Mixed reactions to today's headlines. Splashed
all over Page One was the breaking Australian wheat board scandal.
The US are not happy with our alleged sales of scones mix to Saddam
during the trade embargo. What happened to our lovely 'Coalition
of the Willing' partnership? Aren't coalition friends supposed
to overlook little things like 'aiding and abetting' the 'enemy'?
Of course, it couldn't have ANYTHING to do with the fact that
the USA is Australia's major competitor in overseas wheat sales,
could it? There couldn't be an ulterior motive involved. That
wouldn't be cricket. (I mean: baseball.) It couldn't have
anything to do with something as crude as PROFITS? Not amongst
fellow 'Coalition of the Willing' team mates. Banish the thought.
Forget I mentioned it.
The other huge disgrace was the small article on frickin' PAGE TWELVE about the death of CORETTA SCOTT KING, one of the world's most well-known peace activists. As much as I do like watching the politicians squirm and tangle themselves in their expanding web of B.S, Coretta King belongs on Page One today, not the wheat board scandal. Peace belongs on Page One today.
New Rule No. 1 from Bill Maher
Oil companies must stop with the advertisements implying they're friends of the environment. "At Exxon Mobil, we care about a thriving wildlife." Please, the only thing an oil executive has in common with a seagull is that they would both steal French fries from a baby.
New Rule No. 2 from Bill Maher
The next major destructive storm must be called Hurricane George. You've earned it, buddy! Congratulations. You are officially a Category 5 president.
Favourite Reader Comments of the Week
Joe Dolce's Newsletter: "The Only Spam I Read." Leo
I'm not sure whether 'brasicas compliment each other well', or even at all!! Yes, I once was a smart-arse English teacher... Ian Burns
(Note: Ian, Obviously, you haven't taught in Nebrasica.)
While the West Papuan Refugees were being held incommunicado last week on Christmas Island, the smart locals had no need for Telstra to get their message across to lead dissident, Herman [Wanggai]. GSL guards tried aggresive intimidation to get [this] sign put down across the road from the community detention houses where the families are being held, however the smart locals stood firm and reminded zealous guards they had no authority to order them away. Kaye Bernard
I am reading your latest newsletter ("The Art of Eating Vegetarians") and am surprised to learn that you lost a lot of subscribers because of your hilarious rant on the Christian Fundy obsession with The Rapture. I found this whole section of your missal so incredibly funny- I was doubled over laughing till I shed tears of mirth! Thank you so much for such a comical and at the same time insightful parody! I was raised in an environment of such paranoid hokum and it puts the fear of god into you, I can tell you. I never bothered to plan my future as a young man because I seriously thought that the world was going to end with the Tribulation and the Rapture; the Second Coming of Christ and all that bosh from Revelation. "Unravelation" is way more like it! My father was a minister of a Pentecostal church in New Zealand and then here in Australia. He was a wonderful man and gave me many valuable insights, but the whole Pentecostal system of belief was really whacked. My uncle and aunt live in Florida USA and are completed embroiled in the weirdness of it all. It took me years, until I was about 30, to finally free myself of the grip this mindset had upon me. And I never felt happier or freer than the day when I finally realised that I didn't have to belief all that nonsense any more. However I believe this Fundamentalist teaching to be extremely dangerous because it encourages an irresponsible attitude to the planetary environment (after all if God/Christ is going to usher in a "New Heaven and a New Earth" and the old one will pass away why bother trying to save this wicked old world?) What a dangerous load of crap! And the belief in the inevitability of the Final Confrontation at Armageddon: surely this leads to a fatalistic and gung-ho approach to diplomacy and an expectation of military conflict? Well, thank you for your wonderful rave: it just cracked me up. In fact I sent off an email to the friend who initially introduced me to your Newsletter thanking her! (She had a similar background to me in the Pentecostal church).
However being raised in such a religious environment sparked an interest in spirituality in general. Nowadays I am free to check out any religion I choose: Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Sufism, Hermetic Magick. I am studying (as a mature-age student) at UQ St Lucia the more esoteric aspects of Religion. It is amazing what courses are offered these days; I am very interested in what is termed "occult" to see what lies behind this (sometimes) derogatory term. Which brings me to make an observation on your comments on smoking. You used juice fasting to escape the clutches of the Tobacco God. (Interesting to make the deity analogy, without getting into that paranoid territory of 'demons' and that shite). I was very dependant on smoking those delicious clove-flavoured Indonesian cigarettes Gudam Garang. It was during an invocation of the goddess Hecate as part of an Hermetic Magick ceremonial Working that I requested of the goddess that she help me give up smoking. She said to me" Well, just DO it!" And I have not smoked a clove fag since! So god(dess) moves in mysterious ways! Your talk on juice fasting was interesting BTW; must try it sometime. I love fruit juice anyway.
Finally, the God Survey was another hoot! Thanks once again for your hilarious satire! Blessed Be, Thoth Hermes
(Note: Thoth, Thanks for the great letter. I used to smoke those strong Indonesian Gudam Garang, too. In fact, I loved the fragrance of cloves so much, I eventually used to carry a little bottle of clove oil around with me so I could do my own cigarettes the way I liked them! One time - back in the days when you could smoke in cafes - I was smoking one of my handmade soaked pungent tobacco bombs when a couple eating at the table next to me asked me if I would mind putting it out, as it was bothering them. They were both smoking ordinary cigarettes!)
I like the anecdote by your correspondent J.B. about being demonized by a fundi. A few days ago we visited friends, who jokingly pulled out a pink laminated picture of God & Jesus, that an aunt had given them for Christmas. On the back of this sketch of softly interwoven - did I say pink? - beards was a biblical quotation, so violent that it seemed incongruous: that anyone worshipping other gods would have to be stoned to death. (Our friends follow an Indian guru, my husband is into the classical Greek pantheon, and I'm on a Faerie-Wiccan journey, so according to religious fanatics we're in the spiritual wasteland's heart of darkness...) We got to pondering unspoken fundamentals of fundamentalism . . . . "I am a jealous god." The others are more confident . . . (note: boom boom!)
David Bridie's letter was also excellent. We indies often forget how tough it is for mainstreamers. No, I'm not being sarcastic. Just read the article by indie-rock producer Steve Albini (whose credits include PJ Harvey and Shannon Wright): "The Problem with Music". It does seem that those of us signed to small niche labels have more creative freedom. My label in France never tells me whom to collaborate with, when or where to tour, or how often to release an album. Steve also shows how contracts with majors can lead to artists carrying massive debts. Oh, and thanks for the directions to Sesame street, Joe. Is your sundial cross-dressing as a compass? Louisa John-Krol
The Problem With Music (1)
by Steve Albini
Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there's only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says "Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke". And he does of course. (article)
New Rule No. 3 from Bill Maher
Saddam Hussein's trial must be moved to Los Angeles! We are "fiending" out here for our next big celebrity court case! Local news stations are so bored, they've resorted to reporting real news!
The Problem With Music (2)
Pumpkin Man and Mediocrity on a Pedestal
I just watched 'Cinderella Man' last night, with Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger, directed by Ron Howard, about Irish-American boxer, Jim Braddock's dark horse upset victory over favourite, Max Bauer, for the World Boxing Championship. A pretty good film. Kind of like Rocky translated by Charles Dickens. A true story, too - it said so on the credits. But according to Max Bauer Jr. (better known from the Beverly Hillbillies tv series, as Jethro Clampett) the portrayal of his father in the film is a complete distortion and pack of lies. Jethro's not happy: (article)
Funny. After watching the film, I was flipping through the channels and I ran into Russell Crowe again - this time singing with his new band, atrociously named, The Ordinary Fear of God - the band formerly known as Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt - or TOFOG. Apparently he wanted a new band name with the same initials as the old band name so he wouldn't have to splash out on new initialled t-shirts and paraphernalia. What a scrooge! (More Charles Dickens!) But also symptomatic of the kind of music Russ makes. ' Beyond bad,' as my daughter quipped. Russ as a musician is equivalent to Madonna as an actress. Only worst. In fact, Madonna and Crowe ought to make a musical together. 'A Star is Boring.' But what I can't understand is this: if Crowe is such a good actor - which he is - why can't he ACT like someone who can sing? Instead of acting like someone who can't. If he was an unknown actor auditioning for the part of a singer in a band, who actually had to sing the part, does anyone think he would actually get the role? I mean Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon learned to do it in "Walk The Line." If Russell can put on all that lard and then take it off again for various roles, why can't he put on a voice? And being selected to sing for tens of thousands of Australians on Australian Day? Another Howard Government joke. Once again, putting mediocrity on a pedestal. When there are so many more deserving brilliant musical performers in this country. And what about that appearance by Crowe's band at the Temple of Australian Country Music: Tamworth. Of course, I know it's all politics and public relations. It's because he's the GREAT ACTOR Russell Crowe and will get media attention bigtime. (Anyone notice any similarities to the Paul Kelly-Commonwealth Games fiasco a couple issues back?.) But it's still cheap shot media and BAD politics. Mediocrity on a Pedestal. I don't know anyone who can watch Crowe perform without grimacing. (I don't know anyone who can watch John Howard speak without grimacing either.) I heard John Howard recently made a film: Mr Howard Goes Down on Washington. (boom boom!) Maybe John Howard should join Russell Crowe's band and do some rapping. The Odd Angry Gruntcouple. I bought a DVD of Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt a year ago to see what the fuss was about and I couldnt get past Thirty Odd Seconds of Groan. TOSOG. Make a good t-shirt.
New Rule No. 4 from Bill Maher
For Halloween, President Bush must go as either a cop or an Indian. This week, Bush dressed up like a construction worker. He's also been a biker, a Navy man, and of course, a cowboy. You know, for a guy who's anti-gay, he spends an awful lot of time dressed like the Village People.
A First-Rate Country Run by Second-Rate
By John Pilger
" The much-abused term "lucky country" [for Australia] was ironic, coined by the author, the late Donald Horne, to denote a first-rate country run by second-rate people." John Pilger
Shortly after Christmas, the Australian media tycoon Kerry
Packer died in his mansion overlooking Sydney Harbor, guarded
by large, salivating dogs. In Britain, he was remembered as the
man who brought celebrity hoopla and money to cricket. Here, in
Australia, his death provided a glimpse of the changes imposed
on societies that once were proud to call themselves social democracies.
Lauded as "Australia's richest man" who "achieved" a rating on Forbes magazine's rich list, as if this put him alongside Donald Bradman and the Sydney Opera House, Packer excited a fear and sycophancy not normally associated with Australians. "Laid to rest in his beloved sun burnt country," said the obsequious banner headline across the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Sun-Herald topped this with: "Packer's practical compassion a model for us all."
Packer was a hulk of man who lost his temper a lot, said "fuck" a lot, gambled and lost huge amounts, admired Genghis Khan (no irony), and ruled by the sheer power of his inherited money, much of it accumulated by having legally avoided paying many millions of dollars in tax - the fail-safe method employed by his principal competitor, Rupert Murdoch. In the mid-19th century, the Australian press was one of the liveliest and bravest in the world; today, dominated by the marketing empires of Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax, it is little more than a voice of Australia's political elite and of Bush's Washington. Not surprisingly, the government of John Howard is to give Packer a state memorial service. "Kerry," said the prime minister, "was larger than life." It was Howard who, stricken with pneumonia, famously got out of bed to entertain "Rupert" at his home. It was Howard who embraced the mantle bestowed by a Packer magazine that he was George W Bush's "deputy sheriff." (When asked about this, Bush immediately promoted him to "sheriff for south-east Asia.") (article)
(thanks to WaylandN)
New Rule No. 5 from Bill Maher
How come we have cars with global positioning systems, satellite radio and voice-activated web access, and we still power them with the black goop you have to suck out of the ground? Well, I hate to tell you this, folks, but gas doesn't cost too much; it costs too little. Ooh, I know, I know. I know you hear about gas prices over two dollars a gallon and it makes you nearly choke on your four-dollar latte.
Coretta Scott King, 78, Widow of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr., Dies
By Peter Applebome
Coretta Scott King, first known as the wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then as his widow, then as an avid proselytizer for his vision of racial peace and non-violent social change died Monday night, her sister in law, Christine King Farris, said this morning. She was 78 and had been in failing health for years following a stroke. (article)
New Rule No. 6 from Bill Maher
If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.
MANDORLA: SYMBOL FOR OUR AGE
'The mandorla is the prototype of conflict resolution.
It is the art of healing.' Robert A. Johnson
The mandorla (Italian: for 'almond')
is a totally forgotten idea and symbol from Medieval Christianity.
It occurs when two circles, representing polarized opposites overlap
slightly. The almond-shaped points-in-common make the mandorla.
While the more popular 'mandala' is well-known for its symbolism
of wholeness, the mandorla is more appropriate for healing the
split paradox of oppositions. When we cannot reconcile an opposing
view or 'love an enemy', we can form a mandorla by looking deeply
for the tiniest sliver of overlap or place of commonality. By
focusing and gradually, over time, expanding the almond-shaped
area, we effect the healing process toward wholeness.
Johnson says: 'It has been the nature of our cultural life to set a good possibility against a bad one and banish the bad one so thoroughly that we lose track of it's existence. These banished elements make up our shadow, but they will not stay in exile forever...what can one do when the banished elements demand a day of reckoning? Then it is time for an understanding of the mandorla....to advance from opposition (always a quarrel) to paradox (always Holy) is to make a leap of consciousness ... it helps us to move from contradiction - that painful condition where things oppose each other - to the realm of paradox, where we are able to entertain two contradictory notions and give them equal dignity. Then and only then, is there the possibility of grace, the spiritual experience of contradictions brought into a coherent whole- giving us a unity greater than either of them.' (from M E T A M O R P H O S I S O F T H E W A R R I O R - THE WARRIOR, THE WOUND AND WOMAN-HATE: THE POLITICS OF SOFTFEAR, JOE DOLCE 1992)
New Rule No. 7 from Bill Maher
Parents have to stop coddling their children. The latest is, schools have stopped grading papers with red ink because of complaints that a big, mean, red X is too negative. Why, a kid might even think he got it wrong and learn something. These parents today are so fixated on protection, it's amazing they ever got pregnant in the first place.
NAMES OF MONTHS
January is named for Janus, the Roman god of doors and gateways.
February was named for the Roman god, Februus, the Etruscan god of the underworld and also a god of purification.
March was called Martius In ancient Rome. It was named after the war god (Mars) and the Romans thought that it was a lucky time to begin a war.
April derived from the Latin word aperire which means "to open", and refers to growing plants in spring.
May was either named for the Roman goddess, Maia ('The Pleiades' was the name given to the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Maia was the eldest of the daughters, and said to be the most beautiful) or more likely, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Bona Dea, "the Good Goddess," was a Roman fertility goddess, and presided over both virginity and fertility in women.
June is named for the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter.
July was named for Julius Caesar.
August was named for Augustus Caesar and has 31 days because Augustus wanted as many days as Julius Caesar's month, July.
September is from the Latin word sept for "seven" and was the seventh month of the year, before January and February were added. In Ancient Greece, September was called Boedromion.
October from the Latin oct for "eight" was the eighth month of the year, before January and February were added.
November from the Latin novem for "nine" was the ninth month of the year, before January and February were added.
December from the Latin decem for "ten" was the tenth month of the year, before January and February were added).
New Rule No. 8 from Bill Maher
Words printed on a coffee cup will not turn you gay. A Baylor University dining contractor has banned Starbucks cups that have a quote from a gay author. Listen, breeders, you can't get AIDS from a Styrofoam container. And besides, if you're holding a double half-caf, vanilla-mocha latte, extra foam sprinkled with nutmeg, you're already gay!
West Papua Enters the Mainstream Australian
David Bridie and Annie Feith
The recent arrival of 43 West Papuans asylum seekers who sailed
in a small boat from Merauke to the Cape York peninsula, has finally
brought the plight of our near neighbors into the consciousness
of the Australian public.What a strong metaphor for the
proximity of West Papua to Australia and the desperation these
people must feel to undertake such a perilous journey. Whilst
the government quickly moved them all to the remote Christmas
Island detention centre, many groups including the Greens, the
International Commission of Jurists, the Uniting Church, and even
the ALP have called for their release into the community whilst
their claims are heard.
What are these people fleeing from? Neither foreign journalists nor independent human rights monitors such as Amnesty International are able to enter West Papua, where local human rights workers are subjected to surveillance and intimidation including death threats.
However constant reports flow through of intimidation and persecution from the Indonesian military.
One of the"boat people", Herman Wanggai is the nephew of the famous nationalist leader Thomas Wanggai who died in jail whilst serving a long sentence following peaceful protest action in the 1980s. Herman himself has been imprisoned recently for his activism.
Amnesty International has taken on as Worldwide Appeals the cases of Philip Karma and Yusak Pakage who are serving 15 and 10 year sentences. Their 'crime' was to raise the Morning Star flag at a ceremony that was peaceful until the arrival of the Indonesian security forces on December 1 2004.
There are now eight Amungme people (including a Catholic priest and two minors) being detained in Jakarta in connection with the Timika killings of two US citizens and one Indonesian (all Freeport employees) in 2002. One of the detained Anthonius Wamang has been indicted by a US grand jury in 2004 for this murder. This case has raised many questions about the relationship between the US owned Freeport mine and the Indonesian military. Whilst US and Indonesian authorities claim that Wamang is a 'separatist', both the initial police investigation and investigations by local human rights monitors found that Wamang had close links to Indonesian military personnel.
Whilst the Australian government is reluctant to discuss West Papua openly for fear of jeopardising its relationship with the Indonesian government, the issue is more openly discussed in the US, Europe, New Zealand and Pacific Island states. It is time that civil society groups and people in government stop ignoring this pressing issue of ongoing human rights abuse right on our door step.
At the official level Australia turned a blind eye to the occupation of East Timor. It has done the same in West Papua since 1963. Australia can and should support a peace process in West Papua, by calling on the Indonesian government to take seriously the 'Zone of Peace' initiative of West Papuan civil society leaders. This calls for demilitarisation and dialogue as a starting point.
West Papua is an issue whose time has come.I recommend readers who'd like to follow up on the West Papua story have a gawk at the following websites.
For more information about West Papua:
www.geocities/elshamnewsservice.com (1) www.wpaction.buz.org (2) www.newint.org/issue344/star.htm (3) www.papuaresourcecenter.org (4) www.freewestpapua.com (5) www.zulenet.com/awpa (6) www.geocities.com/awpah (7) www.papuaweb.org (8) www.fpcn-global.org (9) www.hampapua.org (10)
New Rule No. 9 from Bill Maher
Boy George must now be called "Man George." Come on! You're no longer a hot British chick. You're Uncle Fester.
25 signs you've grown up
1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2. Having sex in a single bed is out of the question.
3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4. 6:00 am is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5. You hear your favourite song in an elevator.
6. You watch the Weather Channel.
7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up".
8. You go from 130 days of holidays to 20.
9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up".
10. You're the one calling the police because those %&@# kids next door won't turn down the stereo.
11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
12 . Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
13 . You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
14 . Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
15 . You take naps from noon to 6 pm.
16. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
17 . Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 am would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.
18 . If you're a girl, you go to the chemist for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
19 . A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff".
20 . You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
21 . "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again".
22 . 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
23 . You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
24 . You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old butt. Then you forward it to a bunch of old friends because you know they'll enjoy it & do the same.
BONUS: When you find out your friend is pregnant
you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh f#*k - what happened?"
(thanks to Jim Testa)
New Rule No. 10 from Bill Maher
You can only kill the number-two man in Al Qaeda once. According to the White House, we've killed the number-two man in Al Qaeda about nine times now. He's not a terrorist. It turns out he's a zombie. We're fighting them over in Transylvania so we don't have to fight them here.
New Rule No. 11 from Bill Maher
Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards. (thanks to Bill Lempke)
" Martin loved to cook, especially soul food. He made smothered cabbage, pork chops, fried chicken, pig's feet, pig's snout, and pig's ears. ( He said: 'They're good and they're cheap.') Also . . . turnip greens (Southern style with ham hocks and bacon drippings), and corn bread. " Coretta Scott King, from 'My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr.'
I had these at Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant, in Harlem, New York, about ten years ago and never forgot them. I've made them myself a few times since then. They actually are quite delicious and come out very crunchy like the crackle on a pork roast, only smothered in gravy.
2 pounds fresh pig's tails
4 and a half cups water
quarter cup white vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 and a half teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
third cup all purpose flour
Cut each pig tail into three pieces. Place them in a 3 - 4 quart saucepan or pot. Add four cups water, the vinegar, onions, celery, salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the tails are tender, about 45 minutes. Occasionally skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the tails from the broth and place them in a shallow baking pan. Reserve the broth. Bake them, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 30 minutes. Remove and set aside. In a small bowl, stir in the flour and a half cup water until smooth. Stir the flour paste into the reserved cooking liquid. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the pig's tails to the gravy and simmer 10 - 15 minutes over low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.