Signs of the times a horseshit
Occasionally we notice fascinating things
in the media news out-weirds satire, or sociological
details hint at bigger things/trends unrecognised by most
media commentators. The snippets presented below aren't direct
examples of media horseshit they are pointers to what
is conspicuously absent from the usual smug, know-it-all
mainstream media worldview...
Rising stress at work is causing increasing numbers
of young professionals to grind their teeth while they sleep,
according to the British Dental Health Foundation (27/1/2000).
According to a survey published by London's biggest
organisation for the homeless, 1 in 10 homeless people has
a college degree, and 1 in 5 is educated to 'A' Level standard.
(St Mungo Association)
Tatler, the upmarket glossy magazine, has announced
that servants and butlers (ie personal slaves) are back in
fashion as the ultimate lifestyle accessory for the rich.
(Tatler, August 2001).
An angry bank customer in Thailand covered himself
in human excrement and walked into his branch to close his
account. Mr Kotchasit said the stench would be more bearable
than "the stink of mismanagement" at the bank. He
had invested his life savings of around £9,000 in a
mutual fund, but its value fell to around £3,000 in
the following years. (Bangkok Post, August 2001)
The BBC is publicly funded (via the compulsory TV
licence fee). In 2001, £800,000 of BBC funds was spent
on bonuses for a small group of senior BBC executives, including
director-general Greg Dyke.
Turning the tables on telemarketers, the US humorist,
Dave Barry, printed the phone number of the American Teleservices
Association in his newspaper column, with the suggestion
that readers call. After being overwhelmed with calls, the
ATA accused Barry of "malicious intent". Barry commented:
"I feel just terrible, especially if they were eating
or anything". (Independent 15/9/03)
A pregnant woman has earned $400 by selling her "bump"
as an advertising billboard for the day. The woman, eight
months pregnant, received the money for walking around London
with an advertisement painted on her stomach. (Ananova,
Nicholas van Hoogstraten, a property millionaire,
was fined £1,500 for contempt of court after calling
a barrister "a dirty bastard". He commented "there
is one law for the rich and one for the poor... if I was not
a multimillionaire I would not have been fined at all".
Previously Hoogstraten has described ramblers wishing to use
a footpath across his estate as "perverts". (Guardian
"BROWN HIRES HIT SQUADS TO CUT JOBLESS"
(front page headline of the Daily Mail on 28/2/2000,
referring to UK Chancellor Gordon Brown's plans for "special
hit squads to be sent into job blackspots in a tough crackdown
on hardcore unemployment"). Wow, send in the army
seek out and destroy the idle! What does the language
of "hit squads", etc, say about attitudes to the
Jesus was a regular cannabis user according to an
article in High Times, quoted by the Guardian (6/1/03):
"The anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples
contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which has since
been identified as cannabis extract".
Bank of America Corp. Chairman and Chief executive
Hugh McColl took home $76 million last year, making him the
highest paid US bank head. The bank fired 15,069 employees
last year. (Arizona Republic 21/3/2000)
New York City is so anxious to place welfare recipients
in jobs, that it was sending some of them to work at a psychic
hotline. The recruitment blurb for this job made no mention
of clairvoyance being a requirement, but it did cite a need
for a caring and compassionate personality. (NY Times 6/2/2000)
A few large corporations publish most of the magazines
on display at your local newsagent. For example, IPC publishes
25 of the most popular women's mags read by more than
half the UK's female population each week.
(As of June 2001) 5.8 million working-age males were
missing in the US. That's to say they exist in the US census
statistics but not in labor statistics. They have no obvious
means of economic support. They show up in neither employment
nor unemployment statistics. Many, presumably, are homeless;
the others... who knows? One for the X-Files, perhaps. (Reported
by Lester Thurow in The American Prospect).
In Summer 2001, the media revealed that many of the
Queen of England's 600 staff were living below the poverty
level. The lowest-paid of the royal staff were then offered
a 16% pay increase (presumably as a rushed attempt to quell
the bad publicity).
(From The Observer, July 2001) 'World leaders
and senior politicians should be tested regularly for signs
of madness, a leading brain scientist warned. Dr James Toole,
president of the World Federation of Neurology, believes it
is now critical that presidents and prime ministers be scrutinized
for signs of mental instability: "Pilots of airliners
are in charge of a few hundred passengers, and we monitor
their mental health in the most detailed way... by contrast,
politicians control the lives of millions, but we let them
run around without any form of psychological profiling".'
MI5 once planned to use gerbils to catch secret agents
and subversives. Gerbils can scent increased adrenaline from
sweat. The idea goes back to the 70s when Canadian scientists
planned to use gerbils at airport immigration desks to sniff
out "suspicious" persons entering the country. Unfortunately,
when the Israeli internal security service installed gerbils
at Tel Aviv airport, it was found that the "suspicious"
people identified by the gerbils were merely terrified of
flying (Guardian 30/6/01).
"IBM has been asked by the US government to build
a supercomputer to help them find the ultimate environmentally-friendly
car engine. The computer, capable of 3.8 trillion calculations
a second, will also be used in global climate modelling and
research into fusion energy, proteins, the environment and
biology. But this won't be the world's most powerful computer.
That accolade will remain with another US government-owned
IBM machine - one engaged in classified work modelling nuclear
weapons explosions." (News article from Netscape website,
Seven of the biggest US corporations paid less than
zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because they received
rebates that exceeded the amount of taxes they paid). These
included: Texaco, PepsiCo and General Motors. Companies use
a variety of means to lower their federal income taxes, including
tax credits for activities like research and accelerated depreciation
write-offs. (Source: The Institute on Taxation and Economic
A German electricity company has been sued after slashing
its prices by a third. A customer successfully sued the firm
after claiming it must have overcharged him in the past to
be able to afford such generosity. German laws state electricity
should be sold as cheaply as possible. A Berlin court decided
that the company had previously overcharged, and ordered
the company to refund the customer. (ananova.com, 12/8/2001)
The game, Monopoly, originated as
"The Landlord's Game", created by Quaker Lizzie
Magie to promote the ideas of "alternative" economist
Henry George to demonstrate the extortion and wealth-monopolisation
inherent in the landlord system. Ghettopoly,
a new game (roll a six, collect $50 "for services
your hoe provided") has attracted legal action from Hasbro,
owner of rights to Monopoly. But Ghettopoly's UK promoter
claims Hasbro stole Monopoly from the Quakers.
One of the big polling companies, ICM,
claimed that the UK Conservative Party wanted them to ask
"leading questions" in commissioned polls, with
the effect of showing Conservative policies in a favourable
light. (BBC2 Newsnight, 27/4/04)
August 2001 The Chief Executive of IBM has
been awarded an honorary Knighthood, despite allegations of
tax underpayment by IBM allegedly over £300 million
in the UK and more than $5 billion worldwide.
The mayor of a Siberian oil town has ordered his bureaucrats
to stop using expressions such as "I don't know",
"I can't", "It's not my job", "It's
impossible", "I'm having lunch", "There
is no money", "I was away/sick/on vacation",
etc. (Associated Press, 4/9/07) http://www.cbc.ca/cp/Oddities/070904/K090417AU.html
More to be added soon...