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December 29th, 2006

Are We Kinder and Gentler Yet?

"And there's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail."
George W Bush, Washington, D.C.; October 4, 2001

Happy New Year Folks,

I hope you all had a nice CHIRSTMAS. Yes, once again I am mispelling the X word. Last week I was joking - but between then and now I came upon this window display for Brumby's Bakery in St Kilda where obviously someone was serious! (And they even threw in a mispelling of 'dozzen' as a bonus. (Obviously, those who 'doze' during English class!)

Well, somewhere just before and just after Christmas, I managed to finish my new album! Now it's just a matter of mastering and pressing it. That will happen sometime in the next two months. I'll keep you posted.

DIFFICULT WOMEN is performing at the Cygnet Folk Festival, in Tasmania, in a couple of weeks, and I have also been invited to host the Second Inspired Shaddap You Face Contest. Some of the contestants so far signed up to present their 'interpretations' of my song are:
Los Capitaines (with a nasty, black Nick Cave-y 'Bad Seeds' version), Will Lane (an avant garde contemporary viola exposition), One Step Back (Bluegrass in French, Gorani (Male Choral tradition from Georgia, USSR), Kazakstan Kowgerls (Bulgarian womens' a capella), Duo Swango (European Gypsies travel to Latin America' variation), and Kavisha Mazzella, (most likely traditional Italian with a twist). Some still unconfirmed possibilities are Oscar Lopez (Latin flamenco from Canada) and the Black Nonna's (southern Italian Tarantella/operetta mischiaccio)! Some of the most exciting acts that performed at the National Folk Festival 'Shaddap' Contest signed up the day before, including the brilliant winner, The Canberra Celtic Pipes, with eight bagpipes, field drums and a lassie in a short kilt whirling the Highland Fling! I miniDV'd the National event and also hope to get good footage at Cygnet so maybe a proper DVD will eventuate down the track.



Yo Joe,
I love your newsletters---bullshit, mule manure and all. . . . So keep me on your mailing list. Gene

Being a muso all my life I absolutely loved [your Christmas music selections], especially the two trumpet ones. Great work, Dennis W

Dear Joe Dolce,
I was watching something on TV the other night and saw 'Shaddap you face' performed - although I've heard it hundreds of times before, it was as if I saw it for the first time, and I really started thinking about the lyrics. I'm writing a book about Sydney and its people, and (among many other things) I consider the role of migrants in Sydney's development. I saw your lyrics and wondered whether 'Shaddap you face' was a comment on the migrant experience, that all they hear is 'Watsa matter you' etc. And then it's all set to that happy upbeat music ... I'm fascinated to know what you were thinking about when you wrote it, what you were hoping to say with it. I've looked at your website but can't see this sort of analysis, but I noticed how strongly you feel about other social justice issues, so guess you had a serious purpose behind the song. Looking forward to hearing the story behind the song! Regards, Kathy P

(Note:) Kathy, this singular quote from the Sydney Morning Herald was one of the few media stories that saw behind the entertainment qualties of the song:)

"'Maybe you recall Shaddap You Face as just a novelty song of 1980, but Dolce's hugely successful singalong was more than that. It summed up the change in Australia when multiculturalism displaced the derogatory label 'New Australian', when colourful Immigration minister Al Grassby regularly graced the national stage, and SBS was about to take to the air. It caught a social current and gave voice to it in about three minutes.' Sydney Morning Herald

It's Still About Oil in Iraq
By Antonia Juhasz
The Los Angeles Times

A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group's report is its advocacy for securing foreign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.

While the Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever- pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.

It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" . . . article


From: Harry Dodd Subject: I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there - save me, Superman!



Make Bono History
'Artists were picked for Live8 because of their pull but Bob Geldof couldn't help himself from getting up there and making his hit sound even worse than it originally did, though I suppose he'll require some debt relief if the rest of the Rats win their royalties case. But no sign of Midge up there going through his hit with the rest of the 'Vox, obviously not the pull, suppose the only chance of that happening would be so that Bob could cut them off halfway through Vienna so Joe Dolce can lead the crowd through a rendition of "Shuddup Ya Face".

Fungus 'Eats' CDs

Could your CD collection be at risk? Scientists in Spain have identified a new form of fungus that eats compact discs. A geologist at the Museum of Natural History in Madrid discovered the fungus, which belongs to the common Geotrichum family, on CDs brought back from the central American state of Belize. The fungus had attacked the outer edge of the disc, consuming plastic and even aluminium. It rendered the CD unplayable. Experts say it is unusual but not unknown for a fungus to attack manmade substances like plastics. Javier Garcia-Guinea, head of Geology at the museum, said he believed it was the first documented case of a fungus attacking CDs. article
(thanks to Ramon Sender)

(Note: Ramon also sends a 'Healthy Thought for the Day':)

"The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades."


Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon 

The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you've been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards -- and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty.
You've just been hit with a new nonlethal weapon that has been certified for use in Iraq -- even though critics argue there may be unforeseen effects.
According to documents obtained for Wired News under federal sunshine laws, the Air Force's Active Denial System, or ADS, has been certified safe after lengthy tests by military scientists in the lab and in war games. article


That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore
They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
Whose God Do You Kill For?
Jail to the Chief
No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq ?
Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
Bad President! No Banana.
We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
Is It Vietnam Yet?
Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
Impeach Cheney First
When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
Pray For Impeachment
The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
What Part of "Bush Lied" Don't You Understand?
Are We Kinder and Gentler Yet?
(thanks to Big Russ)


A Tale of Two Frogs
By Kelpie Wilson
t r u t h o u t | Environmental Editor

I learned something fascinating this week. I am in San Francisco, staying with friends, and my host Dave Parks is a physicist as well as an accomplished naturalist.

The last time I saw him, Dave told me that under an ultraviolet light, scorpions will glow with a green fluorescence. To prove it, he brought a portable black light and we went into my yard that night and started lifting rotten logs and shining the light under them. Sure enough, we soon saw a bright green scorpion, looking like a creepy rubber glow-in-the-dark toy. Dave couldn't tell me why scorpions do that, but he could prove that they do.

This week, Dave told me that frogs in Alaska will freeze solid in the winter. Not surprising in itself, but I was amazed to learn that in the spring when they thaw out, they don't melt into a putrefying mess of flesh, but start hopping around as if they'd never spent the winter as a frog-flavored popsicle.

That made me think of a better-known but less fortunate property of frogs, their propensity to cook to death when placed in a pan of cold water that is slowly heated to boiling. Because the heating is slow, they never react by jumping out of the pan. Their world goes from cozy, to hot tub on-high, to full rolling boil before they can do anything about it. This frog story has also became the standard explanation for why humans are not reacting with appropriate speed to climate change - the heating is coming on too slowly to raise the alarm and make us do something.

But depending on what part of the planet you occupy, the gradual heating scenario may no longer hold true. The Arctic, a place that few people inhabit or visit, is heating much faster than the rest of the planet, and devastating changes are already underway. Europe is another region that is feeling the heat more than most. Europe seems to be skipping winter this year as flowers bloom on Alpine ski slopes and bears find their dens too warm and soggy to hibernate in. That is one reason why Britain and other EU countries display a growing sense of urgency as they lead global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Dave had one more interesting piece of information for me. He pointed me to a report in the science journal Nature that included this map of global temperature over a three month period this fall: WEBSITE

. . . . Speaking of frog flippin' . . . . . .

When Resolve Turns Reckless
By John F. Kerry
The Washington Post

' Here's something much worse than being accused of "flip-flopping": refusing to flip when it's obvious that your course of action is a flop . . . ' article


VERY Dry Finnish Choir Humour ......

It gives you an insight into our Scandinavian welfare state friends....... youtube video
 (thanks to Maggie Morgan)



'[People] have to have a reference point for who you are and where you come from, but now it doesn't matter.... people mention bloody Joe Dolce beating 'Vienna' to Number One more than anything else now!' Midge Ure, interview 2006

It means nothing to me
' Microsoft has chosen the name "Vienna" for the version of Windows due after Vista. Children of the 1980s or earlier will of course immediately recall the thumping pop smash of the same name by Midge Ure's old band, Ultravox. The group's magnum opus Vienna was of course famously kept off the coveted number one spot in the hit parade by novelty act Joe Dolce singing (if it can be called singing) Shaddap a Your Face. ("What's a matter you? Hey! Gotta no respect. Hey! It's a terrible song. Hey! Ah shaddup a your face" etc, etc). No doubt open source aficionados will already be planning a version of Linux codenamed SYF for 2008.' January 2006

'Vienna was one of the biggest global hits of the 1980's - cruelly kept from the UK top-spot by dastardly Joe Dolce and his one-hit wonder 'Shaddap you Face' (a painful blow to bear for Midge and his musketeers).' vienna-life.com

'Accidentally defining the zeitgeist of early 80s synth and new romanticism, the 'Vienna' single shot to Number Two on the chart, cruelly denied pole position by one of the most obnoxious abominations in the history of music; 'Shaddap You Face.' Nevertheless the parent album sold by the bucketload whilst Joe Dolce's album was accompanied by the sound of a toilet flushing.' Oct 2006

(Note: A toilet flushing? Very poetic. Was that Number One or Number Two?)

'Bladdy appall innit? I kepa da Ultravox offa da number one wif this piecea da crap. I a so ashame.' 2006

'Although this song is just plain silly old novelty crap from down under, I'd rather croon along with Joe, than whine along with Midge who along with his happy band of fashion-no-no's (Ultravox) were kept of the top spot. Week after week Joe the Unkempt kept telling Mr Ure to "Shaddup You Face" whilst he brandished his menacing Lute, whilst raking in the loot. Good on yer, cobber.  Still I'm glad too that you f*cked off soon after... cos it was still tripe, just less so than Vienna. Well thats your 15 mins of fame over and done with. 2006

' What about  Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face" ? (the agony was prolonged when some pizza advert used it on their telly advert in the 80s) I remember hearing that Ultravox's Midge Ure punched Mr. Dolce in the face, for preventing "Vienna " from reaching the deserved #1 spot. He didnt shaddap though. ( It's an urban myth of course. Apart from anything else Midge isn't called Midge for nothing - he's knee-high to a grasshopper's fart. Dolce would flatten him.) Videotheque 2006

' Many people believe that The Sex Pistols were kept off the number one spot in 1977 as it would have been embarrassing for the Queen's Silver Jubilee if God Save The Queen had been at the top spot. This is nonsense, it simply didn't sell enough records. The only time the Queen has interfered in the charts was in 1981 when she officially decreed that Joe Dolce's Shaddap You Face should be at number one ahead of Ultravox's, Vienna as it would "really piss that Midge Ure off".' 2005

"The greatest musical travesty of my youth was Joe Dolce keeping "Vienna" off the number 1 spot for 9 weeks, depriving my beloved Midge Ure of his rightful glory." Karine Polwart

(Note: I forgive Karine for her youthful ignorance (she was eleven at the time!). And recommend her to anyone who wants to hear a gifted singer-songwriter. Especially her demo recording of 'Fire Thief'! Check it out: WEBSITE

'I always thought the best example of how a lot of New Romantics felt about Joe Dolce was sumed up by Esther Coles character in 'Hunting Venus'. Personally I thought 'Vienna' was a bloody terrible song.' 2006

 Stoning for Adultery - More a Women's Issue
By Kimia Sanati

Tehran - Currently, in Iran, there are nine women sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery, compared to two men for the same offence - highlighting the fact that this barbaric mode of execution is primarily a women's issue. Whether these 11 unfortunate people can be saved from the brutality and humiliation involved depends on the success of a campaign, launched two months ago, by a group of lawyers and women's rights activists to have the stoning law abolished altogether from the Islamic Penal Code of this country. Stoning is more a women's issue because, according to Islamic laws, a man can have four permanent wives and any number of temporary wives. article


"I am opposed to a child growing up with two gay parents. A child needs a father and a mother. I can't imagine my childhood without my mother." Stefano Gabbana (Dolce & Gabbana)

(Note: Sounds like Mr Gabanna has a limited imagination to me. And this guy designs clothes? I could easily imagine my childhood without a mother. I could even imagine a childhood with a cane toad for a brother. What's the big deal? Sorry Frank, I just had to slip something in there. Merry Croakmas! Watch the highway. Hey, here's a joke for you:)

"Why did the cane toad cross the . . . . . . . . SPLAT!!!"


What About the Land?
By Julia Olmstead

Great news! We can finally scratch "driving less" off our list of ways to curb global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil! Biofuels will soon not only replace much of our petroleum, but improve soil fertility and save the American farmer as well!

Sound too good to be true? Well, yes. But you could be excused for buying the hype.

Ethanol and biodiesel are being promoted as cures for our energy and environmental woes not just by flacks for corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, BP, and DuPont, but by many eco-minded activists and some prominent environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council as well.

As intuitive as it may seem that fuel from plants would be more benign than petroleum-based fuels, the ecological impacts of biofuel production are more complicated, and wider-reaching, than an environmentalist might first imagine.

For years, some critics have claimed that corn-based ethanol has a negative "net energy balance" - that is, that ethanol requires more energy to produce than it delivers as fuel. But as biofuel production efficiencies have improved, critics have turned their focus to broader sustainability issues.

"Even if corn and soy biodiesel have positive energy balances, that's not enough," says Andy Heggenstaller, a graduate student at Iowa State University researching biofuel crop production. "Large-scale production of corn and soybeans has negative ecological consequences. If biofuels are based on systems that exacerbate soil erosion and water contamination, they're ultimately not sustainable." article

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
"May we live long and die out"
Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.
VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It's a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We're not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters. We don't carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth's ecology. As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us. Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom. When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth's biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature's "experiments" have done throughout the eons. It's going to take all of us going. WEBSITE


Half a Head

A man walked into the produce section of his local Tesco supermarket and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy working in that department told him that they only sold whole heads of lettuce. The man was insistent that the boy ask his manager about the matter.
Walking into the back room, the boy said to his manager, "Some tosser wants to buy a half a head of lettuce."
As he finished his sentence, he turned to find the man standing right behind him, so he added, "and this gentleman kindly offered to buy the other half."
The manager approved the deal and the man went on his way. Later the manager found the boy and said "I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier. We like people who think on their feet here. Where are you from, son?"
"Essex, sir," the boy replied.
"Well, why did you leave Essex?" the manager asked.
The boy said, "Sir, there's nothing but whores and football players there..
"Really?" said the manager, "My wife's from Essex."
The boy replied, "Really? Who does she play for?"
(thanks to Joe Stead)

True Australian Ghost Story

This story happened a while ago in Brisbane, and even though it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock tale, it's true.

John Bradford, a Sydney University student, was on the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a storm. The night was rolling on and no car went by. The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly he saw a car, slowly coming towards him and stopped. John, desperate for shelter and without thinking about it, got in the car and closed the door, just to realize there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn't on! The car started moving slowly. John looked at the road and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he started to pray, begging for his life. Then, just before he hit the curve, a hand appeared through the window and turned the wheel. John, paralysed with terror, watched how the hand appeared every time they came to a curve. John saw the lights of a pub down the road so, gathering strength, jumped out of the car and ran to it. Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and asked for two shots of tequila. He then started telling everybody about the horrible experience he went through. A silence enveloped everybody when they realized he was crying and.... wasn't drunk. About 15 minutes later, two guys walked into the same pub. They were also wet and out of breath. Looking around and seeing John Bradford sobbing at the bar, one said to the other,

"Look, Bruce. Here's the idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it."
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)

Interesting Animal Fact of the Week

The female Asian Mourning Gecko has found a way to simulate sex and produce eggs, rendering the male of the species useless.

(Note: Has anyone ever considered that that's why it's in mourning?)


Men Looking like Chuck Norris
to Raise Money for Prostate Cancer

Mission Statement:
"Prostate cancer kills one man every hour in the UK. It's what did for my dad. It's a bit of a bugger and anything we can do to get rid of it is a good thing. So, we've all been growing facial hair like Chuck Norris to kick Prostate Cancer into the next galaxy. Firstly, please Make a donation of at least £5 to The Prostate Cancer Charity (using this site).
Then see how we got on and vote for the most 'Chuck-Like' tash. WEBSITE



Maple Syrup, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham

I found this simple but brilliant recipe in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago and made it over Xmas to great family acclaim. It belongs to Guillaume Brahimi of Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant in Sydney. I'm giving it exactly as I learned it. (If it works, fix it . . . . for dinner.)

1 7.5 kg ham
14 cloves
200 ml pure Maple syrup
3 tbsp seeded mustard
1 tbsp cinnamon
200 ml pineapple juice
200 g brown sugar

For those of you who get confused about ham and smoked ham, they are the same thing. All ham is smoked, precooked and ready to eat. All we are doing here is glazing an already cooked ham, basically. Child's play. This can be prepared the night before and cooked four hours before the meal. One of the easiest and most show-stopping dishes I've learned lately.

A decent ham should have about 2 cm of fat on top (under the skin). Remove the skin. Make 14 crosses into the fat and insert the cloves at the intersections.

In a bowl, mix the maple syrup, mustard, cinnamon and pineapple juice. Brush the mixture evenly over the ham using a pastry brush. Place in the fridge and leave for 12 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook the ham, preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the meat from the fridge and spread the brown sugar evenly on top. Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes. Rest for 3 hours before serving.



After three days of steady rain -
over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.
Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden
with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem
I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.
How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.
How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,
bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.
~ Billy Collins ~
(Sailing Alone Around the Room)




What do you have when you have a group of harmonica players up to their necks in wet concrete?

Not enough concrete.