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July 29th, 2005

Governmentium and Administratium

"Of course, America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had been hushed up.'
Oscar Wilde


Dear Folks,

I took my daughter for lunch at FENIX this week for her birthday. Fenix is Melbourne's last bastion of the French cuisine known as 'molecular gastronomy.' (See the May 20th Newsleter) I had the Slow Cooked Ascot Lamb Neck, with black radish risotto, parmesan foam, and Arabica powder. (Save your applause.) But the single most memorable thing was the palate cleanser, served before the meal: a parfait made of green tea, lime, and vodka, poached in liquid nitrogen right at our table! They brought out the minus -140 degree rocket fuel in a small steel bowl, freezing to the touch, and squeezed the parfait from a piping bag, into small swirling meringues, to 'boil' in the below-zero nitrogen liquid, which we then popped into our mouths, to 'cleanse' the palate. I have to admit, I felt cleansed. Actually, I was half-expecting my teeth to freeze and explode, so it just felt wonderful to survive. A piece of cardboard would have tasted clean after that. (website)

Don't you love little mental tricks that help you remember things? Like the words, Stalactite and Stalagmite. Which one is which? Well, the word with the C, hangs from the Ceiling, and the word with the G comes up from the Ground. Handy, isn't it? Also, the method I use to remember which months have 30 days and which ones have 31, isn't the traditional, 'Thirty days hath September . . ', but by counting my knuckles. (Vestiges of my Barney Rubble Cro-Magnon brain, I guess.) By counting the knuckles and spaces on one hand (excluding the thumb), and starting with the first knuckle, go forwards in one direction, double on the last knuckle, and then back. Knuckle, space, knuckle, space, knuckle, space, knuckle, knuckle, space, knuckle, space, knuckle. i.e. knuckle (jan), space (feb), knuckle (mar), space (apr), knuckle (may), space (june), knuckle (july), knuckle (aug), space (sept), knuckle (oct), space (nov), knuckle (dec.) The knuckles are all 31 day months and the spaces are all 30 day months. Except for Feb which is 28 days some years and 29 days other years. (Well, you can't have everything. eg. There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstone's Chewable Vitamins.)

I also remember learning a little rhyme in school to help with the correct spelling of words that had a C, an I and an E together:

" I before E,
Except after C,
And when sounded like A,
As in 'Neighbour' and 'Weigh.' "

I used that faithfully for about forty years. But guess what I came across the other day? - ANCIENT! Wha?? I hate things like that. I was also taught that U must always follow Q whenever a Q was used in a word. (Quack. Quark. Even Qur'an.) That was writ in stone. Yeah? So why have I had to live for twenty-five years here in Australia under the curse of QANTAS? For years, I always misspelled it and the spelling has always vexed me. Verily. Finally, I went searching for an answer on the internet. QANTAS is actually an abbreviation for: Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service, which began in 1920 with ex-military Avro 504 biplanes on sight-seeing flights. (All those years of unnecessary pain for naught. See? Ask and it shall be given unto you, Joseph.)




Re: The Hives
Yep. The Hives rock. Finally got tix for one of their live shows.  Can't wait.

(Note: Cam, I got some tickets for their show in Melbourne, in October. They've got me all interested in playing loud electric guitar again. There goes the neighbourhood.)

Dear Joe,
Whilst in a very small town in a B& B in Austria,  I heard over the Austrian radio - Shaddap You Face! How amazing , and we sang along with it! Regards,

(Note: Anne, there's an old German and French saying: 'Half an Italian in a house is one too many.' That might help to explain why the song was so popular in that part of the world. The strangest place I ever heard it, though, was in a little one room guesthouse, on the outskirts of Haworth, on the English moors, near where the Brontes grew up. The innkeeper started singing it to me and I could almost hear the ghost of Kate Bush in the fog: ' Heathcliff, it's-a me. I'm-a Cathy. I'm-a come-a home. I´m-a so cold! Let me in-a-you window.')

RE: Frank Zappa Quote: 'Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.'
' And democracy is "government of the people, by the lobbyists, for the vested interests.'

(Note: John, I've been curious for years as what lobbies actually were, as we hear so much about them ie. the tobacco lobby, the gun lobby, the religious right lobby, etc. So your email inspired me to do some homework. See below.)


(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)


The term "lobbyist" was coined in 19th century in the Willard InterContinental Washington hotel, located in Washington DC, on Pennsylvania Avenue, roughly in the middle between the White House and the Congress. During that time, it was a virtually the only conveniently placed site where it was possible for the politicans and White House and Congress workers, and the persons wanting to talk with them, to find shelter from the weather. President Ulysses Grant liked to use this hotel as a refuge from the White House pressure; the hotel placed a leather chair in a secluded part of the hotel lobby for him, where he could enjoy his favorite cigars and brandy in relative peace. Still, he was pestered there by would-be power brokers seeking his ear; for such people he coined the word "lobbyists".

Lobbying is the practice of private advocacy with the goal of influencing a governing body, in order to ensure that an individual's or organization's point of view is represented in the government. A lobbyist is a person who is paid to influence legislation as well as public opinion. Lobbying is in many countries a regulated activity, with limits placed on how it is conducted, in an attempt to prevent political corruption. In the United States, lobbyists are required to be registered unless they represent an elected official, or an organization of elected officials, such as the National Governors Association.

Most major corporations and political interest groups do hire lobbyists to promote their interests. Think tanks aim to lobby, by means of regular releases of detailed reports and supporting research. Lobbyists in the United States target the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and state legislatures. They may also represent their clients' or organizations' interests in dealings with federal, state, or local executive branch agencies or the courts. A separate form of lobbying, called outside lobbying or grassroots lobbying, seeks to affect the legislature or other bodies indirectly, through changing public opinion (or purporting to - fake grassroots campaigns are known as astroturfing). (article)

U.S. Government Searchable Database of Registered Lobbyists

The Carmen Group is an example of a professional lobby:

" The Carmen Group creates lobbying campaigns that achieve superior Client value. We lead the lobbying industry in discipline, insight and accountability. We are the firm that recognizes that the era of disclosure has marginalized the old boy, horse trading, 'access' model of lobbying. We are led by substantive experts and follow a business process that generates superior client results through a rigorous focus on innovation, goals, execution and accountability. We believe in well-researched issue debate and advocacy, utilizing support from either party where appropriate. We seek to affect policy and educate policy makers with arguments based on provable facts. We regard access as one of many key factors in the complex array of a lobbying campaign. We enjoy the access of experts with a reputation for achieving results. Many of the capital's lobbying concerns are housed in law firms. These are valuable resources if your issues will likely involve litigation. If you don't require litigation, you should consider a pure lobbying solution first. Lobbying seeks to achieve objectives inclusively, in creative ways that provide a win not just for the client, but for communities and Members as well. At the end of the day, your last recourse may be litigation, but exhaust other solutions before you enter that adversarial, zero sum arena where the long, expensive process detracts from whatever is achieved. (website)

(An example of one of the Carmen Group's projects - and the results:)

Digital Air Defense Systems (DIADS)
A client had a modeling and simulation program for air defense and communication threat networks that was marked for termination through Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) legislation. Our first priority for the client was to maintain the capability of this program, then find a place for it in the defense budget. We successfully found a customer within the Department of Defense that allowed us to tie DIADS into other test and evaluation capabilities. Legislatively, we identified key Members interested in readiness simulation and modeling to find an end-use for this important national defense capability. The program is now fully funded through the current Five-Year Defense Plan (FYDP). Value Achieved: More than $47 Million in FY03; fully funded from FYs 04-07.


A guy walks into the local Centrelink
(Australian Welfare) office, marches straight up to the counter and says, "Hi..  you know, I just HATE drawing welfare.  I'd really rather have a job."
 The Centrelink guy behind the counter says, "Your timing is excellent. We just got a job opening from a very wealthy old man who wants a chauffeur/bodyguard for his attractive nymphomaniac 21 year old daughter. You'll have to drive around in his Mercedes, but he'll supply all of your clothes.  Because of the long hours, meals will be provided. You'll be expected to escort her on her overseas holiday trips.  You will have to satisfy her sexual urges.  You'll have a two-bedroom apartment above the garage.  The starting salary is $200,000 a year"....
 The guy says, "You're bullshittin' me!"
 The Centrelink guy says, "Yeah, well, you started it."
(boom boom)
(thanks to Jim Testa)


New Element Discovered: Governmentium

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Governmentium".

Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an Atomic mass of 311. These 311 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but, instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the Assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming ISODOPES. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass". When catalyzed with money Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element which radiates just as much energy, since it has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.

Whose Fault Is Terrorism?
By Ghislain Devroede
Le Devoir

. . .Let's consider. In 1389, Prince Lothar of Serbia was decapitated June 28 by Ottoman Turks who were invading Europe. The Catholic Church made him into Saint Lazarus. On June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, the attack occurred against the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, François-Ferdinand of Austria, that was the spark for unleashing the war of 1914-18 and its nine million deaths. And it was June 28, 1989, 600 years later, that Slobodan Milosevic, a Serb, chose as the date to bring Lothar's remains back to Pristina, in Kosovo - more Muslim than Serb - and to construct a monument to the memory of the Battle of 1389 and to Serbian Orthodox resistance to the Muslims. Riots and the beginning of ethnic cleansing followed... In the same way, when George Bush, great crusader for modern Christianity, goes off on a "Crusade" against the axis of evil, he does not realize the degree to which he plays with the fire of history and sends the elevator back down (boomerang karma) to the Crusades of the years 1000. . . (article)

(Original French language article: Terrorisme, A Qui La Faute?)


IRA Orders End to Armed Campaign

The IRA today announced its 36-year armed campaign was over, and that it would resume disarmament. (article)



The Faux Faulkner Competition

JACKSON, Miss. (July 23) - A scathing parody that likens President Bush to the "idiot'' in William Faulkner's novel "The Sound and the Fury'' has won this year's Faulkner write-alike contest - and touched off a literary spat. (article)

2005 Faux Faulkner Winner
'The Administration and the Fury'

(Note: I liked last year's 'Three Stooges theme' winner too!)

2004 Faux Faulkner Winner
'As I Lay Kvetching'
(Stooges Episode #1632)




James 'Scotty' Doohan to Be Sent to His Final Frontier

LOS ANGELES (July 21) - He made his name in Hollywood beaming his colleagues back to the safety of the Enterprise on "Star Trek." Now, actor James Doohan's family is hoping to beam him up to the "final frontier" that Doohan's character "Scotty" loved so dearly. The actor, who died Wednesday at age 85, had told relatives he wanted his ashes blasted into outer space, as was done for "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. (article)


Who's Taking Blame for Christian Violence?
by Calvin White

Now that imams in Britain and Canada are standing up and publicly condemning terrorist acts as anti-Muslim and against the teachings in the Qur'an, I wonder if pressure might be put on Christian leaders to take a similar stand. Contrary to what some might like to insist, Christianity is not the religion of "an eye for an eye" but it is the religion of Jesus, who refined those earlier directions and distilled the ten commandments into two. One was to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Pretty definitive isn't it? As is the edict of turning the other cheek. Jesus expected to be betrayed. He expected to be arrested by the authorities. There was no exhortations to prepare for battle. There was no bloody attempt to stop the proceedings. Even as Jesus was brutalized while carrying his own crucifixion cross and being nailed onto the timbers, there was no violent counterforce from his disciples. Not even an outcry.

No matter where one reads in the accounts of Jesus, the only conclusion one can come to is that Jesus was about love.

So where are the Christian leaders when it comes to violent actions by our Western leaders? Where are the televangelists, who every Sunday take over the airwaves to trumpet the message of Jesus, when it comes to taking on bunker busting bombs and mass carnage? (article)


Ghosts of the 1915 U.S. Invasion Still Haunt Haiti's People
by Edwidge Danticat

On July 28, 1915, U.S. forces invaded Haiti, launching an occupation that would last 19 years. The U.S. invasion came in the wake of President Woodrow Wilson's professed commitment to make the world safe for democracy. However, as soon as the Marines landed in Haiti, Wilson's administration remapped the country into police departments, shut down the press, installed a lame-duck government, rewrote the constitution to give foreigners land-owning rights, took charge of Haiti's banks and customs and instituted a system of compulsory labor for poor Haitians. Those who resisted the occupation -- among them a militant peasant-run group called Cacos -- were crushed. In 1919, U.S. Marines in blackface ambushed and killed the Cacos' fearless leader, Charlemagne Peralte, mutilated his corpse and displayed it in a public square for days. By the end of the occupation, more than 15,000 Haitians had lost their lives. A Haitian gendarmerie was trained to replace the U.S. Marines, then proceeded to form juntas, organize coups and terrorize Haitians for decades. Although U.S. troops were officially withdrawn from Haiti in 1934, the U.S. government maintained economic control of the country until 1947 . . .


Charlemagne Peralte's 'Call to Arms' and Letter to the French Minister


Off Course in Iraq
The New York Times

Most of the Bush administration's justifications for invading Iraq have turned out to be wrong. But the one surviving argument for overthrowing Saddam Hussein has been an important one: it was a chance to bring freedom and equality to the citizens suffering under a brutal dictatorship. For those of us holding onto that hope, this week brought disheartening news on multiple fronts.
Most chilling of all are the prospects for Iraqi women. As things now stand, their rights are about to be set back by nearly 50 years because of new family law provisions inserted into a draft of the constitution at the behest of the ruling Shiite religious parties. These would make Koranic law, called Shariah, the supreme authority on marriage, divorce and inheritance issues. Even secular women from Shiite families would be stripped of their right to choose their own husbands, inherit property on the same basis as men and seek court protection if their husbands tire of them and decide to declare them divorced.



A Massive Swelling - Celebrity Re-examined as a Grotesque Crippling Disease
by Cintra Wilson


"Stars seethe with an 'I really wish I was just a person, like you' vibration, which is sandwiched by an 'I'm really actually better than you' tinge, which is tied together by a contrail of loathing which is of the 'I kind of hate myself for thinking I'm kind of better than you' essence, which is surrounded by a 'The fact that I kind of hate myself for thinking I'm better than you proves how superior I truly am' thing. The real spiritual masters among the stars are said to have a fifth concentric aura that goes back to self-hatred again, but few have ever seen it."
(thanks to Louisa John-Krol)



Prelude -

One of the matrons of the church was cooking a pot of her famous beans for the church potluck dinner, and her son, Little Johnny, came running through the house, BB gun in one hand, and a handful of BBs in the other. He tripped and the BBs, naturally, went right into the pot of beans. Thinking it over, Little Johnny could think of no reason why he should risk punishment, so he said nothing. The dinner went well, and, as usual, the beans were one of the favourite dishes.
The next day, the church secretary, Mary, called Little Johnny's mother and said, "Jane, your beans were delicious as usual, but what did you put in them this time?"
Jane replied, "Nothing new, why do you ask?"
"Well," said Mary, "this morning I bent over to feed the cat and I shot the canary."
(boom boom!)

Here's one of the simplest and most delicious ways to make beans.

Half kilo dried borlotti beans
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 small ripe tomato
1 stalk celery
freshly ground black pepper
(BBs optional)

Soak the dried beans overnight in water.
Drain the beans. Remove the discoloured beans and any small stones, and rinse in some clean water . Place the beans in a shallow roasting pan with enough water to cover them by about 1/8 inch. Place the whole bulb of garlic, the tomato and the celery stalk amongst the beans. Sprinkle the black pepper over the top. Generously drizzle the olive oil over the surface of the water. Don't be afraid of using too much as the oil will get absorbed into the beans with the water . This is where the unique flavour in this method of cooking comes from! Cover the roasting pan with tin foil and bake in a 200 C oven for about an hour and a half to two hours. Check the beans after the first hour. When they are soft and the way you like them, remove the pan from the over. Discard the garlic, celery and tomato. Add salt to taste. (Dont add the salt during the baking as this will make the beans tougher.) Serve the beans as they are, or mash and spread over ciabatta (bruschetta.) Or you can mix them in with any soup - or make pasta fagiole.

They are also good next day, mashed and refried, in the Mexican style. To do this, use a cast iron skillet that can fit under your griller. Mash the cooked beans in the skillet, grate some sharp cheddar over the top and grill until the cheese is golden brown. Serve with hot sauce, jalapeno peppers. Or with a fried egg on top.


Buddha's Dogs
I'm at a day-long meditation retreat, eight hours of watching
my mind with my mind,
and I already fell asleep twice and nearly fell out of my chair,
and it's not even noon yet.
In the morning session, I learned to count my thoughts, ten in
one minute, and the longest
was to leave and go to San Anselmo and shop, then find an outdoor cafe and order a glass
of Sancerre, smoked trout with roasted potatoes and baby
carrots and a bowl of gazpacho.
But I stayed and learned to name my thoughts, so far they are:
wanting, wanting, wanting,
wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, judgment,
sadness.  Don't identify with your
thoughts, the teacher says, you are not your personality, not your
then he bangs the gong for lunch.  Whoever, whatever I am is
given instruction
in the walking meditation and the eating meditation and walks
outside with the other
meditators, and we wobble across the lake like The Night of the
Living Dead
I meditate slowly, falling over a few times because I kept my
foot in the air too long,
towards a bench, sit slowly down, and slowly eat my sandwich,
noticing the bread,
(sourdough), noticing the taste, (tuna, sourdough), noticing
the smell, (sourdough, tuna),
thanking the sourdough, the tuna, the ocean, the boat, the
fisherman, the field, the grain,
the farmer, the Saran Wrap that kept this food fresh for this
body made of food and desire
and the hope of getting through the rest of this day without
dying of boredom.
Sun then cloud then sun.  I notice a maple leaf on my sandwich.
It seems awfully large.
Slowly brushing it away, I feel so sad I can hardly stand it, so I
name my thoughts; they are:
sadness about my mother, judgment about my father, wanting
the child I never had.
I notice I've been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around
the same park most of my life,
notice the leaf tumbling gold to the grass.  The gong sounds,
and back in the hall.
I decide to try lying down meditation, and let myself sleep.  The
Buddha in my dream is me,
surrounded by dogs wagging their tails, licking my hands.
I wake up
for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put
anyone out of your heart,
and the heart opens and knows it won't last and will have to
open again and again,
chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud
then sun.
~ Susan Browne ~
(Buddha's Dogs)







Cohones de Toro

A big Texan cowboy stopped at a local restaurant following a day of drinking and roaming around in Mexico. While sipping his tequila, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.
He asked the waiter, "What is that you just served?"
The waiter replied, "Ah senor, you have excellent taste! Those are bull's testicles from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!"
The cowboy, though momentarily daunted, said, "What the heck, I'm on vacation down here! Bring me an order!"
The waiter replied, "I am so sorry senor. There is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early tomorrow and place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy"!
The next morning, the cowboy returned, placed his order, and then that evening he was served the one and only special delicacy of the day. After a few bites, and inspecting the contents of his platter, he called to the waiter and said, "These are delicious, but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday!"
The waiter shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Si, Senor. Sometime the bull win."