Sunday, September 21, 2014

The World Against Monsanto!

I first saw this video on French television a few years ago. It was extremely instructive and the implications are horrific. Since then, the product, RoundUp has been identified as the reason for the cause of the deaths of thousands of Central American agricultural workers. It causes systemic kidney failure, but Monsanto does all it can to suppress any information about them and their products. Clarence Thomas was a lawyer for Monsanto and yet refused to recluse himself from Supreme Court cases including one where he was instrumental in overthrowing a decision from a lower court which Monsanto appealed. They believe and they know that they are bigger than any government. They believe they can make or break governments.
I am a great admirer and fan of the Spanish Musician, Manu Chao, who has become a very prominent activist in the fight against Monsanto! Here is a video of a very recent huge event in Argentina he helped organize and participated in.
Okay, watch the Monsanto piece if you's really well done and hopefully you might want to comment. I'll look forward to reading them when I get back, but now I really am leaving to go back to the 19th century...a bientot!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A helpful little chart which might assist you in keeping track of things while I am away.

Department of One Last Thingie....

La Gadou

I wanted to post more before I leave for Vendange, but, I received an update on the conditions, so I am leaving even sooner. We have had a lot of big storms here in France over the last few days. Luckily, where I live there have been no problems except for the occasional power outage. My wife's doggie is a nervous wreck, the ultimate little drama queen!
I got an email telling me to expect mud. Mud? No problem. I've carried grapes through mud pits that sucked the boots off of my feet! I'm ready! Mud? The video above was taken by my friend Christian Ferry last year when entire portions of the fields turned to knee deep mud...My big feet can be an asset sometimes! See you in about 12 days or so!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Life Never Begins, Life Never Ends

A few weeks ago, I posted a video made my old friend, Elmer Lang of a song recorded by his friend Gerald Loomis called Shantytown. The video footage was shot in the building I lived in for many years in the East Village on Ave. B in Manhattan. It depicted the reality of life on the streets, homeless humans trying to survive in the frozen sidewalks in cardboard boxes. An all too real world in NYC in the early 90's. Loomis was a poet, a musician who lived through his own world of being institutionalized for recurring mental problems and his own drug addiction. On the other hand, he was a very entertaining, warm, open person. Elmer Lang gave Loomis a lot of support for years and helped him survive to be able to write his songs. Loomis ultimately self destructed in the mid 90's and died at the age of 40. Elmer has made an exceptional video piece, Life Never Begins, Life Never Ends, that documents and explores and tries to find out who Jerry Loomis really was. It's a kind of literature in itself.  I think it is impossible to view this piece and not be affected by it. I really feel in exploring Loomis and his life, Elmer made a video that is a great, moving and poetically personal experience.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

That Time Already

I just got an emergency message from Chateau Vieux Chevrol where I have worked for the last 12 years that the vendange will be starting earlier than they thought. That's the usual procedure! So I'm doing a bit of scrambling here trying to assemble my survival kit for the next 2 weeks. Hopefully I can get a train ticket tomorrow for Libourne and leave on Sunday afternoon! It is supposed to be a pretty good year here and hopefully the weather will hold out! Above is a video from last year that will give you an idea of what I will be doing for the next 2 weeks. My buddy Paul had a gps watch last year a calculated that we walk about 26 kilometers a day and end up carrying over a ton of grapes on our backs each day! I have a reputation to uphold as the meilleur porteur Americain en France, but I think this year I am in the running for the oldest porteur.....
First day of school, Sept. 15, 2014
Gaza, Palestine
Och, mon, nae this explains it all!
Ah seem to have misplaced me haggis! pe'haps it's hidin'
under me wee sporran!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Le Fete de Saint Cloud 2014!

What did I do last week end? Why, I was at the Fete de Saint Cloud, the patron of my village, Badefols d'Ans! Who was Saint Cloud? (that's pronounced: Sahn Clue) He was a son of the Merovengien KIng of Frankish Gaul, Clodomir, who was the son of Clovis, the great Merovengien king of France, died fighting in a battle with his brother Gondomar around 520 AD. The kingdom of the Francs was a fluid all depended on heritage and splitting the legacy between the heirs. Cloud's uncles conspired to split the kingdom between themselves, so they murdered Cloud's brothers, who would have inherited their father's kingdom. Cloud escaped and became immune from their plots by becoming a tonsured cleric. The Merovengien Kings of early France are referred to as the long haired kings, because long hair was the symbol of their power. Tonsuring was considered a renunciation of the power.  Cloud travelled through France and reputedly founded many early monasteries including the one on the puys of Chatre and Badefols, which are in eyes view of each other. The Monastery in Badefols was dedicated to St. Vincent and the Romanesque church was built around 1000 AD. Of course it was modernized around 1450 and it has some pretty interesting murals from the late Renaissance. But here in Badefols d'Ans, the clock seemed to have stopped ticking around 1917. We are pretty much set in our ways. Even the name of our village, Badefols is a story in itself. The roots of the name are Oc...the pre French language that is a melange of germanic, celtic and latin influences. It is a fluid language. Until the early 1900's it was the language most people spoke here. It parses like latin, but Oc spoken in Thenon and the variety of Oc spoken here, (we are talking of a distance of approximately 40 miles) could be radically different. For centuries, the means of connecting to the outside world was through the traditional network of market days in the villages. 
So, I digress, the name Badefols is based on the roots, Bade: barking, yelling...and Fols: idiot, fool....Badefols: Screaming Idiot....there was a hermit monk who lived in one of the caves on the hill Badefols was built on who made it his duty to wake everyone up on Sunday morning and get them to go to the church! He irritated everyone and became a legend and the legend gave us our name! I'm rather proud of this history, it seems like fate that a truly obnoxious (and I worked hard to be truly obnoxious) punk rock musician ended up here. I am truly the perfect screaming idiot!
At the beginning of the middle ages,  as the network of agricultural culture developed here, the Fete de St. Cloud became an important harvest event. Every year since perhaps 1000 AD , we have a three day festival that traditionally includes a veal calf auction and a market selling garlic, onions, squashes, pumpkins and melons. I don't know when the parade of tractors started. We have dances, communal feasts, fireworks, parades and exhibitions of livestock and farm machinery. There are awards for the best livestock. I mention the veal calf auction with reservations, because Americans do not know what veal is. This is one of the biggest veal regions in France. It has nothing to do with what you think is veal. The production is all free range and the calves are raised on their mothers milk. The cattle are the huge Limousin race, who I am surrounded by. Almost all of the valleys around my home are pastures for Limousin cattle. So enjoy this little slice of rural France. Who knows how long we will be privileged to experience this reality. The Banda d'Objat rocked the house!  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Peace Caravan

For the last 3 years, I have been trying to help my friends, the NGO, Groupe Coordination Aude Mali, who are working with Malian Touareg tribal people and their village in the Sahara near Timbuctu. They were displaced and living in refugee camps in Burkina Faso and Mauritania while AQMI...the Malian version of Al Qaeda tried to seize power. I installed a Paypal donation button on the side panel of this blog to help raise awareness and money to assist in the basic survival needs of this displaced community. They have one of the most ancient continuous cultures on the planet. With the intervention of the French, slowly, stability is being restored and these people are beginning to feel able to return to their abandoned villages. GCAM, is a small NGO and virtually every cent donated is spent on the projects that are based on the needs and desires of the Tuareg villagers they have been working with for over 30 years. The members of the NGO have put their lives on the line and suffered the same hardships as the villagers in helping them escape the dangers of AQMI and in their return. The village is being rebuilt, the latest update of the information on the sidebar is that the schools are being reopened and rebuilt. Soon, I will have some great pictures to share of the progress of the resettlement of the ancient villages. We still need donations. Every little bit goes a long, long way. This is a great video of Malian Touareg musicians who have been helping to resettle and restore the villages. Some of the most powerful and beautiful music from Africa comes from this tradition which the AQMI tried to ban and wipe out. Hopefully, when I return from my work at the vendange in Lalande de Pomerol in a few weeks, we will have more interesting stuff to show you. Meanwhile, watch this video and if you feel moved, donate a few bucks to GCAM!
Here's a link to a great suite of recent photos of life in Timbuctu published yesterday in the Guardian Observer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Atlas Wanked And Wanked And Wanked....

I've written a few posts on my feelings about the philosophical poster girl for the Republican Party, Ayn Rand. An atheist, an early abortion rights advocate, drug addict and fan girl of an admitted and convicted mass murderer. and worst of all in the minds of her fanboys, a welfare queen! But none of the facts about Ayn seem to matter to the politicians who have adopted her political and economic fantasies as the basis for justifying their pseudo libertarian "theories". One interesting critic of her work was the flamboyant founder of the church of satan, Anton Lavey. He said, "Satanism is just Ayn Rand's philosophy, with ceremony and ritual added"
My observation has been that Ayn Rand is most popular among emotionally immature, sexually frustrated, early-teen boys who are trying to come up with a reason why nobody realizes how SUPERIOR they are!
They are at that developmental stage where they are looking for a simplistic map to greatness that doesn't require empathy or social skills, but that is "hard" on those whom they view as "losers."
Hmmmm -- sounds a lot like many evangelical Christians!
That's why I found this piece by Matt Osborne from the Breitbart Unmasked blog so compellingly delicious! 

Posted with permission from Breitbart Unmasked

Republish Reprint

Atheist abortion-rights advocate Ayn Rand would seem to be a hard sell for the religious right in America, but her ideas about money as the root of all good in the world have a surprisingly-strong appeal to the white evangelical Christians who form the Republican Party's most active voting base. They have proven perfectly capable of ignoring everything they ought to dislike about Rand to embrace her ideas about poverty, charity, and the role of government in promoting the general welfare. Of course, what Rand has to say on these topics is very different from what Jesus says in the gospels. Here are six videos which demonstrate the way Rand's philosophy has been slipped into the right wing bible somewhere between Romans and Revelations.

1. Pat Robertson tells an 80 year-old woman to get a job rather than stop tithing to his church. Because nothing means more than gifting what you can no longer afford to people who already have more than yourself - it's the ultimate act of faith in the divine invisible hand!

Click here to view the embedded video.

2. Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen tells her flock to "do good for your own self" instead of for God. Because the good you do should make YOU feel good, since that's what's really important here, right? Rand and her cultists are sincerely anti-volunteerism, discouraging any kind of charitable work that isn't personally fulfilling. This is classic Objectivist philosophy restated as a Christian sermon:

Click here to view the embedded video.

3. Glenn Beck's favorite pseudo-historian includes "capitalism" in the Ten Commandments of voting. David Barton is not a credible witness. He is a peddler of ahistorical nonsense disguised as historical research, but conducted according to ‘biblical principles.' In his mouth, the words ‘private property' should be understood as mammon.

Click here to view the embedded video.

4. Congressman Paul Ryan tells the Atlas Society in 2005 how Rand influenced his personal and political philosophies. Ryan's every scheme involving Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, etc. is grounded in Rand's view of such programs as subsidies for moochers. He's since tried to repudiate Objectivism, but no one actually ever accused Ryan of being part of her cult - just a rabid fan of her ideas.

Click here to view the embedded video.

5. The Republican governor of North Carolina appoints an Environment & Natural Resources Secretary who believes in magic oil. Ayn Rand was hardly all-rational, all the time. Her novel Atlas Shrugged makes clear references to abiotic oil theory, a thoroughly-discredited geological conspiracy theory that she genuinely believed at the time. Right wing evangelicals love abiotic oil theory because it lets them disbelieve in fossils - and fossil-fuels.
Click here to view the embedded video.

6. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Wingnuttistan) says that "we are living in the days of Ayn Rand." You don't get a more religious Republican than Cruz, but his ‘End Times' have more in common with John Galt than Jesus Christ.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Oh yah, I was given this special message for Rand Paul:
Hey Rand, Ayn told me she wants her pubic hair back,

Very Scary Marionettes....

Hey, man, shit happens!

Polling, Perception and Manipulation

I found this very interesting as an example of how history can be manipulated politically and polling can be used to to re enforce perception.
Which nation contributed most to defeating Germany in 1945? French polls from 1945, 1994, 2004