Poems, everyone. The laddie fancies himself a poet! (Yes, see? I took some song lyrics and changed exactly four words. A poet I be.)
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I love having a brain that is capable of critical thought. Every once in a while a little moment comes along where it kicks in and I’m actually proud of myself. Don’t worry, these moments pass quickly and are soon forgotten.
They say, “Don’t believe everything you read.” Or, “I know it’s true ’cause I saw it on TV.” We all like to act like those truisms don’t apply to us. Only those other lemming idiots. Never us. Yet we fall for it all day long. True moments of “question everything” are few and far between.
I was on my break. In front of me was the day’s Wall Street Journal. Naturally, since he’s a primetime asshole, it’s one of the boss’ favorite publications. You can tell by the level of crumplage and how the pages are strewn about which pages have been read and which ones haven’t. He typically digests the thing in several sittings.
There, on the front of a section he hadn’t gotten to yet I saw the headline, “How To Be A Better Boss in 2013.”
Uh oh. I better check this out, I thought. If it’s really bad I can throw it away and he’ll never know the difference. The last thing I need in my life is the fucking WSJ filling my boss’ already tainted mind with even more evil.
I picked it up and started to read.
“Holy mother of God.”
For some time I’ve been meaning to do a post about the Wall Street Journal app on my iPod. I think it was back in July 2011 when I took the screenshot shown above (on the right).
Notice what is peculiar about it? Here’s a little hint:
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from my official review of the WSJ app for iOS devices.
It’s the best goddamn app for showing locked content (keys) that I’ve ever seen in my whole fucking life.
–Tom B. Taker
Seriously. If you love little key icons you’re going to love this app.
–Tom B. Taker
This app will make you lose your shit. If you can unlock anything in it, that is.
–Tom B. Taker
Finally! The Wall Street Journal has taken the time-honored model of frustrating customers and achieved sublime perfection.
–Tom B. Taker
So many keys – you’ll think you’re on a vacation in Florida! And that’s an economical vacation!
–Tom B. Taker
I’d post the review in full, but unfortunately that is restricted content. Lucky for you it’s only $9.99. Send me your credit card information and I’ll pass it along.
Now obviously I could pay money and remove those little locked icons. How much would you pay? Well, for that priviledge the WSJ wants $1.99 a week. (That’s about $103/year.) Or you could get the actual print version delivered to your door six days a week for $2.29 a week. (About $119/year.)
Yep. That’s right. Go online and save the trees, gas, and cost of paying a human being to schlep a physical object to you and you’ll save a whopping 13 percent. Erm, 13 percent? Say what?
Yes, here we have the WSJ model that web content should be almost the same price as traditional distribution.
Now how much would you pay?
Wait! Before you answer, check this out. What if you could only pay one penny? Then would you be interested?
In a story this morning The Guardian reports on a WSJ scam that cost an executive his job. (Is The Guardian one of the hundreds of media owned by Rupert Murdoch? I’m not sure. There are so many it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily there’s an app for that! Good news – they’re not!)
In wake of the scandal, the European Publishing Chief for the WSJ resigned. The Guardian reports that under the scheme WSJ newspapers were sold for one cent each in a bid to increase circulation numbers.
By the way, in case anyone forgets, the WSJ is owned by News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch. (Why do I feel like I should be referring to him as He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named?) Shudder!
Anywho, under the scheme, companies who sponsored the WSJ paid a reduced “knock-down” rate of 5 cents or less per newspaper. In the case of a Dutch company known as Executive Learning Partnership (ELP), the rate was 1 cent per newspaper for 12,000 sponsored purchases per day.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) eventually determined that the scheme was responsible for 41% of the daily circulation the WSJ claimed in Europe, about 31,000 copies out of a total of 75,000.
Things fell apart when ELP complained they were not getting enough return on their investment. Gee, ya think? Perhaps it isn’t wise to invest in a newspaper that artificially inflates its circulation numbers, eh? To placate ELP, the WSJ executive created an addendum to their contract, and it is that addendum that The Guardian reports led to his resignation.
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.
The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.
Source: The Guardian
Ethics? Reputation? Editorial quality? Those are not words one normally associates with something owned by the likes of Rupert Murdoch.
The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.
Don’t you hate it when you get made “redundant?” I know I do! (Or did I already say that?)
If Rupert Murdock is involved, why do I feel that even a mere penny is too much to pay?
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
Robert Frost said famously, “Good fences make good neighbors.” If that’s true, then good walls must make them the best of friends. Heh.
“Howdy, neighbor. What’s that you’re building there?”
“Wow. You must really like me. Hang on and I’ll give you a hand.”
For me, the bigger the wall, the better. And it should have guard stations at every corner. And machine guns. I want to be the best friend of all – and to as many people as possible.
Bloody hell. Just yesterday I was referencing The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs and today I’m wheeling out a little The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe himself. I’m so literate and well-read. Don’t be fooled – it’s an act.
There was a fair about of debate in the Taker household before this post. What would be done with “W” in the A-Z Blogger Challenge? I was leaning strongly in favor of writing about one of my perennial favorites, namely “work.” In my blog’s tag cloud it is the #2 tag of all-time, preceded only by “poop” and followed closely by “job.” That can’t be a coincidence. It’s almost as if there is an intelligence at work here.
My wife (hey – another “W” word) was not enthralled with the idea of yet another post about work. I think she may have mentioned a horse beaten to death and something about a whiny bitch. After some lobbying on my part, she eventually signed off on “wall.”
Other subjects considered and discarded for this post included Dubya (too gouache and passe) and Winnie the Poop (which I thought was hilarious but the wife not so much).
Unless you live under a brick, you’ve no doubt heard of The Wall, an album and movie by Pink Floyd. In my opinion, The Wall is one of the best albums of all time. I adore it. And, on my behalf, so does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I’ve given those greedy bastards my money many times over to own the same music again and again.
The Wall was released back in 1979. I originally owned it as a double album LP. You played it on a thing known as a “turntable” with a needle that vibrated in little grooves on the surface of the record. It was all quite analog and primitive. I wore that sucker out and bought it again. That’s paying twice for the same music.
Then I owned it on cassette tape. And that got eaten by the player. So I bought it again. Then compact discs came out and, since then, I’ve purchased it at least three separate times on CD.
By my calculations, that’s at least seven times I’ve paid for the same music. Funny, but I don’t recall the RIAA ever getting angry about that. Not once have they ever threatened to sue me to give me a refund for overpaying them. That’s quite odd, isn’t it?
So one of the greatest albums of all time when on to become one of the greatest movies of all time. The Wall easily makes my personal top 10 movie list and also happens to be the best drinking movie – ever. When you are feeling grim, foul and down in the depths of your own depravity, nothing beats grabbing a bottle of gin and plumbing the depths with The Wall. It’s great fun.
The Wall tells the story of a rock star who builds a wall in self-defense. The wall is meant to protect but ends up destroying him. The rock star is fucked up. His dad dies in a war and his mother is overprotective. He’s influenced by sadistic teachers.
Each of these traumas become metaphoric “bricks in the wall.” The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact. (Source: Wikipedia.)
It’s a feel good story that you’ll love over and over again.
You know, there’s another story that prominently features a wall that I’d also like to share with you. It’s The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe. The plot here is fairly basic. Our hero has suffered a “thousand injuries” at the hands of Fortuno and vows revenge. He knows that Fortuno fancies himself a wine connoisseur and invites him to sample some Amontillido. Of course, it’s stored down below and way in the back of a damp wine cellar in the catacombs below our hero’s palazzo.
Lured all the way in, and already drunk, Fortunato is chained and locked in a niche, as described by Poe in this key moment:
“He is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped back from the recess.
After that, our hero begins to build a wall while Fortunato is helpless and still very much alive. Ah, the wonders of the English language never cease to amaze me. There’s actually a word for this! 🙂
Immurement – a form of execution where a person is walled up within a building and left to die from starvation or dehydration. This is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation.
Oh, Edgar. You’re still teaching, even after all these years.
The Alan Parsons Project marvelously brought this story to life in a song:
And, in closing, you can’t explore a “W” post without an appearance by Willie West of Wonderful WINO radio. Enjoy.
This is my “W” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.