Today in Tabs: Because I could not stop for Tabs, they kindly stopped for me

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The controversy over a story about a "magic" putter and the suicide of its creator and happy Martin Luther King Jr. day. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Hello, I'm Paul Ford. Rusty Foster is on assignment. And now, your Tabs.

TAB CLAIMS LIFE. Five days ago Grantland, a sporting-news sub-subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation (NYSE:DIS), published to the Internet of Tabs an article of 7,741 words (equivalent to 2.5 longreads) by Caleb Hannan entitled "Dr. V' Magical Putter." In short:

  1. Said golf putter seemed magical to its advocates;
  2. Putter inventor Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, upon investigation:
    1. Was no Ph.D.;
    2. Wrote oddly grandiose emails;
    3. And was making other things up too.
  3. The non-Dr. Vanderbilt also was also "whispers, then cries!" transgender; leading to two radically different outcomes:
  4. For Hannan, the sad acknowledgement that his putter had lost its placebo magic; and
  5. For non-Dr. Vanderbilt "anticipating exposure as a fraud and outing as trans"suicide.

It is in part III, where the fraudulence and transgender status were compounded, where the tab was born (sidenote: one definition of placebo is "The service or office of vespers for the dead"). Yet upon publication (now a few months after Dr. V's suicide) Key People of Influence (KPIs) rallied behind the long, strange tale. On Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), David Carr (NYSE:NYT) teased it as a story where the reporter discovered a "strange hole," demonstrating why editors have jobs. Other media folks came to cheer too. So ambiguous! So long! So brave?

Before long this warm front of SAAC (Story At All Costs) advocacy smashed into a cold blast of social justice trans-advocacy, and then came the tempest. "OMG, GIANT GENDER LIE" wrote Maria Dahvana Headley in the blog Glittering Scrivener ("It would appall me to put an offensive term up by accident")."Presenting Dr. V's gender identity as one in a series of lies and elisions," said Josh Levin in Slate, "was a careless editorial decision," (NYSE:GHC)

"While we, as readers, writers, and citizens, either attempt to play catch up or come up with more excuses as to why respecting the lives and realities of transgender people is just so hard," wrote Saeed Jones of BuzzFeeD, "transgender people themselves are paying the price for our tardiness." Someone rewrote the entire piece without the trans "reveal." Tweeters called Hannan a murderer. Wrote Tracy Moore of Jezebel (Gawker Media/Blogwire Hungary Szellemi Alkot Hasznos): "Don't out someone who doesn't want to be out. The end." As if this could end. All of which caused USA Today's (NYSE:GCI) Ryan Glasspiegel to explain how he would have read the piece, if he had read it:

I didn't read the piece until after the backlash. As a voracious Twitter consumer, I of course saw it getting passed around repeatedly, but it was my first full day of work here and I was focused on learning protocol. If it had been a typical day, I probably would have opened it and kept it in a tab, jumping back and forth. I think I would have skimmed the middle, and perhaps skipped ahead to the dramatic reveal. I don't believe I would've read it closely enough to notice what was wrong with it, and I might've even shared it.

As for the Grantland writer, Hannan came in from the links to tweet that he is listening and has not blocked anyone. The pressure is high for him to apologize but we know how that goes.Many, many tweets will be embedded before this ends. Of course, Grantland, as part of ESPN Internet Ventures, is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, which recently named to its board Twitter sub-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. Thus all the conversation indirectly benefits a boardmember of the controlling company of the sub-subsidiary. In conclusion, Dr. V. is dead, Caleb Hannan is listening, and we are a nation of Bartlebies working in Gatsby's basement.

NOTE. Gathering the above triggered an outbreak of dysthymia, so I donated my full Tab fee to the National Center for Transgender Equality in honor of Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt. I look forward to emails telling me that I should have given to the Equal Center for Transgender Nationality instead. Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

TABS THAT AT LEAST DIDN'T RESULT IN SUICIDE. The Washington Post (Nash Holdings LLC/Jeff Bezos) suggests that there's a link between a culture of constant government surveillance and regular folks limiting how much porn their kids can see; that annoying marshmallow study doesn't explain everything; Anchorman 2 was Paramount's last film film. A stupid cocaine skull. Two-thirds of Americans finally gathered the courage to tell a pollster that the war in Afghanistan wasn't worth it after all.

ALSO. Drone-hunting licenses; comedians psychotic; Palestinians pessimistic; British suspicious; Olds barebacking; Splenda bad.

AND ULTIMATELY. Galaxies snack.

Today's song: Burial, "Come Down To Us"

Today's document: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s hand-written notes for Why We Can't Wait

~This exciting for you, Ma? I got all of tabless Brooklyn up here for you. Merry Christmas.~

Today in Tabs is brought to you today from Brooklyn, by way of and email. Rusty is presently whitewater fishing in the Zambezi and cannot be reached, so Paul Ford will return again tomorrow.