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February 7th, 2004

Aunty Tom and the Racket of War


"When I die, I want to die like my grandmother who died peacefully in her sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in her car."

Hi Folks,


Readers Comments

Re: Special Mailout - Urgent Drug Recall

A few people correctly pointed out that the Urgent Drug Recall notice I sent out last week was several years out of date and most of the products listed had been removed from the market already.

" . . . Actually there isn't much to worry about as Australia has been very proactive about the removal of PPA from products. In fact since the early 1980 where PPA levels were drastically reduced or removed form products. The last remaining products to contain PPA were voluntarily withdrawn around mid 2001. However if you are travelling in the US it could be one worth looking out for. For more info try the Therapeutic Goods Administration website:
(thanks to jkmitch)


I apologise for the error - but NOT for sending it. I am a networker, not a researcher. I would rather make an error like that, than inadvertently cause the death of even one beautiful child by hesitating or waiting too long on such shocking announcements to confirm if all the facts are accurate. I think a more effective agenda is to raise awareness with each other and let everyone do the research themselves for the things that concern them. The truth will come out quick enough. As somebody said to me '... it's better to have a head cold than a six feet under cold.'


" Hey Joe...

Congrats... of all the refugees who were "Australianated" on Jan 26th, you were the most celebrated (I saw you on EVERY news program). Seinfeld wouldn't have thought much of the puffy shirt, and your hair has grown since I saw you last (some three years ago), but you're looking very well indeed - very much like the poets in Mrs Miggins Coffee House (in Blackadder), but no sword . . . Your newsletter is superb - it rivals the SF Gate "Morning Fix." Geoffrey Transom

WING (and a Prayer)

I hope everyone had a listen to last week's musical selection, New Zealand's wonderous 'Wing,' as she tackled 'Close To You.' I'm talking a full body tackle here. (If you missed it, you can find the link in Last Week's Issue.


" Dear Joe,

Ow! Ow! Ow!

'Wing' got a grant for promotion from a government body? She should have asked for clemency. I also listened to a cut from her "The Sound of Music and a Prayer" and knew immediately why the prayer was necessary. I think I heard: Fingernails on Chalkboards and big runny noses ... screeching of banshees and really bad prose(s) ... jet engine's w-h-i-n-e make  eardrums go ping! -- these are a few of my favorite things.This also points up why New Zealand may want to tighten up their immigration laws. Excuse me now, while I clear my aural palate with some white noise... "
John E. Jacobs

" G'day Joe,

Thanks for putting me onto Wing. What an absolute treasure! There was something quite moving in her sweetly-earnest and "unique" renditions of the songs. Good on her for having a go. I think she's great! I particularly like the way she wolls her r's. "
cheers ... 
Allan Donald




Florence Foster Jenkins - 'Queen of the Night' Aria


OK! If you liked Wing, you gonna LOVE Flora. She was a legend in her time zone.

Florence Foster Jenkins The Diva of Din
by Daniel Dixon

IN THE FALL of 1944, it was announced that Florence Foster Jenkins was to lift her voice in song from the hallowed stage of Carnegie Hall in New York. Immediately the world of music was seized by a rare excitement. The concert was sold out for weeks in advance, with tickets scalped for as much as $20 apiece.

Madame Jenkins' recital was the incredible climax of a bizarre career. For Madame Jenkins' shortcomings as an artiste were nothing short of awesome. A dumpy coloratura soprano, her voice was not even mediocre - it was preposterous! She clucked and squawked, trumpeted and quavered. She couldn't carry a tune. Her sense of rhythm was uncertain. In the treacherous upper registers, her voice often vanished into thin air, leaving an audience with its ear cocked for notes with which she might just as well have never taxed her throat. One critic dolefully described her as "the first lady of the sliding scale." Peevishly remarked another: "She sounds like a cuckoo in its cups."

Such tart comments were heaped upon Madame Jenkins throughout the 30-odd years that she performed in public. Yet throughout them she was immensely popular among her colleagues. Many of the world's most distinguished musicians- Enrico Caruso for one-regarded her with affection and respect. Audiences laughed at her - laughed until the tears rolled down their cheeks, laughed until they stuffed handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle the mirth - but she was never dismayed. Even when a song was punctured by rowdy applause (her listeners sometimes responded to a piercing clinker with whoops of "Bravo! Bravo!") the diva simply smiled and bowed. (article)

LISTEN! 'The Queen of the Night' Aria



When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple of days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate. When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that's Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, being played backwards." He listened a while longer, and said, "There's the Eighth Symphony, and it's backwards, too. Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening, "There's the Seventh... the Sixth... the Fifth..." Suddenly the realisation of what was happening dawned on the magistrate. He stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My fellow citizens, there's nothing to worry about. It's just Beethoven decomposing." (boom boom!)
(Thanks to Maireid Sullivan)


I have always thought of JS Bach as the supreme keyboard player and assumed that violin playing was something he was only fairly competent at. I have a different impression since I've been reading the new biography:

"For cantata performances under Bach's direction, it is safe to say that the concertmaster led the capelle from the first violin. His son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, writes that, 'in his youth and until the approach of old age, he played the violin cleanly and penetratingly, and this kept the orchestra in better order than he could have done with the harpsichord.' Bach presented himself simulaeneously as composter, concertmaster and violin soloist."
Christoph Wolff, 'Johann Sebastian Bach - The Learned Musician'


If you found last week's piece on the psychotic nature of public companies intriguing, here's more about the acclaimed documentary, The Corporation, coming soon to a boardroom near you:

Corporations Are Insane
By Ross Crockford, AlterNet

Enron. WorldCom. Bechtel. Halliburton. To the cheerleaders on MSNBC and in The Wall Street Journal, such deceitful, profiteering companies are a few "bad apples" in a healthy economic barrel, as rare as a murderer in a convent.

But a new documentary that premiered at the Sundance festival film last week argues that these rogue companies aren't the exception, they're the rule. The controversial premise of The Corporation is that every company is legally programmed to act like a psychopath. And the bigger it gets, the worse it behaves. (more)

Protest Websites are the Conscience of Modern Society
By Lance Broughton
YellowTimes.org Columnist (New Zealand)

" There are hundreds of thousands of so called "protest" websites around the world. They highlight business scandals, political corruption and senseless wars. They also expose underhanded dealings from all levels of society. The ruling elite hates them because they use the Bill of Rights Act, and most civilized countries have one, to fly in the face of official misrepresentations. The mainstream politically compliant media treat them with contempt and their operators and writers are snubbed. Some unthinking ISP operators even refuse to host "protest" sites. . . (more)

Ben & Jerry's Cookie Commerical

A message from Ben, of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, who promotes the advocacy group True Majority. An absolutely brilliant little video presentation about 'cookies' and well-worth the download. (video download)
(Thanks to JF Stover)

A Scandal Greater than Watergate

"Who cares what you think?"
George W. Bush, July 4, 2001

" . . . If Bush and his team of chest-thumping, self-proclaimed national security experts were really misinformed about Iraq's weapons and capabilities, then they started a war by mistake - and presided over the two biggest national security fiascos since Pearl Harbor: the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq. . ." (more)

War Is A Racket, 1933 
" War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
      I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes, and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
  There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem off for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. "
General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933 Speech



" From: Regina Burrito. Subject: Once I put TACO SAUCE in my k00tch and let this guy lick it out. "

(NOTE: " Badges? . . ? We don't need no stinking badges . .")

NBC edits 'ER' shot of patient's breast
LYNN ELBER, Associated Press Writer

Janet Jackson's revealing Super Bowl halftime moment has created fallout for "ER," with NBC removing a glimpse of an elderly patient's breast in Thursday's episode. (more)

(Note: Obviously, had the show's producers employed a Wildcat Orbital Rounder, or 'Nipple Shield,' as Janet did, things may have gone differently. Have a look at some of the creative designs available. Especially recommended for discouraging hungry babies or protection at dart throwing competitions.

If Bush Wins in 2004, "Abortion Will Be Criminalized"


"To my knowledge, there has never been an administration that has been more hostile to women's equality [than the Bush administration], to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and has acted on that hostility. "

Gloria Steinem (Interview)

Aunt Toms and Vagina-Friendly Men

Jane Fonda's Speech at the National Women's Leadership Summit

Washington DC

" Before I turned sixty I thought I was a feminist. I was in a way I worked to register women to vote, I supported women getting elected. I brought gender issues into my movie roles, I encouraged women to get strong and healthy, I read the books we've all read. I had it in my head and partly in my heart, yet I didn't fully get it.

See, although I've always been financially independent, and professionally and socially successful, behind the closed doors of my personal life I was still turning myself in a pretzel so I'd be loved by an alpha male. I thought if I didn't become whatever he wanted me to be, I'd be alone, and then, I wouldn't exist.

There is not the time nor is this the place to explain why this was true, or why it is such a common theme for so many otherwise strong, independent women. Nor is it the time to tell you how I go t over it (I'm writing my memoirs, and all will be revealed). What's important is that I did get over it. Early on in my third act I found my voice and, in the process, I have ended up alone but not really. You see, I'm with myself and this has enabled me to see feminism more clearly. It's hard to see clearly when you're a pretzel.

So I want to tell you briefly some of what I have learned in this first part of my third act and how it relates to what, I think, needs to happen in terms of a revolution. (Speech) (Thanks to Maireid Sullivan)



I have discovered quite a few good recipe ideas online but even Hannibal Lecter would have been proud of this one:

Court in Germany sentences man to 8 1/2 years for killing and eating man he met over Internet

FRANK LETH, Associated Press Writer
KASSEL, Germany (AP) --

A German was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 81/2 years in prison Friday for killing, dismembering and eating another man who allegedly agreed to the arrangement over the Internet. Armin Meiwes, a 42-year-old computer expert, had no "base motives" in the crime, a state court ruled, sparing him a murder conviction." (more)

But now for something using more practical ingredients -


This is good with soul food potato salad and barbecue ribs.

For 1 corn bread, 12 servings, you will need:

3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. sifted self-raising flour
1 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. melted butter
1 tsp. butter
optional: 1/2 cup crispy pork crackle chopped (or you can just fry up some crispy bacon or guanciale and then dice it up.)

1. Beat eggs with sugar until blended.
2. Sift together flour, cornmeal, and salt.
3. Add dry ingredients (and crackle) alternately with the buttermilk to the egg-sugar mixture. Stir thoroughly after each addition.
4. Stir in melted butter.
5. Melt the 1 teaspoon butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet and thoroughly coat sides.
6. Pour batter into the warm skillet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until top just begins to brown.
7. Serve warm in wedges from the skillet.


It all happened on the water.
Jesus' walking
the fishermen watching
from their boats.

When they picked up their nets
they half expected
a miraculous catch
but it was as ordinary
as the rest of the day.

Only some of them understood.
This is how it always is
with a vision.
Jesus walked on the water
only once.

This wasn't science.
What was it the fishermen were
supposed to see.
A man moving over the surface
of the sea as if it were
some other substance like ground.
Was this all there was?

Picture yourself
you are out there on the water
you look at the horizon.
You are so used to seeing that part
of the sky it's become
part of your eyes.

Then you blink, staring
you turn to shake your companion.
This was not what you expected to see.
Not even what you wished for.

What difference does it make
a man walking on the water?

But even so the day
going on as it usually does
is cut with a certain clarity
and you, you feel an inexplicable
happiness, the water
beneath you, the
bright air above.
~ Susan Griffin ~

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