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May 1st, 2004

The Dawn of the Endless Light

 

"How can I lose to such an idiot?"
A shout from chess grandmaster, Aaron Nimzovich (1886-1935)

 

Dear Folks,

Favourite Reader Comment of the Week

Hey Joe,

Love the letter though not sure how it started finding me.. (my) wife's an Aussie so it probably has to do with her. . . . very surprised you are sending recipes out full of dead stuff... Just assumed really that if you were not veggie or vegan then you would at least not be the kind of guy to try and promote the stuff.... I personally don't appreciate it, I'm inclined to see it all as the same problem of no respect... Just a thought... Cheers, Andrew (viva las vegan) UK

- Reply:

Andrew,

Thanks for writing. No time to get into food philosophy raves here but I was a fanatical Fruitarian (just fruit that you picked off of trees) for about 6 months, when I lived in Maui, in the '70s so I have heard (and argued) most of the arguments - - suffice to say, each problem is quite separate from the others and each has to be dealt with separately. There are a lot of anti-war people who eat meat - so it can't just be that. And a lot of vegetarians who enjoy killing people. (Ask Hitler about that one.) Also, just about every aboriginal and native culture includes meat in their diet. The Eskimos ONLY eat fish, seal, walrus and other aquatic mammals. There won't be any people left if we make diet the criteria for right living. I admire anyone who can proceed with a vegan philosophy (Kucinich was my favourite Democrat.) I only include recipes that I understand. If you know of any great vegan dishes, pass them along. I have a lot of vegetarian readers and they are always asking for more.
Best and peace, Joe

p.s. I also clearly remember my last acid trip in Hawaii three decades ago when even pulling a screamin' veggie out of the ground and eating it felt like murder. Some people in this world avocate only eating air, so there you go . . . . different avocados for different avocates. . . oh man!

If you really want to get more betterly confused, have a read of 'The Sexual Politics of Meat', by Carol J. Adams, (Great Britain: Polity Press, 1990)

 

BUSH WATCH

 

Well, the choices are getting a lot simpler in the US. A lot of you may have been thinking that the race between George W Bush and John Kerry was much of a muchness. Two heads of the same Headless Hydra. Well, fret no longer. George Bush has come out strongly pro-life and Kerry is strongly pro-choice. And friends, even if they both had identical positions on Iraq and US imperialism theory and the re-merging of Church and State (which they don't), just the single issue of women's right to choose is enough of a difference for me. A MILLION women just marched on Washington! You better believe that Bush and Co. noticed that. That's a whole mess of votes. And imagine the millions more who didn't march but who will let their Votes do the Walking? More on that below, but my own view has always been that as long as a baby/fetus/zygote is still part of the mother's body, that is, until The Great Ground Zero Birthday Bungee Jump and Snip, it's still the MOTHER'S BODY. (That shouldn't be too hard to grasp.) Otherwise . . . . (and I'm SERIOUS) I want the Law Courts to go back even further . . . and introduce Pro-Spermazoa laws. Rights of the Sprog. I think we are probably killing millions of little Mozarts each time we strangle the chicken (at least it FEELS that way sometimes, damn!) Millions of tiny little spirit voices crying, 'Daddy, I'm flying, I'm flying . . . splat!' Genocide or Spermicide. Whatever. It's just not right. All those squiggly tadpoley almost-anklebiters deserve to live, too, don't they? (So don't push me on how far back we have to go before a person is a person, ok?)

I'd like to hear from all my vegetarian, roll-your-own tobacco smokin' critics on that one, as well. (Uh huh, yeah, riiiiight . . . talk to the hand, email the elbow, fax the buttocks.)

Which naturally segues perfectly into:

Panspermia

Panspermia is the idea that life came to be on Earth from somewhere beyond the planet and possibly beyond the solar system. Its means of delivery is separated into two possible avenues: directed and undirected.

Undirected panspermia means that life came here entirely by accident and was delivered by a comet or meteor. Some scientists favour comets as the prime vector because they contain ice mixed with dust (comets are often referred to as "dirty snowballs"), and life is more likely to have originated in water and is more likely to survive an interstellar journey frozen. Other scientists favour asteroids as the delivery mechanism because they are more likely to have come from the body of a planet that would have contained life. A comet, they argue, is unlikely ever to have been part of a planet, and life could not possibly have generated itself in or on a frozen comet.

Directed panspermia means life was delivered to Earth by intelligent means of one kind or another. In one scenario, a capsule could have been sent here the same way we sent Voyager on an interstellar mission. However, if it was sent from outside the solar system, we have to wonder how the senders might have known Earth was here, or how Earth managed to get in the way of something sent randomly (à la Voyager). - (much much more)
(from DARWINISM: A Crumbling Theory, by Lloyd Pye) (article)

 

ABC GOLDFIELDS INTERVIEW

Here's an radio interview I did up in Kalgoorlie last week for the ABC. There's also a live-to-air rendition of one of my blues songs 'Keep Your Edges Sharp.' (interview)


Joke for the Week

The Magician and the Parrot

A magician worked on a cruise ship. The audience was different each week, so the magician did the same tricks over and over again. One problem: The captain's parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick. Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show: "Look, it's not the same hat!", "Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table." "Ey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?" The magician was furious but couldn't do anything. It was, after all, the captain's parrot.

Then the ship sank. The magician found himself on a piece of wood in the middle of the sea with, as fate would have it, the parrot. They stared at each other with hatred but did not utter a word.This went on for a day and then another and another. Finally on the fourth day, the parrot could not hold back: "OK, I give up. Where's the fucking ship?" (Thanks to Joe Creighton)

 

BAD LITERATURE

Jane was toast, and not the light buttery kind, nay, she was the kind that's been charred and blackened in the bottom of the toaster and has to be thrown a away because no matter how much of the burnt part you scrape off with a knife, there's always more blackened toast beneath, the kind that not even starving birds in winter will eat, that kind of toast. (Beth Knutson, Coon Rapids)

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't. (Russell Beland, Springfield)
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Favourite Porn Spam Subject Heading of the Week

From: Suzanne   Subject: A lot of grandma may be nice

(Note: I loved my grandma so I have to agree with that.)

Speaking of Porn . . .

Lock up your daughters and hide your smut, John Ashcroft is on the anti-sex warpath, again
By Mark Morford,
SF Gate Columnist

" . . .While 9/11 and the process of gleefully decimating your civil liberties via the USA Patriot Act may have delayed him a few years, Ashcroft & Co. is back on the anti-porn warpath . . . . . (but) let's be clear. The porn industry is far from pure and gentle and innocent, far from undeserving of any scrutiny or persecution. It's often disgusting and degrading and full of drugs and exploitation and bad boob jobs and Botox and Viagra and inadequate oral sex and fake orgasms and awful scripts and really bad lighting. You know, just like Hollywood. Or politics. Fact is, given the current laws, the porn biz is probably the least corrupt and least abusive of any of the major entertainment media. Show me an "exploited" porn star, and I'll show you 1,000 waxed buffed puffed tucked liposuctioned collagen-injected nose-jobbed cheek-implanted bleach-toothed Vicodin-addicted anorexic bulimic bipolar Hollywood actresses with $100-per-week Marlboro habits and $200-per-hour psychiatrists, each and every one desperate to land a lousy Pringles commercial to pay for their weekly spray-on tans. . ." (more)

Administration wages war on pornography

Obscenity: For the first time in 10 years, the U.S. government is spending millions to file charges across the country.
By Laura Sullivan
Sun National Staff

WASHINGTON - Lam Nguyen's job is to sit for hours in a chilly, quiet room devoid of any color but gray and look at pornography. This job, which Nguyen does earnestly from 9 to 5, surrounded by a half-dozen other "computer forensic specialists" like him, has become the focal point of the Justice Department's operation to rid the world of porn. (article)

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DARWIN AWARD CONTENDER

[Hickory Daily Record]: Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, North Carolina. Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear. (thanks to sahyma)
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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Post-menopausal women for choice
Ellen Goodman

Sunday's march is baton-passing between women who have to imagine a time without choice and those who remember one.

BOSTON -- At times, I've had a fantasy about my generation as the last brigade parading for reproductive rights under a banner of "Post-Menopausal Women for Choice."

After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to imagine a world without choices. We were there. And while we moved on to discussions about hormones and hot flashes, we remained the committed core of pro-choice voters.

From time to time, we would sigh to each other about how Gen X and Gen Y took it all for granted. Then we would blush a bit because we actually wanted our daughters to take the freedom to make their own moral and medical decisions as a given, not a struggle. But at the same time, we worried. What if they couldn't imagine losing freedoms until those freedoms were gone?

Now it looks as if the Bush administration's policies have done what we couldn't do. They're mobilizing a new generation. (article)

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The Advances of Women

A heart-warming story of the advances of women in achieving equality throughout the world...

Barbara Walters of 60 Minutes (USA) did a story on gender roles in Kabul several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked about ten paces behind their husbands. She returned to Kabul recently and observed that the men now walked several paces behind their wives. Ms Walters approached one of the Afghani women and said. "This is marvellous. Can you tell the free world just what enabled women to achieve this reversal of roles?"
"Land mines," said the woman.
True story.
(Thanks to Jeanette Wormald)
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Make Peace With Pot (and Lumber)
By ERIC SCHLOSSER
New York Times

Starting in the fall, pharmacies in British Columbia will sell marijuana for medicinal purposes, without a prescription, under a pilot project devised by Canada's national health service. The plan follows a 2002 report by a Canadian Senate committee that found there were "clear, though not definitive" benefits for using marijuana in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other ailments. Both Prime Minister Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition conservatives, support the decriminalization of marijuana. Oddly, the strongest criticism of the Canadian proposal has come from patients already using medical marijuana who think the government, which charges about $110 an ounce, supplies lousy pot. "It is of incredibly poor quality," said one patient. Another said, "It tastes like lumber." A spokesman for Health Canada promised the agency would try to offer a better grade of product.

RELIGION

THE RAPTURE

"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." British Comnmanding General F. S. Maude, Baghdad, 1917

 

Their Beliefs Are Bonkers, But They Are At The Heart of Power

US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy
George Monbiot
The Guardian

" . . . In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (i.e. those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

. . . By clicking on www.raptureready.com below, you can discover how close you might be to flying out of your pyjamas. The infidels among us should take note that the Rapture Index currently stands at 144, just one point below the critical threshold, beyond which the sky will be filled with floating nudists. Beast Government, Wild Weather and Israel are all trading at the maximum five points (the EU is debating its constitution, there was a freak hurricane in the south Atlantic, Hamas has sworn to avenge the killing of its leaders), but the second coming is currently being delayed by an unfortunate decline in drug abuse among teenagers and a weak showing by the antichrist (both of which score only two). (full article)

www.raptureready.com (thanks to stefan abeysekera)

 

Seeking the Evil One
By John Chuckman
YellowTimes.org Columnist (Canada)

(YellowTimes.org) ­ Imagine a fundamentalist tent-meeting somewhere on the dusty plains of Oklahoma or Texas without the Devil? A spluttering preacher at the pulpit with nothing about which to shout and frighten people? Preaching the actual teachings of Jesus - so far as we know them, about peace and toleration - wouldn't cover rental payments on the tent and electric organ.

That little thought-experiment offers genuine insight into the nature of American fundamentalism as well as insight into the terrible new era of perpetual war ushered in by that fine Christian gentleman, George Bush.

There is little doubt that the nature of a person's religious universe shapes and orders his or her understanding of the physical one. We know the Catholic church for centuries fought scientific discovery, certain that questioning ancient preconceptions about nature also questioned aspects of the supernatural. This way of looking at things continues into the twenty-first century, especially in the gulag of creepy places that is George Bush's America, places where they discuss topics like the Mark of the Beast in hushed tones. (article)

Note: While we're down South, how about a snack?

 

RECIPE

SOUL FOOD SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS

(Another gem from Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant, in Harlem. I've eaten it there, and I've made it a dozen times myself. Serves 8, so I usually halve the recipe. Note: Andrew, from the UK: DO NOT READ THIS - it will make you mighty unappreciative, son.)

Ingredients:
8 3/4 inch shoulder pork chops (about 4 lbs.)
1 teas plus 1 tablespoons salt
1 teas plus 1 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped.
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1/2 teas red chilli flakes (optional)

Method:
Trim the excess fat from the edges of the pork chops. Sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon each of the salt and pepper. Season 2 cups of the flour with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper. Dredge the pork chops in the flour until coated on all sides. Shake off excess four. Pour the oil into a heavy skillet (cast-iron is good) over medium high heat. When the oil begins to shake slightly, add as many pork chops as will fit in the pan without touching. Fry, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate and repeat with the remain chops. Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of drippings from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, green peppers, celery and optional red chilli flakes to the skillet. Cook until brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Move the vegetables to one side of the skillet and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of flour over the bottom of the skillet. Cook the flour until golden brown, stirring constantly and being careful not to let the four burn. Slowly pour in the water and stir until you have a smooth gravy. Divide the pork chops between two heavy skillets with lids or place them all in a large heavy Dutch oven. Top with the gravy and vegetables and cover the skillets or Dutch oven tightly. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the pork chops are cooked through about 15 minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the pork chops, spooning some of the gravy and vegetables over each. Pass extra gravy.

 

~ TWO VIEWS OF DEATH ~

Above Everything

I wished for death often
but now that I am at its door
I have changed my mind about the world.
It should go on; it is beautiful,
even as a dream, filled with water and seed,
plants and animals, others like myself,
ships and buildings and messages
filling the air -- a beauty,
if ever I have seen one.
In the next world, should I remember
this one, I will praise it
above everything.

~David Ignatow~

 
(The following one is my newest song, lyrics adapted from a poem by Louisa Lawson. Henry Lawson's mum.)

Hill of Death

No downward path to death we go,
Through no dark shades or valleys low,
But up and on, o'er rises bright,
Toward the dawn of the endless light.

For not in lowlands can we see
The path that was and that to be,
But on the height, just where the soul
Takes deeper breaths to reach the goal.

No downward path to death we go,
Through no dark shades or valleys low,
But up and on, o'er rises bright,
Toward the dawn of the endless light.

There we can see the winding way
That we have journeyed all our day,
Then turn and view with spirits still
Our future home beyond the hill.

No downward path to death we go,
Through no dark shades or valleys low,
But up and on, o'er rises bright,
Toward the dawn of the endless light.

~ Louisa Lawson ~

lyrical adaption and music: Joe Dolce
copyright 2004 Dolceamore Music

 

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