Saturday, July 23, 2005

RUNNING IN PLACE

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Bush family flacking killing SS
By Elaine Meinel Supkis

It baffles me how right wing America worships the Bush family. They are so obviously sick but then, birds of a feather etc. Last week's bike crash was echoed by Blair's own son doing the opposite, he ran over a bike rider. It is dangerous whenever any of these sorts of people, ie, those who rule us, go forth in public.

Bush is sallying forth manfully on his Mission Impossible. We all imagine the stupid Social Security reforms were killed off but they are not. Bush is pushing and pushing and his ill tempered, incredibly ugly mother is assisting him in this effort. Medusa would be turned to stone if she were to look upon Bab's face.

From the LA Times:
A week ago, when President Bush met with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III to interview him for a potential Supreme Court nomination, the conversation turned to exercise. When asked by the president of the United States how often he exercised, Wilkinson impressively responded that he runs 3 1/2 miles a day. Bush urged him to adopt more cross-training. "He warned me of impending doom," Wilkinson told the New York Times.

Am I the only person who finds this disturbing? I don't mean the fact that Bush would vet his selection for the highest court in the land in part on something utterly trivial. That's expected. What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy.
The entire GOP is creepy but of course, Bush is a text book example of a psychopath acting out alcoholic impulses as his shrunken brain misfires more and more, note his scrambled speech and odd tics and bizarre beliefs.

Of course, anyone looking at California, which recently rashly handed the car keys to yet another drug and drink abusing exercise fanatical fantasy figure psychopath who also abuses women, would wonder why people are attracted to really sick people. Why do obvious psychopaths like Hitler or Bush or Schwarzenegger or Mao end up, like Stalin or Pol Pot or a host of other obvious examples, in great power positions?

The LAT writer is actually quite funny, do read his entire piece. But the real question remains, why do humans happily follow obviously demented, psychopathic, bizarre individuals? This question has exercised my mind all my long life. At first, being a hopeful person, I used to pursue the truth and dig around in leader's past and present and then reveal the information to people in the hopes they will look it all over very carefully before following a dangerous person into folly.

This doesn't work.

So now I have to ask "why?" When I argue issues with people, one thing I have noticed is they become rapidly psychopathic themselves as they try to regurgitate the information they have programmed into their brains. This self-propagandizing is easy to short circuit by using Socratic methods. In the early days of the web, I loved taking a group of people through a long process of questioning, agreeing seemingly then adding a new question. "Oh, you are right about that. What if.." was a standard line.

I quickly learned that when the moment of truth dawned, night fell. In other words, once people were forced to face the truth, the result would be emotional. Namely, rage. And a reaffirmation of whatever it was they held dear. Indeed, if they were very irrational, they were more determined to keep their ideas intact.

A client of mine was lamenting how he couldn't explain to his well to do friends who were Republicans that Bush lies a great deal. They couldn't see it nor were they interested in understanding a word he said to them. Blissfully, they simply ignored everything.

The cult of Bush is floundering, though. Not due to information and understanding but because of deteriorating conditions. Another 6,000 well paying industrial jobs are being killed today by Scott tissues. They are closing 20 factories in the USA and Europe. They are expanding their factories guess where. This makes over 50,000 lost industrial jobs just this month alone. Alarm is sweeping across much of the brainwashed land. The messed up War on Terror which is literally blowing up in our faces has finally caused some alarm. The lies about Rove are taking a small toll, too. The mainstream media is peddling hard and running like heck trying desperately to prop up Bush even as we try to throw his aides overboard.

Like all despots, Bush clings to power more and more. His allies and aides drop all pretense of being moral and simply ignore us as they continue onwards. Their allies dutifully mouth incredibly more and more unbelievable lies, remember Bagdad Ali? Oh, how our own psychopaths mocked him! Yet here they are, aping him completely. In what way is Scottie different from his counterpart, Ali?

Woman's Evolution, by Evelyn Reed, is a very interesting book, one I memorized years ago.
The other clause of the taboo was simply a sex taboo, having nothing whatever to do with incest. As many scholars have pointed out, male sexuality in the animal world - where males fight one another for access to females - is a violent force. Such individualism and competitiveness had to be suppressed since human survival depended upon the closest cooperation of all the members of the group. Thus, it became imperative to overcome animal sexuality and to convert fighting males into the human brotherhood.

This goal was also achieved through totemism and taboo. All males in the totem-kin group were forbidden access to any females of that group. All the older women were classified as the mothers (or older sisters); the women of a man's own generation were his sisters, and the female children were his younger sisters. In this way the antisocial characteristics of animal sexuality were suppressed, and the foundation for the tribal brotherhood was laid. The clan system of social organisation arose as a non-sexual, economic and social association of mothers, sisters, and brothers.

The two clauses of the taboo have an interlocking relationship. Food and sex represent the most imperative hungers in human and animal life; they are the twin driving forces behind the survival of the species. The hunger for food must be satisfied if the organism is to maintain itself., the hunger for sex must be satisfied if the species is to reproduce itself. The double taboo on food and sex therefore represents the earliest social controls over these imperative needs. And without these controls, human organisation could not have gained its start.

Far from being a figment of the imagination of early anthropologists or a non-subject, totemism is in fact one of the most important subjects to be investigated in reconstructing our most ancient history. Totemism and taboo represent the means by which humankind elevated itself out of animality. Totemism is all-inclusive; it not only represents the totem-kin and the totem protectorate against cannibalism but also all the social regulations that were required for humanising the species. Through totemism and taboo, humanity survived and thrived until it could reach a higher stage of social and cultural life.

Those who have turned away from the matriarchy, however, fail to understand totemism because it was the female sex that instituted it. Contrary to current myths about their status, women have not always been the inferior sex as they are today. In the beginning the females were the advantaged sex; they were the mothers, responsible for the survival of the species. Unlike males, who suffered from the biological handicap of incessant striving for dominance over other males, females could band together for the protection of themselves and their offspring. This nurturing, cooperative trait enabled the females to make the great advance from the maternal brood in the animal world to the maternal clan system in the human world.

Then, through the institution of totemism and taboo, the females were able to correct the biological deficiencies of the males. They began by socialising the two basic hungers. They expelled all internal hunting - whether for food or mates - from the group composed of totem-kin mothers, sisters, and brothers. By this means, both cannibalism and fights for dominance were overcome, and males were brought together as the clan brothers. This cooperative association of men - the fratriarchy, as I call it - has no counterpart in the animal world. It represents the crowning achievement of the totemic system, which was instituted by the women.
In other words, just as researchers watching the chimps in the Gombe forests eat each other's young, so all humans descended from cannibals. The ability to recognize faces and talk had a dual purpose. Those who recognized kin and could chat with them, "You are part of our horde, so I better not eat your baby" type conversations probably saved humans from themselves.

It is far easier to hunt nearby especially when the hunted ones are as fangless and clawless as one's self. Further, smarter humanoids could fool the dumber ones and then eat them. This is why we have no near relations. We ate all our kin and this is why there are no walking upright homo habilis anywhere. This is also why I call humans "the mad apes." We took what was a rare thing in the chimp world and made it the basis of our existence.

Over time, the ability to tame and control wild animals reduced the desire to hunt humans. Also, since all humans were now very smart, relative to each other, it was increasingly dangerous to hunt humans. These battles had a very strong downside, namely, one could easily die. Fighting ended up being for greater things like control of territory and other natural resources like water and game. For even as we were cannibals, we ate many other things.

Poor Neanderthal human! They occupied the zone between the glaciers and the sea and happily hunted wild animals. Alas, they were mere animals to the new hunters who exploded out of Africa, hungry and with very evolved speaking/thinking abilities. You can bet, they approached the poor Neanderthaler with a smiling face and soothing words and gestures. You can bet, they invited the gullible natives to feasts and traded beads.

And then killed and ate them. Not one of them survived.

This cannibal attitude is buried deep in the human personality. It is part of all of us. This is why we are so attracted to liars and psychopaths. Who wants to follow some nice person who is inoffensive and kindly?

Not if you are sitting down to a meal of Solyent Green.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

GAMEBOY HEALS MORE THAN PRAYER

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Original art by Elaine Supkis

To the everlasting delight of my adult children who grew up in a video game household with multiple players, multiple systems, here is some interesting news today that shouldn't surprise them. From the BBC:
Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, says they can be a distraction for children undergoing painful treatment.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, he added that games can also help children with attention deficit disorders gain social skills.
Most geeky kids I have known have ADD, meaning often their minds moved fast and they were very swiftly bored and in general, being very much interactive, would go stark bonkers in a classroom where you had to not only sit inert but focus on something that would fuzz in and out of conciousness: the teacher droning like a beehive on a hot summer afternoon....zzzzzz. Or you want to run and scream.

Heh. Don't I remember.

Well, something I vividly remember is childhood pain. My internal organs had been traumatized and I was in and out of hospitals and in tremendous pain periodically. Really nasty pain. I remember trying to alleviate it by trying to make the tiny holes in the medical rooms' sound proof ceilings form patterns. Connecting imaginary dots. Maybe that is why I obsess about this even today (yah!).

Imagine if a doctor walked in and gave me a Gameboy to fiddle with instead of ripping pillows apart and screaming. Like. Wow.

Well, thank goodness today's children who must suffer have something!
Professor Griffiths pointed to studies which had shown children undergoing chemotherapy and treatment for sickle cell anaemia had benefited from being given games to distract then.

He said they needed less pain relief and had less nausea and lower blood pressure than those who were simply told to rest after their treatments.

Professor Griffiths also highlighted specific cases where video games had been used to help treat specific physical conditions, including an eight-year-old boy whose illness caused him to pick his lip, causing scarring.

Previous treatments had failed so the boy was given a hand-held video game to keep his hands occupied.

Two weeks later the affected area had healed. Computer games have even been used as a form of physiotherapy for arm injuries.
My kids probably remember when I got swatted with a poison ivy vine in NJ. I was covered with hideous sores because I am allergic to poison ivy. The itching was a torment. So they hauled in their video games and played them on my bed and I watched and commented. "Yeah! Mario jumped onto the ship and the cannonballs missed this time!" I would try to say.

Truly, the tireless efforts of Mario certainly were distracting.

Now for news that probably won't appear in our cheesy "let's please right wingnut Evangelicals" media. From the BBC:
Praying for patients undergoing heart operations does not improve their outcomes, a US study suggests.
A study found those who were prayed for were as likely to have a setback in hospital, be re-admitted, or die within six months as those not prayed for.

The Duke University Medical Center study of 700 patients, in the Lancet, said music, image and touch therapy did appear to reduce patients' distress.

Heart experts said patients could benefit from feeling more optimistic.

Further evidence is emerging that people with a more positive outlook appear to be less affected by stressful events, such as having surgery
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation

Therapies such as prayer and homeopathy are widely used, although past studies looking at the impact of care on patients' health have had mixed results.

The results of this study contradict earlier findings from the same team which suggested a drop of a quarter or more in "adverse outcomes" - including death, heart failure or heart attack.
I remember the silly hooplah over the prayer report earlier. It irritated me greatly because of course, if gods only take notice of prayers and did something then no one would ever die or be sick or anything, no? Unless there are cabals of evil doers praying for the deaths of others!

Sort of like the Skull and Bones kids at Yale. They pray to the Devil that is Death. I suppose, since they run America and are sending our military all over the place to kill people, they are pretty successful, at least their god listens.

So the illogic of all this is patently obvious. The study even had Buddhists praying to keep people alive. I happen to know Buddha and he has this message to everyone: "My dad lied to me and told me no on ever died. One day, I escaped from his palace and saw sick and dying people. This really upset me so I decided to overcome death. One day, while meditating, it came to me. Dying isn't the point. Living right while looking towards Niravana means one overcomes the fear of death and being enlightened, can achieve bliss."

Ok? Got that? The prayers of Buddhists should be for enlightenment and to accept death. Not live forever in the eternally corrupted and corruptible body. That, indeed is hell. There is a Japanese anime called "Hi no Tori" about a series of people seeking to live forever. Each story ended when the character figured out that eternal life is terrible but spiritual oneness was wonderful. One character was caught in a time loop and murdered herself over and over, her younger incarnation driving a sword through her older one which would wait resignedly for execution while chanting the Lotus Sutra.
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist prayer groups were assigned to pray for 371 of the patients. The rest had no prayer group.

In addition, 374 of the patients were assigned MIT therapy and the rest none.

MIT involved teaching the patients relaxed breathing techniques and playing them easy listening, classical, or country music during their procedure.

The researchers found that neither therapy alone, or combined, showed any measurable treatment effect on serious cardiovascular events, hospital readmission or death.

But those given music, imagery and touch therapy had less emotional distress and had a lower death rate after six months, though this was not seen as statistically significant.
Listening to beautiful music and being held by a loved one when one is going...is a wonderful thing and I highly recommend this to everyone. But the Grim Reaper pays no attention to this. He does what he does.

As the Skull and Bones chant goes: Death is Death.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

ENDING ALZHEIMERS

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Oh, I am ever so hopeful about this sort of news! The slow destruction of the mind is horrible to watch and worse to live through. It hits families like a hammer blow. Financially, physically, mentally, it is terrible. My family has seen its ravages and I bet the readers of this blog fear this disease like we do!

From Yahoo:
While a breakthrough for humans could be years away, a new study in mice suggests some memory recovery may be possible in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

"There basically are two prongs and we need to deal with both," said lead researcher Karen Ashe, a University of Minnesota neurologist. "What we're showing is that there are neurons which are affected (by Alzheimer's) but not dead."

New research shows a mutant protein named tau is poisoning brain cells, and that blocking its production may allow some of those sick neurons to recover. It worked in demented mice who, to the scientists' surprise, fairly rapidly regained memory.

There are no drugs yet to block tau, and most of the recent search for Alzheimer's treatments has focused instead on another protein, called beta-amyloid.

But Thursday's study, published in the journal Science, is sure to refocus attention on finding ways to attack this second culprit, too.
This research is great! First, you must understand the enemy, then describe it, then study its living habits and its growth and then find a cure! Sort of like what we should be doing about "terrorism".

I hope more money flows into research like this and a ton more money in finding a cure. I have a very strong vested interest in this matter!

From the Aussie News:
PAINLESS brain scans and simple blood tests might offer ways to predict who had the highest risk of Alzheimer's disease, and it might be possible to lower risks by drinking juice daily, researchers said today.

The occasional alcoholic drink may also help, researchers told a prevention conference sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association.
"There is increasing evidence that we can do something for ourselves in terms of preventing this disease," Dr Ron Peterson of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told a news conference.
I'll toast to that! A glass of wine a day keeps the brain bugs at bay!

See? There is some great news out there! I just have to look under the right rocks!

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Monday, July 11, 2005

DEJA VU ALL OVER THE PLACE

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Things like to run in cycles and repeats are common. Thinking up new stuff is difficult so the common tendency is to regurgitate things. During the height of the Vietnam war when it was becoming very unpopular and Nixon promised to bring the troops home by bombing peasants from the air, we had this goofy movie come out, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Made in England, it was a very silly movie that poked fun at all sorts of Dickens movies as well as Germans and Americans and other such. The stereotypical children were actually well pegged in this sarcastic movie. The boy/hero was inane and blonde as per usual, also a stereotype. Tiny Tim without a crutch.

From the BBC:
Tim Burton is the second film director to tackle Roald Dahl's classic tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
But Dahl's hatred of the original 1971 movie almost ended the new project before it began.

Dahl wrote the story of Charlie Bucket's trip to the fantastic factory of sweet inventor Willy Wonka in 1964, inspired by Dahl's brief schoolboy experience as a chocolate taster.
Of course, Dahl was a classic British boy who was sent away to a boarding school where he wrote, "I was cruelly whipped." It was a classic Tom Brown's School Days school in the stern Victorian manner borne. For some odd reason, Cadbury, the confectionaries of England, persuaded the stern school master to let them have the boys scientifically taste the chocolate for them. These were blind taste tests and questionnaires were duly filled and examined. There was no other opportunity for candy. So the boys happily joined in this little quiz time.

Of course, the story mocks overindulged children. They are an easy target. The problem today is, as the virtues of Victorian child raising, the "spare not the rod and spoil the child" is dead and gone. Even more, the Victorians deliberately didn't feed their children very much for fear of making them weak and irresponsible. Food was strictly rationed. When my mother baked us cookies at my grandfather's house, he was very disturbed by this indulgence and would say so in public. Candy was, for him, a biannual gift, not a regular affair.

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From the BBC:
A raft of tough measures must be introduced if the child obesity crisis is not to get worse, top doctors say.
The British Medical Association report called for a junk food ad ban and rules for the nutritional balance of school meals and pre-prepared food.

The BMA warned that without strong action, children would increasingly develop adult diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and bone problems.

The government said it was addressing the issues through voluntary codes.
The Victorian middle class had the possibility of huge meals thanks to the hired servants who produced this stuff. Unlike the hard scrabble farmers who needed to eat whatever they could, the bounty of the food revolutions fell to the middle class, extending their diets greatly.

From Victorian Reports:
Parents often used (food) as a tool in disciplining their children. Parents expected children to be thankful for whatever food was put on their plate and to eat it eagerly. If a child did not care for a particular food, such as spinach, a parent might offer it at every meal, forcing the child to eat it or go hungry. In another example, Augustus HareÂ’s aunt forced him to take a huge dose of rhubarb and soda for sucking on a lollipop (Robertson 417). Parents probably wanted their children to realize that in life we must sometimes take the good with the bad.
My parents were very big on the "eat it or else" school. An indulgence was to go out to eat and being allowed to choose food. My grandfather frowned upon this, too. He frowned at many newfangled things. He ate steel cut oatmeal for breakfast every day, for example.
Sometimes children would be deprived of food as punishment for some other offense. They might be forced to miss their desert of fruit or they might be sent to bed without supper for an offense like making an error in their lessons. Once again Augustus HareÂ’s aunt tortured him:

The most delicious puddings were talked of, -dilated on- until I became, not greedy, but exceedingly curious about them. At length le grand moment arrived. They were put on the table before me, and then just as I was going to eat some of them, they were snatched away, and I was told to get up and carry them off to some poor person in the village. (Pollack, FC 182)
I remember this! We did this! We had to give to the poor and in my own childhood there were quite a few literally starving children not to far off, either. The lesson is to not be self centered and to appreciate the good things more since you have to hand them over, voluntarily, with a smile.

Today, this sort of paternalism is frowned upon but the downside is, many youth are self centered and this shows.

In the popular Harry Potter books, the spoiled cousin gets all the toys and candy and petting and he is shown to be the classic children's literature "brat" who is put down by the hero who is denied the dainties but has an all conquering spirit. Only the stories don't do that at all. Right off the bat, when Harry heads to the magic boarding school, he is offered great candies and goodies and eats and...stuffs his face. He magically never gets fat or flustered or red in the face. He remains looking like the standard "unspoilt hero" of yore. The books are popular, I suppose, due to the idea, you can eat your candy and have it tooism that permeates our culture now.

Harry also uses his magic to torment his irritating relatives. He would have been the "good boy spoilt and now evil" in the elder literature but in today's world, he remains a moral virgin despite his many depredations. In the movie about Willy Wonka, the boy hero's reward is to become Willy Wonka who is actually a demon figure. He has all the Faustian characteristics especially tempting weak willed children and then basically destroying them. Why would the good boy want to become that?

Unless he is also evil.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

PAGING DR. WHO

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The Asminovian robotic revolution continues apace. Robots to comfort and care for the elderly in Japan, for example. Manga-style Gundums. Robots build many things for us already. The news about the robot that can assemble replicas of itself has been created in labs.

The applications grow apace. From the Washington Post:
"Well, let's see how you are feeling later on today," Kavoussi said . "If you're feeling better, we'll send you home, all right?"

After telling Daniel that he was ordering a chest X-ray and other tests, Kavoussi tweaked a joystick to maneuver the robot back to the hallway.

Such robot-assisted exchanges are being repeated in dozens of hospitals across the country by doctors who use the machines to make their rounds, monitor intensive-care units, respond to emergency calls and consult with other physicians.

Proponents say this and other new "telemedicine" technologies are allowing doctors to use their time more efficiently and serve more patients, often at odd hours or in remote places where the sick would otherwise have a hard time seeing a doctor.

"There's a tremendous amount of medical care being provided from a distance today through technology like this," said Jonathan D. Linkous, executive director of the American Telemedicine Association.

Skeptics, however, fear that the technology is further depersonalizing health care, accelerating the trend of doctors spending less and less time with their patients, and eroding what remains of the doctor-patient relationship.
Hate to say this, AMA, but many of my interfacings with doctors may as well be with robots. The chief impression I have gotten over the years is they want to breeze by as fast as possible. If I want to live or die, I got to do it myself, pretty much. No hand holding, lingering help, as far as I can see. The pressure to perform as many visits as fast as possible have pretty much killed the medical beside method anyway. Pretending it is robots vs human interaction is rather funny since our medical apparatus is a factory-style set up in the first place.

Maybe, while robots administer various things, a doctor can find time to chat for more than three minutes!

Of course, one can fanasize various proceedures and probes done by robots in the future. Sort of like all those alien abduction fantasies people are prone to imagine in idle half wakening hours!

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TEMPEST IN A TEA KETTLE

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Jaque Chirac, le Prez de France, was overheard joking with the ever humourous Putin, known for his smiling face in public, a face trained by years of KGB interrogations and spying to be oh so expressive...from the Euro Observer:
"One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad", French daily Le Monde quoted him as saying in hushed tones to the laughing German and Russian leaders.

"The only thing they (the Brits) have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease", added Mr Chirac. "After Finland, it is the country with the worst food".
OK! Making fun of British cooks---most don't cook, they boil everything---(a very old joke, that!) is normal for the French, to say the least. But the dig at Finland?

What did they do, make Chirac a blue plate special of reindeer jerky and old birch bark? I wonder.

My mother's family is old English stock. Even when they fled England after the Glorious Revolution went up in flames they brought to the New World Old World cooking habits. Namely, they boiled everything to death.

I remember this from my own childhood. If a vegetable showed any spine or stiffness, back into the pot! We even added oil to the hamburgers, another fun thing from our Brit cusine. My mother kept a beaker of oil next to the stove which was next to the sink. One day, she left the country on her many (mysterious) journeys and told me to cook for my brothers. She didn't tell me she switched the soap and oil beakers on a whim. So I put the oil in the pan to cook hamburgers, my brothers took one bite and spat it out at me. Pfui. Hey!

I took a bite and yeowled. My mother had quite a laugh over that one. She also had a stiff upper lip.

Back to international food relations: at no time has Britain been hailed as a destination for gourmands. Indeed, the same was true of American cooking until ethnic foods became a big hit. Many ethnic foods have many spices. British cooking is very spice-low. Bland.

My son loves bland food. He adores British cooking. He also loves Japanese minimalist food preparation, a fancy way of saying "sushi!" He would be repelled by much of French cusine. Maybe there is a Brit bland gene? If so, it definitely runs in my own family. All my siblings love boiled, bland foods. I do say, it doesn't bother me that much, though I tend towards the French in this matter.

When I was growing up within the Lutheran Church, all socials featured various forms of jello. Mixed with odd things like carrots and marshmallows. This was done by Scandinavians. Did poor Chirac get served this dish when in Finland?

Time to pray.

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