It is the opinion of your humble Internet gossip monger that nothing in this world is better explained by the official history than it is by an elaborate conspiracy theory. For example, is the de-electrification of American arterials really the result of land-use planning and suburbanization, or is it the result of an elaborate General Motors conspiracy to replace all streetcars with buses? Was George W. Bush really that articulate during the first debate, or was his eloquence the result of a hidden receiver? Or, counter conspiracy, was the hidden receiver the work of some lone blogger? Did the New York Knicks really win the draft lottery fair and square, or was Patrick Ewing’s arrival in New York ordained by Stern on high? (Actually, the score was just settled on this one: CONSPIRACY! For those interested, here’s the video of the lottery and analysis by Bill Simmons.) In almost all moments of American history, the real truth is the one they don’t want you to know.

Today’s conspiracy comes to us from the friendly community of the Facebook. As a promotion for the Borat DVD, Fox decided to hold a Borat look-alike contest. But their selection has, to put it mildly, been controversial.

Here’s the photo of “Borat”:

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Not terrible, but consider the competition:

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Or, my favourite:

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According to the contest’s rules, the criteria for judgement is based on physical resemblance (20%), costume (40%), and the overall creativity/composition (40%). While the winner (exhibit A) does have a little flag in his picture (oh the creativity!), the costume is all wrong (exhibits B and C are much closer) and Mr. Does-not-look-like-Borat is way too old. (Plus, he certainly does not have the joie-de-vivre expressed in exhibit C.)

Facebookers are not taking kindly to this. One wrote, “The guy looks a little like him, but other than that, I don’t see much else. What a letdown.” Another, “That guy has EVERYTHING wrong with his outfit…I’m vouching for everyone on this…it was rigged! My bf had everything from the hair, glasses, suit, tie, shoes, EVERYTHING….ugh. Screw that contest!”

While the motive is not yet apparent, there is solid evidence in support of a conspiracy, and not just bad taste on the part of the Fox judges.

1. No 2nd or 3rd Place winners were announced despite Fox’s previous declaration of place and show categories.

2. The winner, Jared Augenstein, is not a member of the Facebook group! I’ll let an angry Facebooker explain:

“Interestingly enough, there is no Jared Augenstein listed in the list of group members; only a Brett Augenstein. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, but it did make my Borat-like eyebrows rise in slight suspicion!

From the rules: “In the event of a dispute as to identity of any online entrant, entrant will be deemed the individual named on the online entry form.”

Only one problem: there was no online entry form!”

With a winner not eligible to be an entrant, and the mysterious disappearance of second and third place, I’m afraid there’s no choice but to side with the conspiracy theorists. It’s a sad day indeed when the News Corporation reneges on their promises, and the fine name of the institution is besmirched by some rinky-dink operation.

Sadly, Yesterday’s Salad seems to have gotten away from its proud mixological tradition in favor of more pedestrian pursuits such as the ability to get from place to place, and fancy words associated with vampires. Also, since my only skills at alcohol are drinking the stuff and a penchant for being kicked out of the Dartmouth Club, I feel it hasn’t been my place to post recipes. But I do still read them. Today’s Times has a wonderful feature on the Martini with accompanying multimedia in the Dining In/Dining Out section. They conducted an extended martini tasting, testing Gins not in their native state but in their Sunday best. Perhaps because they were not evaluating the Gin propre, Plymouth Gin took the prize, followed by Junipero and Old Raj (over 100 proof). As the article puts it, “We discovered that while great martinis require great gins, great gins don’t necessarily make great martinis.”

The biggest surprise in the article is the claim by the mixologist that a great martini should be stirred and not shaken, as a stirred gin remains clear. As someone who has grown up in the post-Bond world (and sadly not someone who grew up in the era of unchecked British Imperialism), this almost sounds like heresy. It seems, perhaps, that even though British secret agents may have a real licence to kill, Fleming may have been mistaken in his choice of a shaken cocktail. Then again, considering that Fleming’s Bond made terrible scrambled eggs (in the Fleming story, “Bond in New York,” Bond just sort of wanders around New York bemoaning the decline of the city and, amongst little else, makes some scrambled eggs), perhaps one shouldn’t be too shaken by his mistake.