21 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, Turkeys!!!!

This pair of Thanksgiving-themed YouTube videos, "Be Thankful You Are Not A Turkey" and "Turkey Attack" were originally posted, or re-posted, by my MySpace friend Cheryl in a pair of her bulletins yesterday.

Re-posted 'em as bulletins myself yesterday, and, to-night, am placing 'em here for y'all to see.

Hope you like 'em, and Happy Thanksgiving, Thanks For Givin', or Thanks Fer Nuthin', depending on what you think of the holiday.

Be seeing you.

19 November 2007

Video: "Why Your Dog Really Goes Outside"

Saw this in a MySpace bulletin post, or rather, re-post, by my friend Cheryl, and enjoyed it so much that I re-posted it as a bulletin and a blog entry in my MySpace blog, and am reproducing it here as well, for your possible delectation and amusement.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Be seeing you.
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Cheryl
Date: Nov 19, 2007 5:17 PM

14 November 2007

Grapes, Cocoa Mulch, And Other Items That Can Poison Your Pets

Got this message fowarded to me to-day by a friend of mine, and thought, especially for those of you out there who've pets, that this would well be worth passing on this bit of info about.

Please also see the following web pages on this and similar subjects at http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/raisins.asp, http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp,http://www.thepetcenter.com/wai/poi_PP.html,
and http://www.aspca.org/site/DocServer/grapes.pdf?docID=189, for further information on common foods and household items that can poison your animal companions.

Enough from me. The message's below, and be seeing you.

Subject: Fwd: Must Read for All Dog Owners!!!!

Onions, chocolate, cocoa, MACADAMIA NUTS, RAISINS........can all be fatal to dogs.PLs read story below......and remember, for those of you working at Beck Bldg Co, Kevin's dog died the same way!

If you have a dog or know someone with a dog... PLEASE read this and send it on.

Written by: Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville , Ohio

This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1AM on Wednesday but the owner didn't call my emergency service until 7AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn't seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet, and the doctor there was like me - had heard something about it, but.... Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give I V fluids at 1 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.

The dog's BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine! over 5 ( 1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At the point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn't control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220.. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to

This is a very sad case - great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk. Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler's. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern.
Onions, chocolate, cocoa and macadamia nuts can be fatal, too.

Even if you don't have a dog, you might have friends who do. This is worth passing on to them.
Confirmation from Snopes about the above...http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/raisins.asp

12 November 2007

On Killing A Bird

About ten minutes ago, I killed a bird, don't know the species or sub-species thereof, not more than a few yards from where am writing this.


Because, from its motions and actions, I could tell that it had ingested some of the poison that the employees of a local Mexican supermarket just south of me had laid out for the local pigeons, and had seen some of the same actions and motions displayed by some of those same pigeons as they lay dying in parts of my condo complex.

Whatever sort of poison the poor bird ingested, it was in agony.

At the time, was walking back and forth to the dumpster to put various bits of trash in it, and saw the poor thing struggling.

Originally, was going to wait until it died, then put it in a plastic bag and put it in the dumpster.

But, with each trip I made, I saw that, however much it'd stopped moving from time to time, it was still alive and in agony.

It was after either the fourth or fifth trip, I believe, that I decided that I would have to end its misery and life, so that it wouldn't suffer any further than it already had.

So, I got a plastic bag, went over to where it lay, and tried breaking its neck, the first couple of times by grabbing its beak and twisting its little head all the way 'round counter-clockwise, then once by pulling up on its beak, bending the head in all the way towards the bird's body.

No dice. Must not have been doing it hard enough.

Was never trained for this, as I didn't grow up on a farm and learn how to twist chickens' necks, so, yeah, I did it badly and undoubtedly increased the poor creature's fear and suffering exponentially.

There were times I looked down upon the bird, it looked up at me, our eyes met, and I apologised to it for what I was doing to it.

Stupid??? Perhaps.

But, it was a living being, already in great pain, and then to have something far larger than itself come along and ineptly try to kill it, was perhaps the final injury and insult added on to the ones it had already received.

An apology is the very LEAST I could have done for it under the circumstances.

Anyhow, finally resolved to get a kitchen knife and cut off its head, rather than try and break its neck any more.

So, I went back to my place, got a kitchen knife out of the dishwasher, walked over to the bird, and, after placing the plastic bag I'd with me all this time over its head, began sawing away at its neck.

Sure enough, within 15-30 seconds of doing that, the bird was dead. Knew this because I'd stopped when it stopped moving to see.

Put the plastic bag over its corpse, not fully decapitated, by the way, and, apologising to it for the undignified death and burial it had undergone, and was about to undergo, I placed it as gently as I could in the dumpster.

Death is never easy to endure nor watch, whatever form it takes, nor is it as easy to inflict,whether on a bird, other animal or human, as some might think it is.

Perhaps, for them, it is.

Not for me.

The main regrets I have are two, the first being that I so badly botched euthanising the bird as I did. His death should have been quick and clean, but, thanks to my lack of training and inexperience in this matter, it was harder than it had to be for the bird.

The second is that the bird even got close to the poison laid out by the supermarket's employees.

This has been going on for at least two years now, and has got to stop, or be stopped.

Will have to speak to Animal Control and the Humane Society about this.

In the meantime, may the bird rest in peace. It surely deserves it after the kind of inconsiderate and ineptly handled poisoning and death it got.

Be seeing you.

10 November 2007

YouTube Cat Videos: "When Cats Attack" and "When Cats Attack Again"

Here's a pair of YouTube cat videos from "Saintjef", "When Cats Attack" and its sequel, "When Cats Attack Again", both of which feature the same feline protagonist.

Won't say anything more about her or the rest of the videos' contents. Just see and hear for yourselves.

Be seeing you.

08 November 2007

YouTube Satirical Clip: "Pat The Postman"

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Rock Angel
Date: Nov 8, 2007 1:40 PM
Courtesy of my MySpace friend Rock Angel comes this YouTube satire of a British children's show, "Pat The Postman", with voice track suitably altered.

Hadn't seen an episode of the show before in my life, before seeing this, and it made me laugh my arse off.

Hope it does the same for you.

Be seeing you.

From: Hil
Date: 08 Nov 2007, 21:19

From: ₪۩Ðд®яeй۩₪
Date: 08 Nov 2007, 10:57

07 November 2007

Finnish School Shooting Article: 8 Dead, Including Shooter.

For those of you out there who wonder why the Hell I make some of the loopy posts I do, like the last two before this one, it's partially to keep from going absolutely bonkers with depression and despair at news like the recent events coming out of Pakistan, Georgia(the former Soviet republic, that is), or this little gem out of Finland, specifically the small town of Tuusala, some 30 miles north of Helsinki, where an 18 year-old boy shot five boys, two girls, and the school's female principal to death, before fatally wounding himself(He died in hospital in Helsinki later on)with a head shot.

Read about this a little while after I posted the two allegedly comic posts before this, and, while had been following the story as it developed, the final news of this still came as no less depressing a denounement as the earlier news of it was.

What a God-Damned waste and pity.

May the victims rest in peace, and may their families, as well as the gun-man's, try to find some peace of their own, if they can.

As for the gun-man, what more can be said, really??? He's dead, and beyond the reach of human justice.

As for cosmic or divine justice, am gonna leave that to y'all to figure out for yourselves.

If you want to read the AP via Yahoo News article in full, here it is at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071107/ap_on_re_eu/finland_school_shooting.

Just awful, and what more can I say????

Be seeing you.

The All Walking, Talking, Dancing And Singing Abortion!!!

Someone once asked me if my folks had any children that lived.

I replied in the affirmative.

He then went on to state that they must have been sorry I had.

I asked him, in response, whatever on Earth made him think that I meant myself.

To this, the questioner had no response, save to start biting out his small intestines in a furiously impotent rage.

I then walked away from the poor, mad fool before he soiled my shoes with his entrails.

Now, that you've read all this, please remember that I made this up, using a line said by Lee Ermey's Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann to Vincent D'Onofrio's Private "Gomer Pyle"(nee Leonard Lawrence)in one of the first scenes in "Full Metal Jacket", then embroided upon it a little.

Speaking of entrails, not too bad for something I pulled outta my arse, eh????

Well, maybe not.

Have a case of people crazies to-day, and am working it out of my system.

Either that, or am finally having that Nineteenth Nervous Break-Down of which I've been dreaming for so long.

You decide.

Be seeing you.

Of Secret Crushes(What!!! No Orange Crush??!!) And All That

Those of you who are MySpace regulars have undoubtedly seen by now, at least half a hundred ads urging one to click on them and "find out the name of your secret crush!!!"

Well, I never do, because I already know the name of my secret crush; it's Mrs. Grizelda McGillicuddy-Stepanovich of 48 Upchuck Terrace, Neasden, London, SW, and she's been madly infatuated with me since the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, or maybe it just SEEMS like she has. I don't know.

Actually, I don't know the name of anyone who has a secret, or open, crush on me at this time.

Plus, I don't think clicking on any link promising me that I will know the name of my secret crush will actually deliver on that.

Not one eensy-weensy bit.

Instead, what I will probably get is quite a lot of spam and such, and I am not from Hawai'i nor Korea, so I don't care for Spam that much, though I will eat it sometimes.

The real article, that is, not the cyber-kind. Upsets my stomach too much.

So, so much for knowing the name of my secret crush, eh???

Be seeing you.

Some YouTube Video Takes On "Moeritaet" aka "Mack The Knife" From The Threepenny Opera

Am inspired to do this by a blog post made by my friend Pie, who posted a YouTube video of Bobby Darin singing his 1959 version of the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song, "Mack The Knife", or "Mackie Messer" in the original German, from the 1928 opera, "The Threepenny Opera".

That piece was, in turn, inspired by another opera, John Gay's 1767 opus, "The Beggar's Opera", which Brecht roughly adapted and up-dated, to Victorian-era, rather than Georgian-era London, as was the original's setting.

So, in that time-, continent-, and culture-spanning spirit, I present to you for your consideration, the following variations of songs from "Die Dreigroschenoper", or "Threepenny Opera", or whatever other variant name you know it by.

The first's from the 1931 G.W. Pabst German film adaptation, and features Ernst Busch, the great interpreter of much of the work of Brecht and his other, more frequent, musical collaborator, Hans Eisler, and who became of the leading entertainment figures in the German Democratic Republic(GDR, or just plain old East Germany)after World War Two, until his death in 1980, as the Streetsinger in his version of "Moeritaet", aka "Mack The Knife".

Next, from the 1962 West German film version of the "The Threepenny Opera", and specifically, the English-language version of the film, is Sammy Davis Junior doing his take on "Mack The Knife", which musically, as well lyrically, seems to combine elements of both the original "Moeritaet" with the Bobby Darin swing-oriented version of the tune.

Then, also from 1962, we have a television appearance by Mr. Louis Armstrong, who, according to some information I got on a site devoted to the Threepenny Opera(http://www.threepennyopera.org/), was the first American artist to record the swing version of "Mack The Knife", and who was also the first to mention Lotte Lenya, who played Jenny The Pirate in the original Berlin production 30 years earlier in the song, and who was in the recording studio the very day that Armstrong recorded his version of the piece.

From 1965, Miss Ella Fitzgerald does her take on the tune in a London tv appearance, and, as you can hear in the performance, forgets a number of the lyrics while doing it!!!!

Finally, because you and I both have only so much time to devote to this, here's a recent Brazilian version of the tune, in the original German, done by a pair of Brazilian artists, Servio Tulio(vocalist)and Glauco Baptista(piano) at the ARMAZÉM DIGITAL recital hall in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, probably last year.

Ah, wait just one second or two before I let you go, because you should see and hear this little number, "Pirat Jenny" or "Jenny The Pirate" as sung by Miss Lotte Lenya, who was, off-stage, Mrs. Kurt Weill, and the creator of the part in the original 1928 Berlin run of the "Threepenny Opera".

The tune???? Not what you might be expecting, which would be another variant of "Moeritaet" or "Mack The Knife", but a song which made her, and her part, justly famous, "Seerabuenjenny"("Sailor Jenny in English, as least as presented by the person who posted it to YouTube. I don't know for sure).

Listen very carefully to how Lenya uses her voice, especially when she hits the high notes on the refrain about "a ship with eight sails and fifty cannons", and, in the final shot of the clip, when she looks at MacHeath, the camera, and us.

If that doesn't even faze you a little, I'd say ice-water rather than blood flows in your veins.

Be seeing you.

Opening Cans Of Worms

From comedy, we now go to the deadly serious, with this essay taken from something that I both did and happened to me this evening.

Got an e-mail from a friend of mine about immigration that I didn't care for, and it'd been one of several that I'd received over the weeks and months past from this friend and two others, that had either anti-illegal immigrant or anti-Muslim postings in them.

Well, to-night, rather than just deleting the message and not responding to it at all, as has been my usual practise these many years past, I responded, politely, or at least so I thought at the time, asking them not to send me any more messages of that sort, as I don't care for them, and giving a very small idea of why I don't care for such messages.

Also sent a copy of my response to my therapist, for her to peruse and see what I may have done right and wrong in addressing my friends.

All that said, received a phone call from one of the friends I sent my response to this evening, and it was not an easy phone conversation to have.

However, as much as I disagree with my friend on the immigration issue, I have to say that, however inelegantly he put some of his points at times, he had some good ones to make, particularly about economic competition with illegal immigrants and being essentially priced down, if not completely out of the labour market he's in(construction), and the effects that immigration has had on school districts, health care facilities and the like, and, as much as I'd perhaps like to pooh-pooh some of them, the observations I can't disagree with, even if I do strongly disagree with some of his premises and conclusions on the causes.

By the way, don't let the manner in which am putting this deceive you. There were often times that we talked over, quite literally, and across each other. This wasn't some sort of Oxford-Cambridge-Harvard-Yale-style debate, done over glasses of sherry and with cigars, while seated in easy chairs.

It also wasn't, Thank God, a complete telephonic knock-down, drag-out brawl, either.

If so, there would undoubtedly be, if I even felt like writing this, a much angrier, darker tone to this essay than there is.

It's not that everything worked out to be hunky-dory. The conversation ended when my friend's wife, who is an even older and dearer friend of mine than the fellow mentioned here, said that she would call me to-morrow morning, because my friend was rather too upset to continue it, and I agreed.

I don't know when and if that call will come, and what will come of the whole matter within the next few days, weeks, months or years.

Only time will tell. Am hoping it will work out well for all of us, but can't and won't say that for now.

Have yet to hear from the other two friends, as well as my therapist, and their reactions to the whole matter.

Mind you, I don't like making trouble, as a general rule, and risking losing friends over issues that, in the long run, may turn out to be just so much small beer.

But, I also don't like seeing, reading or hearing something and not at least making some small, polite murmurs of dissent, either.

Have opened up a can of worms here, Folks, and yes, I just hadda open my big mouth, now, didn't I???

Well, maybe not.

But, I can't always keep it shut either, not and feel like, on some nano-level someplace, am betraying the values for which I say I stand.

However this works out, there is one lesson that am least aware of enough to take away from this, and this goes with a notion that have been formulating for the past several days now, which is that much of the American Left, as it currently stands, is very painfully divorced from the realities that many working-class and poor Americans live, each and every day, on a wide variety of issues.

Illegal immigration is one of those issues, I think.

Yeah, racism, fear of change, whether cultural, social, economic or biological, and the whole sorry history of US-Latin American, especially with our closest Latin American neighbours, are at the back of a lot of this nastiness, as well as a certain feeling of entitlement on the parts of many Americans, especially European-Americans.

"Thank God, We're White" has long been a sentiment and saying among many working-class and poor European-Americans, who otherwise are struggling just as hard as their African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander and Native American neighbours, and has been used as a kind of crutch to deal with very real fears about their own economic, social and political presents and futures.

My friend has, I think, some pretty legitimate fears about his and his family's health care, educational and other needs, especially his son's, and those can't simply be dismissed as know-nothing concerns.

Those are as real as anyone else's concerns, regardless of race, class or other origins, for themselves and their families, whether citizens, legal immigrants or illegal immigrants, and can't just be dismissed out of hand the way that some on the Left, including Yours Truly in the past, have done so.

This is where the Left has really fallen down on the job, I think, because, ultimately, immigration, like a ton of other issues I could name, but won't, because it'd take me too damned long to it, is connected to race, class, other historical issues, and, the most important one of all, who gets and who don't in this country, and the world.

There are a lot of people out there, like my friend, as well as various family members and other friends of mine, who've expressed similar ideas and sentiments to me in the past, and with whom I've fought about this, because I thought they were expressing a particular form of bigotry.

Well, turns out that was only half-right.

There was bigotry, but also, however unscientifically-done and emotionally-based(as are the vast majority of observations), there were some real observations from a worm's-eye view of some of the social conditions currently present in the US.

Does this mean I'm gonna go support Lou Dobbs, the Millionaire Populist, who's got rich off of yammering on about illegal immigration and advocating a nasty form of middle-class populism that daemonises both the rich and the poor alike???

Hell, no, for the reasons I've about him I've given above, and will say no more about that clown.

Does this mean am gonna go join the Minutemen????


I'd sooner join the fuckin' Klan as join them, and that ain't gonna happen anytime soon, baby.

What it means, to me at least, is that so-called ordinary folks from the various sides of the immigration debate seriously need to get away from our so-called leaders and opinion-makers, and talk, debate, argue and work our respective ways through all the propaganda and out-right lies that we've been fed, and, in turn, have fed to other folks along the way, about this and a whole bunch of other issues.

This doesn't mean that we're all gonna end up holding hands, singing whatever hymns of unity, peace and brotherhood, as we march together, hand in hand, into the Promised Land(With all due apologies to the late Rev. King on this score).

There is a lot of history, and all the bad, and other kinds of, blood that goes along with it, lotsa differing premises, ideas and conclusions from as many folks as there are sides to this issue, and some of them aren't ever gonna be reconcilable, no matter how hard one tries to make them so.

These facts, I think, should be noted and taken as givens before such a dialogue even starts up.

That said, I think there's also quite a bit of room here for both agreement and disagreement on at least a few of the various issues dealing with immigration on which most folks, even if in just the smallest ways, could agree enough with each other to take effective action on.

One of them is that, for whatever reasons, the current immigration system in the US is busted, plain and simple.

Two is that, for far too God-Damned long, many shit-bird employers have been able to skirt 'round labour and other laws designed to protect workers from various forms of employer-inflicted abuse, and justify their actions by saying that they can't afford to get the job done any other way, unless they hire illegal immigrant labour.

Number Three would be that, whether due to illegal immigrant labour use by American employers, or the various forms of out-sourcing by American businesses to overseas markets, where labour's far cheaper than here, the positions of many middle-class, working-class and poor Americans have been badly under-cut by the American business classes and their policies, especially within the past twenty-ix years or so, or there are no signs of the situation improving anytime soon, no matter which of the two parties, or even some of the third parties, win the 2008 general elections.

The fourth, final, and most controversial point of all is that there needs to be a fundamental change in the way in which wealth is produced and distributed, not only in this country, but world-wide, so folks don't have to leave home to find satisfying work, or just plain old unsatisfying work, period, to themselves and their loved ones from starving to death.

This, to my mind, means some form of socialism, in whatever manner or form you want to call it or apply it.

Capitalism's great at generating wealth, don't get me wrong.

But, it's dead shitty on distributing it evenly throughout a society, period.

For those who are fortunate enough to benefit from capitalism as an economic and social system, it works great.

Then, there are the rest of us folks, for whom it works only intermittently well, marginally well, or not at fuckin' all, take your pick, your name here, thank you very much.

It's the nine-tenths of folks, to whom I belong, with whom I'm concerned.

The rich have always taken care of themselves, and always will take care of themselves, come what may.

Gotta hand it to 'em in that regard. They've generally done just fine at doing that over millennia, centuries, decades and years, and I see no sign of them, again, generally speaking, losing their touch in that area.

That's why I ain't concerned with what the rich think or how they will fare.

But, I would have to also say that, whatever form of socialism, or at least substantial economic, political and social reforms that come about in the US, or in other parts of the world, that aren't socialist, but are at least steps in the direction of greater equality and prosperity(That's right, PROSPERITY. No sense in being equal if the only equality there is is of starving to death)for the bulk of humanity, is gonna have to be suited to the individual region's history, geography, resources, resource use and culture.

No more assuming that just because something works well in, say, Sweden, that it will work equally well in the US, France, Mexico, Singapore, Poland, or Uganda.

One size fits all may work great in the garment industry, but it sure as shittin' don't work worth a tinker's damn in politics, economics, or in making a society that works for the benefit of all of its people.

Well, here I've gone and done it again. Opened up another can of worms, haven't I???

You bet I have.

This time, am not sorry I have, as there really needs to be some kind of active debate going on in this country that isn't just driven by politicos, pundits, think-tank intellectuals, academics and the like.

They have their places, don't get me wrong, but they don't generally have to feel the impacts of their policy debates, policies and policy implementations on the ground level.

You, I, and a lotta other people whom neither of us will ever even meet, much less get to know, will and do, every single day.

Be seeing you.

05 November 2007

A Trio Of YouTube Frantics Boots To The Head For You

Found these three videos featuring two routines by the '80's Canadian comedy group The Frantics, who had both a radio and a television show in Canada back in the mid-'80's, containing two of their most famous sketches, "Last Will And Temperament" and "Tae Kwon Leep(with the accompanying song, "Boot To The Head" after the sketch's finish), both of which feature suckers getting well-deserved boots to their heads.

The first video is footage of the original sketch from The Frantics' tv show, while the second's the audio track of a live performance of the same sketch, with a new character and a couple of new bits added onto it(It was this version that I heard on the Dr. Demento show many moons ago, and which is my favourite), with a flash animation parody of an anime show, "Phoenix Wright"(of which I've not heard), by its YouTube poster, CMSPyroWolf providing the visuals.

The last video features the soundtrack from "Tae Kwon Leep/Boot To The Head", with the only visual provided being the cover to the comedy album, "Boot To The Head", from which this sketch is taken.

Well, depending on what sort of day you've had, you may find these gut-bustingly funny, or only mildly amusing.

But, either way, enjoy and be seeing you.

Oh, one last item, and that's the volume on the first video's rather on the low side, so you may want to turn up your system volume a little. Just make sure to please reduce said volume when it's done.

Wouldn't want to blow out your ear-drums now.

Be seeing you.

04 November 2007

YouTube Music Video: "It's A Mistake" by Men At Work(1982)

From the Australian pop-rock group Men At Work's 1982 album "Cargo", courtesy of Jovar89 who posted it to YouTube, comes this video of one of the tunes from that album, "It's A Mistake".

Both the song's and video's central theme is about a nuclear war accidentally starting, with the expected results.

For those Americans and Russians who see this, and wonder "Why the Hell would the Australians be concerned about nuclear war???", I'd like to point out that Australia was, at various points throughout the Cold War, a member of the old SEATO(South-East Asia Treaty Organization)organisation until it dissolved in the mid-1970's, and was also a member of the ANZUS(Australia-New Zealand-US)alliance, which is still, I believe, in effect to-day, although in a moribund state, at least on New Zealand's part.

Australia also contributed troops to the UN forces in Korea during the Korean Conflict, and to the various Allied contingents fighting alongside US and South Vietnamese forces during the Viet-Nam War, and was, and still is, home to a small number of US military communications and surveillance facilities.

So, that country was, at the time this video was released, and still is, as the presence of Australian forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to-day proves, a part of the Western alliance, and, even though a lesser one when compared with the US, Great Britain or France, would have been a target for Soviet nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear war between the Warsaw Pact and NATO and its allies world-wide.

Going from the bits of info presented above, I'd say that there were was good reason for Australians to be concerned about the possibility of nuclear war breaking out, for whatever reasons, as anyone else on the planet during the Cold War had at the time.

By the way, although Men At Work broke up in either 1984, or perhaps as late as '86, I don't know, it reformed in 1997, with two of the original band's members, Colin Hay, the vocalist and writer of most of MAW's songs, and Greg Ham, its drummer and keyboardist, and occasional songwriter for the group, with a new bassist and co-lead guitar, and have been together, as far as I know, ever since.

They've toured throughout a fair portion of the world, especially in Brazil, where they are staggeringly popular(The one album made by MAW's new incarnation, "Brazil", which came out in '98, and a copy of which I've at home, was a live concert album mainly recorded at various concerts they did while touring that country, with one new in-studio recorded song, "The Longest Night", at the album's end), and, as far as I know, remain together to this day. Will have to check on that in future, however.

They've even played Las Vegas a few times in the past several years, and I once saw part of a concert they did at the Fremont Street Experience in down-town Vegas back in either 2001 or 2002(am thinking it was the latter year).

It was the first time I'd ever seen Men At Work live, and I think they acquitted themselves pretty well, even if Colin Hay's voice sounded a little ragged on some of the higher notes in the various songs presented.

But, considering it had been some twenty years since he first recorded and performed those tunes, plus the effects of aging and "Vegas Throat"(a condition in which the dry climate here essentially constricts the vocal chords to one degree or another, especially for singers coming into Las Vegas from moister climes, and a common complaint among singers performing here), and the fact that it's pretty unfair of me to compare Mr. Hay's voice that night to a twenty-year old recording, I'd say that any raggedness in Mr. Hay's voice was a pretty minor complaint compared to what the group delivered, which was a pretty good show.

Be seeing you.

02 November 2007

Book Review: "Watch Out" By Dr. Joseph Suglia

This is a quick, but not too dirty, review of Dr. Joseph Suglia's novel, "Watch Out".

Now, before we go any further, lemme just say that, in the interests of full disclosure, I was a MySpace friend of Dr. Suglia's, and he kindly sent me a copy of the novel in the hopes that I would review it on Amazon.com.

Well, while I've an Amazon.com account set up, haven't bought anything from the suckers yet, so I can't post a review there for now. Will do so in the very near future.

In the meantime, for what it's worth, here's a preview review(Unintentional rhymes, especially when created by myself, bite the Big One and suck Dead Donkey Dicks), which am posting here, and on my MySpace blog

'Nuff bladerdash. Let's do it to it, as my dad would say.

"Watch Out" 's protagonist, Professor Jonathan Barrows, is a man apart, and deliberately so, as he believes himself to be the only human being alive worth a tinker's damn and then some.

He's a classic solipsist and narcissist all rolled into one extremely vain package, and is one to the extent that he can only engage in sex with a custom-made blow-up doll of himself, or become aroused by listening to a tape recording of himself reading excerpts from Max Stirner's " The Unique Individual and Its Property".

He loathes both men and women, considering them to be equally ugly and worthless, as he does all humanity in general, except, of course, for himself.

In this, at least, Barrows is quite consistent.

The novel follows Barrows from the end of his train ride to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where he has an interview for the position of "Assistant Professor of Intelligent Thinking" with a Dr. Mendoza, who teaches in the School of Learning at Benton Harbor Community College.

But, the School's receptionist, Miss Grimmlager, has no recollection of either receiving Barrows' e-mails that he sent prior to arriving at the institution, nor of any scheduled interview with Dr. Mendoza, which causes Barrows to wait, wait, and wait still more until he can see him. When he finally does, it's not in the context that either Professor Barrows nor Dr. Mendoza would have perhaps found to be the ideal.

All that said, what is "Watch Out' about???

Well, I think that it can be taken as either a grotesquely comic portrait of both a grotesquely vain man, and the equally grotesque culture(There's a diner in the novel that features, among other dubious culinary delights, "Chicken-Powdered Fries"), populated by monumental idiots and sub-morons, which is, of course, how Barrows sees them, and the rest of humanity.

In this regard, it reminds me quite a lot of the late John Kennedy O'Toole's "A Confederacy Of Dunces", in which its protagonist, who, like Barrows, is fond of using high-falutin' language(His standard insult for anyone he dis-likes is "abortions", a term which Barrows also uses once or twice in "Watch Out" to describe some of the unfortunates he encounters), and who regards the folks around him as complete twats who fail to acknowledge his superiority.

In its intensely first-person narrative, "Watch Out" also reminds me of what little I've read about, and even fewer excerpts from, the early 20th Century Japanese literary genre of the "I-Novel", with its emphasis on the protagonist's viewpoint and intensity of feeling, which Barrows has, even if clouded by a defensive wall of self-regard and loathing of others.

But, at its heart, "Watch Out" is, in my opinion, a novel of the comic grotesque that not only takes aim at the kind of highly educated, very Europeanised, sort of person that Jonathan Barrows is(He probably would have fit very well, with his preferences, affectations, and horror of dirt of any kind, into any early or mid-20th Century German or Austrian middle-class environment), but also at a culture that, as he describes a prominent pop star whom he's about to murder towards the book's close, elevates someone who, by virtue of her very ordinariness, has become a star.

There's a lot of graphic depictions of various sorts of sex, vomiting and defecation in "Watch Out", and the author, in his foreword to the novel, even says so, rating the novel "X", even though that particular designation is no longer used for rating films by the MPAA.

This means that "Watch Out" is definitely NOT for those who prefer their description of such activities to be either sanitised, or depicted not at all, and definitely not for the kiddie set(However, even if a copy of "Watch Out" were to somehow fall into a kid's hands, I suspect that he or she would probably laugh mainly at the defecation gags therein).

But, for those of you out there who've cut your teeth on any of Kurt Vonnegut's works(and Suglia's use of axioms by the good Professor Barrows, plus the sort of jump-cut style of going back and forth between various incidents in the novel, is reminiscent of Vonnegut's style in these areas), or on Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow", with its graphic depictions of excrement-eating and other forms of corophagal sexual activities, sado-masochism, and paedophilia in that novel, as well as its own non-linear story telling approach, this will be right in your line of country, I think.

Are some of the depictions of the kinds of sexual and other behaviours depicted by Suglia in "Watch Out" excessive???

Sure, but, I would say that , generally speaking, they fit Jonathan Barrows' character and the situations in which he's in, to a T.

This also shouldn't come as a surprise, since Dr. Suglia himself, describes himself in his own publicity as the "Master of Excessive Fiction', and has proclaimed himself to be "The Greatest Author In The World" in that same publicity.

Whether or not those particular self-descriptions are wholly meant or ironically so, on Dr. Suglia's part, I'll leave up to you to find out.

At the very least, "Watch Out" is well worth reading, even if you don't like Professor Barrows, and there's no indication in "Watch Out" that Barrows is at all like-able in any sense, conventional or not, of the term.

As for what will eventually become of Dr. Suglia, Barrows' creator, as the back-cover author's photo blurb states is anyone's guess, here's hoping that he will be heard from again in future.

Here Endeth The Lesson.

Be seeing you.

01 November 2007

American Respect Newsletter And My Response

Wrote this in response to an e-mail newsletter I got from American Respect, a Democratic Party-allied group to whose newsletters am subscribed, on 25th October, 2007.

This newsletter, reproduced below, talks about a plan, advocated by US Senators Joseph Biden and Leslie Gelb to solve the current inter-ethnic political crisis and fighting in Iraq by dividing the country into three states that would be, under the plan’s provisions, united, more or less, under a kind of loose federal political system.

I have real problems with that, as you’ll see in the response I sent them a day later, and reproduced below the newsletter.

As of to-day, I’ve yet to receive a reply from American Respect, and don’t expect to.

They’re under no obligation to reply to my message, just as I’ve no obligation to support Biden’s and Gelb’s plan.

Anyhow, hope this proves to be of some minor interest and food for thought.

American Respect Banner

Dear Friends:

Yet again, an op-ed is printed by a famous scholar on the merits of partition in Iraq. The plan, initially proposed by Senator Biden and President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie Gelb, seems to be the only feasible option after 5 years of misguided policies.

In general, the proposal is rooted in history and reflects recent experience in Bosnia, as well as other historical examples such as Vietnam (initially), Korea, and Germany. When marriage doesn't work, divorce or separation is a good option. Partitioning the country before a civil war achieves the same thing and would at least avoid the tragic death and destruction that took place on a massive scale.

The Biden-Gelb plan would:

1. Keep Iraq together by giving its major groups breathing room in their own regions and control over their daily lives. A central government would be left in charge of common interests like defending the borders and distributing oil revenues.
2. Secure the support of the Sunnis -- who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue and reintegrating those with no blood on their hands.
3. Increase, not end, reconstruction assistance but insist that the oil-rich Arab Gulf states fund it and tie it to the creation of a massive jobs program and to the protection of minority rights.
4. Initiate a major diplomatic offensive to enlist the support of the major powers and Iraq's neighbors for a political settlement in Iraq and create an Oversight Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
5. Begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the summer of 2008, with a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

One thing to keep in mind is that the ethnic and sectarian realities of Iraq today are far different than they were in 2003 or 2004. To some extent, ethnic and/or sectarian partition is a much more realistic proposal today because of the extensive resettlement and killing which has taken place as a result of the continued civil war. The battle for Baghdad has been won by Shiites. A federalist system, much like the one in the US, would ensure regional autonomy while maintaining the republic our forces have fought so hard to keep.

American Respect urges all of its members to contact their elected representatives and inform them about this article and the Biden-Gelb plan for Iraq.
American Respect is a not-for-profit organization that believes invading Iraq has increased global terrorism, is costing thousands of lives, (and literally trillions of tax dollars) and is increasing energy costs.

We believe the US should take a very different approach to addressing this problem. Our principles for reducing terrorism are:

* Pursue true terrorists such as al Qaeda by eliminating training camps, preventing arms smuggling, freezing financial assets and apprehending terrorist leaders.
* Find balanced solutions in sensitive areas which foment terrorism by rebuilding international coalitions. Violence in regions like Chechnya, Kashmir and especially Palestine directly and adversely affects the entire Muslim world.
* Decrease our profile in Iraq and use international coalitions to lead a march toward guaranteed rights, limited government and democratic representation. Further recognize that Iraq was arbitrarily assembled in 1919 from three ethnically and religiously different Ottoman provinces, and that a peaceful solution may require a return, either partly or fully, to this pre-1919 arrangement.
* Build up the economies of Muslim countries with the goal of creating a larger middle class in each. If abject poverty is a breeding ground for terrorism, then creating broad prosperity is a key part of the solution--especially in the areas of trade and land reform. And success in the economies of any Muslim country--from Morocco to Indonesia--is positive for stability and peace throughout the region.
* Establish a tone of goodwill in policies and actions toward these nations and their growing and increasingly global populations.

To send your comments to AmericanRespect click here

If you no longer wish to receive email from americanrespect.com please click here to unsubscribe.
So we can continue the conversation, visit our site at americanrespect.com. We print selected messages in a special 'Letters to the Editor' section. All viewpoints are welcome.

email: newsletter@americanrespect.com
web: http://www.americanrespect.com

Received your newsletter of 24th October, with its advocacy of the Biden-Gelb Plan for Iraq and its peoples, and am writing you to say that there are a few items in it with which I strongly disagree.

The first is, to be blunt, the unmitigated cheek on the parts of Sens. Biden and Gelb to even presume that they, and the American government in general, have the right and the authority to say how the Iraqi people, of whatever origins its component peoples are, should organise their society.

That really isn't much different than the kind of arrogance displayed by the current Administration, its allies and supporters in its premises for invading and occupying Iraq, and in setting up one government after another under occupation auspices for that country, all in the now-dashed hopes for somehow using Iraq as a base for expanding US power and influence throughout the Middle East.

The reasoning behind this plan is similar in that its authors presume that they "know" better than the Iraqis how to best organise and run Iraq, and, due to the waves of inter-ethnic conflict and murder that have raged throughout much of Iraq in the past few years, it's time to split the country into what would be essentially three ethnic cantons, albeit "united" under a loose sort of federal structure that would quite probably fall apart once the American and coalition occupation forces had well and truly left Iraq.

That is, to repeat myself yet again, not our call, as Iraq was never, and never will be, our country.

Our invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, along with our policies toward that nation since the summer of 1990, helped create the current farrago there, and, in my opinion, it will only be once our forces, whether they belong to the US Armed Forces proper, or to the various private contractors operating there, have fully left it.

I am of the opinion that we never had any business being in Iraq, and that's why I think that only an immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of American, British and other coalition forces, with provisions made for resettling those Iraqis of various origins who threw in their lots with our efforts there in whatever countries they wish to live, is the only viable and truly moral option to advocate.

As for the idea of the reconstruction fund being financed by the Gulf Arab states, I want to say that, while I favour any reconstruction efforts to help rebuild Iraq, it shouldn't be solely, nor even primarily, financed by the Gulf Arab states, but by the US, UK, and other coalition partners that took part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


Well, for the reasons I've outlined above, that's why.

While I hate using any quote from any member, past or present, of the current Administration, I agree with Colin Powell's statement that, "We broke it, we bought it", which, like it or not, we did.

That's why I agree with a proposal made by Naomi Klein in either 2004 or 2005(Sorry if I've forgotten precisely when she made it)that the US pay reparations to whatever Iraqi government its people see fit to choose for themselves for the incredible amounts of damage, destruction and deaths inflicted on Iraq's people and infrastructure by us and our allies.

It is a solution that I believe is the only one that would entirely consistent with the values that we so love to trumpet so loudly to ourselves and the world that we believe in and stand for.

It's about time that we either put up or shut up about our love for freedom, peace, democracy and all the other values and ideals we say we admire and defend, and, like it or not, our actions, past, present and future really do speak much louder than all the fine words we throw out to the world for our and its consumption.

It's not that the Gulf Arab states, Iran, Syria, and Turkey don't have interests and responsibilities in Iraq. They do, and should fully be part of whatever solutions that are eventually planned and implemented in that country and in the Persian Gulf region.

But, they aren't the ones who battered practically every sector of Iraqi society to a gasping pulp in the 1990's, then, with the exception of Turkey in 1997, invaded that unhappy land and occupied it.

We, to a lesser extent, the British, and the other coalition partners did, and thus bear the primary responsibility in aiding the Iraqis in their reconstruction efforts.

Have no problem with other aspects of what was being advocated in this newsletter, especially with the emphasis on diplomatic engagement with the various countries in the Muslim world, and with assisting them in building up their economies. On the other hand, I think we'd be well advised to remember that it's not just a lack of economic opportunities for many folks in the various Muslim lands, but a severe lack of political and other freedoms of dissent and expression in many of those societies as well.

Here, we can, through a policy of critical engagement with those countries' elites and so-called ordinary peoples, help them to find a freer, fairer social, economic and political order for their societies.

But, in the end, to paraphrase T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, and one of the Britons most heavily involved in the creation of Iraq, it's their countries, their ways, and it's better for those peoples to do things their ways, however badly, than for us, or any other outsiders, to do them, however well, because in the end, it's their countries and our time there is short.

By the way, in closing, noted a piece of potential linguistic-historical error in the portion of the plan advocating the setting up of a new Iraqi political order in the statement that, if need be, the three major components of Iraq should return to the pre-1919 order, or to something like it.

Now, I rather doubt that the people who drafted this statement meant this when they crafted it, but, considering that all three parts of present-day Iraq were, and it's mentioned in the opening part of the newsletter, provinces in the Ottoman Empire.

I don't know about you, but I don't believe that all but maybe a tiny minority of Iraqis would want a return to Turkish rule over any part of Iraq, and most especially not the Kurds, even if Turkey evidenced any sort of interest in taking back the Ottomans' role in that country.

As for the Turks, well, even with their current actions against PKK rebels in northwestern Iraq in recent days and their warnings to the Iraqi Kurds that any move on their part toward creating an independent Kurdish state in their part of Iraq wouldn't be tolerated by the Turkish government at all, I don't think that any but perhaps the most vociferously anti-Kurdish Turkish nationalists would really want control of Iraqi Kurdistan and all the headaches that would go with it.

So, I think that Sens. Biden, Gelb, their aides, and other assistants might want to take a closer and more exacting look at the wording of that part of Biden-Gelb Plan, and revise it accordingly.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Respectfully, Donald Rilea.