If we eat any food, or drink any beverage, we must recite a blessing over them before and after.
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If we eat any food, or drink any beverage, we must recite a blessing over them before and after.

-Shmuel Yosef

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Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love.Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards.See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy.The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage.Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird?And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted?The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together.And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering.Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks,' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe.Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder.Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs.Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.

-Tom Robbins

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The 9/11 Commission warned that Al Qaeda "could... scheme to wield weapons of unprecedented destructive power in the largest cities of the United States." Future attacks could impose enormous costs on the entire economy. Having used up the surplus that the country enjoyed as part of the Cold War peace dividend, the U.S. government is in a weakened financial position to respond to another major terrorist attack, and its position will be damaged further by the large budget gaps and growing dependence on foreign capital projected for the future. As the historian Paul Kennedy wrote in his book The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, too many decisions made in Washington today "bring merely short-term advantage but long-term disadvantage." The absence of a sound, long-term financial strategy could bring about a deterioration that, in his words, "leads to the downward spiral of slower growth, heavier taxes, deepening domestic splits over spending priorities and a weakening capacity to bear the burdens of defense."Decades of success in mobilizing enormous sums of money to fight large wars and meet other government needs have led Americans to believe that ample funds will be readily available in the event of a future war, terrorist attack, or other emergency. But that can no longer be assumed. Budget constraints could limit the availability or raise the cost of resources to deal with new emergencies. If government debt continues to pile up, deficits rise to stratospheric levels, and heave dependence on foreign capital grows, borrowing the money needed will be very costly. [Alexander] Hamilton understood the risks of such a precarious situation. After suffering through financial shortages, lack of adequate food and weapons, desertions, and collapsing morale during the Revolution, he considered the risk that the government would have difficulty in assembling funds to defend itself all too real. If America remains on its dangerous financial course, Hamilton's gift to the nation - the blessing of sound finances - will be squandered.The U.S. government had no higher obligation that to protect the security of its citizens. Doing so becomes increasingly difficult if its finances are unsound. While the nature of this new brand of warfare, the war on terrorism, remains uncharted, there is much to be gained if our leaders look to the experiences of the past for guidance in responding to the challenges of the future. The willingness of the American people and their leaders to ensure that the nation's finances remain sound in the face of these new challenges - sacrificing parochial interests for the common good - is the price we must pay to preserve the nation's security and thus the liberties that Hamilton and his generation bequeathed us.

-Robert Hormats

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Did I ever tell you about the manwho taught his asshole to talk?His whole abdomen would move up and down,you dig, farting out the words.It was unlike anything I ever heard. Bubbly, thick, stagnant sound. A sound you could smell. This man worked for the carnival,you dig? And to start with it waslike a novelty ventriloquist act.After a while,the ass started talking on its own.He would go inwithout anything prepared...and his ass would ad-liband toss the gags back at him every time. Then it developed sort of teethlike...little raspy incurving hooksand started eating.He thought this was cute at firstand built an act around it...but the asshole would eat its way throughhis pants and start talking on the street... shouting out it wanted equal rights.It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags.Nobody loved it. And it wanted to be kissed,same as any other mouth. Finally, it talked all the time,day and night. You could hear him for blocks,screaming at it to shut up... beating at it with his fists... and sticking candles up it, but... nothing did any good,and the asshole said to him... "It is you who will shut upin the end, not me..."because we don't need youaround here anymore. I can talk and eat and shit." After that, he began waking upin the morning with transparentjelly... like a tadpole's tailall over his mouth. He would tear it off his mouthand the pieces would stick to his hands... like burning gasoline jellyand grow there. So, finally, his mouth sealed over... and the whole head... would have amputated spontaneouslyexcept for the eyes, you dig? That's the one thingthat the asshole couldn't do was see. It needed the eyes.Nerve connections were blocked... and infiltrated and atrophied. So, the brain couldn'tgive orders anymore. It was trapped inside the skull... sealed off.For a while, you could see... the silent, helpless sufferingof the brain behind the eyes. And then finallythe brain must have died... because the eyes went out... and there was no more feeling in themthan a crab's eye at the end of a stalk.

-William S.

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Their management and regulation of our lives spans the total spectrum of American experience, from their obtuse Imperial Measurement System, to their irregularity-strangled English language. From their lobbyist-ruled government bureaucracy, to their consumer-oriented religious holidays like Christmas. From their brainless professional sports jocks cast as heroes, to their anorexic supermodels warping the concept of beauty. These are the people who made sugary colas more important that water; fast food more important than health; television sitcoms more important than reading literature. They made smoking a joint in your home a crime; going out in public without your hair tinted an embarrassment; and accidentally carrying a half-filled bottle of baby formula on an airplane a terrorist act. Do you realize 85 percent of Americans still say 'God bless you' after someone sneezes? And that 'In God We Trust' is on every single dollar in circulation? Or that 'One nation under God' is recited everyday in the Pledge of Allegiance by millions of impressionable kids?From our first day alive on this planet, they began teaching society everything it knows and experiences. It was all brainwashing bullshit. Their trio of holy catechisms is: faith is more important than reason; inputs are more important than outcomes; hope is more important than reality. It was designed to choke your independent thinking and acting—to bring out the lowest common denominator in people—so that vast amounts of the general public would literally buy into sponsorship and preservation of their hegemonic nation. Their greatest achievement was the creation of the two-party political system; it gave only the illusion of choice, but never offered any change; it promised freedom, but only delivered more limits. In the end, you got stuck with two leading loser parties and not just one. It completed their trap of underhanded domination, and it worked masterfully. Look anywhere you go. America is a nation of submissive, dumbed-down, codependent, faith-minded zombies obsessed with celebrity gossip, buying unnecessary goods, and socializing without purpose on their electronic gadgets. The crazy thing is that people don't even know it; they still think they're free. Everywhere, people have been made into silent accomplices in the government's twisted control game. In the end, there is no way out for anyone.What seems worst of all, though, is that even the leaders don't recognize this. The greatest danger of the whole mess is that all this Western-American conditioning has been on autopilot for centuries. Nobody is in control of it anymore. It's a mindless goliath wandering the Earth, devouring lives, erasing potential, and following its every whim—regardless of how irrational, obscene, uneducated, enslaving, or backwards its actions are. The American Dream has become a death sentence of drudgery, consumerism, and fatalism: a garage sale where the best of the human spirit is bartered away for comfort, obedience and trinkets. It's unequivocally absurd.

-Zoltan Istvan

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We have looked at some of the things that a female might do if she has been deserted by her mate. But these all have the air of making the best of a bad job. Is there anything a female can do to reduce the extent to which her mate exploits her in the first place? She has a strong card in her hand. She can refuse to copulate. She is in demand, in a seller's market. This is because she brings the dowry of a large, nutritious egg. A male who successfully copulates gains a valuable food reserve for his offspring. The female is potentially in a position to drive a hard bargain before she copulates. Once she has copulated she has played her ace — her egg has been committed to the male. It is all very well to talk about driving hard bargains, but we know very well it is not really like that. Is there any realistic way in which something equivalent to driving a hard bargain could evolve by natural selection? I shall consider two main possibilities, called the domestic-bliss strategy, the he-man strategy. The simplest version of the domestic-bliss strategy is this. The female looks the males over, and tries to spot signs of fidelity and domesticity in advance. There is bound to be variation in the population of males in their predisposition to be faithful husbands. If females could recognize such qualities in advance, they could benefit themselves by choosing males possessing them. One way for a female to do this is to play hard to get for a long time, to be coy. Any male who is not patient enough to wait until the female eventually consents to copulate is not likely to be a good bet as a faithful husband. By insisting on a long engagement period, a female weeds out casual suitors, and only finally copulates with a male who has proved his qualities of fidelity and perseverance in advance. Feminine coyness is in fact very common among animals, and so are prolonged courtship or engagement periods. As we have already seen, a long engagement can also benefit a male where there is a danger of his being duped into caring for another male's child.

-Richard Dawkins

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I tramp the perpetual journeyMy signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods, No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair, I have no chair, no philosophy, I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange, But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll, My left hand hooking you round the waist, My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road. Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you, You must travel it for yourself. It is not far, it is within reach, Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know, Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land. Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth, Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go. If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip, And in due time you shall repay the same service to me, For after we start we never lie by again. This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven, And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then? And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond. You are also asking me questions and I hear you, I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself. Sit a while dear son, Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink, But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence. Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams, Now I wash the gum from your eyes, You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life. Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore, Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

-Walt Whitman

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And I want to play hide-and-seek and give you my clothes and tell you I like your shoes and sit on the steps while you take a bath and massage your neck and kiss your feet and hold your hand and go for a meal and not mind when you eat my food and meet you at Rudy's and talk about the day and type up your letters and carry your boxes and laugh at your paranoia and give you tapes you don't listen to and watch great films and watch terrible films and complain about the radio and take pictures of you when you're sleeping and get up to fetch you coffee and bagels and Danish and go to Florent and drink coffee at midnight and have you steal my cigarettes and never be able to find a match and tell you about the tv programme I saw the night before and take you to the eye hospital and not laugh at your jokes and want you in the morning but let you sleep for a while and kiss your back and stroke your skin and tell you how much I love your hair your eyes your lips your neck your breasts your arse yourand sit on the steps smoking till your neighbour comes home and sit on the steps smoking till you come home and worry when you're late and be amazed when you're early and give you sunflowers and go to your party and dance till I'm black and be sorry when I'm wrong and happy when you forgive me and look at your photos and wish I'd known you forever and hear your voice in my ear and feel your skin on my skin and get scared when you're angry and your eye has gone red and the other eye blue and your hair to the left and your face oriental and tell you you're gorgeous and hug you when you're anxious and hold you when you hurt and want you when I smell you and offend you when I touch you and whimper when I'm next to you and whimper when I'm not and dribble on your breast and smother you in the night and get cold when you take the blanket and hot when you don't and melt when you smile and dissolve when you laugh and not understand why you think I'm rejecting you when I'm not rejecting you and wonder how you could think I'd ever reject you and wonder who you are but accept you anyway and tell you about the tree angel enchanted forest boy who flew across the ocean because he loved you and write poems for you and wonder why you don't believe me and have a feeling so deep I can't find words for it and want to buy you a kitten I'd get jealous of because it would get more attention than me and keep you in bed when you have to go and cry like a baby when you finally do and get rid of the roaches and buy you presents you don't want and take them away again and ask you to marry me and you say no again but keep on asking because though you think I don't mean it I do always have from the first time I asked you and wander the city thinking it's empty without you and want what you want and think I'm losing myself but know I'm safe with you and tell you the worst of me and try to give you the best of me because you don't deserve any less and answer your questions when I'd rather not and tell you the truth when I really don't want to and try to be honest because I know you prefer it and think it's all over but hang on in for just ten more minutes before you throw me out of your life and forget who I am and try to get closer to you because it's beautiful learning to know you and well worth the effort and speak German to you badly and Hebrew to you worse and make love with you at three in the morning and somehow somehow somehow communicate some of the overwhelming undying overpowering unconditional all-encompassing heart-enriching mind-expanding on-going never-ending love I have for you.

-Sarah Kane

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My darling Julie, I know you'll never see this letter, but it helps to write to you every day. It keeps you close to me. G-d, I miss you so. You haunt every hour of my life. I wish I'd never met you. No-I don't mean that! What good would my life be without my memories of you to make me smile. I keep wondering if you're happy. I want you to be. I want you to have a glorious life. That's why I couldn't say the things I knew you wanted to hear when we were together. I was afraid if I did, you'd wait for me for years. I knew you wanted me to say I loved you. Not saying that to you was the only unselfish thing I did in Colorado, and I now I regret even that. I love you, Julie. Christ, I love you so much. I'd give up all my life to have one year with you. Six months. Three. Anything. You stole my heart in just a few days, darling, but you gave me your heart, too. I know you did- I could see it in your eyes every time you looked at me. I don't regret the loss of my freedom any more or rage at the injustice of the years I spent in prison. Now, my only regret is that I can't have you. You're young, and I know you'll forget about me quickly and go on with your own life. That's exactly what you should do. It's what you must do. I want you to do that, Julie.That's such a lousy lie. What I really want is to see you again, to hold you in my arms, to make love to you over and over again until I've filled you so completely that there's no room left inside of you for anyone but me, ever. I never thought of sexual intercourse as 'making love' until you. You never knew that.....I wish I had time to write you a better letter or that I'd kept one of the others I've written so I could send that instead. They were all much more coherent than this one. I won't send another letter to you, so don't watch for one. Letters will make us both hope and dream, and if I don't stop doing that, I will die of wanting you.Before I go--I see from the newspapers that Costner has a new movie coming out in the States. If you dare to start fantasizing over Kevin after you see it, I will haunt you for the rest of your life.I love you, Julie. I loved in Colorado. I love you here, where I am. I will always love you. Everywhere. Always.

-Judith McNaught

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