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May 1, 2007

Filed under: fiction»brainjuice

Humor in Uniform

Add this one to the bad signal file: while commenting on a BoingBoing story about the shutdown of, Teresa Nielsen Hayden mentions this oddity:

You know, I haven't thought of this in years, but some while back I got into a conversation with a guy on a train (or maybe we were in a bar; I don't recall) who said he had an intelligence background, and sounded like the real thing. (The real thing is distinctive. I've talked to other guys who genuinely did have intelligence backgrounds. Nobody else sounds like them.)

Anyway, what this guy said was that Reader's Digest has deep old connections with the intelligence community, and that they use it to launch ideas and articles they want to have in circulation. I have to say that isn't the sort of thing I expect to see written about in Reader's Digest.

I expect there's nothing to it.

Whether or not it's true, I find the juxtaposition captivating. Maybe it's just the mundanity of the outlet--which, admittedly, is the point. I used to read my great-grandfather's large-print copies of Reader's Digest as a kid. The idea that some of it was a form of propaganda or an under-the-radar public influence campaign is so deliciously paranoid that it almost circles back around to plausibility.

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