Posts Tagged ‘hacking’

Tom Wolfe, LSD, Orange Hair and Me

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

By Bob Gaydoskool-aid-book

I have been in a funk since Nov. 9. That’s the day I woke up with the realization that millions of Americans had lost their minds, if not their souls, and elected a man who is morally, psychologically, intellectually and spiritually unfit to be their president. The dumbest thing that has happened in my lifetime.

I stopped writing.

Finally, in desperation for inspiration, I turned to sports and that great philosopher, Reggie Miller (older Knicks fans can boo now.) For younger fans of the National Basketball Association, think Steph Curry. Shooters. Scorers. What do great shooters do when they are in a shooting funk, when everything seems to clang off the back rim or fall inches short of the basket? They keep shooting. They don’t pass the ball to someone else. They shoot themselves out of the funk.


Now, I am not saying I am in the same class as a writer as Reggie and Steph are as shooters, but I have been writing for a long time and I think I have some skills so I figured the instincts would kick in once I started.

So instead of writing, I started reading. Tom Wolfe. Purely happenstance. I picked up some used books at the library because my son, Max, was looking for reading material. Short stories. He wasn’t interested in Wolfe’s “Hooking Up” and I had never read it, but had really enjoyed his “Bonfire of the Vanities.” So I ventured in. I quickly remembered why I liked him.

Then happenstance melded into serendipity. My partner and I watched “The Right Stuff,” the movie based on Wolfe’s book. Enjoyed it. There’s more. The last essay in “Hooking Up” detailed Wolfe’s assignment, with Jimmy Breslin, as the first writers/reporters for the Herald Tribune’s Sunday magazine, New York.

My favorite newspaper as a teenager and my favorite magazine. I grew up reading Breslin and, as it turns out, Wolfe. After a brief, there’s-no-way-in-the-world-I-want-to-do-this-the-rest-of-my-life flirtation with engineering, I started writing. In more than 50 years, I have only stopped for brief intervals. Going with the universal flow, I went back to the library and picked up a couple more used Wolfe books, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and “A Man in Full.”

By the way, this is by way of answering those sympathetic friends who have asked me what I’ve been doing since The Dumb Event. For one thing, I’m trying to do things that make me feel better, things I can control.

… But let me digress.

To all those who pooh-pooh the Russian election connection, who doubt the Kremlin hacked into Democrats’ e-mails and released them in an organized effort to elect You Know Who and who further doubt that Vladimir Putin had anything to do with it, I turn again to sports and the biggest story that got lost in the election — Russia’s decades-long government-sponsored program to cover up the use of performance-enhancing drugs by virtually all its Olympic athletes.

A report recently released by a Canadian lawyer, Richard H. McClaren, who works for the World Anti-Doping Agency, confirmed it all. McClaren and his team made short shrift of Russian denials. Medals were repossessed. Athletes were banned. A Russian official involved in the program said the direction came from the top. In Russia, there is only one top. This is the Russian way, or at least the Putin way. Of course he knew about the steroids. Of course he knew about the hacking. No Russian would dare do either without his approval. Not if he didn’t want to wind up with poison in his vodka.

… So where was I? Right, reading.

I’m learning much more about Ken Kesey and the acid/pot/speed hippie freaks of the ‘60s than I ever intended to. The meaning of life on LSD.  It’s a good read. I found it especially interesting how Kesey came to write “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Nothing like first-hand experience. I just started the book, so there will likely be more on this later.

What else? I started looking for local issues I might be able to help out with since I believe change starts close to home. I’ve also recommitted to my off-and-on interest in photography. Living in an especially scenic area of the Hudson Valley, it works well with my inclination to report on what’s going on around me. On my travels the other day, a farmer walked his cow across the road right in front of me, casual as could be. Nonchalantly, I missed the shot. But I know where he lives. Gotta keep shooting.

… Speaking of nukes, Putin recently said he wanted to beef up Russia’s nuclear weapons capability. Our soon-to-be Twitter-in-chief knee-jerkedly responded that he planned to do the same with the United States’ nuclear armaments and that no one would be able to keep up with the U.S. in a nuclear arms race. Be still my patriotic, tax-paying heart. Robert Reich, a voice of sanity on social media, reported the above and asked, “What do you think?”

Robert, I think Putin is playing his puppet for the fool he knows him to be. I think all the Republican officials who applaud every time their “king” says something insane are shameless toadies. I think Putin is setting Orange Hair up to act like a big hero at a summit conference in which Russia and the U.S. decide to stop the war of nuclear words and de-escalate, rather than escalate, the nuclear arms race. In exchange, of course, for U.S. concessions. Drop those sanctions for grabbing Crimea. Hold back support for NATO countries that don’t pull their own weight. Let Russia handle things in Syria. Buy some Russian goods (whatever that might be). Don’t retaliate for Russia’s hacking. Stop criticizing Putin’s treatment of dissidents. Give him the respect, he deserves. “Da da, you understand that, my presidential friend, I’m sure.”

I think Putin wants to increase Russian influence over the world, not destroy it. He knows he can do that by pushing buttons and pulling strings.

I also think it would be beneficial to Americans if Ivanka revoked Daddy’s Twitter privileges and read some history to him every day and tested him on it the next day.

And finally, I think maybe I’m feeling a tad better, but the funk is not defunct. Sorry, Reggie, I may have scored a couple of points, but I think I have to keep on shooting.



Blimey, It’s a Bloody Disaster

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Rupert Murdoch

By Bob Gaydos

Where to begin? Is it with the charming Hugh Grant playing Hugh Grant wearing a wire in the movie version of “End of The World as Rupert Knew It“? Or with the dishy Wendi Deng (Mrs. Rupert Murdoch) playing herself in the same film and then replacing Lucy Liu in the next “Charlie’s Angels” vehicle? I must admit, I’m at sixes and sevens over this hugger-mugger that is rapidly engulfing our British cousins.

Part of me thinks it is smashing that a lot of people who have given journalism a bad name for a long time are finally getting their due. But another part of me is cheesed off to learn how widespread this abuse of power was and how apparently easy peasy it was for the Murdoch’s News International empire to entwine its tentacles in the highest reaches of British government. (Blimey, I can’t even stop writing English English instead of American Engish, I’m so narked about it.)

There really is too much happening so fast at the moment in this scandal to know where to focus. Merely having the Murdoch name at the receiving end of the word “scandal” for a change is almost beyond irony and is surly the source of much of the glee with which the rest of the journalistic world has pounced on the story.

But really, do we start with the fact that the head of Scotland Bloody Yard — the top cop in England — has resigned because a lot of people accuse him, his deputy and other police officials of covering up the phone-hacking scandal that is at the heart of the scandal?

Or how about the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron is so chummy with former editors of Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid that he hired one to be his chief press aide, regularly goes riding (horses) with another and has had 26 meetings with editors of that now-defunct newspaper in his first 15 months in office? Or the suggestion that the Murdoch media empire in Britain is so powerful, former Prime Minister Tony Blair actually gave Murdoch veto power over foreign policy initiatives.

Maybe we should look at the fact that the first Murdoch-employed reporter to admit to the phone-hacking and cop-bribing was found dead at home the other day. He was 40. Police said his death was not suspicious. They have arrested a bunch of journalists, however.

Perhaps the best place to start with this, since it appears likely to be a long-lasting story, is at the beginning. News of the World, which was the largest circulation paper in Britain, featured juicy stories about public figures — entertainers, athletes, politicians, members of the royal family — that were less concerned with fact and news relevance than with their gossip and headline value. Kind of a New York Post on steroids.

To get some of the inside information on these people, the World hacked into voice mails on their phones. Even in England, this is not legal. The list of potential hacking victims is anywhere from 400 to 4,000 names long. Hugh Grants is on that list and he has sued and he did indeed wear a wire to get evidence of the activity. Good job, Hugh.

This snooping has been going on for about six years at least and, a committee in Parliament has charged, some officers in Scotland Yard have been complicit in covering it up — in exchange for cash bribes or promise of future employment. In fact, the first detective on the case resigned and went to work for Murdoch.

As examples of how low the hackers went in their search for “news,” former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, told Parliament of the emotional pain caused when News of the World revealed details of his young son’s cystic fibrosis. And, in what is so far the most callous of all phone-hacking incidents, News of the World listened to voice mails of a murdered teen-age girl and actually deleted some of the voice mails, giving the parents false hope that their daughter was still alive. I must have missed that journalism course in college.

As I said, this is just beginning and the story gets better every day. Heck, I almost forget to mention that a British comedian smacked Murdoch in the face with a shaving cream pie while he was testifying before Parliament. Gotta love that subtle British humor. Murdoch said the day he closed the News of the World was the “most humble” day of his life. He apologized, but he did not take responsibility for any of the actions of his top editors. Neither did his son. Meanwhile, Murdoch’s prize paper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal, ran an editorial supporting the boss, saying, “It is up to British authorities to enforce their laws.”


This is a trial of the power of the press and the ability of news media to remain independent and objective and to report the news honestly, regardless of who is at the center of it. That has not been a hallmark of many Murdoch holdings. There are bound to be changes in British law regarding ownership of media outlets (Murdoch has nearly 40 percent of British newspaper and TV news stations). And it will be fascinating to see how his holdings on this side of the pond respond. This has really bollixed up their agenda.