Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, September 17, 2018


book sales


SALES of Bob Woodward's book, Fear: Donald Trump in the White House, topped 750 000 on the day it was launched in the US a week ago, seemingly coinciding with some puzzlingly contradictory statstics.

Although the American economy is booming, opinion polls suggest President Trump's standing among voters has dipped appreciably, especially among the "independent" category who identify with neither major party. This disjuncture is highly unusual. But the dip could not have been caused by Woodward's book – the opinion data would have been captured well before the launch.

But could that explain the book's runaway success? The American public are anxious, in spite of the booming economy?

Whatever, Woodward, a journalist renowned for his meticulous attention to accuracy and detail gave a fascinating insight to Fareed Zacharia on CNN the other night of his modus operandi. (He co-wrote with Carl Bernstein, All The President's Men, which detailed their investigation of the Watergate scandal which ended in the downfall of the Nixon presidency.

He speaks to insiders connected with the subject of the investigation – in this case the White House. He guarantees their anonymity. He then checks with other inside sources the accuracy of what he has been told (also guaranteeing their anonymity). Then if they bear out what he was told by the original source, he goes ahead and publishes.

But it doesn't end there. Everything is carefully recorded and classified – names and everything. Then it is lodged with a university for release and study sometime in the future. It's the kind of operation whose credibility it is difficult to shake.

The outcome is an astonishingly fresh and frank account of events, including quotes attributed to major players by others who were there at the time.

The US mid-term elections bear down. Will the sales of Fear continue to soar? Is there a disconnect between the presidency and mid-term elections to the Senate and the House of Representatives? We'll know in a couple of months.


·       A HIP-HOP artist named Fatman Scoop has become a figure on America's political scene. After three weeks in the top job, new prime minister Scott Morrison posted on social media a video showing MPs raising their hands during question time in parliament, according to Sky News.

It was overlaid with a snippet from Fatman's hit, Be Faithful.

You gotta hundred dollar bill put your hands up,

You gotta fifty dollar bill put your hands up,

You gotta twenty dollar bill, pout your hands up,

You gotta ten dollar bill put your hands up.

The lines seem inoffensive enough but there was a furore and Morrison had to take down the post and apologise. It seems Fatman Scoop's song goes on to become sexually suggestive.

Oh dear, such prudishness. It's not like the Aussies I've known.


·       SEEN any sharks in the footage on North Carolina? A fellow in Scotland called McCann never misses the American hurricane season, according to Huffington Post.

It began with Hurricane Irene in 2011 with a photograph posted on social media of a shark swimming down a flooded street past parked cars and things. McCann has kept it up since then.

Snopes labelled the picture a fake, but McCann admits that. "I know it's fake," he said after tweeting the image during Hurricane Harvey last year. "It's part of the reason I share the bloomin' thing."


DOCTORS at a hospital went on strike, picketing outside with placards. The administrators sent a pharmacist to read the placards.

Last word

COMPUTER dating is fine, if you're a computer. – Rita Mae Brown

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