Inside Out, and Round and Round

This just arrived in my mailbox. You can’t make this stuff up:

Dear DPM –

My name is [redacted] and I work for the publisher of Megan McArdle’s new book, THE UP SIDE OF DOWN. I’d love to send you a free copy for a look into what I feel can be a very transformative contribution to the timely conversation of failure and what that means for success. Do let me know if you’d like a copy for consideration as a topic on

125 replies
  1. 1
    Joe Bauers says:

    Her book is subtitled “Why Failing Well Is The Key To Success”.

    Well, they say you should write what you know…

  2. 2
    srv says:

    We certainly don’t get enough McMegan around here anymore, and a conversation of her failures could last forever.

    Is our Megan learning? Can’t happen.

  3. 3
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Joe Bauers: It sounds like a memoir.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m still laughing over The Goatening link Southern Beale recently shared.
    This seems similar somehow.

    Dear DPM,
    Will you please engoaten my book with a review discussion?

  5. 5
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Has [redacted] ever actually read any of the commentary here?

  6. 6
    scav says:

    Help help help help help help help help help help help help help help help help the interwebs she canna take it ainymore captain! Certainly not with the sherlock 3.3 traffic in other tubes.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    Well, they do listen. They changed the name from the original “Permission to Suck.”

  8. 8
    gussie says:

    Did you say, ‘Yes, please?’

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    Since the subtitle of McAddled’s book didn’t make my head explode, I think I can safely assume nothing will.

    Seriously, how can anyone one person be so completely devoid of shame and self-awareness?

  10. 10
    Cluttered Mind says:

    When you’ve been falling up all your life, I guess you start to see that as the natural state of things.

  11. 11
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Get the book. Sounds like a fun review. I’m already laughing.

  12. 12
    IowaOldLady says:

    God, I hope you said yes!

  13. 13
    Butch says:

    @PeakVT: I believe the phrase “unexamined privilege” goes a ways toward explaining.

  14. 14
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    “Yes please send it to me and I can toss it to my pack of viscous jackals to tear it to pieces, They haven’t been fed in a while.”

  15. 15
    chopper says:

    Does the book come with a free calculator?

  16. 16
    MattF says:

    The challenge here is to disprove the old maxim that ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    @Cluttered Mind: And that really has been my problem: I actually think success is a reward, and failure is something you try to fix.

  18. 18

    Christmas has come very early for the BJ front page. Better get those calculators warmed up.

  19. 19
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I’m looking forward to her other books in the series: “The Right Side of Wrong”, “The Broken Side of my Calculator”, and “The Lighter Side of Gastritis”

  20. 20
    Violet says:

    Tell him you’ll take the book if he throws in some Pink Himalayan Salt.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    While failing can indeed be a key to success (trial and error), it generally requires learning from mistakes in order to work. I doubt that McMegan has done so.

  22. 22


    Seriously, how can anyone one person be so completely devoid of shame and self-awareness?

    Having them surgically removed is mandatory for membership in the upper tiers of wingnuttia.

  23. 23
    PeakVT says:

    @chopper: No, but it will give you gastritis.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    my pack of viscous jackals

    I beg your pardon! I’ll have you know I’m lean and mean! And muscular like Gov Christie.

  25. 25
    Big R says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I never realized that these jackals were made of a thick, slippery liquid. Do tell more.

  26. 26
    Violet says:

    @Roger Moore: I thought the upper tiers of wingnuttia only allowed in people who were born without shame and self-awareness. If you have to have them surgically removed, well, you’ll never been One Of Us.

  27. 27
    Big R says:

    @Corner Stone: Governor Christie is at best semi-viscous.

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m 47 years old and I’m in the best shape of my life.

  29. 29
    Chyron HR says:


    Wasn’t Richard Pryor in that?

  30. 30
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Corner Stone: I trusted spell check and didn’t read the result.

    And of course the jackals couldn’t resist immediately tearing the typo to pieces, just underlining my characterization! Er, had I spelled it right.

  31. 31
    JPL says:

    Tom Levenson is going to be upset. Although he swore off McMegan, this might entice him back.

  32. 32
    scav says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If we were to allow ourselves a moments unmanliness, we could charitably observe that with the strategic stores miz McArgle has tucked away, we fully expect a cure for cancer, the common cold and the secret of world peace any day now. Few more points and she’ll no doubt be trotting out her mousetrap as well.

  33. 33
    raven says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I’m 64 and just scheduled a shoulder scope so I can keep up with you.

  34. 34
    Violet says:

    On second thought, why don’t you ask for one of those fancy food processors like McMegan has. You can see what it would do with the book. A fine bechamel in 30 seconds, maybe?

  35. 35
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Big R:
    You should know, “viscous” was how my buddies and I liked to pronounce “vicious”.

  36. 36
    Corner Stone says:


    I thought the upper tiers of wingnuttia only allowed in people who were born without shame and self-awareness.

    That would indicate some form of evolution at work. To create and pass on their Superior Gene ™ .

  37. 37
    Jon O. says:

    This is the best. I made this exact face as I read it. Hope you enjoy reading it!

  38. 38
    fidelio says:

    It’s possible this publishing-industry worker is a sincere, well-meaning marketing and publicity drone who has just googled up a list of places where the author is frequently referred to, without taking the time to see how they refer to her. (One wonders if a certain TBogg was contactyed, or those friendly folks over at LGM, among others.)

    Then again it’s possible they want to see the world, or at least this book (and possibly its author) burn, and knew just what the reaction would be.

    Get the advance review copy, and proceed frmo there. Because we could all use a little cheering up.

  39. 39
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @raven: A shoulder scope, you mean like a cyborg sniper thing? Cool.

  40. 40
    Robert says:

    Modern book publicists don’t look at context when searching for blog reviews, they just look for subject. I run a site with a large focus on critical exploration of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. I got one of these form letters once for a book that was about the dangers of modern horror films. They searched horror movie reviews or something like that, got my e-mail address, and gave me a good laugh before I deleted the message. The good publicists are the ones who actually do a cursory look through the content and can tailor the pitch to you. I don’t think any spin would make that a good offer for Balloon Juice.

  41. 41
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    I trusted spell check and didn’t read the result.

    Now you’re humiliated, embarrassed and completely blindsided that something you trusted lied to you?
    Seems to be a lot of that going around.

  42. 42
    raven says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I wish. Torn labrum.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @fidelio: Maybe for McMegan, bad press is better than no press.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    You’re going to force poor Tom to read and review this book, right?

  45. 45
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Robert: “Hey look this site talks about McArdle a lot, let’s send it to them”

    Actually, given the old “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” maxim, it’s probably still a good place to pitch it. If a blog has lots of posts and comments about her book, even ridiculing it, all the better for them.

    @Violet: Owe me a coke.

  46. 46
    scav says:

    @fidelio: Pish. Clicks is clicks to well-meaning, that is to say, hollow-hearted, PR Flacks. Cuts out the need to waste effort and cash on that second step.

    I probably am a viscous jackal — goes well with traditionally being an invertebrate reader.

  47. 47
    Alien Radio says:

    Forward a copy to Tom!

  48. 48
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Corner Stone: Well I wouldn’t go that far. Mildly amused, lightly teased, and more convinced than even before that you’re all a bunch of obsessive cranks, but I see your analogy.

  49. 49
    Hill Dweller says:

    Speaking of failing up, this is a quote from a Wall Street Journal columnist(Kim Strassel) appearing on Meet the Republicans yesterday:

    STRASSEL: When you come out and you are that definitive, if anything does surface going forward that suggests that he does know, I mean that’s the game-changer in this. Look, I think to what Chuck said, this is not– I mean this has to be put in perspective, right? Okay, this is not Watergate. This is not even the I.R.S. targeting of last year. In fact– it’s not even, if you think about this as a raw display of political power, it’s not even this White House using the sequester and the shutdown to inconvenience millions of Americans, as they did, too, to make a political point.

    Gregory couldn’t be bothered to call her on this obvious bullshit. But she’ll pay no price for blatantly lying.

    Conservatives/Republicans/Wingnuts pay no price for their lies.

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    Check the IP address first.It’s probably coming from DougJ.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Alien Radio: Why do you hate Tom?

  52. 52
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Hill Dweller: Strassel is right. Bridgegate is a little less than a quarter Benghazi so of course it doesn’t rise to the level of Watergate.

    Sorry, I should have specified as measured on the Wingnut Scandalmeter.

  53. 53
    Violet says:

    @raven: Did you already get the MRI? Did it find the tear?

  54. 54
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Hill Dweller: @Hill Dweller:

    Gregory gets paid not to call people like her couldn’t be bothered to call her on this obvious bullshit.

    D’oh. How do you do strikethrough here?

  55. 55
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Got it. Now it won’t let me edit anymore though, despite 3 minutes remaining.

  56. 56
    raven says:

    @Violet: yea, just came from the orthopod. I’m doing all the research I can and the main thing I’m finding is that this doesn’t get “fixed” by therapy. He’s very positive about the condition I am in and wants me to be able to continue long term. I’m sure I’ll get bombed by some of my friends who don’t believe in surgery, scope, or otherwise but I think the rewards outweigh the risks.

  57. 57
    Violet says:

    @Hill Dweller: Yeah, I watched Meet the Republicans yesterday too. Did you see the bit where the African-American female Mayor of Baltimore said, “I want to start by saying I’m loathe to criticize Gov. Christie who was so helpful to our President after Sandy.” Dancin’ Dave lost it. Cracked right up and said, “You just hurt him with Republicans by praising him.” Then dissolved into peals of laughter. She looked rather unimpressed. I was surprised Dancin’ Dave said anything like that–kind of pulls back the curtain on the whole “Republicans are against anything Democrats are for” issue.

  58. 58
    Violet says:

    @raven: Well, do your research. You don’t have to decide today–think it over. Some things do require surgery and you might as well just do it rather than tough it out and be uncomfortable. Then you can get back to your life sooner. Good luck!

  59. 59
    mainmata says:

    @chopper: No, but it does come with a small bag of pink Himalayan salt.

  60. 60
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: I thought it was just a bicep?

  61. 61
    raven says:

    @Violet: Thanks. I’ve been through some pretty long term rehabs after my broken leg and broken back. I’m hitting masters swim sites for info and there is a great deal there. One thing I’m seeing is to start using my left hand for regular tasks now!

  62. 62
    Linnaeus says:

    I can buy, to an extent, the idea that failing at something can have a positive side in that you may learn more about yourself, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and that may open up certain possibilities for you that you may not have considered before. But there’s also costs for failure, and it’s easy to see the upsides if you’re cushioned from the most severe of those costs. It’s one thing if you’re a CEO who fails and then gets another job due to the connections you’ve made and the circles you run in. It’s another if failure means you can’t pay rent that month.

  63. 63

    Do let me know if you’d like a copy for consideration as a topic on

    Say yes. Say YES! Yes, yes, yes!

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That was the best guess without the mri. It’s all connected i there and one thing I’m seeing is that they really don’t know till they get in there.

  65. 65

    To quote the immortal Dorothy Parker, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

  66. 66
    danielx says:

    Ooh! Oooh! Can I volunteer to read it? Can I? Can I? I promise to take what it says with at least fifty grains of pink Himalayan salt!

  67. 67
    EconWatcher says:

    My wife, a sweet and gentle soul who finds politics grotesque and doesn’t pay much attention, came home the other night with a jar of pink himalayan salt she’d picked up cheap at TJ Maxx or Burlington Coat Factory (our usual shopping haunts). She thought it sounded cool (what with all the extra minerals for our growing kids), and was nonplussed by my smirk. I had to explain that it had nothing to do with her, and was probably too boring and tedious to explain.

    See, McMegan is even messing with my family life!

  68. 68

    It’s easy to fail upwards when you have a nice Koch-funded backstop.

  69. 69
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: My son had a torn labrum repair in early November. First month was pretty tough, but he’s making good progress and can already lift that arm over his head. According to his surgeon and physical therapist he’s close to month ahead of schedule, but he’s a lot younger than you and in terrific shape. He doesn’t swim (for exercise, I mean) but that seems like it would be at least a month away, maybe more.

    Hardest for him initially were just the basic getting dressed, bathing, shaving, etc. chores.

  70. 70
    Corner Stone says:


    One thing I’m seeing is to start using my left hand for regular tasks now!

    Just goes to show, there are some things in life you never get too old for.

  71. 71
    JPL says:

    It depends on the meaning of failure. After less than a stellar job as CEO from Home Depot, Bob Nardelli was let
    go with 150 million in cash, He’s been making the rounds since then pocketing money. McMegan might be on to something.

  72. 72
    Belafon says:

    @EconWatcher: Just tell her you’re concerned about all the Himalayan’s they had to dehydrate to get that much salt. You’re worried they might go extinct.

  73. 73
    Anoniminous says:

    Speaking of grifters …

    New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) is caught-up in a nice little scandal involving her campaign manager, campaign funds, missing emails, found emails, and a shadowy lease for the Albuquerque Downs race track and casino. Here’s a good account.

    And the Koch brothers propaganda outfit Americans for Prosperity have pulled out of New Mexico and will no longer be running ads or even have “boots on the ground.”

    Start of a nice week in New Mexico.

  74. 74
    Anoniminous says:

    And a big Thank You to FYWP for putting me in moderation!

  75. 75
    Ash Can says:

    Heavens yes, by all means let them send you a copy. And tell the publicist that McArdle needs to come here and read the reviews. And that if she sees discussion entitled THE ASS SIDE OF CLOWN, she needs to pay attention, because that’s the discussion of her book.

  76. 76
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    That’s a hoot.

  77. 77
    Violet says:

    @raven: There’s so much good info out there now and communities you can learn from re: health stuff. Of course you have to use your judgement–some of it is crazy talk. But still, you can learn so much and not just take one doctor’s word for it or have to wait two months to get in with the second-opinion doctor.

    Bonus with using your your non-dominant hand is it’ll make your brain work. Kicks different parts of the brain into gear and that can help as you age with things like balance, etc. See, I’m on topic: it’s The Up Side of Down!

  78. 78

    You simply MUST get a copy. It’s free, and you will have three years’ worth of McFail posts pre-written. You could basically retire. Dude, take the offer.

  79. 79
    PaulW says:

    Does this mean you’re doing book reviews now? Great! You want to give me a write-up for Last of the Grapefruit Wars on

  80. 80
    PaulW says:

    @Southern Beale:

    You simply MUST get a copy. It’s free, and you will have three years’ worth of McFail posts pre-written. You could basically retire. Dude, take the offer.

    You’re forgetting the fact that reading McArdle is like destroying your brain cells: by page 50 you’re pretty much zombified and looking to bite anyone guest-starring on an AMC show.

  81. 81
    PaulW says:


    Speaking of grifters … New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) is caught-up in a nice little scandal involving her campaign manager, campaign funds, missing emails, found emails, and a shadowy lease for the Albuquerque Downs race track and casino. Here’s a good account.

    At what point should we start singing that Weird Al song?

  82. 82
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    I never even heard of Kimberly Strassel before, so I looked her up and found this:

    Kimberly Strassel’s 2012 prediction:

    “Predicting an election is risky business, but political journalists ought to be expected to take some risks. So I’m calling it for Mitt Romney…. My final prediction is that at a minimum, Mr. Romney wins 289 electoral votes, a tally that includes Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin. If it is a big night, he also picks up Pennsylvania and maybe Minnesota.” [10]


    FL – O
    VA – O
    OH – O
    CO – O
    NH – O
    NC – R
    WI – O

    PA – O
    MN – O

  83. 83
    cokane says:

    Pls do it or at least get the copy and let Tom Levenson do it. Or Doug J, whatevs, or do a group review

  84. 84
    Librarian says:

    Kim Strassel is a nasty piece of work. I saw her on Cspan’s Q&A some years ago and knew back then she was a piece of work, a proud product of the process of producing wingnut pundits.

  85. 85
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Good info, thanks.

  86. 86
    Gex says:

    Gee, I notice how all these folks who think the poors have it so much better than them aren’t willing to endure a slight raise in the marginal tax rate. And I just can’t figure out why they oppose it so much when we are only helping them shed the burden of not being poor.

    And I have to wonder why they don’t just come over to where the grass is greener and the livin’ is easy.

    Oh yeah, I remember. They’re full of shit. Accept the book. Then burn it. There’s more value in the BTUs in that book than the content.

  87. 87
    Violet says:

    @Librarian: She’s the living definition of a Murdoch toady.

  88. 88
    raven says:

    @Violet: I can find something that supports anything I decide to do.

  89. 89
    Anonymous At Work says:

    “Sometimes, life is good to you.”

  90. 90
    Violet says:

    @raven: Probably one of those situations where there is no right decision, but various good decisions and only you and any doctors you consult can help you make the best decision for you and your specific situation.

  91. 91
    The Tragically Flip says:

    “The Up Side of Down” makes me think there is a “liquidate them all […] it will purge the rottenness from the system” thesis at work here.

  92. 92
    raven says:

    @Violet: Yea, one thing I liked is that the pod is an Emory grad and trained under the pod that did my spine surgery in 1975.

  93. 93
    Ben Cisco says:

    Review should be titled, “Burn Before Reading.”

  94. 94
    Violet says:

    @raven: Trusting your doctor is important.

  95. 95
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: What viscous substance does one coat jackals in, other than honey, which is non-toxic? Lamp oil?

  96. 96
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Violet: WIN.

  97. 97
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Ben Cisco: +1

  98. 98
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Amir Khalid: “Sid Viscous” brings to mind the oil slime thing that killed Tasha Yar.

  99. 99
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @fidelio: These sorts of books benefit from “controversy”, basically, hate-reads. Ann Coulter in her heyday had thousands of angry Democrats buying her books and bitching about them.

    The problem for this PR flack is that McArgleBargle is quickly slipping into some sort of irrelevancy nowadays. Even her hate-bloggers are bored with her.

  100. 100
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Anoniminous: Excellent news.

  101. 101
  102. 102
    Scott S. says:

    Hell, tell ’em to send me a copy, and I’ll review it. I normally do comic book reviews, so it’ll be interesting to read something really unrealistic and silly.

  103. 103
    hrumpole says:

    Oh sweet jee bus please tell me you said yes.

  104. 104
    Yatsuno says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    more convinced than even before that you’re all a bunch of obsessive cranks

    Yeah well we love you too, ya bastage.

  105. 105
    kindness says:

    I say reading Megan’s book should be a form of punishment.

    Which one of you masochists is gonna take one for the team?

  106. 106
    Trollhattan says:

    So McMegan births the long-feared book. My prediction: it will race to a pretty high spot on the in-this-case-ironic non-fiction charts due to big buys by one or more Koch-funded organizations, then through the magic that is our freedom-loving industrial economy, become one month’s supply of Quilted Northern toilet paper, a fitting end to the supply chain.

    Cradle to grave, baby.

  107. 107
    Violet says:

    @Trollhattan: How tight is she with the Kochs these days? Is she Koch-funded or have they found her less useful and set her adrift?

  108. 108
    James E. Powell says:

    Does it come with a complimentary 8-pack of crayons?

  109. 109
    Trollhattan says:


    Honestly don’t know. Has she been invited back to this? I assume the only thing that gets you off the B-list is publicly denouncing Republicans, something McMegan seems to scrupulously avoid.

  110. 110
    Ruckus says:

    As I told you before I had my shoulder scoped for a torn rotator cuff. The PT afterwards was a bitch but the shoulder works now, which is more than could be said prior.
    I am not just very glad I had it done, I’m way, way above that level.

  111. 111
    Violet says:

    @Trollhattan: According to Wikipedia she works for “Bloomberg View” as a columnist. She was at the Atlantic when she was at the Aspen Totebaggers Convention and she left that for the Daily Beast. I think she got jettisoned from the Daily Beast when they started paring down. Don’t see where she’s a “fellow” at a “think tank” that might be Koch-funded.

  112. 112

    Brad DeLong’s recommended it. How can you go wrong?

  113. 113
    Cygil says:

    Take the book. It’ll cost them at least a few bucks to send it to you and you can recycle it.

    I’m sure that publicisists don’t personally review the email addresses in the lists they use. They purchase them from mailing list companies that compile lists of the more influential bloggers, and those guys presumably don’t code for political orientation.

  114. 114
    Just One More Canuck says:

    John should do a fund raiser for this. Make a contribution to a charity of his choice, and you’ll get to review a chapter of the book on the front page

  115. 115
    EconWatcher says:

    @Ken Houghton

    Brad DeLong got an article published in the Financial Times praising the supple brilliance of Larry Summers’ mind and shamelessly shilling for him for Fed Chair, without troubling to mention the little woopsies Summers has had along the way (like convincing Clinton to leave derivatives unregulated, and thereby helping bring on the worst economic catastrophe since the depression). Brad Delong is useless. I’m trying to use polite words here.

  116. 116
    Yatsuno says:

    Thread needs moar chickies. And yeah, they’re sedated.

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Just One More Canuck: What might work better is a “Donate or I’ll mail you the book” fundraising campaign.

  118. 118
    kindness says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: A Clockwork Orange style making them read it. I have toothpics if you need some.

  119. 119
    tjmn says:

    One could always wait for the Amazon reviewers to take a whack at McMegan’s book like they did with Palin’s latest book.

  120. 120
  121. 121

    @Linnaeus: You are correct. That is a core issue with McArgleBargle and her ilk. The only context they have is their context and that means that failure can be just another opportunity for growth instead of the life and death struggle it is for the majority of humans on this planet. Insofar as one could accept her context and resulting limited definition of failure, it might be possible to get through her book without having to gouge ones eyes out or beat one’s head against the wall but I wouldn’t risk it.

  122. 122

    […] learned — or rather was horribly brought to recall, after having labored hard to unknow the hideous realization, that Megan McArdle is coming out with […]

  123. 123
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    Spellcheck apparently doesn’t now the difference between “viscous” and “vicious.”

  124. 124
    labradog says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Your jackals are in liquid form?

  125. 125
    Max Renn says:

    @Big R: The Hounds of Tindalos!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] learned — or rather was horribly brought to recall, after having labored hard to unknow the hideous realization, that Megan McArdle is coming out with […]

Comments are closed.