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Celebrating cutting edge advances in the Doublethink of the 90's
Written by Wayne Grytting #113

Movie Upgrades

NBC made some last minute improvements to its suspense movie "Atomic Train". The movie was originally about a train going out of control while carrying a nuclear bomb and nuclear waste. After heavily promoting the movie's factual basis, NBC suddenly changed its mind with "no input" from it's parent company, GE, a big investor in nuclear power. Alerted to the "fact" that nuclear wastes are not transported by trains, they added a disclaimer emphasizing the movie's fictional character which they showed at every commercial break. Then they overdubbed every mention of nuclear waste with the phrase "hazardous waste", thereby achieving the look of a dubbed Japanese horror film. Meanwhile there is a bill before Congress to allow the shipping by rail of 77,000 tons of nuclear waste (make that "hazardous waste") through 43 states. (WP 5/13/99)

Revenge of the Nerds, Part 3

Microsoft has announced that in-person conversations (those occurring without benefit of computer networks) remain socially acceptable. Bob Muglia, a senior v-p, explained why Microsoft annually hosts a face-to-face corporate summit for over a hundred top-level CEO's. What the rest of us will find enlightening is the language now employed in the inner circles to defend the use of ordinary conversation. According to Muglia, "Conversation is still the most efficient networking protocol that exists. There are still benefits to physical person-person interaction." Most interesting is the use of the word "still", as if it is only a matter of time before these primitive human units are surpassed. Why is it the leaders of the Information Age sound like weak imitations of the Coneheads? Can't you just hear a robotic voice proclaiming, "Conversation... an efficient networking protocol"? (WSJ 5/19/99)

The Naked City

A class action lawsuit was brought against the city of New York on behalf of 63,000 citizens who were illegally strip-searched during 1996 and 1997. To the city's credit, the searches were halted in 1997, only ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that stripping people's clothes off during investigations of minor offenses was unconstitutional. However, a spokeswoman for New York's legal department, Lorna Goodman, stepped forward to clarify what had gone awry. "This was not a policy," said Goodman. "This was a mistake." End of story, thanks, I presume to a meticulous investigation of these cases. I can just picture a crack team of lawyers reviewing each of the files of the 63,000 strip-searches and saying after each one, "Oops a mistake. Oops a mistake. Oops another mistake..." (5/13/99)

The Hot Seat

The 375 inmates on Death Row in Florida now have something to look forward to when their final day comes. The state of Florida has purchased a new electric chair to replace the old seat known affectionately as "Old Sparky". Department of Corrections supervisor Eugene Morris declared that the new chair would be "more accommodating" to all inmates. The solid oak chair comes with an adjustable head rest and a higher and wider seat. The old chair not only was too small for some of today's 300 pound and up prisoners, it also proved awkward for smaller prisoners because the length of the seat would not allow them to sit upright. In addition, there have been two incidents of flames erupting from the head of the executed when the levers were pulled. (St. Petersburg Times 5/15/99)

"A Rose By Any Other Name" Dept.

Chile has been attempting to extradite former President Augusto Pinochet from his place of exile in Spain. The 83 year old general who toppled Salvadore Allende's democratically elected government in a CIA sponsored coup in 1973 established the model for later death squads and systematic disappearances in nations like Guatemala. He was quite commonly referred to as a dictator until his daughter, Lucia Pinochet, spoke out publicly to set the record straight. "It was not a dictatorship," she said, "is (sic) was simply an authoritarian transitional government to improve country, and that is what he did." A Chilean government report lists 3,197 people who were "disappeared" by Pinochet's Secret Police, a figure obviously too low to qualify him for dictator status by these standards. (AP 5/20/99)

Special thanks to Maarten Ultee, Tom Baxter and Shane Roberts for spotting quality Newspeak and allowing me to sip Marguritas by the pool. To send in your own examples or join the mailing list, e-mail to