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“Readers of The Journal May Be Wary of Murdoch, but Advertising Executives Are Not,” The New York Times, August 1, 2007:
“It’s just been a dark day,” said Ryan Chittum, a real estate reporter at The [Wall Street] Journal. “There is a tremendous amount of anxiety about being subsumed into News Corp. We are all extremely worried about the future of The Journal and its credibility. Its credibility is The Journal’s calling card and if that’s in question, then it hurts the paper.”
Shouting sans-serif headlines, of crude cut and emotive wording, dominate what the trade calls a “circus layout.” The jigsaw pattern seeks to convey the impression that everything happened at once, which is appropriately miraculous but sometimes disconcerting. Is the man in the photograph the crated mental patient? No, he is the future archbishop of New York. But for a single, glorious moment the reader might wonder if a priest had run amok with a knife instead of a box of socks. The intention is to jostle, distract, and entertain, to say to the reader, Move on, read this, look at that. The line “Mental Patient Stalked Reagan” isn’t bad. “Mental patient” perhaps isn’t as good as “psychopath” or “madman,” but “stalked” certainly is better than “traipsed after.” Best would have been “Ape-Mother Steals Kennedy Child.” But in the Murdoch press, thieving ape-mothers appear only once or twice a year, usually in the Star, and, for reasons not yet adequately understood, usually prefer to steal children in California or Texas.
I have lived for 613,000 hours. 201,000 of them were in childhood, youth, and thoroughly sort of inadequate education. That leaves 412,000. You take a third of that for sleep and rest. So I’m down to 275,000 hours. I take out a month for holidays, at least half a weekend, family time, evenings, etc., and you’re down to at the very maximum a couple hundred thousand hours I’ve been at work. And then I go, What have I done? How much time have I wasted in endless meetings with no decisions? Industry conferences? Company conferences? Studying overlong reports? Yeah, I guess I’ve wasted at least half my life. So that gets me down to perhaps 100,000 useful hours. Pretty bad figures. So if I’m pretty healthy and have a normal life expectancy–I’m a bit optimistic–I’ve got about another 175,000 hours to go, of which maybe I can spend 75,000 productively at work. All right? Or 70,000, say. So I’ve just got to see that each one of those hours is well spent.
Miss C.H. Spence of Adelaide, “An Australian’s Impressions of America,” July 1894:
As I come from a land where all the railroads and telegraphs are constructed and worked by government for the benefit of the community, the enormous power of the corporations that hold these monopolies in this country strikes me as a constant peril to liberty. The influence of millionaires and multimillionaires is doubled, if not quadrupled, by their hold on these indispensable branches of the public service. It may be said that no American state, and not even the Federal government itself, can be trusted with the administration of these things, on account of the corrupt political conditions which prevail. This is not going to last forever. All around we hear the voice of the discontented and the uncontented demanding reform. From various quarters it comes… Eternal vigilance on the part of the political machine only is eternal slavery for the citizen.
More from Harper’s Magazine:
Official Business — March 17, 2015, 4:01 am
Listen to the broadcast version of “American Hustle,” Alexandra Starr’s story, for the April 2015 issue of Harper’s Magazine, about how elite youth basketball exploits African athletes.
Official Business — January 8, 2015, 3:57 pm
We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish its cartoons—and our right to critique them.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”