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April 29th, 2005

Green Eggs Benedict XVI and Sulpher-Smoked Raelian Bog Ham

"Commercials are an unnatural use of my work. . . It's like having a cow's udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating.'' (Tom Waits' response to Opel, a European division of General Motors, running a TV commercial in Scandinavia, with a soundtrack resembling his style and sound.)


Dear Folks,

Now that we have a 'new' Pope, ('same as the old Pope' - The Who) it might be a good time to remember the Mother of All Popes, the good pope, the one - according to Friar Mel Gibson - that erroneously knocked the Catholic Church off its traditional (read: repressive) bearing with his bold attempt to make that outdated and archaic religious juggernaut somehow relevant to our present time and needs: John XXIII.


Pope John XXIII, (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) was born in Sotto il Monte, Italy on November 25, 1881. The fourth in a family of fourteen, his family worked as sharecroppers, a striking contrast to the royally born, Eugenio Pacelli, John's predecessor as pope. When the First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, arrived in the Vatican to see him, he began nervously rehearsing the two methods of address he had been advised to use when she entered: "Mrs Kennedy, Madame" or "Madame, Mrs Kennedy". When she did arrive, however, to the amusement of the press corps he abandoned both and rushed to her saying, "Jackie!" Nor did Pope John's radicalism stop at his informality. To the astonishment and horror of aides, he called an Ecumenical Council less than ninety years after the controversial Vatican Council. While his aides talked of spending a decade in preparation, John planned to hold it in a manner of months. From the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, came changes that reshaped the face of catholicism: a new Mass, a new ecumenism and a new approach to the world. He met the Most Rev. Geoffrey Francis Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for about an hour in the Vatican on December 2, 1960. It was the first time in more than 500 years that a head of the Anglican Church had visited the Pope. (Time Magazine article)


(This first comment (if you can call it that) was in response to the Earthday Memo I sent out to all the Australian Senators and Representatives on my mailing list. Usually I get a few measured and intelligent comments back, especially from the Greens. But the following short reply ticked me off:)

From: Senator Tsebin Tchen, Senator for Victoria, Liberal Party of Australia:

"What's your point? "

(Note: That was the good senator's entire email. Here's my reply:

Senator T.T.
Who taught you how to write a letter of reply ? No intro and not signing it? What kind of public servant are you anyway, mate? And if you have to ask that terse and ignorant question after reading that fine statement, originally drafted by US Congressional candidate, Joe Simonetta, a Harvard scholar, you obviously need to re-read it, think about it, and then consider the following tale of one of your well-known Jewish constituents, regards, Joe Dolce:

Noah in 2005

In the year 2005, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and overpopulated and I see the end of all flesh before me.  Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights".

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard . . . but no ark.

"Noah", He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah. "But things have changed.  I needed a Building Permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.  

Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I argued that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.

Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. (I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls. But no go!)

When I started gathering the animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will.  As well, they argued the accommodation was too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.

Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an Environmental Impact Study on your proposed flood.

I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my Building Crew.
Also, the Trade Unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union Workers with Ark building experience.
To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.

So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least TEN years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.  
Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean, You're not going to destroy the world?".

"No," said the Lord. "The government beat me to it."
(thanks to Sahyma)

Dear Joe,
Never thought I would write a Dear Joe letter - not that there is anything wrong with that . . .  As always your newsletter is a fascinating mix of fun, humour, warmth and recipes for young marsupials.  My comment comes in regard to this quote from your earthday newsletter:

' The sixth great extinction is occurring right now. It's the first caused by other than natural causes (meteors). It's caused by us.'

I have to take issue with this for the implication that we, as homo sapiens, are somehow unnatural.  Is this reflective of your belief that we are the products of extra-terrestrials?  Have I been reading the Raelian Newsletter for years without realising? (Although as apparently meteors are natural, what classifies as unnatural?) As I see it, Humans are simply one more species on this planet.  Despite what made for TV nature specials tell us, nature is very rarely in balance.  It is in a constant state of flux.  Today at this singular point in time there exists an estimated 0.001% of all the species that have ever existed.  Extinction of species is not new, nor is it exclusive to homo sapiens.  I think it is a spectacular kind of arrogance to presume that we are somehow outside of, or not involved in, the evolution of life on this planet.  On the one hand, this letter bemoans the reduction of biodiversity as a blow to evolution - yet how do you think evolution occurs?  Species or individuals which are better adapted survive, the weaker ones do not. All this somewhat irrelevant tangent aside, I do fully support (what I perceive to be) the intent behind this letter.  It is our self awareness that sets us apart.  It is our ability to control and correct what we do that sets us apart.  Or at least is should be (but that may just be my humanist beliefs creeping through, the current state of affairs in the world sure isn't indicating it..)  Well thats it for now, thanks for indulging me. Zachary

(Note: Greetings Zachery! This is RAEL and I am speaking to you now through this Earth Vehicle Gas-Guzzler Humanoid known to you as Joseph. As you know, on the 13th of December 1973, I was contacted by a Visitor from the planet Semantics, and asked to establish an Embassy to welcome the linguistically-challenged peoples back to Earth. [Wink wink nudge nudge say no more.] The extra-terrestrial Italian-looking human being was a little over four feet tall, had long dark hair, almond shaped eyes, olive skin, and exuded harmony, humour and the fragrance of garlic . I recently described him by saying quite simply, "If he were to walk down a street in Calabria, he would not even be noticed." In other words, they look like us, and we look like them. In fact, we were created "in their image" as explained in The Bible, Book of Guiseppe: Cooking Supplement v 2-4. This alien told me that: "We were the ones who designed all life on earth." "You mistook us for gods." "We were at the origin of your main religions and languages." "We invented spaghetti, not the Chinese." " We have Elvis, he loves Raelian food, and now is even fatter than Jabba the Hutt." "Now that you are mature enough to understand this, we would like to enter official contact through an Embassy." To that end, I am seeking financial contributions in Earth money, payable to me, Rael, via a Direct Deposit Anal Probe, through the Enema Entity, known to you as Joseph, which will be converted into Raelian Lira. In exchange for every donation over $1000, our representatives have agreed to manifest one dozen Commemorative Free-Range Raelian Woodpecker Eggs (highly recommended by Elvis) and a leg of Sulphur-Smoked Raelian Vegetarian Bog Ham. May You Never be Poked in the Third Eye with the Fourth Stick, May It Be Semantically So, and Git-R-Done, Rael (speaking through the Tupperware Vessel known as Joseph.) www.rael.org


Dear Joe,
Your version of our future is extraordinarily depressing ­ because it is so true.  It is also interesting that the 'alternative' lobby are really just trying to find different ways of dong the same thing.  Instead of finding a way to live without electricity, we are finding new ways in which to make it.  Instead of trying to find a philosophy that will remove the need to travel, we are looking for different ways to power our travel.  There are no answers. 
Philippa Morris 
PS The joke about General de Gaulle is wrong.  It is wrong because the British Ambassador's wife would have been conducting the conversation in French as a courtesy to her hostess.  Had you written it about the Americans it may have been different ­ one of the more bizarre aspects of the Iraqi war is the assumption by American troops that the Iraqis understand sentences like 'Stop or I shoot' or 'Put your hands in the air'. 

(Note: Philippa, we already have a philosophy that has removed the need for travel. It's called: Televisionism. And why wouldn't the French President's wife be taking this rare opportunity to practice her English with the British Ambassador's wife? (Parry thrust - Uh -huh. Who's the man?) But I do agree that there are no answers. (Or as the French President's wife might have said: 'Excusez-moi, ce qui etait la question?')

Dear Joe, Re: Craig's response
Talk about imbalances: Craig!! Men are now the endangered species... in  need of language that describes their pain and suffering too. I wonder whether Craig spends as much time proselytising about the ill effects of jokes that mock and satire the female stereo-type as he does about jokes pertaining to male impotence, male suicide, male sperm donors, incompetent men portrayed on TV's as floundering 'bring home the bacon'  fathers and anti-domesticates; about men who need gay men to dress and groom them . . . ahhhhhhhhh. For %$#$ sake Craig -  they were only jokes!!! Lighten up!

(Note: Thanks Victor, for that succinct portrait of our Prime Minister. As my friend, Big Joe Texas, once said: 'Them aliens give George W Bush an anal probe. Know what they found? . . . . John Howard.')

After reading what reader Craig had to say about the Yo Mama jokes (and wondering if he might be a vegan, too...) in the previous issue, I realized that you were indeed wrong, wrong, wrong to limit your insensitivity to gender, so here's an opportunity to demea the elderly, too:

An older couple decides to go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor tells them that they are physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.Later that night while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair.
His wife asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the kitchen," he replies.
"Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?" 
"Sure," he mumbles as he ambles past her.
"Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks.
"No. I can remember it."
"Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too.  You'd better write it down because you know you'll forget it."
He snaps back, "I can remember that!  You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries. How tough is that to remember?"
"I'd also like whipped cream.  I'm certain you'll forget that, so you'd better write it down!" she retorts.
Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down.  I can remember it! Leave me alone!  Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream -- I got it, for goodness sake!"  Then he grumbles off into the kitchen.

After about twenty minutes the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of eggs and ham.  

She stares at the plate for a moment and says ­ "Where's my toast?" (boom boom!)

Note for the serious reader: The preceding was a harmless bit of amusement. No septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, nor centenarians were injured in the making of this joke. Best, JJ

Very Feminist Sweden Still Does Violence to Women
By Olivier Truc

An "anti-patriarchal" party is created to fight against discrimination. The address is secret, and the place, in principle, strictly forbidden to men. It's a gray and ordinary building in Stockholm's suburbs. On the entryway door there is nothing to indicate what happens behind its walls. A handful of battered women live there, sometimes with their children. With the exception of social services, no one knows they have taken shelter there.

We are actually in Stockholm, capital of this Sweden that is supposed to be the world paradise for equality between men and women. For nearly twenty years, the sociologist Anita Bergström has worked in this kvinnojour, this women's shelter, of which 113 exist in Sweden. Every year, 20,000 women bring charges of violence. Three to four times more would not dare to alert the police.

"A woman is killed every ten days, usually by someone very close to her, a husband, lover, or relative," insists Anita Bergström. Behind this door, which she agrees to crack open for a man, she shows two offices, a living room, and the way to twelve individual rooms. "Drugs, alcohol, and men are forbidden." We hear the voices of children who ought to be at school, but their fathers could go there to kidnap them. Sometimes, therefore, children stay here, cloistered with their mothers. Last year, 58 women and 66 children were given refuge in this secret shelter. Two employees, including Anita, and eight volunteers run the shelter. They live off communal allocations and gifts. (article)
(original french language article)


(Very funny little flash movie. Does it ring true for you?)
(thanks to Stephen Ross)




The Price of Infallibility

'Let's open the windows.'
Pope John XXIII

With the news media awash in encomiums to the indisputable greatness of Pope John Paul II, isn't it time to ask to which tradition he belonged? Partisans unfamiliar with Christian history may judge this a strange question. Why, they may answer, he belonged to the Catholic tradition, of course. But there is no single Catholic tradition; there are rather Catholic traditions, which range from the voluntary poverty of St. Francis of Assisi to the boundless greed of the Avignon popes, from the genial tolerance for diversity of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century to the egomaniacal self-importance of Pope Pius IX in the 19th century, from the secrecy and plotting of Opus Dei to the openness and humane service of the Community of Sant'Egidio. Over its 2,000-year history, Roman Catholicism has provided a fertile field for an immense variety of papal traditions. (article)

The New Pope is a Disaster for the World and for the Jews
Rabbi Michael Lerner

(Rabbi Lerner is editor of the world's largest circulation progressive Jewish magazine, TIKKUN, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco.)

'Whenever I see a wall between people, I like to pull out a brick."
Pope John XXIII

"Since the days in which he served in the Nazi army in Germany to his role as the leader of the forces that suppressed the liberatory aspects of Vatican II and purged or silenced the Church of its most creative leadership (including German Catholic theologians Eugene Drewermann and Hans Kung, Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, and several prominent American Catholic thinkers), to the present moment in which he is recognized as the leader most identified with the forces of reaction and suppression of dissent within the Church, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has distinguished himself as a man who can be counted on to side with the most anti-humane and repressive forces, in opposition to those who seek to give primacy to a world of peace and justice, " said Rabbi Lerner. "Although normally Jews would welcome any choice of leadership by our sister religion, we have particular reason to comment on this choice. . . . In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an "autoerotic (1) spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hindusim, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy. . . " (article)
(thanks to Stefan A)

God's Rottweiler

'A peaceful man does more good than a learned one.'
Pope John XXIII

As prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] was the Vatican's iron hand. His interventions are a roll call of flashpoints for the church: the 1987 order stripping an American theologian, the Rev. Charles Curran, of the right to teach because he encouraged dissent; punishing Latin American supporters of the popular "liberation theology" movement for alleged Marxist leanings; and coming down hard on efforts to rewrite Scriptures in gender inclusive language. He also shows no flexibility on the church's views on priestly celibacy, contraception and the ban of ordinations for women.

In 1986, he denounced rock music as the "vehicle of anti-religion." (ed. note: foreshadowing the Second Coming of Elvis.) In 1988, he dismissed anyone who tried to find "feminist" meanings in the Bible. Last year, he told American bishops that it was appropriate to deny Communion to those who support such "manifest grave sin" as abortion and euthanasia. It all earned him unflattering nicknames such as the "Grand Inquisitor" and "God's Rottweiler." (article)

New Pope Intervened against Kerry in US 2004 Election Campaign

'I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.'
Pope John XXIII

Washington - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican theologian who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, intervened in the 2004 US election campaign ordering bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters, including Catholic presidential candidate, John Kerry. (article)

Holy Warriors
By Sidney Blumenthal

'The true and solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms, but in mutual trust alone.'
Pope John XXIII

Cardinal Ratzinger handed Bush the presidency by tipping the Catholic vote. Can democracy survive their shared medieval vision? (article)

Fourteen Thoughts For The New Pope. Condoms. Female priests. Stop gay bashing. And dammit, do something about Christian rock.
By Mark Morford

'It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope.'
Pope John XXIII

OK, first things first. They say you're a hard-line conservative, new pope Joseph Ratzinger (aka Benedict XVI) of Germany. Very old school and drab, a real lover of repressive, bitter, orthodox doctrine. No fun at parties. Catholic in chains. What glorious times of joy and progress the church is in for, millions now say, dejected sarcasm dripping from their once-hopeful mouths. See, most spiritually progressive peoples the world over were sort of hoping for a new pope who would recognize this as a historic opportunity, an unprecedented moment for the church to finally get with the times, modernize, shake off the dust and roll some bones and pry open some of those old dungeon doors and bring in some godd@mn light.

So then, before you venture forth on your ostensible path of increasingly bitter conservative dogma, Benedict, you need to be reminded. Right now. Before it's too late. Is it already too late? Here, then, 14 random thoughts and ideas, all for you, Benedict, on the off-off chance you're open to such things. (article)




Hybrid Car Sales Soar in U.S. in 2004
by Dee-Ann Durbin
DETROIT -- The lure of the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars helped drive healthy sales of electric and alternative-powered vehicles last year, according to new data that shows the hybrid market has grown by 960 percent since 2000. New hybrid vehicle registrations totalled 83,153 in 2004, an 81 percent increase over the year before, according to data released Monday by R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield-based firm that collects and interprets automotive data. Even though hybrids still represent less than 1 percent of the 17 million new vehicles sold in 2004, major automakers are planning to introduce about a dozen new hybrids during the next three years. (article)

Fourth 'R' for Earth Day - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ... Repair
by Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Prize Winner
In 2004, the Norwegian Nobel committee made a revolutionary decision. In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to an environmentalist for the first time, the committee broadened the concept of peace. The message the committee sent was this: If we want a peaceful world, we have to manage our environment responsibly and sustainably. We also have to share natural resources equitably at local, national, and global levels.

Since winning that prize, I have traveled to many parts of the world sharing the groundbreaking message of the Nobel committee. Friday, the 35th celebration of Earth Day provides us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to doing all we can in our daily lives to protect and nurture the Earth. There can be no better time. The recently released Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report shows that nature provides so many "services" that the decline of ecosystems worldwide has measurable deleterious effects on human well-being. The 1,300 scientists compiling the report found that 60 percent of nature's vital services that make all life possible - including fresh water and the flood protection and climate-stabilizing capacities of forests - are already degraded or in danger.

Nearly 30 years ago, I planted seven trees that led to the creation of the Green Belt Movement. Since then, women (and some men) have planted more than 30 million trees across Kenya, and we have shared our approach with many other countries in Africa.

Through the Green Belt Movement, thousands of communities, largely poor and rural, have been able to transcend ignorance and fear and take positive action for the earth.

On a recent visit to Japan, I learned the concept of mottainai. One meaning in Japanese is "what a waste." But it also captures in one term the "Three Rs" that environmentalists have been campaigning on for a number of years: reduce, reuse, and recycle. I am seeking to make mottainai a global campaign, adding one more "R" suggested by Klaus Töpfer, the head of the UN Environment Program: "repair" resources where necessary. (article)

The Green Dream Is Alive
By Kelpie Wilson

Maybe it's just the springtime, but I'm here to tell you that this Earth Day the Green Dream is alive. We've got to keep reminding ourselves of the Green Dream because, let's face it: these are hard times for green-leaning folks as we see so many of our worst Cassandra-like predictions coming true. Even those of us who have shouted about global warming for years are surprised to see how quickly the climate is changing right now. The just-released Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which brought together nearly 1,400 experts from 95 countries, told us that we have degraded nearly 60% of the planet's capacity to support life with clean air, water and food. Then there is Peak Oil. Like most environmentalists, I knew it was coming - it's basic physics - yeah, we're going to run out of oil. But I believed those bastards when they said it wouldn't happen for another 20 years. Let the grandkids worry about it.

The entire energy industry needs to be prosecuted for concealing the true state of their oil and gas reserves. The SEC has already fined Shell Oil $120 million for inflating their oil holdings in order to keep their stock price high. This is just the beginning of the unveiling of an accounting rip-off that will make Enron and WorldCom look like peanuts, if it ever gets going. Someone also needs to take the US Energy Information Administration to court for broadcasting falsely that the world-wide peak of oil production would not hit us until sometime between 2020 and 2030. Right now we don't know if the real peak is happening today or if it will happen two or three years from now, but it's clearly breathing down our necks. How on God's green earth has such incompetence been tolerated?

Well, here we are. The House Republicans want us to give another 10 billion or so in tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry to somehow motivate them to get off their duffs and find more oil. What if they gave that $10 billion back to us as rebates so we could all invest in a little personal energy independence? Wouldn't it be great to have $10,000 to put some solar panels on your roof? Ten billion dollars could put those solar panels on 100,000 roofs. If we'd been doing that for the last ten years, we'd have a million solar roofs by now.

It's a time to plant, to invest, to give back to the Earth.

So many of us are yearning to pitch in now, to do something, to plant a seed. Here are the usual "what you can do to save the planet" Earth Day suggestions, but instead of thinking of them as chores to add to an already endless list, think of them as investments in a better future.

1. Get your body in shape. We'll all be walking and biking a lot more in the future, so we might as well start now. And it's so good for you. Getting in shape does not mean getting skinny. Fat is good for you too. Just keep it moving.

2. Eat good food. Try to eat whole, unprocessed food like rice and vegetables, organically grown and locally grown if possible. Food processing and transport use a lot of energy. At the same time, over-processed food zaps your personal energy.

3. Buy some power strips. Check every single appliance you have plugged into a wall outlet and see if it draws current even when the switch is turned off. If it is warm to the touch it's drawing current. Lots of devices suck these "vampire loads" so we won't have to wait for them to warm up when we turn them on. Plug them into the power strip and turn them all the way off. Turn them back on when you need them - and wait.

4. Buy a bunch of super-efficient light bulbs (either compact fluorescents or the new high efficiency LED lights) and replace every incandescent bulb in your house with one.

5. Plant a garden. Even if it's just a window box with some lettuces or a tomato plant in a pot on the deck. Join with friends and plant a community garden and make it fun! Raise rabbits.

6. Invest in solar electricity, solar heating and energy efficient appliances. The payback time in power bill savings may be a little long right now, but when energy prices shoot through the roof, you'll be glad you did. (article)

Links for further exploration. Happy Earth Day!

Fat Is Not So Bad
Good Fat Is Good (the New Food Pyramid)
How To Kill Vampire Loads
Energy Education Site
LED Lights to Replace Bulbs
Energy Saving Light Bulbs
Source of LED Lights, Solar Modules,, etc
Urban vs. Rural Sustainability
End of Suburbia
Peak Oil and Permaculture in the Suburbs
Homepower Magazine
Database of Solar Installers
Database of US Incentives for Renewable Energy
Solar Today Magazine
National Renewable Energy Lab

GM Industry Puts Human Gene into Rice
by Geoffrey Lean

Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights. Environmentalists say that no one will want to eat the partially human-derived food because it will smack of cannibalism. But supporters say that the controversial new departure presents no ethical problems and could bring environmental benefits. In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body. (article)

(Note: With a nice Chianti, I hope. [Make sound with mouth: thuh thuh thuh thuh thuh . . .] Hannibal Lecter wasn't that far off the mark, it seems.)

~ Book Recommendation ~

by Robert Harris

If you liked the movie, Dante's Peak, (one of my favourite films), you'll love Pompeii: A historical thriller, with awesome detail and research, and a great central character, a Roman aqueduct engineer-detective named Attilius, who, while on a journey to Pompeii, to repair the mighty Aqua Augusta, discovers something more sinister.

" Men mistook measurement for understanding. And they always had to put themselves at the centre of everything. That was their greatest conceit. The earth is becoming warmer - it must be our fault! The mountain is destroying us - we have not propitiated the gods! It rains too much, it rains too little - a comfort to think that these things are somehow connected to our behaviour, that if only we lived a little better, a little more frugally, our virtue would be rewarded. But here was Nature, sweeping toward him - unknowable, all-conquering, indifferent - and he saw in Her fires the futility of human pretensions."
(Pompeii, by Robert Harris, Arrow Books, 2004.)


Union Brothel

A dedicated Teamsters Union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, "Is this a union house?"

No," she replied, "I'm sorry it isn't."

"Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"

"The house gets $80 and the girls get $20," she answered.

Mightily offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop.

His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules."

The man asked, "And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"

"The girls get $80 and the house gets $20."

That's more like it!" the union man said He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde.

I'd like her," he said.

I'm sure you would, sir," said the Madam.

Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and she's next."
(Thanks to Frank Dolce)


'When I eat alone I feel like a seminarian being punished. I tried it for one week and I was not comfortable. Then I searched through Sacred Scripture for something saying I had to eat alone. I found nothing, so I gave it up and it's much better now.'
Pope John XXIII

Sauteed Beet Greens and Chestuts, with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Corn-on-the-Cob

(Once you've tasted this greens and chestnut combination, you will think of dozens of ways to vary the idea. With eggs and toast for breakfast, for instance. You can also swap or combine the beet greens with silver beet, or hot mustard greens, use chinese lap chong, or omit the meat altogether, and add some onion, or tofu.)

2 ears of corn
4 potatoes, peeled
2 cups fresh chestnuts
greens from 4-6 large beets (about three cups)
garlic, chopped
1 red chillie
olive oil
flaxseed oil (or butter)
one medium slice guanciale, pancetta or bacon, sliced into slivers
2 tbles flour
1 table butter
half onion (chopped finely)
cayenne pepper
2 cups well flavoured stock

Make the gravy. Heat 1 table butter and 2 table of oil. Add the onions and fry until they start to turn brown. Add the flour and stir. Add enough stock a little at a time and stir until the gravy starts to form. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the rest.

Place an X in the flat side of each chestnut and boil in a little water for ten minutes. Peel one at a time (leaving the remainder in the water to stay hot, which makes them easier to peel.) Cut each peeled chestnut in half, discarding the spoiled ones. Boil the potatoes in one pan. In a second pan, boil some water for the corn. When the potatoes are almost ready, place the corn in the water. Put 2 tables oil in a pan and cook the guanciale until it starts to render its fat. Add the chestnuts and chillie and stir-fry for about two minutes. Add the greens and cook until they start to wilt. Add the garlic and cook another minute and remove from the heat. Mash the potatoes with a little butter or flaxseed oil.

To serve: Place a scoop of mashed potatoes and an ear of corn on the plate. Drizzle flaxseed oil over the corn, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper over top, and spoon some gravy over the potatoes. Place a helping of chestnuts and beet greens on the side and serve.

Green Eggs and Ham
(kids cooking lesson)

1-2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
4 slices of bog ham
8 woodpecker eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1-2 drops of green food coloring
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1. With an adult's help,
(I love that part! But do make sure the adult knows how to cook, kids - otherwise, omit the adult!) melt a teaspoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add sliced ham and brown until edges are slightly crisp. Remove the ham from the pan, cover with foil, and set aside.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Beat with a whisk until frothy. Then add 1-2 drops of green food coloring until you reach the desired shade of green.
(This can also be achieved by holding your breath. Boom boom!)
3. With an adult's help
(doh!), heat a tablespoon of butter or margarine in a large frying pan over medium heat until the butter begins to sizzle. Then add the egg mixture to the pan.
4. Stir the egg mixture with a spatula until the eggs are firm and not too runny.
5. Transfer the eggs to individual plates. Garnish with a sprig of parsley. Add the ham prepared earlier. Serve with toast or warm rolls. One of Elvis' favourite dishes in the afterlife.


Mind Wanting More
Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down.  Otherwise,
clouds.  Sea rippled here and
there.  Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.
But the mind always
wants more than it has --
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses -- as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren't enough,
as if joy weren't strewn all around.
~ Holly Hughes ~
(America Zen: A Gathering of Poets)