“This may be the first generation of Americans to live less long than their parents.”  --Dr. Robert Butler, Intern’l Longevity Center of NY


236.  When were the first laws regarding duelling?

237.  How many state death row inmates have been exonerated?

238.  What did Columbus call them, when he saw manatees in the New World?

239.  After whom/what was the state of Virginia named?

240.  What do Abelard, Origen of Alexandria and St. Ignatius have in common?

103 doctors who had been disciplined/criticized by the Minnesota Bd. of Med. Practice were paid $1,703,000 by drug companies to test drugs on their patients [1997-2005].

Americans consume 30 Billion single-serving containers of bottled water/year.

Can the National Guard protect us here and abroad at the same time?  --L.J. Korb

Halcyon (HAL-see-un):  calm; peaceful; tranquil.  The halcyon is a bird traditionally identified with the kingfisher;  the myth of its origin is told by the classical poet Ovid.  It was said to magically calm the waves when it nested on the surface of the sea.  The term‘halcyon days’ implies a feeling of nostalgia for the past.

Fewer than half adults read one novel/play/shortstory a year, that’s not required for school or work.   ---NEA

Everybody does better when everybody does better.

IRAQN: “The Bush administration says it does not seek war with Iran but engages in numerous policies and preparations that indicate otherwise. Like Tony Soprano's suicidal son, A.J., I sense Americans are being systematically prepared for a military campaign against Iran.  I also fear these planned strikes constitute this administration's de facto exit strategy from Iraq.”  --T.P.M. Barnett

43% of first-time home buyers bought their house w/o a down payment in 2006.

November 22, 1718, Edward Thatch was killed in a bloody shipboard battle:  his face slashed, his body full of musket balls and a final sword slash across his neck.  His head dangled by a ribbon of flesh.  American sailors lashed his head to their bowsprit for their journey home to Virginia and then hung it from a pole on the banks of the Hampton River.  Who was this guy?       Blackbeard.

Hasbro is replacing the paper money in its Game of Life board game with Visa cards.

Halliburton.  Since Bush/Cheney, Halliburton’s gov’t contracts increased 600% [Cheney still holds lots of Halliburton stock], and has delivered gas-price gouging, contaminated food/water, and a consistent pattern of overcharging.  Caught hiring 3rd-world laborers at $5/day and billing us $50/day.  In Feb., fed investigators found $10 B in waste/overcharge by contractors in Iraq;  $2.7 B by Halliburton.  2006 profits:  $2.348 B;  since Bush, profits have increased 368%, and they are outsourcing themselves to palatial corporate HQ in Dubai.    --Jim Hightower

Japanese has no F, R or L; and it has 47 sounds (English has more than 100)  Mt. Fuji = hoo-ji was misheard by westerners 150 years ago, since hoo is highly aspirated.  Therefore:  Hen-lee Honda = Henry Fonda.

The U.S. ranks near the bottom of the industrialized nations in functional understanding of math and science.

“I wish that I was where I am”  Gertrude Stein

The FDA, last year, inspected samples of 20,000 shipments of food from abroad, out of 9 million. [1%]

About 2,400 years ago, the Greeks called everything east of them Asia.  “Asians” used the term only for the last 400 years.  Europe is Assyrian for West.  Latin for East:  orient;  for West:  occident.

In 1980 a college graduate earned 30% more than a HS grad.  Now there is a 70% difference.

Australia will phase out grossly inefficient incandescent bulbs in favor of campact fluorescents by 2010;   Canada by 2012;  U.S.?

Bush has almost as many private contractors in the Iraq war as U.S. troops [before the surge:  140,000 vs. 100,000 plus 20-40,000 subcontracted troops]. Privatizing:  interrogating prisoners, training the Iraq army, guarding the Green Zone and Bagdad airport, protecting military convoys, analyzing intelligence and providing paramilitary security forces.  Their casualites aren’t counted.

Nassau County, L.I., police report for work, on average, 130 days/year for 12-hour shifts, and average $115,000/year w/o OT.

Sin always begins with some distortion of the truth.

Magellan was 1st to circumnavigate the world, 1519-21.  He made a water stop south of the Philippines (Malucca Island=Spice Island, Indonesia), found the clove of nutmeg and his crew got rich.

American children average 900 hours/year in class and 1,023 hours in front of TV.

Watch for, and support, the Durbin/Spector Bill to make public funding available to all qualified Senate candidates, and the Collins/Feingold, Meehan/Shays legislation to fix the presidential funding system.  

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!   I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”  --Thomas Edison to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in 1931.

In 1911, 700 families “owned a quarter of the country.”  --Juliet Nicolson in The Perfect Summer

In order to photograph a wounded solder in Iraq, embedded journalists must obtain PRIOR written consent.  --Paragraph 11(a) of IAW Change 3, DoD Directive 5122.5

Cuba has a “120 Years Club,” which enrolls people at age 80 and older and strives to help them reach an even riper old age.

“The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry:  We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq.  Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there.  We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving.   Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding.”  --Maureen Dowd

KWIKWIZ answers:  

236.  At the beginning of the 6th c. King Gundebald of Burgundy decided that irreconcilable differences could be settled through trial by combat.

237.  123 since 1973.

238.  Mermaids

239.  Queen Elizabeth I’s most celebrated attribute.

240.  They were all eunuchs.

CHALLENGE #59 was:  What are the four greatest inventions of China?   Answer:  paper, compass, gunpowder and printing.

CHALLENGE #60:  Which famous American fled the U.S. after fathering 24 children with 5 overlapping women?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to, or deleted from, distribution.  YOS, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #71   BONUS:  China Part II

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.  In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of."   --Confucius


241.  What is the title of the book that the President of China gave to President Bush in 2005?

242.  How much do silkworms increase body weight in their 25-28 day life?

243.  Which country produces the most sex toys?

244.  Since 1949, China’s Communist Government has promoted atheism or freedom of religion?

245.  In China, what does it mean to ‘pat a horse’s ass’?

Surnames were sometimes derived from the family’s home region, or from an office held or city/town.  They never used “son of” like the West.  They were the first to use surnames as generally used around the world:  handing them down  from father to children--plus a given name.  Exogamy:  No Wang could marry another Wang;  no Li a Li.  OK if relationship was matrilineal:  cousins could marry if not related through their fathers, and a married woman and her siblings no longer had the same surname, so their children could marry.  There are no common given names.  They use their last name first, to show respect for ancestors.

Some Recent History:

  1911  Revolution against last dynasty [Qing = ‘ching’] attempted a democratic government with Sun Yat-sen as first president, followed by Chiang Kai-shek

  1916  Warlord period begins

  1921  Chinese Communist Party founded

  1937-45  Second Sino-Japanese War

  1941   2 days after Pearl Harbor, China joined the Allies against the Axis powers

  1946-9   Civil war; Nationals flee to Taiwan; Mao Zedong proclaims People’s Republic of China with aid from Soviets

  1949-53:  Mass killing of women and landlords

  1956-7   100 Flowers Movement

  1958   Great Leap Forward.  Communes formed.

  1966   10-year Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution begins.

  1972   Nixon visits China

  1976   Premier Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao Zedong die. Gang of Four arrested.

  1977-8  Deng Xiaoping emerges as leader of China

  1979   USA and PRC establish diplomatic demonstrations

  1989   Tian’anmen Square massacre

  1997   Deng Xiaoping dies;  Hong Kong returned to China by British

  1999   Macau returned to China by Portuguese

The Army of Burnt Clay in Xi’an [c-an] was discovered in 1974 by local farmers digging a well.

  •  6,000 life-sized terra-cotta figures built by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC, at 50, and had united the seven warring clans.

  •  The son of a concubine, he became emperor at 13.  He took full reins of the kingdom at 22 to put down a rebellion led by a servant, and lover, of his mother. 

  •  He established a centralized state and abolished feudalism.  He standarized weights and measures, handwriting and the width of carriage axles. 

  •  He was obsessed with a fear of death and allowed no ministers to mention the word “death” to him.  [Even today, the word for “four” sound like the word for “death” and is considered an unlucky number.] 

  •  Legend says it took 700,000 prisoners and slaves this whole reign [36 years] to fill the 4 square miles.  He is buried 3/4 mile away by his palace--not yet excavated.

A Chinese guide told me that if he said he “went abroad,” his friends would know he went to the U.S.;  if he said he “went to the U.S.,” they would know he visited New York;  if he said he “went to NY,” they would know he visited Wall Street.

The Four treasures: 

1. Rice wine [56% alcohol]

2. Fermented tofu

3. Chili sauce

4. Chinese painting

The current Chairman said: “White cat/black cat, what does it matter, as long as it catches the mouse.” [capitalism/communism]

CHINA FACTS [as I know them]:

•  Has 16 of the world’s most polluted cities;

•  Largest consumer of oil, coal, meat and grain;

•  #2 in auto sales;

•  Education and health care was free; not now [education consumes 50% of family income; healthcare is not widely available in rural areas];

•  Has one of the lowest per capita water supplies in the world and one of the most uneven distributions of water.  Northern China is home to 43% of the population but only 14% of the country’s water supply;

•  Half the bikes in the world are in China;  8 million in Beijing;

•  Most Chinese people are lactose intolerant;

•  The Chinese Constitution lets all of the 55 minorities use and preserve their 60+ languages in daily life as well as in elections and legal proceedings.  It also allows freedom of religion.

•  300,000 traffic deaths last year;

•  There were two female emperors;

•  Peanut is the ‘longevity’ nut;

•  Last year China used 55% of the world’s cement.

One-child rule in 1979;  exceptions:  minorities and rurals or pay a steep tax.

Chinglish translations I noticed:

•  ‘Anus Hospital’ for Proctology Hospital

•  ‘Hawk Pond’ for a janitor’s closet

•   Highway sign:  ‘Develop Harmonious Traffic’

Hutongs are 700-year-old housing units.  Mongolian word means ‘well’ since built near one. Some are being preserved.

Dynastic Cycle: Dynasties usually began with a strong ruler who established an empire, often ruthlessly.  The empire expands with great contributions made to culture.  Later rulers become corrupt and neglect the empire which weakens and falls after a rebellion.  Mao said that the entire Chinese history is that of peasant uprising.


•  Chinese children do 1-2 hours of homework each day:  during their 8-week summer vacation.

•  The Chinese believe that those who get the best grades are the hardest workers;  Americans say in polls that the best students are the ones who are innately the smartest.  Chinese kids don’t have an excuse for mediocrity.

•  The clan and family are more important than the state.

•  ‘Gan bei’ is a toast meaning:  ‘bottoms up.’  A famous American mispronouced it so it meant ‘up your bottom.’

•  More than 100 million Chinese are not Buddhist or speak Chinese.  They are Moslems in central Asia.

Satkyamuni [The Buddha] founded Buddhism in India, which came to China in the 2nd c. B.C.  The closest follower of Buddha, Bodhisattva, was male in ancient Indian Buddhism, but turned female in China since he was regarded as the God of mercy.  Buddha’s message:  All life is suffering, usually caused by desire and craving.  We must overcome self-interest to be happy.

Pagoda: 1st c. in China w/Buddhism...Indian origin...stupa in sanscrit...known as dagoba or ‘relic preserver’ [relics of monks]...after Sakyamuni [The Buddha] died, King Asoka [India] had his relics divided into 84,000 parts and spread throughout the East w/pagoda marking each spot.

Daoism...[or Taoism] indigenous philosophy of Lao Tzu [6th c. B.C.]:  the way of nature...all power is tyranny and law is a mark of decline of virtue...happiness comes with a return to simplest manners...opposite view of life to Confucianism, i.e., man-made world.’s bad, therefore, return to natural simplicity/harmony of nature...rulers should do nothing.  Daoists were fond of pointing out that emptiness is often the quality that makes an object valuable.  An empty bowl is useful because it can contain a liquid; the nave of a wheel [the hole through which the axel is fitted] is the really essential part of the wheel.

KWIKWIZ answers:

241.  “On War”

242.  10,000 times.

243,  China.

244.  Freedom of religion, except during the cultural revolution of 1966-76.

245.  To flatter someone.


"I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand."

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

"An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger."

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

“Labor by minds:  govern others;  labor by hands:  be governed by others.”

CHALLENGE #60 was: Which famous American fled the U.S. after fathering 24 children with 5 overlapping women?  Answer: Isaac Merritt Singer, the sewing machine guy.  [Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #61: Who, and why, did Chinese emperors send to Hong Kong and Macau?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to, or deleted from, distribution.  Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

Potpourri #72  thursday june 21

If any one of the major religions is true, then the others must be false in important respects.  --Christopher Hitchens


246.  During Chaucer’s time, many Londoners wanted to change the city’s name to what?

247.  Who was born with the name Leonard Slye in Cincinnati?

248.  How did Einstein convince his wife to a divorce?

249.  Not all turkeys gobble.  Which do/don’t?

250. What are the Cardinal Virtues?

The largest user of diesel fuel is the U.S. Navy.

We don't use the word condign very often these days; it means "worthy" or "suitable."  But since the end of the 17th century, it's been used almost exclusively in conjunction with the word "punishment," to indicate a penalty that properly suits the crime.  E.g.,  ‘Scooter Libby's sentence to 30 months in prison is a condign punishment.’

Prirates used every form of torture, including the rack and woolding, where a knotted cord was wrapped around a man’s head and tightened until his eyes popped out.  They also put burning matches inside a victim’s eyelids, and sliced off lips and made the person watch as they were boiled.

Vending machines in US:  1/200 people;  in Japan 1/20 people.

From Joe O.:  Naiveté:  A young Chinese couple marries. She's a virgin; he, too, but she doesn't know it.  On their wedding night, she cowers naked under the sheets as her husband undresses in the darkness.  He climbs into bed next to her and tries to be reassuring.  "My darring," he whispers, "I know dis you firss time and you berry frighten. I pomise you, I give you anyting you want, I do anyting - juss anyting you want.  You juss ask. Whatchu want?" he says, trying to sound experienced and worldly.  She eventually shyly whispers back, "I want to try someting I have heard about from other girls... Numbaa 69."  More thoughtful silence, this time from him.  Eventually, in a puzzled tone he asks her... "You want... Garlic Chicken with Corrifrowa?"

Ecstatic means to stand outside self.

Homeland Security’s website has a prominent section titled: “Open For Business,” for corporate shoppers looking for hundreds of contracts and grants from $50K to $80 M.  [and they don’t look like security issues].  They have a private-sector office with seminars: “The Business of Homeland Security,” offering “tips, hints, and directions.”  --Jim Hightower

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  --Leo Tolstoy

Opium pipes had been used 5,000 B.C. in Anatolia [eastern Turkey].

Is it possible to warp Paris any more than she is? [cut&paste]: www.gamesforwork.com/games/play-5279-Warp_Paris_Hilton-Flash_Game.html

Demnatcio memorii:  erase the signs of leadership when a new leader appears.

Half of all Koreans are named Kim, Lee or Park.

From George G.: "I often say after eight years in Washington, I longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood." --Fred Thompson

The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible:

•  Catholics, Protestants and Jews have different versions.

•  One translation of the creation myth:  human from humus--loamy soil.  Adam = man = aerable soil.

•  Theodicy is concerned with why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.  The term originated with the 18th c. title of a work by Leibniz.

•  God shows regret, changes His mind, and shows bad judgment.

•  The walls of Jerico fell before Joshua arrived. There is no evidence that it had any inhabitants 4,000 B.C. when “Joshua fit the battle of Jerico.”

•  Before Noah, humankind was vegetarian.

•  Noah was the first to raise grapes and make wine.

•  Pharoh means ‘house’...metonymy, e.g., White House.

•  There are 30 minor differences in the 10 Commandments among the three times they are listed.

•  The kidneys are the seat of consciousness;  the bowels of deep emotion.

•  Ancient Hebrew has only two tenses: completed present and future.

•  There are no references to Moses outside the Bible.

--Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt School of Theology

“Nothing confirms the beliefs of the credulous more than for disbelievers to tell them their beliefs are unbelievable.”  --Roy Blount Jr.

Phosphorus is part of a key ingredient in Twinkies, and was discovered in 1669 by German alchemist Hennig Brand when he boiled down the urine of local nuns.  Twinkie cream gets its slippery sheen from cotton cellulose, which serves the same purpose in rocket fuel.  Bon appetite!

In the last 100 Supreme Court arguments, Clarence Thomas has not uttered a word.  He is the Justice who has faced the greatest hardships, yet regularly rules for the powerful over the weak, and has a legal philosophy notable for its indifference to suffering.

44 million U.S. adults smoke and 4/5 are addicted.  Tobacco kills 440,000 smokers/year and second-hand smoke kills another 50,000.

A Love Story: Some relationships inspire great acts of courage or massive building campaigns, Dante Alighieri constructed his tribute to his love in romantic verse.  She was Beatrice Portinari, daughter of a Florentine merchant.  They first met at a party in Florence in 1274:  he was 9;  she 7.  “She appeared dressed in noblest color, restrained and pure, in crimson, tied and adorned in the style that then suited her very tender age.”

Dante had found the inspiration that would fuel his creativity through the rest of his days.  Beatrice became Dante’s donna angelo — a woman whose supreme grace and virtue inspires men to grow in their capacity for divine love and closer to God. He strategically placed himself where Beatrice would likely appear. Unfortunately, he could not utter a word when she did.  Only once did they exchange brief pleasantries as she passed with her female entourage in 1283.

For lack of fame, money, boldness or all of the above, Dante failed to make a lasting impression on Beatrice.  She married a wealthy banker and died at 24.  After her death, Dante recalled the thrill of his love in poems that would become La Vita Nuova:  “As they walked down the street she turned her eyes toward me where I stood in fear and trembling, and with her ineffable courtesy, which is now rewarded in eternal life, she greeted me.  As this was the first time she had ever spoken to me, I was filled with such joy that, my senses reeling, I had to withdraw from the sight of others.”

Shifting political winds in Florence exiled Dante.  In this state of despair, and only distant memories of his Beatrice, he penned  The Divine Comedy.  One of the greatest love poems of all time, it follows Dante’s search for salvation with Beatrice, 27 years after her death, guiding him from purgatory to heaven:  “Even as wax, which does not change the figure imprinted by a seal, is my brain now stamped by you.  But why do your desired words fly so far above my sight, that the more it strives the more it loses them?”         --Elderhostel

KWIKWIZ answers:

246.  New Troy, since many then thought Trojans had founded the city.

247.  Roy Rogers

248.  He offered her the money from a Nobel Prize he had not yet won.

249.  Only males gobble.

250.  Courage/Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, Prudence...from Plato & Aristotle...”cardinal” comes from the Latin meaning “hinge.”

CHALLENGE #61 was: Who, and why, did Chinese emperors send to Hong Kong and Macau?  Answer: Criminals, to die a natural death in the heat.

CHALLENGE #62: Who is the best-known American narrative poet of the last half of the 20th century?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to, or deleted from, distribution.  Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #73  CHINA--FINAL EDITION  tuesday june 26

Featured Quote: “When you know a thing, say that you know it;  when you do not know a thing, say that you do not know it.  That is knowledge.”  --Confucius


251.  In China, why is “How are you?” not asked or answered?

252.  The Chinese name of the U.S. is Meiguo. How does it translate?

253..  Is the Great Wall visible from space?

254.  What do the stars on the Flag of PRC represent?

255.   Which fast food franchise is most popular in China?

U.S. vs. China [from  PBS]:

•  Yarlung Zangbo Canyon is more than three times the depth of the Grand Canyon.

•  The U.S. spends more than 10 times as much on “defense” as China; yet China has a million more members in its armed forces.

•  190,000 Chinese die each year from misusing medicine;  in the U.S. it is almost 800,000.

•  The average Chinese person eats 3X more seafood than the average American;  beef consumption is the reverse: 10 vs. 67 pounds/year.

•  10% of China’s population lives below the poverty line;  12% of Americans do.


  •  Yangtze is natural border of North & South;  3,900 miles long [3rd after Nile and Amazon];  North:  dry, taller people who are more direct and eat noodles;

South:  wet, shorter people who are ‘clever’ and eat rice.

  •  Ba people lived here 1,800 to 3,500 years ago;  2,000 year-old ‘hanging’ wooden coffins on high hillside of river on pegs.

  •  Three Gorges Dam:  largest in world;  takes 4 hours to pass through locks;  height change: 30 stories;  will produce 10% of China’s energy.  In 1919, Sun Yat Sun proposed TGD;  river depth is 150 m. now, 175 then;  must relocate 1.5 to 2 million people.

  •  Two rows of square holes along the length of the gorges are remnants of the ancient plank walkway that was recorded in 246 BC and destroyed in the 17th c. after a peasant uprising.

  •  tze means river, so ‘Yangtze River’ is redundant.

CHINA FACTS [as I know them]:

•  New dynasty every 3-400 years;

•  Real pearls bounce; soak in tofu juice for 3 hours to clean, or use mineral water, not tap water;

•  Panda breeding center:  $600 for 6 mins/person to play w/pandas that are 7-8 months old;

•  China surpassed U.S. for international investment and is #1;

•  Chinese sturgeon:  1000 lbs, 6 m. long, co-existed w/dinosaurs;

•  Suicide rate for women in China is 25% higher than for men.  In Western countries, men are 2-4 times as likely as women to commit suicide.  Overall the suicide rate in China is twice U.S., and pesticides are used in most cases in China.

•  In summer, gov’t turns off lights in public buildings if temp >34 C.

•  Estimate:  China has 10 times the abortions of the 1.3 milllion/year of the U.S.

•  Mandarin has no verb tenses, conjugations, inflections, declensions, plurals, genders or moods;  most rules refer to word order not word changes, but tones are a major complexity.

•  60,000 characters historically--7,000 currently used;  2,400 to read 99% of newspapers/magazines;  standardized in 3 c. B.C.

•  Written [not spoken ] Chinese is uniform;

•  Pinyin [Beijing] pronunciation is official since 1979;  replaced Cantonese, who first came to U.S.

•  Shanghai has 400 buildings over 500 feet tall; NY has only 200.

The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties.  Built: 1406-20, 3 months later burned down by lightning.  50 years later, grandson rebuilt it larger. 

  •  Size of 135 football fields.  All trees are >300 years old. 

  •  24 emperors ruled from here for nearly 500 years.

  •  Walls are 10 m. high and 3,400 m. long, w/corner towers.  Moat is 52 m. wide. 

  •   8,706 rooms. 4 gates, including the main one:  Tienanmen [Gate of Heavenly Peace] that has Mao’s picture outside it and faces the large Tienanmen Square patterned after Red Square in Moscow. Sign L of Mao: Longevity for PRC;  R: Longevity for people of the world. 

  •  The inner square is built on 15 layers of brick to prevent assassins tunneling under, and there are no trees in the square for assassins to hide behind. 

  •  The emperor changed where he slept every night. 

  •  Gold-plated water vats weigh 2 tons each. There are more than 300 bronze and iron vats in the FC to store water in case of a fire.

The Four treasures of painting [6,000 years old]:

1.  Rice paper [2,000 years old]

2.  Brush [4,000 years old:  wolf--hard;  mountain goat--soft;  mixed--medium; thinnest:  mouse whiskers]

3.  Ink [5 colors]

4.  Inkstand

The Four ‘Gentlemen’ in paintings:

1.   Orchid means Spring

2.   Bamboo means Summer

3.   Chrysanthamum means Autumn

4.   Plum means Winter

Chongqing [chong-ching]. [Remember ‘Chun King’ boxed Chinese food?]  The city was named 1,000 years ago, means ‘double celebration,’ and goes back 3,000 years;  33 million people.  Winter is foggy;  summer humidity is 90-95%;  temperature goes up to 116 F. that is balanced w/spicy food to promote perspiration.  No bikes, since it’s very mountainous;  density of 1 person/sq ft in inner city, which is an island surrounded by two rivers.

Lunar New Year/Spring Festival: haircut, new clothes, clean house, auspicious words around doorway.  Firecrackers drive off evil spirits and welcome new year.

Lantern Festival: 15th day of 1st lunar month.  Han dynasty emperor Gan Zu died, his consort usurped the throne.  When she died all her supporters were killed, and Emperor Wen Di succeeded her on 15th of 1st month w/large display of lanterns and fireworks.

JADE is abundant in China and has been artfully carved there since 3,000 B.C.  The ancient Chinese believed that jade could be a link between humans and gods and they related the natural qualities of jade with human morality.  Confucius claimed that jade had qualities of benevolence, wisdom, justice, courtesy, loyalty, happiness, trusworthiness, heaven, earth, virtue and truth.


•  Fish served whole and looks like a Junk...don’t turn it over while cutting [turns over boat]

•  Planning a trip to China, Turkey or South Africa?  You may want to check out www.thebathroomdiaries.com and print out a list of public facilities in cities you plan to visit

•  Pat Nixon insisted on wearing a red coat for her arrival in China, although she had been told that in China only prostitutes wear red.  Otherwise,  red stands for happiness.

•  The Chinese word for ’four’ sounds like death [one hotel had no 4th, 14th or 24th floor, or a 13th].

A school of thought in ancient China was founded by Mo Tzu or Mo Zi, a near contemporary of Confucius [6th c. B.C.].  He taught universal love as the only way to construct a just society.  Love would put an end to war, the great curse of the time;  it would diminish aristocratic arrogance and pretension, raise the condition of the poor, bring about a society where crime and punishment would fade away.  He hated waste; he disapproved of war because the resources squandered on campaigns could be better employed on public works, such as irrigation and flood control, which would bring benefits to all.  He equally disapproved of costly ceremonies, funerals and marriages.  During his life he was much more successful than Confucius.  He set up a large organization to propagate his teaching and appointed a successor to head it.  For some generations the Mohists were an active force in society. but never captured the imagination of any ruler.  In some ways his teaching was a forerunner of the Christian message.


"The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort."

"The superior man understands what is right;  the inferior man understands what will sell."

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."

“Trees need bark; people need face.”

“We don’t know yet how to serve men, how can we know about serving spirits?”

“We don’t know yet about life, how can we know about death?”

KWIKWIZ answers:

251.  For fear of hearing or prompting a lie.

252.  Beautiful country.

253.  National Geographic said in February of 1923:  “According to astronomers, the only work of man’s hands which would be visible to the human eye from the moon is the Great Wall of China.”  Forty years later, the first Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, said the Great Wall was not visible from space. 

254.  Large star is the Communist Party;  4 smaller stars are workers, farmers, scholars, soldiers.

255.  China is the largest market for KFC outside the U.S., with 1,700 stores, and opens about 200 more/year than the U.S.

CHALLENGE #62 was:  Who is the best-known American narrative poet of the last half of the 20th century?  Answer:  Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss  [Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #63:  What interesting and unusual delicacies are available on a kabob in China? [name four?]


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POTPOURRI #74 Monday  july 2

Featured Quote:  “If every criminal is entitled to a lawyer, why isn’t every family entitled to a doctor?”    --Sen. Harris Wofford (1991)


256.  Which team has lost more games than any professional franchise in any sport?

257.  According to a current book, which country has the most enthusiastic brothel-goers and cocaine users?

258.  Carl Perkins wrote the song Elvis made famous:  ‘Blue Suede Shoes,” but who gave him the idea for the song?

259.  Who was the first publicly well-known American to make the case for a Jewish state in Palestine?

260.  Where is the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place, and the intersection of 4th Street and 12th Street?

The national deficit for OIL grows almost $1 Billion/DAY.

Carla said she was in a car accident:  I rear ended a car a few days ago. When the driver of the other car got out, I was amazed to see that he was a dwarf!

He looked up at me and said “I am NOT happy!” I said, “Well then, which one

are you?”

Hypocorism is a ‘pet’ name, sweetie.

From Newsweek, this week--in case you missed it:

•  About half the world's Muslim countries hold elections--representing 600 million people.  In those elections over the past 4-5 years, the parties representing militant Islam have done poorly, rarely garnering more than 7-8% of the vote.

•  The average amount of water used daily by one person in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Gambia, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania or Uganda equals that used by someone in a developed country brushing his teeth with the tap running. 

•  Agriculture accounts for more than 80% of the world's water consumption, but 60% of irrigation water is lost to evaporation or leaky canals, or is contaminated by fertilizer or pesticide.

•  Since 1980, 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed, and warming oceans is the leading factor.

•  Membership in the Communist Party in China forbids any religious practice.

•  Childbirth kills one woman every minute of every day--even though modern medicine can virtually eliminate maternal mortality.

•  84% of smokers live in developing and transitional economies.  3,000 people die every day in China as a result of smoking.

•  Smallpox is the only disease ever eradicated.

•  The words that appear most often in the titles of best-selling books from 1906-2006:  Man, Diet, House, Woman, Sex/Sexual

Government outsourcing has risen 86% under GWBush to $400 B/year.  Now, more people do federal jobs under corporate contracts than are employed directly by the government.   Any “efficiency” in oursourcing government includes paying workers less, taking shortcuts, high executive salaries/compensations and corporate profits--and there is minimum oversight.  The NYT found that more than half outsourcing contracts are not open to competition. [Before Bush only 21% were no-bid.]  [FEDEX, UPS etc. are trying to privatize the U.S. Postal Service;  Wall Street wants to privatize Social Security; and watch state lotteries and turnpikes.]  --Jim Hightower

Drug companies pay for half the continuing education courses that are required annually for doctors.  --Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Ed.

More than 11,000 military personnel [including 58 Arabic linguists] were forced out of service since ‘Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell.’

“You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”  --Barry Goldwater

Sheep are among 500 animal species where homosexuality has been documented.

Son:  "Mom, when I was on the bus with Dad this morning, he told me to give up my seat to a lady."

Mom:  "Well, you have done the right thing."

Son:  "But mom, I was sitting on daddy's lap."

4% of the world’s population [the U.S.] create 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. 

Women are born with all their eggs, but only about 500 of the million will ripen.  Each male testicle makes more than 4 million sperm/hour for a lifetime...maybe a total of 12 trillion.  About 150 million/ejaculation.

On 1/10/01 the right-wing Heritage Foundation provided a roadmap to the Bush administration in: “Taking Charge of Federal Personnel,” which advised the gov’t that they “must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second.

A Bristol-Myers 2001 document shows that ocologists made 65% of their income on profits from overpriced drugs they billed for.   --Fed. Dist. Ct.--Boston

North Carolina has the same number of millionaires as India.

87% of the 5.1 million Americans w/Alzheimer’s are cared for by relatives.

A truck driver walked into Sun Records in 1953 seeking a recording career.  The secretary asked him “Who do you sound like?”  Elvis replied:  “I don’t sound like nobody.”

20 years ago health spending consumed 7% of family income/compensation;  today it’s 20%.  --New America Foundation

New Global Survey: “Most nations believed China would act more responsibly in the world than the U.S.  The problem isn’t that the U.S. is too strong, but that it’s seen as too arrogant and insensitive.”   --Newsweek

In 1979 the upper 1% of Americans collected 9% of total income; now it’s 16%.

Mormon’s 10th article of faith says Jesus will return to Missouri.

Hair grows gray because we run out of the pigment cells that color it.  Stem cells replace the pigment cells every few years.  By the age of 50, half of the average person’s hairs have gone gray.

Pfizer makes 60% profit on Lipitor.  Goldman Sachs makes 41.5% profit on trading/investing.

The New York Yankees lost $28 M last year, but the franchise value increased $200 M to $1.2 B.

40% of all electricity in the average home powers electronics while they are turned off.  --DOE

Studies show Americans consistently value a year of life at $100-300,000.  --Tufts N.E. Med. Center

Two million African children die of Malaria every year, and it is preventable [$5 bed net] and treatable [80¢].

57% if M.B.A. students cheat, versus 47% of grad students in other disciplines.  --Psychology Today

“Prominent doctors are paid [by drug companies] to be listed as the authors of journal articles that are written by ghost writers, a practice that was extensively documented in court records from a lawsuit against Pfizer.”  --Daniel Cariat, Tufts Med. School


from Matt:   the entire translation of "The United States of

America" is "Mei-Li-Jian-He-Zhong-Guo".  The Chinese usually take the

first and last word to form "Meiguo".

from Helen:   Pinyin is the name of the style of romanization that allows spoken Chinese words to be written in Roman letters.

KWIKWIZ answers:

256.  Unfortunately, my hometown Phillies who are a few short of 10,000 defeats and won only one world series [1980] over 125 years.

257.  Giles Tremlett in “Ghosts of Spain” says it’s the Spaniards.

258.  Johnny Cash, after overhearing a jitterbugger caution his partner not to “tret on my suedes.”

259.  Emma Lazarus, in the 1880s, the secular Jewish author of “The New Colossus” sonnet on the Statue of Liberty.

260.  Greenwich Village, NYC

CHALLENGE #63 was:  What interesting and unusual delicacies are available on a kabob in China? [name four?]  Answer:  Nasty-on-a-stick:  cicadas, seahorses, scorpions and grasshoppers.  It’s been said:  They eat everything with 4 legs except the table, and everything with wings except airplanes. [Matt got half of them.]

CHALLENGE #64: Which two famous writers travelled together Eastbound by train in coffins?


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Potpourri #75  sunday, July 8

Featured Quote: “We know from a string of surveys that in any family, the second-born son is 33% more likely than the first to be gay, and the third is 33% more likely than the second, and so on, as though there is some sort of ‘maternal memory.’”   --David France in NY Magazine


261.  Name the four words in the English language which end in"-dous."

262.  Which burns more calories, sleeping or watching TV?

263.  What is the maximum number of times a piece of paper can be folded in half?

264.  Explain the serenades VP Al Gore received at his residence at the end of his second term.

265.  Who, and when, first manufactured indoor tennis kits?

Two billion bottles of wine/year are ‘corked’ with aluminum screw caps.

The Secret Service is planning to hire and train 103 agents to protect President Bush when he leaves office Jan. 20, 2009. And the scramble to replace him is expected to put an unprecedented burden on the Secret Service, which is already spending $44,000 a day on around-the-clock security for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

The Canada goose has a longevity of 23.5 years.

Ain’t None:

•  Have you ever seen the “Three Musketeers” with muskets?

•  Where is the mountain at or even near Mt. Vernon, George?

Already gone or actively being considered for ‘privatization’:

•  Chicago’s Skyway commuter route and entire downtown parking system

•  Three major throughways & State Lottery in Indiana

•  Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway and Dulles Greenway

•  The Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes;

•  Philadelphia National Airport and Midway Airport;

•  NY’s Tappan Zee Bridge;

•  A 4,000-mile network of toll roads in Texas;

•  Colorado’s Northwest Parkway;

•  Alabama’s Foley Beach Expressway Bridge;

•  The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel;

•  Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.

This indicates the confluence of gutless politicians, right-wing ideological fantasizers, conniving investment bankers, and raw corporate greed.  The outcomes:  corporate monopolies, price increases, shareholders’ profits, low-wage/PT workers w/o benefits.  Will Rogers said:  “I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it.”       --Jim Hightower

“After the first death, there is no other.”  Dylan Thomas

In the course of a normal lifetime, the muscles of the jaw lose about 40% of their mass and the bones of the mandible lose about 20%, becoming porous and weak.

The goals of the Roberts Supreme Court: Expand executive power;  End racial preferences;  Speed executions;  Welcome religion into the public sphere; and reverse Roe v. Wade.

The bigger the refrigerator, the lonelier the soul.

A wife asked her husband: "What do you like most in me, my pretty face or my sexy body?"  He looked at her from head to toe and replied: "I like your sense of humor."

The air in the mountains of Tibet contain 35-40% less oxygen than at sea level.

From Jim S.: Why has no one ever officially performed or recorded the lyrics to the original Star Trek musical theme?  ‘Cause the lyrics exist wholly as legal entities designed to earn creator Gene Roddenberry a little extra money.  A "handshake" deal between Roddenberry and composer Alexander Courage held that Roddenberry had the option to write lyrics.  Under copyright rules, that entitled Roddenberry to half of the royalties earned by the theme, regardless of whether the lyrics ever saw use.   Courage said Roddenberry's actions were underhanded, designed strictly to earn a cheap buck at Courage's expense.  Here they are:  Sing along [GOTO: www.elite.net/~gurpal/tv/startrk.mid]  and add Cap’t Kirk’s world famous split infinitive:  “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”


The rim of the star-light

My love

Is wand'ring in star-flight

I know

He'll find in star-clustered reaches


Strange love a star woman teaches.

I know

His journey ends never

His star trek

Will go on forever.

But tell him

While he wanders his starry sea

Remember, remember me.

Safeco Ins. Co. unveiled a new device to allow parents to track their driving kids: It transmits the car’s speed, location, etc. and allows the parents to turn the car off remotely.

Families of four earning $50,000 and $150,000 each pay 30% in taxes.  --American Enterprise Institute

1% of farmers get 17% of all government agricultural welfare/subsidies, an average of $377,484/person.  One Colorado farmer got $2 million.   --Timothy Egan

Since 2002 about 40 Catholic women have been ordained as priests in defiance of Vatican law.  Within 8 months, the first seven were excommunicated in a document signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.  Since then there has been no official reaction.  One woman priest noted that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1431 only to later be canonized a saint; the Church, after all, can change.

Share a Book.  What to do with a good book you’ve read:  Register it at www.bookcrossing.com, with your comments, get a unique BookCrossing ID number, and label the book.  Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone records a journal entry for that book.  And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!

Nine out of ten people travel to work by car;  of those, 88% drive alone.  94% of Atlantans commute by car, and the city has the highest annual per-capita gasoline costs in the country.

For most of our 100,000-year existence--all but the past couple hundred years--the average life span of human beings was been 30 years or less.

KWIKWIZ answers:

261.  tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous

262.  sleeping

263.  7

264.  After the Supreme Court voted to put Bush in the White House, protesters, nightly, were bused to the Vice President’s house to scream “Get out of Cheney’s house!”

265.  Parker Brothers in 1901 trademarked “Ping-Pong”

CHALLENGE #64 was: Which two famous writers travelled together Eastbound by train in coffins?  Answer:  After hearing about his good friend F.S. Fitzgerald died the previous day, Nathanael West [Day of the Locusts] died in a car accident in California 12/22/1940.   His body left L.A. at 8:00 a.m.,12/26, on the Santa Fe Super Chief to NYC.  Also on board was Sheila Graham, and her companion F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died 12/21 of a heart attack and was sent to Baltimore.  Both were cared for by Pierce Brothers Montuaries.  [Jerry got it after a slight hint.]

CHALLENGE #65: P.T. Barnum offered $10,000 to a famous person to display a part of her body--she declined.  Who and what?


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Potpourri #76  Sunday, July 15

Featured Quote:  “Too many fall from great and good for you to doubt this likelihood.”  --Robert Frost


266.  What is the dot over the letter i called?

267.  Who wrote 1/4 of the plays performed in the U.S. in the 19th century?

268.  Who set the standard of 80-proof for liquor?

269.  Which future president wrote love letters to his neighbor's wife while he

was engaged to someone else?

270.  How many different words are used in “The Cat in the Hat”?

Americans were “tallest in the world between colonial times and the middle of the 20th century,” and have now “become shorter (and fatter) than Western and Northern Europeans.  In fact, the U.S. population is currently at the bottom end of the height distribution in advanced industrial countries.”  AND: “Height is indicative of how well the human organism thrives in its socioeconomic environment.”  --Komlos & Lauderdale in Social Science Quarterly

Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.”  Now we know what he meant.

Each year 350,000 Americans fall and break a hip.  Of those, 40% go to a nursing home and 20% are never able to walk again.  The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking >4 prescription meds, and muscle weakness.

Impeachment is not a Constitutional crisis, but a cure for a Constitutional crisis.   --John Nichols & Bruce Fein

Fulsome [FOOL-sem] does not mean, despite its appearance, fully or completely, but rather offensive because of excessiveness or insincerity, often in reference to compliments, praise, admiration or flattery.

from Krishna: Two Jewish men, Sid and Al, were sitting in a Mexican restaurant. Sid asked  Al,  "Are there any people of our faith born and raised in Mexico?" So, Al asked the waiter: "Are there any Mexican Jews?" and the waiter said,  "I don't know Senor, I'll ask the cooks."  He returned from the kitchen in a few minutes and said,  "No sir, no Mexican Jews."  Sid whispered to Al,  "I find it hard to believe that there are no Jews in Mexico, our people are scattered everywhere." "Are you certain?"  Al asked once again.  "I can't believe there are no Mexican Jews!" "Senor, I ask EVERYONE,"  replied the exasperated waiter,  "All we have is  Orange Jews, Prune Jews, Tomato Jews and Grape Jews.

Traditional name of Japan:  Yomato=land of great harmony.  Modern name Nihon (“nippon”) = home of the sun (from China’s perspective).  The French pronounce it “Japan.”

At peak hour: 1/3 of the 9,000 pedestrians at Herald Square enter Macy’s, but less than half buy something, even though they have 4 million items in stock.  [And have $12-24 M/year in ‘shrinkage.’]

U.S. health spending last year:  $7,000 for every man, woman and child.

On July Fourth, President Bush predictably gave another spirited defense of staying the course in Iraq, and he asked every American to find a way to thank the men and women in the military and their families. Send a care package, he said. Ask family members with a mom or dad on the front lines what they need, carpool, pray for soldiers and their families, click on AmericaSupportsYou.mil. Wait a minute. Did he say "carpool"? Carpooling to thank and support the troops? What does that mean?

Even w/o cataracts, the amount of light reaching the retina of a healthy 60-year-old is 1/3 that of a 20-year-old.

A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year.  Another study found that Americans drink an average of 22 gallons of beer a year.  That means, on average, Americans get about 41 miles per gallon.

Income gap between rich & poor in America nearly tripled in the last 25 years. 

from Nancy: When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France as a young girl, King Louis knew she loved the Scot game "golf." So he had the first golf course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland, she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-day' and the Scots changed it into "caddie."

The Pentagon was built during the huge mobilization before we entered WWII, while the military was increasing in size from 174,000 to 1.4 million.  It was felt that the entire War Department--up to 40,000 workers--should be housed in one building.  In charge of the project, Brehon Burke Somervell’s motto was “We Do the Impossible Immediately.  The Miraculous Takes a Little Longer.”  As large as two Empire State Buildings,  it was built in 17 months.  It was intended to be a temporary military HQ, to be used as a national archive after the war.

Theraveda Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka can’t carry food to the next day, so must beg daily.

The Colosseum.  To the roars of 50,000 bloodthirsty spectators, a trick door clanks open at center stage. Suddenly, the fate of the Roman Empire’s most desperate prisoners rests on the starved instinct of one or more lions, tigers, crocodiles or even hippos. Just a typical day at the Roman Colosseum.  In A.D. 80, Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus celebrated the opening of the empire’s largest amphitheatre with 100 days of battles between 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators.  Owing to its colossal scale and such epic-sized spectacles, the amphitheatre quickly shed its formal name of the Flavian Amphitheatre for the more enduring Colosseum.  [Late in the 19th century the term was altered to the generic ‘coliseum.’]  However, the Colosseum was more than an outsized venue for gory sport. Within its monumental scale and beauty were some of the most sophisticated methods of Roman engineering.  Eighty entrances ensured efficient crowd control in and out of the venue while a canopy protected the audience from the Mediterranean sun.  A labyrinthine complex of rooms and passageways below the stage allowed for transportation of beasts and supplies throughout the structure.   --Elderhostel

10 Easy Steps to Restore the U.S.’s Moral Authority:

1.  Restore Habeas Corpus.

2.  Stop Renditions to Torture.

3.  Abolish Secret Prisons.

4.  Hold Abusers Accountable.

5.  Protect Victims of Persecution from Being Defined as Terrorists.

6.  Prohibit Abusive Interrogations.

7.  Close Guantanamo Bay.

8.  Repect the Laws of War.

9.  Hold Fair Trials.

10.  End Indefinite Detention Without Charge.

More than 90% of heart disease is preventable:  Diet, Exercize and Stress Management can stop and even reverse it.   --Dr. Dean Ornish

1/3 of the world’s geothermal energy is created by the U.S., and the Department of Energy has cancelled it’s budget for geothermal.

KWIKWIZ answers:

266.  tittle

267.  Shakespeare

268.  Tsar Alexander III in 1894.

269.  George Washington

270.  236

CHALLENGE #65 was: P.T. Barnum offered $10,000 to a famous person to display a part of her body--she declined.  Who and what?  Answer:  Sarah Bernhardt’s amputated leg.  [Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #66: When and where was the first known beer advertisement?


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Potpourri #77  Sunday July22

Featured Quote: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”  Richard M. Nixon.  [George Bush’s hero.]


271.  Which president made love to a young woman in a White House coat closet, while a secret service agent prevented the hysterical first lady from attacking them?

272.  Where do Mormons say was the Garden of Eden?

273.  Why isn’t an umbrella used in the rain in Iceland?

274.  What percent of dot-com start-up companies failed?

275.  Why do some olde English words end in an extraneous -e?

The experience of Hansel & Gretel being abandoned by their parents was common during famines.

Federal agricultural subsidies lead to cheap snack foods and soft drinks, made from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  Meanwhile, the lack of subsidies for fruits and vegetables makes them expensive by comparison.  Between 1985 and 2000 the cost of fresh fruits and veggies increased nearly 40%, while the price of soft drinks decreased by almost 25%, adjusted for inflation.   --Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy

from Alan:  "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."    --H.L . Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920 

In 1956, the average teenager’s weekly income/allowance was $10.55, equal to the disposable income of a family in the early 1940s.    --George F. Will

New Wall Plaque:  Jingle Jugs--for people who find the singing bass too classy.

Big Pharma:

•  The FDA expects $400 million from the drug industry to finance the approval process of brand-name drugs next year.  That distorts the approval process by accelerating availablity of high-cost drugs at the expense of a growing backlog of low-cost generics whose approval depends on scarce federal funds.

•  The drug industry has directed $93 million to congressional and presidential condidates since 2000.  --Center for Responsive Politics

•  An army of 1,100 lawyers and arm-twisters spent over $1 Billion since 1998, more than any other industry, to influence pubic officials and shape drug legislation.

•  Each American pays $728/year for prescriptions, nearly twice the average cost for the industrial world.  Big Pharma says that as a share of the total health bill, we pay no more for drugs than in 1960.  That ignores that the cost of health care today is three times what it was in 1960.  --McKinsey & C0.

Chain ‘restaurants’ make up 10% of food outlets, but serve about 2/3 of customers.

Over the past school year, the number of public school students killed in Chicago was higher than the number of soldiers from the entire state of Illinois who were killed in Iraq during that period.   --Barack Obama

Warren Buffett, the 3rd richest man in the world, was taxed 17% of his taxable income last year.  His receptionist paid nealy twice that, at 30%.

Traffic is #1, but every year drowning is #2 for accidental deaths of children under 14.

My Private Part  An old man, Mr. Wallace, was living the last of his life in a nursing home.  One day he looked very sad and depressed.  Nurse Tracy asked if there was anything wrong. "Yes," he said, "My Private Part died today, and I am very sad."  Knowing her patients were forgetful and sometimes a little crazy, she replied, "Oh, I'm so sorry, Mr.Wallace, please accept my condolences." The following day, Mr Wallace was walking down the hall with his Private Part hanging out his pajamas, when he met Nurse Tracy. "Mr. Wallace," she said, "You shouldn't be walking down the hall like that.. Please put your Private Part back inside your pajamas."  “But, Nurse Tracy," he said, "I told you yesterday that my Private Part died." "Yes, you did tell me that, but why is it hanging out of your pajamas?"  "Well,” he replied, "Today's the viewing."

Horse hair is used for padding since it is hollow tubes and allows air flow.

The average cost of posting a single U.S. soldier in Iraq is $390,000/year.  --Congressional Research Service

Private parking spaces are available in the basement of a condo on West 17th Street in Manhattan for $225,000.

Met’s hot dog: $4.50;  Yankee’s: $5.00.  Met’s pizza slice: $5.50;  Yankee’s: $4.75.  Met’s popcorn: $4.25;  Yankee’s: $3.50.  Keep the change!

from Nancy:

1.  Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use "mayday" as their call for help?  A:  It comes from the French word m'aidez --meaning "help me" -- and is pronounced "mayday."

2.  Why is someone who is feeling great "on cloud nine"?  A:  Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares..

3.  Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?  A:  When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich.  Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right.  Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. 4.  Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?  A:  Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called "pygg."  When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as "pygg banks."  When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a bank that resembled a pig.  And it caught on.

Opulent is from Latin opulentus, wealthy.  No other English words derive from this root.

Corruption in the U.S. has significantly worsened in the last decade and now equals that in Chile.   ---World Bank

Every wealthy country except the U.S. already has some form of universal health care, and the overall cost is much lower than here.  Every available indicator says that quality, access and outcomes in the U.S. is worse than other advanced countries--even Britain which spends 40% as much per person as we do.  Canadians wait longer than insured Americans for elective surgery, but, overall, their average access is equal to insured Americans, and much better than our uninsured.

Are we ROME, yet?

Buddhist lay people observe 5 moral precepts:  no killing, no stealing, no lying, no abuse of sex, no drinking intoxicants.  Monks observe 5 more including:  no eating after noon, no sleeping on soft beds, no handling gold or silver.

KWIKWIZ answers:

271.  Warren G. Harding

272.  Jackson County [Independence], Missouri

273.  The wind usually blows from all directions and flips and destroys them.

274.  Of the dot-coms that received venture capital financing in 1999, 48% were still in business five years later.

275.  When printing came to Britain in 1400, spelling wasn’t consistent, and typesetters often made decisions, e.g., if a line of type was a bit short, they added an -e to a few words.  If too long?  Take out some e’s.

CHALLENGE #66 was: When and where was the first known beer advertisement?  Answer:  about 4,000 B.C.:  a Mesopotamian stone tablet with a headless woman and enormous breasts holding goblets of beer and the tagline:  “Drink Elba, the beer with the heart of a lion.”  Another well-documented early trademark comes from Egypt, where, in 2000 B.C., a brewer began labeling its beer: “Joy Bringer, the Beautiful and Heavenly.”  [Jerry got it.]


#67:  I was a monkey who mated with a goddess to create a nation.  I was #1, but the title wasn’t invented until #3.  Now there is #14.

#68:  I am a famous writer who married a woman with the same first name as mine.

#69: I was storming their gates and sent a message to the king: “If we capture your city we will burn it to the ground.”  The return answer: “If.”  It led to the creation of a word we commonly use in English.

#70:  I was an English land agent whose difficult duty was to collect high rents from Irish farmers.  In protest the farmers ostracized me, not even allowing me to make purchases in town or hire workers to harvest my crops.

#71:  In October, 2003 I said “We’re making really good progress.”  In September 2004 I said, “making steady progress.”  In April 2005, I said, “We’re making good progress in Iraq.”  In October 2005: “Iraq has made incredible political progress.”  November 2005: “Iraqis are making inspiring progress.”  On Tuesday of last week I said, “We’re making really good progress.” [O.K., this one doesn’t count!!]

#71:  I created a character who discovers ‘nowhere land,’ that served as a model for future writers with the same purpose, e.g., Bacon, Swift, Tennyson and Melville.

#72:  I was a fresh-faced, green-eyed brunette, but later in life I pulled my face taut with hooks and stuffed it under my wig.


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Potpourri #78  Saturday July 28

Featured Quote:  “The only ones who crave war and do not want peace are certain monopoly capitalist groups in a handful of imperialist countries which depend on aggression for their profits.”   --Mao Zedong, 1956


276.  Which president married a woman who hadn't yet divorced her first husband -- and was branded an "adulterer" during his re-election campaign?

277.  Before using Australia, what did Britain do with excess criminals?

278.  In England, what are ‘ginger nuts’?

279.  Why do we see more commercials/hour on TV in the past 20 years?

280.  What is the most popular undergraduate major?

From “Religious Literacy” by Stephen Prothero:

•  Most Americans “cannot name one of the four Gospels.”

•  “Many HS seniors think that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.” 

•  It’s the rare world crisis that is not at least partly rooted in religion--consider Sudan, Iraq, Israel.

Plastic bottles take 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.

Mal, [bad] and adroit [right hand] come from the French.  Maladroit means clumsy, bungling, awkward, unskillful:  a bad right hand.

In his early 30s the sheltered prince Siddhartha Gautama traveled outside the palace and saw 4 sights:  a sick person, an old person, a corpse and an ascetic.  He was inspired to renounce life in the palace and become an ascetic.  He found severe fasting and self-discipline unproductive and adopted The Middle Path:  avoiding the extremes of self-denial and self-indulgence in living and thinking.  After intense meditation under a tree he woke to the truth and became a Buddha [‘awakened one’], and achieved nirvana [‘to extinguish’] and ended the cycle of his reincarnation.

97% of medical students take no course in geriatrics.

Men and women have two distinct views about a wedding. The husband-to-be wakes up in the morning, plays a round of golf and counts the minutes until he has to be at the altar. The wife-to-be wakes up in a panic and immediately begins to organize things. In her mind she is repeating what she has to do. 'All I have to do is go down the aisle, get to the altar, and marry him.' She repeats this over and over again, until she begins to shorten it to three words which she continues to repeat.. 'Aisle, altar, him.' 'Aisle, altar, him.' 'Aisle, altar, him.' [Say the last three words a couple of times real fast out loud.]

Lumbar Fusion:  A questionable $50K operation that cost Medicare $600 M last year, while 50 million Americans lack any health insurance.

The roots of Wimbledon can be traced to a quaint, informal garden party on Worple Road in 1877. As the most important courts in the complex, Centre Court and No. 1 Court are reserved for two weeks of play during the championships in June and July.  Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam event played on grass courts [rye] and requires players to wear “almost entirely white” clothing during matches.  Wimbledon is also the only Grand Slam still accessible to fans without tickets on the day of play.  During the championships, fans consume nearly 62,000 pounds of strawberries and 1,540 gallons of cream, the traditional fare of Wimbledon. 

O.K., enough, now what’s the exit strategy?

New Yorkers have the highest average journey-to-work times [39 minutes] of any city in the country, but are apparently much happier with their commutes than people elsewhere.  [World RT average:  51 minutes/day.]  The word ‘commute’ derives from its original meaning of “to change to another less severe.”  In the 1840s, men who rode the railways each day from new suburbs to work in cities did so at a reduced rate:  Their fare was commuted in exchange for reliable ridership.

30% of adults in Texas lack health insurance

Captcha: In 2000, Yahoo asked Carnegie Mellon U. to create a method to prevent rogue programs from invading its chat rooms and e-mail service.  CMU created cognitive puzzles that computers couldn’t solve:  The distorted numbers and letters with a wavy background irritatingly used by Ticketmaster, e.g.  The acronym:  Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart.

70% of the world’s poor live in Africa..  Nearly 2/5 of Africa’s private wealth is held abroad, much of it in Swiss bank accounts.  --Paul Collier

The Latin root pecus means cattle, and at one time a person’s wealth was measured by stocks of domestic animals.  Someone who was rich had lots of pecus--someone w/o pecus was indigent or destitute.  Today, someone who is habitually w/o funds is impecunious.

Fixed direct payments of $5.2 Billion/year are paid to farmers, even if they grow nothing, based on what they grew in the past.  “You don’t have to be alive to get a fixed payment.  We have fixed payments to dead people all over the place.  It’s rediculous.”  --Evironmental Working Group

“Millions of dollars' worth of gear, including combat boots, helmets, vests and aircraft parts, is being junked by the Pentagon ...”       --USA Today

The phrase "dark and stormy night" was created by Sir Edward G. D. Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) as the first line of his 1830 novel "Paul Clifford":  "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Here’s the Grand Prize Winner of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest [1993]:  She wasn't really my type, a hard-looking but untalented reporter from the local cat box liner, but the first second that the third-rate representative of the fourth estate cracked open a new fifth of old Scotch, my sixth sense said seventh heaven was as close as an eighth note from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so, nervous as a tenth grader drowning in eleventh-hour cramming for a physics exam, I swept her into my longing arms, and, humming "The Twelfth of Never," I got lucky on Friday the thirteenth.     --Wm. W. "Buddy" Ocheltree, Port Townsend, Washington

Excellent animation piece from Jeanie...cut & paste it:


3,000 years ago, the Vedic god of fire was Agni...which is the origin of our word ‘ignite.’

Movie note: I’m turned off by the title, but Michael Moore’s new film is very well done:  entertaining, enlightening and moving.  I guarantee you will learn some things of value.

KWIKWIZ answers:

276.  Andrew Jackson

277.  They sent 50,000 criminals to the American colonies.

278.  A person with red hair.

279.  Ronald Reagan lifted restrictions in 1984.

280.  22% of graduates are in business.

THE CHALLENGE FLOOD [answers]: Who Am I? 

#67 was: I was a monkey who mated with a goddess to create a nation.  I was #1, but the title wasn’t invented until #3.  Now there is #14. Answer:  The Dalai Lama; to create Tibet.  It wasn’t until the second reincarnation that the Mongol emperor called him the Dalai Lama, since he has the wisdom of the “ocean.”

#68 was: In 1928 I married a woman with the same first name as mine.  Answer: Humorist Evelyn Waugh who married Evelyn Gardner.  Their friends called them He-Evelyn and She-Evelyn

#69 was: I was storming their gates and sent a message to the king: “If we capture your city we will burn it to the ground.”  The return answer: “If.”  It led to the creation of a word we commonly use in English.  Answer:  Philip of Macedonia attacking Sparta, originally known as Laconia, whose citizens were long-suffering, hard-bitten, stoical and military-minded, and noted for their economy of speech. Therefore our word laconic:  pithy, concise, economical in use of words.

#70 was: I was an English land agent whose difficult duty was to collect high rents from Irish farmers.  In protest the farmers ostracized me, not even allowing me to make purchases in town or hire workers to harvest my crops.  Answer:  Charles C. Boycott--the origin of the word.

#71 was:  I created a character who discovers ‘nowhere land,’ that served as a model for future writers with the same purpose, e.g., Bacon, Swift, Tennyson and Melville.  Answer:  Sir Thomas More published Utopia [‘nowhere land’] in Latin in 1516

#72 was:  I was a fresh-faced, green-eyed brunette, but later in life I pulled my face taut with hooks and stuffed it under my wig.  Answer: Ava Gardner

THE CHALLENGE FLOOD continues: Who Am I? 

#73: I was the Finance Minister just before the Revolution, who advocated the simple life, so excess money could go into the treasury instead of into luxurious living.

#74: I spent $75,000 [a lot in those days] for a 5-year grant to simplify the spelling of the English language suggesting changes in 300 words out of half a million.  The President supported the effort, but the people didn’t.

#75:  I was named after the writer of an American anthem and twice dropped out of Princeton.  My ‘love’ wouldn’t marry me until I became successful...and I quickly became the ‘golden boy’ of American letters...and hadn’t written my big little novel yet.

#76:  I, a famous writer, proposed that by eliminating unnecessary letters from words, the elimination of paper and printing would allow the British government to cut taxes in half. 

#77:  [In a classic movie] I only gave her books with the word death in the title. 

#78: I was the Inspector General of Infantry, and a strict, fanatic drillmaster never seen in my country.  My name is an English word that describes someone who exacts blind, unquestioning obedience and demands the strictest conformity to rules, however arbitrary or tyrannical. 


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Potpourri #79  sunday, August 5 or sooner

Featured Quote:  "If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be?  What would I do?"  --Buckminster Fuller


281.  In Milton Bradley’s board game “Game of Life,” whose picture is on the $50,000 bill?

282.  How do Islam and some Christian sects differ on view of Jesus’ birth?  

283.  Where is the largest medical school in Latin America?

284.  Name the 11 states with a bottle deposit law.

285.  Is the North Star the brightest star in the sky?

Manhattan has two nap centers:  $12-14 for 20 minutes of shut-eye.

Fenway Park is the oldest stadium in the major leagues.  From its trademark green stands, generations have cheered for the Red Sox and some of the most legendary names in baseball. On opening day in April 20, 1912, the Red Sox eked out a 7-6 victory over the New York Highlanders, soon to be renamed the Yankees.  Since that historic game, Fenway Park has maintained its dedication to baseball tradition and unabashed anti-Yankees spirit.  A lone red seat in the right field bleachers marks the spot where a Ted Williams homerun landed in 1946 — the longest measurable home run ever hit inside Fenway Park's 1934 configuration. Fenway Park is also home to one of the major leagues’ last hand-operated scoreboards, set into the 37-foot-high wall in left field known as the Green Monster.

The average person perspires about a pint each night.

Alcohol kills 6 times more teenagers than all other drugs combined.  And, almost 50% of American teenagers attended parties w/alcohol where parents were present. --Pacific Insti. for Rsch & Evaluation

The numbers are almost beyond understanding. Shocking, scary, and symptomatic of everything wrong with this administration:  $30 Billion to Israel (including cluster bombs),  $20 Billion to the House of Saud$15 Billion to Egypt, and many more billions for other nations in the region. That is the cost of military aid we are throwing into a regional war zone. To opposing parties. With differing interests.   --Rob Kezelis

More aggressive & expensive treatment for elderly patients in their last few years of life does not prolong life--and may even shorten it.  --Dartmouth College study

So far, 30 18-year-old U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq.

A man and a woman meet at a bar and go back to the woman's house where they engage in passionate love making.  Suddenly, they hear a noise at the door and the woman says, "Quick, my husband is home. Go hide in the bathroom!" The husband comes up into the bedroom, looks at her and asks, "Why are you naked?"  The woman smiles and says coyly, "Well, I heard you pull up outside, so I thought I would come up here and get ready!" "Okay," the husband replies, "I'll be back in a minute." Before his wife can stop him, he goes into the bathroom and sees the naked man standing there clapping his hands. "Who the hell are you!" the husband asks. "I'm from the extermination company. Your wife called me in to get rid of the moths you’re having trouble with." The husband, getting angrier by the moment, exclaims, "Then why you are naked!" The man then looks down at himself and exclaims, "Those little bastards!"

4.5 million children live in grandparent-headed households in the U.S.

Agricultural subsidy of $1.1 Billion went to farmers who were dead over the past 7 years. [GAO]   That cost the average american family $320/year [Heritage Foundation]

In Kansas, parents can get up to 6 months in jail for allowing underage drinking at home.

“The Interior Department's inspector general found no political interference by Vice President Cheney on a key environmental policy in part because investigators were not looking for it, an Interior official told lawmakers yesterday.”  [The Washington Post]. [emphasis added]

A study by Tempur-Pedic found that Americans said that a good pillow is 9x better as a “sleep accessory” than a “sleep partner.”

The Latin for egg, ovum, became oeuf in French, and with “the” preceding the noun: l’oeuf, pronounced something like LOOF.  Zero is shaped like an egg, so if your score in tennis is 15 and your opponent’s is zero, you shout “fifteen, love!”

The U.S. Congress has two Buddhist and one Muslim member.

We socialized fire, police, education, highways, military, water, sewage, mail service, prisons, parks, public health, the courts, weather forecasting, space exploration, medical research, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veterans services and libraries [among other things]...why not Heath Care?

Medicare for All!

Americans spend 6.4 Billion hours and more than $265 Billion on compliance w/U.S. tax code, that is 6x longer than “War & Peace,” [not counting 20,000 pages of regulations].  Since 1986, Congress has added more than 14,000 new wrinkles to the tax code, about three for every working day.  --George F. Will

Demosthenes, the great Athenian orator and political leader, was found guilty of accepting bribes in 324 B.C. and fined 50 talents, roughly $20 million dollars today.  --Michael Gagarin

Avg. Hours Worked/Year: U.S.--1,834;  Japan--1,784;  Germany--1,421;  France--1,564.  Why are we workaholics?

“People will eat 28.4% more candy if its’s labeled ‘low fat.’”  --Gourmet magazine.

Valence comes from the Latin ‘valentia’ [strength]. It's the quality that indicates sufficient force or energy to draw things – like atoms – together, so they combine to form a new unit. Combine it with ‘ambi-’[both] and you get "ambivalence," indicating such strong feelings on two sides of a matter that it's almost impossible to make a decision about it.  Attach ‘equi-’ [equal], and you get two coequally powerful, valuable, forceful, meaningful, or significant entities.  "Prevalent" comes from the Latin ‘praevalere’[to prevail]:  that is, to be first in strength, or so powerful as to be everywhere one might look.  Now it just means common, current, general, or extensive.

“In reality, both data and anecdotes show that the American people are already waiting as long or longer than patients living with universal health-care systems.”  [In the U.S. it’s often caused by insurance companies trying to save money.]  --Business Week

From an on-line dating service: Women “relax their standards of how tall they want their mate to be” if the man earned enough money.  How much?  A man who is 5’6” would need to make $175,000 more a year to be considered as desirable as a man who is 6’ tall.   --Cosmopolitan

Remember President Gerald Ford? That was the last time Congress set auto fuel economy standards.

Cocaine in Columbia is $2/gram--less than a Big Mac.  The farther from South or Central America, the higher the price.  In New Zealand a gram is $714.30, and over $100 in the U.S.   --The Economist

Laconic Cal: A young newspaperman was sitting next to him at a banquet and turned to him mischievously. “President Coolidge,” she said, “ I have a bet with my editor that I can get you to say more than two words to me this evening.”  “You lose,” Coolidge rejoined simply.

KWIKWIZ answers:

281.  Milton Bradley.  The game is an update of his first board game from 1860.

282.  Islam accepts virgin birth.

283.  Cuba

284.  CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, ME, MA, MI, NY, OR & VT.  OR was first in 1971.

285.  It’s the 49th brightest star in our sky.

THE CHALLENGE FLOOD continues [answers--Jerry got most of them]: Who Am I? 

#73 was:  I was the Finance Minister just before the Revolution, who advocated the simple life, so excess money could go into the treasury instead of into luxurious living.  Answer: Etienne de Silhouette gives us the name of the simplest form of portraiture--a profile.

#74 was:  I spent $75,000 [a lot in those days] for a 5-year grant to simplify the spelling of the English language suggesting changes in 300 words out of half a million.  The President supported the effort, but the people didn’t.  Answer: Andrew Carnegie in 1906.  Examples:  thru for through, theater for theatre, fantom for phantom, dout for doubt, tho for though, hed for head.  Teddy Roosevelt ordered that all government documents use the simplified spelling, but Congress made him back down.  After he lost his bid for reelection, one NY newspaper printed a one-word editorial: “THRU.”

#75 was:  I was named after the writer of an American anthem and twice dropped out of Princeton.  My ‘love’ wouldn’t marry me until I became successful...and I quickly became the ‘golden boy’ of American letters...and hadn’t written my big little novel yet.  Answer:  F[rancis] Scot [Key] Fitzgerald

#76 was:  I, a famous writer, proposed that by eliminating unnecessary letters from words, the elimination of paper and printing would allow the British government to cut taxes in half.  Answer: George Bernard Shaw

#77 was:  [In a classic movie] I only gave her books with the word death in the title.  Answer:  Alvy Singer [Woody Allen] in Annie Hall [Diane Keaton]

#78 was: I was the Inspector General of Infantry, and a strict, fanatic drillmaster never seen in my country.  My name is an English word that describes someone who exacts blind, unquestioning obedience and demands the strictest conformity to rules, however arbitrary or tyrannical.  Answer:  Jean Martinet during the reign of King Louis XIV of France.

CHALLENGE #79: In the early 1990s which country began a referendum to become the 51st state of the U.S.A.?


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