Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Whole WikiLeaks Business ...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard quite a bit about Julian Assange.  Seems like kind of an asshole to me, but as regards the larger question of leakage, I'm a bit more open minded.

I bring this up, of course, in acknowledgment of the death of Merrell Williams, Jr.  He was the paralegal who leaked a slew of documents related to Big Tobacco, more specifically the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company.

May flights of angels sing the man to his rest.

The documents he leaked blew massive holes in the tobacco industry's carefully orchestrated three-prong position on the "alleged" -- their words, not mine -- danger of cigarette smoking.  That being, cigarettes didn't cause cancer, nicotine was not addictive, and the industry didn't market to kids.

The rest is history.

Somewhere in my frontal cortex, or wherever, waiting to come out, is a painting that interprets the moment when the CEOs of all the banks sat at one table and first faced Congressional inquiry about the 2008 melt-down.  In my version they are all raising their hands and swearing that nicotine was not addictive.

Close your eyes.  Can you see it?

The Washington Post has an obituary here.

And speaking of Hamlet, if you care about Shakespeare and you have never seen the Canadian Broadcasting Company's "Slings & Arrows", you should throw down whatever electronic device you are reading this on and go watch it immediately.  Their season on Hamlet was one of the best, funniest, most serious things I've ever seen on television.  And I was taught Hamlet by, among other people, no less a giant than Irby Cauthen, then the head of the English Department at the University of Virginia and soon to be the man after whom I name my dog.  So I should know what I'm talking about.

Actually, you don't even have to throw your device down.  You can go to Amazon Instant Video and buy the entire first season (the season in which they perform Hamlet) for $8.99.  God almighty, it's hard to envision a better use of nine bucks, friends.


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