Despite all the progress we see around us, it seems that life is still difficult
The collecting of newspaper cuttings probably goes back to the earliest days of newspapers – although I am not sure if anyone using the Admiral storage facility has within their private boxes a copy of a 1605 edition of Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, (published in Strassburg in case you were wondering) – generally considered to be the first newspaper.
What is often forgotten by those who look down on newspapers today is that the original papers, at least in England, mixed news and rumour equally, rarely differentiating between the two.
In part this was because of the shortage of journalists, and of course the shortage of hard core news, in an era when the government was more likely to ban all newspapers (as happened between 1632 and 1638 by the Star Chamber, that wonderfully liberal institution that assumed total and absolute guilt unless you could prove otherwise) and in part because that’s what the press always does.
So when we find rumours in today’s newspapers posing as news alongside the occasional article that might just possibly be true, give or take a few details and if you keep your eyes half closed, we should remember that these publications are just continuing an honourable tradition.
I thought such thoughts when discussing the world as reported by the British newspaper industry with a customer at Admiral, who showed me a cutting from that venerable institution, the Daily Express.
Now the Express has its own journalist (Jon Austin) who covers the paranormal. That he is also their science correspondent can make for a confusing but nonetheless entertaining read. I commend his work to you.
Of late, anyone with a mind to venture inside the Express would have learned, courtesy of Austin, that Ruggero Santilli of Thunder Energies Corporation (which appears – at least according to Google’s view of such matters – to operate from an old shed next to a railway line in Tarpon Springs, Florida) has detected invisible entities using a newly designed telescope.
Somewhat alarmed that this breakthrough had not been reported in the wider media, and concerned also that such entities might prove a danger to me, my family, and my customers, I checked with the magazine New Scientist, (a slightly more sober affair) and found that in their view the entities looked like “shaky, out of focus, blobs of light”.
They also mentioned that Santilli is known both for multiple “uncorroborated discoveries and unsuccessful lawsuits,” but, of course, I can’t verify such matters.
However, I can say that in January this year the Express (alone, I think, among the British “serious” newspapers) revealed something else quite remarkable: that multiple items had been discovered on Mars which NASA had kept very quiet about (although why, we are not told).
These amazing finds include a totem pole, a fossilised trilobite (one of the earliest known groups of arthropods which died out about 250 million years ago, along with a lot of other creatures), a petrified baby, and a range of animal bones.
Even more extraordinary was the finding that the surface of the “Red Planet” wasn’t red (as its name implies) after all, but actually blue, which means that all those films and pictures of the Red Planet that NASA has picked up from its landers and then helpfully published, must all have been photoshopped, presumably to avoid any embarrassment.
The only thing that was missing from the report was a comparison of the size of the trilobite with that of a jumbo jet, a football pitch, the average woman, and a blue whale, these now being the standard measuring comparators in journalism as I have pointed out before.
This, I find, is extremely remiss of the Express which normally excels at such things. After all, some of us of the older variety might well recall that the standard Imperial measurement before the country was forced to go metric by Napoleon Bonaparte was the London Double Decker Bus.
Now it seems everything has changed – as witness the fact that while the Express was telling us about a baby and a trilobite being found on Blue Mars, the Times was comparing the size of a fossilised crocodile to a woman, a bus,and a light aircraft. It is good to see that the Times (first published 1785) continues the old imperial measurement of a bus, although I am struggling to find an article in Wikipedia which tells me what the height of a woman is in crocodiles.
But then, life never has been easy.
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