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July 7th, 2006

Genius and Juno

" Fifteen referees. I want fifteen referees to be at this fight
because there ain't no one man who can keep up with the pace
I'm gonna set except me. There's not a man alive who can whup me.
I'm too fast. I'm too smart. I'm too pretty. I should be a postage stamp.
That's the only way I'll ever get licked."
Muhammad Ali

Dear Folks,

Did you know that last month, June, was named for the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter - a guardian spirit for Roman women (equivalent of the male Genius)? In Roman mythology, every man had a Genius and every woman a Juno. Originally, the Genius and Juno were ancestors who guarded over their descendants. Over time, they turned into personal guardian spirits, granting intellect and prowess. How profundi! So what was this month, July, named for? Julius Caesar. Render unto Caesar . . . . Well, it could be worst. At least it's not Bushuary, Howardember or Blairtober.)


Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Hey Joe,
Thanks for the wonderful poetry in your letters, it feels like such an unexpected gift. Thanks again,

Hey Joe,
America's great, and the world loves Americans; it's [just] some American Presidents and their power and decisions we regret . . .

I remember me telling Dad, "I thought I was doing the right thing" and he used to say that's my problem I think too much ..... never could figure out what he meant, I guess I didn't think enough.
Brother Frank

(Note: Frank is thinking fine at the moment and has an interesting link here:

Roots of Human Family Tree are Shallow
" Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia - Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He - or she - did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die. Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth - the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today. That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.
"It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed," said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. . ." article

Muhammad Ali Insight No. 1
Be loud, be pretty and keep their black-hatin' asses in their chairs.


Wikipedia's List of Fictional Expletives

Hundreds of words and phrases nvented by writers of fiction-often science fiction or fantasy-to add nuance to the fictional cultures in their work, and sometimes as a form of censorship (or gettings around it).

Some examples:

Ass-clown From Office Space. Also frequently used by Chris Jericho.
Backbirth - from Firefly, meaning one born on a primitive or outer planet. It can also be used to imply someone is naive or stupid.
Bitchcakes - from NewsRadio, an all-purpose swearword that can mean crazy ("this is bitchcakes"), over excited ("why is everyone so bitchcakes?") or a general expletive ("aww, bitchcakes").
Butt-munch From Beavis and Butt-head.
Cockadoodie, used by malevolent Annie Wilkes as a substitue for cursing in Stephen King's novel Misery
Dingo Kidneys
- from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Feed the tree
- From Larry Niven's novels The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring, meaning to defecate, vomit or speak nonsense. "Feed it to the tree!" means "that's a load of crap". (site)

(Note: By Juno's Front Bottom Goatee! I'll be a Dubya's Uncle! Son of St Prepuce!)


Muhammad Ali Insight No. 2
'I done wrassled with an alligator,
I done tussled with a whale,
Handcuffed lightnin',
Threw thunder in jail.
Only last week I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, hospitalized a brick,
I'm so mean, I make medicine sick.'


Marlboro Man


A Soldier's Story
By Paul Harris

A photographer's lens caught James Blake Miller smeared with blood and dirt during the battle for Falluja. In his eyes, America saw the steely determination that would bring victory in Iraq; now stress and divorce have made him a casualty of the war.

Combat can change a life in a second. The snap of a sniper's bullet or the blast of a bomb will instantly end it or turn a healthy body into a maimed wreck. But for US marine James Blake Miller what changed his life was the sudden shutter click of a war photographer's camera.

On a rooftop in Falluja, Miller was captured in a picture that has become one of the enduring images of the Iraq war. It showed his wan face, streaked with mud and blood, in a moment of reflection. His eyes stared out, tired yet determined. From his lips drooped a cigarette, curling a wisp of thin pale smoke.

That moment saw Miller, an ordinary soldier from the hills of Kentucky, turn into Marlboro Man, an everyday American hero.

Miller's image became a symbol of steely resolve, of weary-yet-determined struggle, of the toughness of the American fighting man having a cigarette break before finishing the job. It captured a moment when most Americans still thought the invasion of Iraq a worthy undertaking.

Now Miller is a different symbol in a different time. As the war has dragged on, Miller's life has collapsed in the face of post-traumatic stress disorder. He draws a disability pension for his condition and his personal life is a wreck. He suffers from nightmares, panic attacks and survivor's guilt. Despite the immense goodwill of a grateful nation, Miller has slumped into struggle and despair. Last week came the news that he and his childhood sweetheart, Jessica, were getting divorced.

Marlboro Man is no longer an icon for the American warrior ethic. He is a symbol of pain and suffering and the enormous problems endured by veterans returning home. He has become the public face of shell-shock. No longer the victor, Miller has become one of the war's victims. (more) article


Muhammad Ali Insight No. 3
I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.


Book Recommendation

A Beautiful Mind
by Sylvia Nasar

" Nash . . . defended not reading, taking the attitude that learning too much secondhand would stifle creativilty and originality. It was a dislike of passivity and giving up control." Eugenio Calabi, classmate and friend

This is the deeper story of Nobel Prize winning mathematician, John Nash. Forget the Russell Crowe movie. The movie, compared to the book, is like Eric Clapton compared to Robert Johnson - good place to gain an introduction for the uninitiated - but get Ye to the Source. In fact, most of what happens in the movie (all Nash's visual delusions, for instance, which make up practically the entire film) isn't even the truth! (Nash had only auditory delusions.) But more importantly, once again Hollywood waters down a really important story turning it into another sad two-dimensional view of genius-as-tragedy. From the complex and interesting sub-cult of mathematics, similar in many ways to the opaque worlds of chessplayers and computer hackers, to the incredible and still ongoing story of the long term relationship of John Nash and his wife Alicia, even now, sharing the raising and care of their schizophrenic son, Johnnie, who has yet to recover, as did his father. Don't get me wrong - I liked the film, but the book eats it alive. My favourite part in the movie, though, was when the Nobel Prize was finally awarded to Nash, as an old man, for his early work on Game Theory. When he was told that he had been chosen, he replied with something like, 'Oh you liked THAT one? What about my serious work?' I can relate to that. Nash also played chess and Japanese Go and invented his own board game at Princeton, which became popularized as HEX. Here is a link where you can play a version of it online: HEX-7

Favourite Reviews of the Week

" Just to prove that the strangest things really do happen, Barry Manilow has now zoomed to the top of the US album charts with the recently released 'Barry Manilow: The Greatest Songs of The Fifties'. Whatever next? 'Joe Dolce sings Gershwin' perhaps?" The 80s Empire

(Note: Yeah! - Gershwin . . (click fingers)
'Shaddaptime, and the manga is easy.
Baccala jumping and the Chianti is fine.
Your mama's hairy,
And your papa eats garlic.
So hush little bambino,
Or I'll whoop your behind.'
Muhammad Giuseppe Gershwin

"Produced by Brian Gladstone, Protest Songs For A Better World is a thirteen-track rally cry anthology of original protest songs selected from submissions from around our troubled globe. All the tracks are wake up calls, but my personal highlights include: Southpaw Jones humorously ominous Protest Song, Lenny Solomon's evocative Gettysurg, Maria Dunn's rousing Troublemaker', Joe Dolce's Did You Get Stupid from Being Ugly (Or Ugly from Being Stupid?) and Williams & Williams' Between Iraq & A Hard Place. All proceeds from the sale of this forward looking collection are donated to United Nations Foundation. Mike Jurkovic Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

"The phenomenon of the novelty record is nothing new, neither is a situation where such a record has outsold critically acclaimed competition. As far back as 1965 ground-breaking tracks by James Brown and The Beach Boys were being kept off the top spot by Marcello Minerbi's 'Zorba's Dance' and in the eighties Ultravox's classic 'Vienna' only reached No.2, put in the shade by the Joe Dolce Orchestra's woeful 'Shaddup your Face'. Phillip Hamilton

(Note: The 'Joe Dolce Orchestra'? Exsqueeze me? Phil must have been at the Turramurra performance of Count Al Zheimer and the Forget-Me-Nots.)


Muhammad Ali Insight No. 4
If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize.


The New American Cold War
By Stephen F. Cohen

Contrary to established opinion, the gravest threats to America's national security are still in Russia. They derive from an unprecedented development that most US policy-makers have recklessly disregarded, as evidenced by the undeclared cold war Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-Communist Russia during the past fifteen years.

As a result of the Soviet breakup in 1991, Russia, a state bearing every nuclear and other device of mass destruction, virtually collapsed. During the 1990s its essential infrastructures - political, economic and social - disintegrated. Moscow's hold on its vast territories was weakened by separatism, official corruption and Mafia-like crime. The worst peacetime depression in modern history brought economic losses more than twice those suffered in World War II. GDP plummeted by nearly half and capital investment by 80 percent. Most Russians were thrown into poverty. Death rates soared and the population shrank. And in August 1998, the financial system imploded.

No one in authority anywhere had ever foreseen that one of the twentieth century's two superpowers would plunge, along with its arsenals of destruction, into such catastrophic circumstances. Even today, we cannot be sure what Russia's collapse might mean for the rest of the world. (more) article

Muhammad Ali Insight No. 5
It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.



Whatsa Malla U


My friend Tania B, gave me a 78 rpm record, from the 50s, by The Dinning Sisters, Lou, Ginger and Jean, called 'Whatsa Malla U: The Pidgin English Hula'. I haven't been able to play the record yet but you can hear a version by Joni James here: Hear!

Black Mozart

Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier Saint Georges, also known as "Le Mozart Noir," overcame the adversities of class, race and society to become a superstar in 18th century France. Born on Christmas Day, 1745 in Guadeloupe to a slave and a French colonialist, Saint Georges grew to be the first black man to lead France's most important orchestras. His musical compositions inspired Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. As if that weren't enough, Saint-Georges was also France's finest fencer, a famed lover, and a General who led an army of 1000 black soldiers in the French Revolution ­ unprecedented in European history. article
(thanks to Stefan A)

Muhammad Ali Insight No. 6
Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.



No 6. Carefully unstaple a tea bag and pour the contents on a plate. Break into the lithium-ion battery pack and saturate the tea with the battery's poison, then dry the tea in the sun (or with a hair dryer if you are in a hurry). Put tea back in tea bag and bend the staple back to its original position. Put the tea bag back where you got it. article


Further Adventures in Molecular Gastromony

Ravioli Without Borders: Liquid Pea Ravioli

" . . No molecular gastronomy preparation generates more amazement and discussion.  It is kitchen alchemy, really. Liquid ravioli derive their name and their mystery from the fact that the entire raviolo is, well, the filling, and a liquid filling at that.  The ravioli are made from nothing but peas, mint, water, and two very special ingredients.  There's no pasta, no shell of any kind; it's just filling. Take a spoonful of pea soup, drop it gently into what appears to be nothing more than water, and have it turn instantly, magically, into a yolk-shaped raviolo.  Serve on a Chinese soup spoon sprinkled with a little sea salt, and, voila, the pure taste of pea in a way never imagined.  Jaw dropping! "
Article 1

Article 2


The End of the Plate


" . . Forks and knives do many things well rather than one thing perfectly. This makes sense at home, but at Alinea they had different goals, and strove to create instruments that would do one thing perfectly (e.g. the Squid, pictured above). This allows Alinea to control the diner's experience, bring an emotional level to it, and change the way a guest spends 3-4 hours at the restaurant. . ." article



Xanthan gum

Whip the methylcellulose and the xanthan gum into the beer using an industrial Kitchen-Aid. The stabilizers make the beer behave like egg whites and it will actually whip into a really thick foam. Slurp on this while watching the game.

" If You Eat Beer Mousse and Drive, You're A Bloody Idiot!"

Here's a funny (and scary, if you drive) little clip my sister Kathy sent me of a live police interview of someone who had a little too much molecular gastronomy :


Muhammad Ali Insight No. 7
Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.



The Hawk
Maybe in a million years
a better form of human
being will come, happier
and more intelligent.  A few already
have infiltrated this world and lived
to very much regret it,
I suppose.
I'd prefer to have come
in the form of that hawk, floating over
the mirroring fire
of Clearlake's
hill, my gold
skull filled with nothing
but God's will
the whole day through, instead
of these glinting voices incessantly
unerringly guiding me
to pursue
what makes me sick, and not to
what makes me glad.  And yet
I am changing: this three-pound lump
of sentient meat electrified
by hope and terror has learned to hear
His silence like the sun,
and sought to change!
And friends
on earth at the same time
as me, listen: from the sound of those crickets
last night, Rene Char said
prenatal life
must have been sweet -
each voice perhaps also a star
in that night
from which
this time
we won't be
interrupted anymore - but
fellow monsters while we are still here, for one minute, think
about this: there is someone right now who is looking
to you, not Him, for whatever
love still exists.
~ Franz Wright ~
(God's Silence)





Muhammad Ali Insight No. 8
Superman don't need no seat belt.