Wednesday, July 13, 2011

886 Love Child

886 Love Child

You might say that the just-closed “News of the World” and its master, Rupert Murdoch could be the love child of a union between Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

The paper, Britain’s biggest seller, peddled the “Soma” drug of “Brave New World” and the high tech eavesdropping of “1984.”

It was filled with headlines about nonsense going on behind the scenes of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace and in the lives of celebrities. And at the same time, reporters were poring over the electronic phone records of poor souls who had the misfortune to have public misfortunes, most prominently, political big wigs.

The British tabloids, those owned by both Murdoch and others, make the American tabloids look tame.  Everyone is a pervert.  Everyone is immoral in any way you gauge morality.  And anyone is fair game.

They amuse us to death, as Neil Postman said in his book of a similar name.  And they use the latest technology to delve into the personal lives or celebrities, royals, and government officials.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and Murdoch’s British papers have done more than just obtained supposedly secret cell phone conversations.  As his visit to Britain continues, it comes out that even his snazzy and respected London Times engaged in hanky panky to get medical records of the family of at least one-high-ranking government official.

We can huff and puff about privacy all we want, but in the age of electronic technology, forget it.  The stuff is on a computer somewhere and someone who wants to will find a way to get it.

There are two forces at work here and only one of them has drawn public mention.  That’s a little battle to keep Murdoch from buying the portion of Sky News that he doesn’t already own.  The second and far more sinister aspect is an effort to bring greater government control to the British media.  

It’s not just Murdoch. All the tabloids open closet doors and let the secrets out.  Fleet Street has been doing this for what, maybe a hundred years?

Once the politicians gain control over the flow of information -- the accurate and the inaccurate -- the deprived class will be the British public.  And how long before American politicians, drooling with envy and their usual power lust, will try to affect similar restrictions here to those proposed by the supposedly stiff upper lip Brits?

Do you want Newt and Boehner in charge of what you read?

(For a closer look at Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, please Wessay™ #634 from 12/7/09.)

Shrapnel (MLB Edition):
--Major league baseball is the stat-happiest of sports.  So now we know that hitting in the first half of the season is lower than in any year since 1985.  Can you break that down into left handed and right handed batters, and those with blue and brown eyes and the number of sunny days in the first half seasons from ‘85 until now... and if so, thanks.

--Actually there’s a method to the madness of that first season hit count.  It’s designed to show that steroid use is down in MLB.  So how does that affect attendance?

--Congrats to Derek Jeter, the first Yankee with 3,000 career hits.  A gracious fan, Christian Lopez, caught the valuable ball in the stands then gave it back to Jeter instead of selling it; the Yankees showered him with all kinds of gifts.  Now, Lopez, already deeply in debt, will have to pay taxes on the gifts -- 14-thousand dollars worth -- about what he would have gotten for selling the ball.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and spyware to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

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