August 2007
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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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Written by Rick Archer

This is the August 2007 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.

This Newsletter will be marked departure from previous Newsletters.  I have just finished writing a Nine Chapter article on Reputation.  I am so tired from an entire month of writing about incredibly stressful stories that dredge up pain from three of the five worst incidents in my life that I have very little left for the finish line.


July was a very odd month for me. I have good news, I have bad news, I have sad news. Where to start?


We can start with some good news. Our attendance for the month of July at the studio was an amazing 1,350 students. We are squarely on pace to have 15,000 students for 2007.

This is clearly our best year since 2000. Thank you all very much, especially my friend Doug Ferris who is practically 100 of those students all by himself. Doug will explain what I mean if you buy him a drink in the hot tub on our upcoming September Dance Cruise.


The correct place to start is to honor the memory of
John Jones.

On Tuesday, July 3rd, John passed away after a lengthy illness.

John was a very brave man. I could not help but stand in awe of his stoic courage throughout his medical ordeal.

John will be remembered for many years here at SSQQ as the man who helped Sharon (Crawford) Shaw create the finest Western Waltz class our city has ever seen.

John was a friend to many of us here at the studio.  During the fourteen years he shared with us, John left an indelible mark on all of us with his dancing ability, his willingness to help us learn to Waltz, the many CDs of beautiful Western Waltz music that he so unselfishly passed out by the hundreds, and by his gruff exterior that disguised a genuinely kind man underneath.

After writing the story of his years at SSQQ, I was filled with regret that I never took the time to get to know this man better on a personal basis.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I found admire about John as the accolades from those close to him began to roll in.

As a personal favor to me, please read the story of John Jones. I would like for you all to get to know this man on a much deeper level.  There was a lot going on under his Grouchy Gus exterior, that much I know. 
John Jones



In my opinion, our current landlords continue to make life very difficult for SSQQ students and their fearless leader.

Not only have they placed Tow Signs in practically every corner of the parking lot, Radio Shack actually had the nerve to try to tow an SSQQ vehicle on July 16th. We were able to get the car down from the tow truck, but the hostility generated between Radio Shack and SSQQ students was unpleasant indeed. Just the fact that the landlords would sanction this kind of situation leaves me disappointed. The Radio Shack manager has every right to keep his two spots open in front of the door. But he made the wrong phone call. All he had to do was dial SSQQ and we would have gotten the car removed faster than the tow truck.

Do me a favor - please don't park in front of those stores when they are open. These businesses depend on access to their entrances during their working hours. I completely support their right to keep their parking spots open. Like I said, the only thing Radio Shack did wrong was dial the wrong number.

Here is a word to the wise - no matter what the signs say, it is okay to park in front of the stores when they are closed.

I heard that some more people got their cars ticketed on First Street. You have to read the signs carefully. There is a stretch of parking spaces that are perfect for parking, but some consultant for the City of Bellaire decided to mark them off limits. There is a rumor that someone who lives next to that stretch on First Street calls the Bellaire Police every night of the week to come ticket cars. There is a simple solution - don't park there.

Besides the tow signs, our current landlords - Jacob Varon and Haya Varon - appear to have permanently confiscated from six to twelve parking spots for the sole and exclusive purpose of their hospital. These same spots were once used by SSQQ for the first twenty-eight years of our stay at Bissonnet. These spots clearly are included in the parking lot diagram of our lease, but that doesn't seem to matter. While many of these spots stay empty, we walk longer and further each week.

What makes it stranger is there is a perfectly good parking lot that appears to be owned by the same people at the Plastic Surgery building next to Charlies BBQ. If my landlord doesn't own it, then why is there a sky bridge that links the hospital to the Plastic Surgery center?

My point is - why can't the hospital use the Plastic Surgery parking lot and let us have our original parking spots back?

While their own Plastic Surgery parking lots remains totally empty at night, our people are forced to walk longer and further each week.

Adding insult to injury, when it came time to repaint the parking lot and find a spot for the handicapped parking spots, our Landlords knew exactly where they wanted to put them. They took away three more SSQQ parking spots by placing the handicapped spots squarely in front of the SSQQ front door.

Practically every night those three spots sit there empty while we walk longer and further.

Are they trying to tell us something?


Although I paint a glum picture of the Parking Lot, there is also a bright side - isn't it nice to have a security guard hanging around at night? Let's be grateful for that. Do me a favor and be nice to them. Let's be friendly. They are not the enemy. In fact, several of the men have been described as very nice.

The presence of the security guards has made First Street much safer. You may not realize this, but the City of Bellaire did actually add about 20 parking spots on First Street earlier this year. So there are places to park, but you have to walk a bit.

Last night I went to watch the "Bourne Ultimatum". Good movie by the way. I timed my walk to the movie from the shopping center parking lot. You guessed it - same time as a walk from First Street to SSQQ.

My point is that the walk to SSQQ is longer only because of our bad attitude. We are irritated at Bellaire for preventing us from using perfectly logical parking spots and at the landlords for confiscating valuable parking spots when plenty of valuable parking stays empty in the spot next to Charlies.

But the walk itself really isn't as bad as we think it is. Plus with the addition of the security guard, it is a perfectly safe walk as well. It is all how you look at it.


Speaking of the parking lot Security Guard, we might need a security guard at the studio. SSQQ has a thief. Money, a cell phone, a blackberry, and a wallet have been stolen recently on the premises of SSQQ. I count five instances so far - and let me apologize to the victims. I am so sorry this happened!

Theft of valuables at nightclubs has long been a headache, especially for women. But we have not had a thief at SSQQ in fourteen years. That's pretty remarkable when you think about it. Our students treat the studio like it is home. A random glance around the place shows shoes, purses, umbrellas, even cell phones strewn everywhere.

Soon the thief will be caught or leave under a cloud of suspicion. We already have a good idea who it is. But for now, Ladies, put your valuables in your trunk and treat the studio as if it is a nightclub.


I was asked recently if I intend to retire. When people start towing cars, believe me, I get so angry that I really do think I am ready to retire. And when people start stealing money from people they know, that just shows how desperate some people are in this world.

But then something small happens and I cheer up. For example, one day Leroy Ginzel came up to me and asked me not to retire. Leroy said this place would just not be the same. The students would not know what to do if I wasn't there to insult them or embarrass them with a color-coordinated award. Besides, half the fun of coming to the studio was to see if this would be the day I would lose my temper again and go Vesuvius (a legendary incident). That Leroy really knows how to craft a sweet compliment, doesn't he?

But then my good friend Leroy Ginzel told me his real reason for me to stick around. "Hey Rick, no one writes a Newsletter like you do. I went out and bought some new reading glasses just because one of your old stories was in small print!"

So that's really all it takes. As long as I feel appreciated, I will put up with the landlords, the parking lot, and the thieves. I will listen to people complain about the bees in the light fixtures, the toilet problems, the ice machine, the broken couches, the dead bugs the cleaning people miss, the broken popcorn machines, and whatever else as long as you promise to read the Newsletter.

By the way, I can talk about Leroy all I want because he isn't around right now. Leroy is somewhere between 70 and 150 years old, but sure enough, he was busy climbing some mountains during July. Leroy was especially proud to tell me how he out-climbed his gorgeous 25-year old daughter and her boyfriend up some glacier last summer. Amazing guy.  Seriously now, Leroy is older than some of the mountains he is climbing, but he is as spry as a wildcat.

I guess if Leroy can climb mountains at age 200, I am young enough to dance a few more years. Since I am not going to retire any time soon, then it becomes obvious that SSQQ is going to move. SSQQ has outgrown its space and its welcome. Where and When I do not know. We either leave in 2010 or we leave sooner.

With that in mind, I have addressed
THE FUTURE OF SSQQ in an article that you can re


So that's how it is. One day Leroy makes me feel good about what I am doing, then something like Bryan Spivey quitting comes along and I am ready to retire again.

Did you like my segue? Yes, on July 10, 2007. Bryan Spivey announced his resignation at SSQQ. Since he was more than slightly circumspect about listing his reasons, the rumors immediately began that I had pushed Bryan out the door. Nothing could be further from the truth. I asked Bryan to stay.

But Bryan refused to reconsider.

My immediate reaction to Bryan's leaving was despair. How do you replace a dance champion? I was ready to cancel the entire Whip program and be done with it. Then Marla, my wife, and Cher, my assistant, both began to cheer me up and promise things would work out. Just give it a chance.

Although he offered to stick around for the rest of month, the fact of the matter was that there was no one to replace him.  You don't just find championship dancers with their hat out looking for work.  And there wasn't anyone else on the SSQQ Staff that could step in at a moment's notice.

The only person on the Staff besides Sharon Shaw with any experience teaching Martian Whip was me myself and I. But gee whiz, I had not taught Martian Whip since 2002! That's what I hired Bryan for - to take SSQQ Whip into the 21st Century.

Nor would it be easy merging Bryan's class with my inexperienced class. But what choice did I have? I had to merge two classes with vastly different levels of experience at a moment's notice.

So I will admit I was shaky taking over Bryan's class the first night after he quit (JULY 16).

Fortunately I had an ace in the hole - Cher Longoria, my assistant. Cher was an enormous help. With Cher keeping me propped up, I made it through the first class. Then I began to get my sea legs back. With Cher's help, my class responded to my leadership and people were starting to adjust to me taking his place.

Suddenly the new 'merged' class began to click. The new quarterback was completing passes!

People were learning and laughing. For the entire month of July, the attendance was excellent. We finished out July on a high note with 50 people on Monday and 30 people on Friday. (By the way, if you are one of the people who were in that class, thank you for giving me a chance).

If you would like to understand more about Bryan's resignation,
click here


Robert and Nancy Kaechler are hosting our next trip to Chandelier Ballroom on Saturday, September 1st. Gary Henecke will be at the Chandelier that day. Sounds like fun. Marla and I will be there too.


A Lesson you fail to learn the first time becomes a Lesson you are doomed to Repeat.


On June 27, I happened to read a column in the Houston Chronicle written by Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes currently for the New York Times. Mr. Friedman's article absolutely fascinated me.  His main point was that never before in history has the potential for damaging our Reputation been greater.

By chance, the very same day as I first read this article, Alex, a young friend of mine here at the studio, was being publicly ridiculed for a salsa crash course he taught at the studio back in early June. Someone had videotaped his class and posted the video on YouTube.  For several days, dozens of people viewed the clip and offered various smart-ass remarks. I really felt sorry for the predicament Alex had gotten himself into.  His first mistake was allowing people to videotape his class even though my entire staff knows (and so did Alex) that videotaping is not permitted at SSQQ in any group class (private lessons are permitted).

Fortunately YouTube took down the video clip and the problem faded into obscurity (I will share the whole story with you next month). But my fascination with Thomas Friedman's article had been ignited. I began to think through my own past and realized just how correct Mr. Friedman was about everything he said.

In a flash, I realized three stories from my past would serve as the perfect vehicle to share Mr. Friedman's wisdom with the rest of you.


This is the story of how my first wife brutally slapped me three times in public. This dark 1986 event was very embarrassing.  24 of my best friends in the world were there to witness the event.

And who gets slapped three times? Most people only get one slap. What made me so lucky? Although no one is ever blameless, in my opinion I had done next to nothing to deserve this. Nevertheless through "Spin" - a careful manipulation of the facts - plus a glaring absence of communication on my part, this incident backfired on me to become my fault.  I fell into a dark depression.

I had just learned one the hardest lessons of my entire life.

So naturally your next question is, "What did you do to deserve getting slapped three times in a row?"


This story took place in 1998.  You will read how my second wife and I allowed a rival dance studio steal our once-dominant position as the best Swing Dance Studio in Houston right out from under our noses.  Our failure to properly respond to a Smear Campaign led directly to our downfall.

The story covers events surrounding a scheduled dance performance over at Rice by the SSQQ Swing Team.  Word leaked out that my second wife and I had deliberately snubbed the leader of the Houston Swing Dance Society.  Did our snub have something to do with the color of his skin? You will be amazed at how much damage these unchecked rumors caused SSQQ.

Small rumors soon became vicious rumors when I chose not to refute these ridiculous allegations.   But why not?  Why did I choose NOT to refute these allegations if they weren't true?  Good question!

You will have to read the story for that answer.


This is the story of how I threw a horrible temper tantrum at the dance studio.  This incident took place in 2000.

screamed at two students demanding a Refund and threw hundreds of dollar bills on the floor.  I was completely out of line. The next morning I awoke to find the students had sent a poison pen version of the story flying across the Internet.  They were going to take down my entire Western program for revenge.

Yet despite my terrible behavior, miraculously I managed to rescue myself from this potential disaster to emerge without a scratch.  I was completely forgiven and the studio didn't suffer a cent of damage.  

What was different?  Well, this time I stood up for myself and my Reputation. I had learned my lesson from the previous two adventures.  I paid attention to the lessons learned from my previous two adventures and used my experience to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat.

There is a valuable message at the conclusion of each story - if you don't stand up for yourself, you are doomed in the Court of Public Opinion.

There are some powerful lessons to be learned here. Thanks to the inspiration of Alex and Mr. Friedman, I have shared these lessons with you.

The Reputation Trilogy


With my Houdini-like escape from the deadly email, I had begun my Metamorphosis into a person who not only understands the need to stand up for his Reputation, but one who does it skillfully.

In the summer of 2007 I visited an active volcano site in Hawaii.  I could not understand why the guides forced us to walk single file and insisted on walking beside us to make sure we cooperated.  When we got to the active lava flow, I had my answer - the new hot lava is almost identical in appearance to the hardened lava.  We all know about the Red Lava from Dante's Peak and other volcano movies, but this kind of lava was a deadly, highly camoflouged assassin I knew nothing about.

Without our guides, any of us could easily have lost a foot before we ever knew what happened.  The guides protected us.

Now I am offering to be your guide in the Court of Public Opinion. I have a valuable contribution to share with the rest of you...

A chance for you to avoid risking your own Reputation by learning from SOMEONE ELSE'S MISTAKES.

You might just save your Reputation from going through a lava field some day. 


After writing my stories about Reputation, I devoted a Chapter to answering several direct questions about the studio.


Read SSQQ Reputation on the Line


Our Hawaii Cruise back in May was the most incredible cruise experience in SSQQ history. 80 people on the trip had the best time of their lives! They are so pumped for the next trip that Marla is pretty sure she wants to take us to the Greek Isles in August next year. Better brush up on your Greek Mythology and start saving your Eurodollars - we are going to Rome too! Maybe I will take a side trip to see my friend Vesuvius.

Speaking of cruises, I intend to get to work on the Hawaii Cruise story in August. You have my firm promise on that. I feel a story starting to erupt! That is, unless I erupt at the studio first. Ha ha.

For the moment, I thank you for sending me all those wonderful pictures.


Most dance studios base their Reputation on Dance Competitions. A wall of trophies is supposed to reflect the measure of the studio's excellence. The
Matchmaker Story explains why the studio prefers to be famous for its Social Activities. We do not have a wall lined with trophies, but we can point to 500 marriages spread out over 30 years of business as a different measure of success.

One of the later Chapters in the Matchmaker Story covers the
Love Boat Era. This chapter explains how three people got the studio's cruise adventures started - Marla Archer, Gary Richardson, and myself. Together we are quite a team.

The LOVE BOAT story begins like this: "The advent of my writing career coincided with two people who came into my life that would change the course of the studio forever."

One person who changed the course of the studio forever is my talented wife Marla. It was Marla who took the dance studio in a totally new direction with her cruise genius. Marla is absolutely perfect for her role. Thanks to her love of travel, Marla was a born Travel Agent before I ever met her. Marla had already taken a dozen cruises and planned countless trips when I first met her on our 2001 cruise. It didn't take long for me to realize she had a skill and I had a dance studio that were meant for each other. When you combine Marla's background in sales combined with her love of travel, you know you have a great start. Where Marla has grown the cruise business though is her Integrity.

Over the past ten cruises, everyone at the studio has learned you can take Marla at her word. If she tells you this is the lowest price she can find, you know she means it. If she says she thinks the ship will sell out soon, you know she means it. The only thing missing is some good old-fashioned BS.

That's what Marla has me for. I write the stories. Unlike Marla who is inhibited by her natural tendency towards honesty, I am more than willing to embellish a Travel Story. And guess what? No one seems to mind. They know when I am kidding and they know when I am quite serious. Together Marla and I are quite a team.

The third person in this story is Gary Richardson. My writing career began with his emergence into my life. In 1998, I bought my first real computer from Gary. The problem was that I didn't have a clue how to use a computer. Furthermore I didn't know anyone else who could show me. Gary said he would teach me how to use the computer. That began an adventure where I drove over to his computer store on Gessner every day for a month. I would sit in his computer store like a piece of furniture practicing on the computer. Whenever I would get stuck, Gary would come over and show me the next step.

Once I was ready to take the computer home, now it was time to use it for something. So I wrote a story. And another story. And another story. This was the same time the Internet was coming into its own as a tool used by everyone. Gary got me in right at the ground floor. Thanks to Gary's computer genius and my writing, the SSQQ Web Site continues to show up on Google's Top Ten List for "dance studios" even though we have never spent a dime to get it there. Gary had created a monster.

Together, Marla, Gary, and Rick make a pretty good team. By the way, if you ever want to ask a computer question from someone you can trust, email Gary at

He can build you a computer, get rid of a virus, or show you how to convert your Roadrunner email address.

And while you are at it, tell him what your favorite song is. Gary will be our DJ on the upcoming September Dance Cruise.


Jean Williams and Don Taylor, our beautiful couple from last year's Rhapsody Cruise, have announced a September Wedding.

Longtime SSQQ student and friend Carl Hruska and Angie Darling have announced their engagement. Carl is one of those rare 50-year-old bachelors. I first met Carl in dance class around 1982. His big smile confirms that even the most confirmed bachelor is vulnerable if they hang around SSQQ. It may take 25 years, but no one is safe from Cupid's arrow.

Jeff Anderson and Lisa Ramey have announced their engagement. This is a remarkable story. Jeff has almost completely recovered from his August 2006 heart transplant!
  Read Story

The fact that Jeff feels strong enough to begin the next chapter of my life with this beautiful woman gives me goosebumps. It makes me proud of Jeff, it makes me proud of Lisa for her courage to face her own fears, and it makes me proud of the doctors and the early volunteers who made a beautiful story like this possible.

One of the dark stories that emerged from the early days of the heart transplant business (1967) were all those brave souls who didn't make it while the doctors were trying to figure out how to transplant the most important organ in the body. These people were part hero; part 'what do I have to lose'? Dr. Christian Barnard is famous for this quote, ""For a dying man it is not a difficult decision because he knows he is at the end. If a lion chases you to the bank of a river filled with crocodiles, you will leap into the water, convinced you have at least a small chance to swim to the other side."

Through the bravery of these people, the early doctors discovered the hard way that problem was related to the body rejecting the new transplant. That led to the emergence of the wonder drug Cyclosporin (1983) which made a huge difference in the success rate. Today in the 21st century, the brutal lessons of the past have made it possible for people like Jeff to have a real fighting chance of survival. That is why we must acknowledge these heroes of the past.

Despite the improvements, nevertheless, we all know it takes a tremendous amount of guts to undertake an operation this risky. And if you only knew what a great guy Jeff is, you would understand why it is valuable to keep him around!

Jeff's fight for survival makes the engagement of Jeff and Lisa truly a modern day miracle.

In Jeff's own words, "It's great to be alive and enjoying each new day."  That is something we all should take to heart…




The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger."

And Dr. Wafa Sultan replied to this ideology with a message of her own:


SSQQ is more than a dance studio. Sometimes SSQQ is like a college campus where people are free to exchange thoughts and ideas. We take this freedom for granted.

We all know about Al-Quaeda. We all know about the suicide bombings in Israel. We all know that someday the kind of horror we read about elsewhere could come a lot closer. Our friends in New York and London serve as proof that no border is safe.

There is no free speech in much of the Arab world. The kind of freedom to say what is on our minds here in America does not exist in many Arab societies.

Here is a quote. Sorry, I do not know the author's name (and maybe the author would prefer it that way!)

"And that is why there are not true Muslims in the word, because they may not choose to cease to be Muslims. If a Muslim tries to become a Hindu or a Christian or even a simple unbeliever, some fanatical Muslim will kill him..."

It is that kind of dangerous climate that makes Dr Wafa Sultan a true American Hero in her own right. 20 years ago, Dr Sultan was a medical student at a university in Aleppo, Syria. In the middle of her classroom, Muslim thugs entered and shot her professor to death right before her eyes. He was killed for his outspoken political views. His death was total validation of the quote above, "if a Muslim tries to become even a simple unbeliever, some fanatical Muslim will kill him…"

Despite knowing full well from her professor's death what can happen when you speak up against terrorism, Dr. Sultan immigrated to the United States and became an outspoken opponent of certain Islamic teachings and philosophies. On February 21, 2006, Dr. Sultan, a Syrian American psychiatrist, went on al-Jazeera.

Among the things she said was the battle within Islam was one between the forces of barbarism and modernity, and that the violent, reactionary side of Islam would lose. And that was just for starters!

Here are some more of her quotes:

"Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs."

"All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs (the Western culture), the fruit of their free and creative thinking."

"The Jews have come from the tragedy of the Holocaust and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge."

"We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

"The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

After reading those statements, I would be surprised if you didn't agree with me that this woman is a hero. Indeed, I was so shocked by what Wafa Sultan said that I stared at the Internet video with my mouth agape and my eyes bulging.  This women has guts!!

I invite all of you to view her famous video. Please do this for me. She has risked her life by speaking her mind. This woman deserves all the support we can give her and it starts with hearing her message. She inspired me and she will inspire you. The world needs more people like her.

If you have not previously seen this video, immediately click on this link and watch for yourself. This is a woman risking her life to speak her mind and openly condemn extremely ruthless people for their barbarism and cruelty.  If she is killed tomorrow or this video is removed tomorrow, you will regret not seeing it.  Repeat, this woman is risking her life with every word she says.

Wafa Sultan transcript from February 21, 2006.  Here is the text:


The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations

It is a clash between two opposites, btw two eras.

It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century.

It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, btw the civilized and the primitive, btw barbarity and rationality.

It is a clash btw freedom and oppression, btw democracy and dictatorship

It is a clash btw human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on the other hand.

It is a clash btw those who treat women like beasts and those who treat them like human beings.

What we see today is not a clash of Civilizations.

Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

Al Jazeera Narrator: I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash btw the culture of the West and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?

Yes, that is what I mean.

Al Jazeera Narrator: Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind…

The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations.

The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger."

When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash and began this war.

In order to stop this war, they must re-examine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs.  What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names they did not choose for themselves?

Once he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the "People of the Book," and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath."

Who told you they are "People of the Book"?

They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books.

All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's Wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?

I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it. I respect others' right to believe in it.

Muslim Cleric: Are you a heretic?

You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural…

Muslim Cleric: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran…

These are personal matters that do not concern you.


Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary.

Let people have their beliefs.


The Jews have come from the tragedy of the Holocaust and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists.

15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge.

"We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim or burn down an embassy.

Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies.
This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.



To quote: "What must not be overlooked as well is the importance of the role that Al-Jazeera played in the showing of this interview.  We have seen much criticism of the Qatar- based television station here in the US but one must wonder after viewing this exchange whether or not that criticism is accurate.

That Al-Jazeera would have the audacity to air such statements that are viewed as blasphemy by Islamic clerics is an enormous display of freedom of speech in the cloistered world of Muslim countries.

This action was far braver than printing a couple of cartoons."


The Dangerous Candor of Dr. Wafa Sultan
by Bill Doskoch on Sat 11 Mar 2006 01:45 AM EST

Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian American psychiatrist, went on al-Jazeera on Feb. 21 and said the battle within Islam was one between the forces of barbarism and modernity, and that the violent, reactionary side of Islam would lose.

The effect of that outburst has been, er, polarizing.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats.

But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world (al-Jazeera), what few Muslims dare to say even in private.

"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings," she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.

Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: "Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

Her views caught the ear of the American Jewish Congress, which has invited her to speak in May at a conference in Israel. "We have been discussing with her the importance of her message and trying to devise the right venue for her to address Jewish leaders," said Neil B. Goldstein, executive director of the organization.

She is probably more welcome in Tel Aviv than she would be in Damascus. Shortly after the broadcast, clerics in Syria denounced her as an infidel. One said she had done Islam more damage than the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, a wire service reported.

Dr. Sultan's life changed in 1979 when she was a medical student at the University of Aleppo, in northern Syria. At that time, the radical Muslim Brotherhood was using terrorism to try to undermine the government of President Hafez al-Assad. Gunmen of the Muslim Brotherhood burst into a classroom at the university and killed her professor as she watched, she said.

"They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, 'God is great!' " she said. "At that point, I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave. I had to look for another god."

She wrote an essay for a website called Annaqed (The Critic), run by another Syrian expatriate in Phoenix.

An angry essay on that site by Dr. Sultan about the Muslim Brotherhood caught the attention of Al Jazeera, which invited her to debate an Algerian cleric on the air last July.

In the debate, she questioned the religious teachings that prompt young people to commit suicide in the name of God. "Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up?" she asked. "In our countries, religion is the sole source of education and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched."

Sultan no longer practices Islam.

"And that is why there are not true Muslims in the word, because they may not choose to cease to be Muslims. If a Muslim tries to become a Hindu or a Christian or even a simple unbeliever, some fanatical Muslim will kill him..." 

(Editor's Note: And that is why I admire this woman... because some fanatical Muslim may her kill Dr. Sultan too.  It really isn't that hard to kill somebody, especially someone like her who doesn't have an army of body guards.  She is very brave.)


Watching Wafa Sultan stand up and speak her mind on the video really hit home.  It made me want to share a story with you... a silly story, yet a deeply serious story on another level. But first a preface...

We all recoil in horror at the barbarous atrocities currently attributed to Arab terrorism.  9-11, the senseless suicide bombings in Israel, and the horrible beheading of Daniel Pearl.  I don't even have to dig to come up with examples. These three sickening images came instantly to mind.

But you know what?  As much as we condemn the Islamic Militants, they aren't the first savages on the face of the Earth to murder innocent people for what they believed in.  I am no history expert, but I can rattle four simple examples right off the top of my head - The Holocaust, the Inquisition, feeding early Christians to the lions, the Crusades.  History is replete with stories where people died horrible deaths for what they believed in. 

We had great fun in the Da Vinci Code watching our heroes dodge murderous religious zealots to uncover the truth about Christian origins.  We all know the Catholic Church has a horrible history of persecution and religious intolerance.

Back when I was a little boy, say 10 years old, I came across a book of famous paintings in my mother's book collection.  One picture caught my eye.  I stared at it for a long time, then suddenly burst into tears.  It was really a terrible picture.  I remember it had to do with the Huguenots.  So I typed 'Huguenot' in Google and came up with a picture and a story.

"Consider Pope Pius V.

When he was Grand Inquisitor, he sent Catholic troops to kill 2,000 Waldensian Protestants in Calabria in southern Italy.

After becoming pope, he sent Catholic troops to kill Huguenot Protestants in France. He ordered the commander to execute every prisoner taken.

Pius also launched the final crusade against the Muslims, sending a Christian naval armada to slaughter thousands in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

And he intensified the Roman Inquisition, torturing and burning Catholics whose beliefs varied from official dogma.

After his death, he was canonized a saint. He still is venerated by the church."

So as much as I decry Arab Terrorism in today's world, I do not wish to single these people out as the only monsters in human history.  They are just the latest barbarians.  They also happen to be the greatest threat to civilization on today's earth.  They kill innocent people at the drop of a hat.  Which is all the more reason that I admire Wafa Sultan for speaking out against them.  She literally could be dead in tomorrow's headline for what she has bravely stated and no one would be surprised.

Why do people have to die for what they believe in?  During my college days, I spent a lot of time studying philosophy and religion.  One thing I discovered is that lots of people have lots of different ideas.  When you are in college, you are surrounded by a lot of bright people with time on their hands to discuss very serious topics.  I loved the free exchange of ideas. 

This is America at its best - Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.  I could talk about any subject I wished without any fear that I might die for my words or be brought in front of a tribunal.  That is why I admired Dr. Sultan for saying this, "All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs (the Western World), the fruit of their free and creative thinking."

But on the other hand, I also discovered it was almost impossible to convince other people that my religious views were correct.  College is where I learned the hard way that the two most difficult conversations in the world revolved around religion and politics. 

One day a close friend of mine and I compared notes.  We discovered we were both frustrated because we were having a hard time convincing other people that our ideas were correct.  The problem was simple - there really wasn't any way to prove what we believed.  That's why it was called a "Belief".  If you can prove something, then it becomes a "Fact" and no longer a "Belief".

This "Belief Business" was hard work.  We were frustrated out of our minds trying to explain why WE were RIGHT and THEY were WRONG.  We were arguing ourselves into a brain aneurysm over things like the meaning of certain Bible passages.  These were topics that had no right answer and no way to prove that our position was the correct one.

 Finally I came to a blinding discovery - why bother?  Since I had never successfully convinced anyone that my views were correct... and they had never successfully convinced me that their views were correct... why bother?  

That is when I learned my lesson - let people believe what they want.  As long as they weren't threatening to hurt me (or KILL ME), it was a lot easier just to let people believe whatever they wanted to.  My life improved immediately.

I am going to finish my rant with three things: some background information and two emails.


I am going to keep this short.  The Einstein Puzzle is a mildly difficult logic puzzle that has been whizzing around the Internet as long as I have had email.  I originally posted the Einstein Puzzle on the SSQQ web site in 1998.  I told people to email me if they wanted to have their answer confirmed.  Because I kept track of all correspondence related to the Einstein Puzzle, a year later I started a second page titled Einstein Puzzle Letters which I have added to many times since.

At this point I have collected nine years of letters regarding the Einstein Puzzle.  I have been amused to discover people enjoy reading the correspondence.  Their interest has made the SSQQ Einstein Puzzle page so popular that it has been one of the top three Internet destinations for many years now.  If you type "Einstein Puzzle" into Google, the ssqq link should pop up near the top.

One of the odd tangents that I have catalogued is the people who contend there is no correct answer. 

Here is my favorite example:

-----Original Message-----
From: Lillian
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 5:08 PM
Subject: Eintstein's Puzzle

I figured out the puzzle and I think the (CORRECT ANSWER) owns the fish. Right?  But my Dad says my answer is wrong, that no one owns the fish because it is not in the Clues section. I am writing because I need to know if I am right or Dad is right.

I live in Minnesota, in the twin cities. (Nowhere special).  Also I am 13 years old. :)  I think it took my about 45 minutes to figure it out, but I'm estimating.  I feel a little wierd emailing you but I trust you not to be some kind of mad pshyco.

(How did she figure me out so fast?)

Here is another take on the same subject:

My girlfriend found an interesting web site where it is claimed that 98% of man-kind cannot solve the puzzle because there is a flaw in their logic.

We can all deduce our way to solving most of the matrix of animals, people, colours, drinks and cigarettes, but this gentleman stipulated that finishing the matrix does not mean the (CORRECT ANSWER) has the fish.

We can assume there is a fish, and that the (CORRECT ANSWER) has it since he doesn't have the other animals, but logically speaking there is no proof in the hints of a fish' existence.  Therefore the (CORRECT ANSWER) could well own a monkey, cow or no pet whatsoever.

I found it an interesting take on the puzzle, because that would be a logical oversight many people would make, and therefore the only answer that 98% of people don't come up with.

Now that you have enough background, here is the email that I wished to share with you.

-----Original Message-----
From: BS
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 10:40 AM
Subject: Einstein Puzzle

I recently ruffled a lot of feathers at an MSN group I'm in. The head manager had posted the Fish version of the puzzle, calling it a quiz.

I remembered working on it back in the 80s when Einstein was credited with creating it before he was 20.

Anyway, the manager after criticizing and demeaning me intensely, considering herself very intelligent and creative ("right-brained like Einstein" as she claimed), was emphatic that the CORRECT answer was that the owner of the Fish could not be determined because the fish was not called a pet either in the question nor in the clues and that was supposed to be ambiguous enough to overcome any logic employed in arriving at any other answer.

She claimed superior logic showed that the ambiguity superseded any other conclusions AND that the answer ("no determination possible") was in the 15 clues AND therefore did not make a lie out of the last statement about the solution being in the 15 clues.

After meeting so many power-mongers who will say and distort anything just to stay in control and have their way, it was a pleasure to come across your site with such thoughtful respondents and you as the host.

Kudos for all the other background info provided on this puzzle.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 11:53 AM
To: BS
Subject: RE: Einstein Puzzle

Bless your heart!  I am getting a big chuckle out of your predicament; shame on me. ;-)

Here is a review of the facts: The puzzle lists 5 houses, 5 nationalities, 5 colors, etc etc.

Furthermore the opening statement says:
These 5 owners drink a certain drink, smoke a certain brand of tobacco and keep a certain pet.
No owners have the same pet, smoke the same tobacco, or drink the same drink.

The implication is that there is FIVE of everything. This is a LOGIC PUZZLE. Logic Puzzles are not riddles. They are supposed to be fun brain exercises that have a unique solution just like Crossword and Sudoku. Logic Puzzles are supposed to play fair. If A, then B and so on.

If this was a "Brain Teaser", then maybe I would suggest the manager's position might have a point.

But as it stands there are FIVE OF EVERYTHING with one exception… there are four pets… dog - bird -cat - horse… and the first thing the puzzle does is list the FISH as the fifth pet.

Uh oh... Well, now that I think of it, your manager has a point - the FISH is not identified as a pet.  Such an insight!   But the puzzle says there are five pets. By your manager's logic, why should we assume the dog - bird -cat - horse are pets?  Maybe the water is a pet.  Maybe someone smokes tea.  Your manager thinks she is clever, but her assumptions lead us to absurdity.  Wouldn't it be easier to simply take a leap of faith and try solving the puzzle?  After all, the puzzle is very easy to solve if you treat it like a LOGIC PUZZLE instead an existential investigation into God's true purpose for mankind.

More than likely, the addition of the Fish in the opening question saves the person who created the puzzle an extra line of clues. It could be just as simple an explanation as that.

There are people who do not agree with me. In my Einstein article, Wayne Renaud stated this: "The key to this puzzle is, I believe, to understand that the question 'WHO HAS FISH? is itself NOT one of the facts, and that we are not entitled to add to the given facts by inferring an additional 'fact' within the question."

Well, that's Mr. Renaud's opinion. I don't agree.

But notice that Mr. Renaud said '
I believe…'

Now that is honest.  Everyone has a right to believe whatever he or she wants as long as they don't hurt other people who don't share their beliefs!!!  Don't go killing Buddhists because they don't worship Mohammed.

As for my beliefs, I BELIEVE Mr. Renaud and everyone else has the right to believe what he or she want to believe without having someone else try to bully them into submission, ESPECIALLY on something like the Einstein Puzzle which is the Ultimate Trivial Pursuit… a lowly logic puzzle that was elevated to cosmic importance just because someone lied and claimed that Einstein wrote it and a bunch of dopes had fun pretending it was true. Oh Please.

Let your manager argue all she wants. You can direct her to my web site and ask her to write a letter which I PROMISE to post defending her position.

I personally think you are brilliant for combing the Internet to find someone like me who agrees with you! Now that is clever. And complimenting me so I will agree with you… that's brilliant!  ;-)

I conclude my article with this advice - We think we are not in the Dark Ages any more, but let me remind you that the victims of the Holocaust are only 60 years in the past.  And that Josef Stalin murdered 20 million Russians to make sure the rest of them saw things his way. I suppose that's one way to get a consensus of opinion.

I realize that none of us would dream of murdering someone for their beliefs (unless we were threatened with harm).  What a shame it is that we still have people on this planet who think that God actually wants people killed on his or her behalf.

But while we are at it, maybe we should stop bullying people as well for their Beliefs. 

Try Friendly Persuasion instead.  We will all live longer.

This is the end of our August Newsletter right there.

Don't forget to read SSQQ Reputation on the Line 

Rick Archer
August 2007

PS - this point marks the end of the August Newsletter.  There is no more information below.


Here are the Chapters in this month's Newsletter:



The August Newsletter essentially has been transferred over to the story titled "
ssqq reputation on the line"










03. THE



04. THE



05. THE JUNE CLASS HIGHLIGHTS – CLASSES BEGIN the week of Sunday, June 3.

Remember – if you miss the first week of class, you can always start in the second week. The Second Week Review will catch you up.  SSQQ SCHEDULE

For even more detail on many of the classes listed below, please visit the EXTRA

Special classes for JUNE include:



Saturday, June 16
9:15 pm - Midnight pm
Cover charge $7


INT SALSA - Martin


Saturday, June 23
9:15 pm - Midnight
Cover charge $7


BRYAN'S WCS STUNTS AND ACROBATICS CLASS - Bryan Spivey (couples only!)











08. The 67 Million Dollar Dry Cleaning Lawsuit































Answer to Brain Teaser Two:






Editor's Note: 



16.  LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Rick Archer

This was a new feature that began with the April 2007 Newsletter.  For many years, the most popular section of the entire Newsletter has been the complaint section. 

It dawned on me the other day that I get lots of email that is actually quite pleasant and almost as interesting as the much-loved complaints.

I hope you enjoy this new feature.

If you have something you would like to say or comment on, send it to






Editor's Note:









Story contributed by










We publish one Picture Joke each month.  This month my friend Letty Daughterty shares a fabulous picture of a BMW with its windows bashed to smithereens for a good reason: it parked next to a fire hydrant and the firemen needed access.

SSQQ has acquired about 600 jokes over the last ten years.  My favorite joke from the June Hall of Fame was given to us by Chris Holmes.  You can read this joke and nearly 100 others at our
Joke Hall of Fame

And that’s a wrap for June.  Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!

Rick Archer  (email)


Please direct questions, comments, and contributions to:
Rick Archer at

Table of Contents
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(Note: for people visiting the SSQQ Newsletter for the first time, here are some favorite stories from previous issues)





SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
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