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November 18th, 2005

Dolls Without Faces

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
Mark Twain


Hi Folks,

I'll be taking a one-week break from the newsletter for business reasons but I've crammed a bit more in this week - so read half this week and half next if you need to! I've been invited next year to perform for Arcilesbica Australia: a social and support group for Italian Australian women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer. (Would you like to hear that again one time in Italian? - Arcilesbica Australia e' un gruppo di riunione/sociale e di sostegno per donne Italiane Australiane che si identificono come lesbiche, bisessuali, transgender, intersex o queer.) Together with the men's group, Italian & Gay, (Ciao, dahhhhling!) Arcilesbica holds a traditional dance in May - June to celebrate Italian National Day. I've been asked to sing 'Shaddap You Face,' of course, but also 'Evocation of Sappho,' my setting of some of Sappho's poetry. (I'll bet just the idea of ol' Giuseppe-Does-Sappho is quite a conundrum for some of you art pigeon-holers out there. You know who you are! Well, I've been tryin' to tell you knuckleheads - they ain't made a pigeon-hole big enough to hold The Castrato Cockatoo from Calabria!)



The Pope was finishing his sermon.

He ended it with the Latin phrase,  "Tutti Homini"  .....  Blessed be Mankind.

A women's rights group approached the Pope the next day.
They pointed out that the Pope blessed all Mankind, but not Womankind.

The next day, after His sermon, the Pope concluded by saying,  "Tutti Homini, et Tutti Femini"
Blessed be Mankind and Womankind.

The next day, a gay-rights group approached the Pope.
They said that they noted that he blessed Mankind and Womankind,
and asked if he could also bless Gay people.

The next day, the Pope concluded his sermon with,  "Tutti Homini, et Tutti Femini, et Tutti Frutti."
(thanks to Maggie Morgan)


Interesting Things from Bill No. 1
It is impossible to lick your elbow.


With the outcry over the application of the death penalty to an Australian in Singapore........ it was a truly really amazing event, related to the death penalty that happened in the Perth District Court last week. A Perth jury's verdict of 'not guilty' for 'people smuggling', in relation to the arrival of the Hao Kiet in 2003 (article) has inadvertently stopped an execution in Vietnam. If Tol Tran had been found guilty and attracted even the minimum mandatory sentence (5/3 parole) for the offence (232A Migration Act) he would be subject to a '501 protection visa' cancellation under the Migration Act (Cth) and deported to Vietnam. At completion of his sentence here and handed back to Viet authorities, usually involving a flight accompanied by at least two Australian migration officers/securtiy officers, he would then face Section 80 of the Viet Criminal code for his conduct as a dissident and in helping other dissidents escape, which attracts the death penalty. After the verdict Tol repeatedly said to me in broken English, 'no lemon'. I am told, and Amnesty report, that prior to facing the firing squad in Vietnam, it is traditional for a lemon to be wedged in the mouth of the person to be shot, Cheers,
Kaye B

I remember Al Grassby, but I'm certain he wasn't Minister for Immigration in 1979, when Fraser was still PM. I like the opening quote and comments.
Virginia from Box Hill North

Grassby was of Maltese origin - of course there were Australians who once called everyone 'eye-talian' if they were Southern European, regardless of actual nationality...so maybe you were making a comment on that...a bit like how Turks, Iranians etc are mistakenly called 'Arabs' a lot...Cheers,

Hey Joe,
No way Al was minister in 1979, they all got turfed out with Gough 30 years ago today, more likely it was Andrew 'The Perfumed Gigolo' Peacock. BTW Al was half Irish but still crazy-eyed,

(Note: Well, I stepped in it a little with ol' Al. Just goes to show you how politically unaware I was in 1979. I just assumed Grassby was still in government - that's how strong the force of his character was back then. Albert Jamie Grassby was actually born in Brisbane, in 1926, of Spanish and Irish descent. Here's a speech - Racism - No Way! he gave in 2004:)

Interesting Things from Bill No. 2
The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...)
The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

Re: Irish Stew
Carrots are absolutely, positively wrong in Irish Stew. They don't belong at all, at all. Believe me, I've researched this to the bottom of the pot. VERY SIMPLE EXPLANATION. THEY COULDN'T AFFORD F*CKING CARROTS.
Noel D.

(Note: 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. According to Joanne Asala, the author of Celtic Folklore Cooking: ' The authentic stew does NOT have carrots in it. Only Lamb neck chops, potatoes, onions, seasoned with parsley and thyme, salt and pepper. The potato was the only staple in the Irish diet before the Great Famine of 1845-1849. The consequences of the crop blight was catastrophic. 1 million Irish perished from starvation while 1 1/2 million emigrated to the U.S.")

Stew (n.) Irish stew is attested from 1814. The first written reference to it is in Byron's 'Devil's Drive': 'The Devil . . . dined on . . . a rebel or so in an Irish stew.' The obsolete slang meaning "brothel" (1362, usually plural, stews) is from an earlier sense of "public bath house," carried over from O.Fr. and reflecting the reputation of such houses. (i.e. your carrot is always welcome here, wink wink nudge nudge say no more . . .)

Two Irish Jokes from J.J.

Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.
"Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya".
"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"
"That's what I'm here to be telling ya, Brenda." There was an accident down at the brewery..."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda, "Please don't tell me."
"I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."
Finally, she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"
"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of stout and drowned."
"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"
"Well, Brenda... I'm sorry, but no. In fact, he got out three times to have a piss."

A drunk staggers into a Catholic Church, enters a confessional booth, sits
down, but says nothing. The priest coughs a few times to get his attention
but the drunk continues to sits there. Finally, the priest pounds three
times on the wall. The drunk mumbles, "Ain't no use knockin'; there's no
paper on this side either."

Interesting Things from Bill No. 3
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.


From: Dokmv Subject: Everything in your pants will be strong!
Your woman will become dulled by your instrument: ViagraPro.

News Item: Pittsburg couple Ken Slaby and Gail O'Toole had split up, but a couple of years later they ended up in bed together again. Things were going well until, according to Ken, he mentioned that he had a new girlfriend. Gail's response was to wait until he went to sleep, and then glue his penis to his stomach, his testicle to his leg, and his buttocks together. Then she woke him up and kicked him out of the house. Ken made it to a pay-phone, where he called the police. When the case got to court, Gail claimed that the glue was just part of their normal sexual activity. Unfortunately for Gail the jury didn't quite believe that and she got six months probation.
(thanks to popbitch)

Interesting Things from Bill No. 4
Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.

A Fatwa of a Different Colour


'Fatwa Declared Against Osama Bin Laden by the Islamic Commission of Spain'

A Fatwa -- which means legal judgement-- was declared against Osama Bin Laden by the Islamic Commission of Spain. The point of the fatwa is not to excommunicate Bin Laden and al Qaeda. On the contrary, it is to prove these people have excommunicated themselves from Islam and thus should not be referred to by anybody --whether Muslim or non-Muslim-- as "Islamic" terrorists. Terrorism goes against the core of Islam and whoever performs a terrorist act has put themselves outside of the guidance of Islam. (article)

(Note: Folks, why doesn't the conservative Islamic community in Australia issue fatwas against ALL terrorist groups that use Islam to justify crimes against the innocent? For muslims themselves to actively help bring them to justice. I think a lot of housecleaning could be done from within if some bold initiatives were taken.)

Iran's Transsexual Revolution
By Caroline Mangez


An unlikely religious ruling has made Tehran the sex-change capital of the world. Caroline Mangez went to meet the brave souls who have swapped gender in this rigidly conservative city, where women wear the chador and homosexuality is punishable by death...
"I know because I've experienced both worlds: as a man in Iran I have more freedom and choice than as a woman," muses 30 year-old estate agent Milad Kajouhinejad, 30, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a hirsute chest. It gives him pleasure, this manly gesture, just as it gives him pleasure to carry an attaché case and sport the full beard of a practising Muslim. Until three years ago, he could do none of these things. "I never used to go to the mosque, either," he adds. "I did not want to have to wear a chador. Now I can pray in boxer shorts if I feel like it, and I never miss prayers," he says.
  Milad gives thanks to Allah five times a day and, while doing so, always offers a special prayer to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, "without whom," he says, "every transexual would have had to leave Iran. He was the first to issue a fatwa authorising a man or woman to change their sex."

Interesting Things from Bill No. 5
Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?
A. Father's Day



by Carmen Bin Ladin

'Me and my cousin against the stranger; me and my brother against my cousin.'
Saudi saying


Inside the Kingdom is Carmen bin Ladin's memoir of her years living in Saudi Arabia while married to one of the 23 brothers of Osama bin Ladin. Raised in Iran with Swiss-Persian heritage, she was courted by a westernized Yeslam bin Ladin, who originally took her to California. Once they moved back to Saudi Arabia, she was forced to live under its strict Islamic code, even being married by proxy during her wedding she could not attend. Yeslam was even uninterested in his daughters, wishing Carmen had given birth to sons instead. Her wealth allowed her some minor privileges as societal restrictions eased a bit, but she finally fled to Switzerland in the 80s. Her memoir is a peek inside constrained life within Saudi Arabia and the power and government connections of the bin Ladin family. (article)

Note: I avoided this book in book shops because it looked like an exploitation of the Bin Laden name by a distant relative merely to sell a book. (Also the different spelling of the name reinforced this initial hesitation.) But my partner had a copy lying around and I started reading it. It's not at all what I thought. It is a very sincere 'diary-style' memoir of life for a 'privileged' woman living inside the Bin Laden family - and generally, for any woman living in Saudi Arabia. I would consider this essential and unputdownable reading for anyone wanting some important and memorable insights on Islamic culture, especially as it affects women's rights.

For instance, she talks about her husband, Yeslam's 'milk brother':
"Mafouz, Yeslam's milk brother, came to visit us. His mother, Aisha, was Sheikh Mohamed's oldest child, and she had given birth to Mafouz just as Yeslam's mother was having her first son. Aisha and Om Yeslam breast-fed each other's children - it is a custom in Saudi Arabia, though it must never be done if the children are boy and girl, because it would mean they can never marry. To be a milk brother creates a special tie."

" The Arabic word for woman, hormah, derives from the word haram: sin. . ."

" Nowhere on the planet has anywhere developed as suddenly as Saudi Arabia did in the first five or six years that I lived there. Half a century before, people had wrapped themselves in wet sheets at night to get cool enough to sleep; now everyone seemed to have air-conditioning. There were car dealerships everywhere: At some, you could even bring in camels to use as part trade-in for a new Toyota."

"No woman can leave Saudi Arabia - or even travel outside the city she lives in - without the written permission of her husband or father, or son. A woman is never a legal adult. But there exists a women's underground network that trades passports and permissions. Because no customs official would dare ask a woman to unveil, it is not difficult to assume another idenity."

" ' We don't even mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohamed,' Rafah insisted. 'Christians mark birthdays. Christmas is a birthday. . . .' . . In Saudi Arabia - for Bin Ladens - I learned that birthday celebrations are haram (sin)."

"The mutwah (religious police) . . . prohibited the sale of children's dolls - dolls became contraband, like whiskey, because they were human images. Suddenly, the only dolls for sale were shapeless figures with no faces, like the one owned by Aisha, the Prophet Mohamed's child-wife, in the seventh century." INSIDE THE KINGDOM - My Life in Saudi Arabia, by Carmen Bin Ladin

Note: The practice of having dolls with no faces was also practiced by the Amish people in Mansfield, Ohio, near where I grew up. (And only a Amish fundamentalist could be blinkered enough (like their horses) to name one of their towns, Intercourse, Pennsylvania! (article)


" In the Bible, in Exodus and Deuteronomy, it says you are not supposed to make any thing (to worship) that is in the image or likeness of male or female. That is why Amish do not put faces on their dolls. It is also not uncommon for both the girls and the boys to have dolls."

You, too, can have your own faceless friends. Great Christmas gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people - who happen to worship dolls.

Interesting Things from Bill No. 6
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.



(I wouldn't normally send on this sort of scare-mongering but this comes from a very reliable source and the warning is genuine.)

" Yesterday, a friend of mine was travelling on a train from Dapto. A man of Middle Eastern appearance got off the train and my friend noticed that he had left his bag behind. He grabbed the bag and ran after him, caught up with him in the station and handed him back his bag. He was extremely grateful, he looked around to make sure nobody was looking and whispered, "I can never repay your kindness, but I will try to ... with a word of advice for you: Stay away from Dapto. " My friend, who comes from Dapto, was genuinely terrified. "Is there going to be an attack?" he asked him. "No... " he whispered back...... "It's a shithole."
(thanks to Russell Hannah)

Interesting Things from Bill No. 7
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht Iwas rdgnieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?
(Note: Also, as in chess, computing and many other activities, reading has to do with pattern recognition.)

Make your own church signs online!

(click here!)

Favourite Review of the Week

Thats-a Gratitude!
' At great political risk we Aussies send troops to help you Yanks and Brits in your Iraqi adventure, and what sort of thanks do we get? Hard to believe, but a British Methodist minister has just used an American website to declare a classic Aussie hit recording as 'worst disco song ever'. Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce, recorded here in Melbourne, is an ICON! It's been the most successful popular Australian single for 25 years ­ overtaking Slim Dusty's 1957 classic The Pub with No Beer ­ and has sold four million copies worldwide. It was the Number One song in fifteen countries, and won Joe . . the Advance Australia Award. I think Joe himself has the right words for all this ingratitude:  'What'sa matta you, hey, Gotta no respect. . . . Ah, Shaddap You Face!'
Martin Roth's Christian Commentary

Interesting Things from Bill No. 8
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
 A. One thousand


Miissing 'Peace' Restored to Shangri-la


Based on the international best-selling novel by James Hilton, LOST HORIZON is the story of a group of plane crash survivors who are rescued by the ageless inhabitants of 'Shangri-la,' a remote, utopian community hidden away in the Himalayas and presided over by a 200-year old High Lama. Starring Ronald Coleman and Jane Wyatt and directed by Frank Capra, this 1937 Academy Award winning film is one of the greatest adventures ever produced from the Golden Age of Hollywood. At the time, it was the biggest production ever attempted by Columbia Pictures, costing four times that of any other film and the equivilant of half the company's yearly budget. In its initial release, LOST HORIZON was two hours and ten minutes long, but 24 minutes were cut from the film, durng its World War II re-release to tone down its pacifist message, and give it a decided propaganda slant, (with jerry-rigged references to 'Japanese hordes,') and a more audience-friendly Hollywood happy ending. The original master for the film was lost.
However, film preservationist, Robert Gitt, over a period of 25 years, has gathered together the missing footage from all over the world, using 16 mm when necessary, still shots to bridge missing gaps and reconstruction to repair tears and deterioration, restoring and digitally remastering Lost Horizon to Frank Capra's original vision, returning the mystical and much more satisfying ending. Peace.

Interesting Things from Bill No.9
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:    
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander the Great    
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

Two Meditations on the Reverend Billy O'Reilly

That Warm Feeling
By William Rivers Pitt

This may make me a bad person, but I get a warm feeling in the center of my soul when I watch right-wing maniacs freak out in frustration and lose their so-called minds. It just makes me smile. Two examples of this came rolling down the mountain in the last day. When the citizens of Dover, PA, decided in the elections this past Tuesday to give the boot to a bunch of Intelligent Design golems who had boll-weeviled their way onto the school board, Mr. Robertson fell off the planet. "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover," saith Pat on his television show, "if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."
If any of the good people in Dover are concerned about this, they should put their fears to rest. This condemnation came from the fellow who said Orlando would be obliterated by "earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor" for flying rainbow flags to mark the annual Gay Days celebration at Disney World in 1998. The last time I checked, Orlando remains unsmited by the wrath of God. On the heels of Robertson's magically deranged denunciation of Dover came the ever-insane Bill O'Reilly, who decided the city of San Francisco needs to be destroyed. The citizens of that glorious city decided in last Tuesday's elections to ban military recruiting in public schools, and to ban handgun ownership in the city. "You want to be your own country?" frothed Bill. "Go right ahead. And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." For the record, Coit Tower was erected to honor the firefighters who fought the flames unleashed upon San Francisco in the '06 quake. Not very nice, Billy-boy. Why are these two men, along with their like-minded cadre of right-wing goofballs, having such bad hair days all of a sudden? (article)

Let Us Blow Up Bill O'Reilly
Of course the PR-sucking Fox News blowhard is off his nut. Again. Question is, Should you care?
By Mark Morford


It's almost too easy. He's too easy a target, really, Bill O'Reilly of the casually toxic Fox News, too bloviated and too silly and too undercooked, and no one whose opinion you truly value or with an IQ higher than their waist size actually watches him with anything resembling intellectual honesty or takes anything he says the slightest bit seriously. You hope. Especially when he, like Pat Robertson ranting about how gays caused Sept. 11 or that Dover, Pa., is now a doomed and godless hell pit, given how the town fired every single one the imbecilic, intelligent design-supporting Repubs from the school board, especially when Billy goes off his nut once again and essentially wishes al Qaeda would attack San Francisco, well, it is up to us to merely look at him like Shiva looks at a sea slug -- i.e., a moment of compassion for his regrettable incarnation -- and then laugh and shake our heads and move the hell on. I mean, what else do you want to do? Allow him credence? Give his infantile words any sort of weight and import? Let him slither into your heart like a worm and fester and burn? O'Reilly is, after all, the Right's most self-aggrandizing blowhard, one who still vilifies France like a child who hates broccoli, one who has, next to Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the worst spin in all of media. (article)

Interesting Things from Bill No. 10
The San Francisco Cable cars are the USA's only mobile National Monuments.


"Sedition complements treason and martial law. While treason controls primarily the privileged, ecclesiastical opponents, priests, and Jesuits, as well as certain commoners - and martial law frightens commoners - SEDITION frightens intellectuals."
Curtis C. Breight, Surveillance, Militarism and Drama in the Elizabethan Era


Some well-known Seditionists:

1. Jesus Christ was given the death penalty for sedition against the Romans.

2. In Mahatma Gandhi and Jawarhalal Nehru's famous trials for sedition, they were accused by the British colonial government of 'bringing into hatred or contempt', of 'exciting disaffection against the Government', of 'raising discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects.'

3. The Founding Fathers of the United States, of course. The Boston Tea Party was a grand act of sedition. (Have I left anyone out?)

Oh yeah! Czar Nicholas II of Russia did not like sailing on the sea of sedition in Russia at the turn of the 20th century - however, Lenin thought it just the medicine Russia needed.

Word History: Sedition is borrowed from Old French. French inherited it from Latin seditio (n) "mutiny, civil discord" which comprises sed- "apart, on one's own" + itio(n) "going", a noun from itus, the past participle of ire "to go". The root sed- goes back to Proto-Indo-European *swe-, which also underlies English self and Hindi swami "one's own master, person due respect". There is evidence of its presence in solo, too. The political arm of the Irish Republican Army is called Sinn Fein, which means "we ourselves" in Irish. Fein comes from the same root with a suffix -n (and centuries of lingual tinkering.) Australia's Current and Proposed Sedition Laws and Debate

Interesting Things from Bill No. 11
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
(Note: This was most likely before the invention of glue.)



1 kg broadbeans (aka Hannibal Lector fava beans) - unshelled
chicken stock
1 large leek, white part only, sliced thinly
2 carrots, peeled, and sliced thickly
1 large potato, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
olive oil
half teas red chilli flakes

Shell the broadbeans. Bring a pot of water to the boil and put the broadbeans in, return to the boil for two minutes, drain, and refresh immediately in cold water. This will allow you to remove the tough outer skins. Set aside the inner kernals and discard the skins. Put a couple tablespoons of oilve oil in a pan and saute the leeks until soft. Add the carrots, potatoes, garlic, red chilli flakes and broadbean kernals and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock to cover and some pepper, bring to a simmer, reduce to low heat and cook, covered for about an hour. Taste, add some salt and correct the seasons. The broadbeans and leeks should have broken down completely. If not, at your discretion, cook longer until it's the way you like it. Serve hot.

Interesting Things from Bill No. 12
Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

The Buddha's Last Instruction
'Make of yourself a light,'
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal ­ a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two Sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire ­
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
~ Mary Oliver ~
 (House of Light)


Interesting Things from Bill No. Lucky 13
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow.