And the #1 Asshat for 2008 is. . .

No contest here.  It is one thing to say something so idiotic that it tears a hole in the fabric of the universe, or to be so oblivious to your own failings that you apparently inhabit your own Bizzaro World where the most logical form of defense is to pound on your own skull with a hammer until the pain goes away.  It is quite another to drag the entire world economy along with you into la-la land.

At one point, Al Greenspan was a veritable demigod, his every word worshiped by the shamans of Wall Street.  All this for the innovative realization that encouraging people to borrow more, encouraged them to spend more.  Thanks to him we had a roaring economy based on consumer credit.  Apparently the idea that the lenders expected their money back never occurred to the magic little gnomes at the Fed.

All this makes the guy an evil bastard.  What makes him asshat numero uno for all of 2008 was the statement he made to Congress that said, in essence, that he was shocked that someone had realized that they had to get someone to pay all this shit back.  The man is the Pavel Jerdanowitch of the global economy, a closet Marxist running a decades-long personal episode of Punk’d.

2008 Asshat Countdown #2: In her own words – not!

The name Cassie Edwards first graced this blog on January 7, 2008 shortly after she was outed as a serial plagiarist by the Smart Bitches, and for several months afterward she provided a source of unintentional hilarity both on this blog and across the whole blogosphere.  Here is an NY Times best-selling author who apparently invented cut-and-paste some time in the mid eighties.  This is a woman whose plagiarism is so rampant that someone can, in less than half an hour,  find a smoking gun just by using Amazon’s “search inside” feature and doing a little Googling.  A woman who seems surprised and hurt when people point out that copying wholesale passages out of your references and claiming them as your own is not a good thing.

Of course, the most snarf-inducing part of this whole episode were the ferrets.

I mean, if you’re copying didactic descriptive passages from non-fiction nature writers for your characters’ post-coital pillow-talk, you’re just asking for public mockery.

Stupidity Backflow Redux

Dear Author again graces us with examples of the paleolithic thinking of the old media.

The upshot is, the NY Times thinks used bookstores are the reason publishing is in a crisis right now.

Yeah, right.

This is the true sign of a crisis, when the old guard suddenly tries desperately to find something, anything, to blame for their failures other than their own outmoded business practices.

2008 Asshat Countdown #3: Osama’s book reviewer

A running theme amoung the asshats I honor on my blog is the repeated attempts to stifle the speech of people the asshat doesn’t agree with.  Few have gone to such hysterical lengths to shut someone up as our favorite paranoid islamophobic Islamic Studies professor, Denise Spellberg.  First gracing this blog last August, Professor Spellberg shows all the subtlty of Sean Hannity on crack, warning editors at Random House how if they dare publish this book radical Islamists will break down the doors right now and kill them all, at the same time she was doing her best to stir the pot and warn Islamic websites about this awful book.  Random House drops the book, and the author goes and finds another publisher.  Official reaction from Al-Queda, “meh.”

2008 Asshat Countdown #4: Authors behaving badly

One prevalent characteristic of the most entertaining asshats is the tendency to have pathologically extreme reactions to perceived slights that end up being more destructive to the asshat in question than their intended target.  Not just foot in mouth, but foot, leg, and torso in an ever-diminishing spiral that vanishes into an alternate universe of asshattery.  A quintessential example of the suicide bomber school of internet intimidation would be author Victoria Laurie, who graced this blog back in late August.

This quivering bundle of maturity thought it great fun to publicly threaten her fans with unflattering tuckerization and then when a blogger points out that her statements might be a little unwise and somewhat unbecoming, she flips out and starts sending bogus threats about copyright infringement.  All this, to her complete and utter surprise,  draws more internet attention to her and makes her look like even more of an psychotic loon.  After a bit of sputtering, she does the only rational thing, she nukes her blog.

Well that all worked remarkably well.

2008 Asshat Countdown #5: Blogging is harmful to Belgians

It takes a special kind of asshat to fly from Europe to Manhattan on your employer’s dime, to attend a phantom meeting, and spend the trip getting plastered.  Special indeed, if you get caught at it by a bartender who blogs about it, and it’s the blogger who gets fired (with your help).  But it takes an asshat supreme to go through this, and when called to the carpet by your boss, to say it’s the Internet’s fault.

The fact that you’re Belgian Minister of Defense Pieter De Crem is just the shit flavored icing on the cake of ass.

Supidity Backflow

From Dear Author we have something that just amazes me in shear economic WTFry.

We all know at the wonderful, and oh so successful, way that major content providers (MPAA, RIAA, Viacom etc.) have tried to impose 19th century “this is my widget” mentality to IP law in the digital age. The stupidity these major interests have unleashed onto the legal system and Teh Internets is almost beyond human comprehension. But this draconian effort, suing dancing babies and all, has worked so well that some geniuses in the print realm have decided to take this line of thought back into the physical brick and mortar world.

They want royalties on used books.

Do I even need to explain why this is toxic waste masquerading as a business model? Hell, let’s just suck all the life out of the secondary market so when my books go out of print we can insure that no one ever hears of me ever again. Let’s make it more economic to pulp all these copies then have someone else read them. Good plan. Maybe you can add a review tax, there’s another cannibalistic income stream. Oh, and charge to view the cover blurb…

2008 Asshat Countdown #6: No Nobel for you!

Sometimes, all you need to be an asshat is a profound arrogance combined with the self-important conviction that you know better than anyone else.  Better still to piss on a whole country of authors while declaring the supremacy of your own local literati.  Best of all is to spout off while being on the committee in charge of passing allegedly objective judgments on the matter you’ve shown yourself to be a completly biased twit about.

Back in October, the would of literature was graced by just such an asshat, Mr. Horace Engdahl, a man who demonstrates that to be a juror for the Nobel Prize in Literature you do not need thoughtfulness, tact, self-examination, or open-mindedness.  And if the work comes from the wrong continent, you may not even need to read it.

2008 Asshat Countdown #7: Child Porn Fail

Child porn is a very serious issue that gets very serious people to make very serious asshats of themselves.  In the #7 slot for 2008 I have to grant a tie for two very different flavors of stupidity over the very same issue.  In one spot we have New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who back in July came to the realization that a) child porn is bad, b) there’s child porn on Usenet, c) if we shut down Usenet, we shut down child porn.  Win!  In the second spot we have the entire Austrailian legal system that, as we found out this month, believes that cartoon characters need the same legal protections as human beings.  Win squared!