August 20, 2003

MICHAEL FUMENTO IS CHANNELING BILL O’REILLY in a way that doesn’t become him. Fumento’s schtick — which is sometimes on target and sometimes not, though I’ve generally admired his work — is that he overcomes elitism and political correctness by having the arguments and the facts. Yet he responded to criticism from blogger Rich Hailey with insulting but largely fact-free emails, and now he’s following it up with more insults in place of argument on his own website. (The Atkins diet doesn’t work because Rich Hailey’s picture looks fat? Yeah, that’s a winner. And if blogs and bloggers are as insignificant as he says, then why is he so angry?)

Hailey’s picture may be unflattering, but this style of argument doesn’t make Fumento look good, though I suppose it does prove him right when he says that anyone with a website can go ahead and post just anything. An editor would have restrained this embarrassing outburst. And, based on this churlish post, Fumento needs one. Perhaps he should leave web-punditry to those who are capable of restraining themselves.

UPDATE: According to a couple of readers Fumento also appears to be guilty of photo-dowdification. If you’ll compare the photo on Hailey’s page with the one on Fumento’s page, you’ll see that Fumento has squashed the rectangular photo into a square, having the effect of making Hailey look rather more portly than in the original.

I’m not sure that this is intentional — the “fat” image shows properties of 169 x 169 pixels, while the original image shows 200 x 250, and there hasn’t been any cropping. But when I saved the “fat” image to put up here for a comparison, it popped back to the original dimensions, suggesting that some sort of weird formatting thing on Fumento’s page is responsible.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I looked at the source HTML for the page, and both height and width of the image are set at 169, which has the effect of forcing the original image into the less flattering square when it’s displayed on a browser.

Intentional, or accidental? Beats me, though it’s probably the latter — the “typing monkey” image on the page has the same formatting. I think it’s just sloppy coding. Note to Fumento: if you specify only a height or width dimension, the image will automatically be displayed at the size you specify, with the other dimension automatically adjusted to keep things in proper proportion. If you specify both height and width, then if the proportions are different from the original image you’ll distort it.

Hey, maybe this web stuff isn’t quite as easy as it looks. . . .

UPDATE: John Hawkins has some numbers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bigwig has some advice for Fumento, who he says is trolling:

If Mr. Fumento really is that popular, proving it is easy. All he has to do is put a publicly accessible web counter on his front page.

I’ll just note that I have an open counter.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Fumento has responded to this post, and quite politely. But I don’t have an opinion on the Atkins diet; I just thought he was being rude. Everybody I know who has tried Atkins has lost weight. Nearly all of them have gained it back. But, of course, that’s true of every other diet. . . .

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