Thanks to Joshua Roberts for that bit of Australiana-Bacchanalia above. With all this current concern about terrorist plots in Australia over the past week, and our tendency toward racial profiling at the drop of a hat, I like to remind myself that most of us - dare I say: all of us? - once arrived in Australia from somewhere else. I'm sure we all made the people who were already here very nervous. People are pretty much cut from the same cloth. There are plenty of ordinary Muslim people walking around who do the same things you and I do every day. Make dinner. Work. Put their kids to bed. And extraordinarily creative souls, too, like the Sufi poet, Hafiz, who personify love and peace - not paranoia and violence. (I've included a poem of Hafiz's for you down at the bottom.)
I still remember 1979, when that crazy eye-talian Al Grassby was the immigration minister of Australia, SBS had just gone to air, the word multicultural hadn't been invented yet (the term used to be New Australian) and my own tall garlic poppy, Shaddap You Face, had yet to be released. The Asian Invasion Boat People issue was the big worry back in 1979 . . .
Just the other day, I was walking through the now teeming Vietnamese section of Victoria Street, in Richmond, wondering what all those foreign words on the restaurants and shops actually meant in English. I think if someone made a street map with the English translations, we would see an entirely different street then the one we think we see. For instance, the only Viet restaurant in Melbourne, in 1979, was a place called Vao Doi. Just a strange sound, and a curious graphic to Mr and Ms Whitebread. But translated, it declares, New Beginning. Vao Doi was originally set up, by a Vietnamese Catholic priest named Father Bart, and a South Vietnamese doctor and activist I knew as Hung, as a refuge and meeting place for the newly arriving relocated boat people. Hung and his wife did all the cooking, as he wasn't allowed to practice medicine in Australia. I discovered this New Beginning, when I used to live in a two-room flat under the tramline off Victoria Street. I looked in that alien doorway, twenty-five years ago, and saw a darkened cafe, filled with small primary school size tables, each one with a red or violet thermos bottle for hot tea. Only one dish was on the menu. Something called Pho - a mixture of star anise scented beef broth and fresh salad herbs - and it cost $2.00 a bowl. Always game for new taste adventures, I squished into the tiny seat . . . and started to get to know Vietnam. I made this 'secret' place my regular lunch stop from then on. (How can anyone ever really hate anyone from another culture - once they've tasted the genius of their cuisine?)
Later in that year, outraged by the way refugees, arriving in those dangerous and rickety boats, were being treated in Darwin, and in frustration at not being able to DO anything to help, I wrote, financed and recorded a protest song called, Boat People. Which no radio station would play, of course. So I took all 300 copies down to Vao Doi, and gave them to Hung and Father Bart and asked them to distribute them for free to the Vietnamese community. Over the next couple of years, I was invited to sing Boat People at several National Vietnamese conventions and festivals. Ten years later, Hung the 'chef', had passed his medical exams in Australia and was once again a practicing doctor, and on the way there had also become president of the Vietnamese community in Melbourne. He invited me to come sing Boat People once again before Vietnamese and Australian diplomats, and this time the lyrics were translated into Vietnamese.
Favourite Reader Comments of the Week
RE: Circular Reasoning in Logic studies? [You quoted:]
Are you thinking of sophistry? Might we also think of L. Ron's quip as a non sequitur ("it does not follow.")? For more fun see: The Chewbacca Defense Best, JJ
Wot about the "j-pod" ? Love your spam!!!! Keep up the 'dolce' work. cheers, Jane
George Bush has started an ill-timed and disastrous war under false pretenses by lying to the American people and to the Congress; he has run a budget surplus into a severe deficit; he has consistently and unconscionably favored the wealthy and corporations over the rights and needs of the population; he has destroyed trust and confidence in, and good will toward, the United States around the globe; he has ignored global warming, to the world's detriment; he has wantonly broken our treaty obligations; he has condoned torture of prisoners; he has attempted to create a theocracy in the United States; he has appointed incompetent cronies to positions of vital national importance. Now, as "The best sign in the DC Peace March" suggested:
" Would someone please give him a blow job so we can impeach him!" WaylandN
Love your wholesome advice on Scientology. Very timely for me. Tomorrow I am attending a memorial for a friend who died at his own hand 20 years ago, largely due to the insessant mindfucking he was subjected to in the last years of an already difficult and vulnerable life by those Hubbard worthies. He was a brilliant and visionary young man who was struggling with what would probably now be recognised as bipolar syndrome. He was a sitting duck for these brain suckers and his death was a huge waste as he really did contribute a lot to the early days of alternative technology in this country and would have continued to do so. I remember him enduring constant interruptions from scientology members 'encouraging' him to stay in the fold and 'urging' him to follow certain courses. The intrusions were daily, several times a day. He was a nice and gentle man and he would never have been able to tell them to fuck off even before he started to drown in the quicksand of their evil and stifling dogma. This memorial event will be organised largely by one big mother of a Hubbardy Haranguer. I'm going along to lend support to another friend - I would otherwise studiously avoid the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the HH individual. I will read your newsletter again tomorrow before I go, and remember the humour. Hopefully it will help me to remain polite, respectful of my friend's memory - and not deck anyone who so much as mentions 'process' or utters any other noises scientillogical. Thanks, Wendy
CONCERNED AMERICAN OF THE WEEK AWARD: Mike Caracciolo
Mike has a site where he features little home-made
videos of himself expounding on all manner of things, including
the occaisonal impromtu song or impersonation. He is a professional
ticket seller by trade.
The first excerpt is an angry and fuming audio-only track - straight out of Goodfellas - about how his lowlife friends basically won't help him in his time of need. We've all felt this way I'm sure but Mike is the first one to actually give us a VOICE: (No.1)
This following are clips about Mike's views on -
How To Handle Terrorists: (No. 2)
Gay Marriage: (No. 3)
Mother's Day: (No. 4)
(thanks to Frank Dolce)
No Place for a Poet at a Banquet of Shame
Poet Sharon Olds declines to attend the National Book Festival.
Professor of English, Ph.D. 1972 (English), Columbia; B.A. 1964, Stanford. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Sharon Olds, one of America's finest and most respected poets, declined an invitation by Laura Bush to speak in Washington. Here is her open letter of explanation:
The White House
Dear Mrs. Bush,
I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.
In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.
And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.
When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.
So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.
I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.
But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.
Here a short sample of her writing:
Forty minutes of Sharon Olds reading poetry
(CLA) is a fellowship of individuals who share experience, strength,
and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem
with clutter and help others recover. The only requirement for
membership is a desire to eliminate clutter and bring order into
our lives. There are no dues or fees for membership; we are self-supporting
through our own contributions, neither soliciting nor accepting
outside donations. Clutterers Anonymous is not affiliated
with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology,
or religious doctrine; we take no position on outside issues.
Our primary purpose is to eliminate clutter, to establish more
order in our lives, and to carry this message of recovery to clutterers
who still suffer.
* Do you have more possessions or items in your life than you can handle comfortably?
* Do you find it difficult to dispose of many things, even those you haven't used in years?
* Do you rent storage space to house items you never use?
* Do you spend time looking for things that are hard to find because of all the clutter?
* Do you find it easier to drop something than to put it away, or to wedge an object into an overcrowded drawer or closet rather than find space for it?
* Do you collect things to give to others?
* Do you bring things into your house without establishing a place for them?
* Is your clutter causing problems in your relationships?
* Are you embarrassed to have visitors because your home is never presentable?
* Do you hesitate sharing about this problem because you are ashamed of your cluttering?
* Are you constantly doing for others while your own home is out of order?
* Do you miss deadlines or abandon projects because you can't find the paperwork or material to finish the work?
* Do you sometimes get buried in details, making projects take much longer than is really necessary?
* Do you procrastinate about cleaning up because you believe you must do it perfectly or you won't do it at all?
* Are you easily side-tracked, moving from one project to another without finishing any of them?
* Do you have problems with time management and estimating how long it takes to do things?
* Do you believe there is all the time in the world to clean your house, finish those projects, and read all those piles of old magazines?
* Do you use distractions to escape from your clutter?
* Have you tried to clean up from time to time but find yourself unable to stick with it?
* Does the problem appear to be growing?
If you answered "yes" to three or more of these questions, you might want to find out what CLA has to offer. (site)
Sidney Gottlieb (August 3, 1918 March 7, 1999) was an American chemist probably best-known for his involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency mind control program (MKULTRA).
Sidney was born in the Bronx under the name Joseph Schneider. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Despite the fact that he was a stutterer since childhood, Sidney got a master's degree in speech therapy. He also had a club foot, but this did not stop him from practicing folk dancing, a lifelong passion.
In 1951, Sidney Gottlieb joined the Central Intelligence Agency. As a poison expert, he headed the chemical division of the Technical Services Staff (TSS). Sidney became known as the "Black Sorcerer" and the "Dirty Trickster". He supervised preparations of lethal poisons and experiments in mind control.
In April 1953 Sidney Gottlieb headed the secret Project MKULTRA which was activated on the order of CIA director Allen Dulles. Gottlieb was known for administration of LSD and other psycho-active drugs to unwitting subjects and for financing psychiatric research and development of "techniques that would crush the human psyche to the point that it would admit anything." He sponsored physicians such as Ewen Cameron and Harris Isbell in controversial psychiatric research that used unwitting humans as guinea pigs. Many people had their lives destroyed in this research financed by Gottlieb and the Rockefeller Foundation.
In March 1960, under The Cuban Project, a CIA plan approved by President Eisenhower and under the direction of CIA Directorate for Plans, Richard Bissell, Gottlieb came up with ideas to spray Fidel Castro's television studio with LSD and to saturate Castro's shoes with thallium so that the hair of his beard would fall out. Gottlieb also hatched schemes to assassinate Castro, including the use of a poisoned cigar, a poisoned wetsuit, an exploding conch shell, and a poisonous fountain pen.
Gottlieb is also known for his trip to Congo carrying a CIA-developed biotoxin to be placed on the toothbrush of Patrice Lumumba. He also tried to have Iraq's General Abdul Karim Qassim's handkerchief contaminated with botulinum. Less known was an operation within the CIA's Phoenix Program in Vietnam where a team of CIA psychologists performed mind control experiments on NLF suspects being detained at Bien Hoa Prison outside of Saigon. Through electrode implants in the brain, the prisoners were manipulated to attack each other with knives. The experiment was a failure and the patients were shot and their bodies burned.
In 1972 while still the head of the Technical Services Staff, shortly before retirement, Sidney Gottlieb allegedly destroyed most of the CIA files pertaining to him.
Sidney Gottlieb's passing on March 10, 1999 came at a convenient time for the CIA, as several new trials involving victims of its experiments were commencing. (Wikipedia source article)
Two Irish Jokes and a Stew
Two Irish hunters got a pilot to fly them to
Canada to hunt moose. They bagged six. As they started loading
the plane for the return trip, the pilot said the plane could
take only four moose. The two lads objected strongly.
"Last year we shot six and the pilot let us put them all on board; He had the same plane as yours."
Reluctantly, the pilot gave in and all six were loaded. However, even with full power, the little plane couldn't handle the load and went down a few moments after take-off. Climbing out of the wreckage, Paddy asked Seamus, "Any idea where we are?"
"Bejasus, I think we're pretty close to where we crashed last year."
(thanks to Joe Creighton)
Did you hear about the Aussie, the Yank and
the Irishman who were working on top of a fifty storey building?
The Aussie opened his lunch and said, "bloody hell, meat pies again - I keep telling my wife I'm sick of meat pies - if I get meat pies tomorrow, I'll jump".
The Yank opened his and said "God damn hot dogs again - my wife knows I'm sick of hot dogs. If I get hot dogs tomorrow, I'll jump too."
And the Irishman opened his lunch, "Begorrah, Irish stew again. My missus knows I'm sick of Irish stew, if I get it tomorrow, I'll jump with ya.
The next day, the Aussie opened his lunch, and it was a meat pie.
"Well, I said I'd jump, so here goes" ... splat!!
The American opened his - a hot dog. "Well the Aussie jumped, so I gotta do it too" ... splat!! And the Irishman opened his - you guessed it, Irish stew. "Well, they both jumped, so I have to keep my end of the bargain" ... splat!!
The next day, the three grieving widows were at the funeral. The Aussie's wife said, "I don't understand it - I didn't realise how much Bruce didn't like meat pies, I wouldn't have given them to him every day". The Yank's wife said, "Yes, it's the same with George - I didn't know he hated hot dogs so much". And the Irishman's wife said, "Well, what I don't understand is, Paddy made his own lunch yesterday". (Boom Splat!)
(thanks to Jim Testa)
Irish Stew of Ballymaloe
It seems reasonable to assume that Irish stew was the inevitable result of combining simple, available ingredients in the big, black, three-legged pot and cooking them over the fire. After all, this dish originated in Irish cabins where utensils were scarce. A griddle, a kettle, a frying pan, a three-legged pot and a bastible or pot oven would have constituted the entire batterie de cuisine. Florence Irwin, a Northern Irish cookery instructor and cookery writer of fifty years ago, tells us how in the 'big house', when a pig or sheep was killed, the griskins, spare ribs or scrag end of mutton were shared among the farm labourers and neighbours. The meat was put straight into the big pot with onions and peeled potatoes and then covered with water. (The potatoes were peeled for stew, otherwise they were boiled in their jackets.) Stew would sometimes have provided soup first, because the bones from the neck would have given tremendous flavour to the liquid. In my grand-aunts's house in Tipperary this was often the case.. Purists maintain that carrots would not have been added to an original Irish stew, but they were certainly part of Irish stew in many parts of the Midlands and also in Cork and Kerry, this however was considered a sacrilege further North. Some afficionados like to slice a few potatoes into the bottom of the pot to thicken the juices, others prefer to steam the potatoes whole on top of the meat and vegetables. A few tablespoons of pearl barley added to the broth was a favourite in many families and helped to make the dish more filling and substantial. Whatever the recipe a really good Irish stew is comfort food at its very best, a one-pot meal with meltingly tender meat, plump onions, chunks of carrot and lots of yummy juices to mash the floury potatoes into with a knob of melting butter. Buy shoulder of lamb chops on the bone, make sure the chops are nice and thick, at least one inch. For our version of Irish Stew, we divide the chops into two or at most three pieces. Some people prefer to cut the meat into large cubes, either way it is essential to include the bone for flavour. If the carrots are young leave them whole, otherwise cut into biggish chunks or they will disintegrate in the cooking. Small whole onions are best, but young onions with their green tops trimmed a little are also delicious in early Summer. In fact, even though stew sounds more like Autumn or Winter food, the best Irish Stew is made in early Summer with young lamb and new season's carrots and onions. Choose large potatoes and pop them on top of the meat to cook in the steam, if your potatoes are smallish postpone adding them to the pot until later, adding them perhaps half way through cooking. Some people like to thicken the juices, others not, we degrease the juices when the stew is fully cooked, the meat should be soft and tender, literally falling off the bones. We then whisk just a little roux into the boiling degreased juices to thicken it ever so slightly. Add lots of chopped parsley and a few snipped chives, pour this flavoursome broth over the meat, vegetables and floury potatoes and serve your feast immediately in hot deep bowls.
· 2 1/2 - 3 lbs (1.35kg) lamb chops (gigot or rack chops) not less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
· 8 medium or 12 baby carrots
· 8 medium or 12 baby onions
· 8 -12 potatoes, or more if you like
· salt and freshly ground pepper
· 1 1/4 -1 1/2 pints (750 ml-900 ml/3-334 cups) stock (lamb stock if possible) or water
· 1 sprig of thyme
· 1 tablesp. roux, optional - (see recipe)
· 1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
· 1 tablesp. freshly chopped chives
· 4 ozs (110g/1 stick) butter
· 4 ozs (110g/scant 1 cup) flour
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Cut the chops in half and trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces). Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole. Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1 - 1 1/2 hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget.
When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Slightly thicken by whisking in a little roux if you like. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.
Directions for Roux:
Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred.
(thanks to Darina Allen)