating and tanking and testing positive gets you disqualified from sporting events that matter, and from prestigious writing platforms.

In a way this is a breath of fresh air. Time and the New Yorker protect their brand the way we can understand. Who doesn’t get it when you see someone tied to the whipping post? You know what’s coming next, the whip.

Remember the lashing Oprah gave James Frey for lying about A Million Little Pieces? If she’s still got enough game she ought to go after these guys.

If that doesn’t happen, why not let them settle it in the MMAuthor Octagon.

Where does the smart money go, the New Yorker Magazine science writer who cribs from Bob Dylan, the man generations have worshiped, whose words are archived, whose very breath is cataloged like a museum artifact?

Or the Times editor at large, who looks like he knows something about kicking serious butt?

Look at the matches in the column to the right of this post to see how to handicap their fight. Then make your recommendation.

In the meantime, I’ll set up the lights and camera and wait on your word for action.

By the way, the advice I received on my feeling about the two writers letting me down? My local wiz said everyone has feelings, and to think of them as a circle. When two people connect, their circles merge. The elliptical shape where the two circles meet is the common ground.

I say this: everyone’s feelings belong in one octagon, and someone’s feelings will be hurt.

The question again is which one.

One thought on “Searching For Common Ground? Look Harder

  1. […] he doesn’t write for the New Yorker or Time, he didn’t need […]

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