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July 22, 2005

The Ancient Romans Had a Word for It

"Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex."
Frank Zappa


Dear Citizens,

This week I have a eclectic and edifying mix for you, peppered throughout with the humourous japes you've come to know and expect. We'll look at Internet Sexual Addiction (you know who you are) , Luther, The Hives, George W Strangelove, Scientoxology, Mrs Betty Bowers (America's Finest Christian), Karl 'Slingblade' Rove, between Iraq and a hard place, and more. Read on . . . .

Attention Melbournaniacs: The brand new videoclip for HILL OF DEATH, the song that I wrote from the poem by LOUISA LAWSON, Henry's mum, and which won Best Folk Gospel Song in 2004, is going to be premiered on Channel 31, Saturday July 23, on NuCountry, at 8 pm. I self-shot this clip with a standard miniDV camera, and post-produced it on an iMac with iMovie. It's the first clip I have made 'home-style' and the results came out very nice. Most of it was shot in sepia at half-speed and quarter-speed, in the 19th century sections of the Carlton cemetery and it has a Wesleyan feel to it, which suits the subject matter. Well, it's appropriate I made it this way - as the music track itself was also recorded on the same funky old computer just using an mBox. Small is beautiful. (Hey, we don't need no stinkin' recording studios!)



Re: damn baseball caps
I know how you feel with the baseball caps.  I spent a year in Canada and it used to drive me insane - until something twigged . . . . that's when I realised that the caps served a different purpose in Canada and just about everywhere else in the world.  There is no sun to keep of your face, the cap is worn for warmth (most common in Canada) or for fashion.  There is no need to keep the bill straight as there is no high intensity hole in the ozone strength sunlight to blind your eyes. That thought helped gain a little more Zen balance on the whole thing.  Hope it can do the same for you.

Re: Reverse Baseball Cap Angst
Im glad you got the reverse baseball cap angst of your chest. It really annoys me also. Every time I see one of these poor devils with their bowery boy fashion sense I pity them. I'm glad I am not alone on the planet with this angst.
PS: I also hate people who use angst as a word


(Note: Speaking of baseball caps, check out America's Best Christian Woman, Mrs Betty Bowers' nifty caps: 'Scientology is for Homos' - (site)

Re. 'Lobotomy Debate Resurfaces'
I'm not being delusional when i say, I'm glad i wasn't around during the time they where carrying out these arcane lobotomy procedures, otherwise it may have been a case of 'there, but for the grace of God, go I'. After reading what the recipients of this 'medical' operation went through, is it any wonder that i'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.Cheers,
Terry D

Hey Joe,
Subject: Another sucker on the 'Shaddup You Face' vine
I move SYF should replace Advance Australia Fair as our national anthem. Its lyrics are better known to Australians, and are vastly more insightful: 'for those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share...' versus 'why you look-a so sad, it's-a not so bad, it's a nice-a place, ah shaddupa you face' (i hope my a-spelling is a-dequate). (On reflection, there is at least some truth to the claim of having 'boundless plains to share'. Sure, they're not exactly boundless, what with all their razor-wire fencing, and we're not exactly sharing them, given that sharing is giving up something of personal worth for the benefit of another, but they've DEFINITELY plains, those detention centres. No doubt about it; gen-yoo-ine, bona fide, dusty, miserable plains.) Well may SYF render you forever a one-hit-wonder in the eyes of many, Joe, but in all fairness to yourself - how DO you follow up a single that goes double triple quadruple meguple platinum across all five dimensions of the known universe? And if the success of SYF has left you with enough time on your hands to compile this newsletter, and write the songs and poems you write now (any one of which I'd sooner hear again than SYF) and support the causes that you do, it can only be a good thing. Cheers,

So you really are that guy that wrote that bloody awful song! You have certainly redeemed yourself, I think your newsletter is fantastic and look forward to everyone (so clearly I have problems of my own) Thanks Joe, for often making my day, Kind regards,
Stephen D.

Dear Joe,
I am a huge fan of Shaddap You Face (one of my earliest memories of Top Of The Pops here in the UK  is you taking a custard pie after a performance!).  Far funnier than Vienna. I am eagerly collecting copies of the various cover versions from around the world. Do you have, or know where I could obtain, a list of Shaddap covers, so that I may try to search for them???!!! Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer. Kind regards,

(Note: I thought I had all the versions of this strange little song, but Simon has turned me on to a couple more that slipped through the cracks: Volkmann, Shaddapp You Face (from Germany - that makes the third German cover -note the extra p in the title!) and Billy Mena, with Shut Up Yer Gub, (from Ireland. Holy Cheeezuz, Josef 'n Mahree!) And just last week, my mate, Soursop Bob alerted me to a Papua New Guinea version by The Breeze Band, called Pasim Pes Bilong Yu, apparently in pidgin!)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 1
"I'd love to be at your party, but the Federal government says I can't leave the house, and my family keeps me sedated. " -
Uncle Junior


Hamilton Naki

Hamilton Naki, an unrecognised surgical pioneer, died on May 29th, aged 78.

ON DECEMBER 3rd, 1967, the body of a young woman was brought to Hamilton Naki for dissection. She had been knocked down by a car as she went to buy a cake on a street in Cape Town, in South Africa. Her head injuries were so severe that she had been pronounced brain-dead at the hospital, but her heart, uninjured, had gone on furiously pumping. Mr Naki was not meant to touch this body. The young woman, Denise Darvall, was white, and he was black. The rules of the hospital, and indeed the apartheid laws of the land, forbade him to enter a white operating theatre, cut white flesh, or have dealings with white blood. For Mr Naki, however, the Groote Schuur hospital had made a secret exception. This black man, with his steady, dexterous hands and razor-sharp mind, was simply too good at the delicate, bloody work of organ transplantation. The chief transplant surgeon, the young, handsome, famously temperamental Christiaan Barnard, had asked to have him on his team. So the hospital had agreed, saying, as Mr Naki remembered, "Look, we are allowing you to do this, but you must know that you are black and that's the blood of the white. Nobody must know what you are doing."
Nobody, indeed, knew. On that December day, in one part of the operating suite, Barnard in a blaze of publicity prepared Louis Washkansky, the world's first recipient of a transplanted human heart. Fifteen metres away, behind a glass panel, Mr Naki's skilled black hands plucked the white heart from the white corpse and, for hours, hosed every trace of blood from it,
replacing it with Washkansky's. The heart, set pumping again with electrodes, was passed to the other side of the screen, and Mr Barnard became, overnight, the most celebrated doctor in the world. In some of the post-operation photographs Mr Naki inadvertently appeared, smiling broadly in his white coat, at Barnard's side. He was a cleaner, the hospital explained, or a gardener. Hospital records listed him that way, though his pay, a few hundred dollars a month, was actually that of a senior lab technician. It was the most they could give, officials later explained, to someone who had no diploma. (article)

(thanks to Stefan)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 2
"Hi, my name is JT, I'm an alcoholic and an addict. I'm also a TV writer, which by default makes me a douchebag. " -


Variable Reinforcement Schedule


' Today Internet pornography is more powerful than Viagra for many persons. '
Ralph H. Earle, M.Div., Ph.D., President, Psychological Counseling Services, Ltd.

Have you ever noticed that some people watch television even when there is nothing good to watch. And instead of turning the TV off, they resort to channel switching. The act of switching channels repeatedly is an annoying process that makes the rest of us want to leave the room or take the remote control away from somebody. The Net is a lot like television only the Net is timeless, interactive, challenging and endless. . .
. . . People can disappear into a good book or a movie, but there is always an end to a book or a movie. The Internet is especially addictive because the Net is endless, interactive, social and exploding with never ending images and information . . .

Internet Addiction and Internet Sex
Prolonged chats on-line and mouse clicking on the Internet will produce what psychologists call a dissociative state. Net users separate from reality and enter cyber reality. Anyone with children has seen how children can watch television for countless hours. Children and even adults watching television long enough will enter a "hypnotic trance." They "meld" into the television and disconnect from reality. Limited use is a form or healthy recreation or escape. Prolonged and repeated use can create problems. (article)

" People argue that the Internet saves time, but most people are merely spending more time learning how to save less and less time. "

Psychologists explain the seduction and addictive nature of the Net primarily in terms of a behavior modification process called a variable reinforcement schedule. That means you don't know how much of a reward you will get and when for your behavior. A variable reinforcement schedule is the most addictive reward system. Slot machines are designed and operate in the same principle.

"It's 3:30 a.m. and Kevin is still online, absorbed in pornographic images flashing across his computer screen, and searching for more. Hours ago he tucked his children into bed and said good night to his wife, retreating to the computer to "finish up some work." Although his late night ritual leaves Kevin ashamed and exhausted, he is too embarrassed and guild-ridden to seek help. He tells himself that no one would understand anyway."
(from, In the Shadows of the Net Soft Cover, Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior, (article)

Internet and Cybersex Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment
* The need for increasing amounts of time on the Internet to achieve satisfaction and/or significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on the Internet.
* Use of the Internet as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.
* Feelings of restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use.
* Lying to family members or friends to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet.
* Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of Internet use.
* Risking the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of excessive use of the Internet.
* Two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after
reduction or cessation of Internet use (i.e. quitting cold turkey), which cause distress or impair social, personal or occupational functioning, including: tremors, anxiety, and voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 3
"I did not want to fuck my mother! You should have seen her in that house dress with that hairnet. The conversation would be over in two seconds." -
Tony Soprano, to his Therapist




My favourite band (or whatever they are) from Sweden. Kind of a mix between the first album of Elvis Costello and The Attractions, and AC-DC - with STRONG guitar lines and a 60s pop sensibility passed through the meat-grinder of tongue-in-cheek humour. Go figure. They turn me on.

CD: Tyrannosaurus Hives - equal parts the end of something old and the start of something new. (site)




'Bis orat, qui contat'
(Those who sing, pray twice.)

The Introduction of Congregational Singing

Martin Luther not only exerted a powerful influence on religious and cultural life in the 16th Century, he also revolutionized music (then dominated by the Church) in his time. Essentially, the modern Christian hymn was created by Luther, with the assistance of co-workers, in order to bring the message of the Scriptures home to congregations. Luther was an ardent music lover who played the lute, flute, and sang with an accurate tenor voice. After his challenge to Pope Leo (" 95 Theses"), during his enforced hiding in the Wartburg Castle, Luther completed his German vernacular translation of the New Testament in 1521. He returned to Wittenberg, overseeing mass publication of this work (the Old Testament was completed in succeeding years). By 1523 Luther had translated parts of the Latin Mass into German ("Deudsche Messe"). He also composed melodies and limited harmonizations for these German translations, but recognized that these could not have the same effect as new works conceived in German (he referred to his efforts as somewhat mechanical, "as though done by apes", a typical bit of self-ironic humor). Therefore, he composed new hymn texts, providing about half with melodies (the exact number is still controversial). He brought in a skilled professional musician, Johann Walter, to harmonize them and urged his friends to compose new hymns. The first congregational hymn book, "Geystliche Gesangkbuchlein", was already brought out in a mass printing in 1524. This hymn book was commissioned by Luther in four-part harmony "in order to give the young men something in place of their drinking and fleshly songs". In other words, from now on, the congregation members themselves were to participate musically in the church service; young would-be pastors were not accepted for training before they could demonstrate musical competence. Just as the mass publications of the Bible for individual study brought about expansion of literacy in the Reformation areas (which at first included France, Netherlands, Poland and Hungary, besides Scandinavia) , so did the mass distribution of hymnbooks foster musical literacy among all strata of society. Congregational part singing retained its hold even in areas that were subsequently won back to the Roman Catholic Church, such as Bavaria. Luther exerted other powerful musical influences: opening up the use of instruments, as well as melodies of all origins in church music, and careful matching of music to simple and understandable texts (instead of the polyphonic music and often interwoven Latin texts previously characteristic of the church services.) Thus was born the relatively short and pungent thematic construction of German music, in contrast with the longer more cantabile Italian lines, and the complex Russian melodic structures. Luther remained musically active to the end. One year before he died Luther supervised and wrote the introduction to Johann Walter's hymnbook of 1545.

"Of the melodies to Luthers 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrims songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song." (Data compiled from Squire, pp. 446-447; Leupold, ed., Liturgy and Hymns; and Strodach, ed., Works of Martin Luther, VI)

Martin Luther encouraged people to sing during his services - not just to recite chant.
Luther reformed the Catholic Mass in order to allow the common person more opportunities to sing and participate in the service. The added participation, especially in the form of music, aided to help the worshipper experience and praise God using music, rather than recite stuffy, monotonous chant that allowed for no emotion other than a small amount of inflection on certain words. Nettl states, "The introduction of congregational singing gave each member of the church the opportunity to take active part in the church service, thus expressing the idea of a universal lay-priesthood." For it was the original goal of the 95 Theses to draw a direct line to God, not having an intercessor such as a priest. Luther believed people could go directly to God with their problems, and this belief allowed music to make the service more intimate and more personal. (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 4
"What can we say about this guy. The ancient Romans had a word for it: Asshole!" -
Larry Boy Barese, toasting Raymond.


America's Big Malignant Tumor
By Mark Morford


" Bush's other nickname for [Karl Rove] is "Turd Blossom" - a Texanism for a flower that blooms from cattle excrement. This year, there should be ample opportunity for him to earn the title. "

It's almost too good to be true. It's almost like you can't hardly believe it and it feels like it must be a nasty trick, a scam, some sexy lithe European fashion model smiling all coy and flirty as she offers you her thong underwear only to yank it away just as you reach for it as she instantly turns back into a hairy incubus and dashes away, cackling. Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease ... yank.

And maybe, if you're like me, deep inside your cynical Bush-ravaged heart you already know it won't actually happen, because no way is the world aligned correctly right now and no way is there any true justice happening anywhere near the White House right now, and what's more, the man in question is perhaps the slipperiest and sweatiest and most powerful adviser of a major world leader since an invisible purple demon hissed sweet nothings into Mussolini's ear, and therefore if anyone could finagle his way into remaining Grand Overlord Puppetmaster for as long as he damn well pleases, it's Karl Rove. (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 5
"They release these fucks from the can. Obviously, he wasn't reabullatated." -
Paulie Walnuts

by Jim Hightower

'Under the new criteria for dismissal from the White House, you have to either say, "I don't agree with you, Mr. President" or be recorded on security video robbing a liquor store.' Mrs Betty Bowers

Rove, the extremist ideologue who is Bush's political hatchetman, gets his jollies from bludgeoning anyone he considers a political enemy. Karl is a serial bludgeoner, going back to his days as a partisan thug-for-hire in Texas and moving through such recent targets as Republican Senator John McCain, war hero Max Cleland, and, of course, John Kerry. (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 6
You let that dry before you put on the second coat? Grandpa Munster over here. " -
Tony Blundetto pointing to Paulie's hair

Road Design? He calls it a Revolution
By Sarah Lyalls

DRACHTEN, Netherlands "I want to take you on a walk," said Hans Monderman, abruptly stopping his car and striding - hatless, and nearly hairless - into the freezing rain.
Like a naturalist conducting a tour of the jungle, he led the way to a busy intersection in the center of town, where several odd things immediately became clear. Not only was it virtually naked, stripped of all lights, signs and road markings, but there was no division between road and sidewalk. It was, basically, a bare brick square.

But in spite of the apparently anarchical layout, the traffic, a steady stream of trucks, cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians, moved along fluidly and easily, as if directed by an invisible conductor. When Monderman, a traffic engineer and the intersection's proud designer, deliberately failed to check for oncoming traffic before crossing the street, the drivers slowed for him. No one honked or shouted rude words out the window.
"Who has the right of way?" he asked rhetorically. "I don't care. People here have to find their own way, negotiate for themselves, use their own brains."
Used by some 20,000 drivers a day, the intersection is part of a road-design revolution pioneered by the 59-year-old Monderman. His work in Friesland, the district in northern Holland that takes in Drachten, is increasingly seen as the way of the future in Europe. (article)

(thanks to Maireid Sullivan)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 7
"So, it was the sled, huh? He shoulda told somebody." -
Adrianna after watching Citizen Kane

China Rising
By Tim Johnson

China's economic power isn't only a source of friction; it's also attracted admiration. Australians, who are doing a brisk business selling to China, now view China more positively than they do the United States, an opinion poll by the prestigious Lowy Institute, a research center in Sydney, found in February. Some 69 percent of Australians look positively on China, while only 58 percent do so on the United States . . . (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 8
"Don't get me wrong. I always liked your cousin. But whackin' Philly's brother was a major poke in the ass. " -

Iraq's Dangerous New Friend
by Robert Scheer
On Sunday, George W. Bush's war against terror was turned upside down - and this time the president might even notice. That's because when "our guys" in Iraq start firmly allying with an "axis of evil" nation, its got to ring some warning bells, no?

I am referring to the joint declaration issued in Tehran by the leaders of Iraq and Iran: "Today, we need a double and common effort to confront terrorism that may spread in the region and the world," said Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, visiting Iran along with 10 of his ministers, following a similar visit from his defense minister. The statement he and his Iranian counterparts produced heralds mutual cooperation between the two neighbors, which will include a cross-border oil pipeline, joint security proposals and shared intelligence information.

Suddenly everyone's against terror!

I wish it were so. But it's not. Consider that while in Tehran, Jafari also paid tribute to the father of the Iranian theocracy, visiting the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. That the fanaticism of Khomeini is very much alive in today's Iran was clear from the election last month of one of his original Revolutionary Guards to be the country's new president.

In making a pilgrimage to Shiite Iran, the Shiite Iraqi government was also paying homage to the longtime refuge and supporter of Iraqi Shiite revolutionaries, including Jafari himself, who spent 10 years in exile there. Jafari also reiterated an earlier statement in which his government apologized for Iraq's role in the long war with Iran. (How awkward for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. envoy who carried a message of support to Saddam Hussein 20 years ago, when that war was considered by President Reagan's government as a convenient, if terribly bloody, way to distract and weaken Iran.)

Now, thanks to the U.S. invasion, a new alliance is being formed between Iran and Iraq that threatens to further destabilize the politics of the Mideast. It wasn't supposed to work out this way. (article)

Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 9
"In the old days, the ones that came over, that started this thing, they didn't get mad. They just smiled and nodded and made sure you got it later. That's the whole beautiful point. You know what they say: Revenge is like serving cold cuts. " -
Tony Soprano


(Much Awaiting Sequel)



The Christ is Back!! And this time it won't be Him who will be getting killed.



A Banquet in Four Acts

(Note: This is little theoretical exercise in a thematic menu.)

Washing of the Hands

Act 1
Pontius Pilate Punch
Virgin Olive Oil
Whole Wheat Communion Wafers and Unleavened Matzos
Mount of Olives
Dead Sea Salt
Whole Seed Mustard
A Jug of Holy Mineral Water
(changed to a carafe of a very good Sacramental Sauvignon, during the meal)
Rolling Rock Beer (why not?)

Act 2
Choice of -

Sea of Galilee Fish Soup
Swine and Demon Puree
(Chilli Smoked Ham Hock Cast upon a Sea of Exorcist-style Green Pea Soup)

Act 3
Choice of -

Crown of Thorns Roast Passover Lamb - (Crown Roast filled with fresh peas and little carrot crosses, and a decorated rosemary 'thorn wreath,' formed from several gnarly rosemary branches twisted around the roast in the baking pan. Little paper Pope's Hats on each rib tip for decoration.)


Grilled Saffron-Endored Golden Calves Liver (for the non-believers)

Side Dishes -

Christ's Blood Sausages
Roman Soldier Dice Potatoes
Jerusalem Artichokes
Shroud of Tureen
(ouch! - probably bacalla or tripe)
Lazarus Souffle (note: It must rise - or else omit.)
Gethsemene Garden Salad

Act 4
Choice of -

Tangerine Nazarene
Star Anise of Bethlehem Creme Caramel
Cherries Mary Magdalene
Grapes of Wrath Fruit Basket
The Cheese to the Kingdom (ah . . . I know, I know!)

Serves Twelve, on Standard Altar Plates, with the good Three Pieces of Silver Setting.


Favourite Lines from The Sopranos No. 10
"Jesus Christ! She's a good looking woman. And she wants to f*#$ Barney Rubble?" - FBI Agent