Category Archives: New York Times

A book review that probably wouldnt be published in a British Newspaper describes the state of British Media in the wake of the Phone hacking scandal

Hack-Attack-The-Inside-Story-of-How-the-Truth-Caught-Up-with-Rupert-MurdochReview of ‘Hack Attack,’ About a Rupert Murdoch Paper’s Trials, by Nick Davies from the New York Times

by DAVID CARR AUG. 14, 2014

In the United States, most of us fall for the movie version of Britain — horsy, obsessed with propriety and full of hard stares of unfulfilled longing between the genders. And then there is the Britain of Nick Davies’s “Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch.”

This version is less Jolly Olde England than a country gone mad, drunk on prerogative, a tiny treehouse of a place where people lie just for practice and trash the law for sport and gain. There is so much excess and human pathology on display here, it makes “Bonfire of the Vanities” seem restrained.

The book traces Davies’s three-year campaign to bring to account News Corporation and its British subsidiary News International, along with its owners, the Murdochs, and various enablers in Britain. It is a travelogue of a relentless pursuit, detailing how Davies, an investigative journalist, refused to accept the common wisdom of the political, media and law-enforcement establishment that hacking at the Murdoch-owned News of the World — breaking into the voice mail messages of public and private figures — was an isolated instance of tabloid excess. As it turned out, the practice was exceedingly common and casually deployed to create villains in order to sell papers and, when it was useful, to persecute enemies of the Murdoch empire. The Britain that emerges in “Hack Attack” is a festering petri dish where, as Davies puts it, “everything is for sale. Nobody is exempt.”

While Davies is a populist and a partisan who loves catching out the rich and punishing elites, he clearly believes that the common folk of Britain have gotten exactly the government and media they deserve. Not only are they willing to lay down a hard-earned quid for one of the tatty papers Murdoch and much of the rest of Fleet Street sell, but the voice mail and email boxes of those newspapers are always jammed with proffers from waiters, hotel clerks and trainers who are more than eager to spill dirt for a few pounds. If, as Janet Malcolm has said, journalists are always selling someone out, the public in Britain seems happy to serve as their wingmen. In that cultural context, the hacking of phones on an enormous scale by The News of the World, Britain’s most popular newspaper, seems like just one more part of how business gets done in a country where the cruelty of the press is chronic and callous.

There’s a long, florid history of tabloid excess in Britain, hardly restricted to the Murdoch-owned papers. This part of the tale began in 2006, when Clive Goodman, the royals editor at The News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator the newspaper had hired, were arrested and charged with hacking the phones of the British royal family. The pair eventually pleaded guilty and went to prison, and Andy Coulson, the editor of The News of the World at the time, resigned. News Corporation officials insisted it was an isolated incident spawned by a rogue reporter, an assertion that turned Davies into something of a rogue himself because he knew better.

On July 8, 2009, Davies published the first of what would be many articles in The Guardian about the extent of hacking at The News of the World, writing that News Corporation had paid out more than £1 million to settle hacking cases that would have led to embarrassing exposures, and pointedly noting that Coulson, by then the Conservative leader David Cameron’s communications director, had served as deputy editor and then editor of The News of the World while much of the hacking had gone on. There were many attempts to knock down and minimize the story, but working in concert with the attorneys of several victims, Davies published a series of reports over the next few years suggesting that hacking was rife and that knowledge of the practice went right to the top of the newspapers and the political establishment.

As an old hand in journalism, Davies knew the dimensions of the cesspool and was more than willing to stand in the muck for years to figure out what was at the bottom. He is, as it turns out, just the kind of person you don’t want to have on your tail. It’s less about his strategic brilliance and more about an innate refusal to give up — ever. That which cannot be known is precisely what Davies wants to know, over and over again. He wages a ground war to get at the truth, which comes less in one single “aha” moment than as a slow drip of facts penetrating a tissue of lies. Evidence is destroyed just before he gets his hands on it, the police redact documents so as to denude them of value. Then, just in the nick of time, a confidential source or secret document arrives. In that sense, the book moves right along, from cliffhanger to cliffhanger.

Nick Davies
Nick Davies

Continue reading A book review that probably wouldnt be published in a British Newspaper describes the state of British Media in the wake of the Phone hacking scandal

Obsessed? Bewildered? Ask 90 Year Old Dr. Mahinder Watsa – India’s ‘Sexpert’

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Obsessed? Bewildered? Ask Dr. Mahinder Watsa AUG. 9, 2014

For nine years, Mahinder Watsa, 90, has been shocking Indian sensibilities with his Ask the Sexpert column for The Mumbai Mirror. Tens of thousands of people have sought advice on a variety of issues, including the size and shape of penises, fears of masturbation and hymen reconstruction. Following are selections from his correspondence published in The Mumbai Mirror and a site created by his fans.

ANATOMY

Q. I am 16 and a half years old, and my penis is 4.3 inches long, 1.5 inch thick (when erect). When not, it shrinks to 1 inch in thickness. I have not grown a beard yet or developed muscles. I have experienced weight loss recently too. Am I developing signs of puberty? Why is my penis short?
A. Stop sounding like a tailor. Leave your genitals alone and focus on daily exercise and a healthy diet. The genitals will look after themselves. You are already in your puberty years.

Q. My friend saw me while bathing. According to him, the size of my penis is not more than that of a cashew nut. What should I do to increase the size?
A. It’s normal for the penis to appear small at rest. The size matters at erection. Take a foot rule and measure from the pubic bone to the tip of your organ. If it’s longer than two and half inches, it is adequate to satisfy a partner.

Q. I am 18 years old and my testicles are larger than those I see in films. Should I be wearing a supporter all day long?
A. Do you watch movies with a ruler in one hand? Then why not measure ears and other parts of the body as well. If you have any doubt, see your doctor.

SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

Q. What First Aid will we require after having sex for the first time? My fiancée and I have had oral sex many times. How safe is that?
A. You need not join the Red Cross; just visit a sexpert for some pre-marriage counseling. Oral sex is safe and healthy, and she will not conceive through it.

Q. I am a 22-year-old man. When I was 19, I suffered from jock itch, which was cured. However, since then, the region around my penis and inner thighs has remained dark. Now, my girlfriend and I want to have sex for the first time, but I am embarrassed to get naked in front of her. I have a fair complexion, but my groin region looks ugly. What should I do?
A. You need to make sure that your girlfriend is not looking at your crotch, but is tenderly looking into your eyes and is excited about your touch and sweet talk.

Q. After having sex four times a day, I feel weak the next day. For about five minutes, my vision goes blank and I can’t see anything properly. Please help.
A. What do you expect? Shouts of hurray and I am a champion all over town? Continue reading Obsessed? Bewildered? Ask 90 Year Old Dr. Mahinder Watsa – India’s ‘Sexpert’

RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Robin Williams

Comedian and actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. Here are some of his most memorable quotes.
 

FILMS

  • “Goooooooood morning Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours. What does the ‘O’ stand for? O my God, it’s early!” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
  • “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flushes.” – Mrs Doubtfire/Daniel Hillard, Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
  • “You don’t know about real loss because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.” – Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • “Are you lookin’ at me? Did you rub my lamp? Did you wake me up? Did you bring me here? And all of a sudden, you’re walkin’ out on me?! I don’t think so! Not right now! You’re gettin’ your wishes, so sit down!” – Genie, Aladdin (1992)
Robin WilliamsWilliams was honoured with the stand-up comedy icon award at the 2012 Comedy Awards in New York
 

TV

  • “Nanu Nanu.” – Mork and Mindy (1978 – 1982)
  • [Mork picks up an egg] “Hello? Hello? Anybody in there? Little hatchling brothers, you must revolt against your oppressors. You have nothing to lose but your shells.”
  • Mindy: “Mork, why are you building a tower of Cheerios?”
Robin WilliamsWilliams won a best supporting actor Oscar in 1998 for his role in Good Will Hunting
 

STAND-UP AND INTERVIEWS

  • On comedy: “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
  • On his financial dispute with Disney over Aladdin: “The only reason Mickey Mouse has four fingers is because he can’t pick up a cheque.”
  • “Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.”
  • “Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”
  • “Do you think God gets stoned? I think so… Look at the platypus.”
  • “In England, if you commit a crime, the police don’t have a gun and you don’t have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, ‘Stop, or I’ll say stop again.'”

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Continue reading RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

The Magic of Swimming on Martha’s Vineyard

The Magic of Swimming on Martha’s Vineyard By AUG. 8, 2014

 
Kristen Kinser swims at Lambert’s Cove on Martha’s Vineyard.

I’ve been slammed by waves, with or without a wet suit, in both the Atlantic and Pacific. I’ve dangled my feet in California’s Russian River, been smashed against the cliffs edging the Snake River in Wyoming and crossed the Hudson round trip between Westchester County and the New Jersey Palisades. I’ve sampled clear cenotes that seemed bottomless throughout the Yucatán Peninsula and sought out nameless swimming holes accessible only from ropes that swung from trees.

But as a promiscuous swimmer — the more kinds of water the merrier — I’ve yet to find a place as magical as Martha’s Vineyard. Out the back door of my primitive rented cabin is a tidal pond — a rare habitat that connects to the ocean and thus changes in depth, salinity, current and resident creatures from one day (and one hour) to the next. It is long, narrow and one of five, like the fingers of a hand, that converge at Tisbury Great Pond, the largest inland body of water on the island. Just beyond is the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach to be precise, all of it part of the 600-acre Long Point Wildlife Refuge, the last remaining unspoiled part of a summer resort where tourists drive the winter population of 16,000 to 105,000. On a typical visit, over the last 15 years, I swim in “my” pond, shared only with a pair of swans, a half dozen times a day.

 

Continue reading The Magic of Swimming on Martha’s Vineyard

The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records

The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl RecordsThe Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records By MONTE REELAUG. 8, 2014

Paul Mawhinney, a former music-store owner in Pittsburgh, spent more than 40 years amassing a collection of some three million LPs and 45s, many of them bargain-bin rejects that had been thoroughly forgotten. The world’s indifference, he believed, made even the most neglected records precious: music that hadn’t been transferred to digital files would vanish forever unless someone bought his collection and preserved it.

Mawhinney spent about two decades trying to find someone who agreed. He struck a deal for $28.5 million in the late 1990s with the Internet retailer CDNow, he says, but the sale of his collection fell through when the dot-com bubble started to quiver. He contacted the Library of Congress, but negotiations fizzled. In 2008 he auctioned the collection on eBay for $3,002,150, but the winning bidder turned out to be an unsuspecting Irishman who said his account had been hacked.

Then last year, a friend of Mawhinney’s pointed him toward a classified ad in the back of Billboard magazine:

Freitas is a wealthy businessman who, since he was a child, has been unable to stop buying records. ‘I’ve gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself.’

RECORD COLLECTIONS. We BUY any record collection. Any style of music. We pay HIGHER prices than anyone else.

That fall, eight empty semitrailers, each 53 feet long, arrived outside Mawhinney’s warehouse in Pittsburgh. The convoy left, heavy with vinyl. Mawhinney never met the buyer.

“I don’t know a thing about him — nothing,” Mawhinney told me. “I just know all the records were shipped to Brazil.”

Just weeks before, Murray Gershenz, one of the most celebrated collectors on the West Coast and owner of the Music Man Murray record store in Los Angeles, died at 91. For years, he, too, had been shopping his collection around, hoping it might end up in a museum or a public library. “That hasn’t worked out,” The Los Angeles Times reported in 2010, “so his next stop could be the Dumpster.” But in his final months, Gershenz agreed to sell his entire collection to an anonymous buyer. “A man came in with money, enough money,” his son, Irving, told The New York Times. “And it seemed like he was going to give it a good home.”

Those records, too, were shipped to Brazil. So were the inventories of several iconic music stores, including Colony Records, that glorious mess of LP bins and sheet-music racks that was a Times Square landmark for 64 years. The store closed its doors for good in the fall of 2012, but every single record left in the building — about 200,000 in all — ended up with a single collector, a man driven to get his hands on all the records in the world. Continue reading The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records