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Friday January 30th, 2009

Step Back From War

"Happiness is as a butterfly which,
    when pursued, is always beyond our grasp,
    but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
          Nathaniel Hawthorne

Dear World,


We, the United States of America, your supplier of quality ideals of
liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008
interruption in service.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been
located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4.
Early tests of  the newly installed program indicate that we are again
operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional as of January  20.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage.
We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come.

We thank you for your patience and understanding.

(thanks to Justine Stewart)

The Australian of the Year this year is Aboriginal lawyer, academic and activist, Mick Dodson. Professor Dodson is a Yawuru man whose people's traditional lands and waters are in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. One of his first suggestions was to change the date of Australia Day  which falls on January 26th the day the British First Fleet landed here. Many aboriginals refer to January 26th as ‘Invasion Day’. Dodson's call for a new Australia Day was supported by football legend Ron Barassi, who said Australia's national day should be moved to May 27, the day in 1967 Australia voted to include indigenous people in the census and remove clauses in the Constitution placing them under the authority of the states. "I think we should change the date of Australia Day," Barassi told the Herald Sun in Melbourne. "We were invaders and conquerors in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived and we took this land from the Aborigines.”

Prime Minister Rudd, true to recent form, replied, ‘No.’  Rudd has slid another notch down in my opinion and, although I supported him over Not-Good-John, I now believe he is still not the right man for this country - we need a Prime Minister with creative vision, not simply an upgrade from John Howard.

No Change to Australia Day Date: Rudd

Australian of the Year, Mick Dodson, is unfazed by the prime minister's refusal to discuss changing the date of Australia Day, and has renewed calls for the Rudd government to compensate the stolen generations. Labor has previously ruled out compensating indigenous Australians taken from their families, but Prof Dodson says he's hopeful that will soon change. The Aboriginal leader and academic said politicians often said things couldn't be done only to be proven wrong.
"We had a former politician (John Howard) tell us there'd never be an apology (but) we got that, didn't we," Prof Dodson said.


Hi there Mr Joe Dolce,
 here's a memory that  your song" Shudduppa your Face" has brought back . . .
I remember when your song came out on the radio ... My dad had a cafe in a Bowling Alley in Western Australia ... Being Italiano he bought the first electric Cappucino Machine in Perth in those days... The ABC Radio Station was next door and all the news readers used to come and have our coffee.,Burgers and Spaghetti. He also started an Italian 10 pin bowling team  with immigrant single men who had come out from Italy to Oz and  they won many championships(it must have been the coffee)... as kids,we used to serve behind the counter, learning coffeemaking and talking to adults with confidence and dealing with giving dad would get mad at me if the coffee wasnt right ... now I understand... but back  then i thought he was being mean when we didn't make the milk froth just right!... We used to beg 20 cents off him to put in the juke box... and we used to play your song ....and sing it out loud all the way home (all 5 kids in the back of my dads VDub!) Thanks Joe !!!  love Kavisha Mazzella

 Good morning from Grimsby in England. Great read, as ever.
 Sorry that your Mr Feldman decided to say no to future mailings from you.
 Trust me, it is HIS loss.
 Where I come from is this: I don't want people to agree with me 24/7.   I am bored enough with my own opinions as it is.
 I want - nay, DEMAND - someone to make me reassess my positions on all sorts of things.   This you do admirably.
 You just occasionally make me raise both eyebrows in disagreement, but so what?   You make me smile far more often.   (And actually sometimes I smile when disagreeing!   What was it Obama said?  Something along the lines of "let us create an atmosphere and a world where we can disagree without being disagreeable"?)
 And anyway, there will be plenty of time for a peaceful life agreeing with ourselves when we are all in the cemetery. Keep that light of yours burning.
 Kindest, Dai
David "Dai" Woosnam
35 Woodrow Park
Scartho, Grimsby
DN33 2EF, UK

Hi Joe,
Still enjoying your emails. Have you seen these?
Some of the customer reviews are wonderful! regards, Steve Reinthal

Hi  Joe,
Re: the Middle East and 'Bias'.
Essentially I agree with what I understand is your position on this conflict. Such is my bias.
 However, playing ping-pong won't help (with words or deeds); remembering 'history' or forgetting it won't help (or pretending it doesn't matter); blaming the other side won't help (we each have our own 'truth'). What will help is to ensure that basic framework is clear - for example, the UN Charter of Human Rights and/or a some other universally agreed basic framework of Social Justice (even allowing for cultural difference, I'd bet that no one want to live in a context where they have no self-agency or personal power, to risk torture for having opinions, or have no recourse to some form of independent legal system.
 Once this sort of bench mark is set, then we can try to create a context in which the truth, stories and grievances or each party are invited; are listened to; and in which we can demonstrate that they have been heard. We can support the 'sides' in the non-violent ways that they have requested and support the parties themselves to negotiate with each other for each next-step of support. The first step is, as always, defining 'truth', or more realistically, propaganda from 'fact'. This is going to be hard enough, but there must be some starting point, even if it is just to stop hurting innocents?
 I do have my beliefs and I have a thousand brilliant ideas about all sorts of things I know a lot (or next to nothing) about - all are irrelevant. The parties in any conflict, must themselves negotiate with each other. We can assist by obliging them to do so, morally and materially; by making progress contingent to each next-step of support; and by ensuring that the choice/s are theirs. This is the basic cycle of mediation and negotiation. The Middle East is not a 'basic' environment, but there is no other mechanism to resolve any conflict, other than violence, and in the ME this has not worked at all so far, and I expect (and hope) never will.
 Anyhow, I did not want to ramble or preach; rather to froward the site below. It is something even armchair activists, sitting way over here can do. Thought you may be interested. Keep the newsletter coming!
 Cheers, Frank Hytten

Hi Joe
Re: Tmo Criues Keeps An Eye on Things
Went to see Valkyrie yesterday, despite - or because? - it starred everyone's fave Scientologist and former dyslexic. (And because who can resist a flick where the main character keeps taking his glass eye out and putting it into a neat little silver box? Mmmm, symbolism.) Seriously, though, it got me thinking about the nature of "resistance" under such a regime, which led in turn to musings (okay, Googlings) on how such regimes come into being in the first place, (Tom, take note....) and what's wrong (and right) about current Australian and American society. Found this awesome essay which I thought you might like. It's pretty heavy going in places, but is such a reasoned and detailed rebuke of Ayn Rand-y market economists/"libertarians", and in fact all kinds of extremists, that I thought it was worth sharing. (Although it seems a bit cruel to kick the free market advocates when they're down and all. Cruel but fair.)
A quote:
 "The progress of a culture often consists of alternating periods in which a self-righteous mainstream or dominant class tries to pull everyone more in the direction of the national myth, followed by a necessary backlash in which part of the populace rebels and brings back some opposing values, thereby allowing people to regain some common sense balance between the extremes.  In the USA one canonical specimen of this is the contrast between the 1950s and the 1960s.  The reason there was a rebellious upheaval was, at bottom, because the enforcers of the status quo were trying to get everyone to live in a way that far too many people, especially women, found unlivable because it denied their humanity.  The lesson of these cycles is that any attempt to inflate one half of human nature and reject the opposite half is doomed to fail eventually."
 Here's the link:
I also wondered if some of the themes tackled in Valkyrie were an allegorical dig at Bush & co, ie solder becomes disillusioned at right-wing leader's delusional excursions into unwinnable war in the desert (the opening scenes are in Tunisia, and have Cruise's character bemoaning the fact that said leader's promises of "peace and prosperity" have gone by the board.) Not that anyone is suggesting Bush should've been blown up. Roundly trounced in an election is fine by me. Even if Obama only lives up to half of what his brilliant inauguration speech promised, I'll be rapt!! (Kevin Rudd, take note!!! As the third grade teacher would say, can do better!!!)
 Hope all is well with you and you're enjoying your leave of newsletter absence. As you can see my thirst for political commentary is having to be quenched in other ways!  Cheers, Justine Stewart

(Note: Justine, you might also like the excellent dvd documentary, ‘ Operation Valkyrie: The Stauffenberg Plot to Kill Hitler.’ Produced in Collaboration with the German Resistance Organization, Forschungsgemeinschaft. Bonus features include The Eva Braun Films: Newly Re-Mastered Home Movies shot by Hitler's Mistress, Killing Hitler: Other Assassination Attempts on the Fuhrer, footage from the Volksgericht Trials, and an interview with Philipp Baron von Boeselager, the last surviving member of the Stauffenberg Conspiracy. Operation Valkyrie (Operation Walküre) was an operational plan developed for the Reserve Army of the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) originally approved by Adolf Hitler himself, who intended it to be used in the event that a disruption caused by the Allied bombing of German cities resulted in a breakdown in law and order.  Today, Michael Brand, a Christian Democrat politician, has appealed to his fellow deputies to call for a boycott of the movie, Valkyrie, in their constituencies. “Stauffenberg would have waged resistance against the likes of Tom Cruise,” said Mr Brand, saying that Scientology pursued totalitarian goals.   

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German Religious Scholar -  originally a non-violent activist, but who changed his philosophy once he understood what the Nazis were really capable of -  was also implicated in the plot with Stauffenberg to kill Hitler.  Bonhoeffer was hanged on 9 May in 1945 just before the town of Flossenberg was liberated by the Allies. Other interesting items:  The XB-70 Valkyrie was a prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep penetration bomber for the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command. Designed in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly at Mach 3. Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries is probably best known, to filmgoers, as the music used by the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now for a scene in which a squadron of helicopters attacks a Vietnamese village but the original score for D. W. Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation (1915) also used the Ride of the Valkyries in the climactic scene of the third act, when the former enemies of North and South are united again in defense of their Aryan birthright’ against liberated former black slaves after the end of the American Civil War. The beleaguered white group are rescued by the Ku Klux Klan to the sound of the music. Ouch! Wagner would be tuning in his grave.)

What I’m Reading This Week
by Philip K. Dick. A rare short story of Dick’s I found in an ancient copy of Galaxy Magazine, from the 50s,  for four dollars, at the Camberwell Flea Market.


What I’m Watching This Week
with Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson. High tech thriller postulating the ultimate homeland security eye-in-the-sky computer system that can even activate the microphones of your mobile phones when they are turned OFF to overhear your conversations. Can they really do this?

MILK, with Sean Penn. Based on the life of the late American politician Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist and the first openly gay man to be elected to a major public office in the USA. Milk, the city supervisor, was assassinated along with Mayor Mosconi, by one of Milk’s longtime political opponents, Dan White. I was living in Berkeley during this period and my daughter was born four months earlier so I remember this time well. This film brilliantly shows how a few people – and a large helping of Hope - can make a serious difference to an entire culture.

THE WRESTLER, with Mickey Rourke. I’ve never been a fan of Rourke, even though he does some interesting cameos now and then. While this film is worth seeing, it is NOT worth all the mindless praise it is receiving.  I am still not convinced that Rourke isn’t simply playing himself.  His character makes all the wrong moral choices – much in the way Rourke seems to have done. When faced with another chance at a real relationship with his estranged daughter, he fucks it up through selfishness. And when he finally has the opportunity to find  love with the woman he wants, he chooses rather for another cheap shoot-up of fame doing what he really loves, ‘fake wrestling’ - and probably, due to his damaged heart, suicide-by-Senton Bomb (see aerial wrestling terms below.) The screenplay went off the rails for me after his daughter finally graciously accepted him back in her life – and he repaid her with the same asshole behaviour he exhibited while she was growing up. The time is over for glorifying characters like this.  Film makers, grow up.

BLACK ORPHEUS, by Marcel Camus. Adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, setting it in the modern context of Rio de Janeiro during the Carnival. Soundtrack by bossa nova legend, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Academy Award winner in 1959 for Best Foreign Language Film. The dancing and music are even better with the passage of time.

Calling a Time Out
by George McGovern
As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.
True, the United States is the world's greatest power - but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist! There are thought to be between 60,000 and 70,000 Mandaeans worldwide, and until the 2003 Iraq war, almost all of them lived in Iraq. The 2003 Iraq War reduced the population of Iraqi Mandaeans to approximately 5,000 by 2007.

The EcoloBlue 28 Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) provides you with ultimate drinking water self sufficiency, by producing up to 7 gallons (28 liters) of pure drinking water per day from the humidity in the air.

Free the Shministim

The Shministim are young Israeli conscientious objectors. They refuse to serve in the Israeli army because of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. They say denying Palestinians their basic human rights endangers everyone. They are taking a stand for peace, coexistence and a real future for children everywhere.
(thanks to Annie Kennedy)


In Praise of Joe Dolce
By Newmainia, Art Forum

Art Forum examines the work of Joe Dolce.

In “About a boy”, Nick Hornby the hero Will, makes a living from royalties from an ancient Christmas hit always on a new advert somewhere in The East. The “friend” in Bridget Jones Diaries had one hit in the 80s and found this enough to get shagged forever. I saw one of the Bros Brothers saying something rather mournful which was that you cease to be “hot” but the pure recognition stays forever . That’s right isn’t it? You don’t forget people. They never cease to be interesting like a pile of junk in the basement . Sigue Sigue Sputnik were a truly awful one hit wonder, they wander this penumbral region of virtual half life like unquiet spirits.

People are always saying what a tragedy it was that the sublime ( I don’t think) “Vienna” was kept of the top spot by Joe Dolce and Shaddup You Face. Au contraire Vienna was manure in a raincoat and Joe Dolce was a genius with much to say about life and art .

Let us examine the La Dolce Vita.

Hello, I'ma Guiseppi, I gottta something speciala for you, Ready, uno, duo, tres, quatro.
(…………..calling to the muse clearly Homeric in inspiration… ),

When I was a boy just about a fiftha grade, Mama used to say don'ta stay out alate With the badda boys, always shoota pool, Guiseppi goin-ta flunka school
(Immediately savage social commentary is commenced with the mother making explicit, the moral centre of the piece)

Boy it make-a me sick, everyting I gotta doI can'ta getta no kicks, always gotta follow rules Boy it make-a me sick, just to make-a lousy bucks Gotta a feela like a fool
the hero chafes at the discipline required for the nation to succeed . Shakespeare dealt with similar material in Henry V part 1, the hero must cast the childish, the Falstaffian aside.)

And the mama used to say all the time, What'sa matter you, hey, gotta no respectWhatta you tink you do, why you looka so sadItsa not so bad, Itsa nice-a place, Ahh shaddupa you face
(In the Greek style chorus, the emotional counterpoint mirrors the dialectic between conformity and inspiration , resolved with the a plea for silence as the hero struggles to find reconciliation)
Newmainia is a sensitive feeling person and always looking for beauty.

Boy George Jailed for 15 Months
British pop star Boy George was jailed for 15 months for imprisoning a Norwegian male escort after a nude photoshoot, in what the judge called a "premeditated, callous and humiliating" assault. The 47-year-old former Culture Club frontman was found guilty last month of handcuffing 29-year-old Audun Carlsen and beating him with a metal chain when he tried to escape the musician's London apartment.

Pensioner 'entombed in labyrinth of tunnels carved into rubbish'
By Matthew Moore
Rescue specialists equipped with breathing apparatus were called in to locate 74-year-old Gordon Stewart's body because the stench from his litter-strewn house was so overpowering.
Neighbours described Mr Stewart as an eccentric but intelligent loner and said that he had been accumulating rubbish in his two-storey home in Broughton, Buckinghamshire for at least 10 years. Police believe that the pensioner died of dehydration after becoming "entombed" inside the intricate and confusing network of tunnels he had burrowed through the waste, which in places reached up to the ceiling.

Maria Sharapova's Dog:  DOLCE!

Last year, Canon ran a series of ads where tennis pro Maria Sharapova followed her dog, Dolce, around, snapping an endless string of doting pics the way pet owners like to do. This year, we saw the fruits her labors reaped: fans raced over to the tennis star -- and took pictures of Dolce instead of her. Maria's not happy about that. But on the cheery up, Dolce's apparently lost the ability to think out loud in a Spanish accent! Woof!


Hey Goombadi!
Learn Italian with this great old sing-a-long by Julius LaRosa.
(thanks to Frank Dolce)


Eric's Steak w/ Green Peppercorns and Cream

2 eye fillet steaks
1-2 tablespoons green (or red) peppercorns for each steak
half cup fresh cream
1 egg yolk

Use an iron skillet, if you have one. Put 2 tbles butter in the pan, the green peppercorns and prepare the steaks the way you like them. Remove meat from pan and keep warm. Reduce heat. Add the cream, scraping the bits from the bottom.  Add the beaten egg yolk. Heat for a minute or two until the sauce reduces a little.  Pour sauce over the steaks and serve.
Serves 2.


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.
~ Sheenagh Pugh ~
(In Good Poems, ed. by Garrison Keillor)

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