Reminder: Today is The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ just in case anyone forgot to put that in their calendar. It certainly almost slipped my mind. More on that below. Surprise! I'll bet you didn't expect a little newsletter this week. Neither did I. The 'Influenza de Diablo,' cut short our rough-it bush trip so I'm back home in the saddle, recovering. Call me a sook but there's nothing like a hot bath in Epsom salts to make boo-boos better. So I guess - while I have the chance - it's time get 2006 off to a bang, eh?
FAVOURITE READER FEEDBACK OF THE WEEK
It's a ripper Joe!
Re: Xmas Issue
Merry Christmas and much love. Keep them coming. Annie
Some months ago I changed my email address and stopped receiving your welcome, amusing and informative email newsletters. If you are still in cyber business please reinstate me onto your mailing list. (I miss your recipes too). Kind regards and complements of the season, Rob F.
I don't know why I read your emails from time to time and haven't sent you to the bin like I would normally. I think its because you're not trying to sell me something and some of the politics make me laugh. You must be that rarest of beasts in the 21st century. Thanks, Leo
Please do not forward me any further emails, but good on ya mate! D & L
I reckon a subscription to your weekly postings would be a terrific present for my son. [please add.] Thanks for your wit and wisdom, Joe. Love, Margaret
Thanks Joe /Yousseef,
. . . . for such an entertaining, at times socially responsible newsletter. I share your written talents with many of my peers who are equally appreciative. As a young???!! Lebo Australian, I find many a connection with your stories. Keep up the great work. I have to let you know TENDJEWBERRYMUD is a classic. I read it many times and am perfecting the accent. Again have a great Christmas and/or end of year celebration and gatherings. Hopefully I will contribute some time soon. Charlie
(I want to acknowledge the Cadigal-Wangal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of this land.)
. . .There is a doco about Franco e Ciccio (Come Inguaiammo Il Cinema Italiano - La vera storia di Franco e Ciccio ) that was on at the Melbourne Film Festival. I think it has been bought by SBS and I will alert you to it when it comes out. It is such a great story . . . regards to you and Lin and all the best for 2006. Wendy R.
(Note: Franco e Ciccio are two of Italy's most beloved comics and actors and recorded one of the most creative cover versions of 'Shaddap You Face,' in Italian and in the Sicilian dialect to boot! You can hear it on my Xmas website here.
"Another, by way of total contrast, is the completely wacky and entertaining film 'How We Got the Italian Movie Business Into Trouble' (Come Inguaiammo il Cinema Italiano), a doco about Sicily's favourite duo Franco e Ciccio. These were the equivalent of the Smothers Brothers, or Rowan and Martin, or Morecambe and Wise, but with far more physical theatrics and gymnastic ability. It is pure vaudeville growing out of Palermo's street theatre. This couple became Italy's most popular TV & film comedians, making 38 films. Watch for the role of the young critic who comments on their act in intellectual ways! Stay till the end of the credits. This is the way to make a tribute doco, never really taking itself seriously but having access to miles of great footage. " The Producers' and Directors' Guild of Victoria
Text of Commencement Address by Steve Jobs
CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005, at Stanford University.
'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says.
'I am honored to be with you today at your
commencement from one of the finest universities in the world.
I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest
I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell
you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college. (full speech)
(thanks to Joe Creighton)
January 6th. - The Feast of the Circumcision
The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord
Jesus Christ is observed by the Christian
Church on the sixth day of January each year. It commemorates
the initiation of Jesus Christ into the Jewish Synagogue, as recorded
in the Bible - Luke, Ch. 11 (article)
In Europe there are thirteen churches where they keep the alleged foreskin of Christ as a relic, named "The Holy Prepuce". (article)
What is the root cause of this obscene practice? - this officially sanctioned form of Child Abuse??
Female circumcision is not prescribed in the Christian Bible, but the Muslim religion does prescribe female circumcision. This practice has the authority of the Muslim Islamic University of Al Azar, Cairo, who derive their authority from the relevant Hadith. A Hadith is as good as the Holy Word.
Accordingly, Muslims claim that the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him!), himself, approved of it, as given in the Hadith. It is a major religious and tribal 'mark of belonging'.
Both Christ and Paul were circumcised as Jews. But Paul caused the first schism in Christianity - between himself and Peter - a senior disciple of Christ, by waiving the need for circumcision for Gentiles - those not born as Jews. (Europeans have a lot to thank Paul for!)
The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka of Saturday 25th August, 2001, gave the figure of some 90 million females in the Muslim world who undergo female genital mutilation every year!! The operation is usually carried out using crude and unhygienic methods. No anesthetic is given to reduce the excruciating pain experienced during the operation - a sawing action with a piece of sharp broken glass or a razor blade. The Daily Mirror also gives the percentages of subsequent infections and or hemorrhaging leading to death, as 10% in some parts of Africa as a result of this practice. For those surviving, some 25% experience severe problems for the rest of their life. This is officially installed trauma and fear. For more information please read John Laffin's book: "The Dagger of Islam" (1989)
NOTES ON CIRCUMCISION:
BOYS: The operation for boys is where the foreskin is pulled up high over the glans of the penis and a cut made around the skin cutting it off entirely producing a circular wound. This may or may not be done with the aid of anesthetic. Unfortunately, often the operators are usually uneducated people with no understanding of anatomy. Such novices can make mistakes and cut deeply in to the glans, resulting in the need for (more) stitching so increasing the probability of serious infection.
GIRLS: There are three degrees of severity of FGM (female genital mutilation). The most rigorous is that called the "Ethiopian Method". This is where the clitoris and other parts are cut out and after circumcision the wound surfaces are scraped with the cutting instrument and then all sewn together to heal into one, leaving only a small space for urination. It is an anatomical chastity belt imposed on perhaps, an eight year old girl. Many poor Sri Lankan women give themselves to be married to non-Buddhists, or followers of the GOD based religions. They just do not understand and value the enlightened system on thought developed by the Buddha, nor do they know enough about the new culture they and their progeny enter - perhaps, forever! Ms. Zanita Karim, a journalist writing in the Sunday Island, says that this operation is prevalent In Sri Lanka.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Report issued on for: The Buddhist Centre for the Study of Cults and Religions, Colombo
(thanks to Rojpoj)
A city slicker goes duck shooting in the country
for the first time, but fails to nail a single duck. Driving homewards,
however, he spots a lone duck, pulls out his gun, aims, fires
and (miraculously) hits it. He runs over to where the duck falls
but as he gets there he sees a local farmer about to pick it up.
"Hey, that's my duck!" calls the city slicker.
"Nope", drawls the farmer, "it's my duck."
The city slicker insists.
"I shot that duck. It's my duck!".
The farmer shakes his head.
"It landed on my property", he points out, "that makes it my duck".
After arguing the toss for a while the farmer finally says,
"OK. We will settle this country style. You stand still while I kick you in the nuts, then I stand still while you kick me in the nuts. Last man standing keeps the duck."
The city slicker is a bit dubious about this, but, realising it is his last opportunity to go home from his day of duck hunting with a duck, acquiesces. He stands while the farmer kicks him right in the goolies. The city slickers eyes roll back into his head. For a moment he thinks he can't stand the pain and will just keel over, but somehow he remains standing. After about 30 seconds he has recovered sufficiently.
"Right", he says, "my turn!" preparing to give as good as he got.
"Ah, don't worry about it", says the farmer, "you can keep the duck!"
(thanks to Chris Depasquale)
The Effects of Words, Thoughts and Language on Water Crystals
Japan's Masaru Emoto has been conducting worldwide research on the effect of ideas, words, and music upon the molecules of water. When Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" was played to water, the resulting frozen crystals were split in two. When water samples are bombarded with heavy metal music or labeled with negative words, or when negative thoughts and emotions are focused intentionally upon them, the water does not form crystals at all and displays chaotic, fragmented structures. When water is treated with aromatic floral oils, the water crystals tend to mimic the shape of the original flower. . . . Our own bodies at birth are 70 percent water, and the percentage of water in our bodies remains high throughout life (depending upon weight and body type). Also, the earth's surface is 70 percent water. And now we [can see] before our eyes the proof that water is far from inanimate, but is actually alive and responsive to our every thought and emotion. Perhaps, having seen this, we can begin to really understand the awesome power that we possess, through choosing our thoughts and intentions, to heal ourselves and the earth. (article)
Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2005
"A flock of crows, six or eight, raucously
rasping at one another, thrashed into the top of an oak on the
edge of the square of sky. The heavenly invasion made his heart
race; he looked down at his prick, silently begging it not to
be distracted; his mind fought skidding into crows and woods,
babies and Phyllis, and his prick stared back at him with its
one eye clouded by a single drop of pure seminal yearning. He
felt suspended at the top of an arc. Faye leaned back on the blanket,
arranging her legs in an M of receptivity, and he knelt between
them like the most abject and craven supplicant who ever exposed
his bare ass to the eagle eyes of a bunch of crows." Villages
by John Updike (Hamish Hamilton) more
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)
The Genesis of President Bush's New Freedom
Commission on Mental Health
by Sue Weibert
In 2002, President George W. Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC) and charged it with the mission of reviewing mental health care in the United States.
Screening for mental illness is the most controversial
topic concerning mental health today. Various government entities,
private foundations, organizations, think tanks and universities,
all flanked by cunning public relations firms, are hard at work
trying to make mental health screening as common as a dental checkup.
Despite public outrage over screening, these entities are working
feverishly to establish this system. With so much clamor of disagreement
for such a program, why, then, do these entities push forward
with such ferocity? This article reveals exactly how this all
got started, who's really behind "the big push," and
how President Bush was tricked into establishing what might be
the most detrimental program in the history of mankind. (article)
(thanks to Sam Meadmore)
"Hello, and Welcome to the Mental Health Hotline . . .
If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press - no one will answer.
If you are dyslexic, press 96969696969696.
If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the hash key until a representative comes on line.
If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number and your mother's maiden name.
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.
If you have bi-polar disorder, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have low self esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you. "
'Jack wakes up at home with a huge hangover
he can't believe. He forces himself to open his eyes, and the
first thing he sees is a couple of aspirin next to a glass of
water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!
Jack sits down and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean
and pressed. Jack looks around the room and sees that it is in
perfect order, spotlessly clean. He takes the aspirins, cringes
when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom
mirror, and notices a note on the table:
"Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go shopping -- Love you!"
He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast and the morning newspaper. His son is also at the table, eating. Jack asks:
"Son . . . what happened last night?"
"Well, you came home after 3 am, drunk and out of your mind. You broke some furniture, puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door."
"So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"
His son replies, "Oh THAT! Mum dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your trousers off, you screamed, 'Leave me alone, you tart, I'm married!'"
(thanks to Dai Woosnam and Joe Stead)
New Virus Alerts
The George Bush Virus - Causes your computer to keep looking for viruses of mass destruction.
The John Kerry Virus - Stores data on both sides of the disk and causes little purple hearts to appear on screen.
The Clinton Virus - Gives you a permanent Hard Drive ; with NO memory
The Al Gore Virus - Causes your computer to keep counting and re-counting
The Bob Dole Virus - Makes a new hard drive out of an old floppy
The Lewinsky Virus - Sucks all the memory out of your computer, then e-mails everyone about what it did
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Virus - Terminates some files, leaves, but will be back
The Mike Tyson Virus - Quits after two bytes
The Oprah Winfrey Virus - Your 200 GB hard drive shrinks to 100 GB, then slowly expands to re-stabilize around 350 GB
The Ellen Degeneres Virus - Disks can no longer be inserted
The Prozac Virus - Totally screws up your RAM, but your processor doesn't care
The Michael Jackson Virus - Only attacks minor files
The Lorena Bobbitt Virus - Reformats your hard drive into a 3.5 inch floppy
... then discards it through Windows
(thanks to Sahyma)
Amid Ruins, Volunteers Are Emerging as Heroes
By Anne Rochell Konigsmark and Rick Hampson
In his 67 years, Howard Peterson had never seen a Mennonite. But 11 days before Christmas he stood in the ruins of his kitchen, watching a crew of them gut and clean his flood-ravaged house. Peterson is a retired African-American barber who lives on disability payments. His eyes are sad, his movement listless, his voice weak. His helpers were strapping white men from Lancaster County, Pa., dressed in dark pants, collared shirts, suspenders and black straw hats. (article)
(Note: Gary Gans, one of the lead guitarists in the band I was in in my late 60s college days, The Headstone Circus, eventually chucked in 'the devil's music,' as he called it, to become a Mennonite. I was the band's second lead guitarist - like in The Yardbirds - which also featured Jonathan Edwards as one of our three lead singers. With a drummer (John Beatty) who played like Billy Cobham and loved jazz improvisation, and the four part harmony and highly lyrical sensibilities of our four singer-songwriters, The Headstone Circus was a psychedelic cross between the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Byrds. Doomed to forever burn in hell, I might add.)
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter
Once again, the key to great melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi is this ratio: one third flour to two thirds potatoes, and not too many eggs. So for a cup and a half of mashed sweet potatoes, use a half cup of flour and one egg (or less!). Remember, we are not making bread dough but a sticky little mashed sweet potato ball with a light floury coating and a little egg to hold it all together. NOT bread dough. That's the secret.
salt & pepper
Pick some nice sweet potatoes, wash, peel, cut into one inch pieces and boil until cooked through. Cool and mash finely. Add flour and one egg and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should still be sticky. Flour a board and turn the mix onto the board and, using a knife to keep the dough off your hands, gently form into a long thin cylinder about an inch in circumference. The tube should be floured on the outside and sticky on the inside. With a moist knife, quickly cut into one inch sections. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and slide or drop the sweet potato gnocchi into it. When the portions rise to the surface, it's ready.
(Note: Remember, the mashed sweet potato is already cooked. You are merely heating it up. The gnocchi only has to stay in the water long enough to set the egg and heat through. The more flour you add to the mixture, the longer you have to cook it and the tougher it will turn out, so let that be your guide to getting the light texture you are after. You can also use mashed pumpkin for another variation.)
Sage in Brown Butter
fresh sage leaves
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
fresh parsley, finely chopped
fresh grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Melt about half stick of butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the sage leaves and continue to cook on medium heat until the butter just starts to go brown. Immediately remove from heat and toss the sage leaves until they begin to get crisp. Add the chopped garlic and stir.
Place some sweet potato gnocchi on a plate and spoon over the Sage and Brown Butter. Sprinkle over parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley and serve.