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July 9, 2004

The Ballad of Juan and Ahmal

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."Einstein


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Hey folks,

You know when people send you emails and they leave their entire mailing list in the Subject Box? I apologise if I included any of your addresses in up above - but I uploaded this before I could re-read it ?!? (boom boom!)

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Great edition, Joe! Keep up the great work; there's nothing like the
catholicity (small "c")/melange/quirky choices/ unique voice of your
newsletter that I've yet seen.

Dear Mr Dolce, I feel I must comment on 'Where are the women in the new Iraq?'  The cultural imperialism of the West allows no other way than our own.   The people who wave women's rights banners are no different to those who wave free market, globalisation or freedom by invasion banners.   Our society is the most intolerent the world has ever seen, we believe that the West is so much better than the rest of the world that we have the right to impose our values on other cultures.   I would love to see the reaction if Islam tried to impose its values on us (but theat would be different, because we are right) ­ after all so far they are really just trying to make us leave them alone.  One of the most revealing photographs in the whole of the Iraqi war was one taken in a United States command post of a bunch of infantryman playing on computers and surrounded by semi-pornographic photographs.  Equality for women as demonstrated by the West to the people of Iraq has consisted mostly of photographs of women behaving in a very questionable way towards male prisoners.    Philippa M.

Hi Joe, I have no idea how i was put onto your mailing list, i have been for about 8 months, but i really dig it, keep it coming. are you just living off 'shutupayaface' royalties to donate so much time to this pursuit? You should come and see my hawaiian-surf-noise two piece band, gnitch-gnitch. Anto

(Anto, Living off royalties? As we say in Australia, You must be dreamin'. Royalties do help ease the pain (actually any kind of passive income like dividends, rental income, licensing fees are goals worth having, especially for your superannuation, if you are self- employed.) Maybe you haven't noticed - I'm still out there doing shows. I did more flights last month than Elvis. (boom boom! ouch!) But I see your point: now that I'm a thousandaire, why should I have to work like all the mere hundredaires? Joe)

Joe, Noel Delbridge's chapter on 'Shaddap You Face' (in his book, Up There Mike Brady) is a bloody great read - the story of that song, how it came to be written through your performances around Fitzroy . . . and then the subsequent pandemonium that followed its release - is an amazing story. I think it is probably one of the more fascinating stories of Australian music in ... well, basically in our history. His excerpts from your diary, written from hotel rooms in Amsterdam and Scandinavia I think, were remarkable. Clay

(Note: 'Up There Mike Brady' will be released on July 21st. More Info

Well, as everyone knows by now, John Kerry has picked John Edwards as his running mate. John and John. The Juan Brothers. That's cool. Personally, I like John Edwards (not the I see dead people one, by the way) even better than Kerry so why not have two heads instead of one? Or maybe it's more like one head instead of a half? (Doesn't Kerry sort of look like a Kennedy with too much of the air let out? Maybe he'll have an affair with Anna Nicole Smith, to balance things out 'cause she sort of looks like Marilyn Monroe with too much of the air let in.) In fact, I'd like to see ALL the Democratic nominees picked as Kerry's cabinet. Wouldn't that be something and a half? Kucinich could be Minister for the Environment. He'd even make a good Secretary of Defense. About time we had someone in charge of the military who takes their shoes off before going into the house and eats tofu, instead of worm chowder. As Charley Reese says:

" Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet. Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war ­ Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers. I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a frontman, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration." (article)

So true. It's not really about Bush, is it? It's about the whole rag-and-bone shop cast of the Republican version of 'Deliverance'. Little Georgie ain't much by himself, are he? To sum up (Is the drummer ready?): He couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. (boom boom!) His sewing machine's out of thread. (boom boom!) If brains were taxed, he'd get a rebate. (boom boom!) Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled. (boom boom!) He's been working with glue too much. (boom boom!) He's a couple of dilithium crystals short of a warp core. (Boom Boom me up Scotty!) He's about a half a bubble off plumb. (boom boom!) He's an experiment in Artificial Stupidity. (boom boom!) I could go on. (I WILL, next week. I'm getting boomed out here. . . .)

But . . . . . . .

KEN KESEY (1935 - 2001)

"As I've often told Ginsberg," he began, "you can't blame the President for the state of the country, it's always the poets' fault. You can't expect politicians to come up with a vision, they don't have it in them. Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold." Interview and Video

Spiritual Arrogance

"God told me to smite Osama bin Ladin, so I invaded Afghanistan. Then He told me to smite Saddam Hussein, so I invaded Iraq. Now he wants me to work on the Middle East problem. " President George W. Bush

I watched an interesting DVD last week, 'A Life Apart - Hasidism in America', by Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky. It was very disturbing and thought provoking. There are many similarities between the most fundamentalist Hasidic Jews and the most fundalmentalist Muslims, even down to the characteristic bobbing back and forth while reciting prayers. The term 'spiritual arrogance' was mentioned as the primary trait that makes it so irritating and practically impossible to communicate with 'the chosen ones'. The idea of a 'chosen people' has always sanctified aggression, expansion and domination. The concept is theologically intolerable, for if some are 'chosen' that means that others are 'rejected'.

I think we need a word to describe the religious who succumb to this kind of narcissistic self-delusion. We have terms like 'sexism' and 'sexist' - or 'racism' and 'racist' to describe blinker-vision in race and sex. So why not something like 'religionism' and 'religionist, ' or 'beliefism' and 'beliefist'? The closest word that I can find is: 'religiose', meaning excessively, obtrusively, or sentimentally religious. But that doesn't quite convey the spiritual arrogance, the dangerousness and core weakness of the attitude.

The Jews' belief that they are the Chosen People has often provoked antagonism from non-Jews. George Bernard Shaw remarked that if the Nazis would only realize how Jewish their notion of Aryan superiority was, they would drop it immediately. (Isn't that a strange thought?) In 1973, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Yakov Malik, the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations, said: "The Zionists have come forward with the theory of the Chosen People, an absurd ideology. That is religious racism." The Chosen People idea is so powerful that other groups have appropriated it. Both Catholicism and Protestantism believe that God chose the Jews, but that two thousand years ago a new covenant was made with Christianity. During most of Christian history, and among Evangelical Christians to the present day, Christian chosenness meant that only Christians go to heaven while the non-chosen are either placed in limbo or are damned. Mohammed, likewise, didn't deny Abraham's chosenness. He simply claimed that Abraham was a Muslim, and he traced Islam's descent through the Jewish Patriarch. The Chinese word for China means "Center of the Universe." Nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Americans had a belief in their "manifest destiny" to rule the North American continent. Civilizations like those of Rome and China, to say nothing of smaller-scale societies like those of the Hebrews, the Navaho and the Kwakiutl, felt that their communities and cultures were superior to all others.

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983) served as associate rabbi of Kehillath Jeshurun, an Orthodox synagogue in New York. Kaplan rejected several traditional Jewish categories, most notably Chosenness. He felt that the term was misunderstood and too often taken as a sign of Jewish superiority, when instead it was conceived as an expression of Jewish obligation to God and humanity. Kaplan was profoundly influenced by the new social science of sociology and recent progress in the physical sciences. He came to see Judaism not as a religion, but as a civilization, characterized not only by beliefs and practices, but by language, culture, literature, ethics, art, history, social organization, symbols, and customs. He promoted the notion of a synagogue-center which offered not only religious prayer services, but study programs, drama, dance, song, sports and exercise. He helped to create the Young Israel Modern Orthodox movement with Rabbi Israel Friedlander. Due to Kaplan's evolving position on Jewish theology, he was later condemned as a heretic by Young Israel and the rest of Orthodox Judaism, and his name is no longer mentioned in official publications as being one of the movement's founders.

How about some fresh religious thinking for a change?

I saw a bumper sticker when I was in Hawaii. It read:

My God Loves Your God.

Ok. Or you could try this:

Ministry in a Box

Minister Charles Simpson has the power to make you a LEGALLY ORDAINED MINISTER within 48 hours!!! BE ORDAINED NOW! As a minister, you will be authorized to perform the rites and ceremonies of your very own church!!

   Don't settle for being the BEST MAN OR BRIDES' MAID

If anyone wants to become their own Ordained Minister, here's a KIT you can send for.

(I'd had an idea for sometime about trying to graft Scientology and Christianity together and call it: Jesusology. I'm currently attempting a circuit diagram to combine the Cross and the E-Meter but I keep shocking myself back into stupidity. I'll let you know when I get it all worked out.)


A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named 'Ahmal'. The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him 'Juan'. Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal." (boom boom!)

Their George and Ours

" People who expect to be ignorant and free
expect what never was and never will be."
Thomas Jefferson

When they first heard the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, New Yorkers were so electrified that they toppled a statue of King George III and had it melted down to make 42,000 bullets for the war. Two hundred twenty-eight years later, you can still get a rush from those opening paragraphs. "We hold these truths to be self-evident." The audacity!

Read a little further to those parts of the declaration we seldom venture into after ninth-grade civics class, and you may feel something other than admiration: an icy chill of recognition. The bulk of the declaration is devoted to a list of charges against George III, several of which bear an eerie relevance to our own time. (article)


Haim Harari: A View from the Eye of the Storm

" Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is.

* The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel.
* The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel.
* The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel.
* Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel.
* Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel.
* Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel.
* The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel.
* The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. (article)
Bird imitations

A man decides to join the circus. He shows up to demonstrate his skills to the impresario. "I have the most unusual act," he announces. "I'm sure it will amaze you." He proceeds to climb a tall tower, and jumps off. He flaps his arms wildly, and finally his fall slows. He soars forward, then swoops upward, turns and swoops back again. Finally he stops in mid air and gently lowers himself to the ground. The impresario stares blankly at him for a long time. Finally he says, "Is that all you've got? Bird imitations?"

Blair: Guantánamo an Anomaly That Must End
By Ed Johnson

London - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was an "anomaly" that has to end. (article)



Do you know what they call a musician that has no girlfriend?

Why I Think Science Is Ending
A Talk With John Horgan

" My claim is that science is a bounded enterprise, limited by social, economic, physical and cognitive factors. Science is being threatened, literally, in some cases, by technophobes like the Unabomber, by animal-rights activists, by creationists and other religious fundamentalists, by post-modern philosophers and, most important of all, by stingy politicians.
Also, as science advances, it keeps imposing limits on its own power."


Greek Egg-Lemon Soup (Avgolemono)

1 litre chicken stock
cooked chicken slices (optional)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup white rice
juice of 2-3 lemons
salt & pepper
green scallions, cut finely on the diagonal
a few sprigs of fresh coriander

Make a nicely flavoured chicken stock. Add the chicken slices and the rice. Bring stock to boil and then reduce heat to low. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the lemon juice. When the rice is cooked, spoon about a half cup of hot stock into the egg-lemon mixture and add to the pot. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Serve in a bowl with sliced spring onions or chives, and fresh coriander.


Carrot and Daikon Coleslaw
This is a nice alternative to cabbage cole slaw.

1 carrot, peeled
1/2 long piece of Daikon (Asian white radish), peeled
1/2 teasp garlic, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 cup mayonnaise, to taste
1/2 teasp fresh horseradish, finely grated
1/2 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
salt & pepper

With one of the larger holes of a grater, grate the carrot in long thin strips and put in a bowl. In a separate bowl, do the same with the daikon. Gently squeeze the grated daikon strips with your hands to remove most of the water, and add to the grated carrot strips. Mix the garlic and horseradish with the mayonaisse, and add to the grated vegetables. Add the coriander, salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Cover with wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use. Great with any kind of fish.


This World
I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark
pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
beautiful silence
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we're not too
hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being
locked up in gold.
~ Mary Oliver ~

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