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May 22nd, 2004

Memoirs of a Bonobo

"Now, we talked to Joan Hanover. She and her husband, George, were visiting with us. They are near retirement - retiring - in the process of retiring, meaning they're very smart, active, capable people who are retirement age and are retiring."
George W. Bush


Dear Folks,

Feels to me like early retirement is RAPIDLY approaching for Dubya! I've included a Style Guide down below to help George Jr with his sentence structure during all those spare hours he's going to have at the Carl 'Slingblade' Childress Nervous Hospital and Retirement Village.


The Change

It occurred to me the other day that until a woman goes through The Change, both the male and female sex drives are fairly similar. There are two different but sublimely interwoven motivations: the urge for pleasure and the urge for reproduction.

After menopause, however, the female's reproductive drive biologically ceases. The male's still remains. This signals an important time for the creative re-imagining of all things erotic. If one isn't aware of this divergence, however, things can get very confusing for a very long time. Perhaps this is one of the reasons, among others, that certain men get attracted to younger women around this time. They aren't able to Change. Hmmmm . . . could their imaginations be stuck?



"Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I'm a moth!"
"You don't need a doctor, you need a psychiatrist."
"I know, but your light was on."
(boom boom!)

The story of Ohh!

Jonathan Margolis examines the phenomenon of the orgasm:

" Oxytocin is nature's sugar-coating to disguise the bitter pill of reproduction, the chemical basis for our capacity and longing for romantic attachment. It is the molecule that for 100,000 years or more has made us want to have sex face-to-face, adoring one another, and to live in permanent, monogamous couples - the latter otherwise done only by one species of ape, the Bonobo, an endangered chimpanzee existing in small numbers in the Congo and believed to be the closest primate to humankind. Albatrosses, swans, a handful of crustaceans and a rare New Zealand songbird called the Hihi also "mate for life" - but not for remotely "romantic" reasons. (article)

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Dear Joe,
Has anyone ever told you - you write very long emails (very funny though),
David R.

Dear Joe,
Loved this week's missive. Really interesting and beautiful...it made me wonder why they don't get people like you on Big Brother or some articulate right wing fascists or just anyone who talk about something other than themselves...I think it closley related to why Disney might come down on Miramax execs for Mike Moore's film...you can talk about sex, violence, employment, appearance, clothes, cars, but god forbid you talk about politics or religion...the winners of our society appeal to the majority; they are a blank canvass, least passionate, bland, polite and apolitical. What a waste.

(Note: Moana. What a name! You have to instantly like someone with a name like that. Like a Bonobo mating call.)

Dear Joe,
Have thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to your e-mails for the past year or so. I don't know if you ever met my father - Paul Dixon - but you have done some great work with a good friend of his - Phil Motherwell. Paul died on Monday from cancer. He was part of the music scene in Melbourne during the sixties and early seventies, after which he moved to London, when he was traveling with a band managed and lead by Lobby Lloyd. Anyway, when I was last in the UK. I read some of your newsletters to Paul - which he enjoyed very much. Also your song 'Shudap Your Face' was one of the first records Paul ever bought for me:-) Thanks for all the great stuff and hope to hear from you in the future.
Cheers E.

Favourite Porn Spam Subject Heading of the Week

Sender: Yvonne   Subject: Of Course, Lady With a Man Part is Nice

(Note: Ah so . . . Confucius say: this presume Lady come first and Man just 'Part'. In other word, without 'Man Part,' Man is really Lady? And if remove 'Man Part' and 'Lady Part,' then what 'Part' is left? . . . . 'Bonobo Part?' 'George W Bush Part? 'Party of First Part?')

Environmental Porn

This site is set up by people from Norway and Sweden (wouldn't you know it!) and the idea being that you send them all your 'spare' home movie porn films, (you know, the ones you made with your ex's and your pet bonobos) and they charge people a fee to watch them online and download the pictures (stay with me here, folks) and then . . . they donate all the money they make to SAVE THE WILDERNESS! What a great idea! Put all those digital cameras to use! www.fuckforforest.com


Political Haiku

Change Politicians
And diapers regularly
For the same reason.

(Thanks to Mike Jackson)

Ads You Whiz On
Jim Hightower

" Meet the latest advertising advance: Wizmark.

That's wiz, as in, take a whiz. Yes, we're talking about male urination, and the advertising potential therein. Perhaps you think that I'm going to go on a tear about the little TV screens that many places are now putting above the urinals, so you can watch an ad as you... well, whiz.

But, no that would be almost civilized in today's world of ad excess. I'm not talking about advertising above the urinals ­ I'm talking about ads in the urinals. Indeed, ads you whiz on. " (more)

Dangerous Religion


George W. Bush's Theology of Empire
by Jim Wallis

Getting the Words Wrong

President Bush uses religious language more than any president in U.S. history, and some of his key speechwriters come right out of the evangelical community. Sometimes he draws on biblical language, other times old gospel hymns that cause deep resonance among the faithful in his own electoral base. The problem is that the quotes from the Bible and hymnals are too often either taken out of context or, worse yet, employed in ways quite different from their original meaning. For example, in the 2003 State of the Union, the president evoked an easily recognized and quite famous line from an old gospel hymn. Speaking of America's deepest problems, Bush said, "The need is great. Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." But that's not what the song is about. The hymn says there is "power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb" (emphasis added). The hymn is about the power of Christ in salvation, not the power of "the American people," or any people, or any country. Bush's citation was a complete misuse.

On the first anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush said at Ellis Island, "This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind. That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overcome it." Those last two sentences are straight out of John's gospel. But in the gospel the light shining in the darkness is the Word of God, and the light is the light of Christ. It's not about America and its values. Even his favorite hymn, "A Charge to Keep," speaks of that charge as "a God to glorify"-not to "do everything we can to protect the American homeland," as Bush has named our charge to keep.

Bush seems to make this mistake over and over again-confusing nation, church, and God. The resulting theology is more American civil religion than Christian faith. (full article) (thanks to Doug Ashdown)


Cold Turkey
By Kurt Vonnegut

" Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on. (article)

Aboriginal Woman Moopor Points the Bone at Prime Minister Howard

COLAC, Australia (AP) -- An Aboriginal woman clad in animal skins has put a traditional curse on Prime Minister John Howard, apparently in retaliation for government plans to abolish Australia's top indigenous elected body. (article)

(Note: Quite a few other Australians would like to point a bone, too - the bone in the middle finger of the right hand.)

This unusual disclaimer was at the end of a recent email I received:

" The information or misinformation or disinformation contained in this email is confidential and is meant to be read only by the person from whom it is from, who may be guilty not guilty, or innocent of what was not intended to be meant, or sent, or felt."
(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera - wha???)
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder
This is how it manifests: 
I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the trash can under the table, and notice that the trash can is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my chequebook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra cheques are in my desk in the study, so I start to go to my desk where they are in a box and I find the can of coke that I had been drinking. 

I'm going to look for my cheques, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I see that the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the coke a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. 

I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. 

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, we will be looking for the remote, but nobody will remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I splash some water on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.  Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day: the car isn't washed, the bills aren't paid, there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter, the flowers aren't watered, there is still only one check in my chequebook, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys. 

Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail. 
(Thanks to Jim Testa)

For Writers

Style Guide

Here is a selection from an advice list for journalists that circulates in the United States.

1     Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2     Prepositions are not good words to end sentences with.
3     And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4     It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5     Avoid clichés like the plague.
6     Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7     Be more or less specific.
8     Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9     No sentence fragments.
10   Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
11   One should never generalise.
13   Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
14   Eliminate commas, that are not necessary.
15   Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
16   Kill all exclamation marks!!!
17   Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
18   Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
19   Puns are for children, not groan readers.
20   Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
21   Also, if you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
22   A writer must not shift your point of view.
23   The passive voice should rarely be used.
24   Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
25   Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
26   If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
27   Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
28   Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
29   Always pick on the correct idiom.


Heston Blumenthal cooks in a tiny kitchen for a few people at a time. Now he has joined Ramsay and Roux as a holder of three Michelin stars. Terry Durack asks whether acclaim will spoil the master of molecular gastronomy.

" . . . Blumenthal combined garlic purée with coffee jelly, because garlic and coffee have a similar molecular structure. He also teamed red cabbage with French mustard ice cream; oysters with passion fruit jelly and lavender; and pine sherbert with mango and Douglas fir purée.

To further his research, Blumenthal regularly visits Fermenich, a Swiss scientific company that creates "flavours" for medicines and perfumes. In the meantime, his kitchen has gone from primitive to high tech, equipped with all sorts of whizz-bangery including a Rotavapor machine that extracts natural essences from ingredients such as rosemary or garlic; a water and oil bath; a canister containing liquid nitrogen and a gleaming machine that turns purées into ethereal foams. So there are teasing curiosities such as red pepper lollipops, green tea and lime mousse poached in liquid nitrogen, snail porridge and parsnip breakfast cereal with parsnip milk. Help, Ma, he's messing with my head. . .

. . Rather than the accepted technique of cooking meat at a high temperature and then resting it, Blumenthal, together with Peter Barham, a Bristol University physicist, has developed a method in which meats are cooked at temperatures low enough (around 60C) not to set the protein. . ." (article)

Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular Gastronomy encompasses such diverse issues as:

* How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavour sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes?
* How do production methods affect the eventual flavour and texture of food ingredients?
* How are these ingredients changed by different cooking methods?
* Can we devise new cooking methods that produce unusual and improved results of texture and flavour?
* How do our brains actually interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the "flavour" of food?
* How is our enjoyment of food affected by other influences - the environment in which we eat the food, our mood, etc?


Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel with Caviar (and Pasta Variation)

(Most cafes serve a variation of this but usually all of them leave out the most important ingredient: the caviar. Here's the way I like it.)

1 toasted or fresh bagel (or two slices of toasted bread)
finely sliced smoked salmon
butter (optional)
cream cheese
fresh tomato
finely diced onion
black lumpfish caviar
salt & pepper
(fresh herbs -optional: chives, dill, parsley, coriander, or vietnamese basil.)
Also optional: capers)

Lightly butter the toast or bagel. Spread with a layer of cream cheese. Add a layer of onions. Add a layer of caviar. Place the sliced tomatoes on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a layer of smoked salmon. Add any optional herbs you like. Add the top layer of toast or bagel. Serve.

Pasta Variation
I had some leftover ingredients from the above and it seemed reasonable to me that this might make a nice pasta dish as well. I'm happy to report that it came out fantastic! Forget the bagel and the toast. Just cook up some thin pasta (like Capellini) and drain. Then stir in a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Add some cream cheese to the hot pasta (sour cream could probably be substituted) and the finely diced onions. Stir until the cream cheese is fairly well melted. Add the fresh tomatoes (chopped finely), the smoked salmon (sliced in strips) and the remaining ingredients. A teasp of finely chopped garlic if you like. Capers. Maybe some chiffonaded parsley. Lots of black pepper. I didn't use any parmesean cheese and it tasted perfect. (You could add some though if you like.) The main thing is to leave the ingredients uncooked. Just mix and serve.

And a Little Something for you Kitchen Beginners

English Toast

"Take three or four slices (not too thin) of one day-old white loaf (other ages and colours will do). Taking care not to lose the centres of the slices, place each in turn into a 250-volt 5-amp toaster set at No. 3. Your toaster may be fitted with an automatic setting which will eject the toast when done; if not, you will have to judge by waiting for a wisp of blue smoke to rise (the toast should, by now, be a beautiful golden brown). While still hot, remove the crusts with a bread knife, halve, and stack in a special rack. Serve warm with butter. Variations can be introduced by adding such widely contrasting tastes as marmalade or plum and apple jam. " Basil Clayton (gastronome)


Cast All Your Votes For Dancing


I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!

~ Hafiz ~ 


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