Joke Off II

More Rings Found Around Uranus

The Best Holiday Mashed Potatoes Ever!

Mashed or creamed potatoes are a perennial part of any holiday feast. Traditional offerings of this comfort food are heavy in calories and minus the great nutritional possibilities that this recipe affords. Experiment with the following ingredients.

6 Idaho potatoes of varying size
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup of olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of salt

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Spiral Dynamics

The old adage, “I can’t see the forest for the trees,” is a way of saying without perspective we can so easily get lost in the woods of the world around us. Our focus is on the details and we have no clue about the bigger picture.

One of the best forms of modernist, post-enlightenment culture is the ability to stand back and critique ourselves. Beginning in the 19th century with Freud and Marx we have steadily developed a methodology for gaining perspective—for seeing the bigger picture. If we are courageous enough we can critique modern culture and its foibles in the way that post-modernists such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Jürgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse, Paul Feyerabend and many others have done. The works of these writers and philosophers may seem impenetrable—even in their attempt to break through the barriers of collective blindness.

However a more accessible approach to understanding the whole forest of modern culture is the work being done by Don Beck, Ken Wilber and others who have developed and used the theory of spiral dynamics to explore the larger perspective and just where we are in contemporary culture. For an introduction to this fascinating new mapping of culture and the human mind read the interview between Dr. Don Beck and Jessica Roemischer on line and get acquainted with this important way of understanding ourselves and the rapidly changing dynamics of modern culture.



More Ways to Cook and Eat Celine Dion

Medallions de Dion
Céline Kabobs
Tandoori Dion
Céline Pot Pie

The 7 Habits

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times already I’ve recently undertaken the Personal MBA proposed by Josh Kaufman. The fourth book in the series is Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I just realized that I’ve internalized the title as The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. This may be some clue towards my relative ambiguity toward the book, or at least my initial relative ambiguity. The book has both confirmed and eased my misgivings about the book specifically and toward self-help books in general. I’d say for the most part — 80%? — I’ve found the book helpful and useful. The other twenty percent may be just my specific areas of weakness manifesting themselves in distaste or frustration. A window perhaps into my shortcomings.

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Pudenda Agenda

From artnet:


Nowadays vagina envy has been joined by pudenda power. One famous expression of it is Courbet’s 1866 spread-eagle crotch shot, The Origin of the World, which scandalized not only because it displayed a flash of pink, but because it portrayed the female sex in its full hairy glory, rather than classicized and bare. Then there’s real life: John Ruskin, who on his wedding night fled at the sight of his wife’s pubic hair. This was before photography (and Courbet’s painting), and the only female nudes he’d seen had been in art, and carefully tonsured. He thought his wife was grossly deformed, a freak.

Where Cathedrals Go to Die



When large container ships can contain or ship no more, they’re sent halfway round the world to so-called “breaking yards,” where they’re dismantled (basically by hand), their metal is salvaged, and their intact structures, down to the doors and toilet seats, are put back onto the global marketplace.

When the Law is Presented as the Enemy

George W. Bush says his authorization of domestic spying, outside of the court oversight of such authority that is already in place, will not be withdrawn. With congressional members from both parties calling for inquiry into the legality of this practice, will Bush now tap their phones? And if his justification for circumventing U.S. law derives from his having been granted the right to use all necessary force against terrorism (as he defines it), what other laws might he determine to be impediments to his efforts? Will he suspend the Constitution if things get “out of hand” during an investigation of his activities? Surely he might argue that the opportunism of our enemies would require him to secure the continuity of government in such a situation. But if laws may be set aside, what law will protect Americans from treasonous acts performed by their leaders?

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Christmas Letter 05 from Aunt Winnie

Daryl Scroggins’ Christmas Letter:

Well I don’t ever hear from any of you so I went and got me another dog. Vonda down the street’s business The Puppy Mill had a security lapse and she got some unexpected inventory — a bull dog and chiwawa mix. She calls it a Bullwawa. So I took one. Named him Sea Bisket. He looks kind of funny — his head is real big and his body is skinny. He eats a lot but doesn’t poop hardly at all.

Anyway come if you want to, but this year I’m not going to cook a bunch of crap until I know for sure.

Merry X-mas,
Aunt Winnie and Sea Bisket

The Uncommon Life of Common Objects


What makes us love our things? Why do we attach certain sentiments to certain items? How is it that sometimes objects can tell stories more eloquently than people? These are questions explored and answered in The Uncommon Life of Common Objects. Author Akiko Busch devotes a chapter to each of 12 common objects, and discusses her and others’ experiences that give everyday things their significance. Through her examination of: a video camera, a cellular phone, a vegetable peeler, a snowboard, a baby carriage, a chair, a refrigerator, a mailbox, a medicine cabinet, a cereal box, a backpack, and a desk, Busch illuminates the social and personal issues that shape our lives and the ownership of our things. Lovingly illustrated, always touching, sometimes nostalgic, and often hilarious, The Uncommon Life of Common Objects, is a topical reader that is at once a personal manifesto, a look at how design influences and responds to our changing lives, and a study of society and its values and the infusion of meaning into inanimate objects. Each of the 12 chapters is accompanied by a four-color drawing.

More Thoughts on the Future of Food

I was going to write an article on the possible future of meat produced in the lab, but this excerpt from a longer article sums up the potential nicely:

Meat is the most energy- and resource-intensive form of food production and contributes disproportionately to environmental degradation. Engineering meat in laboratories would free up land for crops and forests and possibly allow for reclamation of some habitats to sustain biodiversity.

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Today’s News

A few articles from today’s news:

Barbie Mutilation
“The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a ‘cool’ activity,” said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. “The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.”

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Pet Peeve — Pun Intended

Overweight pets.

“Making Friends”

– From Said & Gone, my collection (in progress) of prose fragments based on overheard speech –

“I’ll go anywhere to save you if I know you, it’s just the way I am. I look out for you—you got a cigarette?—you ask around everbody’ll tell you, and if you’re getting fucked with by some person, shit, I’ll get a board or something, you hear what I’m sayin? I’ll smack the fucker and we’ll both run the hell out of there! Ha! Son of a bitch fuck with my people and he’s fuckin with me over my dead body—and if I have, you know, a bag of beans or or or some onions? And there you are just let out or kicked out or woke up from drunk I don’t care—hit by a train, shit, are you hungry? Damn, I could eat me something. I could have a taco if I had, how much do you have, have you—what kinda change you got—let’s get a taco and some beer. Let’s say I owe you.”

AT&T Logo

Speaking of logos. The new AT&T logo:


Toyota Logo

I like that the Toyota logo contains all the letters of its name.


One Million Sustainable Homes

From Archinect:


Eco-friendly houses have been built in Somerset as part of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) project to create more sustainable homes.

Twelve homes have been built in Langport at a cost of £3m, using local timber and recycled bricks.

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A bumptious man dismissed a wandering sage by shouting at him, “Be off, nobody knows you here!”

“But I know myself,” said the sage. “How sad it would be if the reverse were true.”

–A Traditional Sufi Parable

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The Worst First-Sentence Contest

Cooper Renner and I have a long-standing contest to find the worst first-sentence of a published novel. So far the hands-down winner is:

In Haddam, summer floats over tree-softened streets like a sweet lotion balm from a careless, languorous god, and the world falls in tune with its own mysterious anthems.

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Holy Fools

musings on Matthew 25:31-46

Final Judgment. Kingdom of God or eternal damnation; as easy as separating the Sheep from the Goats. I don’t know about you, but this culling out business makes me a little uncomfortable.

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The Future of Food

Notes from an incomplete post on the future of food:

Malcolm Gladwell’s writing on food science, food creators, food tasters.

The possibility to create tastes and textures for food that appear in the mouth but have no influence on the caloric intake or nutritional value of the food.

Allowing for food that is both supremely good for us and tastes like anything we want it to.

Reading Ohle’s Motorman on a Train to Montreal

In the introduction to Motorman by David Ohle, Ben Marcus says that for a long time he was scared to read it — “It’s existence bothered me, and I grew leery of being artistically paralyzed by its reported high oddity and invention, its completely unexampled decimation of fiction-as-we-have-come-to-know-it.” After reading the introduction I was scared to read it. Could anything live up to the hype, causing you to float into the air or render you “gummy and mute”?

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Tear Jerker


Last year I was pregnant around Christmas time, so I thought it was the hormones talking. But that ad where Baby Mr. Peanut unwraps his presents and finds the monocle, top hat, and cane is still getting to me.

The A.D.D. Gourmet

1. In a small pan, saute 1/2 c. onion in two tbsp. oil or butter.
2. Heat a can of condensed tomato soup.
3. Sift 3/4 cup flour.
4. Melt 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate.
5. Prepare 1 cup freshly riced potatoes.
6. Measure 1/4 tsp. paprika.
7. Trim 3 pounds fresh tripe.
8. Mince wisps of finoccchio leaf.
9. Scrub thoroughly 7 to 9 medium-size soft-shell clams.
10. Remove the seeds from 1 whole orange.

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