Someone suggested to me last week that in order to write my newsletter,
I must have a lot of spare time on my hands. For the two
and a half years I have been writing it, I have considered preparing
the weekly newsletter an exciting and crucial part of my continuing
self-education. I don't watch television news (if I can
help it) - so reading from a lot of diverse source
material and compiling this rag is the way I keep myself up to
date on what's REALLY going on in the world. That said, it is
also important not to denigrate having some time on one's hands.
(It's better that than to hear Time's winged chariot
at your back hurrying near.) Remember that
one of Rome's countless gifts to the world are two forms of
art: the famous La Dolce Vita ("The Sweet Life"),
but also Il Dolce Far Niente ("Sweet Doing Nothing"
or "Sweet Idleness"). The meaning of Il Dolce Far
Niente goes far beyond innocently spending time doing absolutely
nothing in the most pleasant way, which would lead to the stereotype
of portraying Italians as lazy (which we all know is horse
ca-ca). As the British Italophile Michael Dibdin
puts it, doing nothing alla Romana is not a matter of idleness
or indolence. In fact Romans have taken this apparent non-activity
to the level of an art form. To a Roman, to see and to be seen,
to experience life to the fullest, to love and to be loved, are
the very essence of living.
FAVOURITE READER COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
Re: Your Last Newsletter
I have to say that in over 10 years online, I have NEVER read
anything funnier than the brilliant "Tendjewberrymud"
!! Will pinch it for my next [Bumper Bundle], Joe. (Naturally,
I will make the necessary attribution.) Kindest, as ever, Dai
(Here's what Dai had to say about: 'Tendjewberrymud'
which I received from my brother, Frank, and presented in last week's newsletter, in case anyone
" First contribution comes from the always
interesting Joe Dolce [Newsletter]. Let me warn you about this
following piece now. If you are printing out this [Bumper Bundle]
and may perhaps read a few pages each day on the train to work,
then make sure that you are in a carriage on your own. Because
there is a very real chance you will laugh so uncontrollably as
to lose bladder control: indeed you might lose more than your
dignity. People in white coats might be called for, and they will
cart you off and you will lose your FREEDOM. I actually think
that this is the single funniest thing I have EVER read on the
internet. I know it is not Politically Correct, but what the heck
it is just plain WONDERFUL. Another reason, BTW, for a train compartment
on your own, is that you really must take Joe's advice and read
the thing OUT LOUD in the phonetic way it is written. It is a
masterpiece. I like the story that it was an actual verbatim exchange
in a hotel in the Far East. My hunch is though that it smacks
of a really creative mind. If so, it is a pity the original writer's
name is lost. (I say, give that man the Nobel Prize for Literature!)
Anyway, whatever the origins, here it is. Thanks Joe: I laughed
so much I thought I was going to die. (I truly understood for
the first time why they call such uncontrollable laughter, 'corpsing'!)
(Note: Dai Woosnam sends out his regular free UK 'Bumper
Bundle' e-letter filled with interesting goodies which I always
enjoy reading. Drop him an email and ask him to add you to his
list at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a loyal subject of the Queen, and a devout exponent of our
Australian democratic way of life, I urge you to look into your
heart and with the love that I'm sure you must feel for our own
fine and statesmanlike leader here in Australia, concoct a pet
name such as the affectionate and touching name you have given
to that great wise man on the other side of the pond, "Sir
Lord Generalissimo Life President Royal Lowness Divine Wind His
Most Royally Unexcellency George W. Dubya Shrub Bonsai Bug-infested
Twig and Weed Patch White-Ant Riddled Wood Pecker Head Bush Junior".
(I must confess I copied and pasted that).
Re: the sad speech impediment of the above Poorly Tended Topiary,
it must be hard not to make strange squishy noises when you have
the nose of an antipodean pretender (albeit fine and statesmanlike)
so firmly wedged up your rear nethers. Cheers and thanks, Joe,
(Note: Wendy, I'm open to any creative suggestions from
readers as to a proper extended name for our John. Keep those
cards and letters coming! Until then, as you know in Australia,
honourable abbreviations are placed after eminent individuals
names to denote special acknowledgement from the Queen. Many people
do not know what these letters stand for so I have given Howard's
full title and an explanation of what the honours denote:
HRH RT HON SIR PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD, OBE, LB, OM, MBE, OG,
OB, ONZ, FRS, KCVO, QSO, CBE, DBE, KBE, GBE, ADC, KG.
Full Title -
HRH (Holiday Resale Homes) RT HON (Rt Hon, bro!)
SIR PRIME RIB MINISTER JOHN HOWARD, OBE (Out of Body Experience),
LB (Lord Bear), OM (Outer Mongolian), MBE (Minority
Business Entrepreneur), OG (Order of the Garter), OB
i, ONZ (Olives New Zealand), FRS (Fishery Resource Service),
KCVO (Knight Commander of the Venereal Orders), QSO (Quacking
Soul Orifice), CBE (Central Banking of Egypt), DBE
(Disadvantaged Business Enterprise), KBE (Knoxville
Builders Exchange), GBE (GameBoy Emulator), ADC (Archive
of Diseases in Childhood), KG (Kinky Gymguy).
Hi there Joe,
Re: Little Sledgehammer Gift of God
Grazie bello! AT Last I know my name! I had a laugh and sent it
to my papa! baci, Kavisha www.kavisha.com
(Note: Last week, I sent my friend, singer/songwriter
Kavisha Mazzella, some background on the origins of her name,
which I hope helps her to understand why she is the way she is!
name: PAOLO: Italian form of Paul, meaning 'little')
MAZZELLA - Southern Italian: from a diminutive of Mazza
(1. nickname or metonymic occupational name from mazza
' club', 'mace', 'sledge hammer'. 2. nickname for a destructive
individual, from a derivative of Italian (am) mazzare 'to
kill or destroy' (Latin mactare). - or alternatively
of Mazzeo, a variant of Matteo. (Italian: from the personal
name Matteo, derivative of Latin Matthaeus or Matthias
(see Matthew - vernacular form of the Greek New Testament name
Matthias, Matthaios, which is ultimately from the
Hebrew personal name Matityahu 'gift of God'. )
I don't know how I got on your mail list but anyhow I did, I noticed
your question about Christianity. I think your reading of what
Jesus was about is very worldly, there is a grain of truth in
what you say but you are missing the point. Jesus does leave a
lot of his word open to interpretation because we are all at different
levels but he isn't ambivalent about what he is. He is the only
religious leader who claims to be the son of God and he says he
is the only way. You have to reject him as a nut case or an impostor
or accept him as what he says he is. I might sound like some crazy
fundamentalist (which I'm not) but don't go taking a worldly view
that there is one God but many ways to Him, if Jesus is who he
says he is, forget all the rest and if he isn't he is a con man
and his words are not worth the paper they are written on. Best
regards, Greg G
(Note: Greg, only a 'grain' of truth? I wonder if even
the Holy Lamb could feed the multitudes with that? I'm not suggesting
Jesus was a con man - the con men came later.)
I don't know how I got put onto your list, but after reading one
or two editions I'm hooked. Don't know whether you're a Christian,
but I'm printing out your first paragraph [from last week's newsletter]
to read at our church next Sunday, where it should go down very
well. It echoes some of the ideas we were working on today. [That's
the Augustine Congregation of the Uniting Church of Australia
[UCA] in Hawthorn, in Melbourne.] I appreciated the
way you presented items about US evangelicals who don't support Bush's
war in Iraq. I get impatient with some evangelicals, but it's
really important to avoid damning anyone on the basis of a label. I
admire your ability to keep an open mind. Virginia
Great Answer, May I quote you from your 'Bible'....that others
may create their own, there's little room for loop holes! Best
regards, Kitto, songwriter
(Note: Dear Kitto and Holy Flock, here below is a little
more reassurance for all of you of the interconnectedness of the
universe - )
Science and the Bible: Friends at Last
by Ramsey Ess
As many as nearly half of all of today's scientists and scientologists
are practicing Christians. Unfortunately, these two powerful forces
have been feuding since the invention of logic in 1941. How is
it that these Christian scientists have been able to reconcile
their best friend (science) with their copilot (Jesus)? Let's
take a look at some examples of science and Christianity working
How did Jesus walk on water?
One of Jesus' most well known feats
was his walking out to greet his fisherman disciples on top of
the water. While modern day floatation devices allow Man to replicate
the Lamb of God's great deed, spitefully mocking him, Mother Nature
has been vindictively waving her metaphorical middle finger towards
the heavens for centuries. The "Jesus lizard" (or "basilisk
lizard" for those of non-Christian faith) is able to run
at such a speed that the resulting force allows them to stay above
water. So, I don't know, maybe Jesus did that. Bible doesn't really
How can Jesus love all the little children?
Scientists agree that Jesus suffered
from congestive cardiomyopathy which resulted in an enlarged and
stretched heart cavity for the Son of Man. The increased heart
space that would develop as a result of this affliction allowed
Jesus to love a larger number of little children than what would
ordinarily be possible, more specifically, all.
How did Jesus feed the five thousand with
only five loaves of bread and two fish?
When Jesus had to feed his many followers
with just a few pieces of food, math, the Christian-friendly division
of science, came to the rescue as it often does. By dividing the
meager food supplies into five thousand, along with the "science"
of stunning dish presentation and good manners, Jesus was able
to turn a planning disaster into a meal of rich, concentrated
flavor that left everyone hungry for more. Bam!
Why was Jesus so great?
Scholars point to passages in the Book
of Revelations in which it is revealed that much of Jesus'
greatness was due to His extensive knowledge of jazz and jazz-fusion
as well as his reputation for brushing after every meal, even
after eating out at a high-class restaurant. I personally think
they're talking about somebody else, but keep in mind that this
is from Revelations and that stuff's crazy.
You Mowed Down His Cross
(Open Letter to Larry Northern who attached chains and
a pipe to his truck and ran over about 100 of the crosses at Camp
Casey that serve as a memorial to the soldiers who have died in
the war in Iraq.)
I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry
Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One. While
I was in Iraq, a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,
was killed in an un-armored HMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a
cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID. Once he had declined the
award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive
similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and a
wonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial
cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner.
We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective
equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did
this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his
family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that
he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his
son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed,
a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment
into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down
the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was
one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for
a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did
that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for
his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape
for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section
of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost
no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our
squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made
under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married
the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law
was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died
last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another
unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept
rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he
stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was
on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday
night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country,
where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights,
and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected
for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.
Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan
except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants
to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you
found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains
and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring
a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds
of others that served this nation when they were called. I find
it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people
like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions.
I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.
First Sergeant, USA (retired)
THE LUCIFER PRINCIPLE
by Howard Bloom
It seems to me quite easy for most us to identify
an evil deed in a fellow human being, say a serial killer, or
a dictator who massacres thousands of innocent people, but a lot
harder to see a disaster, like a tsunami killing hundreds of thousands,
as a manifestation of evil. (But the more pagan primitive religions
of yesteryear had no problem doing it.) I'm quoting a little more
than usual down below from this interesting book as there is so
much creative thinking in it. And twenty percent of the book is
devoted to its references and source material! The basic premise
of The Lucifer Principle is this: religions and politicians
trying to explain the nature of the phenomenon they refer to as
'evil' , is tantamount to koalas trying to explain how wristwatches
work. Here are three excerpts:
'The Lucifer Principle contends that
evil is woven into our most basic biological fabric. This argument
echoes a very old one. Saint Paul proposed it when he put forth
the doctrine of original sin. Thomas Hobbes resurrected it when
he called the lot of man brutish and nasty. Anthropologist Raymond
dart brought it to the fore again when he interpreted fossil remains
in Africa as evidence that man is a killer ape. Old as it is,
the concept has often had revolutionary implications. It has been
the thread on which men like Hobbes and Saint Paul have hung dramatic
new visions of the world.
I've attempted to employ the subject of man's inborn evil, as
have those who turned to the subject in the past, to offer up
a restructuring of the way we see the business of being human.
I've taken the conclusions of cutting-edge sciences - ethnology,
biopsychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and the study of complex
adaptive systems, among others - to suggest a new way of looking
at culture, civilisation and the mysterious emotions of those
who live inside the social beast. The goal is to open the path
toward a new sociology, one that escapes the narrow boundaries
of Durkheimian, Weberian and Marxist concepts, theories that have
proven invaluable to the study of mass human behaviour while simultaneously
entrapping it in orthodoxy.
We must build a picture of the human soul that works. Not a romantic
vision that Nature will take us in her arms and save us from ourselves,
but a recognition that the enemy is within us and that Nature
has placed it there. We need to stare directly into Nature's bloody
face and realise that she has saddled us with evil for a reason.
And we must understand that reason . . .
For Lucifer is almost everything men like Milton imagined him
to be. He is ambitious, an organiser, a force reaching out vigourously
to master even the stars of heaven. But he is not a demon separate
from Nature's benevolence. He is a part of the creative force
itself. Lucifer, in fact, is Mother Nature's alter ego.'
Excerpt 2: IRAN
'. . . [Indian] Hinduism has seemed to its
admirers in the West a profoundly spiritual view of the world.
It rejects materialism, lays aside earthly desires, tells its
adherents to go with the flow, to accept the world as it is, to
build up a positive karma, and to strive for Nirvana in a selfless
world. What could possibly be more benign? Under the surface,
however, the Hindu religion is not what it seems. In fact, it
was the device with which one conquering group managed to validate
its theft of power, prestige and goods from a rival superorganism.
In approximately 1,500 B.C. a cluster of Aryans drove their herds
of cattle from Iran to Northern India through the Hindu Kush mountains.
These were men whose lives centred around two things: their cows,
and fighting. So inextricably were the two woven together that
the Aryan word gavishti had two meanings: the first, 'to
search for cows'; the second, ' to fight.' On the Indian side
of the mountains, these violence-prone Iranian cattle herders
found a people far more sophisticated than they were. The Iranian
intruders could neither read nor write. The people native to India,
however, excelled at both. The Iranians had never seen a building
more complex than a temporary hut. The Indians had lived for over
a thousand years in elaborate cities. But apparently the Iranians
had something that the Indian inhabitants lacked: an eagerness
to fight. During the next hundred years, the Iranians relentlessly
attacked the indigenous Indian population and brutally beat the
unfortunate locals into submission. It was a pecking order triumph
par excellence. The Iranian invaders reduced the Indians to the
shameful role of a conquered people and declared themselves the
lords of the land.
But where does a lofty and otherworldly religion fit into all
of this? Hinduism was the picture of the invisible world crafted
over the following centuries by the priests of the Iranian's descendants.
At Hinduism's heart was a simple notion: There were several classes
of human beings, as distant from one another as worms are distinct
from lions. First there were the 'twice-born' - men favoured by
the gods with all their holy blessings. Then there were the Shudras
and the outcastes, loathsome people so beneath the contempt of
the heavenly deities that the gods refused to accept their prayers.
The deities had ordained it thus. They had declared in their infinite
power that the twice born were to ride forever on the shoulders
of the dirtier and humbler classes of men. For the twice born
were close to divinity. The lower castes were not. And who were
these exalted twice-born mortals? The descendants of the Iranians.
This pious self-aggrandisement of a conquering barbarian tribe
led to the Indian caste system. The top three castes were exclusively
reserved for the 'twice-born' Iranians. One of these privileged
orders (Kshatriyas) contained the Iranian warriors and aristocrats.
The second (Brahmans) included the Iranian priests (those wonderful
folks who had come up with the system to begin with). And the
third caste housed the Iranian landholders and merchants (Vaishyas).
Down at the bottom of society, squirming like insects beneath
the Iranian heel, were the original Indian natives, the occupied
peoples. They became the loathed Shudras and outcastes. The defeated
Indian Shudras were promptly put to work. They were sent into
the fields to raise the crops upon which the wealth of the Iranian
nobles, priests and merchants would soon be based.
The Iranian overlords were fair skinned. The natives who had been
placed in a state of permanent humiliations were dark in hue.
That complexion difference was embedded permanently in the name
of the social structure. The newly initiated hierarchical layers
were called varnas - castes - the Iranian word for colour.
. . . . .Why does the Hindu religion tell its adherents to go
with the flow, to abhor the things of this world, to set aside
earthly desires, to hope only for an improvement of their lot
after this life is over? Because Hinduism was designed to keep
the conquered Shudras in their place. It told those trapped in
the lower castes to be content with their humiliation and shun
the appalling actions that might spring from desire and discontent.
It instructed them to never overthrow their Iranian masters .
. . . "
Excerpt 3: THE
GREED OF GENES
In the beginning, says Oxford University zoologist
Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene, the face of the earth
was washed by primitive seas. On the surface of those waters,
lightning and sunlight knit together molecules of ammonia, water,
carbon dioxide, and methane to form the first organic substances.
These substances sloshed inertly beneath the waves, a slowly accumulating,
murky sludge. One day a miracle occurred. Some accident twisted
a few of the organic clumps of atoms together into a new shape,
giving them a property the universe had never seen. The molecular
pretzel could make copies of itself. It mindlessly attracted scraps
of muck to its surface and - quite accidentally - snapped the
molecules it was embracing together like pop-em beads. When the
pretzel let the finished product go again, it had unwittingly
made a mirror image of itself.
The replica had the same property as its pretzel-like parent.
Molecules of sludge were attracted to its surface. Each segment
of surface would pull toward it a very specific atomic shape,
so the replica's exterior acted like a paint-by-numbers canvas,
drawing precisely the correct component to exactly the right spot.
Once all the new molecules were lined up in order, they'd snap
together. The result was yet another spanking new copy, ready
to unpeel from its parent and drift away. The fresh-born copy,
in its turn, would attract other wandering molecules to its face,
where they would line up, pop together, then uncouple to be carried
off by the currents of the sludge-filled early seas. The molecules
with the peculiar ability to make copies of themselves are called
replicators. These replicators, like the innovations that had
preceded them, would move the universe one more step up the ladder
For aeons, replicators drifted through the chemical soup of the
early earth, casually copying themselves. But eventually, the
population of molecular Xerox machines grew overwhelming, and
the supplies of untouched organic sludge began to run short. That's
when the replicator that could do more than merely reproduce itself
had an edge. The replicators that could do more, says Dawkins,
were those that 'learned' to make copies from more than just raw
sludge. They could take apart their competitors and reassemble
the components for their own purposes. Other replicators arose
that could defend themselves. The first defense was probably a
simple chemical armoured shell, like those that protect some bacteria.
But over time, the armoured suits became more intricate, developing
muscular whips to provide speed, movable fins for steering, and,
far into the future, hands and feet and brains. The descendants
of the early replicators are the genes of today. And the latest
versions of those first primitive protective suits are you and
(Howard Bloom, The Lucifer Principle, A Scientific
Expedition into the Forces of History, Allen & Unwin, 1995,
Abu Ghraib General Lambastes Bush Administration
By Marjorie Cohn
I had been hesitant to speak out before because this Administration
is so vindictive. But now I will ... Anybody who confronts this
Administration or Rumsfeld or the Pentagon with a true assessment,
they find themselves either out of a job, out of their positions,
fired, relieved or chastised. Their career comes to an end. --
Janis Karpinski, interview with Marjorie Cohn, August 3, 2005
Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski
was in charge of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the
now famous torture photographs were taken in fall of 2003. She
was reprimanded and demoted to Colonel for her failure to properly
supervise the prison guards. Karpinski is the highest ranking
officer to be sanctioned for the mistreatment of prisoners. On
August 3, 2005, I interviewed Janis Karpinski. In the most comprehensive
public statement she has made to date, Karpinski deconstructs
the entire United States military operation in Iraq with some
astonishing revelations. (article)
Ways In Which, Conceivably, I Could Become
Very, Very Rich
I discover more Internets.
encourage Santa to check his list twice. He discovers that I have
not been naughty at all and in fact have been soooo nice that
I deserve a million billion dollars and a pony made of gold.
become a Republican.
get breast implants and they turn out to be filled with uranium.
time I use a stern voice to tell Donald Rumsfeld, " No!"
and then hit his behind with a rolled-up newspaper, the American
people give me a dollar. Rumsfeld gives me ten. Perv. (thanks
to Liz Lent)
Paedophilia and Star Trek
by Ellen Ladowsky
The LA Times recently ran a story about the
Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit, which
contained a mind-boggling statistic: of the more than 100 offenders
the unit has arrested over the last four years, "all but
one" has been "a hard-core Trekkie." Blogger Ernest
Miller thought this claim was improbable. "I could go to
a science fiction convention," he explained "and be
less likely to find that 99+ percent of the attendees were hard-core
Trekkies." While there may be quibbling about the exact numbers,
the Toronto detectives claim that the connection is undeniable.
In fact, Star Trek paraphernalia has so routinely been found at
the homes of the pedophiles they've arrested that it has become
a gruesome joke in the squad room. (On the wall, there is a Star
Trek poster with the detectives' faces replacing those of the
crew members). This does not mean that watching Star Trek makes
you a pedophile. It does mean that if you're a pedophile, odds
are you've watched a lot of Star Trek. This is not the first time
Star Trek has been linked to bizarre sexual practices. Those involved
in the Heaven's Gate mass suicides in Rancho Sante Fe in March
1997 also purported themselves to be avid Star Trek fans. One
may recall that the cult forced its members to wear unisex clothing,
had a strict policy of celibacy, a ban on all sexual thoughts,
and eight of the members had surgically castrated themselves.
So why would sexual deviants be attracted to Star Trek? (article)
(thanks to S.R.)
Utility Company Boosts Solar Energy Project
By Laura Wides
Los Angeles - A huge solar energy facility
capable of producing more electricity than all other U.S. sun-power
projects combined is being planned for the California desert.
Southern California Edison signed a 20-year power purchase agreement
Monday with Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems to build a 4,500-acre
project that would produce 500 megawatts, enough electricity for
a small city - about 278,000 homes. (article)
(Note: Australia - pay attention!!)
Barney the Purple Dinosaur (and cattle prods)
" . . . Indeed, according to both Jon
Ronson and The New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, many of the
torture techniques employed at Guantanamo Bay, at Abu Ghraib,
and at such less-well-known locales as al-Qa-im near the Syrian
border in Iraq, are based on [Lt. Col. Jim] Channon and [Lt. Col.
John] Alexander's non-lethal schemes, but with lethal consequences
in some cases. Ronson confirmed that a facility at al-Qa-im was
conducting "interrogations" of captured Iraqi insurgents,
after playing, non-stop, for days at a time, the theme song from
Barney the Purple Dinosaur, "I Love You."
Ronson is convinced that the music was a cover for subliminal
frequencies, very high- or very low-frequency sounds that affect
brain functioning, to break prisoners' resistance. The prisoners
were kept in metal shipping containers in the scorching sun, blindfolded
and in crouching positions, surrounded by barbed wire, with the
music (and subliminals) blaring. (article)
A fairy told a married couple: "For being
an exemplary married couple for 25 years I will give you each
"I want to travel around the world with my dearest
husband" said the wife.
The fairy moved her magic stick and abracadabra! Two tickets appeared
in her hands.
Now it was the husband's turn. He thought for a moment and
"Well. . . this moment is very romantic, but an opportunity
like this only occurs once in a lifetime. So . . . I'm sorry my
love, but my wish is . . . to have a wife 30 years younger than
The wife was deeply disappointed but, a wish was a wish.
The fairy made a circle with her magic stick and . . ..Abracadabra!
Suddenly the husband was 90 years old.
The moral of the story? - Men are bastards, but Fairies are
(thanks to Jim Testa)
Dutch Lock Up Free-Range Chickens to Halt
By Nicholas Watt
More than 5 million free-range chickens were
shut indoors yesterday as the Dutch government imposed the most
stringent measures in the EU to try to prevent the spread of bird
(Note: Does this mean we are now going to have three
choices: battery eggs, free-range eggs, and under-house-arrest
The History of Pasta
The first certain record of noodles cooked
by boiling is in the Jerusalem Talmud, written in Aramaic in the
5th century AD. The word used for the noodles was itriyah.
In Arabic references this word stands for the dried noodles purchased
from a vendor, rather than homemade noodles which would have been
fresh. Dried noodles are portable, while fresh must be eaten immediately.
More than likely, pasta was introduced during the Arab conquests
of Sicily, carried in as a dry staple. The Arab geographer, Al
Idrisi wrote that a flour-based product in the shape of strings
was produced in Palermo, then an Arab colony. Some historians
think the Sicilian word "maccaruni" which translates
as "made into a dough by force" is the origin of our
word, macaroni. Anyone who has kneaded durum wheat knows that
force is necessary. In the ancient methods of making pasta, force
meant kneading the dough with the feet, often a process that took
a full day. Ancient Sicilian lasagna dishes, some still eaten
in Sicily today, included raisins and spices brought by the Arab
invaders, another indication that the Arabs introduced pasta.
Whether the Arabs sauced pasta is questionable, and the array
of sauces may be an Italian invention. What is certain is that
the climate of Italy was perfect for growing durum wheat, a hard
wheat from which we get semolina, and the availability of the
wheat ensured its popularity. Soft wheat can be used for fresh
pasta, but semolina is used for dried pasta. . .
. . .Could you be a macaroni? Have you travelled
- as young Englishmen did before the revolutionary war - to Europe?
Have you fallen in love with the fashions, manners and tastes
of the Europeans? Have you brought them home with you to the shock
of the more stolid tastes of those at home? If you can answer
yes, then you are a Macaroni. Considering themselves quite elegant,
these snobbish young travellers wore the term 'macaroni' with
pride. "Yankee" was a mispronunciation of the word "English"
in the Dutch language, and "doodle" came from a German
word meaning 'simpleton.' In the pre-Revolutionary era, the dandified
British macaronis scoffed at the colonialists, and called them
Yankee Doodles. In derision, they laughed at the unfashionable
colonialists who might stick a feather in their hat and consider
themselves in style. Not to be scoffed at, the colonialists picked
up the song as a rallying cry for independence, and Yankee Doodle
entered the history of the United States. After the success of
the Battle of Bunker Hill, verses were added lauding George Washington
and his valiant fighting men. The song became part of the the
quest for freedom with choruses that changed as the war for independence
went on. (article)
"Call me Macaroni."
(from ' MOBY BACALLA - Lo Stoccafisso
Bianco Grande', by Hermino Mellanzana)
8 ounces Franco-American Instant Macaroni.
13 ounces canned American Ragu Spaghetti Sauce
5 - 6 slices American cheese
1. PUT COOKED AND DRAINED FRANCO-AMERICAN INSTANT
MACARONI IN A 2-2 1/2 QUART CASSEROLE DISH.
2. ADD AMERICAN RAGU SPAGHETTI SAUCE AND MIX WELL.
3. COVER WITH A LAYER OF AMERICAN CHEESE SLICES.
4. BAKE UNTIL CHEESE IS MELTED, AT 350 DEGREES, FOR ABOUT 15-20
5. IMPORTANT: REMOVE FROM OVEN AND IMMEDIATELY
THROW INTO A LACAVA POLISHED STEEL TRASH BIN WITH ITALIAN CHERRYWOOD
6. IL DOLCE FAR NIENTE AMERICANO! LEARN
TO COOK A PROPER ITALIAN MACCHERONI MASTERPIECE SUCH AS
TIMPANO DI MACCHERONI:
Timpano di Maccheroni
(as prepared by Cafe Capriccio)
The popular contemporary film THE BIG NIGHT
is a story about two brothers recently emigrated from Italy
struggling to operate an 'authentic' Italian restaurant in a small
New Jersey town whose residents prefer the style of cooking now
featured in places like the Olive Garden. The plot revolves around
preparation of a grand feast for a special occasion, including
a marvellous appetizer called 'timpano' in the film. The term
timpano is either a family name or a dialectic term for a traditional
preparation called in Italian timballo, and in French timbale.
The Italian word means kettledrum and the preparation featured
in the movie is fundamentally a casserole wrapped in pastry dough,
shaped like a drum. Italians prepare timballi in many ways, filling
the drum with everything from little birds (uccellini) to candied
fruits. Our timpano di maccheroni will follow the lines of the
movie, although details of preparation were not revealed; only
the majestic presentation. Not to worry; we have discovered the
secrets of timpano and are eager to share them with you.
Our technique is:
1. Line a 10 inch spring-form pan with pastry
2. Fill it, in layers, with a rich variety of cooked meats, vegetables,
macaroni, some cheese, copious herbs and a drizzle of olive oil;
3. Cover the top and sides with pastry dough after the ingredients
4. Coat the top with egg-wash;
5. Bake at 400 degrees until it is crisp and deeply colored, about
6. Let stand for about 30 minutes; and,
7. Cut it in wedges to serve.
Full recipe :www.cafecapriccio.com