November 22nd, 2003

Anger and Courage: The Two Beautiful Daughters of Hope


" Only 13% of eligible young people cast ballots in the last presidential election. "
Bill Moyers, Keynote Address to the National Conference on Media Reform


Hi folks,

This week I ordered my 2004 US Presidential Election absentee ballot from the US Consulate and also officially registered for Australian Citizenship, after being a permanent Australian resident for over 24 years. (Talk about slow to get with the program!) So in about three months, all going well, I should have a big party and then, being a legal dual national, in a position to do my part about both John Howard and George W. Bush. As you will note, from that depressing quote above, only 13% of eligible young people voted in the last US election. ONLY THIRTEEN PERCENT OF ELIGIBLE YOUTH VOTERS! This is just plain UNACCEPTABLE! Kids, you want Bush out? You HAVE to vote. (Read that again.) We have to bury him in a landslide next time - not just a close-call like Florida. It's a lot harder to fiddle with the count of a bloody landslide. So please get yourself registered to vote, if you aren't, and more importantly, get your head prepared well in advance that this is something you will do next year. Even if it's the first time. Then we can all have a big party together.


Tell friends who share your values how they can register to vote or help others to register because your vote matters.
(click here)


by Sam Smith, age 66


" I regret that we got the Muslim world so mad at us and that we couldn't come up with any better solution than to get it madder.

I am sorry about all the extra hurricanes, tornadoes, and heat waves that have occurred while we continued to debate whether there was anything called global warming.

I would like to say how sad I am about your increased likelihood of getting skin cancer because of the environmental changes we created in the atmosphere.

I apologize for those scientists who thought coming up with new ways to destroy humanity was a good use of their time.

I regret that we helped to redefine 'cool' from being an inner state of grace and rebellion to being an outward display of consumption and compliance.

I really feel remorse for having replaced movie plots with multiple explosions, and for using sexual attractiveness as a substitute for all other forms of talent. "

(thanks to Maireid Sullivan.)

Note: I particularly like the last two.



Actor Woody Harrelson has a great activist website with links to other actors who are very opposed to the Bush Administration and the Iraq Occupation. This is a good resource site and will lead you to many interesting things.

" One thing I learned long time ago is, as a celebrity, if you open your mouth when the flags are waving and the drums are beating, prepare for the consequences."

"The Nazis could not have pulled off their carnage without their propaganda machine. It is the same machinery at work here that has convinced a number of Americans that Saddam was directly responsible for 9/11."

"Dennis Kucinich recently informed me that this administration, after already bolstering the Pentagon budget to $400 billion, will push for $500 billion."

"Of course the people don't want war... that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials, 1946.

Complete Article: Woody



Sean Penn, who actually went to Iraq to see for himself, took out a full page ad in the New York Times. This is an beautiful letter if you haven't seen it before.

'Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to change them.'
St Augustine

"In short, we deserve the government we allow."

"Only five short years ago, September 12, 1998, I sat upon a wooden church pew as a military honour guard reached across my lap to place a precisely folded American flag into the stoic hands of my father's widow. His beloved wife of forty-one years . . . my mother. My dad, Leo Penn, had died from lung cancer at the age of 77. (The last time I saw my father was in a viewing casket on September 11th.) A decorated soldier in World War II and a blacklisted artist in the '50s, it was this cloth of Stars and Stripes and all it had meant to him, and had come to mean to me, that brought unexpected and unrestrained emotion."

" We all have different means. Be it a letter to a congressman, charity support, or a piece in the New York Times. But whatever our means, and imagination, we must speak. We must question. We must value ourselves, our integrity, out families, our hearts and the country my father and so many others served. And soon, we must do one more thing . . . we must vote." Sean



And, in case you haven't missed Tim Robbin's speech to the National Press Club, here it is again.

" I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the-magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target."

"As we applaud the hard-edged realism of the opening battle scene of 'Saving Private Ryan', we cringe at the thought of seeing the same on the nightly news. We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life. We demand that war be painstakingly realized on the screen, but that war remain imagined and conceptualised in real life."Tim



Ed Geron was, until recently, a television producer at CBS responsible for a four-part miniseries on Hitler's rise to power. He thought the timing was apt, and said so in an interview with TV Guide magazine. "It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war," he said. "I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now."

That was far too strong for Leslie Moonves, CBS's chief executive, who promptly fired him. No reasons were given, although politics and a strong desire not to fall foul of the Bush administration apparently had plenty to do with it. He writes about his experience:

" Mike Farrell, one-time star of Mash who is now one of the industry's most prominent liberal activists, sees a distinct political strategy at work. "The suggestion that Hollywood speaks with one voice is of course silly," he said, "but the perspective articulated consistently in the media, courtesy of the right wing, is that celebrities are taking advantage of their forum to spew left-wing views. What this is really about is stifling dissent on a national scale. It does not matter a whit whether we are celebrities or not. What galls them so much is that we have access to the media."
Ed Geron

(thanks to Anna Vidali)


Jessica Lynch's Story
(is turning 'into a monster' for the Bush administration)

Nov. 16, 2003

Pity the poor PR boys at the Pentagon. It may be hard, but try.

They thought they had it made:

A pretty, blonde soldier ambushed by the Iraqis, courageously firing until her ammo runs out, shot and stabbed and carried off by the enemy who, after taking time out to rape her, deposit her unconscious body in a hospital, where she is slapped around by evil medical staff, then, nine days later, is rescued in a daring, nighttime raid that is videotaped and can be shown repeatedly around the world and who, as soon as she recovers, will tell what it's like to be an all-American hero. It was a gift from the propaganda gods.

Just two problems: It didn't happen that way, and the designated hero, Pte. Jessica Lynch, refuses to say it did

Lynch is also a mite angry about the Pentagon's manipulation of events and can't seem to stop correcting the record.

She says she never got off a shot because her gun jammed. The Iraqi medical staff were kindness itself. She was out cold for three hours after her Humvee crashed in the grenade attack, so she doesn't remember any sexual assault. And shocked Iraqi doctors deny it.

As for the dramatic, Rambo-style hospital raid on April 1, she says there was no resistance, no Iraqi military in the hospital, and staff even offered the rescuers a key.

The Pentagon "used me to symbolize all this stuff," Lynch told a fawning Diane Sawyer on ABC last week. "It's wrong."

Yikes. Time for Plan B: It isn't our fault (full story)

Bill Moyer's Keynote Address to the National Conference on Media Reform

Bill Moyers
Founding Director, Public Affairs Television
President, The Schumann Center for Media and Democracy
November 8, 2003


". . .Yet today, despite plenty of lip service on every ritual occasion to freedom of the press radio and TV, three powerful forces are undermining that very freedom, damming the streams of significant public interest news that irrigate and nourish the flowering of self-determination. The first of these is the centuries-old reluctance of governments ­ even elected governments ­ to operate in the sunshine of disclosure and criticism. The second is more subtle and more recent. It's the tendency of media giants, operating on big-business principles, to exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic value. That is, to run what Edward R. Murrow forty-five years ago called broadcasting's "money-making machine" at full throttle. In so doing they are squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth; they are isolating serious coverage of public affairs into ever-dwindling "news holes" or far from prime- time; and they are gobbling up small and independent publications competing for the attention of the American people.

It's hardly a new or surprising story. But there are fresh and disturbing chapters.

In earlier times our governing bodies tried to squelch journalistic freedom with the blunt instruments of the law ­ padlocks for the presses and jail cells for outspoken editors and writers. Over time, with spectacular wartime exceptions, the courts and the Constitution struck those weapons out of their hands. But they've found new ones now, in the name of "national security." The classifier's Top Secret stamp, used indiscriminately, is as potent a silencer as a writ of arrest. And beyond what is officially labeled "secret" there hovers a culture of sealed official lips, opened only to favored media insiders: of government by leak and innuendo and spin, of misnamed "public information" offices that churn out blizzards of releases filled with self-justifying exaggerations and, occasionally, just plain damned lies. Censorship without officially appointed censors.

Add to that the censorship-by-omission of consolidated media empires digesting the bones of swallowed independents, and you've got a major shrinkage of the crucial information that thinking citizens can act upon. People saw that coming as long as a century ago when the rise of chain newspaper ownerships, and then of concentration in the young radio industry, became apparent. And so in the zesty progressivism of early New Deal days, the Federal Communications Act of 1934 was passed (more on this later.) The aim of that cornerstone of broadcast policy, mentioned over 100 times in its pages, was to promote the "public interest, convenience and necessity." The clear intent was to prevent a monopoly of commercial values from overwhelming democratic values ­ to assure that the official view of reality ­ corporate or government ­ was not the only view of reality that reached the people. Regulators and regulated, media and government were to keep a wary eye on each other, preserving those checks and balances that is the bulwark of our Constitutional order. . .

Which brings me to the third powerful force ­ beyond governmental secrecy and megamedia conglomerates ­ that is shaping what Americans see, read, and hear. I am talking now about that quasi-official partisan press ideologically linked to an authoritarian administration that in turn is the ally and agent of the most powerful interests in the world. This convergence dominates the marketplace of political ideas today in a phenomenon unique in our history. You need not harbor the notion of a vast, right wing conspiracy to think this more collusion more than pure coincidence. Conspiracy is unnecessary when ideology hungers for power and its many adherents swarm of their own accord to the same pot of honey. Stretching from the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to the faux news of Rupert Murdoch's empire to the nattering nabobs of no-nothing radio to a legion of think tanks paid for and bought by conglomerates ­ the religious, partisan and corporate right have raised a mighty megaphone for sectarian, economic, and political forces that aim to transform the egalitarian and democratic ideals embodied in our founding documents. Authoritarianism. With no strong opposition party to challenge such triumphalist hegemony, it is left to journalism to be democracy's best friend. That is why so many journalists joined with you in questioning Michael Powell's bid ­ blessed by the White House ­ to permit further concentration of media ownership. If free and independent journalism committed to telling the truth without fear or favor is suffocated, the oxygen goes out of democracy. . . " (Full Address)


Billboard Seen in Michigan

In the middle of a big black background, in smallish white lettering:

" From God . . . Don't Make Me Come Down There! "

(thanks to Andrew Clermont)

Ban on Same-Sex Marriage is Unconstitutional

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts' highest court ruled 4-3 Tuesday that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers 180 days to come up with a solution that would allow gay couples to wed. (story)


True Toilet Tales II

World Toilet Organisation

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Flushed with the success of making the island's lavatories among the cleanest in the world, a Singapore-based organization marked "World Toilet Day" on Wednesday with a call for more hygiene in public facilities.

"What we are trying to do is break the taboo over toilets," said Jack Sim, a founding member of the non-profit World Toilet Organization. Everybody talks about what goes into the body and no one talks about what comes out," he said.

Be a Toilet Ambassador

Here are 10 things that everybody can do. (ed:The notes are mine.)

1. Wipe clean the toilet seat before to ensure hygiene, and after use as a courtesy for the next toilet user.
(Note: Don't forget to wipe your butt, either, as a courtesy to your mama.)

2. If the toilet is not clean or well-maintained, tell the toilet owner.
(Note: If he's passed out in the cubicle next to you, pin a note to his shirt.)

3. Similarly if the toilet is well kept and maintained, praise the toilet owner for his efforts. Do more, tell it to everyone! (Note: McDonalds will generally let you use the intercom for this.)

4. Use half-flushes to save water, and don't forget to flush too.
(Note: On the other hand, make sure to use a double flush if the logging truck leaves a few behind.)

5. Give way to the old and disabled, and help them if possible.
(Note: I'll hold their canes for free - anything else is time and a half.)

6. Give suggestions to the toilet owner on how to make the toilet more cheerful and user-friendly.
(Note: A talking toilet bowl with George W Bush's voice might be an idea.)

7. Treat the public toilet you are in, as if its your own at home.
(Note: Junkies and crackheads disregard this one.)

8. Do not be seated for too long, as the next person using waiting outside was just as anxious as you were before. (Note: I don't know about you but I'm still anxious afterwards - especially if the Easter Bunny don't come.)

9. Keep the floor dry by wiping hands or using the hand dryer after washing.
(Note: If there's no toilet paper, the hand dryer can be substituted by doing a headstand.)

10. Tell the next person about World Toilet Day, and why its so important to carry out the nine things above. (Note: WORLD TOILET DAY. You gotta love it. Now excuse me, all that creative toilet talk: I have to go and drop a couple of King Kong's kids down at the pool. Or cast the grumly absentee ballot for Dubya - however you care to look at it.)

(thanks to John Jacobs)

100,000 Protesters March Through London

LONDON (Reuters) - Around 100,000 protesters marched through London and tore down a mock statue of visiting President Bush Thursday, many of them convinced his policies were to blame for anti-British bombs in Turkey.

Demonstrators of all ages beat drums and blew whistles along a 3-mile route that took them past parliament and the end of Downing Street, where crowds paused to jeer toward Prime Minister Tony Blair's office.

When they reached Trafalgar Square, protesters felled a 20-foot papier mache statue of Bush in a parody of the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein when U.S. troops swept into Baghdad. In its top pocket was a puppet with a grinning Blair face.

"Bush and Blair said they were fighting a war against terror to make the world a safer place for people," said Paul Burrows, 38, a university lecturer. "They haven't done that.. ." (story)

T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons . . .Your one-stop online shop for irreverant but POLITICALLY CORRECT gifts for Christmas.

Cooking Tips and Recipes

Some friends went out to a new restaurant and noticed that the waiter who took the order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange.

When the busboy brought water and utensils, the group noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. In fact, ALL the staff had spoons in their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve the soup, a member of the group asked, "Why the spoon"?

"Well", he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per
table per hour. If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."

As luck would have it, someone dropped my spoon and the waiter was able to replace it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to he kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now."

The group was impressed. But they also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, it appeared that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies.

So before he walked off, the waiter was asked, "Excuse me, but can you tell us why you have that string right there"? "Oh certainly"! Then he lowered his voice. "Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out without touching it
and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent."

"After you get it out, how do you put it back?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."
(thanks to Moonlight)

Two more Chef Ezard-inspired creations I've been enjoying lately:

Lemon and Lime Wrapped Garnish
1 lemon
1 lime
4 - 5 by 5 inch squares of muslin
4 pieces of transparent golden ribbon (or, for festive Italian occasions, use three pieces of red, green and white ribbon for each garnish

Try to find a lemon and lime that's approx. the same size.
Cut each into halves, then into quarters. Place one quarter of lemon next to one quarter of lime, to make a complete half again, (trim the bottom of the lemon if necessary to that they match up) and place the cut sides down onto a square of muslin. Fold the four corners of the muslin together and twist securely and tie with the decorative ribbon. This will hold the two quarters together and also keep the pips in. Use as a garnish for fish and chips, or anything requiring a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Makes four individual garnishes.


Crispy Sweet Potato and African Purple Potato Threads
1 Sweet Potato
1 Purple African Potato
peanut or safflower oil

Peel the skin away from both potatoes. With the potato peeler, peel off long thin pieces of the Sweet Potato. Then with a sharp knife, cut into very thin strips. Do the same with the African Purple Potato. Deep fry each of these vegetables one at a time until they are golden and drain on absorbent paper. Lightly salt. Use as a crunchy garnish with any number of things like fish, beef or Asian-style coriander and mint salads.

Coming Soon: My partner Lin, is in the mountains near Hanoi, North Vietnam, doing some silk trading, and finishing up her next wonderful novel. She told me that she just had a personal cooking lesson from one of Hanoi's masters of that great Vietnamese beef soup, Pho, so when she gets back, I'll pass the recipe on to y'all.


Throw Yourself Like Seed

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit
sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
that brushes your heel as it turns going by,
the one who wants to live is the one in whom life is abundant.  

Now you are only giving food to that final pain
which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,
but to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts
is the work; start then, turn to the work.
Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,
don't turn your face for that would be to turn it to death,
and do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave what's alive in the furrow, what's dead in yourself,
for life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;
from your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.

~ Miguel De Unamuno ~
(from Roots and Wings, edited and translated by Robert Bly)