Tuesday, April 21, 2009

25 Random Things About Pirates

1. Somali pirates netted $150 million in 2008. Divided among Somalia's estimated 1,000 pirates, this comes to a yearly salary of $150,000. Tax free. Which you'd think would be enough for orthodontia. But apparently not.

2. Scurvy, once common among pirates, leads to the formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. In advanced scurvy there are open, suppurating wounds and loss of teeth.

3. There is some precedent for trying Abduhl Wali-i-Musi, the Somali teen pirate captured after he and his mateys hijacked the Maersk Alabama, as an adult. In 2005, University of Arizona student Parvin Dhaliwal was tried as an adult for illegally downloading music and movies from the Internet, even though he was 17 at the time of his crimes. According to USA Today, Dhaliwal got off pretty easy, with a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. "The judge in the case also ordered him to take a copyright class at the University of Arizona, and to avoid file-sharing computer programs."

4. The Swedish website The Pirate Bay has been called "one of the world's largest facilitators of illegal downloading". Last week its three founders Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, and Peter Sunde were sentenced to a year in prison and fined $3.5 million.

5. Walking the plank dot net is not a site about pirates.

6. September 19th is the dreaded "International Talk Like a Pirate Day". According to organizers, you'll need five words to participate:

Ahoy! - "Hello!"

Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! - "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! - "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

7. Pirate keyboard:

8. Um, they don't really say "aaarr!" According to Mark Liberman's Language Log, that whole thing started with Robert Newton, who played Long John Silver in a slew of '50s Disney movies.

9. Top 3 pirate hot-spots: the coast of Somalia (of course); the Strait of Malacca, with over a quarter of the world's trade passing through it; the Bay of Bengal, where in 2004 pirates stuffed 16 fishermen into the ice chamber of their boat (where the latter froze to death) and made off with $50,000 -- in fish.

10. There are Pirates in the desert, too. At Burning Man, the annual festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, there is a pirate camp, Camp Aargh! that looks something like this:
Ye Olde ASCII Camp MAP

| ye neighbourly pirates
| |
| O [] O O [] O |
| w ________ |
| / \ O []|
Earth | / corsairs \ | ye terrified
(street) | cave | ye van| landlubbers
| \ /\ |
| \________/g |
| w \ |
| D* O O ye truck |
| ye scurvy dogs

O = 2-pirate tent
[] = small pirate vessel (car)
w = ocean waves
D* = sea-dragon or wrecked vessel
g = ship's galley
11. While most buccaneers were "innately heterosexual," according to author W.A. Hoffman, "it is very likely [they] lived in sexually active pairs."

12. The the French Governor of mid-17th century Haiti reportedly attempted to import women to the island, because he was tired of the buccaneers fighting in the streets. Over each other.

13. How long could you last on a gay pirate ship?

14. A poop deck is a deck that constitutes the roof of a cabin built in the aft (rear) part of the superstructure of a ship. It has nothing whatsoever to do with poop. The name originates from the French word for stern, la poupe. In nautical parlance, "to be pooped" means to have a wave come over the stern from abaft. In nautical parlance, "to be pooped" means to have a wave come over the stern from abaft.

15. Pirate Insult-o-Matic.

16. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has made over $2.6 billion to date. The second installment, Dead Man's Chest, is still the fastest film to have reached $1 billion worldwide. The fourth film is set to come out in 2012.

17. Courtesy Jamie Mottram:

18. Courtesy Andrew Sullivan, by way of the daily what:

19. Baseball's Pittsburgh Alleghenys earned the nickname "the Pirates" in 1890 after poaching a player under contract to the Philadelphia Athletics. They started calling themselves pirates in 1891, although the The nickname didn't appear on the team's uniforms until 1912.

20. Captain Henry Morgan, for whom Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum is named, was technically not a pirate, but a privateer. Pirates are freelance while a privateer's work for a ruling nation (England, in Morgan's case).

21. In September 2008, pirates who had hijacked what the Times of South Africa called an "
Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo... suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill 'within days' of boarding [it]. Some of them died." Since then, no reports of Iranian ships falling victim to pirates, oddly enough.

22. Are you a pirate?

23. Florida-based charity OneHope ministers to child pirates in Somalia. For 33 cents, they can "deliver the Word of God to a child" says Reverend Bob Hoskins, the ministry's founder. "It just takes just $1.00 to reach three children." Three for one. Not a bad deal.

24. Girls can be pirates, too...

The most infamous is probably Anne Bonny, who ran off with her pirate husband James Bonny to the Bahamas, where she met another pirate, John "Calico Jack" Rackham, more to her liking, which irked her ex, who demanded she be flogged for infidelity. Instead, she and Calico Jack hijacked a sloop from Nassau Harbor, renamed it Revenge, and took to the high seas. A couple years later, they were captured. Calico was hanged. And then his body was tarred and gibbeted, and displayed prominently in Port Royal, Jamaica, in a spot now known as Rackham's Cay. Bonny was also sentenced to hang, but received a stay of execution, being pregnant at the time of her capture, and then disappeared from the public record. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: "Evidence ... suggests that her father managed to secure her release from gaol and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham's second child,... married a local man,... and had eight children. She died ... a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-two."

25. Wanna eat like a pirate? Here's a recipe for sea biscuits, to go with your bone soup:
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
6 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of shortening (optional)

Mix all the ingredients into a batter and press onto a cookie sheet to a thickness of ½ inch. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (205°C) for one hour. Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough (a fork works nicely). Flip the crackers and return to the oven for another half hour.
"Bon appetite, ye scurvy swine! Arrrr!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

25 Random Things About Taxes

1. Benjamin Franklin is the source of the oft-repeated "death and taxes" quote. In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy dated 13 November 1789, Franklin wrote: "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

2. Jesus Christ could tolerate prostitutes, thieves, and publicans, even tax-collectors, but not tax scofflaws. When the Pharisees and Herodians pressed him on the matter of taxes, he told them: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s" (Mark 22:21). Despite this, at his trial before Pilate, Jesus was accused of promoting resistance to Roman taxes (Luke 23:1-4).

3. In July of 1846, Henry David Thoreau bumped into local tax man Sam Staples, who asked him when he might be thinking of paying the six years of back taxes he owed. Thoreau told him no time soon, citing his opposition to slavery and the Mexican-American War. He was promptly tossed in jail. His aunt sprung him the next day, paying his back taxes. Instead of a nice "thank you" note or fruit basket he stomped off to his little cabin and penned Civil Disobedience.

4. Almost 70 years before Thoreau, in 1780, 21-year-old African American Paul Cuffe (born free on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts) refused to pay his taxes because he did not have the right to vote, petitioning the council of Bristol County to end taxation without representation. The petition was denied, but it was one of the influences that led the Legislature to grant voting rights to all free male citizens of the state in 1783.

5. Madison DuPaix at about.com suggests that parents, to teach their children about money, withhold "taxes" from their kids' allowance. "Children will often be surprised by the withholding on their first paycheck," she warns. "Explain the concept of taxes early on and their paycheck will meet their expectations."

6. Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Withholding payment of taxes is one of the quickest methods of overthrowing a government."

7. The Conservative doctrine of "Starving the Beast" seeks to cripple government by starving it of funds, mainly by drastically reducing taxation on the wealthy.

8. Ayn Rand considered taxation immoral. Yet she faithfully paid her taxes.

9. Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year in which the nation as a whole has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden, fell on April 13th this year.

10. Americans spend just under $28 billion per year to prepare their taxes.

11. The Beatles song, "Taxman," which opens their 1966 album Revolver, was written by George Harrison in a fit of apoplexy after realizing that even rock stars have to pay taxes.

12. "Sex and Taxes" by Kevin Cantwell:
Plum black & the blush white of an apple
shoulder, melon & cream, in tones to list
the flesh; in light, washed colors off at last
& textures sheer with damp I slowly pull
from you with your quick help. Weekend's ample
procrastinations to forget the least
of what we want to do. April, half a blast
of cold, half new light, green & simple.
Now dusk. Now fear. We pencil what we owe
on this short form, our numbers good enough.
The goose-neck glare undoes how we spent the day.
Each bite each bee-sting kiss each bitten O
all aftertaste. Later, at the drop-off,
postmark queue, we joke: "Now we can die!"
13. The Domesday Book, commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086, listed the incomes, tax assessments, wealth and resources of most estates in England and was used to raise taxes, distribute resources and consolidate power. The tax assessments were reported in hides (a unit of land measurement varying from 60 to 120 acres). The method of taxation was thus referred to as the hidage system.

14. Devşirme was a system of human taxation under the Ottoman Empire, from the 15th to the 19th century. This “blood tax," collected in the Balkan countryside every 4th year, was a levy of male children, usually between 8 and 10 years of age, to be converted from Christianity to Islam and either given to the sultan for his elite guard or inducted into the Janissary Corps of the Ottoman army.

15. Conscription under Napoleon was also known as the "blood tax".

16. Anti-Tax Tea Parties, aggressively promoted by Fox News, are set to take place in 360 cities across the nation today. Liberal pundits have taken to mocking the protests as "conservative tea-bagging". (Tea-bagging, according to wikipedia, is "a slang term for the act of a man placing his testicles in the mouth or on or around the face [including the top of the head] of another person, often in a repeated in-and-out motion as in irrumatio. The practice vaguely resembles dipping a tea bag into a cup of tea. Teabagging is also an erotic activity used within the context of BDSM and male dominance, with a dominant man teabagging his submissive partner, either a woman or a man, as one variation of facesitting and/or as a means of inflicting erotic humiliation.")

17. In the 1981 board game "Stick the IRS" the "tax player" with the most after-tax cash after 4 tours around the board wins the game and has successfully been able to STICK THE IRS.

18. New York Governor David Paterson's proposal to tax internet porn has raised the ire of the state's Republicans, who warn "by taxing [porn] you're legitimizing it... If you're taxing it, how can it be wrong?" (They might have ulterior motives, though. According to a recent study, conservatives buy more porn. "States where a majority of residents say they 'have old-fashioned values about family and marriage' bought more porn than those who disagreed with that statement. The same trend applies to places where people think 'AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior.'")

19. As of last year, 29 states had passed laws imposing taxes on illegal drugs and controlled substances.

20. Gays will pay $1 million more in taxes during their lifetime compared to straights. (But it's because gays make, like, two to three times more than straights on average -- oh snap!)

21. The most likely return to be audited is a Form 1040A from someone making less than $25,000 a year.

22. According to the IRS, there were 3,670,071 math errors on individual income tax returns in 2008.

23. In 2007 Turbo Tax sponsored a Tax Rap Contest. Vanilla Ice announced the winner.

24. Illicit offshore bank accounts account for an estimated $100 billion in unpaid annual taxes.

25. According to humorist Gerald Barzan: "taxation with representation ain't so hot either."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

25 Random Things About Resurrection

1. Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, after his arrest and crucifixion, is a movable feast, i.e., not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year, following the cycle of the Moon.

2. Naturalistic approaches to claims of Christ's resurrection point to other life-death-rebirth deities like Osiris, whose resurrection was tied to natural seasonal phenomena and agricultural cycles. Other life-death-rebirth deities include Dionysus, Attis, Adonis, Bacchus, and Mithras.

3. Depictions of Christ's Resurrection, though rare compared to the Annunciation or Crucifixion, usually show him bearing a standard, the "banner of the Resurrection", that symbolizes his victory over death...

It's a white flag with a red cross on it, first seen in a vision by the Emperor Constantine, who then modeled the Roman standard after it. In Piero della Francesca's 1460 masterpiece La resurrección de Cristo, Christ, looking a little jet-lagged, holds the battle standard in his right hand, although it is often shown in his left, freeing up his right for the Sign of the Cross (as in Bellini's version).

4. We do not find depictions of the risen Christ in art at all until the 7th Century.

5. The Jewish Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, but the Pharisees believed in a literal resurrection of the body.

6. Fuke Zen Buddhist texts tell this story about its founder, Puhua's resurrection:
One day at the street market Fuke was begging all and sundry to give him a robe. Everybody offered him one, but he did not want any of them. The master [Linji] made the superior buy a coffin, and when Fuke returned, said to him: "There, I had this robe made for you." Fuke shouldered the coffin, and went back to the street market, calling loudly: "Rinzai had this robe made for me! I am off to the East Gate to die!" The people of the market crowded after him, eager to look. Fuke said: "No, not today. Tomorrow, I shall go to the South Gate to die." And so for three days. Nobody believed it any longer. On the fourth day, and now without any spectators, Fuke went alone outside the city walls, and laid himself into the coffin. He asked a traveler who chanced by to nail down the lid. The news spread at once, and the people of the market rushed there. On opening the coffin, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ring of his hand bell.
7. The Catholic Church lifted its formal ban on cremation in 1963, until which it was officially viewed as a rejection of the dogma of the resurrection of the body. The church still discourages the scattering of ashes, however.

8. Mormons believe in animal resurrection. According to Prophet Joseph Smith:
John saw beings there [in heaven] of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,-strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified himself by saving all that his ands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and he will glorify himself with them.
9. When speaking of zombies it's not "resurrection," but "re-animation".

10. German director Holger Breiner may not have known this when he came out with Zombie: The Resurrection in 1998.

11. Muhammad was not resurrected or re-animated. He died and was buried in Medina.

12. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified and resurrected, either. According to the Koran: "They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did" (Koran 4:156). Some say the person crucified was Titian, whom Judas had sent to kill Jesus. Some say it was Judas, himself. Many early Gnostic sects, the Basilideans among them, believed Simon of Cyrene, who was forced by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus as Jesus was taken to his crucifixion, was then crucified instead of Jesus. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

13. Another alternative hypothesis: "a synergism between drugs, limbic epilepsy, and physical restraint."

14. A Better Resurrection by Sylvia Plath
I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
A lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is like the falling leaf;
O Jesus, quicken me.
15. Royalties from Leo Tolstoy's last novel Resurrection were donated to the resettlement in Canada of the Doukhobors, a Christian sect of Russian origin who had been persecuted under Nicholas I.

16. The Apostle Paul's earliest attempts to spread the good news of Christ's resurrection were not particularly well-received. Of his speech to the Greeks at the Aeropagus of Athens (Acts 17:22-33) he lamented: "when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked."

17. Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy's take on Christ's Resurrection: "When Jesus reproduced his body after its burial, he revealed the myth or material falsity of evil; its powerlessness to destroy good and the omnipotence of the Mind that knows this: he also showed forth the error of nothingness of supposed life in matter, and the great somethingness of the good we possess, which is of Spirit, and immortal" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 201).

18. Eflornithine (difluoro-methyl-ornithine or DFMO), "the resurrection drug," is used to treat advanced human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), or sleeping sickness, the incidence of which has increased nearly a 100-fold in the last 40 years, returning to levels similar to those in the 1950s.
19. Resurrection plants can undergo complete desiccation and still be revived with water. According to the USDA, "the ability to manufacture crop plants that express traits found in resurrection plants would be an important asset to agriculture in Nevada, where droughts are common and the most widely planted crop, alfalfa, has a high demand for water."

20. "Resurrection ecology" is a technique whereby researchers hatch dormant eggs from lake sediments to study a still-living species at a previous stage of its evolution. In restored environments, where the species that originally inhabited it have adapted to survive man-made changes, a "version" of the organism from the past can be brought back to life and reintroduced to the restored environment. Extinct subspecies can also be brought back by introducing related subspecies into their restored environment and allowing them to evolve naturally.

21. As scientists get closer to reconstructing ever-more long-extinct species' genomes, there is a growing debate as to whether Neanderthals, whom humans likely drove to extinction 45,000 years ago, should be "resurrected" through cloning. Nicholas Wade of the New York Times believes there are good reasons to re-create a Neanderthal: "No one knows if Neanderthals could speak. A living one would answer that question and many others."

22. In Alien Resurrection (1997), the final installment of the Alien quadrilogy, a Ripley-Alien hybrid saves humanity from doom (again).

23. Although Warner Bros. has no official plans to produce a fourth Matrix movie, there is a thriving Matrix: Resurrection movement amongst Matrix geeks online, who have produced press releases, plot synopses, posters, DVD covers, and trailers for the non-existent sequel.

24. It took Gustav Mahler seven years to compose his Symphony No. 2 in C minor, known as the Resurrection. Both his parents died during the composition of the first movement, which was entitled Totenfeier (Funeral Rites). He had no idea at the time what sort of music would follow, and considered allowing the movement to stand as an independent work. When he shared it with composer/conductor Hans von Bülow, he recalled the latter "fell into a state of extreme nervous tension, clapped his hands over his ears and exclaimed, 'If that is still music then I do not understand a single thing about music!’" The criticism stymied Mahler, and the Symphony remained unfinished until three years later, when Bülow suddenly dropped dead. Deeply saddened by the news, Mahler played the Totenfeier for his friend and fellow composer Josef Förster with such emotion Förster was convinced it was offered “in memory of Bülow.” Three months later, Mahler completed his Second Symphony.

25. The Eighth Station of the Via Lucis depicts Jesus telling Thomas: "I told you so."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

25 Random Quotes from MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo

1. "Collect every dime we're owed." - 7/2/06 on the goal of the then-new automated fare system.

2. "The free ride is over, so to speak." - 8/23/07 after a computer glitch was discovered that had allowed an unknown number of T riders to board buses and trains for free without reloading their passes for seven months.

3. “If you look around the country most major transit agencies have raised fares and cut service.” - 3/15/2006 justifying fare hikes in 2006.

4. "The number of complaints, compared to the number of rides each day...is tiny.” - 6/1/07 in response to the nearly 13,500 customer complaints from January to April of 2007.

5. "The MBTA felt it was important to further strengthen the integrity of the process." - 7/29/05 speaking of the T's drug-test policy after a T worker testified that a supervisor, in exchange for oral sex, twice tipped off a motorwoman that she was about to be screened.

6. "The tunnels are underground; it's like your basement at home." 2/2/08 explaining why after more than $262 million renovating North Station, water poured in through the ceiling during a storm. No need to worry, he added, "We have a very elaborate drainage system and a lot of pumps."

7. "To expect buses to be 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time -- that would be naive." - 11/28/05 responding to charges that up to 40% of MBTA buses on the road shouldn't be. when asked why buses weren't being regularly inspected, he replied: "It's slipping through the cracks."

8. "They are incapable of thinking outside the box.” - 2/23/04 offering his opinion of critics of the silver line, which was originally going to be a rail line, but ended up a bus line instead.

9. "There may have been a medical condition prior to her fall on the escalator." - 2/24/09 after an 82-year-old Dorchester woman was strangled to death when her scarf got caught in an MBTA escalator.

10. “It was found that alcohol was a factor in that accident.” - 3/15/05 after the death-by-escalator of a man at the Porter Square T.

11. "We will continue to remind people who use escalators to use them properly" - 3/15/05 after attributing two escalator incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a customer to "human error," by which he presumably meant on the part of the humans using the escalators at the time.

12. "Very few in the nation do." - 2/25/09 when asked if the escalator at the State Street Station has any mechanism that forces it to shut down if anything gets caught.

13. "The MBTA is not developing plans for a fare increase." - 3/6/08.

14. "The T barely has the resources to operate existing services, never mind adding additional services." - 3/29/09 dismissing calls for 24-hour bus service.

15. "While blogs come and go, people will always be able to present comments and concerns directly to the T's Customer Support Services." - 2/16/07 a couple days after MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas admitted the MBTA's "Write to the Top" program wasn't working, and that fixing it would require 25 new customer-service reps.

16. "There are numerous ways for employees to get help if they want it." - 11/21/08 after revelations that two recent incidents on the T involving injuries to passengers or passersby involved drunk or drugged-out drivers.

17. "Why are there so many stops on the B Line? Get rid of some, but not mine." - 4/22/04 mocking complaints of B line customers, mostly students, who, granted, deserve to be mocked.

18. "Their assessment was that it wasn't a situation that warranted medical attention, and we rely on the experience and the expertise of train crews that have been doing this for many, many years." - 1/31/09 defending medically unqualified T employees' assessment that a man who had collapsed on the floor of a subway car at rush hour did not need medical assistance. A similar assessment by T employees in 2004 resulted in a $3.9m wrongful death settlement against the MBTA.

19. "It's not like we had a group of girls out wilding.'' - 6/25/05 assuring riders that the T is "100 per cent safe" after a woman and her young son were attacked by a group of teenage girls, who jumped her and began kicking, punching and pulling her hair. No one on the crowded subway car did anything to aid her, though the assault lasted several minutes, spilling out onto a T platform where an MBTA worker at the station also did nothing.

20. "It's very rare that something like this will happen. The engineer sounded his whistle and [the victim] moved over to the side of the tracks, but unfortunately not enough." - 11/21/03 sort of stating the obvious after a high school student was struck and killed by a commuter train. (The rare something Pesaturo was talking about was not someone getting struck by a train, but two people getting struck by the same train in separate incidents on the same day - the other "reportedly suffered a severed arm, but was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he underwent surgery to reattach the arm.")

21. "We do have designated crossing areas for pedestrians, which we encourage people to use because you can see what happens when you don't use one of the designated crossing areas." - 11/17/08 offering another teachable moment after a BU student was struck by a green line train. He added that the trolley driver had been traumatized by the incident.

22. "The train's 240 passengers were not injured." - 1/16/09 when asked to comment on former Esquire publisher Alan Stiles MBTA-assisted suicide.

23. "We understand that some people would be frustrated when these situations occur." - 12/24/08 empathizing with riders after the T came to a 45-minute standstill during the evening commute. While it was "not clear [for the duration of the standstill] what triggered it," it turned out to be ice on the tracks. After an ice storm. Go figure.

24. "You can't put a price on safety." - 7/30/04 reacting to criticism that T ran secret "special" Orange Line trains free of charge all four nights of the Democratic National Convention for attendees.

25. "It's much too early to draw conclusions, although it is very encouraging that we accomplished our primary goal of increasing revenue." - 12/21/08 affirming the wisdom of doubling parking fees at transit lots, a move that drove down the average number of weekday parkers from 32,533 in 2007 to 29,261 in the aftermath of the increase.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

25 Random Things About Matzah

1. Matzah (also Matzo, Matzoh, or Matza), is a flatbread. It's unleavened, meaning it's made without yeast or sourdough culture, so that it doesn't rise.

2. For the duration of the Jewish Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, which is why Passover is also called "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread," and why matzah is the primary symbol of the holiday.

3. Matzah is referred to as the “bread of affliction,” in Deuteronomy. It's meant to recall the years of slavery in Egypt, and is most fittingly eaten plain.

4. Gourmet Matzo Brei recipe:


  • 6 matzos
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 4-5 eggs
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Pour hot water over matzos. Drain immediately. Squeeze out excess water. Set softened matzos aside.
  2. In a large skillet over low heat, saute the onion and the garlic in the oil until golden.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add in parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Add matzo and sauteed onions and garlic to the egg mixture. Mix well.
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan. Drop egg-matzo batter by approximately 1/4 cup. Cook
  6. matzah brei pancake over medium heat on one side, and then turn over and cook on the other.

If you are in a hurry, skip step number 2, thereby making the matzo brei without garlic and onion.


Serve with strawberry jam.
5. Matzah joke:
A Jew took his Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. He sat down on a bench and began eating. Shortly thereafter a blind man came by and sat down next to him.

Feeling neighborly, the Jew offered a sheet of matzoh to the blind man.

The blind man ran his fingers over the matzoh for a minute, and exclaimed, "Who writes this crap?"
6. Matzah rap.

7. Visit a Matzah factory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

8. Sweet Earth Chocolates' toffee and 100% organic fair trade dark chocolate Matzoh Bark is $8.95 for 8 oz., a great value considering you're doing a mitzvah just by eating it! As the company explains:
Consuming chocolate made from organically grown cocoa is one giant step toward reducing our dependence on petroleum-based agricultural inputs while supporting small growers who intercrop growing as many 6 crops on one small plot.

Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to processors, handlers, retailers and consumers, that the cocoa beans used in this chocolate were produced in a way that does no social harm.

The U.S. State Department estimates that over 15,000 child-slaves work on plantations in the Ivory Coast. They have been kidnapped or sold by their parents to work from age 8 on cutting cocoa pods from trees and processing them, often at the end of a whip. In other countries of West Africa, children work with deadly chemicals, applying pesticides and fungicides to trees without wearing protective garments and without proper training. Amazingly, some of the cocoa used in popular confections - the chocolate you eat every day is grown and harvested under such conditions.

Fair Trade certification guarantees that you are not an unwitting participant in this very inhumane situation.
9. "20 Things To Do with Matzah."

10. The ‘Matzot Orenstein’ matzah factory in the port city of Ashdod in Israel claims it has produced the largest kosher matzah on earth. The matzah measures 4.2 meters (almost 14 feet) across and is on display in the factory’s visitor center.

11. Ben & Jerry’s matzah-flavored ice cream, “Matzah Crunch” (duh) is available only in Israel. The French vanilla-flavored ice cream contains chips of chocolate-covered matzah. Produced in Ben & Jerry’s Yavne factory it costs about $4.50 a pound.

12. Spock Matzah, from Geek Crafts:

13. "Is Matzoh better than pizza?" (Only in Manhattan.)

14. Manischewitz, founded in 1888, is the world's largest matzah manufacturer.

15. Manischewitz estimates its matzah shelf life is about 2 1/2 years. But stale matzah can be re-crisped in a 250-degree oven for about five minutes.

16. Matzah balls (kneydlach in Yiddish) are a traditional Ashkenazi dumpling made from matzah meal, and usually served with chicken broth as matzah ball soup.

17. The Matzo Ball Heiress, a novel by Laurie Gwen Shapiro, is the story of Heather Greenblotz,
the heiress to the world's largest matzo company [who] plans to televise the family's Passover seder for publicity--despite the fact that her family has never celebrated it! But Heather has found a wonderful cast to play the necessary family roles (mailman = uncle, shopkeeper = grandma). So here's hoping that the surprise visit from her bisexual father, his lover and her estranged mother won't blow her cover!
Buy your copy TODAY! They're flyin' off the shelves!

18. The Matzah Man by Naomi Howland, a kosher version of "The Gingerbread Man," is more my speed.

19. In the 2003 movie Chanukah on Planet Matzah Ball,
the Jewish inhabitants of a faraway planet made entirely of Matzah have lost touch with tradition, but when a wandering menorah crash lands on their remote planet, a nine-year-old boy named Oogy is determined to find out just what the strange object means.... Upon looking through his high-powered telescope, Oogy spies three Jewish children partaking in a Chanukah party on far-away planet Earth. As the festive activities unfold before his very eyes, Oogy learns about everything from potato pancakes to what it means to eat a kosher meal. Now if he can just find out what to do with the menorah before the eighth night of Chanukah he can tell his entire planet about his exciting new discovery.
20. The Chosen People do "Matzo, Matzo Man":

21. Joey "Jaws" Chestnut holds the world record in Matzoh ball eating, popping 78 in 8 minutes at Kenny & Ziggy's World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship in 2008.

22. Vegan fun: stuffing matzah balls.

23. The 1903 Kishinev pogrom, three days of rioting that left 49 Jews dead, over 500 wounded, and over 700 houses looted and destroyed, was sparked by an anti-Semitic newspaper's unfounded accusation that Jews were responsible for the murder of a Christian boy. The paper alleged that the Jews killed him in order to use the blood in preparation of matzah.

24. The ingredients of Matzah (for the record) are: flour and water.

25. Contrary to any frightening front page stories in the Contra Costa Times, there is no Matzah shortage in the Bay Area! repeat: there is no Matzah shortage!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

25 Random Things About Baseball

1. The first known American reference to "baseball" appears in a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, town bylaw prohibiting the playing of the game near the town's new meeting house.

2. According to the 1887 Spalding's Guide, the World Series was originally so-named in the hope that other nations such as "Australia and Great Britain" would soon play and "become rivals." So far, no interest.

3. There are 108 double stitches on a baseball. They are sewn by hand, using 88 inches of waxed red thread.

4. Rawlings' Costa Rica factory, with its 450 employees, is the sole producer of major league baseballs. The balls are hand-made by workers paid around $55 a week.

5. In 2007, the average salary for a Major League baseball player was $2,824,751.

6. The average cost for a family of 4 to go to Fenway Park is $320.71. It’s the most expensive park in Major League baseball. The national average is $191.75.

7. In 2007 there were more than 2.3 million players in Little League Baseball worldwide, including 400,000 girls registered in Girl's Softball.

8. Three deaths have been associated with professional baseball. In 1920 Ray Chapman was struck in the temple by a pitch from Yankees submarine-style pitcher Carl Mays on a pitch that narrowly missed the strike zone. In 1996, umpire John McSherry suffered a heart attack on opening day, seven pitches into the game. And in 2007, Tulsa Drillers Coach Mike Coolbaugh was hit and killed by a foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez.

9. In 2008, Ivonne Hernandez, a Yankees fan, mowed down several Sox fans in the parking lot of Slade's Food & Spirits in Nashua, New Hampshire, after an argument over team loyalties inside the bar, killing 29-year-old Matthew Beaudoin and injuring his friend, 21-year-old Maria Hughes.

10. Walt Whitman once said to Horace Traubel: "[Baseball is] America's game: has the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life."

11. Jacques Barzun, in his book God's Country and Mine, says: "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." He goes on to describe it as the best group game ever invented, and a game uniquely suited to the twentieth-century:
That baseball fitly expresses the powers of the nation's mind and body is a merit separate from the glory of being the most active, agile, varied, articulate, and brainy of all group games. It is of and for our century. Tennis belongs to the individualistic past--a hero, or at most a pair of friends or lovers, against the world. The idea of baseball is a team, an outfit, a section, a gang, a union, a cell, a commando squad--in short, a twentieth century setup of opposite numbers.
12. Although the "Star-Spangled Banner" was performed at opening day ceremonies in Philadelphia as early as 1897, and the playing of the National Anthem during the seventh-inning stretch of the 1918 World Series was significant, the tradition of performing it before every baseball game didn't take hold until World War II.

13. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Major League Baseball directed teams to play ''God Bless America'' before the bottom of the seventh inning at every game. Baseball scaled back the next season, telling teams they needed to play the song only on Sundays and holidays. Only the Yankees continue to play ''God Bless America'' at every home game.

14. This hand-painted statue, "Jesus is my Coach"...

...is available from CatholicShopper.com for just $21.95. (Apparently, many customers have requested these Jesus Sport Statues depicting children other than Caucasian. If and when they become available, CatholicShopper.com assures its customers it will carry them.)

15. The first official baseball uniform, adopted in 1849 by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City, was a simple outfit consisting of a white flannel shirt, blue wool pants and a straw hat.

16. Stirrups debuted in 1868 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings decided to don knickers and expose their colored socks. According to The New York Times' Bats blog,
The stirrup came about to provide players a measure of safety as well as comfort in the days before colorfast dyes. In those days a player who got spiked by an opponent could get blood poisoning if the dye were to run into the cut. As a result players wore white socks under their colored stockings, which are still today called “sanitary socks”.
17. Harriet Archer explains why baseball is the sexiest sport (it sure ain't the uniforms):
Unlike football, hockey or boxing, baseball says nothing about the primal, untamed, innate beastliness of man.... Baseball shows, instead, that men are as capable of control as they are of creating chaos. For baseball players are required to sublimate the sort of primitive desires encouraged in other male athletes -- aggression, rage, dominance -- in favor of something approaching grace.
18. The first known women's baseball team played at Vassar College in 1866.

19. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was founded by Philip K. Wrigley in 1943. The era of international competition in women's baseball began with the 2001 Women's World Series in Toronto.

20. In May 2005, Lazaro Collazo, baseball coach at a prestigious South Florida private school (and formerly a winning assistant coach at the Univeristy of Miami) resigned after students said he used his genitalia as an object lesson. According to the police report, after his team lost to a rival, Collazo dropped his pants, took out his penis, pointed at it and his testicles, and asked his young players if they "had a set of these or were they equipped with a vagina."

21. Insane Japanese baseball trick here.

22. Billy Bean is one of only two ex-MLB players who have come out of the closet.

23. The other one, Glenn Burke, is also credited with inventing the high-five.

24. In 1993, little league baseball officials in Hayward, California banned heckling by fans and players, after two post-game fights, one of which resulted in the death of a spectator, who was struck in the head with a baseball bat by a player who had become enraged when fans began heckling his team mates at the end of the game. According to the St. Petersburg Times,
The catcher swung a bat at a player from an opposing team, but the player ducked and [the spectator] was hit and later died. The catcher tried to run, but a player from the other team threw a rock that hit him in the head.
25. The Top Ten baseball heckles, according to Baseball Heckle Depot, are:
10. I'm gonna break your cane and shoot your dog!

9. How can you eat with those hands?

8. I thought only horses slept standing up!

7. You couldn't pitch a tent!

6. You couldn't throw a party!

5. Take off your coat, you're inside!

4. You've got less hits than an Amish website!

3. You couldn't save anything at WalMart!

2. I've seen better arms on a snake!

1. How's your Japanese?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

25 Random Things About Gossip

1. The word "gossip" comes from the Old English godsibb "godparent," from God + sibb "relative". Extended in M.E. to "any familiar acquaintance" (1362), especially to woman friends invited to attend a birth, later to "anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk" (1566). The verb meaning "to talk idly about the affairs of others" dates from 1627.

2. According to the Folklore Encyclopedia, "gossip is a speech act in which people make sense of their world by providing a charter for belief in the moral character of known social actors. Unlike rumor or other forms of hearsay, most gossip is not assumed to be false; rather, its defining feature is that its target is not present while moral judgments are made."

3. Gossip Girl is a wildly popular series of novels for teenagers created by Cecily von Ziegesar, which has been adapted into a hit TV series. Feminist Naomi Wolf has called the books "corruption with a cute overlay," claiming their frank sexuality is "blasé and entirely commodified." The audience doesn't really seem to mind.

4. In 2006, leading Islamic clerics in Indonesia forbade Muslims from watching, making or broadcasting television gossip shows, warning: “The Koran strongly forbids any gossip-related activities and [gossiping] people could end up in hell."

5. This scene over the west door of the Church of St. Foy in Conques, France depicts a gossip having his tongue removed by a demon in Hell...

6. According to the Old Testament, when Miriam the Prophetess and Moses's brother Aaron "spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married" God punished Miriam with leprosy.

7. According to evolutionary psychologists, gossip fosters a sense of community with shared interests and information, builds structures of social accountability, furthers mutual social grooming, and provides a mating tool that allows women to mutually identify socially desirable men.

8. In 2006, Don't Date Him Girl,a website that "allows women to post trashy stuff about men they think have cheated on them, as a warning to other women," was sued by Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Todd Hollis, who had been profiled on the site. One woman wrote that he had herpes, another alleged he was gay. The lawsuit was dismissed in Pennsylvania for a lack of jurisdiction. A second lawsuit filed in federal court in Florida was dismissed after both parties reached an agreement.

9. Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff, curator of San Jose, California's Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, recently uncovered a tablet containing the first-known instance of gay gossip: a 5,000-year-old text describing an unidentified king often visiting the home of one of his generals at night. Schwappach-Shirriff says the repeated use of the phrase "in whose home there was no wife" suggests the king was having a gay affair.

10. Peter Vajda, Ph.D, C.P.C., founding partner of SpiritHeart, an Atlanta-based company that supports conscious living through coaching, counseling and facilitating, identifies gossip as a form of workplace violence, noting that it is "essentially a form of attack."

11. A study by the Institute of Health Sciences in the UK found that "organisational change in its many manifestations provides a trigger for gossip," and that "gossip is used as a sensemaking strategy, a way of communicating and managing emotion, a mechanism for coping with uncertainty, and a means of sabotage and resistance."

12. Andrew Jackson maintained that gossip killed his wife Rachel.

13. "Careless Whisper" is a 1984 single by Wham! It reached number one in nearly twenty-five countries, selling over six million copies worldwide, ranking as one of the most successful songs of the 1980s. In 2006 it was voted sixth-favorite break-up song in Britain. It has been covered by Bananarama, Kenny G, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Delight, Farhad Besharati, Gloria Gaynor, Julio Iglesias, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Slinkee Minx, The Shadows, Pedro Fernandez (whose Spanish cover version is called "Absurda Confidencia"), Seether, and Barry Manilow, among legions of others.

14. The Gossip (who have also covered "Careless Whisper") are a three-piece American indie rock band from Olympia Washington. Their 2006 album Standing in the Way of Control went Gold in the UK.

15. Perez Hilton's real name is Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr.

16. Liz Smith, the legendary gossip columnist who was fired from the New York Post in February, recently complained to CNN's Howard Kurtz: "I think the real problem is that there is no control on the way people gossip now. There are no editors, publishers, lawyers aren't -- the Internet is just wild. So these kids who are running gawker.com or Perez Hilton, they are very clever and they deserve a lot of credit for making fabulous careers for themselves. But I don't believe a word any of them write."

17. The introduction of the "grapevine telegraph" in the mid-1840s gave Americans a more efficient way to gossip. Booker T. Washington marveled at how rapidly slaves in the South got news about the abolition movement, Lincoln's campaign for the presidency, and the Civil War through the "grape-vine telegraph."

18. On July 12, 1998, Michael Kinsley, then the editor of Slate, sent a private email to friends and colleagues titled "My Career as Editor of The New Yorker," wherein he "laid out in embarrassing detail a meeting with The New Yorker's owner, Si Newhouse, who eventually chose Kinsley's rival David Remnick to succeed Tina Brown. Within a few days the letter had been read by almost every journalist in America." As Alex Beam recounts, "it was one of the first recorded instances of viral gossip with e-mail as the vector."

19. JuicyCampus.com, described as "gossip 2.0" by its creator, and as a "virtual bathroom wall for abusive, degrading, and hateful speech" by representatives of Pepperdine University's student body that sought, unsuccessfully, to have it blocked, was a website launched in 2007, devoted to anonymous gossip, rumors, and rants posted by students about students at over 500 college campuses. In 2008 Google removed JuicyCampus from its advertising network due to "excessive profanity." The site ceased operations in February 2009. Several lawsuits involving claims of defamation, harassment, and assault, are pending.

20. According to research, gossip accounts for up to 80 per cent of our conversation.

21. The caquetoire, or "gossip chair", became popular in late sixteenth century Europe. Wide in the front, and narrowed at the back, it was designed to accommodate women's voluminous farthingale skirts, which were too cumbersome for regular chairs.

22. One recent study found that men spend an average of 76 minutes a day chatting with friends or co-workers, compared to just 52 minutes for women. Hot topics for men include drunken friends' antics, old school pals and the most attractive girl at work. Women are more likely to complain about other females or their friends gaining weight.

23. It is a widely held belief that Paul Burrell, Diana, Princess of Wales's former butler, blew his chances of being crowned King of the Jungle on Britain's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! by "waffling on" about his former boss.

24. Campaign Gossip amongst the Washington Press Corps had it that Obama's airplane was "cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time."

25. “The only thing worse than being talked about," as Oscar Wilde once said, "is not being talked about.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

25 Random Things About Porn

1. 12% of all websites are pornographic.

2. 25% of all search engine requests are pornographic.

3. The word "pornography" dates back to just 1857, and was originally applied to "descriptions of prostitutes," (from Fr. pornographie, from Gk. pornographos "[one] writing of prostitutes"), and mostly used by scholars discussing classical art and writing.

4. The Supreme Court established the basic legal standard for pornography in miller v. california (1973), wherein Chief Justice Warren Burger stated that pornographic material would be classified as obscene if it met three criteria: (1) the work, taken as a whole by an average person applying contemporary community standards, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the work depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (3) the work, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

5. Ron Jeremy, aka the "Hedgehog"...

...has had sex with an estimated 4,000 different women on film over a career of some 20 years.

6. Entry-level female porn stars are paid $200-$400 for blow jobs, $400-$1200 for vaginal sex, $900-$1500 for anal, $1200-$1600 for double penetration, and $2000 for double-anal (for niche stuff like midgets or trannies, the girls generally get 15% extra).

7. During the first Gulf War, pilots from the USS John F. Kennedy reportedly watched porn videos “to help get them pumped up to drop bombs.”

8. 1 in 3 visitors to adult websites are women.

9. According to fMRI studies, pornography might rely on a mirror-neuron system, the same neural system involved in empathy, imitation, culture, and learning. As one commentator put it: "you like what you see because a motor-resonance mechanism makes you think you're doing it."

10. Drs. Ron and Nancy Rockey claim that pornography addiction has its source in feelings of inferiority or inadequacy for those who may have been abused or rejected in some form while in their mother's womb and/or during the first seven years of their life.

11. In 1993 Lorena Bobbitt cut off more than half of her husband John Wayne Bobbitt's penis, left the apartment with her half, drove a ways, rolled down the car window and threw the penis into a field. Apparently realizing the severity of the incident, she stopped and called 911. After an exhaustive search, the penis was located, packed in ice, and was re-attached during a nine and a half hour operation. In 1994, John Wayne Bobbitt starred in his first porn video: John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut. Two years later he starred in another: Frankenpenis. He has not done any since.

12. Over half of evangelical pastors admit to viewing pornography last year.

13. Nude stereoscopy debuted in 1838 and became extremely popular.

14. American Express stopped accepting porn transactions in 2000, claiming the number of disputed transactions at porn sites was too high.

15. A year after the World Wide Web went live, Gary Kremen, founder of Match.com, registered the domain name sex.com. In 1995 con man Stephen Michael Cohen stole it from him and launched a multi-million dollar website. in 1998 Kremen sued under six different causes of action to reclaim it. The court ruled in his favor, transferring ownership back to Kremen, who sought damages. In 2001 Kremen finally won a judgment that awarded him $65m. Cohen fled to Mexico, leaving Kremen with his mansion, which he had trashed before fleeing. He was captured by US Marshals in 2005 when he attempted to renew his Mexican visa. With interest, Cohen now owes Kremen almost $90m. Kremen sold sex.com in 2006 for $12m. He still lives in Cohen’s house.

16. In 1996 Robin B. Hamman wrote the first Masters Dissertation on "Cyborgasms: Cybersex Amongst Multiple-Selves and Cyborgs in the Narrow-Bandwidth Space of America Online Chat Rooms." He now works for the BBC.

17. John Cameron Mitchell's 2006 critically acclaimed Shortbus is the first major motion picture to open with a scene depciting graphic autofellatio to climax.

18. Elmhurst, Illinois is #1 in the nation for internet searches with keywords "porn," "xxx," and "sex".

19. 2008 Vice Presidential Candidate and 2012 Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin inspired tribute porn (Hustler Video's Nailin' Paylin) and a sex doll (Topco's “This is NOT Sarah Palin Inflatable Love Doll”).

20. BUTT is a quarterly magazine for gay men, founded in 2001 and edited by Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom. It has an estimated worldwide circulation of 24,000.

21. In January of 2009 Larry Flynt of Hustler, and Joe Francis of "Girls Gone Wild" petitioned the government for a $5 billion bailout, citing flagging adult DVD sales, down 22% from a year ago. "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses," Francis said. "We feel we deserve the same consideration."

22. Harold Johnson's Zen and the Art of Pornography was published in 2008. It is available on Kindle.

23. AM 740 Midnight Blue, "the first-ever, R-rated, late-night radio show," launched in January 2009, offering a collection of sexy songs (like the Swallows’ “It Ain't the Meat It's the Motion," Bull Moose Jackson's "Big Ten Inch Record," and Blind Boy Fuller’s "Sweet Honey Hole") intended to appeal to Toronto Zoomers, “baby boomers who lead an active, adventurous lifestyle."

24. A Google search for "hentai" produces 63.5 million hits — over a third more than "samurai" (39.5 million) or "sushi" (40.9 million).

25. Cartoon pornography is illegal in Canada if it depicts any characters of the human species under the age of 18, including fictional ones.

Sources: 1,2 - Good Magazine; 3 - etymology.com; 5 - Washington Post; 6 - videobox blog ; 7 - oneagrygirl.com; 8,18 - Top 10 Reviews; 9 - AlphaPsy Blog; 10 - itsfixable.com; 12 - safefamilies.org; 14 - Wired; 15 - Times Online; 21 - TMZ; 23 - Torontoist; 25 - efc.ca.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

25 Random Things About Meat

In the spirit of the "25 Random Things about Me" facebook meme, I offer you "25 Random Things about Meat"...

1. The word "meat" has animal, vegetable and fungal applications - to wit, the "meat" of a tomato (distinct from the juice and seeds), the "meat" of a mushroom cap (as distinct from spores, gills and stems); and the edible flesh of any animal, as well as its edible organs (both as distinct from the bones, skin, feathers, fur, scales, etc.), are called "meat".

2. The energy it takes to produce 2.2 pounds of beef is enough to light a 100 watt bulb for 20 days.

3. Ben Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanac, warns: "Beware of meat twice boil'd, & an old foe reconcil'd."

4. Pigs are sometimes boiled alive.

5. Early on the morning of September 6th, 2008, according to the Seattle Times, "a stranger broke into a home east of Fresno, rubbed spices on the body of one of two men as they slept and used an 8-inch sausage to whack the other man in the face and head before he fled, wearing only a T-shirt, boxer shorts and socks, and leaving behind his wallet with his ID." He was later found in a nearby field and taken into custody.

6. Cyberpunks, and other denizens of Virtual Reality, refer to the physical world as "meatspace," at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

7. It's not necessarily that vegetarians don't like the taste of it, it's just that many believe that meat is murder.

8. The Smiths, whose front man Morrissey and lead guitarist Johnny Marr are both vegetarians, came out with their album "Meat is Murder" in 1985.

Lyrics include:
And the calf that you carve with a smile
Is murder
And the turkey you festively slice
Is murder
Do you know how animals die ?

Kitchen aromas aren't very homely
Its not comforting, cheery or kind
Its sizzling blood and the unholy stench
Of murder

Its not natural, normal or kind
The flesh you so fancifully fry
The meat in your mouth
As you savour the flavour
Of murder
9. One way to enjoy meat without eating it is by visiting your nearest Museum.

Roy Lichtenstein's Meat, 1962

10. Meat is also suit-able (get it?) for performance art!

Zhang Huan's My New York #4, 2002.

11. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye makes gorgeous "marble floors" out of salami, bologna and mortadella.

12. Everyone knows that pork is "the other white meat," and raccoon is "the other dark meat". But betcha didn't know that goat is the "friendly red meat." (Cows are so mean!)

13. Kangaroo meat is low in fat (under 2%), most of which is polyunsaturated, and only 98 calories per 100 gram (3.5 ounce) a serving.

14. "In 2007, estimated U.S. per capita total red meat and poultry consumption (retail weight basis) was 221.3 pounds per person, a record amount," according to BEEF Magazine.

15. "Meat" (with quotes) is sometimes used as a euphemism for the membrum virile.

16. In October of last year "THE secret ex-GIRLFRIEND of Mr Gay UK cannibal Anthony Morley" told News of the World "he once sent back a steak dish at a restaurant because it was RAW. The killer, who had no trouble pan-frying his victim, Damien Oldfield, in olive oil and herbs, couldn’t stomach the perfectly presented steak tartare and demanded it was cooked."

17. Meat pies are edible. Beefcake is not. If you get confused, refer to this handy chart:



18. It is not advisable for humans to eat zombie meat, either.

19. Midnight Meat Train (2008) was the most recent major motion picture to star Brooke Shields.

20. As Shakespeare wrote in Much Ado About Nothing: "A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.”

21. The original cover for the Beatles 1966 album Yesterday and Today featured a cover by photographer Robert Whitaker with the band in butcher smocks draped with pieces of meat and baby doll body parts...

In the U.S., the outcry was immediate, and the record was recalled. Capitol redistributed it with a more conventional
cover pasted over the old one. While Yesterday and Today was the only Beatles record to lose money for Capitol, original "first state" "Butcher Covers" now go for tens of thousands of dollars.

22. Charles Bukowski may have been the father of the "Meat School" of poetry, but I went to college with his successor, the Infamous Ed The Meat Poet, last heard from in 2005 at the Book Court in Brooklyn.

Ed, beating his meat at Indiana University, c.1990.

23. Meat Loaf's real name is Marvin Lee Aday.

24. Spam premiered in 1937, but it was not until 1950 that canned meat saw its crowning glory:

25. Scientists are now growing in vitro meat -- also known as "cultured meat" -- in laboratories. Imagine a future with steak house menus reading: "No animal was harmed in the making of this filet mignon."