Just spell my name right!

Sometimes as a society we appear certifiably insane – sometimes certifiably sane – today it’s both at the same time.

I mean the first little story to catch my eye – because it irritated me – on Huffington Post was that Joe the Plumber was writing a book. No – that’s not the correct way to say it – had signed a book deal. The second was that Nate Silver had signed a deal for two books. Congratulations to Nate Silver. This guy is good and anyone who visited his website FiveThirtyEight.com during the past election season knows it.

But what a study in contrast! What an illustration of what’s wrong and what’s right about our society. Here’s the Joe the Plumber lead:

In a somewhat predictable move, Joe The Plumber, aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, has signed a book deal. Joe told Fox News that he was “broke,” but still took time in considering his publishing house because he wanted to spread the wealth around.

“Everyone came at me to write a book. They had dollar signs in their eyes. ‘101 Things Joe the Plumber Knows’ or some stupid s— like that. Excuse me, I am sorry,” he said. “You know I will get behind something solid, but I won’t get behind fluff. I won’t cash in, and when people do read the book they will figure out that I didn’t cash in. At least I hope they figure that out.”

News flash – Joe, you’re cashing in. You haven’t earned a book deal. For starters, someone else will write this book “with” you. I can’t help thinking that’s because you can’t write – or you’re too lazy. So like thousands of others you asked Barack Obama a question – so what? it wasn’t thatperceptive a question. It just was your good luck that McCain operatives were listening and McCain, eager to latch onto anything, latched onto you’re little exchange like a drowning man clutches any rope thrown to him, no matter how threadbare and weak.

No one vetted you Joe – McCain was just looking for an instant icon and he created one during the debate, letting 50 million viewers know you existed. He was doing it for him, not you. It wasn’t about what you are and did – it was about how McCain thought he could cash in on a mythical version of you. As I understand it you’re not a plumber, and you apparently owe back taxes which means you’re not willing to pay your dues like the rest of us. I’d say “good for the every-day-American” if I thought that’s what you were. We common people can have uncommon ideas worthy of promotion. But work your way up, Joe. And your concern that you would make more than a quarter million dollars and thus be taxed more under Obama than you would under McCain sort of takes you out of the common man category. While you’ve shown a disarming streak of something that sounds like integrity in your moments of instant fame, exactly what is it you’ve done that makes your insights into life and our society any more worthy than those of anyone else standing at the bar? Seems to me you just won the lottery, that’s all. none of which is your fault. I don’t really quarrel with you. I do quarrel with the people who are thrusting book deals at you and ultimately with the people who will buy such a book.

Now Nate Silver – that’s way different.

Nate Silver has been out there in the blogosphere for an extended period of time attracting hundreds of thousands of readers because he has made a study of election polling statistics – particularly our Electoral College – and his ideas, frequently unique, grow out of his brilliance and a ton of effort. They’ve also been tested under fire. In other words, Nate has earned a book deal, so I was delighted to read this:

Earlier today Media Mob reported that political polling expert Nate Silver, the wunderkind statistician behind the Web site FiveThirtyEight.com, was out with a proposal for two books: one about the art of prediction and the other a Freakonomics-style guide to the mechanics of electoral politics. Mr. Silver’s agent, Sydelle Kramer of the Susan Rabiner Agency, told publishers she wanted indications of interest by Tuesday, but evidently the indications came faster than expected (so much for the art of prediction) and Ms. Kramer decided to just hold an auction today.

According to several sources, that auction has ended, and Penguin Group USA has prevailed.

Yeah – and Nate will be something like $700,000 richer apparently and yeah – he’ll spread the wealth as Americans have been doing for centuries by paying his dues – those things we call taxes.

Or as someone, sometime, said: “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” Seems to work for Joe and Sarah Palin, though it may wear thin for both eventually. BTW – that’s a quote with many possible sources – see here – wonder if anyone really knows?

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