Here’s your Potpourri #10  SENT

REDUNDANCIES.  “the Negev desert”...“cold gazpacho”...“shrugs his shoulders”...“ad hoc task force”---Negev in Hebrew means desert; all gazpacho is cold;  shrugged means to lift your shoulders;  ad hoc is Latin for “to this,” meaning “for this task only.”

PRESS “POUND.”  # means pound as in 5# bag of sugar.  Pound is from the Latin “libra pondo”:  “a pound by weight” which accounts for the abbreviation lb.  The original 1747 recipe for a pound cake called for a pound of butter.

WHAT HAPPENED?  If elected, I plan to pursue a “humble” foreign policy, “if we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us;  if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.”  --G.W. Bush, October 2000

TETRAGRAMMATON is the four Hebrew letters that make up the name of the Deity, and a tetragrammatonic mustache is the kind that God would wear:  white, bushy and Biblical. Teddy Roosevelt had one.

A 40% rise in average wage of farm workers [currently $8.83/hr] would lift them above the poverty level and add $9/year to the cost of produce for the average US household.  [P. Martin, UC Davis]

We spend $400K/minute on imported oil.

The average hourly wage of rank-and-file workers [80% of the work force] is slightly lower than it was four years ago, considering inflation, i.e., most Americans have taken a pay cut since 2002. --David Leonhardt, NYT, 4/5/6, C12.

PASSIVE VOICE is used by attorneys more than 80% of the time found Steven Stark.  It is used when you don’t really know who did what to whom, or when you know but don’t want to say. 

SANCTION is a word that always puzzled me.  The root is sanctus/holy, and as a verb is to sprinkle approval on;  however, the noun became associated with the penalty of proceeding without having been sanctioned, and sanctions are now penalties designed to coerce obedience.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.  “Once the new American-backed government took control in Kabul, opium production skyrocketed.  With controls from the central government effectively lifted, Afghanistan’s production capacity for oven-dried opium soared to 1,278 metric tons in 2002, according to DEA statistics.  Production more than doubled in 2003, and then nearly doubled again in the next year, and by 2004 Afghanistan was producing 87% of the world’s opium supply...the CIA estimated that...the new crop would generate $7 billion worth of heroin.”  --James Risen in “State of War,” p. 155

“I don’t use e-mail.  One reason is when you write an e-mail, you have to be mindful of the fact that nothing ever disappears. It can be deleted, but it is still in the system somewhere.”  --Michael Chertoff, head of Dept. of Homeland Security

There are over a thousand religious denominations in the US.

The word YANKEE is the diminutive of Jan [Dutch for John], as a nickname for New York’s early Dutch settlers.

This is potpourri #11--SENT

The early Christian church succeeded against all odds because its creed of selflessness provided its adherents with a sort of welfare state.  Christians banded together, aiding each other through illness, famine, and war.  The resulting biological edge played a part in the unexpected success of this once obsure mystery cult.  --David Sloan Wilson in “Darwin’s Cathedral.”

QUARANTINE first appeared as a legal term in 1609, as the period of 40 days in which a widow could remain in her dead husband’s house before creditors could seize it.

“Getting rid of TRANS FAT is an easy fix that could save, by conservative estimates, 30,000 lives a year in the US.”  Nina Teicholtz, NYT, 4/16/6, p.13.

GULLAH is the pidgin of Portuguese/English/African by slaves who escaped to islands offshore of SC, GA and FL.  It gave us several Africanisms:  tote, gumbo, buckaroo, banjo, okra, juke, bozo, voodoo, jazz and special usages of hip, hep and cat.

Why do Iranians call us “THE GREAT SATAN”?  Maybe it’s because, in 1953, the C.I.A. overthrew their democratic nationalist prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, who they falsely accused of being pro-Communist, and then we restored the autocratic rule by the shah.  That operation, run by Kermit Roosevelt (TRs grandson) was brilliantly executed, but the role of opposition to the shah was assumed by religious fundamentalists, and ended in the disastrous revolution of 1979.  --from “Overthrow” by Stephen Kinzer

52% of Americans who own STOCK are age 50 or older;  19% are 65 or older.

“in the past five years”--since the Bush administration took office--”private health insurance premiums have risen 73%,” resulting in “some businesses” dropping coverage altogether.  American health care is the most expensive on earth.  Medicare administrative costs are 2%; the private health-care industry spends more than 10%: largely to veto treatments, sloughing off sick or potentially sick clients, and scheming to stick someone else with the bill.  In the US we spend 15% of GDP on health care. The French and Canadians spend 10%, yet their “health outcomes,” measured by indices like longevity, are better than ours.  If they spent the kind of money we do, they’d live forever.---Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 4/17/06, p. 25.

GOT A TODDLER?  “In 2020, four years at a public university will cost about $180,000; private tuition will be about $180,000.”  from American Baby

A NEW POLL of leaders of Iraqi women's-rights groups found that women were treated better and their civil rights were more secure under deposed President Saddam Hussein than under the faltering and increasingly sectarian U.S.-installed government: "...women's basic rights under the Hussein regime were guaranteed in the constitution and more importantly respected, with women often occupying important government positions. Now, although their rights are still enshrined in the national constitution, activists complain that, in practice, they have lost almost all of their rights."--(IRIN-- a U.N. news agency covering sub-Saharan Africa, eight countries in central Asia, and Iraq)

“At least 6 million Americans do COCAINE every year.”  --David Amsden, New York magazine, 4/17/06, p. 186

SILHOUETTE:  an outline image from the French finance minister, Etienne de Silhouette, who advocated economies including these paper portraits instead of painted miniatures.

OBJECTIVITY?  95 of 170 experts who wrote the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (for mental disorders) had at least one monetary relationship with a drug maker from 1989-2004.  --Tufts and Umass study.

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR [SEX-] LIFE?  Two academics calculated that if you increased your sexual activity from once a  month to once a week, you’d be as happy as if you had an extra $50,000 a year.  [D. Blanchflower/Dartmouth & A. Oswald/U of Warwick]

CHALLENGE #1:  This week--79 years ago--the NYC police marched into a Broadway theater and shut down a hit play that had been sold out for a year, and arrested the star, who was also the playwright.  The complaint: the costumes were lewd, the action was overtly suggestive and the language was downright dirty.  The plot dealt with prostitutes, sailors and blackmail.  The judge sentenced the actress/playwright to ten days in jail.  When asked how she felt, she suggested that deprived playgoers go downtown to her other show “The Drag,” which she described as a cute “homosexual comedy.”  Later she went to a small town in California, changed her name to Flowerbelle Lee and led a virtuous life with an older man.  WHO WAS SHE?  Let me know if you think you know?

Potpourri #12--SENT

BLACKSMITHS worked with black metals like iron; whitesmiths with white metals like tin.

Most of Shakespeare’s SONNETS are addressed to a man, not a woman.  --J.B. Leishman

In 2004, median INHERITANCES were  $29,000 in today’s money, according to a Federal Reserve analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances.  The value of the total of all US inheritances has more than tripled since 1970, but the value of the median inheritance has fallen...because bequeathed wealth is concentrated in a small portion of the population [the very richest].

The SANSKRIT word for caste, varna, actually means color.

World’s heaviest TEXTBOOK:  “Art History” by Marilyn Stokstad...10.95 lbs for $120.

The BUDDHA taught the Four Noble Truths [the world is full of suffering, suffering is caused by human desires, the renunciation of desire is the path to salvation, and salvation is possible through the Eight-Fold Path:  right views, resolves, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, recollection and meditation--in combination this is called the Middle Way].  He taught that the universe had originally been a place of bliss but man’s capitulation to desire has reduced it to a place of suffering.--makes sense to me!

TWISTER, Chubby Checker, was given that name by the wife of Dick Clark.

Lee Raymond, ex-CEO of Exxon received secret compensation of $686 million  from 1993-2005.  “That is $144,573 for each day he spent leading Exxon’s ‘God Pod,’ as the exec suite is called.”  NYT

CESAREAN:  surgical removal of a child from the uterus through an abdominal incision, named after Julius Caesar who was born in this manner.

We are the only industrialized country not to have universal health coverage, and we pay much more than the others.  We have 150 uninsured people for every physician.

XXX U.   Porn mags are published at Harvard, Yale, Vassar, Boston U. and U. of Chicago.

“We pulled up to the pump in Baghdad and plunked down $10 billion a month, and we’re still not geting any gas out of it.”  Maureen Dowd, 4/26/6

The number of MILLIONAIRE families [not counting principal residence] grew from 5.5 million in 2002, to 6.2 million in 2003, and 8.2 million in 2004, and 8.9 million last year. --TNS Financial Services report....the number in poverty also grew rapidly.

An art dealer bought a canvas signed Picasso and traveled to Cannes to discover whether it was genuine.  Picasso was working in his studio.  He cast a single look at the canvas and said, “It’s a fake.”  “But,” said the dealer, “it so happens I saw you with my own eyes working on this picture.”  Picasso shrugged, “I often paint fakes.”  --from “Breathing on Your Own” by Richard Kehl

In 2004, 36% of US households included children, and 60% included pet animals.  In some cases the animal was a spoiled “child alternative.”

The number of U.S. ARMY soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides.

“The Republicans are the party with the keys to the executive washrooms of Halliburton, Exxon and the big oil corporations.”  US Rep. James Clyburn, SC

There were two responses to Challenge #1:  Jerry and Mary knew it was Mae West.  The last line of the Challenge was in jest:  “Later she went to a small town in California, changed her name to Flowerbelle Lee and led a virtuous life with an older man.”  She went to Hollywood to be in the film “My Little Chickadee” under that name and with W.C. Fields.

CHALLENGE #2:  What is the fastest growing city in the world?  HINT:  It has the same name as the country it is in.

Potpourri #13--sending it early since I’ll be out of the country for a couple of weeks--SENT

A patient is lying in bed in the hospital, wearing an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose, still heavily sedated from a difficult four-hour, surgical procedure.  A young, student nurse appears to give him  a partial sponge bath. "Nurse,"he mumbles, from behind the mask.  "Are my testicles black?" Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, "I don't know, sir.  I'm only here to wash your upper body and feet."  He struggles to ask again, "Nurse, are my testicles black?" Concerned that he may elevate his vitals from worry about his testicles, she overcomes her embarrassment and sheepishly pulls back the covers. She raises his gown, holds his penis in one hand and his testicles in the other, lifting and moving them around.  Then, she takes a close look and says, "There's nothing wrong with them sir."

The man struggles to pull off his oxygen mask, smiles at her and says very slowly, "Thank you very much.  That was wonderful, but, listen very, very closely...A r e - m y - t e s t - r e s u l t s - b a c k?"   [Carla]

27% of freshman in public colleges graduated in 4 years;  53% in 6 years.  Private colleges did better:  50 and 64%  [U.S. Dept. of Ed.]

PROGRESS?  The U.S. Tax Code contains 7 million words;  ten times the number in the Bible.  The original tax code of 1913 had 11,000 words.

UnitedHealth Group signed up the most Medicare prescription drug enrollees-, since they used the AARP logo ...but they do not win on price [in part since they have to kickback to AARP] compared with Humana and MemberHealth.  Robert Pear, NYT, 4/29/6

American life expectancy is 77.9 years--a record, but behind 24 countries.

While I was watching a ball game last weekend, my wife and I got into a conversation about life and death, and the need for living wills.  During the course of the conversation I told her that I never wanted to exist in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and taking fluids from a bottle.  She got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all my beer.  [John E.]

THE GOLDEN RULE is a basis for most world religions and was first attributed to Confucius, c. 500 BC.

“A gas tax is a far better way to encourage conservation and combat global warming than the method mentioned by Bush this week:  mandating more fuel-efficient cars...the tax would cost Americans 20% less to achieve the same fuel savings...according to the Congressional Budget Office.”  John Tierney

If you accept the popular idea that a “frequent flyer” mile is worth about one cent, then the 14 trillion unredeemed miles are more valuable than all the US currency in circulation.  --The Economist.

GOTO:   [it brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes]

No HS diploma?  Not necessary to get into 45 colleges, e.g., Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard, M.I.T., Williams, Yale, Naval Academy, U. of Chicago.  [Nat’l Assn. for College Admissions Counseling]

California consumes a little more than half as many kilowatt-hours of energy per capita each year as the rest of America--saving them from building numerous new energy plants.  Thomas L. Friedman

He had a supernatural birth, was tempted by the devil, left his family and disappeared for some time before he returned to be a great teacher and religious leader.  His canonical “gospel” was collected centuries after he lived.  Gautama Buddha was born about 450 years before Jesus.

“Even if the Duke boys shake the rape charge, it's hard to feel much sympathy for them. You can see them going through life like it's all one big fraternity party. The sense one gleans of why they're getting a university education is to acquire a pedigree and technical skills so they can afford the accoutrements for the party.”     Star Parker, Capitol Hill Blue

Challenge #2 was:  “What is the fastest growing city in the world?  It has the same name as the country it is in.”  Also, it has the world’s largest: man-made harbor, shopping mall, indoor ski resort, [and soon]  tallest building.  Under construction is the world’s first underwater hotel and a new metropolis of 32 64-story skyscrapers shaped like chess pieces [called Chess City, of course].  Currently, 1/5 of the world’s cranes are there amid $100 billion of construction.  No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Mary and Jerry, again, knew it is DUBAI.  Ron was close with Singapore.

CHALLENGE #3:  There is a very famous person’s name that begins with the same three letters in order that it ends with.  The name is only eight letters long.   


aristophren--super intelligent

philodox--someone in love with his own opinion

infracaninophile--a champion of the underdog: see Christopher Morley in preface to Complete Sherlock Holmes in 1930

anonymuncule--a petty anonymous writer

twock--british slang for stealing a car for joy-riding

ipsedixitist--a person given to dogmatic assertions [Jeremy Bentham--1832]

macrologist [dull conversationalist] vs deipnosophist [the opposite]

consigliere--an advisor

spoor--a trace

Potpourri #14--SENT

Half of the people under 30 in a 2003 survey by Gallup said they expected to become RICH.

MASH.  Why did the 14-year-old son of the director of the film make more money out of the film than dad?  Mike Altman wrote the lyrics of the theme song; Johnny Mandel wrote the tune.  The opening title sequence has a text that identifies the place as Korea. This was added at the insistence of the studio after director Robert Altman had removed every reference to Korea, intending it to be mistaken for Vietnam, which would reinforce the anti-war statement.  It was the first major studio film to use the word “f---” in dialogue.

The United Arab Emirates is 6 desert kingdoms with 4 million people; <20% are local Arabs, the rest are migrant workers who make around $260/month and live in squalid camps.

From 2000 to 2004 the number of nonprofits increased 23%, but donations from individuals decreased 2% (baby-boomers donate less than their parents).  Alina Tugend

Tom DeLay ran an exterminating business in Sugar Land, TX where he hated government regulators who dared to tell him that some of the pesticides he used were dangerous.  So he got into politics to change things.

I have a friend who can’t afford health insurance, so she became a Christian Scientist.

“Good regulation is no regulation.” ---Bush administration’s mantra

Recent opinion polls confirm that Bill Clinton, who after eight years in office garnered the highest approval ratings ever recorded for a president at the end of his term, remains immensely popular. This is hardly surprising: under Clinton's stewardship America enjoyed a booming economy, gargantuan budget surpluses, almost no military conflict, and the respect of the international community.

63% of Americans aged 18-24 couldn’t locate Iraq on a world map, according to a recent survey.  50% couldn’t locate New York State.

From the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson, June 18, 1838:  “Protest.  That is a good deal.  In these times you shall find a small number of persons of whom only that can be affirmed that they protest.  Yet is it as divine to say no, as to say yes.  You say they go too much alone. Yea, but they shun society to the end of finding society.  They repudiate the false out of love of the true.”

SUDOKU, as it is know around the world, was invented in the U.S. as “Number Place,” which it is still called in Japan.  Sudoku means “single number” in Japanese and has 5,472,730,5338 unique displays of 81 digits.

Just published in JAMA:  The US spends much more per person on health care than any other nation, yet we have lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, Japan and most of Europe.  Americans are so much sicker that the richest third of Americans is in worse health than the poorest third of the English.  --“Disease and Disadvantage in the US and England.”

“I grew up to have my father’s looks--my father’s speech patterns--my father’s posture--my father’s walk--my father’s opinions and my mother’s contempt for my father.”  Jules Feiffer

Challenge #3 was:  There is a very famous person’s name that begins with the same three letters in order that it ends with.  The name is only eight letters long.    Einstein

CHALLENGE #4:  Which US city claims to have created the Popsicle, the Martini, chop suey and [American] Irish coffee?

Mirror Images of Good and Evil:  Sherlock Holmes versus Professor James Moriarty

‘You crossed my path on the 4th of January,' said he. 'On the 23rd you incommoded me; by the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. The situation is becoming an impossible one.’ — Professor James Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes

This monologue from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tale The Final Problem sums up the classic rivalry — both professional and philosophical — between Holmes, the “The World’s Greatest Detective” and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. By Doyle’s design, both of his fictitious characters, created in 1890, were brilliant, logical strategists. But while Holmes used his prodigious intellectual powers for the good of humanity — solving mysteries that left the police baffled and protecting the innocent — Moriarty, in Holmes’ words, was “the Napoleon of Crime,” a mathematical genius who dedicated his life to nefarious underworld schemes. Whenever a murder or heist revealed Moriarty’s characteristic modus operandi, Holmes devoted his full energies to foiling the criminal mastermind’s plans.

There is an interesting facet to Doyle’s dynamically crafted rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty. Although Holmes’ dogged determination to undermine Moriarty always perplexed the latter, it seems that Holmes himself was dependent on Moriarty’s twisted brilliance to keep his own mind engaged. Crimes by lesser foes were like potato chips to Holmes, while Moriarty’s handiwork was a full-course meal. When Moriarty was out of the picture Holmes languished, injecting himself with a seven-percent solution of cocaine to stimulate his brain in the absence of an absorbing crime puzzle.

In the original Sherlock Holmes series, Moriarty appears in only three stories; yet, the impact of the characters’ relationship resonates even today. The theme of “good versus evil” is as old as humanity and never loses its appeal.


POTPOURRI #15...the web-site edition

Buckminster Fuller had a rigid diet of steak, spinach, Jello and tea.

MISLEADING???  The federal government’s operating deficit for 2005 was $760 billion--which is a bit more than the Bush administration admitted [$319 billion].  The true number came from the U.S. Treasury’s annual “Financial Report of the US Government,” and came with no fanfare or press release.  The administration’s widely reported number used “cash-based accounting,” while the Treasury used the “generally accepted accounting principles” of accrual-based accounting.  That’s fantasy vs. reality. --The Washington Spectator

Fewer than half the nations in the world have an official language--and sometimes they have more than one.  NYT, 5/21/6, wk2

A large chicken nuggets & fries at McDONALD’s in Denmark, Russia and Germany has a negligible amount of trans fat.  In the US it has 10.1 grams. Five grams of trans fat/day increases the risk of heart attack by 25%.  --New England J. of Medicine [last month].

160 pennies weigh a pound.  The value of the copper and zinc of 160 pennies is $1.51.

After the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy spoke to newspaper publishers and said: “This administration intends to be candid about its errors.  For as a wise man once said, ‘An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.’...Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive.”

My husband and I were in a heated argument that lasted over two hours, neither of us willing to give in. Finally, I looked at him and said: "I only have one thing left to say, Lorena Bobbett only got six months!" He stared at me, thinking for a few seconds, then replied: "Yeah? Well O.J. got off scott free!"

“Americans by and large consider themselves to be Christian, but when you try to drill down to figure out what they believe, you find that among those who call themselves Christian, 59% don’t believe in Satan, 42% believe Jesus sinned during his time on Earth, and only 11% believe the Bible is the source of absolute moral truth.”  --George Barna, a conservative evangelical pollster in California.

Free directory assistance at:  800-FREE411

''Sneezing is better than sex. It's a mini-instant orgasm. You keep your clothes on, you don't get involved, you can do it in public and when you're done, perfect strangers bless you." --Mark McMahon, a San Francisco dentist

To get one pound of edible beef, a cow is fed 14 pounds of corn.  Since cattle don’t have the digestive system to eat other than grass, they must be fed antibiotics which breed resistant strains of bacteria.  Fertilizing all that [federally-subsidized] corn in Iowa creates 1.5 million tons/year of nitrogen runoff which feeds algal blooms and depletes oxygen needed by other life forms in the Gulf of Mexico. --Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The word disease means “not having your elbows in a relaxed position.”  “Ease” comes from the Latin ansatus, “having handles,” or “elbows akimbo”--a relaxed posture, or at least not-at-work.  Dis-ease means no elbows, no elbow room.  Ease is a form of pleasure, disease a loss of pleasure.

President Bush signed 750 bills with his fingers crossed behind his back, meaning that in separate memos he stipulated that if he didn't want to enforce them, he wouldn't.

"Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man's rib. Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under

the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved."  --The Talmud

HALLIBURTON, the giant government contractor keeps getting multibillion-dollar, no-bid contracts, despite having been found guilty of shoddy work, massive cost-overruns, and fraudulent billing.  It’s latest windfall is a $385 million grant to build a network of detention centers across the US to be run by homeland security to “detain” and hold up to 5,000 people each.  --The Hightower Lowdown




"CALL TO ACTION" radio spot:

King George’s Flying Circus:

FOR ‘dirty old men’ ONLY:

DUNCE comes from the name of the much-maligned philosopher/Franciscan priest of the High Middle Ages: John Duns Scotus, a Scotsman whose followers were called Dunsmen, Dunses or Dunces. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought let less-intelligent folks infer he was a foe of Renaissance humanism.  Therefore his name is associated with “a dull, ignorant person,” and a hat less prestigious than Stetson.

CHALLENGE #4 was:  Which US city claims to have created the Popsicle, the Martini, chop suey and [American] Irish coffee?   SAN FRANCISCO... they also claim Levis and fortune cookies.  [Jerry is 3 for 4]

CHALLENGE #5:  Provide a synonym that begins with Q for each of these five words:   drink, share, cite, search, question.     

Quaff, quota/quantum, quote, quest, query--Ron, Jerry and Krishna got that one

Potpourri #16--SENT


1.  One nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.

2.  Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?" "98, " she replied. "Two years older than I."  "So you're 96," the undertaker commented. She responded, "Hardly worth going home, is it?

3.  Don't think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches.

NEED IT?  20,000 new products appear on grocery shelves each year.

From:  Marion Nestle in WHAT TO EAT:

“1/3 of all vegetables consumed in the US come from just three sources:  French fries, potato chips and iceberg lettuce.”

“All margarines are basically the same, mixtures of soybean oil and food additives.  Everything else is theater and greasepaint.”

“There are more than 400 kinds of yogurt, a fast-selling dairy dessert with the aura of a health food.”

“Nutritionally, the focus on protein is silly--Americans are anything but protein deficient.”

“If you eat the skin [on chicken], you might as well be eating a hamburger.” 

CONGRESS has raised its own salary eight times since they last raised the minimum wage [to $5.15/hour].

When office employees say they are working at home for a day, 25% actually work less than an hour.  Health magazine.

“The conservative interest in life begins at conception and ends at birth.”  --Barney Frank

Pump prices have nearly doubled in the last three years, and today’s cars average 12,190 miles/year--up 24% from 1980, according to federal statistics.  Today’s new cars and SUVs average just 21 mpg, down from 22.1 mpg in 1987.

The FDA considers salt and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to be “generally recognized as safe,” even though they each cause tens of thousans of fatal heart attacks and strokes each year.  Michael Jacobson, CSPI

BELIEFNET.COM poll suggests why readers are fascinated by alternative Christian histories:  They suspect that Christianity as currently practiced is not exactly what Jesus intended.  Only 15% said Jesus would be happy with modern Christianity.  Why?  19% said it was too liberal;  24% said too conservative;  7% said “neglecting the poor;”  11% said “too worldly,”  and 23% said that Jesus didn’t intend to start a new religion.

From WIRED:  “One acre of soybeans can produce 50 gallons of biodiesel fuel.  There are 427 million arable acres in the U.S.  The average American driver uses 464 gallons of gasoline/year and there are 198 millIon drivers in the U.S.  All this means we would need 1.8 billion arable acres to make enough biodiesel.”  Maybe Bush could invade Canada.

78% of WalMart’s political contributions in 2004 went to Republicans;  100% of Green Mountain Coffee’s went to Democrats.

Premiums for existing policies for long-term health insurance [nursing home] have risen 15-30% in the past few years.

Diet Coke has 1/3 more caffeine than regular Coke; Starbucks coffee, venti has > 8 times as much [60 v. 500 mg.].  --U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

30% of returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan have physical or mental problems, says the VA.

“India consumes 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.  America burns 10 times that amount.  The single biggest shift in global demand over the past decade has not been the rise of China but the rise of SUVs.  Since the mid-1970s the demand for petroleum in Western Europe and Japan has been flat˛  In the US it has doubled. ...The American government subsidizes gas in many different ways, big and small.  As consumers, we do not pay for the enormous expense involved in policing the Middle East, an expense we would almost certainly not incur if its chief export was carrots.  We do not pay for the environmental fallout from burning gasoline.  We get free roads and a free ride. ...If the president and Congress were to propose a powerful package of measures--higher gas taxes, fuel-efficiency standards starting at 30 and rising to 40 mpg, tax credits for new technologies--it would begin to wean the US off its addiction to oil.”  Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 5/22/6

CHALLENGE #5 WAS:  Provide a synonym that begins with Q for each of these five words:   drink, share, cite, search, question.   Ron, Jerry and Krishna said:  quaff, quota/quantum, quote, quest, query.

CHALLENGE #6:  Which country has 98% literacy and 24-hour bookstores in its major cities?  Its capital has the second largest number of billionaires of any city in the world--while most in the city subsist on about $480/month?

Potpourri #17--SENT

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more Catholic churches there than casinos. Not surprisingly, some worshipers at Sunday Mass give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.  Since they get chips from so many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to process these offerings. They send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan Monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in. This is done by the chip monks.

30,000 people visit Macy’s in Herald Square every day.

During the War of 1812 a French general occupied an aristocrat’s mansion in Moscow--which was on fire.  He wanted a meal, but everything had been taken or destroyed.  He was served mushrooms, sour cream and cheese baked together [which was all the chef could find]. The general was so pleased with the concoction he named it after the chef: Joulien.

A custom-made bicycle lock can cost as much as $20,000.  --Catherine Allchin

January 10, 1429, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, founded an Order of Knighthood in honor of his bride, Isabella of Portugal.  He took as his symbol The Lamb of God suspended by a ribbon. [Brooks Brothers stole the symbol in 1850.]

The WORLD CUP is expected to attract 40,000 prostitutes from Eastern Europe in addition to the 400,000 who are officially registered in Germany.  BUT:  Following the 2002 world cup champion, Brazil, which banned all sexual activities for the entire competition, Costa Rica’s national soccer team has taken a vow of chastity for the upcoming World Cup.

Less than 1% of Americans owned STOCK when the market crashed in 1929.

“If you can help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on earth.”  Roberto Clemente [baseball star who died in a plane crash delivering earthquake aid]

SOUND FAMILIAR?  He had a supernatural birth and was tempted by the devil.  He left his family and disappeared for some time.  Arguments over the real meaning of his original teaching began soon after his death. His canonical “gospel” was collected centuries after he lived. A series of Councils were held to eliminate various points of view.  A number of changes were introduced which would have been rejected by the founder.  We know him as Gautama Buddha.

Last year 300,000 BABY SEALS were killed in Canada for their fur.

Doing mock NAZI salutes or fake impersonations of Hitler is against the law in Germany.

Before BEN FRANKLIN [and his unpatented lightning rod], when lightning set a house on fire, only the neighbor houses were extinguished since it was “God’s will” to burn down the struck house.  Ben retired at age 42, after naming the + and - poles of electricity.

Wonder why they sell candy-flavored cigarettes?

71 journalists have been killed in Iraq...more than Vietnam or WWII.  By November we will be in this war as  long as in WWII.

Stalin said that genetics was a prostitute of science and put the Nobel Laureate who did wheat research in the Gulag.

President George W. Bush tops the list as the worst U.S. President in the last 61 years. Bush is named by 34 percent of voters, followed by Richard Nixon at 17 percent and Bill Clinton at 16 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday. Leading the list for best President since 1945 is Ronald Reagan with 28 percent, and Clinton with 25 percent.

Rockefeller Center was built in 1931 on land leased from Columbia University.  Columbia owned the land since 1814 and got their last payment in 1985.

Asceticism, relic worship and use of the rosary came to Christianity from Indian religion.

Max Stern arrived in NY in 1926 from Germany with 5,000 singing canaries and founded Hartz Mountain Industries.

CHALLENGE #6 was:  Which country has 98% literacy and 24-hour bookstores in its major cities?  Its capital has the second largest number of billionaires of any city in the world--while most in the city subsist on about $480/month?  Nancy and Jerry correctly said Russia...BTW, NYC has the most billionaires.

Potpourri #18 sent 6/10/6

As carbon dioxide increases, so does pollen, asthma, mosquitoes, ants, ticks, Japanese beetles and the growth of poison ivy.

The world has over 6,000 languages, and loses one every two weeks.

DA BABE.  In 1915 the Boston Red Sox as a team hit 17 home runs.  The famous “Home Run” Baker never hit more than 12 in a season;  in fact, between 1904 and 1919 no one had hit more than 12.  But in 1921, Babe Ruth hit 59.

For over 85 years the world assumed that the BABY RUTH candy bar was named after Babe Ruth.   Curtiss claimed it was named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland.  In 1926 Ruth’s company tried to register a candy called:  “Ruth’s Home Run Bar” and “Babe Ruth’s Own Candy.”  The patent office said no!  Curiously, those who eat Baby Ruths are 22% more likely to be baseball fans than those who eat any other candy. 

As a Yankee, the Babe ate a hot dog during the 3rd and 8th inning of every game--and Bromo Seltzer in between, since the dogs upset his stomach.

GOTO; to find information about your house value.

DNA studies say that Chad is the likely origen of the human race...about 150,000 years ago.

The IRISH spend more of their income on alcoholic drinks and go binge drinking more often than any other European nationality.  Irish households spend an average of almost $2,150 annually on alcohol, more than triple the figure for Denmark, the second biggest spenders.  One-third of Irish 15- and 16-year-olds binge at least 3x/month. ---a European Union study.

TOLKIEN's first job, on returning home from World War I, was as an assistant on the staff of the OED. He later said that he had "learned more in those two years than in any other equal part of his life." He created words such as "hobbit," "mithril,” "Smeagol," "Ent," "halfling," and "worm" (meaning "dragon"). Few novelists have found so much of their creative inspiration in the shapes and histories of words.

“Poetry is news that stays news.”  --Ezra Pound

In 1740, when Handel rang his tuning fork, an A above middle C had a frequency of 422 hertz.  Throughout the 19th century, orchestras were tuning it higher, straining to fill larger and larger halls and make their sound just a little more brilliant.  These days, when Lorin Maazel rings his tuning fork, that same A gives a steady pitch of 440 hertz.  In music, if you go too high, strings snap and voices crack.

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it.”  --General Norman Schwarzkopf

One in every 200 males in the world today has Genghis Khan’s Y chromosome.  He took the name in 1206 after uniting the nomadic Mongol tribes.  His empire extended from China to the Black sea, and his name means “ruler of all.”  He had lots of children.  His grandson, Kublai Khan, completed the conquest of China.

WHY is the U.S. building the largest foreign embassy in the Baghdad?--104 acres.

Only Tom DeLay, the Republican poster boy for crime and corruption in politics, would leave Congress by urging his fellow Republicans to "stand on principle." That's like a Mafia boss telling his cronies to obey the law.

For the 6th year in a row, price increases for popular brand-name drugs far outstripped the rate of inflation--6.1% vs. 3.4% last year, according to AARP.

HUEY LONG acquired the nickname the Kingfish, after the smooth-talking schemer on the radio show “Amos ‘n Andy.”  He was so taken by the name that he began to use it himself, answering the telephone, “This is the Kingfish!”  Long’s aura was so strong that in 1938--three years after he died--sociologist Gunnar Myrdal found that some school children in the poorer districts of northern Louisiana believed that Long was still alive and residing in the White House.

The Stanley Cup finals feature the Oilers vs. The Hurricanes, which is also a good way to sum up the last year for the Bush administration.  Janice Hough

“No worker from a rich country can equal the energy of someone trying to move out of poverty.”  Fareed Zakaria

Katherine Harris, the Congresswoman and Senate wannabe who proves mental stability is not a requirement for holding public office, continues to give insanity a bad name.

“Over the last decade, 18 of the wealthiest families in the country have spent more than $200 million lobbying to repeal the estate tax...they include the Mars candy family; the Gallo wine family; the Wegman supermarket family, the Dorrance [Campbell soup] family and the Waltons [Wal-Mart]...With repeal, the estates of the 50,000 richest Americans who die in 2011 would save $40.4 billion in taxes.”  [David Cay Johnston, NYT, 6/7/6]...Teddy Roosevelt, who called for the inheritance tax in 1906 said:  “The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state.”  Bill Frist just said:  “Getting rid of the death tax is just too important an issue to give up so easily.”  [P. Krugman, 6/10/6]...YOU DECIDE!

1400 people were killed in Baghdad last month.

CHALLENGE # 7 was:  Which professional baseball team became the first to wear numbers on their backs? 

Jerry wrote:  “The answer to Challenge #7 is the CLEVELAND INDIANS.  Both that team and the NY Yankees were scheduled to open the 1929 season with numerals on the backs of their uniforms, so anyone who says "Yankees" is at least partly right.  However, the Yankees' opening game was rained out, so it turned out that the Indians played earlier that season than the Yankees did, making them the first team to take the field with numerals.”

My source:  “The New York Yankees become [in 1929] the first team to wear numbers on the backs of their uniforms, but a rainstorm at the stadium May 19 creates a stampede as bleacher-seat patrons rush for the exit.”  James Trager, “The New York Chronology” (Harper Collins, 2003), p. 445.

CHALLENGE #8:  Which famous American had only two years of formal education, yet received an honorary degree from Oxford University?