August 26th, 2005

hello?

The palidrome of 'Bolton' would be 'Notlob'! It don't work!

Barely a month into his term as America's UN ambassador (having got there by the president dodging the confirmation process), John Bolton sets the tone:

- opposing provisions that call for action to halt global climate change
- opposing provisions that urge nuclear powers to dismantle their atomic weapons
- introducing new amendments that would eliminate foreign aid to the world's poorest nations
- eliminating all mention of the poverty-fighting Millennium Development Goals and the International Criminal Court
- complaining that there's too much poverty-related content in general
- focusing on expanding global free market reforms
- opposing a restriction on the UN Security Council's ability to veto action that would halt genocide, war crimes & ethnic cleansing
- objecting to a call for a moratorium on nuclear testing
- refusing to agree to language that would urge the US and other nations to observe the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
- suggesting that the most important priorities at an upcoming summit should not be halting nuclear proliferation, addressing poverty, or aiding the fight against environmental degradation, but rather streamlining bureaucracy and cutting the UN budget

On the upside, he does want to push the war against terrorism (which I'd feel a lot better about if I didn't think it was just a pretext to launch more disastrous wars), promote human rights and democracy (which I'd feel a lot better about if he wasn't so dead-set against combating poverty, since democracy and human rights tend not to thrive in extremely poor countries with disease, joblessness and bad infrastructures), and control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (which I'd feel a lot better about if he wasn't simultaneously opposing any attempt to control nuclear proliferation and the development of new nuclear weapons by countries that already have them).

I guess I shouldn't get too upset about this. It's just the UN ambassador, after all. But couldn't he have at least pretended not to be evil for, like, the first week?
can you dig it?

Holy Shit

- Where’s “MATCH GAME 2005: LIVEJOURNAL EDITION II”, damn it? I need sweet release.

- Last night I hung out with Lara, treating her to a late birthday dinner and exchanging gifts – circumstance dictated that we missed one another’s big days, so we made up for it in time. I got an excellent live performance of theletterr’s “Tea with Death” (with Lara on accordion), we had dinner at Thai Oscar where I had this incredibly delectable Thai bubble tea, and I was gifted with two books I’ve wanted for ages: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and George Saunders’ Civilwarland in Bad Decline. It was a swell evening, as it always is when I’m spending time with the two of them.

- In aid of this article I’m writing, I’ve been deeply immersed in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I have to admit, the thing is compulsively readable – I never wanna put it down. Which is pretty much the approach I have to a lot of nut literature: as long as I don’t pretend to hold it to any kind of standard of evidence, and approach it like a novel, it can be pretty compelling as long as it’s not insulting, poorly written or internally inconsistent. (Which this book is not, on any level.) It doesn’t really matter to me if their claims are almost all bullshit – which, see below, they most certainly are; the cover blurb says “more revealing than any fiction”, when it should probably read “more fictional than any fiction”. As long as it’s well-written, intriguing, and doesn’t make me feel like the writer thinks I’m an idiot, I’m game for any kind of batshit pseudohistorical speculation. After all, that’s what a lot of my favorite novels and comics are; that’s what ezrael specializes in, and his book is downright excellent.

Unfortunately, there are two problems: (a) I’m writing this piece for a history magazine, which means I need sources that are more about actual historical evidence than speculative non-fiction; and (b) these guys present their stuff as real, authentic, genuine, bona fide history. They appeal to scholarly review, historical record, and verifiable claims of authenticity. Which is why it’s a shame that as history, the book is a really good golf instruction manual.

They specialize in a handful of gimmicks, pretty common to this ‘THE BOOK THAT WILL TOTALLY CHANGE THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, OH MY GOD, WE FUCKING PROMISE’ genre:

1. Assume that if there’s nothing that explicitly states that something didn’t happen, then it probably did happen. If it’s even remotely possible that something could have taken place, then it did. (Ex.: “There is no compelling evidence to suggest that Mick Jagger didn’t marry Margaret Thatcher in a secret Masonic temple rite in 1976.”

2. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, except legitimate historians. (Ex.: If someone writes a self-published pamphlet distributed in local candy stores that suggests that the Romanovs are still alive, accept it without asking for evidence of any kind. If fifty different scholarly historians write books that suggest they are dead, nitpick every single one of their sources to death.)

3. If something seems like bullshit, but is surrounded by a thin sheen of plausibility, then state that the bullshit must be true because the other stuff is true. (Ex.: If someone writes a well-researched, detailed biography of John Lennon, and then in chapter 16 writes that he was actually the son of an alien lizard-sorcerer, it must be true, because how could he be right about all the other details and wrong about the lizard thing?)

4. If something seems like especially fragrant bullshit, state that it must be true, because why would somebody lie about such a thing? (Ex.: “At first glance, it might not seem likely that Jimmy Carter is a government-constructed android. But what would Jose von Krackpott have to gain by lying about such an important matter? What possible reason could he have?”)

5. This one is my favorite: if you have no evidence whatsoever to prove that something happened, just ask a rhetorical question that suggests that, hey, maybe it did, why not? Erich von Daniken, in particular, loved this trick. (Ex.: “IS IT POSSIBLE that a superintelligent race of gorillas actually constructed the pyramids? MIGHT IT NOT BE LIKELY that the Queen of Sheba was secretly a man named Rudy? COULD IT BE that the carvings of bird-headed gods on the interior of the Pyramid of Cheops indicates that Egypt’s greatest Pharoah was actually Hawkman?”)

Again, don’t get me wrong: the book is absolutely fascinating. It’s well-written and intriguing, maybe the most interesting book of crypto-history I’ve ever read. I can’t stop reading it. It’s just that, as a work of history, it’s pretty fuckin worthless.
nah I'm just fuckin with you

My notes from "MISS TEEN UNIVERSE"

MISS ARGENTINA. Nice attitude, bitch. Like we care about your country’s stupid problems.

MISS GEORGIA. I’m glad medical technology is on the upswing in the former Soviet republics, but I’m not sure if the leg prosthetic works for me. Nice tits though.

MISS INDONESIA. The tsunami-themed swimsuit motif was hilarious!

MISS KENYA. I’m giving her a six because I really had to go to the bathroom and I missed her evening gown. It’s not like she would have won anyway.

MISS YEMEN. I could do without the chador, but I liked her answer to the question ‘Why do your people hate freedom?’

MISS GERMANY. If I wanted a big lecture about my so-called ‘responsibility’ to ‘steward’ the ‘environment’, I’d be a judge at the Miss Teen Dirty Hippie awards! Give me a break. Also, her ass is crooked on one side.

MISS LATVIA. Boy, that national anthem just goes on and on, doesn’t it?

MISS SUDAN. Boo hoo. Your sob stories are no excuse for choking in the poise category, Little Miss I Lost Both My Parents to Land Mines.

MISS SRI LANKA. I asked Mr. Jack of Mr. Jack’s Evening Gowns for Juniors where Sri Lanka was. He says it’s somewhere around India, but he wasn’t sure if it was dot-India or feather-India. Either way, the tiger-stripe bikini was smokin’, and for talent, she put a pipe bomb together in five seconds flat! She could stand to smile a little more, though.

MISS GONZOLIA. I’ve actually never heard of this country, but man, she’s a hottie. We’re going to meet in my room afterwards, and she said she’d bring two friends and my credit cards back.
flavored with age

Maaaaaaaan, lady

Okay, I know I'm in a posting frenzy today, but this is fucking unbelievable.

Bad enough she shits all over real people serving in the military in order to glorify a fake person serving in the military, but to manipulate a little kid like that is pretty much unconscionable. The Egyptian has taken all the articles offline, but as the Google cache shows, there was a big element of bashing war protestors in the stories, adding an ugly political element to an already repulsive lie.

Maaaaaaaaaan.