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"I've read more dirty books than any man in New England"

An interview with the man who banned in Boston, circa 1930. The New Republic is republishing a haul of classics from its archives in celebration of its 100th anniversary. In honor of banned books week, today's selection is a brief interview/profile of one of the U.S. Customs officials in charge of clearing books for circulation circa 1930. [more inside]
posted by Diablevert on Sep 25, 2014 - 5 comments

Amazon vs. Hachette, an Epic Battle Faught with Letters and Addresses

Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 11, 2014 - 146 comments

All I'm really saying is "Sebald is great"

In "Walking, Researching, Remembering: W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn as Essay," Patrick Madden reaches a simple conclusion but visits along the way several points of wider interest in a discussion of essays in general. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 4, 2014 - 2 comments

To make a call the writer had to travel 18 miles

A visit to George Orwell's house on the remote Scottish island of Jura.
posted by Chrysostom on Jul 3, 2014 - 15 comments

From the Merchants of Cool to Generation Like

'The media is a chaotic place. Like an ocean or a weather system, it no longer respects authority. In fact, those who attempt to impose their authority are ridiculed, while brilliant and valuable tidbits emerge from the most remote and seemingly inconsequential sources.... Younger, media-savvy viewers instinctively reject authoritative voices and laugh at commercials in which people try to act "cool." ' That was Douglas Rushkoff's assessment of companies courting the youth demographic as covered in print in 2000, and the next year in video as the PBS Frontline documentary, Merchants of Cool (streaming documentary; prev: 1, 2, 3, 4). Earlier this year, Rushkoff revisited the topic with PBS in Generation Like (streaming documentary), in a time when young people are generally happy to tell the world what brands they like as a way of identifying who they are. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 20, 2014 - 44 comments

Godwin Orwelled

Ted Rall opines the looming war on crimethink
posted by maggieb on Mar 8, 2013 - 59 comments

People full of shit, both liberal and conservative, most of the time.

False memories of fabricated political events [ABSTRACT]. In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions. [FULL TEXT PDF AVAILABLE HERE] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 13, 2013 - 78 comments

We'd never change the definition of 'bad guy', honest!

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
posted by Malor on Feb 4, 2013 - 148 comments

The Real George Orwell

The Radio 4 on the BBC is presenting a month of readings from George Orwell's books. Some of them will only be available for one week from the date of broadcast, so be quick. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Jan 29, 2013 - 5 comments

The Crimes of Col. Qaddafi

The Crimes of Col. Qaddafi An original essay by Christopher Hitchens, that starts: In George Orwell's 1939 novel, Coming Up for Air, his narrator, George Bowling, broods on the special horrors of the new totalitarianism and notices "the colored shirts, the barbed wire, the rubber truncheons," but also, less obviously perhaps, "the processions and the posters with enormous faces, and the crowds of a million people all cheering for the Leader till they deafen themselves into thinking that they really worship him, and all the time, underneath, they hate him so that they want to puke."
posted by growabrain on Aug 26, 2011 - 57 comments

1984 in 1954 (Watch the 1954 BBC adaptation of Nineteen Eighty Four)

Nigel Kneale's adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four was one of the most controversial television programmes of its time. Broadcast live, it made "unusually extensive and imaginative use of filmed inserts (14 in total). These sequences bought time for the more elaborate costume changes or scene set-ups, but also served to 'open out' the action." And now you can watch it too! The full version is currently on Youtube. Short of the John Hurt film released in 1984 being posted online, the 1954 BBC TV adaptation is about as doubleplusgood as it gets for now. [more inside]
posted by Effigy2000 on Dec 12, 2010 - 12 comments

James Hadley Chase

James Hadley Chase's No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1939) did for the gangster novel what Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep did in the same year for the private-eye novel. Both works were clarifiers, intensifiers, transformers. ... But, as so often happens, Orwell raises the important questions, and it is his essay that has kept No Orchids for Miss Blandish alive for serious consideration. (links may contain mildly NSFW cover art) [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Oct 17, 2010 - 6 comments

Orwell's War-Time Diary

“People talk a little more of the war, but very little. As always hitherto, it is impossible to overhear any comments on it in the pubs, etc. Last night, E[ileen] and I went to the pub to hear the 9 o’c news. The barmaid was not going to have it on if we had not asked her, and to all appearances nobody listened.”
On May 28, 1940, George Orwell began keeping a war time diary. Printed in “full and in chronological order” by the Orwell Trust, 70 years after he wrote them, with selected historian’s notes. Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming. (Previously)
posted by stratastar on Jun 18, 2010 - 21 comments

Be seeing you

iWatch PSA. The LAPD recently launched a new program named iWatch which encourages and establishes guidelines for citizen reporting of suspicious activity. There's also a 7 minute action movie playing out a fictional case study of the program. [more inside]
posted by sloe on Oct 25, 2009 - 32 comments

Big Brother is watching you! But don't watch him!

Police do it to the British public 24/7/365. It has become pervasive in the UK and shows little sign of changing. Apparently, however, Joe Blogs may find that his rights may be greatly compromised when photographing Police or even criminals. [more inside]
posted by Don't_deceive_with_belief on Feb 4, 2009 - 48 comments

Dreaming is a private thing.

A team of researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have managed to reconstruct black-and-white visual images from an fMRI scan of a test subject's brain. Some more examples of the recovered data. The organization responsible claims that the technology to record thoughts and dreams is just around the corner. [more inside]
posted by teraflop on Dec 11, 2008 - 48 comments

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm

How the Poor Die My right-hand neighbour was a little red-haired cobbler with one leg shorter than the other, who used to announce the death of any other patient (this happened a number of times, and my neighbour was always the first to hear of it) by whistling to me, exclaiming "NUMÉRO 43!" (or whatever it was) and flinging his arms above his head. This man had not much wrong with him, but in most of the other beds within my angle of vision some squalid tragedy or some plain horror was being enacted. Previously [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Dec 4, 2008 - 16 comments

Kiki and Bubu

Kiki and Bubu! Austrian art collective monochrom presents the adventures of two sock puppets. Part One: Kiki and Bubu and The Shift. "Bubu wants to know why his dad is busy all the time. And Kiki explains him why... because of the neoliberal shift." Part Two: Kiki and Bubu and The Privilege. "Bubu ran into a bunch of liberals and they gave him a book. They said if he doesn't read it, they're going to beat him up. But Bubu can't read! And so Kiki helps..." [Via BB]
posted by homunculus on Jun 7, 2008 - 6 comments

Shepard Fairey Meets George Orwell

Shepard Fairey's cover art for Penguin releases of 1984 & Animal Farm.
posted by jonson on Apr 13, 2008 - 29 comments

Down The Mine

Down The Mine. An essay on coal mining as seen by George Orwell in 1937. [Via The Huffington Post.]
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2007 - 20 comments

Down the memory hole

Gonzales pushes plan to criminalize copyright infringement, making it punishable by life imprisonment; to increase wiretaps; and to require Homeland Security to notify the RIAA in certain circumstances. "To meet the global challenges of IP crime." I'd comment on this, but I'm afraid that someone might think I was copying someone else. The Intellectual Property Protection Act (official press release) appeared previously in a speech (2005) and as a draft (2006) - now the Justice department is pushing Congress to bring it forward. [newsfilter]
posted by blacklite on May 15, 2007 - 59 comments

Flip Flop

Iraq Was a Worthy Mistake by National Review editor Jonah Goldberg.
posted by bardic on Oct 19, 2006 - 111 comments

Doublespeak and the War on Terrorism

The misuse of language [pdf] has been embraced by our leadership. This heavily documented report provides tangible examples of the various redefinitions used in modern America.
posted by mulligan on Sep 14, 2006 - 25 comments

Orwell Redux

George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair is probably best known to readers for his eerily prescient novels 1984 and Animal Farm. This comprehensive Orwell site betrays an erudite, complex, fascinating personality who wrote about a variety of subjects, from an exposition on British class relations affecting the art and practice of murder, to the complex moral compromises of Gandhi's practice of non-violent resistance, to the doublespeak-laden corruption of the English language as a telling reflection of a corrupt, brutal, post-WWII culture — and much, much more. This site also includes Russian translations of much of Orwell's work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 21, 2006 - 21 comments

Orwellian Carnivore

“You know, I don’t think there’s a single piece of meat in this stew. Looks like meat. Tastes like meat. It isn’t meat at all. Doubleplus good!” ~ George Orwell: 1984
posted by augustweed on Jul 2, 2006 - 54 comments

Those dastardly cowards!

Three of the clever, committed terrorists in Guantanamo Bay committed an act of war against the United States on Saturday morning.
posted by Malor on Jun 11, 2006 - 240 comments

AT&T-NSA documents leaked

Wired News has obtained a copy of a file detailing AT&T's involvement with the NSA that was sealed in the EFF's class-action lawsuit against AT&T. At 2AM EST this morning they have published that file on their site for anyone to download (this is the fixed link, the one on Wired is currently broken).[via]
posted by Ryvar on May 22, 2006 - 67 comments

A Presidency in Shadow

Notice: henceforth, the Minister of War shall address the people only through the Ministry of Truth. The story-behind-the-story of the Vice President's hunting mishap is the denigration of the MSMTM as the traditional proxy of the public interest, says NYU journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen. "It strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is," Cheney told cherry-picked Fox "News" correspondent Brit Hume yesterday. GOP spokesperson Mary Matalin underlined the point by saying that Cheney considered holding a news conference, but that "would have meant a lot of grandstanding" by reporters; Donald Rumsfeld often goes even farther, claiming that terrorist organizations manipulate the American press directly through "media committees." Judging by the administration's contempt for the Fourth Estate, says Rosen, "The public visibility of the presidency itself is under revision. More of it lies in shadow all the time. Non-communication has become the standard procedure, not a breakdown in practice but the essence of it." Even arch-conservative pundits like George Will are starting to get nervous about the lack of check and balances under the current regime. There's no doubt that the White House press corps seems angrier these days -- but are they missing the bigger stories by focusing their wrath on Scott McClellan's birdshot spin?
posted by digaman on Feb 16, 2006 - 34 comments

A cop in your trucnk: mandatory GPS tracking for your car.

Merry Christmas! Santa knows if you've been bad or good. The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to know where you're driving. Where you're driving, right this very minute, tracking you in real-time using GPS. If the GPS signal is obstructed, your car's engine will turn off, Citizen!
posted by orthogonality on Dec 24, 2005 - 97 comments

LanguageFilter

Orwell: Politics and the English Language. Some timely links in the fast changing world of instant communication. Alistair Cooke Needles the Jargonauts in Assessing the State of the English Language. The Electronic Revolution by William S. Burroughs. On Wittgenstein's Concept of a Language Game. The Economist Looking for a sign. John Zerzan Language: Origin and Meaning. Hakim Bey: Aimless Wandering: Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics also Chaos Linguistics. The Language of Animals. John C Lilly on Interspecies Communication. Language Log: Natural language and artificial intelligence. Natural Language Processing AI News.
posted by MetaMonkey on Dec 1, 2005 - 22 comments

fun and games

The Ministry of Reshelving
This week, we launched the Ministry of Reshelving project. My partners in crime as founding members of the ministry: George, Kiyash, and Monica. This weekend we relocated 19 copies of George Orwell's 1984 in four different bookstores in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Berkeley. It was high stealth adventure. You are invited to join our efforts.
Sounds like mischievous fun. Which books would you reshelve?
posted by nofundy on Aug 18, 2005 - 118 comments

Terror Alert: Yellow!

Be afraid: The national threat-alert level today is yellow or "elevated," with "significant risk of terrorist attacks," says the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, the alert level has been elevated since December of 2003, when it was raised from orange. During the election season, the Fox News network flashed the terror alert level in their "crawl" as if there was breaking news -- the sort of thing that prompted some liberal wags to ridicule the entire system. Now former DHS secretary Tom Ridge says that the Bush administration was "really aggressive" about raising the threat-alert level during his tenure, even when the agency felt that the intelligence didn't warrant it.
posted by digaman on May 11, 2005 - 24 comments

Orwell would be proud

Eastasia plans attacks on Eurasia "Efforts each of you make to be vigilant – such as reporting suspicious items or activities to authorities – do make a difference. Every citizen using their common sense and eyes and ears can support our national effort to stop the terrorists. Thank you for your continued resolve in the face of the ongoing threat of terrorism. We must continue to work together – to ensure that the freedom we just celebrated continues as the hallmark of this great nation." Are you scared yet?
posted by skechada on Jul 8, 2004 - 57 comments

Don't worry your pretty little head about it.

White House "disappears" women's info. The Bush administration has quietly removed 25 reports from its Women's Bureau Web site, deleting or distorting crucial information on issues from pay equity to reproductive healthcare. There's a long article about it over at Salon, behind the premium wall.
posted by dejah420 on Apr 28, 2004 - 16 comments

"Orwellian, Dude!"

"Orwellian, Dude!" Elusive, legendary author Thomas Pynchon resurfaces to intoduce a new edition of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four with a critical eye on the present. And finds optimism in the appendix.
posted by Bletch on May 3, 2003 - 17 comments

The CIAs Animal Farm

Many know about the WWII propaganda films made by Warner Bros & Disney. But few know of the CIAs efforts to produce Cold War propaganda films. Like this take on George Orwells, Animal Farm.
posted by Dreamghost on Apr 17, 2003 - 5 comments

Orwell on political language

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Words are to be likely casualties of the next few hours/days/weeks/months - time to double-check George Orwell's informative field medicine manual for the English Language...
posted by klaatu on Mar 20, 2003 - 6 comments

Pigs Fly: Animal Farm Performed in China

Pigs Fly. Orwell is in the house in downtown Beijing: a theatrical production of one of his most famous works opened last November. It escaped the censors -- actually getting the approval stamp in three days -- though it was altered somewhat by director Shang Chengjun. [more inside]
posted by namespan on Mar 10, 2003 - 5 comments

"Granted, we're a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie."
posted by jjg on Jul 28, 2002 - 54 comments

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