Billy Bloggs dead; moped for sale

by Daniel on July 15, 2003

It came to my attention that Condoleeza Rice is attempting to explain to us that 16 words of outright falsehood isn’t really all that much in the context of a two hour speech, not all of which has yet been proved to be untrue. How wonderful; I never realised before that she had much of a sense of humour. I have never been a great fan of this kind of reasoning, ever since an unscrupulous waiter once convinced me (I was young and drunk) that one obviously putrid, blackish-green prawn wasn’t really all that much in the context of a very generous paella. Three bloody days on the pot I was because of that one.

Anyway, it gave me an idea for a competition; how much can you say, how grandiose and extraordinary a claim can you make, in 16 words? “Let there be light” is only four, so I’m guessing that things could get pretty extreme. “Let there be light and I did not have sex with that woman Miss Lewinsky” is fifteen words, and fits the spirit of the joke whose punchline forms my title above.

In terms of a blanket condemnation of as many things as possible, I’m going for “The set of all sets of sets of sets of sets of cardinality aleph(1) is evil” as my entry; if anyone thinks that they can better it, have at ye. I might award prizes, but most likely only the glory.

I also want to claim dibs on “The smallest claim which is too large to be expressed in fewer than sixteen words”, by the way.



Matt 07.15.03 at 5:34 pm

Actually, as infinite cardinals go, yours is itty-bitty. Try ‘measurable, ‘strongly inaccessible’, or ‘rank-into-rank’


Iain J Coleman 07.15.03 at 5:52 pm

“Fiat Lux” is only two. As is “Jesus wept”.


David Yaseen 07.15.03 at 5:57 pm

“The tenets of Scientology are all literally true.”

That’s pretty gradiose. Do I win?


Brian Weatherson 07.15.03 at 6:05 pm

Well if paradoxical statements are going to be in I’m claiming “Zero equals one.”. It might not look that big on its own, but it has all sorts of neat consequences.

And I’m not sure how blanket the blanket condemnation is. It could be that that damn set is evil even though few of its members are. I’m certain the set of Man U players is much more evil than many (if not all) of its members.

More seriously, I think indexical claims could be more grandiose. “I am the Lord your God, the resurrection and the life; send donations to Crooked Timber.” is fairly over the top, at least if I were to say it.


dsquared 07.15.03 at 6:05 pm

So far you’re certainly in the lead. I would imagine that yours would have been about as much of a bombshell if dropped into the state of the union address, which is the standard I’m using.


dsquared 07.15.03 at 6:06 pm

that last one addressed to david yaseen, sorry.


dsquared 07.15.03 at 6:16 pm

Hmmmm … I was assuming that sets could only be evil if their members were; in other words that sets are more like prawn paellas than presidential speeches.


Matt Weiner 07.15.03 at 6:20 pm

“I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

May be the most spectacular fourteen false words ever actually uttered by an American President. Pity I had to cut the “My fellow Americans” to make the cut (full 24-word quote here).


cp 07.15.03 at 6:21 pm

“God told me to strike at al-Qaida, and I struck them. Saddam too. And the Constitution.”


Jason McCullough 07.15.03 at 6:33 pm

“I, George Bush, have had a wild sexual affair with Bill Clinton for ten years.”


Sean 07.15.03 at 6:40 pm

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. I had sex with your mom.


Jimmy Doyle 07.15.03 at 7:01 pm

If the aim is to be grandiose, as opposed to merely sounding grandiose, surely all contradictions will work equally well. All possible propositions are entailed by a contradiction.


Thomas 07.15.03 at 7:17 pm

God pressed the wrong button on his remote–instead of Backdoor Action, he created the universe.


charles 07.15.03 at 7:34 pm

Matt Weiner beat me to the
“lets make a real impact” speech, but
here’s my contribution: “I’m the First
Horseman of the Apocalypse, and I’m
going to nuke China! Then Old Yoorp!”


PinkDreamPoppies 07.15.03 at 8:04 pm

And now for the obligatory Kubrick send-up:

“We must protect our precious bodily fluids from the threat of global terrorism and wicked regimes.”


Lorenzo 07.15.03 at 8:45 pm

My bid:

“Brad DeLong is the Holy Roman Emperor and rules all the known world you heathen scum!”

Inspired by Brad’s own assertion.


PG 07.15.03 at 8:58 pm

Isn’t Ms. Rice essentially begging us to go through the rest of the speech and find every other part that has turned out to be less than true?

“Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine. (Applause.)”
And that’s why I want to force seniors who want prescription drug coverage into managed care.

How are those hydrogen powered automobiles coming along?

“Americans are doing the work of compassion every day — visiting prisoners, providing shelter for battered women, bringing companionship to lonely seniors. These good works deserve our praise; they deserve our personal support; and when appropriate, they deserve the assistance of the federal government. (Applause.)”
And that’s why we’re not funding AmeriCorps.

“Tonight I ask Congress and the American people to focus the spirit of service and the resources of government on the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens — boys and girls trying to grow up without guidance and attention, and children who have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their mom or dad.”
That’s why John Ashcroft is prosecuting Ed Rosenthal for growing marijuana for cancer patients, so a few more kids will have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their dad.

“More than 4 million require immediate drug treatment. Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need…
“I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean. (Applause.)”
While people are dying for lack of medication, we’re spending $5 billion on abstinence education.

Well, you get the idea.


imrpink 07.15.03 at 10:18 pm

It’s like saying the money shot in a porn movie is unimportant.


Matt Weiner 07.15.03 at 10:46 pm

I just noticed that my contribution would have been even more spectacular if true.

Jimmy and Brian, I think my advisor would be disappointed in me if I didn’t amend your contribution to “Zero equals one, and relevance logic is false.”


Nick 07.16.03 at 1:38 am

If sixteen words don’t mean much in a two-hour speech, then surely the Republicans can forgive Clinton now? He and Lewinsky were together for just a few minutes in an eight-year presidency, so it can’t be that important.

And 16 words to drop into a Bush speech and cause trouble: ‘and that is why I am appointing Professor Richard Dawkins to be my Chief Scientific Adviser’


ByWord 07.16.03 at 2:29 am

TS Eliot has a spooky and grandiose claim:

“I will show you fear in a handfull of dust. / Frish weht der Wind / Der Heimat.”

Changes the meaning of ‘Der Heimat”, but for the spookier.

If it was me:

“I have cut the bonds; I have gazed into the void, and it has gazed back.”


e young 07.16.03 at 3:19 am

How about, “And every man shall contribute the same, and every man shall receive the same”.

Said by Aneurin Beavan when announcing the formation of the pensions part of the Social Service Bill in 1949(?)


WillieStyle 07.16.03 at 3:39 am

“The sins of the heathen must be purged with rains of fire. Thus sayeth The Lord.”


James Russell 07.16.03 at 4:08 am

one obviously putrid, blackish-green prawn wasn’t really all that much in the context of a very generous paella

You should’ve demanded a refund, since the cost of your meal wouldn’t really have been all that much in the context of all the other money the restaurant would’ve made that night…


Fu 07.16.03 at 4:53 am

History will recognize George W. Bush as the greatest leader the world has ever known!


Dell Adams 07.16.03 at 5:38 am


Carlos 07.16.03 at 6:13 am

Everything’s going to be all right.

What do I win?


Realish 07.16.03 at 8:00 am

“Take me to your leader.”


Keith Thompson 07.16.03 at 8:47 am

“Zero equals one because George W. Bush says so.”


Keith Thompson 07.16.03 at 8:48 am

“All statements are false.”


Walt Pohl 07.16.03 at 11:45 am

Matt: I’ve heard of the other ones, but what’s a rank-into-rank cardinal?

Dell: I would vote for “Eternal Salvation or Triple Your Money Back”.


Stanton 07.17.03 at 6:17 pm

“Will increase your length by at least two inches.”


novalis 07.17.03 at 8:12 pm

“DHS, TSA, Parrot, Dianetics, Joseph Smith, and Marshall Applewhite shall bring us peace in our time.”

(please count acronyms as one word)

Comments on this entry are closed.