Today's big bombshell: Private Jessica Lynch reports that she was raped. But here's the kicker. In the biography, she confesses that she has no memory of the incident. The citation comes from "medical records." But even author Rick Bragg notes that the records "do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage, or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into splinters until she was almost dead." Serious allegations against her captors or trumped up charges that fail to pinpoint the perpetrator? (It's also worth noting that Bragg was suspended from the New York Times when he relied on the work of stringers and interns. Is it possible that a similar approach was utilized with these medical records?)
Is Gavin Menzies the Stephen Wolfram of history? That's the question today's New York Times (login: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse) suggests in a Menzies profile. Menzies has a new book out, 1421, which claims that the Chinese discovered America seven decades before Columbus did. Some people have made similarly precise claims about this planet's developments. Others have seen their amateur claims initially mocked and later proven to be correct. Is Menzies onto something or is he a crank? And how do we place the passionate amateur within the realm of scholarly pursuits?