It was a combination of other peoples nausea-inducing end-of-the-year top 100 lists, along with our own sense of dread at having to come up with a bunch of competing nutty lists, that inspired this detour into the bleeding, raw ulcers accumulated in this, the Year of the Accelerating Lie. Like kids picking open their scabs to marvel at the pink and whitish meat below, weve decided to relive all the big and little lies that have ground us down into the humorless, crippled insomniacs that weve become. So come along, take our hand and join us for a skip n a stroll down Bile Lane.
50. POLLUTION AND UNSALEABLE INVENTORIES ARE GOOD FOR RUSSIA
No explanation, just a verbatim quote from a January 3 article by New York Times correspondents Michael Gordon and Celestine Bohlen: "Nor is the economic news all bad. Moscows streets, barren 15 years ago, now are jammed with traffic 18 hours a day; the number of autos has tripled in seven years, and the pollution is horrific. Store shelves are no longer bare, but stocked with foreign consumer goods, although they are often beyond the means of many Russians."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Tardy shipments of "emergency" U.S. grain aid this summer undercut domestic grain prices, ruining many Russian farmers.
PEASANT UPRISING FACTOR: 6-6.50
49. STRICT FACE CONTROL WORKS
Sometime in late 1997, the Jazz Kafe startled Moscows emerging middle class and expat bourgeoisie when they started turning people away... just for not looking cool or beautiful enough. Galereya opened a year later with a door policy so strict, and a babe factor so high, it made Jazz Kafe look like the Hungry Duck. Suddenly, nightclubbers were struck with major complexes. "How do I gain acceptance into their world?" they asked themselves. In an inductive sleight-of-brain that would have made Bacon proud, most local flatheads figured that the way to be cool was to open your own club, brag about its mega-strict face control, then just sit back and watch the diamond-jeweled beauty pour in. Right? Wrong. Park was the first failure, never quite able to take off in spite of its Nazi-like face control; Kukly gave up after a few weeks and is now a high-class whorehouse; Studio, the gay entrance, is about to die due to lack of people to turn away at the door; Butylka closed a week after it opened, and Dvorak, this months latest "super-strict face control club," is already deader than the Czech composer; even Jazz Kafe cant get its mojo working again. Only Club XIII managed to expropriate the face-control policy successfully, and thats because they only pretend to turn everyone away.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: You cant get laid at either Galereya or Jazz Kafe, so whats the big frickin deal?
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 3.4 and rising
48. THE SEARCH FOR LIFE ON MARS IS STILL INTERESTING
Another Mars probe bit the dust, but who really cares? We already found "signs of life"--essentially a few molecules detectable only by electron scopes--in that meteor rock in 1996, and thats all we expect to find, if were lucky, in a Mars polar probe. The most memorable part of the meteor story wasnt the molecule speck, but the fact that Clinton aide Dick Morris had leaked it, so to speak, to his whore-for-hire before the public was allowed to know. Until we hear about fifteen-feet-high spider herds with mandibles that could snap Tom Arnold in two, our vote goes with finding and filming giant squid and other assorted H.P. Lovecraft monsters of the deep.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: NASA of course blamed the failure on space program cutbacks, thus trying to turn its own fuck-ups to its advantage.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 0.003
Alexander "Headcrusher" Karelin, Yevgeny Nazdratenko, Sergei Shoigu, and a cast of other nefarious characters banded together in a party without a platform, united behind a beady-eyed ex-spook with a ten-year hole in his biography who was waging a bloody and openly manufactured war with Chechnya, and then unapologetically manipulated the news coverage to assassinate their political enemies on the two state-run networks--and yet still managed to have themselves described as "centrists" by organizations like the AP, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, who all admitted, after the elections, that they didnt know what "Unity" really stood for.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Describing Karelin, yukster Dave Barry wrote, "I would rather get into the ring with that thing that was always chasing Sigourney Weaver around the spaceship in Alien."
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 4.36
46. THE WTO IS AN EXCLUSIVELY PRO-FREE TRADE ORGANIZATION
In 1999, as in years before, the WTO was all for barrier- and tariff-free trade, so long as that didnt mean reducing patent and copyright protections that would, for instance, allow sub-Saharan Negroes to buy locally-produced AIDS medications at their genuine market price.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Statistics released in 1999 showed that WTO-supported restrictions on the licensing of foreign doctors in America left the United States with an average doctors salary of $196,000, or nearly twice that of Japans and four times that of Swedens--both of which have superior life-expectancy rates.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 7.1 and rising
45. GERMAN SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IS DEAD
On March 13, The Washington Posts German correspondent William Drozdiak argued that the new Schroeder government had been elected on a mandate that included, primarily, "restructuring Germanys bloated welfare state and reduce labor costs [wages and benefits] to make business more competitive." Actually, neither the Social Democrats nor the Christian Democrats had called for cutting back on welfare or wages in the campaign.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: In arguing that German society is in perilous decline, a New York Times reporter on March 1 wrote that "time is short."
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 0.04, would be higher if Germans listened to less techno.
44. VIDEO GAMES AND QUENTIN TARANTINO WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR COLUMBINE
Bill Clinton after Columbine: "Parents should take this moment to ask what else they can do to shield our children from violent images and experiences that warp young perceptions and obscure the consequences of violence, to show our children, by the power of our own example, how to resolve conflicts peacefully," he said. Later, he told the nation: "We must reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons." Meanwhile, Clinton at the very same time was ordering the bombing of Yugoslav civilians on live national television.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Littleton killer Eric Harris, who wanted to fight in Yugoslavia, was rejected by the Marines for failing to reveal that he was taking the Prozac clone Luvox.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 6.77
43. MADONNAS "VOGUE" IS THE 2ND BEST MUSIC VIDEO EVER
At least thats what MTV says. Unlike her early "Borderline" video, which at least influenced Americas youth by making fat ankles and tummy-tires respectable for young American women (so long as they balanced the fat with a can-do Sluts-R-Us attitude), "Vogue" just says that its kinda fun to dance with handsome gay men and pretend that someone wants to take photos of you even though youre getting wrinkly. What are we are in here, a Bergman film?
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Madonna is one of the most annoying 90s subjects for quasi-populist intellectuals like Camille Paglia, Kim Gordon, and the like.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: .055
42. OSAMA BIN LADEN THREATENS AMERICANS
Hes on the FBIs ten most wanted list for terrorism. Every season, a new warning is issued about uber-villain Osama Bin Ladens plans to turn American tourists into humus. He was blamed for the U.S. Embassy bombings in Uganda and Tanzania last year, bombings which led the U.S. to destroy a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in retaliation. Turns out that factory wasnt a Bin Laden bomb factory but one of the leading medicine producers in a nation racked by poverty and war. The U.S. refuses to pay for the mistake, just as they refuse to assist the non-American victims of the embassy bombings, which is to say, almost all of them. But still we insist that Bin Laden is a threat to the United States and, for that reason, the FBI announced last week that it will be searching everyones overseas mail for bombs. If they find something else, well, just call it luck.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Hilariously vague warnings about a potential Bin Laden attack on Americans anywhere in the world where there might be crowds only reinforces the American masses general fear of traveling too far from their tract home/office.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 5 if youre Bin Laden, 10 if youre the FBI-created Bin Laden, and 0 if youre the cowed American public eager to hand your and your neighbors mail to the nearest authorities.
41. "THE THIRD WAY"
At a European Socialist Party conference in Milan this past March, British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared, "I know the third way approach is more in tune than the old policies of the old left or the new right [... The third way] must go further, must be bolder." A few weeks later, Blair and fellow Third Way tagteamer Bill Clinton began bombing Yugoslavia, to the delight of blue-skirt fascist Lady Thatcher. Like Clinton, Blairs formula was to merge pro-plutocratic policies (cut state subsidies to the needy, court big business with tax breaks) with the rhetoric of the old lefts good intentions, and then ride the long coattails of Americas world hegemony.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Name would invite center-left beigeist comparisons to "The Third Reich", except that these very beigeists are now in power riding the "Third Way".
BUY A RURAL PLOT IN MONTANA, ARM YOURSELF, AND TRAIN FOR THE VIOLENT OVERTHROW OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FACTOR: 5.23 and rising
40. SOMEONE WAS GOING TO PAY FOR THE HOLYFIELD-LEWIS FIASCO
Rudy Giuliani and a host of other would-be do-gooders took a rain check on their early promises as no one was punished, suspended, or indicted for the most meticulously documented, well-publicized crime of 1999.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The second fight sucked.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 1.6
39. THE U.S. BLOCKED THE EX-IM LOAN TO TNK OUT OF CONCERN FOR SHAREHOLDERS RIGHTS OR THE WAR IN CHECHNYA
Madeleine Albright personally intervened to convince Clinton to delay the $500 million loan guarantees to Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) last week in a highly unusual move that State Department spokesman James Foley explained as follows: "Secretary Albright felt that it would be in our national interests not to go forward with these transactions at this time, because of the open issues related to the Sidanko bankruptcy proceeding and respect for shareholder and creditor rights." After spending most of the decade underwriting Chubaiss grossly unfair expropriation of Russias industry with billions of dollars in aid, the United States suddenly found that it was not in our interests to reward bad business practices because BP Amoco, which wields incredible clout in Washington, got burned. The Ex-Ims $500 million loan guarantees would have benefited thousands of American workers, but angered BPs British super-oligarch Sir John Browne. TNK, which is Serbia to BP Amocos NATO in terms of influence and power, had no choice but to eventually capitulate over the Chernogorneft dispute and give it back to Sidanko in a murky, backroom deal that the State Department, and the Western press, praised. The New York Times put it most bluntly: "The Clinton administration acted appropriately [...] Tyumens main offense was its alleged manipulation of bankruptcy proceedings to take over a Siberian oil field previously owned by American and other foreign investors. [...] The longer-term solution to problems of this kind is for Russias new parliament to strengthen legal protections for all investors, domestic and foreign [!]." Someday, theyre saying, they might find the time to wring their hands over all the assets stolen from the impoverished Russian masses; but for now, lets get Soros and Browne their money back, or its fuck you Russia, and fuck you employees of second-tier American oil service companies!
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Clinton is pushing the Ex-Im to offer over $800 million in loan guarantees to BP Amoco for a proposed pipeline in cooperation with feudal dictatorships Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, whose lone virtue is that they play ball with Western plutocrats.
POSTAL FACTOR: 2.98; could rise as Putin practices his Judo
38. PROGRESSIVE JUNGLE DIFFERS FROM JUNGLE
Theres a new sound thats taking the Eurotrash bleep-blip techno world by storm! Its called "Progressive Jungle," and its different than Jungle because, uh, its progressive. What, you dont hear the difference? Whats wrong with you? Arent you cool? Next year, expect Revolutionary-Progressive Goa-Jungle-Kosovo to satisfy the kids need to feel that theyre making aesthetic progress.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Potential for radio stations playing "Classic Progressive House-Jungle" in ten years is rising.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 4.98, mitigated by the fact that many of these kids will develop Parkinsons
37. GENE-ALTERED FOOD ISNT SCARY
Kudos to whichever of Senator Richard Lugars aides thought of this counterargument to calls for restrictions on genetically-modified food: "In the United States," Lugar said on August 28, "we have not seen a scintilla of ill effects, and on my farm alone we have been modifying corn and soybeans since the 1930s." Lugar might have been talking about cross-pollination, but the Senate wasnt debating Gregor Mendel. Gene-level modification of food has only been possible going back a few years in the 1990s.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: A brand of gene-altered corn marketed by the Monsanto corporation was proven to be lethal to Monarch butterflies.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 4.78, but should be higher
36. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT IS THE SCARIEST MOVIE EVER MADE
A low-budget ($45,000) film about three slacker amateur filmmakers who get lost in the woods, are attacked by an unseen supernatural monster, and leave behind an ostensibly compelling video record of their physical and psychological deterioration along the way, The Blair Witch Project simultaneously became one of the most critically acclaimed horror movies and by a wide margin the most profitable film in history. The films use of that time-tested psychological horror technique (as in the original Jaws, Alien, and Halloween films) of showing as little action as possible in order to build suspense was enough to convince pretty much every critic in the country that Blair was genuinely terrifying, while the paying customers were apparently so brainwashed by the films web-heavy marketing campaign and inexplicably positive word-of-mouth (which tended to focus on the allegedly motion-sickness-inducing camerawork) that, according to many reports, it was not uncommon for viewers to vomit on themselves or even to suffer serious injuries as a result of inadvertently bumping their heads against the theater wall in response to a particularly "jarring" or "harrowing" scene. While the entertainment media, in gushy profile after gushy profile, tended to credit directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (both graduates of the University of Central Floridas hitherto unknown film school, which has since experienced a predictable enrollment boom) with the web site that generated much of the original hype, the genuinely creepy site (www.blairwitch.com) was actually the work of Indie-studio Artisan, which picked up the film for $1 million after its Sundance Festival premiere. Check out Myricks personal site (www.danmyrick.com) for a more revealing look at this promising auteur ("The Florida Film Festival is just around the corner and I must say, Im pretty pumped"). The site is your typical circa-1996 Geocities homepage, complete with clunky sci-fi graphics and Myricks juvenile online journals from the various film festivals--he seems to have spent most of Sundance playing foosball with Sanchez or trying to find time to cuddle with his girlfriend, and at Cannes he seemed to be under the unshakable delusion that France hadnt yet discovered cellular phones. Other revealing facts: he refers to a nod bestowed upon him by odious MTV News anchor Kurt Loder as "a trip," and he actually admits to have been working on a story treatment back in February of this year called--get this-"Y2K." Mostly though, the guy just talks about foosball. Possibly hes retarded.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Coincidentally, Blair Witch was filmed about a year after production finished on The Last Broadcast, a really low-budget ($900) film about three slacker amateur filmmakers who get lost in the woods, are attacked by an unseen supernatural monster, and leave behind an ostensibly compelling video record of their physical and psychological deterioration along the way.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 2.13; would be lower if not for that Heather whats-her-name chick
35. SORM-2 IS AN OUTRAGE
When news reports confirmed that the Russian secret service had set in motion its notorious SORM-2 electronic surveillance program--whereby Internet providers were forced to attach government surveillance equipment to their networks--Western analysts scrambled to convince the public that the Russian domestic spy system was somehow more sinister than Americas own Echelon program, which does essentially the same thing. "SORM-2 is going farther than any other democratic country in controlling the design of private-sector communications systems for surveillance," said Jim Dempsey, director for the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington. "Echelon is not coercive. It does not rely upon government-mandated surveillance features being built into telecom systems." Meanwhile, the American Federal Communications Commission in August upheld and even extended the design requirements for domestic communications providers that were outlined in the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act ("CALEA"), which required companies to design Internet and other communications systems to meet FBI surveillance requirements.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: When Congress asked the National Security Agency for information on the Echelon program this fall, the NSA successfully refused by invoking attorney-client privilege.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 7.3 and rising
34. THE REMARKABLE THING ABOUT RUSSIAS ELECTIONS WAS HOW UNREMARKABLE THEY WERE
This was the "optimistic" line about the recent, totally flawed, un-free, and unfair elections, pushed on an optimist-worshipping public by former Frisbee-buff Michael McFaul, known as the Danny Ainge golden retriever of the Russian analyst set. His description was considered so profound that it was quoted reverentially by The Washington Post and subsequently parroted by others. The argument goes something like this: Democracy has taken root in Russia because its citizens have been paraded out to the ballot box for ten years now. In fact, the only people who take Russian "democracy" seriously are optimistic Western academics, European bureaucrats, and foreign correspondents. The sad truth is that tomorrow, if voting was abolished, Russians would care far less than the McFauls, because no matter who they do or dont vote for, the whole game is so rigged that theyre fucked either way.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Michael McFaul wrote a piece recently blasting the false paradigm between optimists and pessimists among Russia-watchers, even though half of his Moscow Times Op-Ed pieces dating from before the August 1998 crash explicitly pit pro-reform optimists against gloom-and-doom pessimists. He even labeled Yeltsins 1996 victory "A Victory for Optimists"!
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 0. McFauls star keeps rising in spite of his persistent Lewis Carroll-esque inverted-truth analyses of Russia; democracy will continue to be corrupted at home and praised by the West; and most Russians will continue to pray that Putin might just put an end to it all by squashing everyone against the wall with the sole of his boot.
33. OTHER END-OF-THE-MILLENIUM/ DECADE/YEAR LISTS ARE NOT THINLY DISGUISED INCITEMENTS TO MURDER THE NEAREST HUMAN BEING, SELF
Lets start with the American Film Institute, which, like all cowed and under-confident American intellectuals, ranked the top film of all time the one film that no one really likes, but is afraid to admit: Citizen Kane. Furthermore, they ranked ET 25th, over Apocalypse Now (28th), while Blade Runner didnt make the list at all. Time named Albert Einstein "The Man of the Century" because of some hugely overrated bomb that he helped to conceive, a bomb whose kill tally barely raises a blip on the cluster-bomb-strewn screen of U.S.-inspired atrocities. Talk of Einstein inevitably leads to falsely ascribing the influence of his theory of relativity on moral or aesthetic relativity--concepts that Nietzsche had already closed the book on a half a century earlier. The obvious choice for Man of the Century would be Vladimir Lenin, whose terrible revolution had a far more profound, and violent, influence on the 20th century than Einsteins, but who had the misfortune of not professing his eternal love for the United States, and thus, hell, how could he be taken seriously? As for the centurys greatest event, a survey of 36,000 Americans ranked the sinking of the Titanic 12th and the Russian Revolution 36th! Millennium Magazine, an e-zine, named "Yugoslavia" as one of a list of "Top Things of the Millennium We Could Do Without." The only thing worse than populist opinion is when a team of over-confident American intellectuals draw up their own all-time lists. Harvard Book Stores employees ranked the 100 best books of all time. Tied for first was Howard Zinns A Peoples History of the United States, described by The Library Journal as "a brilliant history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories." Homers Odyssey was tied for 6th with Jeanette Wintersons Written on the Body, described as a novel chronicling "the consuming affair between the narrator who is given neither name nor gender, and to the beloved, a complex and confused married woman."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: In the "Top 100 Lovemaking Positions" of all-time, #61, "The Inverted Cane," is described as follows: "After the holidays, there are always a few peppermint candy canes left over. Heres how to use one of them in a way yule both enjoy. Heres What You Need: One peppermint candy cane. Heres How You Do It: Get your man naked. Have him stand. Kneel down in front of him and unwrap the candy cane. Using your mouth, moisten the curved portion of the cane. Turn it upside-down so it resembles the letter J and hook your mans penis with it. Pull up on the cane, raising his penis to your mouth, and pleasure him orally. Move the candy cane back and forth along the shaft of your mans penis, stimulating the head with your mouth. Vary the speed and intensity with which you do both. Remoisten the candy cane as needed. Keep doing this until your mans bells are totally jingled." Still wonder why wife-beating remains a popular pastime?
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 3.72. It was all expected.
32. EURO THREATENS THE DOLLAR
"The euro will start to challenge the dollar as the worlds lead currency as soon as the European Central Bank and the new currency establish their credibility -- which will probably be quite soon"--thus wrote U.S. economist Fred Bergsten in The International Herald Tribune this January, when it took $1.18 dollars to buy a euro. Fast forward to December 4, 1999: "Euro Inches Back Up After Dipping Below $1 By Lisa Jucca LONDON -- The embattled euro regained a toehold above lifetime lows it fell to against the dollar Friday, inching away from the crucial one-to-one level it breached a day earlier."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The "Eurofag" rejected as a subject for a commemorative euro coin.
POSTAL RAGE FACTOR: 0.02 (Were talking about Western Europeans here, folks!)
31. BORIS YELTSIN IS NEAR DEATH
He has spent more time in the hospital since his re-election in 1996 than all of Russias citizens combined. His first heart rumble was alleged to have taken place in 1987 after he was dismissed from the Central Committee. Subsequent heart problems plagued him in 1990, twice in 1991, 1993, and a burst of vein-popping activity swelled from late 1995 up until his triple-bypass in 1996. In the past few years alone, Yeltsins inhuman body has undergone nose surgery, double-pneumonia, liver damage due to his famous drinking habit, respiratory infections, bronchitis, "unstable blood pressure," an acute stomach ulcer, and something called "asthenia," which basically means dying without ever actually being dead. He has also reportedly suffered at least one stroke, has Parkinsons and Alzheimers, plus he had a few fingers blown off of his hand when he was a kid. He will bury us all.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Reporters who describe Yeltsin as looking "puffy and pale"
POSTAL RAGE FACTOR: 1.42
30. THE 3RD WORLD DOESNT SUFFER FROM EUROPEAN CULTURE ENVY
While white liberal Stuart Pratt-types trek the Western ivory towers preaching the virtues of multiculturalism--that is, an idealized world in which all non-Serbian peoples are appreciated and accepted for what they are, be they black, white, yellow, or purple--Third Worlders are doing everything they can to be white. In China today, the most popular TV advertisement promotes a product that whitens your skin; cricket is a national sport in India, whose elite still crave acceptance from their former English masters by investing all of their state-siphoned rupees into overpriced London property; Anaheim-like shopping malls today dominate nearly all of Southeast Asias bustling capitals, leaving fabled Buddhist temples--now only frequented by Lonely Planet-clutching trekkers preaching multiculturalism and the evils of commercialization--in the dust. While white American grad students boast knitted African rainbow caps, African paramilitary youths favor San Jose Sharks shirts and backwards imitation baseball caps. Chuck Norris is a god wherever push-button phone technology has not yet become standard, and MTV--particularly Beavis & Butt-head in translation--is the main attraction on Russias "Culture" television station, which was created a few years back to bring traditional Russian culture back into Russians lives.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Lao youth look down upon their opium-smoking parents, preferring instead Johnny Walker and Marlboros.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 5.00-6.45, depending on how dark you are
29. GERMAN GREENS ARE GREEN
The twin fundamental tenets of the Greens are pacifism and environmentalism, including an immediate shutdown of the nuclear power industry. After Joschka Fischers German Greens Party joined Gerhard Schroeders ruling coalition as Foreign Minister last year, he railroaded the Greens into taking a "realistic" lets-stay-in-NATO policy; a few months later, Fischer squelched the anti-nuclear faction of the Greens when his government caved into big business by agreeing not to shut down nuclear energy, and not to raise gasoline taxes. The villainous Scooby Doo mask of the Greens was finally lifted when Fischer threw the Greens support behind the savage war against Yugoslavia. For the first time since Hitler, German Luftwaffe fighter-bombers with the iron cross insignia were carrying out bombing raids over Yugoslavia, turning civilians into goulash and awakening every Germans inner Nazi. Fischers war propaganda enraged a group of Auschwitz survivors, who took out a full-page ad in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper begging him to stop what they called "The Auschwitz Lie."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The Greens still tolerate dykes.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 2.99
28. E-COMMERCE IS GOING TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY WE SHOP
According to Time, which nonetheless slavishly declared founder Jeff Bezos its "Person of the Year," the worlds leading Internet retailer Amazon.com, will suffer a net loss of about $350 million this year as consumers continued to reject the idea that online shopping was somehow different from mail order. Try buying a book: first, you have to endure slow-uploads of ridiculous graphics, then fill out endless forms that could be hacked by some pimple-faced geek warrior, and lastly, the discount is usually nullified by the shipping cost.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Despite the fact that his company has never turned a profit, and despite the fact that Amazons 6 giant warehouses are all located in states with little or no sales tax--meaning the country has yet to see much benefit from all of Amazons revenue--Bezos was lauded in Time under the headline "The Laughing Billionaire."
HARD-DRIVE-DISSOLVING E-MAIL VIRUS-DISTRIBUTING RAMPAGE FACTOR: 8.5
27. A LONE CRAZED TOWEL-HEAD DESPERATE TO MEET ALLAH CRASHED THE EGYPTAIR LINER
In one of the most shamelessly racist media campaigns in recent American history, the mainstream press teamed up with the National Transportation Safety Board, the FBI, and the State Department to help the Boeing Corporation escape speculation that a mechanical defect caused the October 31 crash of an EgyptAir flight off the coast of Massachusetts. After initial reports pointed to a malfunctioning flap that had been reported on the planes previous flight in from Los Angeles, and which had caused a 757-prototype to crash under similar circumstances earlier this decade, the NTSB quickly came up with its own version of the famous "magic bullet theory," in this case the "magic towel-head theory." Relying mainly on the fact that only one voice was heard on the cockpit voice recorder (although Egyptian analysts said they heard two), and on-flight data indicating a sharp turn upward and then downward before the crash, the NTSB concluded that the crash was caused by the lone actions of a suicidal pilot. Fanning the public belief in the NTSB theory were reports that the voice recorder captured one of the pilots speaking an Islamic prayer just before impact. Despite the fact that a Western pilot might just as easily be moved to pray to God just before his death, the public, inclined to think Arabs are crazy and smell bad anyway, bought the "mad Islam" theory hook, line, and sinker. The FBI chimed in by announcing a criminal investigation into the crash despite any evidence of criminal activity. Madeline Albright supported the lone suicidal pilot theory--a preposterously unlikely explanation given the absence of any positive evidence whatsoever to support it, especially when contrasted with the relatively high likelihood of mechanical failure involved in the risky business of jet flight--by denying that the United States was taking a biased view of the affair. "I would like to emphasize that the U.S.-Egyptian investigation into the crash is being conducted in a thorough and scientific manner," she said. Scientific, eh? Wonder if Isaac Newton would have bet on a mad Muslim over a bad flap?
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: After the crash, late-season orders for Boeing passenger liners rescued the company somewhat from its worst beating ever at the hands of European Airbus Industrie, which has yet to crash any jet liners over Long Island.
BOMB-TOSSING ANTI-AMERICAN JIHAD FACTOR: 7.99
26. MUMIA ABU-JAMAL DOESNT DESERVE TO DIE
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: An anti-WTO Abu-Jamal-penned article published December 15 starts with these rousing words: "The spectre of tens of thousands of workers, environmentalists, human rights activists, and anarchists, seizing the streets of Seattle, was a stirring sight indeed. Their opposition to the antidemocratic, corporation-heavy WTO earned them the enmity of the corporate media, and the vocal condemnation of corporate politicians." Whatchoo talkin bout, Willis?! "The spectre of... stirring sight indeed... earned them the enmity..." Thats inspired language all right. Worthy of a Cleveland Plain-Dealer editorial, even. Later.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 0.53 and falling as d-day approaches
25. THE SEATTLE WTO PROTESTERS ATTACKED THE POLICE, AND NOT VICE VERSA
Dan Rather of CBS News reported that the anti-WTO protesters had "brought on [the] crackdown" through "violent demonstrations," while CNN reported that Seattle police had responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas only after protesters "smashed windows and vandalized stores." In fact, as Seattle police spokesman Randy Huserik later confirmed on ABC, rubber bullets and pepper spray had been fired to break up peaceful demonstrations.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Police reportedly rubbed protesters eyes and ran their fingers over protesters lips to aggravate the effect of the pepper spray.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 9.66
24. BRANDI CHASTAIN DIDNT CONSPIRE WITH NIKE IN ADVANCE TO RIP OFF HER UNIFORM JERSEY AFTER THE U.S. WOMENS SOCCER TEAM WON THE WORLD CUP
The U.S. team winger and Nike both denied it, but a massive ad campaign for black Nike jog-bras just like Chastains was launched within two weeks of the womens World Cup victory on July 10.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Describing Chastain teammate Melissa Akerss view of the Rose Bowl on the day of the Cup final, Sports Illustrated wrote: "The perimeter of the Rose Bowl field was lined with ads for, among others, Fuji Film, MasterCard, Coca-Cola, Bud Light. When your sport can sell Bud Light, Akers thought to herself, youre big time."
ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Sports Illustrateds "Sportswomen of the Year" article about the womens soccer team featured a "Fans Notes" guest photo of hairy neo-hippie and father of two Trey Anastasio, lead singer of the Grateful Dead replacement band Phish. SI wrote about Anastasio offering to do a photo-op on behalf of the team: "Understand, this wasnt Hootie and the Blowfish cozying up to Dan Marino just to land him as a guest in their next video. No, this was the male leader of the posthippie anticommercial band donning a womens soccer jersey. There was a lot of pride in seeing the American women compete like that, Anastasio says. I have two daughters, and it makes me happy that this is the world theyre growing up in, you know?"
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 10+
23. IT WAS JAR JAR BINKSs FAULT THAT THE NEW STAR WARS SUCKED
Actually, thats partially true, at least inasmuch as Jar Jar is a figment of George Lucass "imagination," and all blame for The Phantom Menace lies firmly with him. Just look at the guy: hes slightly pudgy, hes got that pederast beard, that stony gaze and mock-friendly interview voice that always seems to be hiding something. He has been living in the same kind of twisted fantasy world up in Marin County for the last decade and a half as Michael Jackson created for himself down in LA. Parents have long realized that Jackson is an unsuitable role model and entertainer for children; perhaps its time to face up to the same truth about Lucas.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Back in the original Star Wars, Lucas directed 18-year-old Carrie Fisher (who, as Ive heard it, used duct tape instead of a brassiere for much of the shoot), but did not use the opportunity to get in her pants.
ACTION FIGURE MUTILATION FACTOR: 0.45, but it should start rising again once the next installments hype kicks in.
22. BILL BRADLEY IS AN OUTSIDER SEEKING TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM
Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley was hailed by Newsweek as a man who seemed to "have distaste for politics as usual." But while widely touted as being the leading campaigner on behalf of campaign finance reform, Bradley outspent his opponent 12 to 1 in his last Senate campaign in 1990 (including over $2 million in PAC contributions from Wall Street finance companies). Bradley was also portrayed as the fresh voice against U.S. interventionist foreign policy despite the fact that while Senator, he was the only Northern democrat to support aid to the Contras, and waited until the early 70s to publicly denounce Americas involvement in Vietnam.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: ABC political commentator Jeff Greenfield once described Bradley as "one of the few white political figures who had spent years working with blacks who were equal or superior to his abilities."
TRAVIS BICKLE FACTOR: 9.33--repeating
21. NO AMERICAN IS ABOVE THE LAW
On May 25, President Bill Clinton technically violated the 1973 War Powers Act when he continued a military conflict (i.e., the bombing of Kosovo) for more than sixty consecutive days without asking for permission from Congress. Republican Congressman Tom Campbell brought a lawsuit against the President, to no effect.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: When the deadline passed, The New York Times failed to mention the fact for more than a week. However, on the day after the deadline passed--the day it should have been in the papers--the Times carried two separate stories on its front page about the international indictment of Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes.
CANNED-FOOD-STOCKPILING MILITIA-FORMING FACTOR: 8.87
20. THATS SAM DONALDSONS REAL HAIR
Donaldsons unwavering devotion to his insectoid cranial wig-helmet was vindicated when previously outed bald men Sean Connery and Bruce Willis were bullied back into toupees in major-market movie roles. Meanwhile, Marv Albert got his old commentating job back.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: In February, Donaldson wrote a letter to The Philadelphia Inquirer calling for the speedy execution of controversial death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. "As long as we have the death penalty, I believe it should be enforced," Donaldson wrote.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 0.97
19. OSCAR-WINNER NIKITA MIKHALKOV IS AN ELOQUENT ANTI-STALINIST
Russian director and occasional Spike Lee-esque actor Nikita Mikhalkov won the 1994 Best Foreign Film Oscar for Burnt By The Sun, a moving illustration of the brutality of Stalins purges through an intensely personal story. In the films shocking climax, a trio of NKVD goons stomp the helpless, subdued Mikhalkov into a bloody pulp for attempting to give directions to a wayward truck driver on the way to his arrest. In March of this year, two National-Bolshevik Party youths egged Mikhalkov during a speech he gave at the prestigious Moscow Film Institute. They were protesting the fact that he had campaigned for Kazakh despot Nursultan Nazarbayev, and that his recent Titanic-a-bee film, the unbearable Barber of Siberia, was partially financed (to the tune of $10 million) with state funds--possibly obtained via Mikhalkovs connections with Viktor Chernomyrdin and Boris Berezovsky--at a time when workers and the elderly across the country werent receiving their wages or pensions for months or years. Subsequent photo stills showed how Mikhalkov dealt with those who disagreed with him: while the two young National-Bolsheviks were being savagely stomped by Mikhalkovs goons, the director himself made a running kick on one of the boys heads as it was held in place by a bodyguard. The NBPs were then thrown into Butyrka prison (which has been condemned by former Irish President Mary Robinson) and threatened with lengthy jail sentences. They were mercifully released after four months, but as Edward Limonov writes, one of them, Dmitri Bakhur, contracted tuberculosis while in prison, a well-known problem in todays Russia.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Mikhalkov in 1994: "Repentance is a duty for all those who have lived in this era and who are still alive today.... Personally, I think that all of the governments since 1917 have been illegitimate, because they have achieved power by means of blood and violence."
LETS THROW NINJA SPIKES NEXT TIME WE HECKLE HIM FACTOR: 3.59 and rising since Bakhur contracted life-threatening Butyrka-bred TB
18. THE WASHINGTON POST IS NOT AN OFFICIAL MEDIA ORGAN OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
On January 7, the Post set a new standard for the Western free press when it ran an editorial blasting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for leaking a story to one of its own reporters, Barton Gellman. Gellmans story demonstrated that the U.S. government had in fact been using the UN Security Council inspectorate (UNSCOM) to spy on Saddam Hussein. Annan, apparently upset about having to act as a tool for the U.S. Government, leaked the story to Gellman. The Posts editorial board spiked the story until it got word that The Boston Globe was about to run its own version, at which point the Post hastily sent out a toned-down version of Gellmans report. Meanwhile, its editors blasted Annan for talking to its employee, calling the leak a "gutless act" that can "only benefit Saddam Hussein."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Post Moscow correspondent David Hoffman still at large and unbludgeoned by eXile readers in Moscow.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 4.3
17. THE UNITED STATES DID NOT INTEND TO BLOW UP THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE
Following the aerial bombing of the Chinese Embassy during the war in Kosovo last year, the United States--specifically in the person of CIA Director George Tenet, as well as in State Department press releases--denied that the bombing had been intentional. The official explanation was that the United States had intended to bomb the nearby Yugoslavian Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement (FDSP), but had been led astray by "faulty maps." This was despite the fact that teenagers all around the world were able to find the correct address for the FDSP through a simple web search, and despite the fact that the United States subsequently claimed it had been "observing the FDSP for years" because it was suspected of having links to Libyan arms dealers. How do you misplace a building youve been watching for years? The United States has never explained that part of it, nor has it explained how it came to place the FDSP specifically on the site of the Chinese Embassy. In November of this year, The London Observer, in conjunction with the Danish newspaper Politiken, ran a story asserting that the United States had intended all along, for its own political purposes, to bomb the Chinese Embassy. They based their story on five high-ranking allied sources--European NATO generals at the two-star and four-star levels, a NATO intelligence officer in Macedonia, a NATO air staff member in Naples, and a high-ranking former American intelligence official. Not surprisingly, the Observer story has not made it into print in the mainstream American media. The only major American paper to pick it up so far has been The Washington Post--on its online service only, and only to debunk the story. Just two weeks ago, Post online military correspondent William Arkin bluntly declared: "There was no plan to hit the Chinese Embassy."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Arkins online column included worldwide web links to CIA director Tenets congressional testimony on the bombing, as well as State Department official Thomas Pickerings formal explanation for the attack--but did not include a link to the London Observer article that was the very subject of the column.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 3.80, down from high of 8.74 in May
16. THE HEINZ KETCHUP AT STARLITE #2 IS REALLY HEINZ KETCHUP
After the crisis, Starlite Oktyabrskaya replaced its industry-standard Heinz ketchup--which is as essential to American diner food as sunlight is to life--with cheaper, runnier, locally produced Uncle Bens. After repeated complaints in our newspaper, the Heinz bottles quietly reappeared--though the ketchup in the bottle tastes, and discharges, suspiciously like ol Uncle Bens.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The sad thing is, even Val-U-vigilante expats, who can sniff the pettiest Russian scam from miles away and spend weeks debating it on the nerd list... have been successfully snowed over by their own kind.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 1.04. Although 99 times out of 100 the factor would be negligible, it is conceivable that, if some expat, beaten down by Moscows daily grind and on the verge of cracking, pours a puddle of sugar-watery "Heinz" ketchup onto his fries--it could be the final straw that causes even the most crew-neck-sweater-totin, love-handle-happy expat snap.
15. THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION FIGHTS EVIL
Anthony Lewis, one of several New York Times middlebrow columnists whose meanness is only matched by his toadyism (see also Safire, Friedman, etc.), wrote on June 22, "If we have learned anything at the end of this terrible century, it is that we cannot ignore such evil. That should be the lesson of Kosovo. Some of those who opposed the NATO action there said Kosovo was not our business. But John Donnes words are writ large now: Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde." Meanwhile, the Clinton Administration has continued to provide 80 percent of the Turkish Armys weaponry, which is being used in Turkeys genocide against minority Kurds, a war that has left up to 60,000 dead and two million ethnically cleansed refugees; is seeking a major $1.6 billion boost to assist peasant-massacre-happy Colombian government forces in their war against leftist guerrillas, a war that has left thousands dead and up to a million homeless this decade alone; forcefully intervened to block a UN mission to save Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide of 500,000 of their people; ignored scores of other savage mini- and maxi-genocides across the Dark Continent, from Sierra Leone to Angola; pushed to further ingratiate itself with Chinas regime in spite of its repression of Uighur and Tibetan minorities; threatened South Africa with sanctions for trying to produce affordably priced generic AIDS medicines for its plagued, poverty-ridden citizens, and so on, and so on.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The move to intervene in East Timor--where the West had for years supported Indonesia as it exterminated one-quarter of the islands native population--only occurred in order to bring stability to Australias near abroad after the weakened post-Suharto regime lost control over the island, not to prevent a genocide. In fact, as in another familiar case, few mass graves and only 230 corpses have been found there, despite Western press reports of several thousands of ethnic-cleansing casualties. Meanwhile, Indonesian massacres in the less-strategically important provinces of Aceh, Ambon, and elsewhere are going unpunished and un-Anthony-Lewlogized.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 6.82 and rising rapidly
14. THE 1960s CHANGED AMERICA FOREVER, AND FOR THE BETTER
The triumph of the 60s was that the government would never again be able to brutalize its citizens like Hoover did or lie its way into a bad war, while the youth were guaranteed to be taught progressive morals. Right? Uh...nope. The government, it turns out, lied about its assault on Waco: the FBI now admits that the CS gas it pumped in is highly flammable and that the FBI may have set it off after firing tear gas canisters with pyrotechnic triggers. Also, Texas state safety official James Francis is reported in a New York Times article to have claimed that United States Delta Forces may have joined in the operation, even though the use of the Army to attack its own citizens is unconstitutional. Over the past two decades, the number of SWAT team paramilitary cops has skyrocketed: according to a recent Cato Institute report, 90 percent of U.S. cities with a population of more than 50,000 have their own SWAT force, as do 70 percent of the under-50,000 towns. Thats right: nearly every city, town, and village in America now has a paramilitary SWAT team. Their weaponry, much of it donated by the U.S. Army, now includes APCs and grenade launchers. Of course, America attacked Yugoslavia, killing and wounding thousands and destroying the nations infrastructure, on the pretext that the Serbs had massacred hundreds of thousands of Albanians. Teen drug use is down for the third year in a row. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reported that one in three American schools teaches abstinence-only sex education. Former draft-card burner Bill Clinton has thrown more U.S. citizens into jail for marijuana-related crimes than any president, and hes now warming up to school prayer. The NSAs Echelon program records every single communication across the world, and refuses to talk about it. Meanwhile, in true pre-60s Ozzie-and-Harriet form, Americans are reported to be "apathetic" about all of the above.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The big fad among Americas 90s youth is golfing and martinis.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 8.62
13. THE YEAR 2000 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY VAPID BECAUSE AMERICANS ARE TOO PROSPEROUS TO CARE ABOUT ISSUES
Real wages for working Americans in 1999 fell to a full 3% below 1979 levels.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Real wages for Italians increased by more than 20.7% during the same period.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: Ask that guy in Hawaii, or the guy in Atlanta, or the guy in...
12. CHECHEN TERRORISTS BLEW UP THOSE APARTMENT BUILDINGS
Logical-minded people around the world simultaneously sneered "Tchya!" when Boris Yeltsin, without any evidence whatsoever, blamed two bombings of Moscow apartment buildings on Chechen terrorists. "The criminals have thrown down a sinister challenge," Yeltsin said in a televised address following a blast on September 13. "They are trying to demoralize the authorities, to act covertly like wild beasts who sneak out at night to kill sleeping people without acknowledging their responsibility." New Prime Minister Vladimir Putin added: "It is difficult even to call them animals. If they are animals, then they are rabid." Left unanswered by Putin, Yeltsin, emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Kremlin heavies fingering the Chechens, were the following questions: If the Chechens did it, why didnt they claim responsibility (they always had before)? Why would the Chechens set off bombs before the Russians invaded Chechnya proper and then not do so (as it subsequently turned out) afterwards, when such attacks might have helped take the wind out of the Russian war effort? What was Shamil Basayev doing meeting with Kremlin chief of Staff Alexander Voloshin in Paris two weeks before the bombings? Why would the Chechens kill ordinary Russians instead of blowing up a government building or an object of military importance? In any case, the bombings gave the Kremlin the excuse it needed to launch a popular war that eventually resulted in a de facto victory for pro-government parties in the State Duma elections. In fact, the whole course of Russian politics for the next several years was altered enormously on the basis of this one extremely transparent lie--that the Chechens were guilty of doing exactly what Boris Yeltsin needed them to do to stay in power.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: A Moskovsky Komsomolets article that hit the newsstands just hours before the second bombing on September 13 cited intelligence sources claiming that the first bombing had been the work of Russian secret services, and that a second big one was on the way.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 2.72, or about as high as a lie told by the Russian government can still register
11. THE 1990S WAS A DECADE OF MONUMENTAL CHANGE
At the start of the decade, cellular phones and email had become commonplace tools. At the end, wireless communication and the Internet were still on the verge of altering our lives forever. At the start, Eurofag techno music, in the guise of rave and acid house, was the up-and-coming rage for the New Youth; at the end, Eurofag techno music, in the guise of progressive jungle, was the up-and-coming rage for the New Youth. At the start of the 90s, retro-70s fashion and cultural allusions were cool in an ironic way; at the end, retro-70s... At the start, white suburban American males were snatching up rap records and imitating inner city black fashions; at the end... you know. In 1990, George Bush was president; in 1999, George W. Bush leads all potential candidates for president. Saddam Hussein still may have "weapons of mass destruction" that could threaten the world, and were still bombing him. The price of oil has risen almost to what it was during the height of the Iraq-Kuwait crisis, but no ones complaining. Japans 1989 asset bubble burst is still in a state of burstedness. Russia is still in decline, Eastern Europeans are still convinced that someday theyll sneak past Western Europes face control without being noticed, South Africas blacks are still being terrorized (this time by the highest violent crime rate in the world, together with a savage AIDS epidemic), buses are still flying off of Indias cliffs at a rate of one per day, China still promises to one day be really scary, and yes, Russias Jews are still threatened by growing/latent/bottled-up Russian anti-Semitism, because, yes, Russia can still be compared to the Weimar Republic.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Goatees are not only still popular but Norelco and other companies are now marketing special electric razors just for goatee trimming.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 10.
10. SINGLE-DAY MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE U.S. ARE THE FAULT OF GUN CONTROL AND/OR TV VIOLENCE
The contradiction in American culture, which on the one hand preaches individuality, liberty, and equality, but on the other hand corrals you into galley-cubicle slavery, conformity, and blandness, is the gunpowder; failure to score even a minor promotion or an invite to a second-tier cliques high school kegger can be the spark. These spontaneous uprisings, these office and schoolyard massacres from Oahu to Columbine, Atlanta and beyond, are in fact no different from the doomed peasant rebellions of the middle ages, and they will continue for decades until someone produces a new philosophy to explain this misery, give it a couple of metaphors, and offer a focused way out into the next miserable paradigm. The oligarchs represented by Clinton believe that gun control is the answer because it takes pitchforks out of the peasants hands; other oligarchs know that the odds are so low that theyre in personal danger from a serf rebellion--after all, they usually just kill their fellow employees, never hitting CEOs or bursting into a board of directors meeting--that theres no reason to tamper with the Constitution that has served them so well. Rather, they propose to limit television, that opiate of the masses, to sedating propaganda, censoring the violence that agitates the serfs.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Had the Columbine shooters explosives gone off, they could have earned the single-largest murder-score of the year--surpassing the high score of 115 Albanian refugees that the US smoked in a single bungled incident during the Kosovo war. Such a score could possibly have forced Americans to face the fact that they live in an insane, inhuman culture. Instead, the fuses fizzled, meaning theyll go down as just another pack of sexually frustrated serfs whose imagination and efficacy was little better than all the other office-torching schmucks before them.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: n/a
9. THE EXILE BOOK WOULD BE RELEASED BY OCTOBER
At years end, Ames and Taibbis as-yet-unreleased kiss-and-tell Moscow diary--The eXile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia (Grove Press, 256 pp., $16.00)--still languished around 487,000th place on the Amazon.com sales list, despite incessant bragging by eXile editors.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Jennifer Goulds out-of-print pseudo-journalistic catastrophe, Vodka, Tears, and Lenins Angel, held firm at around 85,000th place, more than 400,000 spaces above the eXile.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 1.97 in Moscow, statistically insignificant everywhere else
8. THE BoNY MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL WAS A CASE OF A CLIQUE OF RUSSIAN-JEWISH IMMIGRANTS ABUSING AN UNSUSPECTING, NAIVE AMERICAN BANK
When The New York Times first broke the money-laundering scandal, Natasha Gurfinkel, Peter Berlin, and Lucy Edwards were seen merely as extras as law enforcement agencies spoke of corruption at the highest levels of international politics and commerce. The eXile reported on how one of the central figures, BoNY-Geneva banker Bruce Rappaport, had been named by a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report as having been a likely CIA bagman during the Iran-Contra scandal and a known golfing buddy of former CIA director Bill Casey. Anyone who has done business in Russia knows that BoNY, which mysteriously managed to secure a near-monopoly on wire transfers and ADR issuance in Russia, was hardly blind to the nature of "business," "asset-allocation," and the like in Russia. In September, Interpols British Secretary General, Raymond Kendall, said during a visit to Geneva, "In dimension terms, it is the biggest affair we have seen up to now... you seem to be dealing with corruption taking place at such high levels, that the normal ways of cooperation youd use are not necessarily the valid ones." Everyone from Anatoly Chubais to Boris Yeltsin to Michel Camdessus have been fingered in the scandal... and then, strangely enough, like something out of Stalinist revisionism, all of the important players, from BoNY Chairman Thomas Renyi (who claimed, incredibly, to have been duped) to Chubais to Rappaport, were airbrushed out of the medias reports, and all that remained were a few harmless indictments against Edwards, Berlin, Svetlana Kudryatsev, and Alexei Volkov. The Times even ran an incredible smear piece detailing allegations that two of the accused had each been busted once for shoplifting, implying that shoplifting nose drops is the first step in "duping" one of the worlds top banks and a host of political and law enforcement agencies into siphoning billions of dollars out of Russia. Today, the issue is dead.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT FACTOR: Nearly every New York Times article about the scandal carefully described BoNY as "a conservative institution founded by Alexander Hamilton."
POSTAL RAGE FACTOR: 6.48 and falling as defeatism sets in
7. THE GREATEST GENERATION
Even though Tow Brokaws mawkish tribute to Americas World War Two generation, The Greatest Generation, came out in 1998, he did rush out a follow up this year, The Greatest Generation Speaks. The thesis is that the World War Two/Great Depression generation--that is, the baby boomers parents--were the bestest doggone generation ever because they were simple and sacrificed for the good of the whole. Uh-huh. Lets get a few things straight. First, the Great Depression made them stingy, bargain-obsessed insectoids. Price Club, Wal-Mart, and Quicken can all be chalked up to Sam Waltons peers. World War Two was no sacrifice: America didnt take a side against the most evil regime in history until said evil regime declared war on it. Our soldiers were forced to fight under threat of court martial, which hardly makes it a sacrifice. Secondly, while the Japanese campaign was undoubtedly brutal, American forces barely saw any meaningful action in the European theater until D-Day, almost five years after the Nazis plundered Poland. Americans preferred to back-seat drive behind the petulant Brits in marginal conflicts in North Africa and Italy, while millions of Russians were ground into kolbasa by the Nazi war machine, and millions of Jews were shipped to their deaths. Only after it became clear that the Soviets were going to march on Berlin sooner than expected did the Americans open up a second front in Normandy, more than two years after Eisenhower first promised to do so. Afterwards, instead of returning to America to rebuild the nation on a just basis, the Greatest Generation gave us suburbia, the military-industrial complex, and resurgent discrimination, thus inciting the civil rights movement, the hippie rebellion, feminism, etc. Next, the Greatest Generation was singly responsible for moving the "Silent Majority" to elect Richard Nixon in 1968, a man who almost single-handedly destroyed American democracy. After a brief lull under Carter, the Greatest Generation returned with a vengeance by elevating one of its own, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency. With Reagan in power, the Greatest Generation not only stopped dead a twenty-year explosion in cultural innovation, but they got their selfish wishes fulfilled when Reagans tax cuts decimated welfare, education, and aid programs, scaring baby boomers into becoming cubicle slaves. Todays oppressively bland, workaholic, pious, hypocritical culture is all thanks to the Greatest Generation. And for this, according to Brokaw and his repentant fellow boomers, we should all bow down to kiss their incontinent asses.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Too few members of the Greatest Generation are dying fast enough today, leaving younger, less-numerous generations with the burden of subsidizing their selfish, golf-obsessed grandparents--meaning longer hours at the office and still more sacrifice on behalf of the Greatest Generation.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 6.82, rises during televised presidential election town hall meetings with bigoted, dipshit veterans groups whose idiotic opinions are somehow marketed as simple, earthy wisdom.
6. SAN FRANCISCO IS A LIBERAL CITY
When San Franciscans elevated write-in "maverick" mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano into a runoff with incumbent mayor Willie Brown last month, the press uniformly explained that such things could only happen in zany, "liberal" San Francisco. Nonetheless, the gay challenger, who ran on an anti-gentrification liberal platform, got trounced by more than 20 percentage points in the runoff against Brown, a black Democrat who spent 31 years in the California state assembly and came to epitomize insider, mainstream politics. According to Capitol Alert, "[Brown] won in large part with the overwhelming support of conservative and Republican voters who live in the western portions of the city." Four years earlier, Brown unseated Mayor Frank Jordan, a right-wing ex-cop who had unexpectedly defeated his centrist opponents. Looks to us like San Francisco is controlled by log cabin Republicans.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: In a city known for passing resolutions condemning Americas support of the Contras and strict rent control, "liberal" San Franciscans also approved a voter-initiative barring banks from charging those annoying $1.00 surcharges ATM machines, a law that was quickly dismissed by the courts.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 6.94, considering the significant, if silent, log cabin Republican vote
5. GIRLS LOOK GOOD IN SHORT HAIR
No, they dont. Instead, you get an unwanted preview of what shell look like in ten years, when shell have no choice but to cut her hair. Middle-aged woman cant wear their hair long without looking like freaks that should be shot and burned; girls under the age of 25 can, and when they do, its always a turn-on. The political message of short hair is that girls dont have to inconvenience themselves to look good on behalf of men, which is as big a lie as the one about girls preferring sensitive men.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Russian dyevushki, on whom the political message is lost, are converting to short hair and eschewing their traditional whorish makeup.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 2.57. Dyevs are still sluts, while American girls are turnoffs in any hair style.
4. ELECTIONS ARE DEMOCRACY
The major premise underpinning cheery Western assessments of emerging democracies is that so long as elections are being held, those nations are bound to become more democratic over time. Nothing supports this dopamine-drenched premise, unless you filter out all of recorded history prior to the past thirty years experience in Western Europe--which is precisely what most Western journalists, analysts, and politicians do. Already in America, voters have almost no say in running their government except the right to add their grain of sand to the weight-scales contest between two nearly identical tools. Voters rarely get to directly vote on laws, except in ballot issues like the massive 1978 Proposition 13 tax cut, term limits, auto insurance rate caps, and so on. Over the past decade, however, the federal government has stomped on voter-approved issues, overturning legalized medical marijuana initiatives, barring a voter-approved law to slash benefits for illegal alien and bilingualism, and most recently, federal courts overturned voter-approved initiatives to limit bank fees on ATM transactions almost the day after they were voted on. None of this has shaken Americans cattle-like faith in elections. Not like the Bulgarians and Albanians, both of whose citizens revolted and overthrew their democratically elected leaders two years ago after they lost faith in them. Most of the former Soviet republics hold elections, but even by the very forgiving standards applied by OSCE to EU-friendly, resource-rich countries, elections have ranged from the hugely flawed (Russia, Ukraine) to the outright sham (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan). Furthermore, most countries of the former Soviet Union, Russia included, have been steadily regressing from promising early parliamentary elections in 1989-91 to todays pornographic electoral manipulations. Back in 1995, the Russian State Duma and Ukrainian presidential elections were not nearly as tainted as this years. But since the West values the act of elections over their intended result--which is to close the gap between ruler and ruled and legitimize the rulers--the ruling oligarchy rightly decided that they would offer up elections just "free and fair" enough to allow the West to give its blessing. If there was one great lesson in the recent Duma campaign, it is that democratically elected leaders can produce effective propaganda on a par with totalitarian leaders, achieving even better results--the appearance of legitimacy from abroad. Amazingly enough, no U.S. observers of the Russian elections were jolted into a moments self-reflection as to the degree to which American opinion has been manipulated and controlled. The lesson of the 1990s is that elections are an increasingly flawed instrument for applying democracy, and if anything, theyve become the Trojan Horses for increasingly sophisticated/subtle forms of totalitarian control.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: The United States has only agreed to a partial lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia if Milosevic holds free and fair early elections, the results of which the have already been determined by Madeline Albright: "I find it really, really, really hard to believe that Milosevic might win a free and fair election," she said. The normally cautious New York Times explained, "Senior American officials said that if an election was not free and fair -- essentially, one that the Milosevic coalition won -- then the sanctions would not be lifted." But according to the same article, reliable polls show that Milosevic WOULD win an early free and fair election hands-down.
ELECTION POLLING STATION SELF-IMMOLATION FACTOR: 9.38
3. HEATHER GRAHAM IS A BABE
After nearly ten years of relatively minor roles (including a small part in both Twin Peaks features), Graham finally got her breakthrough role with 1997s overrated Boogie Nights, in which she played a slut who always wears roller skates. However, it was this years Austin Powers sequel (in which she played a slut willing to fuck a smelly 1,000-pound Scot for the CIA), followed by the less-notable Bowfinger (in which she played a slut who will fuck absolutely anyone in order to get a part in a hopeless sub-B picture), that established Graham as an "It" girl of the moment. Which means that, for several months this year, every breathing American was convinced that Graham is whats referred to in the business as "a hottie." Consider the facts, however: Her frizzy hair is the color of old-manure-stained straw. Her face appears disjointed and resembles that of a scarecrow with water on the brain. Her voice is a good example of why most American couples dont converse much. She cant really act either, not that it matters. Well grant you that her legs and tits are decent right now, but if you look at the backs of her thighs or her neck, you can already see where the ripples are forming and tomorrows dangling turkey fat will appear.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: Appeared in Diggstown (1992), with James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr.
SELF-CASTRATION FACTOR: Below 1.0 as long as we avoid TV and print media; craze is already showing signs of blowing over, in fact.
2. READING ABOUT THE COLUMBINE VICTIMS DIDNT MAKE YOU WANT TO SHOOT SOME PEOPLE YOURSELF
The Denver Post eulogized victim John Tomlin by saying he "balanced his time between two things: Chevys and church? He loved trucks, his girlfriend, Michelle Oetter, said. And he loved God." Tomlin was further described by friends as a "real goofball" who "loved to laugh" but who more than anything else loved those trucks--er, Chevys. "He cherished his Chevy pickup in spite of the rust spots on the doors and the side," the paper wrote. "It wasnt pretty, but he was always talking about what he was going to do to it next, girlfriend Oetter was further quoted as saying. He really loved it." Meanwhile, the same paper described victim Matt Kechter as "a real character." "He loved to laugh, said his football coach Kevin Parman. He just really enjoyed himself." Whats more, the paper asserted, friends said just about the only time Kechter ever showed "any signs of disappointment" was when "he got a B-plus on a test or an assignment." Victim Rachel Scott, meanwhile, was "the kind of person only born once."
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: When victim Steven Curnow kicked a soccer ball, it was "like a rocket coming at you."
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: Self-evident
1. NATO INTERVENED IN KOSOVO TO STOP GENOCIDE
NATO marketed its barbaric war against Yugoslavia as a war against neo-Nazism and genocide. On April 17, just over three weeks after NATO started to bomb Yugoslavia, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea claimed that the Serbs had killed more than 3,200 Albanians. On April 18th, U.S. ambassador to the war crimes tribunal David Scheffer charged that 3,200 was "a very low estimate," and upped the figure to 100,000. On May 16, Defense Secretary William Cohen told CBSs Face The Nation: "Weve now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing... They may have been murdered." Not to be outdone, the State Department issued a written report on Monday, April 19, claiming that the number of Albanians killed could be as high as 500,000. After the Serbs capitulated, official genocide estimates were quickly downsized from 500,000 to 44,000 to 20,000, then 11,000. Now, according to the UN War Crimes Tribunals own figures, produced by one of the worlds most thorough and highly politicized forensics operations in history, just 2,108 bodies have been recovered after examining more than one-third of the suspected "mass grave" sites--the most highly suspected sites, that is. However, that figure includes Serbs, KLA fighters, Albanians killed by NATO bombs, and others. The UNs top Spanish pathologist, Perez Pujol, quit the investigation in November because, as he told the Spanish daily El Pais, he was being pressured from above to produce genocide-confirming figures, and because hed been lied to about the scale of the atrocities. Hed been told to expect 44,000 victims overall, and only 2,100 were found. Hed been prepped to perform at least 2,000 autopsies in his groups assigned zone; instead he found a total of 187 corpses, most of which were buried in single-grave plots and only five of which bore signs of mutilation.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: NATO bombs killed some 2,000 Yugoslavs during the war, while at least another 357 Kosovo Serbs have been killed and another 450 disappeared since NATO took over the province, meaning NATO wins the genocide competition even by its own skewed figures.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 9.27--if no one else does, someday we will
The end of the world is nigh. Jesus is coming back to save us. Nerds plan to blow up Sacramento. Algerian-Canadians plan to blow up Vermont. Crazed towel-heads plan to blow up Americans somewhere, anywhere, at any time in the near future. Russia may experience a total shutdown. The whole worlds going to unravel, with nukes being fired indiscriminately, power shutting off, glowing plutonium rods rocketing into the streets, dams bursting, internet DP sites crashing... Tchya, right. And our butts might fly out of monkeys.
ADDITIONAL IRRITANT: After nothing happens at Lie2K, expect endless articles and news programs assessing why, and what could have happened, and how it could still happen.
POSTAL RAMPAGE FACTOR: 7.56 but somehow seems unimportant