Thursday, August 28, 2014

Potatoes

The sun came out and I could finally dig out the potatoes! We had to do it, 'cause the varmints
we already gnawin' on the spuds! It was a pretty good yield, nice quality! Tonight, I am having a bon steak frites! My wife put this little video together. The opening view is actually from the ancient chateau in Exedueil, the only castle that Richard The Lion Hearted couldn't capture. The role of the little white doggie was played by Miss Daisy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Palabra Mi Amor

I am a real fan of the French Band, Shaka Ponk...They have so much really great music and videos out there, but live? They are incredible! I wanted to post something by them for a while. On the other hand, another of my very favorite French Bands was the now defunct, Perle Noire. The lead singer Bertrand Cantat wrote songs that were so intelligent and drew from so many different genres...Cantat went from being one of the most important figures in French Pop to a convict in a Bulgarian Prison.  It's a long story, involving the tragically accidental death of his girlfriend.  That was the end of Perle Noire, but he got out in 2011 and started working with Shaka Ponk and now has a very interesting band called Detroit...

Cell Phone Sex

I am posting this for my buddy, The Old Buzzard, who wrote a post on his blog, The Unvarnished Truth about Sex and Cell Phones and I pointed out that here in France,we've been there, done that...
The Cover of Fluide Glacial, perhaps July, 2003?

Before Photoshop


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Corpse Flower

I actually saw one of these giant Arums bloom years ago in NYC. The largest flower and the stinkiest ever! The smell is overpowering! I have a few of the smaller relatives of this plant which I have been raising for years. The classification of this plant is disputed, it is now thought to be an Arum. I have a few African Stapelias...one in particular is called the Giant Hairy Toad Flower and Orbras. The Giant Hairy Toad flower is very cool, it has huge chartreuse green blossoms with deep magenta stripes is covered with fine long magenta hairs....the center is five shiny blood colored bead like thingies...It smells like a dead mouse and is pollinated by flies. These plants all have evolved in parts of the world where there are no bees, so they have evolved the characteristics of wounded and dead things...just the kind of stuff flies love! This series of GIFs was of a recent bloom at the Huntington Gardens Conservatory in Los Angeles.
My Fragrant Giant Hairy Toad Stapelia!
My Orbea Variegata in bloom. Not as big or as smelly....

Monday, August 25, 2014

1992 James Brown Japanese Instant Soup Commercial!
This is real and I wanna cup of that soup, NOW!

To Be Or Not To Be....Austerity?


Today, French President Francois Hollande asked his Prime Minister, Manuel Valis dissolve his latest government and put together a new one. Why? Hollande, The Socialist President,  came into office with the good wishes of the people who elected him after 5 years of increasingly right wing manipulation and strident racist policies of Conservative Centrist, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy's government lurched violently to the far right in an attempt to subvert the rise of the fascist right Front Naional and in the process participated in the destruction of the Middle Class and eroding the social services that the French poor and middle classes depend on to survive. He was perceived as favoring the wealthy with tax cuts and subsidies as taxes rose, jobs left France. We really thought that Hollande was going to reverse this trend, but he seems to be treading water and taxes continue to rise, social services continue to be eroded and he seems unable to deal with the corporations who are still getting favorable treatment. He has lost the support of the ecologists in spite of the appointment of Segolene Royale as minister of Ecology. She is a force for good, but in the process, he made the former minister into an avowed enemy. Through his in action and inability to make firm decisions, he has continued with the policies of austerity. Austerity, the wrong approach. The approach of the 1% to maximize their immediate profits and create an impoverished cheap labor source. On Sunday, Hollande was criticized by his  Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, who openly criticized the policies of austerity that Hollande has stuck by, and fired his first broadside in an interview with Le Monde on Saturday and followed up with a speech to a Socialist party rally the following day. In a veiled reference to President François Hollande, he said that conformism was an enemy and "my enemy is governing". "France is a free country which shouldn't be aligning itself with the obsessions of the German right," he said, urging a "just and sane resistance".
He was joined in his criticism by the education minister Benoit Hamon, who on Monday denied that he had been disloyal. A third minister, Aurélie Filipetti, also appeared in danger of losing her job after wishing a "good day" on Twitter to her two dissident colleagues. In effect, Hollande's inability to deal in a rational political manner to criticism has opened the nation onto a voyage in uncharted political waters.Europe’s economic depression has now lasted longer than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Meanwhile, America’s “Great Recession” also drags on thanks to cutbacks in government spending since the stimulus.
Europe’s leaders somehow were convinced that austerity – “deficit reduction” through cutbacks in government – would somehow lead them out of their economic doldrums. They believed that taking money out of the economy would help the economy. The result is that  Europe’s austerity-lengthened depression  has become one of the biggest catastrophes in economic history.
To top it off, Europe’s governments are learning that cutting back on spending not only worsens the economic picture, causing terrible unemployment, poverty and human misery, but the worsened economic picture means less revenue coming in, thereby increasing deficits instead of lowering deficits. In other words, austerity cutbacks to fight deficits have instead made deficits worse and hurt people.
Europe’s Policy-Driven Depression
In “Worse than the 1930s: Europe’s recession is really a depression,” Matt O’Brien writes,
It’s a policy-induced disaster. Too much fiscal austerity and too little monetary stimulus have crippled growth like almost never before. Europe is doing worse than Japan during its “lost decade,” worse than the sterling bloc during the Great Depression, and barely better than the gold bloc then—though even that silver lining isn’t much of one. That’s because, at this rate, it’ll only be another year until the eurozone is well behind the gold bloc, too.
The harmful effect of austerity is so obvious that even Europe’s policymakers are starting to get it. The New York Times, in “France Acknowledges Economic Malaise, Blaming Austerity,” reports that, “President François Hollande on Wednesday … indicated that the austerity policies France had been compelled to adopt to meet the eurozone’s budget deficit targets were making growth impossible.”
“The diagnosis is clear,” Mr. Hollande said in an interview published Wednesday in the French daily Le Monde. “Due to the austerity policies of the last several years, there is a problem of demand throughout Europe, and a growth rate that is not reducing employment.”
It was the most public rejection by France of the austerity medicine that Germany has long prescribed for the eurozone — which even the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, recently acknowledged might be impeding the currency bloc’s recovery.
The downside joke here was told on tonights Les Guignols de l'Info on their first show of the season, when the Valis puppet announces to Hollande that the government must be dissolved. A startled looking Hollande asks why. Valis informs him that he has discovered that some of the ministers are Socialists Leftists!
(Click here for a Businessweek/Bloomberg video in which Economist Joseph Stiglitz explains why Europe’s austerity has been a “dismal failure” and needs a change of approach.)
Demand Drives An Economy
Here’s the deal. In a slowdown consumers and businesses are not bringing enough “demand” to an economy. This lack of customers causes businesses to lay off workers and those workers stop being consumers, so businesses have to cut back even more. So they lay off workers and those workers stop being consumers, so businesses have to cut back even more. You get the picture: “Death spiral.”
This is when government (We the People) should step in. In the 20th century we learned a way out of recessions and depressions. During slowdowns government can spend, and this boosts the demand in the economy to make up for the demand shortfall from consumers and businesses. Government can invest in infrastructure, causing construction workers to be hired and suppliers of equipment and materials to thrive. Government can spend on things it needs like equipment and cars, etc. Government can hire to get things done that need to be done like teaching kids, daycare, adding police and firefighters … so many things.
And all of those thing help make the lives of We the People better in the long run. Good, modern infrastructure, schools and teachers, universities, police, firefighters, parks, libraries, courts, scientific research, environmental protection, food inspectors, job-safety inspectors and all the rest of the things government does make our lives better – and boost our economy in the long term.
Stimulus Helped The U.S. Economy, Deficit-Cutting Hurt
Just after President Obama took office there were enough Democrats in the House and Senate to pass the “stimulus.” This was the result:



Unfortunately Republicans gained seats in the Senate and have filibustered every single attempt to help the economy since. The post Three Updated Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law explains how this has hurt us,
Government spending does not “take money out of the economy.” In fact it puts money into the economy, creates jobs and lays the foundation for future prosperity. … this chart from The Atlantic, “The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Government,” shows how government spending to create government jobs helped us get out of the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions. But since the 2007 “Great Recession,” we instead have laid off hundreds of thousands of government employees, obviously making unemployment even worse.



… This chart from Roger Hickey’s post, Continued Jobs Growth. But Highway Bill Shows Austerity Still Hurts., shows how “conservative budget cutting has undermined growth from mid-2010 through 2014″:




“As you can see, the impact of austerity on the economy is projected to be reduced over the next two quarters, but the next budget is not expected to be expansionary – and Republicans are still writing budgets under the mistaken conservative theory that spending cuts somehow stimulate growth.”
Government spending obviously helps boost a flagging economy. Cutting government spending during a slowdown obviously takes badly needed money out of the economy at the very times it needs the help.
Some Believe Government Is Bad And “Markets” Should Make The Decisions
There are those who think that it is wrong for government (We the People) to be able to do things like this, and these decisions should be left to “the market.” They want “limited government” and demand that government get “out of the way” of “the market” – i.e. those with money – and let the big corporations and the billionaires behind them make the decisions, not We the People.
Terms like “the market” and “free enterprise” is modern wording applied to the age-old fight between those who already have great wealth and power, and regular people who are powerless unless they are able to band together in democracy to protect each other from the power of the wealthy.
The thing is, the “private sector” is the very sector that is in a downward spiral during slowdowns. Without an outside force – government – stepping in to boost demand there is nothing to interrupt the downward spiral. “Austerity” cutbacks in government literally take money out of the economy. Austerity cuts back on maintaining the infrastructure and teachers and police and firefighters and construction workers and scientific research – all at the very time that businesses are also laying people off.
We know this, but I don’t think we can do anything about it. Think about it: We looked at the policies and programs that were implemented from FDR to Reagan, which took the US to its height of wealth and productivity, and chose to reverse course, doing the direct opposite. Democrats and the media marketed to liberals embraced the right-wing socioeconomic agenda, effectively pitting the middle class against the poor. Divide and conquer. Millions voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he could launch a legitimate public discussion about our poverty crisis. He tried a number of times. Lib media continue to focus on appealing to middle class consumers and campaign donors. Not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all who need one. The US shipped out a huge chunk of our working class jobs since the 1980s, and Democrats ended welfare in the 1990s. The middle class has enthusiastically supported the austerity agenda as applied to the poor, and it’s their own fault for thinking it wouldn’t trickle-up to pull them down, too. What the rich are now doing to the middle class is what the middle class already did to the poor.
We have seen this in the United State because of budget cuts forced by Republicans – especially the “sequester” forced by the debt-ceiling standoff. But in Europe, the austerity has been much worse than America, and the result have been much more devastating to Europe’s economy and people.
We can only hope that Europe’s leaders are starting to get it that taking money out of the economy takes money out of the economy.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twilight In America

Rod Serling warned you about the real twilight zone you are living in today.
Only now, in America, the government is obsolete and totally dysfunctional.
Bow down to your corporate overlords in the new Twilight Zone!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Free Money

It's been 45 years since this film was released and no one has done it better:
The Magic Christian,from the novel written by Terry Southern with additional material written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, who make their screen debuts in the film. Starring Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Raquel Welch, Roman Polanski, Christopher Lee and Robert Attenborough among others....and the incredible sound track, Badfinger and the timeless Something In The Air by  Thunderclap Newman!

Buh-Byeeeee!

Someone has finally discovered a place where the Westboro Baptist Church folks can protest with the support of most Americans.
Westboro Baptist Church, the
hate group that masquerades as a religious organization, is known for their publicity stunts, but they may have bit off more than they can chew with this one. After a comedian offered to pay for them to fly to Iraq so they can protest real Christian persecution at the hands of Islamic militants, the group tweeted that they have accepted his offer. They want to take their picket signs and head over to a country currently occupied by a group that beheads Christian children without hesitation – this ought to go well.
To bring you up to speed: Last week, Australian comedian Adam Hills gave an brilliant, hilarious proposal to the WBC after learned that they planned to – surprise, surprise – picket Robin Williams’ funeral. On his show, The Last Leg, Hills pointed out that the infamous “God Hates Fags” group is quick to march around with signs protesting American hedonism, but don’t have the courage to protest the daily persecution Christians in Iraq are facing at the hands of “the people threatening to behead Christians if they don’t convert.”

We accepted! Whence tickets? @PhilCooke: An offer to fly WBC members 2 Iraq 2 protest. Sounds like good idea to me: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/19/adam-hills-westboro-baptist-church-iraq-robin-williams_n_5692172.html 
I'm willing to start a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the necessary funds to ship them all over there, in style, as long as we can make sure they are taken to the Airport in total security and not allowed to weasel out of their end of the bargain! I want to be at the departure gate waving with a huge audience all exclaiming soulfully in unison, BUH-BYEEEEEEEEE! 
When are they leaving?


Product Endorsement


So. last week I was in the big town of Brive-la-Gaillarde and walking around in the ancient part of the city while my wife was getting her hair cut. Brive is about a 40 minute drive from here, in the Correze and I much prefer it to Perigueux. Last year, they redid the infrastructure in the center of the town and tore up the old streets around the Collegiale St. Martin, the 11th century Romanesque church that dominates the center. While they tore up the area, they uncovered the original street level and it became an archaeological site as the ancient streets were exposed and crypts were opened that
Collegiale St. Martin do Brive
dated back to 500 AD. One of my favorite references is the great History of The Franks by Gregory of Tours, a first hand account of the times. He started to write a history of the world and it devolved into a very gossipy and entertaining window into medieval life of the mid 6th century. He hung out in Brive quite a bit. I suppose they had cafes back then as well. I was strolling up the Rue Carnot past a cafe when I stopped because the snazzy window display was a pyramid of 6 packs of bottles of beer...With a rather crude black and white cartoony logo in English. It took a moment to sink in. These were bottles of Duff Beer, the preferred brand of Homer Simpson in Springfield! At first I thought they were props, but, no they were real bottles. I don't drink a lot of beer, but I do enjoy it and I had to find out where it came from. I got home and looked it up on line and found out that the Eschweger Klosterbrau, a monastic brewery in Hessen, Germany had acquired the rights to the logo and were marketing their Duff Brew throughout Europe. It's now being exported to the UK and Australia. So, yesterday, I was in the big supermarket inTerrasson and saw 6 packs of Duff...I bought one. After digging potatoes yesterday afternoon, I opened one up....not bad, not bad at all! A real pilsner as yellow as Homer. A light beer with a herbal fragrance, much better than any industrial concoction that I would have imagined Homer Simpson imbibing in mass quantities. I would imagine that Gregory of Tours would have enjoyed it as well as he strolled the streets of Brive 1400 years ago.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Desire/Max Ernst

In 1947, Surrealist artist and Dada film theorist, Hans Richter produced and directed an experimental feature length film called Dreams Money Can Buy. The sequences were written by 7 different surrealist and avant garde artists.  This particular sequence is called Desire and was written and directed by Max Ernst, who also plays the character, The President in the sequence. This particular piece is one of the best depictions of a "dream" I have ever seen.

OBEY



This Is Your Problem!


On Tuesday, August 14, Arch Bishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu was allowed to publish a powerful eloquent article in Haaretz, the Israeli news service which calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land. It was titled, My plea to the people of Israel:
In it, he refers to the world wide protests that occurred in cities all over the world over the last week and the ever increasing erosion of support and good will for Israel. He compares the Palestinian Occupation to his own experiences in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
If you click on the highlighted title, above, it will take you to the article in Haaretz and you can read it in it's entirety.
"My plea to the people of Israel is to see beyond the moment, to see beyond the anger at feeling perpetually under siege, to see a world in which Israel and Palestine can coexist – a world in which mutual dignity and respect reign.
It requires a mind-set shift. A mind-set shift that recognizes that attempting to perpetuate the current status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity. A mind-set shift that stops regarding legitimate criticism of a state’s policies as an attack on Judaism. A mind-set shift that begins at home and ripples out across communities and nations and regions – to the Diaspora scattered across the world we share. The only world we share.
People united in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable. God does not interfere in the affairs of people, hoping we will grow and learn through resolving our difficulties and differences ourselves. But God is not asleep. The Jewish scriptures tell us that God is biased on the side of the weak, the dispossessed, the widow, the orphan, the alien who set slaves free on an exodus to a Promised Land. It was the prophet Amos who said we should let righteousness flow like a river.
Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support.
Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.

He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too."

Many of the people who read this blog are Americans and I get the feeling that they feel that the plight of the Palestinians has very little to do with the problems they face...but ask yourself, who has a growing industry training police forces all over the world in tactics to control civil unrest? Who is the biggest developer and exporter of crowd control products...tear gas, flash grenades as well as the research into techniques of Public Relations with the press? The apathy you feel to Palestine is self defeating, because what is happening there now is directly related to what is happening in Ferguson, MO....the way the police departments responded to the Occupy Protests all over America. Your apathy is a calculated response and it enables them to do it to you. Why should you care about how Israel tries to enforce it's final solution to it's pesky Gaza problem? You should care, because, YOU ARE NEXT! But then again, you probably have more important things on your mind, the frikin stale biscuits at Denny's this morning, the doctor tells you to lose 74 pounds, why should you care? You're just a semi senile white guy who is just waiting to kick off...don't bother me with this shit...there's nothing good on TV tonight, Comcast has you on hold for the last 6 hours and NetFlix screwed up again...Hey, constant disasters are the new normal, am I right?
In his article Desmond Tutu refers to a petition by the AVAAZ Organization. You should sign it, your voice is important. Any thing you do is more important than what you don't do.
Hey, there were protests even in Hamtramck, MI last weekend!
Where were you?