MAY 18, 2003

Breads and Circuses

Hi folks,

I have quite a selection to pass on this week. I trust you will enjoy it. Take your time. The early Victorian ghost story, 'Afterward', by Edith Warton, is worth printing out and reading before bed. A beautiful tale.

Stay well,


" Entertaining the masses is a requirement of any empire that would neglect its people in order to augment its military prowess. The Roman Emperor Commodus battled gladiators in the Coliseum to provide a spectacle that obscured, to a degree, the inevitable decline of the empire." William Rivers Pitt (more)
Blowback in Riyadh
By William Rivers Pitt
Thursday 15 May 200

" . . American justice did a bang-up job on the city of Baghdad, and the thousands of Iraqi civilians who were killed, maimed and continue even today to die there can attest to the callous recklessness behind our idea of "Doing What Is Right." Unsurprisingly, the war in Iraq did exactly nothing to make our citizens at home or abroad safer. The eight American corpses who were blown sideways out of their homes in Riyadh are evidence enough of that. In fact, the scene at the compounds in Saudi Arabia proves that our war did, in fact, make the world a more dangerous place. . . " (more)

It's Still the Economy, Stupid
By Don Hazen
May 16, 2003

We all remember the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." It was made famous by political strategist James Carville, who hung it on a sign in Bill Clinton's Little Rock campaign office to keep everybody "on message" in the 1992 election. And it worked: President George Bush, soaring in polls after a victorious war against Iraq, was stunningly defeated because he was unable to effectively manage or spark a recession-battered economy stuck in a "jobless recovery."

Today it's possible that history may repeat itself. (more)
Bush Should be Impeached and Tried for War Crimes
Denise Giardina
The Charleston Gazette
Monday 12 May 2003

One image from the conflict in Iraq continues to haunt me. A photograph in the New York Times includes the school pictures of three girls. Marwa, Tabarek, and Safia Abbas were dark-haired beauties, aged 11, 8, and 5. They could be from anywhere, but until recently they lived in Baghdad. Note: I refer to them in the past tense.
According to the Times, their family was agonising how to tell their injured father that an American bomb killed his daughters. " It wasn't just ordinary love," they said. " He was crazy about them."
So much for photos. The most haunting quote has come from a military man, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd.
" The dog has caught the car," he said.

Indeed. Some fools may think the war in Iraq is over. In truth, it has just begun. And we all know what happens to dogs that catch cars, even if all they wanted was the oil.

Most of the world's nations, spiritual leaders, Nobel Peace Prize recipients, and artists, opposed this war. There was a reason for that. (more)
Jim Crow Revived in Cyberspace
By Greg Palast and Martin Luther King III
May 13, 2003

" Today, there is a new and real threat to minority voters, this time from cyberspace: computerised purges of voter rolls.

The menace first appeared in Florida in the November 2000 presidential election. While the media chased butterfly ballots and hanging chads, a much more sinister and devastating attack on voting rights went almost undetected.

In the two years before the elections, the Florida secretary of state's office quietly ordered the removal of 94,000 voters from the registries. Supposedly, these were convicted felons who may not vote in Florida. Instead, the overwhelming majority were innocent of any crime ­ and just over half were black or Hispanic. (more)

US's "Axis of Evil" as China Sees It

" . . . Let's have a look at the situation from a Chinese point of view. The picture of the world looks like this: The Chinese co-ordinates of reasonable political activity reveals something different from a war held by the American "good? against global "evil," a struggle with extremism and the European progressive movement. Here, like in a three-phase electric engine, the movement proceeds in a fluctuating cycle with three, not two, poles of force.

I would like to mention that Mao's theory of division of the world into three spheres was called a very great contribution to the treasury of Marxism-Leninism. The idea of the theory is as follows: instead of the traditional biblical division into two (forming an alliance against an opponent), the Chinese traditionally consider three powers: "we ourselves, our enemies and our allies."

As is seen from policy statements on Chinese foreign economy strategy, China's allies are North Korea, Iraq and Iran. These are the countries which the USA includes in the "axis of evil." China has as a consequence referred to the USA as "our enemies." Why did Chinese leaders do so? What plan did they think up?

To find an answer to the question we should first of all understand what the Chinese image of victory is. In fact, victory for China does not lie in killing and plundering the enemy. It is enough for a Chinese victory that the enemy lose face. Disgracing an enemy in front of a wide audience is a goal in itself. (more)
Three True Morality Tales

1) Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'.

Her name was Dorothy.

2) Pickup in the Rain

At 11.30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console colour TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits.Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away.... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3) Giving

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease.... Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheek.
Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".
Being young the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

A cracker of a ghost story, (downloadable for free:)

by Edith Wharton
Published: 1910

'. . . . "I should never believe I was living in an old house unless I was thoroughly uncomfortable," Ned Boyne, the more extravagant of the two, had jocosely insisted; "the least hint of 'convenience' would make me think it had been bought out of an exhibition, with the pieces numbered, and set up again." And they had proceeded to enumerate, with humorous precision, their various suspicions and exactions, refusing to believe that the house their cousin recommended was really Tudor till they learned it had no heating system, or that the village church was literally in the grounds till she assured them of the deplorable uncertainty of the water-supply.

"It's too uncomfortable to be true!" Edward Boyne had continued to exult as the avowal of each disadvantage was successively wrung from her; but he had cut short his rhapsody to ask, with a sudden relapse to distrust: "And the ghost? You've been concealing from us the fact that there is no ghost!"

Mary, at the moment, had laughed with him, yet almost with her laugh, being possessed of several sets of independent perceptions, had noted a sudden flatness of tone in Alida's answering hilarity.

"Oh, Dorsetshire's full of ghosts, you know."

"Yes, yes; but that won't do. I don't want to have to drive ten miles to see somebody else's ghost. I want one of my own on the premises. Is there a ghost at Lyng?"

His rejoinder had made Alida laugh again, and it was then that she had flung back tantalisingly:

"Oh, there is one, of course, but you'll never know it." . . . .' (more)


Eggplant Parmesan (the Dolce variation)

eggplant, thick slices (1/2 inch)
flour, for dredging
fine dried bread crumbs
2-3 beaten eggs, as needed
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
about a litre of tomato passata or puree
chicken bones (or carcass)
oven proof casserole dish, with lid, for baking

1- Prepare sauce:
Place chicken bones in tomato passata. (If you want a vegetarian sauce, omit the chicken bones, and sauté some diced onions in olive oil first.) Add bay leaf, salt and pepper, fresh basil leaves, a little red wine, garlic, or red chilli -anything you want to give the sauce a more distinctive flavour. Simmer for about an hour or until the meat drops off the bones. Strain sauce. If you want you can pick the bits of chicken off the bones, dice it, and put the meat back in the sauce.

2- Prepare the eggplant:
Place the slices on a flat surface and sprinkle salt over the top. Leave for about 15 minutes. This helps eliminate some bitterness. Three step coating: dip eggplant in flour, then in beaten egg, and finally in breadcrumbs. Fry in hot olive oil until golden brown on both sides. (It is not necessary that they are cooked all the way through as they still have to be baked.) Drain on paper and set aside.

3- To Assemble:
Spread some sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Then a layer of eggplant, a layer of sauce, and a layer of grated cheese. Repeat this until all the eggplant is used. (The top should have a layer of grated cheese.) Cover.


4 - Pre-heat oven to 200 C . Bake casserole in oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold and even better the next day, so make a lot. Tips? Use the best ingredients and you will get the best flavours.


All Alike, All Same

It was the first time they had flown together, and it was obvious by their silence that they didn't get along. After 30 minutes, the Captain finally spoke.
He said, "I don't like Chinese."
The First Officer replied, "Ooooh, no like Chinese? Why that?"
The Captain said, "You bombed Pearl Harbour. That's why I don't like Chinese."
The First Officer said, "Nooooo, noooo ... Chinese not bomb Pearl Harbour. That JAPANESE, not Chinese."
And the Captain answered, "Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese ... it doesn't matter. They're all alike."
Another 30 minutes of silence.
Finally the First Officer said, "No like Jew."
The Captain replied, "Why not? Why don't you like Jews?"
"Jews sink Titanic."
The Captain tried to correct him, "No, no. The Jews didn't sink the Titanic, it was an iceberg."
"Iceberg, Goldberg, Rosenberg... no mattah ... all same."


The Price of Stupidity

(True story. Country: Australia)...

On Thursday, 24 January 2002, Derek Guile broadcast this story on his
afternoon program on ABC radio.

In March, 1999, a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW) received a
bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that he owed $0.00. He ignored
it and threw it away. In April he received another bill and threw that one
away too. The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty note
stating they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn't send them $0.00 by
return mail. He called them, talked to them, and they said it was a
computer error and they would take care of it.

The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out
the troublesome gas line figuring that if there was usage on the account it
would put an end to this ridiculous predicament. However, when he went
to use the gas, it had been cut off.

He called the gas company who apologised for the computer error once
again and said that they would take care of it. The next day he got a bill
for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that having spoken
to them the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake, so he
ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort
the problem out.

The next month he got a bill for $0.00. This bill also stated that he had 10
days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover
the debt.

Finally, giving in, he thought he would beat the company at their own
game and mailed them a cheque for $0.00. The computer duly processed his
account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the gas company
nothing at all.

A week later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac Banking
Corporation called our hapless friend and asked him what he was doing
writing cheque for $0.00. After a lengthy explanation the bank manager
replied that the $0.00 cheque had caused their cheque processing
software to fail. The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques they had
received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque for $0.00 had
caused the computer to crash.

The following month the man received a letter from the gas company
claiming that his cheque has bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless
he sent a cheque by return mail they would take immediate steps to recover
the debt. At this point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim
against the gas company.

It took him nearly 2 hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse
that he was not joking. They subsequently assisted him in the drafting
of statements which were considered substantive evidence of the
aggravation and difficulties he had been forced to endure during this debacle.

The matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the
outcome was this:
The gas company was ordered to:
[1] Immediately rectify their computerised accounts system or show
cause, within 10 days, why the matter should not be referred to a higher court
for consideration under Company Law.

[2] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.

[3] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients
whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend's had been.

[4] Pay the claimant's court costs; and

[5] Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month period March
to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation they had caused their
client to suffer.

And all this over $0.00.

1- Set up a separate Yahoo or Hotmail address (free) for yourself. Use that one as much as possible for all commercial transactions. Keep the one on your personal server for just close communications and never give it out for any other reason.
2- For your home account, in your preferences, set your return mail address (on your private and personal email account) to the same address as your Yahoo/Hotmail address. This way you can send mail from one account but the replies will come to another. Set the Yahoo/Hotmail return address as the Default (automatic) and keep your private address as an option that you have to specifically set.
3- Place a filter on your inboxs for the prefix: ADV - (advertising) This will eliminate 10% of junk mail.
4 - NEVER place an Away Message on your Yahoo/Hotmail address when you are going away. The commerical spammers (especially the porn sites) de-register their Sent addresses after every big mail out - so that you will end up with DOUBLE the spam when you get home: i.e. the original crap you don't want PLUS the return bounce mail saying that the address that was automatically answered by your message no longer exists!

As for myself, I don't mind Spam mail.. It's worth the slight hassle to keep the lines open for the unexpected miracle. (You can always outwit these morons - for instance, I am no longer plagued by after hours 'research' phone calls by simply turning on the answering machine after hours. The always hang-up when they get the machine.) 99% of email spam now goes to my Yahoo address. I hardly ever get anything at my personal address. When I open my mailbox, I can checkbox delete practically all of it without opening a single one.