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October 11th, 2003

Truth, Justice and the AMERICANA Way

"It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial
repositories, put together well after the languages they
define. The roots of language are irrational and of a
magical nature."

-
Jorge Luis Borges, Prologue to "El otro, el mismo."

 

 

Bad Froggie

Hello folks,

A lot of Americanos are still angry at France for not supporting the invasion of Iraq - and in many restaurants (in the Stupid States) they have even changed the names of French Fries and French Toast - to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast. But why stop there?

French Letter = Freedom Letter
French Poodle = Freedom Poodle
French Kiss = Freedom Kiss
French Dressing = Freedom Dressing
French Language = Freedom Language
Pardon My French = Pardon My Freedom
Frogs Legs = Freedom Legs (
well, maybe that's stretching it. boom boom.)

But, ergo sum:

French People = Freedom People.

French - O.E. frencisc "of the Franks" (see frank). Euphemistic meaning "bad language" (pardon my French) is from 1895. Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex. French fries is 1918 Amer. Eng., from French fried potatoes (1894, first attested in O. Henry); French dressing first recorded 1900; French toast is from 1660. French letter "condom" (c.1856), French (v.) "perform oral sex on" (c.1917) and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in French novel. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent.

 

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AMERICAN HISTORY 101

I've been re-visiting my early American History, mainly due to two excellent DVDs, which I received from the overseas: 'The Crossing' and 'Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honour'.

I may have mentioned 'The Crossing,' with Jeff Daniels, as General George Washington, in a previous newsletter, but I'd like to mention it again. It is the stirring story of Washington's incredible and against-odds victory against the German Hessian mercenary garrison, achieved by a unexpected night crossing of the Delaware River. An inspiring movie.

I just saw 'Benedict Arnold,' starring Aidan Quinn, this week. I was taught in school that Benedict Arnold was the ultimate traitor - his name practically synonymous with the word - but what no one bothered to mention was that he fought 17 personal duels and, more importantly, until he defected, was a great American war hero, a courageous and fearless Patriot, initiating the awesome key victory at Saratoga, on his own initiative, against orders, resulting in the capture of 5000 British troops, and being wounded severely himself. After this victory, France declared it would publicly support American Independence (as it had already been covertly supplying arms to the American Revolutionary Army for almost four years. Freedom Fries, my butt!) Unfortunately, due to a series of tragic and painful-to-watch misguided decisions on Benedict Arnold's part, he later was to switch sides and support the British, influenced somewhat by his devotion and marriage to his British Loyalist wife. Up to that point, he had been General Washington's right hand man and, had he been killed at Saratoga, instead of seriously wounded, he would have gone down in history as one of America's greatest heroes. ('There but for Fortune go you or I . . . . .') Some historians also believe that Arnold's defection, ironically, was the galvanizing force that finally and irrevocably united the Colonies against the British.

A little background:
Chronology Leading to the Battle of Long Island
(from: The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence, edited by John Rhodehamel.)

" 1776. Congress votes on July 2 to sever all political ties with Great Britain and on July 4 adopts a revised version of the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Silas Deane, the agent appointed by Congress to purchase military supplies in Europe, arrives in Paris on July 7th and begins working with Beaumarchais on clandestine arms shipments. American troops retreating from Canada reach Fort Ticonderoga in early July as Carleton begins building boats to transport his army south on Lake Champlain. Congress begins debating Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union drafted by John Dickinson, July 22. British troops on Staten Island total 32,000 by mid-August, including 8,000 Hessians, facing 19,000 Continental soldiers and state Militia. Howe begins landing troops at Gravesend Bay on Eastern end of Long Island. August 22, and orders attack on American lines on August 27. Americans lose 1400 men killed or captured in the battle of Long Island (fought in present day Brooklyn) and are forced to retreat behind their fortified lines on Brooklyn Heights. Washington withdraws 9,000 men from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan on night of August 29-30. British successfully land at Kips Bay on the east side of Manhattan on September 15, but fail to block northward retreat of 5000 Americans along the west side of the Island. Americans take up positions on Harlem Heights in northern Manhattan as British occupy New York City."

Four years later, in an evocative letter to his English commander, and soon after he had switched allegiance, Benedict Arnold gives a lucid appraisal of the state of the Colonial forces -

A Report on the Continental Army
(Excerpts: From Benedict Arnold to Lord Germain.)

"The Present State of the American Rebel Army, Navy and Finances, with some Remarks:

The present operating Force under the immediate Command of General Washington as stated by himself to a Council of general Officers amounts to . . . . . . 10,400 men.
One Battalion of Continental troops at Rhode Island...................500
Two State Regiments of Continental Militia at North Castle..........500
TOTAL....... 11,400

About one half of these Troops are Militia, whose time of service expires on the first day of January next, which will reduce the Army engaged for the war to less than Six Thousand men, exclusive of the Troops in the Southern Department under General Gates, who may amount to a thousand regular troops; about 350 Light Horse are included in the above calculation. All these troops are illy clad, badly fed, and worse paid having in general two or three years pay due to them. Many of the best officers of the Army have resigned, and others are daily following their Example, through Disgust, necessity, and a Conviction that the Provinces will not be able to Establish their Independence.
There has long subsisted a Jealousy between Congress and the Army. the former have been Jealous of the Power of the latter, and the latter have thought themselves neglected and ill treated by the former, who have excluded the Army from every Appointment of honor, or profit in the Civil Line.
The Navy is reduced to three Frigates and a few small vessels who are generally in Port for want of hands to man them.
The Treasury is entirely empty and the finances are at the lowest Ebb. The Public debt inclusive of Paper emitted by Congress and the Colonies amount to upwards of Four Hundred Million of Paper Dollars.
I have forgotten to mention that the want of provision in the Army is not owing to the Scarcity of Provision in the country, But to the weakness of the Usurpation in every Colony by Force and Terror, wherever the Army are they take without opposition. But this force acts against Itself by Creating internal Enemies and by making Friends to Great Britain, It is One of the Principal Saps hourly undermining the Strength of the Rebellion. "
New York 7th October 1780

(Here is another article I published in my July 4th newsletter but it is also worth reading again in this context.)

What happened to the 56 men who signed the United States Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.  Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his Ships swept from the seas by the British Navy.  He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.  He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding.  His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.  The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children fled for their lives.  His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste.  For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. " 
(thanks to Bob Komniey)

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Michael Moore's New Book, "Dude, Where's My Country?," No. 1 on New York Times Best Seller List

Message from Mike re: Arnold Swarzenegger's California victory:

"In the meantime, don't be depressed about Arnold. The people are pissed off and they have every right to be. They are in a "removal" mood. That is a good thing. As soon as we do our work to inform our friends and neighbors how Bush has wrecked the country, the economy and our standing in the world, they will be more than ready for "Terminator IV: Hasta La Vista Bush." And, please, let this be the end of wimpy, wishy-washy Democrats like Gray Davis who are really Republicans. The American public hates b.s. and hates fakes. We -- you -- need to think about getting people to run for office who STAND for something."michaelmoore.com

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IRAQ TIME

"So, ten years from now, when they still haven't found any WMDs, will they still be saying that they need more time to find them?  If time is all that was needed, why didn't they give the UN inspectors more time, before they killed 10,000 people?"- Carol Kaye - Make Them Accountable

 

Please find below Australian Senator Lyn Allison's (Victoria) latest speech on Iraq made in the Senate yesterday, I also attach a question on notice given almost six months ago again seeking clarification from the Government as to why the decision was made to go to war.


Senator ALLISON (Victoria) (4.45 p.m.) -

" I rise to lend the support of the Democrats to this censure motion and to the amendment moved by Senator Faulkner. There would be few Australians who would not agree that we have been lied to over the pre-emptive attack on Iraq. I will not even call it a war because it was hardly that. It was Australia joining the United States and the UK on the world stage in attacking another country. We were told that this attack on Iraq was absolutely essential. Already, there have been a number of quotes drawn on in this debate of what the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs said in the lead-up to this attack on Iraq. It is quite possible, of course, that our Prime Minister and our Minister for Foreign Affairs were also lied to. I accept that this is a strong possibility. That makes it no less irresponsible of this government to have taken us to this pre-emptive attack on another country. Obviously, so keen were they to join the United States on the world stage and to strut their stuff that I, quite frankly, believe the government did not care. They were willing to suspend rationale. The obvious evidence that was available to everyone in this country was put aside. The government chose to go into this attack with its eyes open to some extent but also hiding behind a lot of suggestions that the information was within the jurisdiction of the US administration but, of course, we could not be told about it precisely. I will go to some of the quotes that we heard from those who took us into this attack. In May this year, the Prime Minister said: Well Australia supported military action against Iraq for a number of reasons, particularly the possession of weapons of mass destruction.
I'm sure evidence of that will be found, it will take time. This is like a leap of faith that we are all expected to join the Prime Minister in taking. For some reason we believe they are there. We do not know why we believe this, but we believe they are there and we are sure
they will be found. In September last year, Mr Downer said: Since 1998 and the departure of the UN inspectors, there has been an accumulation of intelligence information from a range of human and technical sources pointing to Saddam Hussein having continued or
stepped up his weapons of mass destruction programs. Again, there was absolutely no evidence and now we know that not to be the case. In September last year, Mr Downer also said: The point is that I think that the central point here is, I think that this document produced by the British Labour Government puts beyond any question, the fact that Saddam Hussein does have a chemical and biological weapons capability. How silly does Mr Downer look having said back in September, 'puts beyond any question'? I do not think there is any doubt that that lie was to reassure Australians that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Mr Acting Deputy President, you are frowning at me. You obviously do not like me calling that a lie but I cannot see anything that can suggest that it was not a lie. Mr Downer answered this question from Barrie Cassidy: Minister, you mentioned the weapons of mass destruction, but how long does the Coalition need to search for these weapons of mass destruction without success before it can be assumed that they don't exist?

Senator Kemp -Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order.There was the use of an unparliamentary term referring to Mr Downer purporting to lie. I do not think it is parliamentary. It has always been ruled to be unparliamentary and it should be withdrawn.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lightfoot)-If that was unparliamentary, Senator Allison, I invite you to withdraw it on the two occasions that you have mentioned it.

Senator ALLISON -If that was unparliamentary, as it appears to be, then I unequivocally withdraw the word `lie'. In answer to Barrie Cassidy, Mr Downer said:
Well, I don't think there's any doubt that they exist. I mean, after all, Saddam Hussein, we all know, used weapons of mass destruction on a number of occasions, including against his own people. Nobody has really doubted that such capabilities exist but nobody also has had any illusions it will take a lot of time to try to find these capabilities. It is fairly clear to those who listened to this debate that if you had to admit that it was going to take a long time to try to find weapons of mass destruction capabilities then you did not know where they were. The intelligence did not stretch to us knowing precisely where they were.
It is a strange kind of suggestion for the government to make: they know that they are there but they do not know where they are and they do not know how to find them-but we have the intelligence, of course, that tells us otherwise. The Democrats have put some hundreds of questions to the government on this very subject over the last few months. Some of them have been answered; most of them have been avoided or evaded in terms of a response from the government. Nonetheless, we have done this because, since the public were not being told the truth here and were not being given the evidence that the government claimed it had, we felt it was important that those questions should be put. Some of those questions are yet to be answered. I will go through some of them which I put on notice on 22 April. I said: With reference to a claim made by the Prime Minister before the war that only the threat of force by the United States of America (US) allowed the United Nations Monitorings Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) weapons inspectors back into Iraq- the Prime Minister said that it was only the threat of force that put them back- and given that it was the threat of force by Washington which pulled the weapons inspectors out of Iraq in March 2003 before they could complete their work- which had been conveniently glossed over by this government and in the debate at the time- does the Prime Minister now concede that the threat of force failed again to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction? The Prime Minister has never conceded this. I asked: What is the government's response to the claim of the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr Blix, that the US was guilty of `fabricating' evidence against Iraq to justify the war, and his belief that the discovery of weapons of mass destruction had been replaced by the main objective of the US of toppling Saddam Hussein? Again, that was not answered. I further asked: With reference to claims made by the Prime Minister before the war that there was no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that this was the primary reason for Australia's participation in the 'coalition of the willing', what is the Prime Minister's position now that, even after the collapse of the regime in Baghdad, no weapons of mass destruction have been found despite United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's claim to know where they are? The Prime Minister said to us that regime change-and we have all heard a lot in this chamber about the Saddam Hussein regime-was only a secondary concern for Australia. So the primary concern, supposedly weapons of mass destruction, turned out not to be the primary justification for war after all. The Prime Minister claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein could not be contained or deterred. I asked: ... what is the government's analysis of why they were not used in the regime's terminal hours against the invading US, United Kingdom and Australian forces? If Saddam Hussein had such weapons-and it seems clear that he did not-why would he not use them in response to what was a pretty decisive attack on Baghdad and other parts of Iraq? I asked whether the Prime Minister now regretted saying before the war that Saddam Hussein could stay on in power provided he got rid of his weapons of mass destruction. Again there was no answer to this question.
The Prime Minister has changed his position many times on this issue to justify taking this country into a war zone and taking part in an attack on a country which killed thousands of civilians. The Prime Minister started by saying that if Saddam Hussein would just comply with weapons inspections and get rid of his weapons of mass destruction then he could stay on. Then suddenly we were convinced that any 45 minutes from now there could be an attack on any other country and that biological, chemical and nuclear weapons might be used. Then we moved to the position which ultimately we went to the war on: we needed to get rid of this regime because of the way they treated their own citizens. Just in the last 24 hours or so, questions have been raised about the evidence which has been found-that is, the test tube of botulinum which was presented by Washington and London as evidence of Saddam Hussein's development and concealment of weapons of mass destruction. This test tube was found in an Iraqi scientist's home refrigerator where it has been for 10 years. That information came out just yesterday. David Kay, the expert appointed by the CIA to lead the hunt for weapons, told a congressional committee last week that the vial of botulinum had been hidden in the scientist's home and could be used to covertly surge
production of deadly weapons. Since that time the discovery of the vial has been at the heart of the debate over prewar claims that Iraq had an arsenal of banned weapons. This was cited in justifications of the invasion by President Bush and by Britain's Foreign Secretary, who described this toxin as 15,000 times more toxic than the nerve Agent VX. Mr Straw claimed, after the report came out, that it presented further conclusive and incontrovertible evidence that Saddam had been in breach of the UN resolutions, how dangerous and deceitful the regime was, and that the military action was both justified and essential to remove the dangers. Now we know that the scientist had been asked to hide the botulinum in his refrigerator at home in 1993. So it is hardly likely that this was the basis of a huge capability of Iraq to produce this biological substance. Since the war we have had the situation where enormous amounts of money have had to be poured in to fix up the mess that has been left behind in Iraq. The White House has ordered a major reorganisation of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed up the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials. This is news as of yesterday. The new effort includes the creation of a so-called Iraq stabilisation group, $20 billion being required by the Bush administration for reconstruction and $67 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are seeing here a legacy of unrest and violence, and a destroyed country that has recently been described by a US army physicist as a toxic wasteland. There is so much depleted uranium and there are so many chemical materials in Iraq-not from weapons of mass destruction but because of the damage which has been done to various chemical facilities in industry-that this is not a safe place for anyone to live. I think we have been misled, both in this place and more publicly. While all of this has been going on, we have also seen the United States step up its own weapons of mass destruction. On 7 August US government scientists and Pentagon officials gathered at Nebraska Air Force Base to discuss the development of a modernised arsenal of small, specialised nuclear weapons. According to the New York Times of 3 August 2003: The Pentagon believes that more than 70 nations, big and small, now have some 1,400 underground command posts and sites for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. It further says that it wants to: ... develop a class of relatively small nuclear weapons ... that could pierce rock and reinforced concrete and turn strongholds into radioactive dust. "With an effective earth penetrator, many buried targets could be attacked," the administration said in its Nuclear Posture Review, which it sent to Congress last year. Back in April the United States produced a weapons grade plutonium pit, the core of a fission bomb, for the first time in 14 years. According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory: .. the move restores the nation's ability to make nuclear weapons and was needed so the Energy Department could replace pits found unsafe or destroyed through regular check-ups. So, on the one hand, we have joined the United States in chasing some non-existent weapons of mass destruction and, in the meantime, the United States has pursued its own nuclear agenda with great gusto and at great cost. I think that it is very likely that we are going to see some of those nuclear weapons tested in the United States and, by all accounts, some of those bunker-busters will need to be atmospheric. According to reports that I have read, it is completely unfeasible to test them underground. We are now back in the realm of nuclear development, facing what I think is the very frightening prospect of nuclear weapons proliferation around the world-because it will not just stop with America. America is certainly a superpower and has a great deal more resources than any other country, and this is a very serious situation we are currently facing with America being reluctant to contain its own development of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We are going to see a backlash in both the Middle East and around the rest of the world. All in all, the attack on Iraq has been a gross failure. It has failed to stop terrorism; it has failed to stop the proliferation of weapons. It has destroyed a country and there is no end in sight to the unrest and the mess that has been left behind there. The United States would like the United Nations to come in and help clean up that mess but I sincerely hope that the United States are not going to be relieved of the responsibility that they have towards that country. I think Australia should accept some of that responsibility as well because we have joined the United States on the basis of something which has not been proved and which cannot clearly be proved. I think it is a sorry part of Australia's history and it is a great pity that our government was not prepared to listen to its parliament and was not prepared to bring to this place the decision to go to war, because it is quite clear that it would have been defeated. Many of us on this side of the chamber have spoken at length about why this was an ill-conceived war and why we would be left with the kind of mess that we currently are left with. The Democrats are pleased to support this censure motion. I think that, if we have not seen good sense come out of the government over this issue-that is, if we have not seen honesty or clear answers provided to the many questions that have been put about why we went with the US to this attack-it has not been for want of trying in this place. I think the government should take
far more heed in the future of the kind of debate that the Senate has typically had over this kind of action.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION PLEASE FIND COPY OF MY QUESTION BELOW:


Q 1403 asked to Prime Minister on 22/04/2003 regarding Foreign Affairs-Iraq almost six months lapsed QUESTION To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister-
(1) With reference to a claim made by the Prime Minister before the war that only the threat of force by the United States of America (US) allowed the United Nations Monitorings Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) weapons inspectors back into Iraq, and given that it was the threat of force by Washington which pulled the weapons inspectors out of Iraq in March 2003 before they could complete their work (as in December 1998), does the Prime Minister now concede that the threat of force failed again to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
(2) What is the Government's response to the claim of the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr Blix, that the US was guilty of 'fabricating' evidence against Iraq to justify the war, and his belief that the discovery of weapons of mass destruction had been replaced by the main objective of the US of toppling Saddam Hussein (The Guardian, 12 April 2003).
(3) With reference to claims made by the Prime Minister before the war that there was no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that that this was the primary reason for Australia's participation in the 'coalition of the willing', what is the Prime Minister's position now that, even after the collapse of the regime in Baghdad, no weapons of mass destruction have been found despite United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's claim to know where they are.
(4) Given the Prime Minister's statements that 'regime change' was only a secondary concern for Australia, does the Government agree that the primary justification for the war may prove to be a lie.
(5) If, as the Prime Minister repeatedly claimed, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein could not be contained or deterred, what is the Government's analysis of why they were not used in the regime's terminal hours against the invading US, United Kingdom and Australian forces.
(6) With reference to the Prime Minister's argument that stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction was a primary motive for Australia's participation in a war against Iraq: (a) is the Government concerned that one of the direct effects of the war may be the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to third parties, including other so called 'rogue states' and possibly terrorist groups, and (b) what analysis has the Government done of this likelihood, and (c) can details be provided.
(7) Does the Prime Minister now regret saying just before the war (at the National Press Club and elsewhere) that Saddam Hussein could stay on in power providing he got rid of his weapons of mass destruction, thus allowing him to continue the repression of Iraqis; if
so, what circumstances altered the Prime Minister's view. "
Senator L. Allison Website
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HUMOUR

AMERICANA I

from: The Carnival of Tiny Stories
by Edward Martin III

Try a Boy
Ernie had good intentions when he marched in Seattle's Gay Pride Parade with a shirt reading "Try a boy on for size!" He walked with his gay male friends. Everything was great until he became confused and ended up in a section of weightlifting dykes. He learned then he couldn't eat a whole cotton shirt. The End.

Burying Charlie
Charlie's five friends were small and weak, so no one of them could carry his body across the jagged lava field and hurl it into a volcano in accordance with his Will. However, he had already arranged for backpacks and surgical saws, so he could rest in peace and they had an easy walk back. The End.

Boyish Figure
She was a skinny girl and it vexed her mightily. The boys tended toward fluffy headed buxom women, not women who reminded them of young boys. But her intelligence proved an asset when the Aliens came for mates. Afterward, she and the other boyish girls (who had disguised themselves as boys) were very popular. The End.

The Lone Monkey
The lonely monkey needed a tribe. At nights he wept inconsolably and during the day he wailed alone in the ancient ruins. When he discovered the mirror, he was happy to have a buddy (he wasn't a smart monkey), but it was only when he broke the mirror that he finally found a whole tribe. The End.

(a lot more!)

 

AMERICANA II

Diaper Pail Friends

Adult baby store for adults who enjoy wearing diapers, plastic pants, rubber pants and other big baby clothing, plus videos, audio tapes, hypnotic tapes, stories, books and lots more.

Diaper Club for adult babies (AB) and diaper lovers (DL) who enjoy diaper fetish, adult diapers, adult baby clothes, plastic pants, infantilism. Also rubber pants, disposable diapers, pacifiers, sleepers, bodysuits, bedwetter pants, and other big baby clothing. We also enjoy playing Adult Baby games, and meeting other adults through our classified ads (Roster). We have live conferences, chat rooms and a private online club. We publish a Newsletter and sponsor Worldwide Parties. Our online store sells diapers, plastic pants, big baby clothes, videos, audio tapes, hypnotic tapes, stories, photos and lots more. If you love diapers or being an adult baby, this is THE place for you! (more)

AMERICANA III

The Museum of Menstruation
Roadside America

It's in the panel-finished half-basement of a one-story brick home on the outskirts of Washington DC, just a mile or so off the eastern curve of the 495 Beltway. The neighbors know about the museum, but have never visited. In fact, they politely never mention it in conversation with its founder and curator.

He is one Harry Finley, a calm 50-ish bachelor, who lives in the home above. He greets us in the driveway with a big smile; we called ahead (only open on weekends by appointment).

Harry leads us down the narrow basement stairs, where our first sight is a number of "lower trunk" mannequins hanging from cords. They slowly twist, modeling menstrual attire through the ages. Our host mesmerizes us for a good hour with all manner of feminine hygiene lore and minutia. He is as enthusiastic as any fervent collector we have met.

Harry started the museum in 1995, an outgrowth of a collection he started years earlier in Europe. While posted in Germany as a graphic designer for the US government, Harry researched print ad layouts. Among the thousands he accumulated, he became keenly interested in Kotex and menstrual product ads.

We move to a wall of appliances, and a table full of washable pads and assorted knickknack's. A can of snack food catches our eye. Harry explains. "That's PMS Crunch, from the Time of the Month company - a combination of goodies which will help assuage the pains and discomforts of menstruation." Another wall features drawings and documents from the History of Menstruation, including a horrid 1867 invention involving metal and wires, "patented by a man."

Harry uses a scholarly and meticulous approach for a collection that is admittedly controversial - some of his relatives are still upset. He claims nearly 95% of his visitors are "very intelligent women," but they usually have a man in tow, who stands around looking out of place, nervous. (complete story)

AMERICANA IV

Ghettopoly
By BILL BERGSTROM, Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA - Cheap Trick Avenue instead of Boardwalk? Hernando's Chop Shop instead of Reading Railroad?

Black leaders are outraged over a new board game called "Ghettopoly" that has "playas" acting like pimps and game cards reading, "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50." (more)

AMERICANA V

Goliath Casket of Lynn

Perhaps nowhere is the issue of obesity in America more vividly illustrated than at Goliath Casket of Lynn, Ind., speciality manufacturers of oversize coffins.

There, one can see a triple-wide coffin -- 44 inches across, compared with 24 inches for a standard model. With extra bracing, reinforced hinges and handles, the triple-wide is designed to handle 700 pounds without losing what the euphemism-happy funeral industry calls its "integrity."(more)

Which naturally segues right into:

 

JOSEF, the COOKING CHANNEL

Close your eyes and join hands with me while we once again allow the entity known only as 'Josef' to take possession of my body and bring you culinary wisdom from ages long forgotten . . . . (cut to eerie music . .)

Ezard@Adelphi

I took my partner to Ezard at Adelphi Restaurant, in Melbourne, for her birthday. We are still recovering two days later. I ordered the 8 course degustation tasting menu, with 8 different wines, and 8 different tasting desserts. All I can say, as words cannot do the experience justice, is that it was transcendental and good thing I arranged taxi transportation home, as I was completely degusted and a little walking-challenged after the three hour meal. The 8 basic courses were as follows:

Japanese inspired oyster shooter with mirin, wasabi, tamari and seaweed, green tea soba rolls.
Demi tasse of spicy thai fish soup with rice noodles, prawn, steamed shellfish and asian herbs
Kingfish tataki with ginger and black bean dressing, cucumber oil, crispy shiso leaf and asian cress salad.
Asparagus, witlof and persian fetta salad with soft quail egg, hazelnuts and truffle oil.
Oxtail wonton dumpling with sweet and sour tamarind broth, lime, chilli and shaved coconut.
Five spiced roast pork belly with shredded apple and coriander salad, green ginger wine glaze.
Chinese style roast duck with shaosang wine dressing, pickled shitake mushrooms and steamed rice noodle roll.
Blood orange and aperol sorbet with pistachio wafer, crème fraiche and blood orange caramel.

Teage Ezard is a true 3-chef hat maestro and deserving of his reputation. And he is willing to share his knowledge and secrets. I recommend going to his website and signing up for the newsletter. Also there are 7 downloadable issues with recipes and tips, a little culinary philosophy, and news. Also, you can order his signed cookbook. (I just did!)

Here's a little of his writing on the Art:

Five flavour groups

" The five flavour groups in food are hot, sweet, sour, salt and bitter. At least one, and usually more, of these flavours are in all foods, ready to alert our senses and tastebuds. The cornerstone of good cooking is first introducing these flavours into dishes, followed by a purposeful execution of fine balance.

In many Asian cuisines this is the fundamental key to the preparation of dishes, relying on fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables as a natural form of spice and flavour additive instead of processed dried herbs and spices which are more commonly used elsewhere. This intelligent form of cooking uses natural sweeteners such as sugar in rock form, instead of refined manufactured varieties; salt comes from fish or soy sauce; sour flavour is sourced from citrus juice such as lime or fresh tamarind, (a common plant in South East Asia ); red chillies provide heat; and bitter flavours are achieved with the addition of grated rind, herbs such as mint or bitter greens like endive. "

MASTER STOCK

" In traditional China it is not common to see a master stock passed down from generation. This stock can be used over and over again if a simple few rules are followed. Use only chicken for chicken and duck for duck and pork for pork. Never mix meats in different stocks otherwise you run the risk of cross contamination. When you have finished with your stock, simply bring it back to the boil, skim it, strain it into a clean container let it cool at room temperature and then refrigerate or freeze the stock until the next time. "
ezard.com.au
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Yet and still, after a food holiday away from home, it always feels comforting to get back to grandma's good old simple Italian peasant fare:

Black Olives with Rosemary and Garlic Oil Appetiser

4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves, and each clove cut in half
olive oil
a few slices of fresh red chilli
black olives
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Next time you buy garlic, buy an extra bulb or two for this.
Heat up 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan, and add the garlic and rosemary springs.
Fry until the garlic is soft and golden and the rosemary is almost crisp. Do not burn the garlic.
Turn the pan into a bowl and add the chilli, salt and pepper to taste and fresh cold pressed olive oil to top up. Mash a couple of the cloves of garlic into the oil to add more flavour. Add the olives. Stir well and let settle for about an hour.
Serve this with fresh ciabatta bread. (Careful! This is addictive.)

 

BACALLA ALLA PISANA
(variation with potatoes)

Ingredients:

4 fillets of bacalla, cut into about 4 inch pieces
1 medium-sized onion, minced
4 large potatoes, cut into quarters or big chunks
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon tomato paste
I cup warm water
half dozen black olives
Handful of salted capers
1/4 cup olive oil
flour for dredging
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1/2 hot red chile, minced
1 table garlic, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste

Method:

Soak the bacalla for 24 hours in three changes of water to remove most of the salt, drain and cut into pieces.

Flour the bacalla fillets lightly. Heat the olive oil until smoking in a oven proof pan and brown the fish on both sides, then remove to a dish. Mix the tomato paste with the warm water.

Sauté the minced onion in the oil in the pot. When the onions have softened, add the olives, capers, garlic and chilli, and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine and cook for about five minutes. , stir in the tomato paste mixture. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and parsley and stir. Place the fish on the top, cover and and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how you like your potatoes. I go for a little resistant to the tooth, so 45 minutes.

Serve this with steamed brussel sprouts and butter, chunks of fresh buttered ciabatta to soak up the juice, a salad made of just Radicchio leaves tossed with oil and vinegar, and either red or white wine, as you prefer.

Serves 2-3
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Two Ways of Looking at the Truth

"Searching for truth is like searching in a pitch dark room for a black cat that isn't there.'
Soren Kierkegaard

 

" Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; you may kick it around all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening."
Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes


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