Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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1984? We Don’t Have a Record of any Book called 1984. You Must Have Imagined It.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | July 20, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c)2009

If you purchased 1984 or Animal Farm for your Kindle, you already know Amazon.com reached right into your Kindle and zapped it. According to the story circulating on the net, somebody sold Amazon unauthorized editions, so they erased the electronic memory on customers’ Kindles, with no warning, no permission, no nothing.

I hear that users’ accounts were automatically refunded. Fine, but that doesn’t make the spooky feeling go away.

We didn’t know when we bought our Kindles that Big Brother could read and access the books and periodicals on our personal machine. We assumed that such matters were private.

In 1984, the ubiquitous televisions, the ones you couldn’t turn off, turned out to be electronic two way mirrors. You watched it, but it watched you, too. So now you know that Big Brother watches what you read on the Kindle.

In the book, Winston Smith worked at a very strange job. He sent documents down the “memory hole”, a kind of tube apparatus, whereupon people, places and events were forgotten forever. The meaning of words was altered in the same way, with uses of the word in its old meaning vanishing down the memory tube.

Of course, I’m relying on memories acquired in a single reading, done over a weekend in the seventh grade. We had ordered books through a Science Book Club. Sister Paul collected the money in advance and one Friday afternoon the books were distributed. I read the whole book that weekend. It was the first time I had ever been exposed to so-called adult literature. Apparently, Sister Paul read it that weekend, too.

On Monday, all of us who had purchased the book were required to line up and turn it in. I thought about protesting, but had a better thought. When I handed her the book, I said, a little smugly and with full eye contact, “I’ve already read it!”


QUICK QUIZ: Among the maxims written on the barn in Animal Farm was: “All animals are Equal.” But one morning the animals noticed that it had been changed. What did it say?

SEE the first comment for the answer.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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