March 28, 2007

At least they rejected Unsightliness T. Infield's essay on V1@ggr@

So last week there was a little scandal at the Los Angeles Times and the paper was forced to scrap its Sunday opinion section and start over scratch. (Backstory: Apparently Los Angeles has its own daily newspaper. Cute, right?)

In speculating how they managed to put together a section in two days that usually takes a week, HuffPo's Rachel Sklar joked "Hooray for unsolicited articles!" adding, "Kidding. Luckily they had some good stuff on hand. But it would have been sorta hilarious if the whole slush pile had floated to the top."

Ha ha... uh oh.

After the section came out, Gawker interviewed the new editor, who explained, "some of [the replacement material] was already in hand for next week, and some of it had been planned for the daily op-ed page."

So they did have some good stuff in hand, but what did they have to replace the pilfered daily op-eds? The slush pile!

Today, the paper ran an essay by Thomas Rooney, the president of a sewer repair company, on "The looming sinkhole crisis." I know this not because I faithfully read the LA Times opinion page, but because I got an e-mail from someone named "Kim" alerting me to it. "Is it just me, or is this sinkhole issue popping up more and more?" she asked.

Well, no, Kim, it's not just you. In fact, just two weeks ago I got a similarly unsolicited e-mail from "Jim" with the subject line, "This guy predicted that sinkhole in Guatemala." You tend to remember spam about sinkholes. I had no idea what "that sinkhole in Guatemala" was, but "this guy" turned out to be Thomas Rooney, and as near as I can tell, Jim wanted me to post an article he'd written about sinkholes. You guessed it: it's the article that ended up in today's Times. You can read Rooney's unedited version in the comments section of this science blog, where "Nancy" posted it on March 8. That's right, an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times has been on the internets for three weeks. To be fair, the Times did a really good edit on it. ("It's the pipes, stupid!" in 2007? Please.)

Two more twists. That e-mail I got from Jim implied that Rooney's article had already appeared in something called Inside The Bay Area in January. It's not on that site now, whatever that site is, but Google cache says it once was, in December. (Note that Inside the Bay Area did a less great edit on it -- keeping "It's the pipes" but dropping "stupid! -- but Jim sent me the original version with the full Carville as though that's what had been printed. Writing lesson #1, Rooney: Kill your babies.)

And the second twist: Jim also sent me a link to a YouTube Video about broken sewer pipes that turned out to be an ad for Insituform, which is, of course, Thomas Rooney's sewer repair company. And that ad contains language identical to language from Rooney's op ed -- language (the "do the math" section) that the LAT editors did not excise.

Wait, does the LAT have any editors anymore?

Update: Here's another variation

[Related: Remember when Richard Cohen assured us that he is a funny guy? Judge for yourself.]

Posted by Daniel Radosh


If they need more op-ed pieces, I suggest the one I just got in my inbox. Here's an excerpt:

"Sane doctors don't fight each other, not for economic motive, not for general security motive respecting exact national and international rules;
in any conflict almost one fighter is mentally insane. Communists and nazists are either mentally insane, or they got the reason. Kamikaze bombers are severe maniacs and agents of devil, enemies of their own god, lord of medicine."

InsideBayArea.com is the website of the San Jose Mercury, Contra Costa Times, and the other papers owned by the same company.

Well, it does seem to be owned by the same company, but I imagine there's no editorial connection, is there?

This is a very informative site. I would like to add to the list of reference the ALL Florida Ramjack, LLC.
Ram Jack's patented lift system is used to recover settlement of your home. High carbon, steel pilings are driven vertically by 70,000 lbs. of hydraulic power to an average of 22 feet below your home to anchor the structure and prevent future settlement. A hydraulic pump uses a synchronized lift to raise the affected areas of your home simultaneously to maximum practical recovery. In addition grout is pumped through the specially engineered piers to fill the existing voids. The grout solidifies around the support piers creating a permanent and effective stabilization method.

Normally I delete comment spam, but in this context, it's pretty amusing.

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