December 5th, 2003


As Lenny Bruce Once Said: "Careful, you F$$#@&@*Ouch! Jeez!!@*&#@&!!&!


" In 1965, after Lenny Bruce accidentally fell out of his second-story hotel window, his obscene tirade so upset San Francisco medics they taped his mouth shut. "
(thanks to Mark Morford)


Hi folks,

Whenever I show my utter disdain for George W. Bush and look forward to voting him out of office, one of the most common arguments I get is: 'But who are we going to replace him with? All the Democratic candidates are so wimpy. There's not much there to choose from as far as leadership goes."

Well, other than Dennis Kucinich, whom I think IS a visionary leader - but probably far too confronting for Middle America's support (but I still believe in miracles!) - the simple answer to this question is: It DOESN"T MATTER - the main thing is to get the REPUBLICAN PARTY out of office. Bush, by himself, is insignificant. It's the rest of the gang I want out: Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, The Project for the New American Century Club, and the entire Republican vision for America. This is the power base that must be dismantled. Let's put in a completely new administration, top to bottom. That's the working plan. That's probably the best we can hope for now. We'll have to wait a little while for a leader with true vision to come along, that can galvanise popular support, but one will come, when the American political environment has returned to something resembling sanity. As Ted Rall says:

" America is under attack, and Bush is enemy number one. When you're at war for your future, you can no longer enjoy the luxury of picking the ideal candidate or the perfect party. Under normal circumstances, third parties like the Greens and Libertarians deserve the support of like-minded voters. But, the fact is, only the Democratic Party can defeat Bush next year. Democratic contenders like Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton have brought common sense, progressive perspectives on the war in Iraq and what we should expect from government into the conversation, but they suffer from, respectively, lack of money and lack of melanin. They won't win the Democratic nomination. I'm a charter member of the 2004 ABB (Anybody But Bush) society. Whether the nominee turns out to be a right-winger (Clark, Lieberman) or a colorless bore (Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt), I'll vote for him over Bush . . " (more)

America Coming Together

Hollywood Political Event Stirs Up Storm
by Anne-Marie O'Connor and Ronald Brownstein

It was the kind of evening Hollywood is known for: a gathering of deep-pocketed entertainment industry liberals to discuss a strategy for electing a Democratic president next year.

But as guests arrived at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night, the meeting had become a target of conservatives, who attacked it as a symbol of excessive liberal rage toward President Bush.

Campaign finance reform advocates, meanwhile, worried that it exemplified efforts to dodge new campaign finance laws banning unlimited political contributions.

The session - initiated by Laurie David, wife of HBO star Larry David, and co-hosted by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and 20 others - was an attempt to acquaint the liberals with America Coming Together, an initiative to mobilize Democrats in 17 states that may prove crucial to the outcome of the 2004 presidential race. (article)

America Coming Together


Liberals Finding their Voice
by Kathy Kiely
" Republicans had better worry. Angry people are motivated to get out to vote. If they can channel that anger into something constructive, they can literally upset the presidency."

WASHINGTON - President Bush a "liar?" Donald Rumsfeld a defense secretary who "betrayed" his troops? Republican leaders in Congress part of a "concerted effort to erase the 20th century?"

Not since Richard Nixon left the White House have liberals felt so free to be feisty. After decades of being shushed and shooed aside by centrist Democrats who feared the party's left-wing image was turning off voters, liberals have kicked their way out of the political closet. They are loud. They are angry. And they've got a whole new attitude.

"We have been too nice. We have been too polite," says Ann Lewis, a veteran strategist with the Democratic National Committee, where the official party weblog is called "Kicking Ass."

The sudden emergence of an outspoken left wing may be the most surprising political development of the year. Until recently, liberalism could not have been more out of vogue. But in the six months since Bush appeared under a "Mission Accomplished" banner on a Navy aircraft carrier, the political dynamic has changed.(more)

But make no mistake about it - it is going to be a tough fight. Everyone HAS to vote to stop Bush next year. The Republicans aren't sitting on their butts -

Election Is Now for Bush Campaign
Early Efforts Aim To Amass Voters

By Dan Balz and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 30, 2003

President Bush's reelection team, anticipating another close election, has begun to assemble one of the largest grass-roots organizations of any modern presidential campaign, using enormous financial resources and lack of primary opposition to seize an early advantage over the Democrats in the battle to mobilize voters in 2004.

Bush's campaign has an e-mail list totaling 6 million people, 10 times the number that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has, and the Bush operation is in the middle of an unprecedented drive to register 3 million new Republican voters. The campaign has set county vote targets in some states and has begun training thousands of volunteers who will recruit an army of door-to-door canvassers for the final days of the election next November.

The entire project, which includes complementary efforts by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and state Republican parties, is designed to tip the balance in a dozen-and-a-half states that both sides believe will determine the winner in 2004.

"I've never seen grass roots like this," said a veteran GOP operative in one of the battleground states (more)

National Folk Festival

I'll be performing next April at the National Folk Festival in Canberra whose theme in 2004 is 'Dissent, Victoria and the High Country.' Yeah! That's sounds like my cup of tea. I'm stupid with dissent, I live in Victoria and, well, The High Country speaks for itself.
When: April 8 - 12, 2004
Where: Exhibition Park, Canberra, Australia.

For those of you who can't wait that long, how about tomorrow? -

Montsalvat's Annual Poetry, Song and Cultural Festival - Melbourne

The program starts at 12 noon on Sunday 7th of December and promises a day full of excitement and cultural surprises. For more than 30 years the Festival has been a meeting place for poets, musicians and poetry lovers. At 3:00 pm, Costas Athanassiou and I will present the song-cycle I composed in 1995: fifteen poems by the contemporary Greek (Egyptian born) poet Constantine P. Cavafy, and translated into English by Rae Dalven. This evocative musical-poetical work, entitled "When the Lips and the Skin Remember" will be performed by your truly on vocals and guitar, and Costas will read the poems in the original Greek. Cavafy's poems explore sexuality, death and loss in a unique and universal manner. I started this work when I was nineteen years old, with my first setting of Cavafy's poem 'Return.'


Return often and take me,
beloved sensation, return and take me -
when the memory of the body awakens,
and old desire again runs through the blood;
when the lips and the skin remember,
and the hands feel as if they touch again.

Return often and take me at night,
when the lips and the skin remember. . .

Montsalvat is situated at 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham. (For more information ring Costas on 0414 994 698 or the Festival's coordinator Geoffrey Eggleston on 9459 7712.)

by Jim Hightower


I need help here, or else I might not make it through this story. But I have to tell it, or I'll have a total anger meltdown.

George W and his regime of warmongering chicken hawks are constantly doing political photo-ops with our soldiers and piously admonishing everyone to "support the troops." But you might ask Lt. Col. Dale Starr, Col. David Everly, Col. Clifford Acree, and several other soldiers about how the Bushites themselves support our troops.

These combat veterans were captured, imprisoned, and tortured by Saddam Hussein's minions during the 1991 war with Iraq. As prisoners of war, they sustained fractured skulls, burnings, broken bones, threats of dismemberment and castration during their nightmarish confinement, yet they survived and made it home. Here they found some solace in a 1996 U.S. law that allowed them to sue the Iraqi government for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered, with payments to be made from Iraqi assets that had been frozen by our government. Last summer, a federal court awarded this group nearly a billion dollars in damages.

So, guess who is trying to keep them from collecting even a dime of it? Bush and gang, that's who. (full article)

US Exporting 'Tools of Torture,' Charges Amnesty
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is violating the spirit of its own export policy by approving the sale of tools to countries known to use them to torture detainees, according to new report released here Tuesday by Amnesty International.

In 2002, U.S. exports of electro-shock weapons and restraints that can be used for torture amounted to some US$14.7 dollars and $4.4 million, respectively, according to the report, titled "The Pain Merchants." (more)

Amnesty International Article: The Pain Merchants
(Security equipment and its use in torture and other ill-treatment.)

Louisiana School Punishes 7-year-old for Talking about Lesbian Mother, ACLU Alleges
Monday, December 1, 2003

(12-01) 14:36 PST LAFAYETTE, La. (AP)

A 7-year-old boy was scolded and forced to write "I will never use the word `gay' in school again" after he told a classmate about his lesbian mother, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Monday.

Second-grader Marcus McLaurin was waiting for recess Nov. 11 at Ernest Gaullet Elementary School when a classmate asked about Marcus' mother and father, the ACLU said in a complaint.

Marcus responded he had two mothers because his mother is gay. When the other child asked for explanation, Marcus told him: "Gay is when a girl likes another girl," according to the complaint.

A teacher who heard the remark scolded Marcus, telling him "gay" was a "bad word" and sending him to the principal's office. The following week, Marcus had to come to school early and repeatedly write: "I will never use the word `gay' in school again." (article)

Hopsiah the Kanga-Jew

Australians who thought the kangaroo originated in Australia better think again. I just found out the kangaroo was on Noah's Ark, disembarked in the Middle East and basically hopped its way Downunder. (I've heard of wacky Creationist theory before but get a load of this logic:)

" . . . the word "kangaroo" was coined by the Australian Aborigines after both they and the kangaroos had migrated to the Australian continent (which, at the time, was still indirectly connected to the Middle East. The word "kangaroo" means "I don't know" in Aboriginese. The story goes that when the first modern Europeans arrived in Australia, they saw a large hopping animal and asked one of the natives what it was called. "Kangaroo (I don't know)," he responded. It is understandable that he couldn't name the animal since his people had lost all knowledge of their Biblical heritage and thus would not have known the name given to the animal by Adam (Gen 2:19). "

Or how about this:

" A naive question that a Biblical sceptic will often ask is: "How could Koalas have lived in the Middle East if there were no eucalyptus trees there?"

" The answer to this is simple when we remember that the Lord's creations were created before the Fall and that their current physiological state is the result of the degeneration (due to the effects of entropy) of their original, more informationally-complex genes. In the Garden of Eden, koalas ate of all the trees (save the Tree of Knowledge, of course) not just eucalyptus trees. The two koalas who were aboard the Ark must have not yet degenerated to being only able to subsist on eucalyptus and this state of affairs must have happened after they migrated to Australia. Early Middle Eastern koalas would have been happy to munch away on figs or the like. " (site)

(Ed Note: Bloody degenerate gum leaf suckers!)

(You may recall the article last week on the genetically altered pet fish that glows in the dark. Well, California won't allow it.)

Glowing Fish? When Pigs Fly, State Says
Fish and Game keeps ban on sales of gene-altered pets
by Mark Martin

SACRAMENTO -- A state commission on Wednesday denied a Texas company's plan to sell genetically altered, glow-in-the-dark fish in California pet stores, calling fluorescent fish an example of science gone wrong.

The decision by the state Fish and Game Commission makes California the only state to ban GloFish, which will be available for aquariums in the rest of the country next month. Despite conclusions from several scientists that the new breed of fish posed little threat to the state's natural resources, three of four commissioners said genetically engineered pets are simply too scary to endorse.

"At the end of the day, I don't think it's right to produce a new organism just to be a pet,'' said Commissioner Sam Schuchat. "What's next? A pig with wings?''

Schuchat said he consulted with his rabbi about the ethics of the genetic engineering before coming to his decision.

The ban is the latest round in a continuing battle in California over genetically engineered fish, referred to as transgenic fish. It's a dispute that's only happening here: No other state in the country has rules like California's that prohibit modified fish. The federal government also has no guidelines.

Austin, Texas-based Yorktown Technologies has spent the past two years tinkering with zebra- fish, common in a lot of fish tanks, to turn them into Glo- Fish. The fish are injected with either green or red fluorescent proteins; their spawn become intensely bright under a black light. (article)
Miss Ugly Contest

(Have any of you ever had a strange kind of feeling that something was intrinsically wrong with the whole twisted custom of Beauty Pageants but just couldn't put your finger on it?)

Hong Kong - China has staged a Miss Ugly contest a week ahead of its hosting of the Miss World competition. Fifty unattractive women competed in the contest for the facially challenged in Shanghai, which had as its top prize plastic surgery worth $16, 500. Zhang Di, 26, won on the basisi that her appearance would most benefit from plastic surgery. " My small eyes, flat nose and poor skin have been such a burden to me that I have no self-confidence," she said.

(Ed Note: I wonder if Michael Jackson was asked to be one of the judges?)



This recipe originally was invented by Teage Ezard and the original can be found in his great essential cookbook, EZARD. I have made it about eight times now and have varied it each time. All the bits can be made well in advance and just assembled at the last minute. I plan to make this for my family for Christmas dinner this year. Here's the most recent way I put it together.

Jasmine Rice Pudding
150 g (5 oz) jasmine rice
1 vanilla bean
900 ml ( 1 1/2 pints) milk
90 g (3 1/2 oz) caster sugar
3 egg yolks
90 g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raw sugar

Lime Syrup
250 ml (7 fl oz) water
250 g (7 oz) caster sugar
zest and juice of 2 limes

Coconut Ice Cream
(Ezard makes his from scratch. I just buy some from my favourite ice cream shop.)

fresh sprigs of mint
toasted grated coconut
finely sliced slivers of red bird's eye chilli
finely sliced slivers of kaffir lime leaf
ripe banana, sliced on the diagonal and peeled
ripe Kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

Jasmine Rice Pudding

Cut the vanilla bean down the middle and open it flat. With a sharp knife, scrape the dark brown pulp and set aside. Cut the bean into two pieces. Rinse the rice and place in a saucepan with the vanilla bean pulp, the two piece of vanilla bean pod and the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 17 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent rice sticking to the pan. Remove the pod.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Stir into the rice and cook gently for a further five minutes until the rice turns shiny and smooth. Remove from the heat, add the butter, stir well, and allow to cool. Place a sheet of aluminium foil on a tray or a cutting board that will fit in the fridge. I use some round rings to shape the rice into flat circles about 3 inches across by 1 inch deep. You can also shape them by hand. Place the tray in the fridge until the rice is set.

To make the brulee, sprinkle the raw sugar over the top of each rice pudding circle to cover. Either use a small domestic blowtorch (I just got one - and are they great!) or place right under the grill until the sugar caramelises into a dark brown candy. Leave to cool and harden.

Lime Syrup
Mix the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer gently until reduced by three-quarters. Test if the syrup is ready by spooning a small amount on a cold plate. It should take on the consistency of treacle. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Allow to cool. When the syrup is cold, stir in the lime zest and refrigerate until needed.

Coconut Ice Cream
Keep well frozen until ready.

Toasted Grated Coconut -
Grate some fresh coconut onto a sheet of aluminium foil and toast lightly in the oven or under the grill until just golden brown. Place in an airtight container until ready to use.

Place one pudding on each plate. Place one large scoop of ice cream next to it. Mound a little roof of toasted coconut on the ice cream and sprinkle slivers of red chili and green kaffir lime leaf over the roof. Lean a couple slices of banana and kiwi fruit decoratively against the ice cream. Drizzle a generous amount of lime syrup around the plate. Garnish the pudding with a sprig of mint. Serve.
(Thanks to Teage Ezard for the basics.)


The Afterlife
They're moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.
Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.
Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals--eagles and leopards--and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,
while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.
There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.
The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

~ Billy Collins ~  
(thanks to Ramon Sender)