Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Day Without Internet

Crickey...8:15, the dogs barking...I meant to get up an hour ago! The sun was shining, and the world outside had a silvery coating of frost. I quietly got up, washed and dressed with the dog following my bare feet attempting to lick them as I walked. Made it down the stairs, almost...the cat had vomited on the bottom stair. She has issues with the alien brand of cat food from the Lidl Bargain Supermarket...never again!
Clean up the mess, feed the cat, get bundled up, take the dog out. Stunning silent frozen morning sun! There are those moments when the world seems just...perfect!
Back in the house, I make coffee and bring a cup up stairs for Janet and myself and I turn on the ADSL box to connect it and ....it won't connect...I glance at the blinking lights from time to time, but it doesn't want to connect. Hmmmm.
The phone rings and it is my neighbor down the hill asking if my email is working, nope, hers neither. That's reassuring, because I know it is a system problem, not me.
So that's that. I have things to do, I have to roll two bales of hay down from the barn for the neighbors horses. I have some graphic work to do. I want to work on some furniture pieces, bring in firewood...walk the dog, again....
In fact, it's suddenly almost time for lunch! After lunch, the neighbor comes by in his tractor and we load the hay. I am tying up the door of the barn when a car arrives and it is a visit from our friend Claud. He is a 78 year old Marchand de Vente...a disappearing profession. He arranges sales of property and handles the legal work for the people here in the countryside. He was born here in Badefols d'Ans and his fatther was a mayor. He has done well for himself, a Marchand de Vente usually makes a part of the deal he arranges...a parcel of land here, a falling down house there. It mounts up. He's a pretty interesting fellow. He and his wife are members of quite a few organizations devoted to the preservation of Occitain Culture. They play musical instruments, the cornis which is a sort of bagpipe and his wife plays the vielle which is an instrument which is cranked and has wooden keys. They are the traditional instruments of the music of rural Southwestern Rural France. Occitain is the Patois, the pre French latin tongue spoken still by the peasant population.

We were happy to see Claud. He is a great story teller. We count on him for the real background tales about our village history. I invited him in and he said he was out driving and he thought he'd stop by, then he asked me if my email was working. He got a computer for Christmas before last and now he is an email addict. I asked if he wanted a drink and poured him a glass of Pineau. We began to talk about the Movie Jacquou Le Croquant. He didn't think it was at all like the story by Eugene LeRoy but it was very pretty. He began to talk about Eugene LeRoy who was born near here and then he told us a story about a Hamlet called La Rochette. I go by La Rochette all the time on the road down to St. Agnan. It sits on a ridge overlooking the valley which the Chateau d'Hautefort dominates. I was abandoned for years an now a rich American has bought it and is restoring it. It even has a small church. The story took place in the mid 1800's. It seems that one day some workmen were working on the church, trying to hang a new bell and having a lot of problems. A man was walking on the road with a rucksack and stopped and offered his advice. They listened and let him help. The bell was hung perfectly in no time. The lord of the hamlet thanked the man and said now that they had the bell hung, all they needed was new priest as the old cure had just died. What luck! The passerby said he was a priest! He had the job. After he was there for a while, he told the lord that he needed a servant. Not too old, not too young, but nice looking. Soon the Cure had his servant who became his mistress. The people thought he was a very holy fellow because at night he would beat a pillow and moan and they would think he was whipping himself. He performed a certain miracle. He had a cupboard with a revolving shelf known only to himself. He would take a bottle, fill it with water and put it in the cupboard and pray. When he opened the cupboard, the water turned miraculously to wine! All his dinner guests were usually impressed.

The Bishop of Hautefort asked him where he was ordained and he told them Toulouse.
No one ever thought to question him because he was so well liked and obviously a great and holy Cure. He lived to be a ripe old age, but when he died, the Bishop tried to find someone to contact in Toulouse and sent his name and description in case there were relatives. He got an answer from the authorities that the man they had thought was their Holy Cure in reality was a criminal wanted for the murder of a priest and he had stolen his identity 35 years earlier!
With that, Claud started laughing until he was gasping! "He killed a priest!"...a typical Claud story. Usually he regails us with tales of hilariously botched suicides which amuse him so much he laughs until he is almost in tears!
He finished his glass of Pineau and had to get going. Say Hello to Mimi! Au revoir!

Monday, January 29, 2007

CoCoRico! Your French Election 2007 update!
It's been a wild week in the election, Jose Bove is in, LePen is in!
A French comedian celebrity imitator with UMP Party affiliations, sort of the
Dennis Miller of the Sarkoists called Segolenes Socialist Party Headquarters pretending to be the Prime Minister of Canada. Last week Segolene made a statement
about Quebec which was taken out of context. The Comedian recorded the conversation and they made jokes about Corsican Independance. Then the tape was leaked to the media and another tempest in a teapot occurred. Sarko stated that Sego was incompetent and she just laughed it off. On the other hand, Segolene hired the ex president of Green Peace in France as her environmental advisor. Another breaking scandal developped as it was revealed that Sarko had him investigated by the police
to dig up any dirt that could be used against him. A blatant abuse of power by the candidate who is also the Minister of the Interior. Formal charges were filed this week.
Charges were also made that Sarko was running his campaign out of the Ministrys' switchboard, using government employees. Then there was the human interest
stories about how the Sarko Campaign Headquarters in the 10th Arrondissment in Paris has turned into an armed camp making it impossible for the residents on the street to lead normal lives.
It was also revealed that Jacques Chirac had initiated a series of clandestine talks
with Iran in an attempt to reopen the channels of calm diplomacy, This was scuttled
when it was leaked to the press and the American government protested that France was subverting the United Nations (whatever?).
Today in the Canard Enchaine Political Newspaper it was revealed that the source of the leak was the Foreign Minister himself, Doust-Blazie who is now a Sarkoist.
Sarkozi is against Chiracs diplomatic move because A) He would hate for Chirac to score any points on this matter. B) Sarko is in lockstep with the Americans and C) He is also very much in with the Likud and courting the Jewish vote here.
Of course, this has enraged Chirac who I think at this point would do anything to bring Sarkozi down., not to mention any number of other personal enemies in his oppwn party he has created over the years.
Segolene has gotten the endorsement of ecologists, womens groups and slowly the
personal endorsement from thousands of small organizations here. She seems to be building from the bottom up Sarkozi started by crowning himself in a very ostentatious public ceremony then the smears began.
The media is having a field day with him. His two big celebrity endorsements have backfired. Johnny Halliday who has publicly moved to Switzerland to avoid paying French taxes and a rap artist he seems to have paid off to give him "Street Cred".
The Rap Artist who goes by the shady monicker of Doc Gyneco will probably never sell another record and tonight I watched make an ass of himself on a news talk show
tring to explain his position to an aghast audience, most were gape mouthed
shocked at how entirely vapid he was. The rest of the Rap community is recording stuff with titles like Sarko Fascio! There are almost a million new voters here this year and most are from the inner cities and the mood is Sarko Fascio!
He is a very dangerous man!


This is an experiment for me, I am trying to embed a video. This YouTube Viideo was made by Dan McEnroe and is dedicated to Monsieur Spocko of SpockosBrain who I have written about in a few posts in the last two weeks...recap, Spocko hears obnoxious Hate Radio Station KSFO. Spocko gets pissed, organizes and promotes sponsor boycott of Hate Speech...Station owner ABC/Disney threaten Spocko with phony legal action. Spocko's blog is banned by chicken shit blog administrator. The blog community rallies, More advertisers cancel, Spocko gets legal help and fights back. KSFO goes ballistic, insults everyone and only makes themselves look nastier and stupider. Spocko gets blog back(Check out Spockosbrain in the sidebar and blogintegrity!) and the fight goes on, but you know what? It looks like this time we are winning!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pot au Feu

A chilly wintry night in La Sechere with the fireplace roaring away. The dog is gnawing on a bone that should last him quite a while. I took him out around 10:30 and the sky was crystal clear with a half moon so bright that the fog coming up from the valley seemed to be glowing.
The house smells fragrant from the wood smoke and the scent of tonights dinner.
Janet made the perennial favorite French winter meal, a pot au feu.
The ingredients are fairly common, it just has to cook for a long time. She made hers with a package of cheap beef ribs. I dug up leeks from the frozen garden and found some thyme, parsley and celery leaves.
The basic technique is to take the cheap beef, usually something with a big marrow bone, cover it with water in a big pot with some gros sel (kosher salt should do fine, if not, regular salt), a clove or two of garlic, an onion studded with cloves and a bouquet garnii of thyme and parsley.
Bring the water to a boil and let it go for an hour, covered. Take the pot off of the fire and this time of year, just put it outside until it is cold and you can take the fat off the top easily. Then a few carrots, a bunch of leeks tied in a bunch. Use the whites and the greens. Some turnips...that's the basic winter vegetable assortment. Put them in the pot and put it back on the fire, covered for an hour or so. When you are getting ready to serve, boil a few potatoes, separately so they don't cloud the broth.
Remove the meat and vegetables, the bouquet garnii from the broth which now is highly flavoured. You can put some vermicelli noodles in or if you like, some tapioca pearls, here they are called perls de japon and are added to clear broths.
Keep the meat and vegetables warm. When you are ready to serve, have on the table a selection of condiments. Some chunky salt, we use sel de guerlande...a grey sea salt, some good hot dijon mustard, mayonaisse if you like and of course, cornichons!
(little sour pickles)
Serve the broth first in bowls. The tradition here is when the soup is almost done, the men make a chabrol...you pour a glass of red wine in the soup and drink it from the bowl, picturesque but a little messy especially if you have a goatee like me.
There are stories about the origin of the Chabrol but I keep hearing the one about a grape picker named Pierre Chabrol who when it was lunch time and finished with his soup asked for some wine. There was no glass, so he drank it from his bowl, he liked it so much that he did it every day from then on and it made him strong like Hercules and much more intelligent. Thew owner of the vineyard noticed this and he married the masters daughter, inherited the farm and lived to a very old age which he owed all to drinking a glass of wine mixed with his broth everyday.
This story was told to me by a 78 year old man who had convinced me that it would be an insult to turn down a glass in my bowl.
So, After the broth, serve the meat and vegetables, all steaming tender and scented with the cloved onion. Everyone takes a little salt on their plate and mustard and pickles and says "Bon Apetit, bien sur!"
The dog gets to lick the platter and have a bone!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jacquou le Croquant

A frigid drive into Brive la Gaillarde today to see the film Jacquou le Croquant. It was released in January 17 in France and got a lot of advance showings in this region because the story is part of the folklore of the Dordogne. It was made by the Director, Laurent Boutonnet, who also composed the music, and stars the actor, Gaspard Ulliel as Jacquou.
This film will be released in the US dubbed and there has been a lot of press about Gaspard Ulliel who has made a few hottest actor of 2007 lists in the US Press.
I thought it was a film that could appeal to all ages and could be shown to a young audience with no problem. The art direction, costuming, camera work, design and sets are absolutely stunning. Many little effects which are barely noticed are used to enhance the painterly quality of the scenes. In the opening scene, peasants are cutting wheat and the wheat field glistens and shimmers in the sun which seems to reflect the joyous mood of the people working together. The shimmering was achieved by "glitter powder", an effect not really evident, it just enhances the scene.
As an action tale of poetic justice and love it really succeeds. I found myself emotionally manipulated by the story telling. If I hadn't already known the book by Eugene LeRoy and seen the 8 hour mini series made for French television back in 1969, I would have liked it more.
The movie simplies a very deep story of politics and peasant revolt set in the rural Dordogne in 1815. I have to say that the movie succeeds magnificently in capturing the look of the villages at that time. When the city of Perigueux is first shown, I gasped in amazement because they had recreated the city as it looked then an amazing thing because the Cathedral, St. Front had only one byzantine influenced tower back then and was radically redesigned in the 1880's. St. Front is an amazing building if you ever come to Perigueux, the original church was built before 1000 ad and was incorporated into the present building. In the 1880's it was enlarged for the final time and two more towers were added and all was coated with a frosting of pale colored terra cotta!
The movie changes a few very important details for sake of a happier ending. The political involvement of the Jesuits in the suppression of the peasants is barely touched on, yet is one of author LeRoys main themes. LeRoy wrote the book in 1885 and he uses a lot of Patois, the pre french language that is sort of corrupted latin which the peasants here still speak. I don't believe the book has been translated into English, but if it has, it's a wonderful read!
Though the movie really strives to show the misery of the times, the dehumanization of the peasants and the cruelty of the rich and also the tenderness of the relationships between the characters...it's neccessarily simplistic treatment of these things were lacking because I loved the story so much.
Jacquou was a fictional figure, yet to most of the people I know who live in the towns of Rouffignac, Thenon, Montignac and Fanlac, he was a real person and they will show you the actual sites of the action in the book. I have been to the abandond Chateau d'Hermes where the evil count of Nansac supposedly lived and had Jacquou thrown down the oubliette. Later the peasants revolt and burn the chateau which to the people here is the reason it is ruined and abandoned today. Many of the locations are local villages and we spent the movie identifying sites and ttrying to spot friends who got extra parts in the film! Bravo a Simon Clerjoux! (mon ancien voisin d'Ajat)
In spite of my reservations, I was very glad to have seen it and with out hesitation recommend it to anyone who enjoys a historical romance with lots of great action!
Some of the characters are wonderfully cast and played! If you see it advrtised, check it out and if you ever see the book, Jacquou le Croquant, read it!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A few ongoing sagas in the world of blog free speech.
The SpockosBrain story lives on and Spocko has had some real success in his campaign to hold San Francisco Radio Station KSFO accountable for the over the line hate speech they fill the airwaves with. Two day ago, USA Today ran a pretty supportive article about the fight ands today in SpockosBrain, he reports that another
sponsor has pulled its advertising. Here is the USA Today piece:

In a dispute between the "new media" of the Internet and the "old media" of broadcasting, liberal bloggers and conservative talk-radio hosts are accusing each other of trampling the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech.

[..]Some advertisers, including Bank of America and MasterCard, have deserted KSFO since an anonymous media critic identifying himself online as Spocko began posting recordings of the station's "Hot Talk" hosts. Spocko and some of his readers have been e-mailing the audio to KSFO advertisers since 2005, asking the companies whether they want to be associated with the controversial rhetoric.

The First Amendment flap was debated Sunday on CNN's Reliable Sources. Dan Riehl, a blogger critical of Spocko, said some of the radio hosts' comments "were blown out of proportion or misrepresented" in the complaints to sponsors. Mike Stark, another blogger and a Spocko ally, said: "The way to fight free speech that you disagree with is to engage in more free speech. And that's exactly what Spocko did."

[..]"Yes, this is a freedom of speech issue, and this individual is entitled to say what he wants to," Morgan told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But he's trying to take away my livelihood, and I'm not trying to take away his."

(EFF attorney Matt) Zimmerman says Spocko's rights are in more peril than the station's. "ABC/Disney tried to use the legal process to silence a critic who was actually amplifying their speech," he says. "Spocko was doing exactly what the First Amendment is designed to do - promote this marketplace of ideas

There was also a piece in last weeks NY Times that shed a little light on the controversy. In the process, KSFO has managed to smear their advertisers who showed concern and pulled ads, Media Matters as a Terrorist Left Wing Organization and anyone else including the thousand of bloggers who have shown their concern and posted about this. If you would like to learn a little more and listen to some of the offending rhetoric from KSFO that started all of this brouhaha, please go check out the
blog integrity blog page. I think there is a tape posted today and they have a library of the offending material available for downloading. P.S. if you visit Spockos page, if you are inclined, he has a paypal icon up and he could use some bucks for his legal battle, but he is too shy to ask you! You know, sometimes, we win one!
There is another episode in this post and it is a littler story and it is unfolding as we speak. It involves a blog that I admire very much in Toledo, Ohio. PoliticsinMudville
is a blog about local Toledo politics, but the author who goes by the tag of Liberal Democrat is a pretty fearless fellow who won't back down from a fight. His blog is an amazing voyage into the many faceted interests and passions he wants to tell us about. Intensely political, bordering on radical, he uses logic, wit and sheer intellect to express his views on national and world politics, religion and science. He recently attracted the ire of the religious right in Toledo and is the victim of non stop right wingnut noise posts which he doesn't erase on principle and tries to deal with in a logical way. The main perpetrator is a being called barb who is a fundamentalist fanatic who rants about gays, quotes the bible, defends our involvement in Iraq, is still convinced that the Clintons are part of a Southern Democrat Mafia involved in shady murders etc. etc....Sure, that's what free speech is all about, but this has become an obsessive vendetta and I'm sure it's taking it's toll in brain cells. I post responses from time to time until I get too mad and my sense of humor starts to wane.
I would tell you to check out Politics in Mudville just because I think, quality wise, it is one of the best small blogs I have ever seen. If you think you are intellectually up to battling barb...be my guest! If you want to see an X-Ray close up of what you are going to deal with, check out barbs blog, barbwire. Today she had a post on the enlarged "pleasure centers" found in the brains of homosexuals and what could be done with them.

Still Even More Splendider....

Thank you, Steve Bell
Todays Guardian Observer, Jan. 25, 2007

It Was Just Splendid.......

No really, it was great, the speech of a lifetime, don't you think?
He really pulled his ass out of the fire with that one.
He looked great, almost sorta, well, presidential.
I'm sure his ratings are gonna sky rocket to the low 30's
for a couple of days,
at least.
It was just splendid!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How Shit Happens....

On the 22nd, I posted a satirical piece about the Chinese anti-satellite missel test.
Since then, the Chinese have affirmed that they did indeed successfully complete an anti satellite test. Of course the US squawked about it, after all it was a direct violation of the new Bush In Space Doctrine. You remember, Bush boldly declared that the military use of space was the perogative of America. That was pretty lame and easy for him because at the time, as far as we could see, no one was in position to challenge it.
Hell, the way American corporate space research was siphoning off grants on simulating false test results on space weapons and anti missile shields that were still not operational, how could anyone else be in the position to do better?
Before we were able to put a piece of operational space hardware into orbit, the Chinese have proved that they already have the capability to take it out.
In the mid 90's, the right wing gasbags were going on about how the Clinton administration sold out our space program and gave it to the Chinese. Rush Limbaugh got some Clinton bashing mileage out of the tale, but let me allow one of the posters on this blog, wjohnson to tell you the story of how the Chinese acquired this
technology in his own words!

"In the mid-nineties, the rightwing nut job, Rush Limbaugh, use to rant and rave on how Clinton gave China our rocket technology. “Clinton had betrayed this country!!” The truth of this matter is as follows. This story was passed onto me by the neighbor to my parent’s home. He is an engineer working for one of the defense sub-contractors at NASA’s Goddard facility, just outside of the beltway of D.C. I have his business card that I can scan and pass onto you as proof. My mother’s neighbor passed on that it was one of the Sales Engineers with this defense sub-contractor, trying to make a sale of their products to China. When everyone was pushing for “Most Favored Trading Status” for China, (this included the then dominated Republican Congress and Senate) he felt it was fine to pass on the technology that the Chinese did not have in order to make a sale. When he was making his sales call, the Chinese made the comment that they would be interested in doing business with his company but they could not justify it because their rockets were still blowing up on the launching pad. This Sales Engineer took out a scrap piece of paper and proceeded to draw the problem with their design and then passed on the correct design to get their rockets into space. With this information in hand, the Chinese tested out the design and found that it worked. The Sales Engineer associated with the defense sub-contractor working with NASA got a large sales contract from China. Back at home in the U.S.; it was how he got the contract that had mixed feelings with the other employees within his defense company. Everyone realized the ramifications on what he had done to get a sales contract. But on the other hand they were being accepted as a “Most Favored Trading Status” partner. Now everyone wants to act surprised when China takes a giant leap in their technology?"
Thank you, Mr. Johnson for another exciting episode of "How Shit Happens"!
Stay tuned as we bring another episode each week of
"How Shit Happens"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

White Out......

Today, we were going to actually go to a Movie Theater the recently refurbished CineRoc in Terrasson to see the last showing of the new French Film, Jacquou Le Croquant. We don't see many movies in theaters because it involves at least a 20 mile drive to the nearest. Most other theaters are at least an hour drive from here.
We actually had free passes from a friend who works for Pathe in Paris! We will see the Jacquou Movie and I will write a review of it. It will be released in the States later this year.
It's a classic tale of peasant oppression and revolt written by the regionalist author Eugene LeRoy in the late 1800's. It all took place in this area and uses lots of locations around the Dordogne, including our local Chef de Commune, Hautforte. Eugene Leroy lived in Hautforte. I'll write more of him and the movie when we finally see it.
This morning I woke up at 7:30 and looked out the window and saw a few snowflakes falling. No problem, I thought, it will all turn to rain by 11 am.
By 11 am, we were experiencing white out conditions and the temperature was falling rapidly and all the rain that had fallen during the night had turned to ice! It's 3:30 and still snowing here and it looks like it will continue until the night. The roads are covered with ice and there are travel advisories up for most of France.

I'm a midwest native and blizzards and 6 inch snowfalls were a normal part of winter, but here, absolutely no one knows how to drive in the snow! A centimeter of snow falls and the next days noon news is full of accident reports and photos of cars off the road! They literally panic at the first snowflake and there is a run on the bakeries because no one wants to be caught with out enough bread!

So, I called the cinema and they said the showing was cancelled because of the weather. Just as well, it would have been potentially hazardous driving as our little Puegot 306 doesn't have snow tires and there are a lot of steep hills...snow tires? HAH! Who would need snow tires here? I took some black and white photos of a rare snow day in La Sechere...........click to enlarge.

Follow the simple instructions, Mr. Bush!

It's not as if it's never been done before. Just follow these simple instructions,
Mr. Bush.
Download this letter, it's dated today and I took the liberty of inserting
your signature.
If anyone reading this post wants, you can download the letter and send it to Mr. Bush.
He needs a little reminder that we don't think he's capable, he's not doing a good job and the longer he sticks around, the worse off we all will be. I rushed it to be ready in time for his State of The Union Address tonight!
Mr. Bush,
It's simple, painless, avoid uneeded impeachment hearings, you can get that long rest you 've been dreaming of and most importantly, get that new permanent vaction home in Paraguay squared away before the shit really hits the fan!

Abbe Pierres' Last Gift

This post is about how the best laid plans of men and mice never go the way they looked on paper.
In 1954, a 41 year old priest named Abbe Pierre was already leading a one man crusade to help the huge homeless post war populaion of France gain their rights and respect. He had requisitioned an abandoned house outside of Paris in the trash heaps by the railroad tracks where a huge homeless population lived in a shanty town.
The government was cracking down on the homeless in Paris and evicting them from under bridges and the nooks and crannies where they were able to find refuge.
He took his fight to the top of the government and during one of the coldest winters on record, was able to get on the radio and make an impassioned speech that is still a classic today about the plight of the homeless and societies responsibility. Of course his social activism put him at odds with the Vatican. He touched the hearts of the French people and he became a national hero. Today his Emmaus Organization is in 54 countries and has housing and second hand stores all over France. Moreover, the government was forced to enact laws to help poor people get housing which have only been expanded since then.
Abbe Pierre died today at age 94. Up until thte last year or so, he was still a powerful personality making TV appearances and becoming a regular puppet on the satiric political show Les Guignols d'Info.
This winter on the banks of the Canal St. Martin in Paris and now in quite a few other cities, there have appeared organized tent towns of homeless. They have been championed by a lot of the French people and have gotten a lot of publicity because of the Presidential campaign. It became such an embarassment that the government enacted today a rather wishy washy law that supposedly guarenteed the homeless a right to sue for housing and put together a program that should take effect in 5 years.
In other words, they did nothing buut tried to make it look like they took initiative.
Yesterday, though, Segolene Royale was on Canal+ for an hour being interviewed and one of the points she made was that the Socialists are committed to immediate action. They will require vacant apartments that qualify be used for the homeless as well as using govrnment owned land to construct new housing.
The backdrop to all of this has been Nikola Sarkozi, the UMP Candidate for president and Interior Minister who has been hard at work evicting homeless squats and deporting homeless people who don't have their papers in order, penniless back to their country of origin. There have been thousands of these expulsions. He appeals to the extreme right with this kind of stuff. He tries to play the fear card at every opportunity and has been playing dirty smear politics in the American style.
Today, because of Abbe Pierres' death, the cause of the homeless became the national focus. Chirac spoke of burying the Abbe in the Pantheon, Frances' highest honor.
Tonight a 1989 movie was broadcast. A dramatization of the events of that winter in 1954. The villain of the movie was the heartless Interior Minister who triied all he could to stop an unstoppable force like Abbe Pierre. He lost of course, and the last words of the movie were "Mister Interior Minister, Please Stop the Expulsions!"
The movie was prime time and I can guarantee that almost every television was tuned to it! The Abbe could have died at any time, but his moment of death guarantees that this will be etched in the minds of countless French people. Another case of the politics of human compassion overwhelming the calculating machine of a little cruel fascist!

Monday, January 22, 2007

You are not qualified....

According to the Justice Department, you are probably not qualified to interpret the Constiitution correctly in this present "State of Terror". I'd say this was a lot like the Catholic Church not allowing the Bible to be translated into the languagew common people spoke during the middle ages for fear that they might actually ask embarrassing questions!
Just for the record, George W. Bush swore this oath twice in both of his inaugarations as President:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Can we impeach him now, please?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Can We Impeach Him?

The Attorney General claims there is no right to Habeus Corpus in the Constitution. He has made a pretty good attempt to trash our Bill of Rights. Can we impeach him now, please?

French Election Update

A week after my first election explanation post. It's been a wild week. Last Sunday, The UMP Coronation of Nikola Sarkosi as it's official candidate. It was a coronation because he was the only candidate and basically it was a big rah rah rah rally to show numbers and party unity. It was a very publicized event in an American way. They trumpeted that 8 specially rented TGVs were bringing members from all over France. There was a huge stage for the little man with huge Video screens. During the show they trumpeted numbers of 50,000, 80,000 and 100,000 at the show and Nikola was supposed to have gotten 70% of the vote.
They came out swinging with smears in the American tradition of fiscal wrong doing by Segoulene and her Husband. Charges which were imediately denied, but served to put them on the defensive immediately. Sarkozi made a number of photo ops for TV, appaering in the midst of his entourage posse of media and body guards.
The day of the big UMP show, Segoulene appeared on French news at a farm in the Charente holding a lamb, very relaxed talking with people.
So began a week of attacks and bluster by the UMP. The low point was on an evening talk/news program on Canal+ with an appearance by the spokesperson for Mme Royale and a Deputy from the UMP for Sarkozi. The Socialist spokesman was totally unprepared and the UMP deputy was untethered and spitting fire. She wouldn't let the Socialist finish a sentence and I could tell the guy was really ratttled. He tried to make a tragic joke about Segoulenes weak point being her partner, who is the Socialist party Leader. This was met by embarrassed silence by everyone including the UMP Deputy who couldn't believe her own ears.
By mid week, though, the sparkle was wearing off Sarko. People are asking, how can he be Interior Minister and campaign for president at the same time? How do you separate the two? We saw various UMP reps on various shows making unprecedented personal attacks on Mme Royale which is a new thing here. They are trying politics, American style.
Tonight, though, Segoulene was in the news and gave an interview on TF1 in which she shined! She also has been meeting with all the associations in France personally, that will be over 5,000 personal appearances by Feb 10th. The UMP and Sarkozi were shown to have lied about the number of people at their event. The 100,000 became less than 30,000. After the "event" Sarko jumped 4 points in the polls. Now they are evening off and I think the quiet reasoned humanism of Segoulene is going to come to the fore front again. The political humor shows are being deadly with Sarkozi!
The campaign hasn't officially started yet, and when it does, all coverage of the candidates will be strictly timed and monitored. This is a real interesting race already, a real show of opposites and how American nasty political style can be defeated by realistic humanism in a country where politics are more than just sound bites!

Friday, January 19, 2007

$ Lost In Space!

Get Crichton on the phone! Now! George was sputtering almost dangerously inhaling a pretzel fragment again. He coffed and made a mental note to stop eating pretzels when he was so excited. The memo on his desk was glowing...the type etched in his brain, Successful Chinese anti satellite missile test knocks out target on first try!
I wanna get the guys at Rayathon in here! What does this mean?
"Now, now, Mr.President", the advisor from NASA was crooning in a soothing voice,
"It's not really a problem, we're already working in it!"
George whined in a mocking voice,"But you said they wouldn't have the capability for 25 years! We haven't even gotten the gigantic galactic laser destruction platforms off the ground yet and now the Chinese can blow them up before they are even built!"
The Rayathon Executive walked in the door of the oval office and the NASA guy gave him a discreet warning glance. He got the message immediately, "Mr. President, sir, I know you are concerned about the Chinese Missile Test today! We are already ahead of them on that, we are almost on the verge of a breakthrough to make them invisible!" The President stopped and thought for a minute, you could almost see the tiny wheels turning and the little vein which had become so prominent lately when he was "thinking" began to pulse on his right temple. "Invisible?" he gasped.
"Yes sir! When we launch them, there won't be any detectable physical evidence that they actually exist! The Chinese will never see them, uhhh, you will never see them. In fact, there will never be any physical record of any sort that they ever existed!"
George gasped, "That's amazing! uhhh, but how will we know they exist?"
The executive from Rayathon winked at the NASA guy and said, "Sir, you just have to believe they exist! Now if you could just sign the secret authorization for the funding so we can complete our secret task to insure the safety and welfare of the future of America and insure that your legacy will be engraved in gold in the history books of the future!"
They all stopped to wipe the tears from their eyes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Hey, it's Dick Cheney, our 21st century kind of vice president! He's a go getter, major player, multimillionaire kind of guy! Don't have no time for self reflection, details, the law, Hell, he makes the law! What is the Constitution anyway to a 21st century government CEO?
Some antique relic on fading parchment by written by idealists back in the 18th century.
Way back then, when you could have ideals and there was time for patriotic fantasies!
That was then and this is now!
By the time congress gets around to even considering what mile a minute Cheney is doing, why he's come and gone, did it and went, collected his check and now he's kickin back with a coupla shots of Chivas!
If someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, Dicks advice is "Lie!" who the hell cares, if they don't like it, tell them to Fuck Off!
He can do it and that's what American likes about him! He's a gogettin' lyin' son of bitchin' shoot em in the face and tell them to fuck off kind of guy! He's going places........uh huh..................yup....
Tony Snow when asked last week end at a press conference if America had any plans to attack Iran, laughed it off as an Urban Rumor kind of thing. Meanwhile, the pieces are falling into place, aircraft carriers in the Gulf, very obvious threats from the President in his BEEEG SPEECH last week. At the same time there was an extremly provacative "fishing expedition" on an Iranian Diplomatic building in which Americans seized personell, records and computers to find anything which could be cooked to prove Iranian complicity in the violence there.
Today, there was a report that the ING bank issued a advisory to its investors on January 9, to prepare themselves for an American attack on Iran in late Febuary/March. There was also an article in a Kuwait newspaper which stated that there was going to be an American strike in by April. But we Americans learn only through the eyes and ears of the rest of the world what is really going on. Cheney gets on FOX News and lies, Tony Snow lies at a White House Press Conference. The President goes on 60 Minutes on Sunday and lies because that's what the American people want to hear. It's pointless to ask the rhetorical question, "When did they tell the truth about anything?".
I think it's pretty obvious that Dick Cheney wants to provoke Iran into some sort of action that could be used like the Gulf of Tonkin incident was in the Vietnam War. Let's face it, America likes war as long as we are winning....they've got to change the subject fast to keep the war in Iraq going until they can get out with the loot!
I also believe that the vice president believes that we are engaged in Iran, the heat is off of the executive branch, they can use the hysteria of Iranian Security threats to further expand the executive seizure of power and throw the rule book out the window.
It always sounds so simple to these psycopaths...first we lob a few neutron bombs into their reactors, and then when the revolution starts, we walk in, the Iranian people throw roses and felafels at us and we get all the oil! Yah, great, I'll drink to that!
Meanwhile, Iran has been pretty good at making alliances and Russia sure doesn't want to deal with American adventurism any closer to it's door step. Another piece today in Reuters detailed a delivery of new model anti missile defense rockets as well as the continuing arms sales to Iran. America has only Israel as an ally in this venture and you can bet that we will find our selves even more diplomatically isolated than we have ever imagined.
But that isn't going to stop Dick, no sir, no snail paced afraid to look soft on terror Congress is going to pass any laws that he'll bother to read, not this boy, no sir! He's ahead of those sissies already. He's already got his next pack of lies ready......

Time out for dessert....

This picture is a recipe card from a 1975 issue of Elle Magazine. It is a picture of a Pear Frangipane tart. If you have been in a French Patisserie, you will recognize it as it is one of the staples. My wife cut this card out of the magazine back in 1975 and has been making this tart occasionally ever since then. I've tried it a few times and it's relatively simple and the results are fantastic! Frangipane is an almond pastry cream made with ground almonds. The ground almonds are sold like flour in speciality stores, I found them relatively easily in New York City. If you can't find ground almonds, then you can grind them yourself in a food processor. They are actually used in a lot of pastry like the very dense gateau au chocolat that substitutes the ground almonds for flour entirely. Why not try this!
This is for a 25 cm tart. You really need a low tart pan for this! The kind with a removeable bottom is the best.
The Crust:
Mix together 125 g. of soft butter
250 g. of flour
100 g. of sugar
1 egg
Mix together swiftly, it will form a ball, the less you mix crust the better it the texture..depending on the size of the egg, you might need a few drops of water.
put the crust in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Then you can use your hands to push the dough into the tart pan evenly. Prick the dough with a fork. Put the crust into the oven, 375 degrees for ten minutes or less, just until it starts to get the least bit of color.
Meanwhile, the frangipane:
Mix 100 g of softened butter
100 g of the powdered almonds
100 g of sugar
1 egg
1 soupspoon of flour
you could put in a soupspoon of rum or kirsch, but it is not neccessary.
Beat the mixture until it is soft and uniformly white, then spread it evenly on the cool prebaked tart crust.
The pears: You can use 6 canned half pears. Cut them in thin slices and fan them decoratively like in the picture over the surface of the frangipane. It makes a nice sttar pattern.
Put the tart back in the oven, same temperature for 40 or so minutes. The frangipane will puff up and turn brown. When it is done, let it cool.
You could take some of the syrup in the canned pears and reduce it in a saucepan until it is thickened and glaze the tart when it is cool enough to make it shiny, just like in a patisserie shop. This sounds fussy, but after you've done it once or twice, it's pretty simple and one of the best desserts for all seasons! Bon Apetit, bien sur!

Monday, January 15, 2007

2! count'em 2! new links!

Today, I am very happy to put 2 new links in the sidebar for your navigational conveniience and pleasure. The first is Spocko's Brain. Analysis of media bias, consumer advocate, political shenanigans, religion and science fiction in all its forms.
This is the website that was shut down because Spocko dared to challenge a Disney/ABC rightwing hate talk station KSFO. He now has a new server who knows what the law is and is not so easily intimidated. The issue made the NY Times today and though the article was rather unbiased, it made it clear that Spocko was fighting the good fight!
The other link is for Online Blogintegrity, the site which championed this issue and mobilized hundreds of bloggers to join in the melee! A good place to find out what is happening in the world of blogging, threats to your freedom to blog and how to fight for your rights! I also love the style the of the blogger El Gato Negro!
Because We Can!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sarko, Sego et Moi.....

Only 4 months until the French Presidential Elections! Things move along fast here. It's not at all the same as the USA. We have lots of political parties. Even more candidates.
Extreme Left and Extreme Right and everything in between. The extreme right is represented by Jean-Marie LePen of the Front National, a very militant right wing anti immigrant, anti Europe, anti almost everything kinda guy who is getting senile in the nastiest way but still represents a force to be dealt with in every election.
The Extreme Left is represented by Olivier Besencenot of the LCR (League Communiste Revolutionaire). He is a 33 year old Postman from Paris and this is his second presidential election. In the last election, he got 1.2 million votes. He is very personally nice guy and highly intelligent debater who has written a few books and very definitely a force to be reckoned with.
In between, there is Francois Bayrou from the Pyrenees who has his own left of center party, Arlette Laguiller, the perenial candidate for the Communist Workers, Phillipe DeVilliers, a conservative Catholic witthout a chance, Dominique DeVillepin, the present Prime Minister, Edouard Fillias, Dominique Voynet, Jacques Chirac, who hasn't said if he will or won't, and various Green Party and of course Jose Bove....
But the real contest after all the spoilers have played with the percentages, is between Nikolas Sarkozy, the present Interior Minister and Center Right UMP Party candidate and Segoulene Royale, President of the Poitou-Charentes Region of France and a member of the National Assembly. She is a Socialist. She is a little more centrist than the traditional positions of the Socialist Party which in reality is an asset for her electability.
The procedure for the presidential election normally is all candidates are allowed the same media time. The money for campaigning is paid by the government and no other money can be spent. There are no television ads except in blocks, so the ads must be very clear and the alloted time is valuable for explaining the candidates platform.
Then a week before the election, each registered voter recieves a packet in the mail with sample ballots and information about each candidate.
Then they vote. There are no voting machines. The system is very traditional, you take your ballots, select the one you want, deposit it in the box in full view of everyone. In a small village, they read off your name as you sign the register and as you deposit your vote, the official says "a vote". Then the votes are counted with witnesses at each station.
Unless a miracle occurs, in the first round, no one candidate will get a clear majority but the two top contenders will be the candidates in the next round a week or so later. This explains how Jean-Marie LePen was able to challenge Chirac in the second round in the last election. Everyone "held their noses" and voted for Chirac.
I hear more talk of "le vote utile" this time. Instead of voting for your favorite candidate or protest vote, the last election scared enough people to realize that they have to vote for the candidate they think would be the best right off!
So, Sarko, Sego....Sarkozy is playing to the middle, he is hard on immigration and has been critisized for his harsh prosecution and extradition policies. So much that an open resistance has developed of a network of people defying the law and looking at it in a way that is reminiscent of the Resistance of WW2. They hide immigrants and help them become legal and keep families together.
He also plays to peoples fears of race and his rhetoric has been accused of being the spark of the unrest last year in the suburbs of Paris. If he became President of France, you would see real unrest from all levels of society. He doesn't help himself that he is seen as very vain and over ambitious. He has tried to borrow a lot from American political campaigning and stages huge media events and rallies. A short, swarthy fellow, he has an aggressive speaking style that turns a lot of people off. I have been calling him the "Lawn Dwarf Of Doom". The Socialist Party has released a 600+ page document that details his links to the NeoCon movement in America.
Seguolene is a breath of fresh air. A complete break with the elephants who have dominated French politics, she is an unmarried mother of five, attractive and extremely intelligent. Her partner is Francois Hollande, the president of the Socialist Party. She seems to have captured the imagination of the country and her image has taken on a life of its own. In the last few weeks, she has taken trips to China and the Middle East to meet with leaders and establish relationships and gather her own facts.
She is going to visit the United States in the next few weeks and I guarantee you will hear of it. I have already heard none other than Pat Buchanan speak of her as the next president of France on The McGlaughin Group.
I wrote this to give you a bit of background as to what is happening here. I will try to explain the process and update it as it goes along. This is a country that lives and breaths it's politics and debate is a living and vital art here. The passion you see on your television screens in the streets here is a given natural right! Right now the homeless are the big issue and the associations representing them are taking advantage of the election to throw the spotlight on the issue and get the candidates to make commitments! Ecologists were able to do the same thing!
Observing this process can give Americans insight to what education and action can really do. You can only become a prisoner of Apathy when you accept it!

Revenge Of The Air Pirates!

This is day 6 and counting of the blogswarm against KSFO Radio in San Fransisco! Yesterday, the station finally reacted to the reality of the boycott of advertisers that is forming to drive their brand of hate off the air. They held an "open" discussion of the boycott on air. Melanie Morgan accused Media Matters
of attempted extortion in their role in the campaign. They claimed that Media Matters involvement threatened their jobs. They also labeled the entire blog community as a fringe lunatic group of unemployed losers.
Hey, KSFO can keep on broadcasting their garbage as long as they want and I can have the right to find it harmful, hateful and dangerous, because I can!
Their sponsors also have a right to know what kind of garbage they are responsible for airing and choosing if they want to be associated with it. Nobody has threatened them with bodily harm.
They have made themselves into the lightning rod for the collective disgust for this genre of race baiting and right wing violent demagogery. They are making themselves into Americas Poster Children of Hate.
This has moved into a bigger issue than the shutting down of Spocko's Brain, the incident which triggered all of this and Melanie Morgan and her cohorts have done all they could to make it so.
Take a little time to file a complaint with the FCC against Disney/ABC/KSFO . It will take 2 minutes tops. KSFO has to fill out a form for every one filed! It's time to devalue the property when Eiger finally gets around to selling it off when the stench hits his office! Also take some time to go back to my original post El Rato and check out the links there for lists of the sponsors to writte to if you are inclined!
I was trying to find some Air Pirates art work to use, but all websites that had it up have been wiped. More work of the RAT!

Say Munster!

Our featured cheese today is Munster! An apt choice because we are still in mourning over the passing of Yvonne DeCarlo.
There are two varieties of Munster made in Alsace. Munster and Munster-Gerome, They are very similiar and made very near each other, but the Gerome is a little more pungent and more to my taste.
Until I moved to Europe, I had only eaten the American style Munster available in grocery stores. A white rather tasteless bland cheese, it did have the orange rind. The commercial American variety is also made in Mexico, where there is a real German influence in the dairy industry and music if you listen to those bass lines in mariachi music. It is used a lot in Mexican melted cheese toppings.
What a shock I was in for when I first encountered a real Alsatian Munster! It has a yellow orange rind and is a soft, pungent cheese. The rind gets moist and a liittle slippery as it ages and the odor and taste develops as it gets more runny.
It was first made by Benedictine monks in the middle ages in the Southern part of the Vosges Mountains in the Fecht Valley. The name derives from the name of the village in Latin, Monestarium, now Munster.
The cows are a race particular to the Vosges and eat the herbs and grasses in the region which give character to the cheese. It is made in the traditional fashion, the curd is crumbled and packed into molds, left to dry then aged in cellars for at least three weeks. During this time it is washed with salt water and turned every two days.
I like Munster plain with bread. A very good way to enjoy it is with small boiled potatoes with their skins on. You just let the cheese melt over the hot potatoes right before yyou serve them. If you have only tried American sttyle munster cheese, look for a real Alsatian Munster-Gerome. The small, Petit Geromes are more pungent than the large ones.
One of my favorites

Friday, January 12, 2007


I just saw a documentary produced by an independant Dutch company called MovieTron. The documentary I saw was The Other American War which was released in 2004 and told the story of the devastating effect that the Bush Governments' policies on family planning and funding of international agencies concerned with family planning have had on the third world.
The director, Mark Aardenburg tells the story by going to Africa and the Untied States. He interviews fundamentalist and Catholic anti abortion movement supporters and then women in Ethiopia. A powerful piece that shows how Bush's catering to these interests have a really tragic ripple effect through out the world.
This film was originally scheduled to be shown in the USA, but because of opposition to the ideas expressed in the film, it was dropped by distributors afraid of retribution from the anti aborttion groups.
MovieTron has released quite a few films over the years and you should check out their website, MovieTron
They have a few projects in development in the near future so keep your eyes open. I would recommend the film, Donkey Caravan to Timbuktu...a real travelog about how one village in Mali donated donkeys to another village across the Sahara and the journey involved in getting them there. That was directed by Mark and lots of logistical and technical assistance from my friend, Marius de Rijke, who spent time in Mali with Mediciens Sans Frontiers.
The film, No Problem, documents the kidney trade in India.
Black Slaves for Sale, a documentary about the present day slave trade in Africa which exposes the reality and explodes myths.
Jamaica.com is about how the growth of computers and small business has begun to transform rural Jamaica.
I really recommend the entire catalog of MovieTron films by Mark and other directors.
Great film making and story telling with out being sensationalists. Keep an eye for the film, Why Do They Hate Us So? which will attempt to answer the question many naive Americans ask everytime they watch the news. Great Stuff!


After all the dust settled and the gasbags all buzzed off, the reality of the US Airstrike in Somalia was revealed. No Al Qaeda wanted leaders were killed. The US trumpeted that 17 were killed and some definitely linked to the US African Embassy bombings.
They did kill over 100 Somali Villagers and a group of Canadian Relief workers. There are uncounted burnt bodies still in the debris.
The mood in Mogadishu is getting uglier. This certainly didn't help win any hearts and minds and it will never help the cause of democracy no matter what the chief liars and their parrots in the media say.
Though this PR Massacre sure provided some needed spin for the president and his long winded beligerant speech last night. As a backdrop to the subtext of his speech, American troops raided an Iranian embassy in Iraq, taking the staff hostage and seizing all papers and computers in a fishing expedition designed to find evidence of Iranian involvement in the violence in Iraq. I'm sure that if they "find" anything it will be doctored the way all evidence has been in this debacle has been cooked, fixed or fabricated. This was in clear violation of international law and in reality a clear cut act of war. Of course, the guys who ordered the strike knew that. Just let Iran try to respond, we've drawn a line in the sand again! The horrible reality is that the American Government is a lumbering behemoth and the apparatus to control the actions of renegade, mad leader move at glacial speed. If Bush attacks Iran, they are going to throw out the rule book. It's what they want and the right wing mediia is already falling into lockstep. How many times have you heard the opposition labeled "Enemy of The State" in the last few days? Yes, boys and girls, things are definitely hotting up!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Forever Lily!

How could I let this day go by with out commenting on the passing of
Yvonne DeCarlo.
She died last night in The Motion Pictures & Television Fund's Retirement
Home in Woodlawn, California at the age of 84.
She was truly one of the last glamour queens of the golden era of Hollywood.
Mysterious, dark, wasp waisted dangerous beauty that made her
a threat to Dorothy Lamour. In her auutobiography she claimed to have 27 Lovers , including Howard Hughes. Her first starring role was Salome, Where She Danced.
In it, she played a spy who masqueraded as a ballerina in the Wild West.
She played opposite Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross
and opposite Clark Gable in Band of Angels.
In 1956, she played Moses wife in Cecil B. DeMilles biblical epic,
The Ten Commandments.
She also appeared on Broadway, but for millions of us who were kids in the early 60's,
she will be forever, Lily Munster.
The Vampire Mom of millions of Baby Boomers, who will never die
as long I can get the VCR to play!
Yvonne DeCarlo 1924-2007

The Brilliant Steve Bell

Here's this mornings take on Bushs' speech last night by the great cartoonist for the Guardian Observer, Steve Bell. No further comment!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Because We Can!

This is day 3 of the SPOCKO'S BRAIN BLOG blogger swarm. It's growing, hundreds of bloggers have put the offending files up on their blogs. Hundreds more have posted about what Disney is doing to Free Speech and how they are protecting their own Hate Speech Radio KSOF in San Fransisco!
Check my post EL RATO for information as to how you can contact the sponsors of KSOF and lett them know what you think about the way their products are being sold! I will post some of the offending tracks in my next post on this subject in a few days (if I can figure out how to do it!).
Meanwhile, enjoy this panoramic view of the Disney Universe as drawn by the great Wally Woods! He was one of the great disney cartoon artists and must have been really pissed of when he drew this one!
I got this picture from Commadante Agis' blog Thisblogwillselfdestructinfiveseconds...
It's in the sidebar, check his stuff out now!

Definitely Got'em This Time, Just In Time For Prime Time!

Here's a nice picture of an AC 130 Gunship raining destruction over a swathe of unidentified but defintely enemy territory in the Horn of Africa. In case you were'nt aware of it, you will be tonight, the United States has opened another front in its War On Terror! After 2 weeks of denial, it is positive that America has been assisting Ethiopia in its invasion of Somalia with logistics and arms.
The spin in the American Media so far is that 17 Al Qaeda operatives were definitely killed in this raid. The operation was against a group fleeing what was called a training camp and hese guys were definitely the culprits for the Embassy bombings. We nailed them just in time for the presidents speech tonight!
Of course, messy details are leaking out of the European Press, even the BBC is claiming that more than 30 innocent villagers were killed and that bodies are all over the place. There has been a messy battle going on for the last week in this area and no one is quite sure what the toll is and who the victims really are. The important thing for Washington is that it got its spin going for the presidents speech tonight.
When was the last time these dude got anything right? How many ttimes have we heard, "The turning point is right around the corner!", "Another three months and, well, we got'em!" "The terrorists are on the Run!"
Why do we only get nests of Al Qaeda operatives in time for some big policy speech by the Pres? Then we find out that it wasn't what it was claimed to be and some nasty little massacre has taken place for PR puposes......
The real spin is going to be the outrage in the Arab world over the bombing of another Moslem country we are not officially at war with. For every claimed Al Qaeda death, there will be hundreds of new recruits. This is the kind of stuff that will fuel terrorism for decades!
Does anybody in Washington know what is really happening on the ground in Mogadishu? The city is fueled by Khat and cheap arms. Where do the cheap arms come from? Who has assembly lines going night and day churning out automatic arms that have to be sold somewhere?

Somalia exists in total anarchy, I have a very good friend who after a few drinks on New Years Eve, recounted his experiences with Mediciens san Frontiers a few years ago on the border with Kenya. According to him, the Imams cannot really get a grip on the country either. The true law are the warlords, the gangsters who run everything. The present "legitimate" Somali government is an alliance of warlords who rule over this devastated land.

Almost everyone is addicted to Khat. Khat is fairly unknown in America. When I lived on the corner of Avenue B and East Fifth Street for years in New York, there was and still is a carry out store run by Yemenis. Back in the 80's on a Sunday morning, I would come in for some coffee and find a group of men with bales of green leaves. I found out later that khat was very big in the Yemeni community in NYC.
My buddy describes the effects of Khat as a type of speed, but one that makes the user extremely focused on a goal. He would have to go on trips to Mogadishu and to do it, he would have to have a driver and bodyguard. They would demand to paid in Khat. He described the rides as true trips of terror but there was never an accident and his body guard seemed to have a sixth sense for sensing danger.
He described Mogadishu as a place where work starts in the morning and everyone starts chewing khat and as the day goes on the effects of the khat make the place more and more anarchic. Everyone on the streets was armed and at the bazaar, the main products for sale were very cheap weapons and of course mountains of khat.
The khat makes the users focused and extremely brave. They belive themselves invincible. They describe the effects as being able to see everything in slow motion and deal with it in another dimension. Of course, Khat is forbidden by the Koran as iss alcohol and other drugs, but the difference with Khat is that it truly produces an anarchy where each individual in a group is his own law.
I realizze that I have wandered from the original subject, but to tie it together, the spin the government is putting on this public relations stunt airstrike is that it accomplished some kind of positive goal in its war on terror.
The reality is that it has opened another Pandoras Box which will continue to haunt us for generations. They don't know who they killed, they have no idea what is going on iin Somalia and it has been delivered to you just in time for Prime Time.
Mr. Bush, we're ready for your close up!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jack Who? Whaaa?

Here's a picture that's making the rounds today. Just appeared out of nowhere...Yes, you're right, that's Jack Abramoff and I think the guy posing with him might be George Bush Jr. They seem to be having a good time....

Why Is This Still An Issue?

You would have thought that after all the news and hard evidence in the last few elections that the integrity of our electoral system would be a prority. Yet the recent court decision in Florida allowed a election where 18,000 votes were somehow lost to stand because an investigation of the software of the computer voting machines would compromise "professional secrets" of the Technology company.
The electoral commissions always tout that the machines have been certified by testing labs, but who over sees these labs? The government certifies these labs, but last week there was the disturbing news that the leading lab was unable to meet the governments standards.
The company, Ciber, Inc. is unable to meet the testing standards that will go into effect later this year. The Electtions Assistance Agency which oversees this process is unwilling to say what the problems are and Ciber, Inc. refuses to comment and answer any calls.
Many States are using machines that were certified by Ciber. Were those certifications done properly? Did the problems Ciber is experiencing now exist then? No one is saying.
This has always been a flawed process. The companies that manufacture the machines pay for the lab certifications. This is certainly a conflict of interests! If a lab finds too many problems with the machines, it risks losing the company as a client.
There is little transparency. The labs which see themselves as working for a client, do not tell the public when they find problems or what the problems are.
The labs should be responsible to one client only, us! The public, the voters!
The companies should continue to pay the costs, but to the government who would hire and pay the testing labs.
The testing has to become more transparent. We should know how the testing is done ands have access to the results. If a lab falls short of the requirements, we should know about it!
Now, the entire process is covered by a shroud of secrecy. That's good for the voting machine companies and the labs. The government should not be protecting these interests! We have to make it clear that our interests, the integrity of out votes are more important. We have to protect our right to honest clean elections!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Welcome to Disneyland! Children under 12 half price! All we want is their minds!
I've had problems with Disney for quite a while...In the early 70's there was a Comic book series put out by the Cartoonist, Dan O'Neill who was the author of the Odd Bodkins strips that were syndicated for years in your local paper. He put out a comic called Air Pirates that was pretty subversive and he hijacked Mickey and Minnie Mouse and created a subversive fantasy existence for them that was very radically political. The art was very good and the stories were great, but it only existed for 3 issuues before Disney slapped a copyright infringment on him and forced him to cease publication. Not content with stopping Dan, they took him to court and were able to get an insanely huge monetary award against him, even after he apologized. They made his life hell for years and he could not work under his own name and went into hiding. They wanted to destroy him. Dan is still alive and kicking, drawing Odd Bodkins, you can find him on line at danoneillcomics.com/index.htm
That was in the 70's, today the Disney organization has a blogger in their sights named Spocko in California. Spockos' big crime? He decided to blog about the ABC/Disney owned radio station, KSFO in San Francisco, a die hard right wing talk radio specializing in pure hate. The rabid hosts have endorsed, if not revelled in, torture and engaged in hate speech of all stripes. The station is sold to its' advertisers as a family friendly Disney Station.
Spocko decided to expose their acions and engaged in a campaign to have readers write letters to sponsors and he put up transcripts and sound clips of actual hate speech that listeners taped on his site. All this falls under the Fair Use Statutes.
This is simply free speech and citizen action. All of us who blog and are politically active engage in this kind of activity once ina while. We pat ourselves on the back, write a letter and usually nothing happens. Spocko reported that in July, because of the tapes and transcripts and letters to sponsors, VISA pulled its ads from some of the shows on KSFO. Soon, they were losing major accounts with Kaiser, Fed Ex and Master Card. A conservative blogger published information about Spocko and his campaign and informed him that he would be prosecuted for using the clips. He was threatened with lawsuits and violence.
On December 22, Disney succeeded in shutting down the blog Spockos Brain by sending his blog server a cease and desist letter from ABC radio claimiing that the audio tapes violated Disneys copyright.
This is where it stands now. What is it with Disney? We all know Walt was a warm and fuzzy fascist at heart and now his legacy is growing. Disney just rammed the Path to 9/11 Television disinformation docu-drama down our throats. Now they are trying to stifle criticism of their hate radio stations by trampling on our free speech.
How can we stop this mouse eared fascism?
1)The blog clips are still available at Online Blog Integrity. A veritable cornocopia of hate speech. Listen at your own risk!
2)Go here and scroll down to "what can you do?" and follow instructions. Spocko has provided us with a step by step plan to alert the blogging world, the MSM and KSFOs current advertisers to the situation.
We can't let the mouse win again, can we?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

J Edgar himself

This is my buddy, I told him he could be in the blog. Ladies and gentlemen, J Edgar!

Here is J Edgar (JJ) doing what he does best! Git them critters, boy!

Our Most Unusual Season

Today, January 6, 2007, I went out for a soggy morning hike with my dog, J Edgar in our forest. Around Christmas, I published some pictures of what this area looked like covered with hoar frost crystals. We were blanketed by freezing fog for 3 days and there was virtually no wind. It created a fantastic landscape. Then the suun came out and within an hour, all had melted.
That was the extant of the freezing temperatures here. It was pretty cold for a week and now we are in the typical Dordogne winter rainy season. What is unusual, is that there is no frost. The week of frost we had wasn't extreme enough to do its job and now I'm seeing all sorts of things that aren't typical of winter. Like the photo of oyster mushrooms on the tree. I took it this morning. There are lots of other mushrooms that will grow in cold weather, but oysters are a fall mushroom and like most fall mushrooms, they are over after November 1st. I realize that in the scheme of things, there are normal cycles of weather. Some winters are warmer than others and some are nastier than others. It's just that I hear of this phenomena this year as not just a local condition, but almost everywhere. I saw pictures of cherry trees blossoming in New York and Washington!
I assume that everyone has seen the Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth and has a grasp on the machinery of global warming. The French Senate even had a private showing of it in their chambers. Britain has taken the message to heart and is trying to create legislation to deal with it within their scope of influence. Yesterday, the British government took Ryan Air to task for the lack of energy efficiency of their planes.
One place Britain can't seem to influence is their very good buddy, George Bush's America. I have gotten into long on line discussions with American bloggers who seem to be making a living defending Americas energy use policies and attacking the idea of global warming. I have read that Exxon has spent 32 million dollars to support scientists who can generate reasoning that can be used to disprove global warming . That is but a drop in the bucket as to all the money spent in disinformation campaigns to stop the debate.
I realize that it is very often impossible to change the self righteous selfish deluded mind set of a lot of conservative bloggers. You only have to go to their pages and read the brainless repetitive insults they repeat over and over again while congratulating themselves on the "fact" that conservatives are naturally more intelligent than panicky liberals. You want to debate global warming? Well, why is Al Gore so fat? Ha, Ha! Okay, I've over simplified the gist of some of the stuff I've heard, but that's basically the theme.
What I'd like to do with this post is provide a starting point for a discussion of what you feel is going on. Things you have seen with your own eyes.

This picture is of a wild primrose blooming today. It should be in flower at the end of March into April. Send me your pictures with comments of what you think are meterological anomalies going on around you. I'll try to publish them in some form from time to time. Perhaps we can help each other be in a position to debate more intelligently when we run into someone armed with loaded facts and carbon dioxide atmospheric profiles for the last 25 years that don't really mean anything. Send them to me at my email address: 18speed@gmail.com
I can't wait. I want to see your picture of a common garden slug 2 feet long named Rudy or what ever it is that makes tyou think that you've found some evidence of global climatte change in your back yard!


The house of cards is tumbling down. It's taken too long for this house to fall, assembled from a pack of lies. It had no foundation , only madness to hold it up.
Yesterday, Joseph Biden, Democrat Senator from Delaware, said, "I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes that Iraq is lost. They have no answer to deal with how badly they screwed up it up. I am not being facetious now. There for the best thing to do is to keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy-literally, not figuratively"
Please, Mr. Biden, tell us something we don't know. Still it's important that he said it and it is reported. This amidst the confusion of the reshuffling of the command structure of the army. The Generals who disagree with the presidents new policy or lack of it were jettisoned. We are waiting for the president to come up with his "New Way Forward". If this is as imaginative as they get with inspirational slogans, we are in real trouble. First we hear of a surge of 20,000 troops that will supposedly be one more shot to try to turn the situation around. This language brings to mind the loser mind frame of a recalcitrant heroin addict..."Just one last shot, that's all I need!"
The 20,000 troops don't exist and never will according to the latest Pentagon report.
They are resigned to a relatively small number of troops, between one and five brigades bringing the number more to 9,000. The Pentagon says there are few other options left to signal US determination in Iraq.
Who supports the escalation, let alone the war anymore? In an ABC News Survey released today, 33 of the Senators who voted for the war, now say that it was a mistake based on faulty information. Five Senators, including tthree Republicans say that the information was so faulty that it should never have been brought to a vote!
And of course there is the American Public of whom only 39% have any support for the war now.
Most telling is the mounting opposition in the top eschelon of the Republican Party as Trent Lott, the #2 ranking Republican in the Senate, stated yesterday that he would oppose a troop increase. As the Minority whip, it is his job to bring the Republican Senators in line to the party's wishes and if they aren't going to have it, it won't fly with the Democrats.
There's a hurricane beginning to blow in Washington, and the House of Cards is beginning to shake and ratttle. It's gonna blow their shaky cardboard house right down!

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Class Act

The picture I was looking for today was of Keith Ellison shaking hands with Virgil Goode shortly after his swearing in ceremony yesterday. Yes, those books are Thomas Jeffersons copy of the Koran. Keith then sought out Mr. Goode and the handshake was recorded for posterity and televised. Then he invited him out for a cup of coffee. Has anyone heard Congressman Goodes' reaction to the possible appointment of the present American Ambassador to Iraq as the new United States Representative to the UN? He would be the top ranking Muslim in the American Government, and a Republican to boot!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Letter to Virgil Goode

Dear Representative Goode,
Tomorrow, Keith Ellison, the newly elected Democrat Muslim Representative from Wisconsin will be sworn in. As you have so wisely pointed out, he will be using a Koran instead of our Nations' Sacred Book, The Holy Bible. You have raised the warning cry about the dangers that this act could cause. The Nation has been alerted to this blasphemous, satanic act about to commited in the Sacred Halls of Congress!
Yet, he plans to go ahead claiming that America is a nation of religious tolerance and to add insult to injury, he plans to use a book that he claims was Thomas Jeffersons' personal copy of the Koran!
My mind boggles at the implications of this fact! Thomas Jefferson, the framer of the Declaration of Independance owned a Koran? He read the Satanic Verses contained within it's blood stained pages and still was allowed to write the docuument that our nation was founded on? This cannot be true and if it is, we must act accordingly.
The Declaration of Independance has to be scrutinized by the CIA or people from Dick Cheneys' staff to be sure that it contains no taint of Islamic Fundamentalistic Terror!
Could Jefferson have slipped coded references and messages that could be deciphered by Al Qaeda terrorist sleeper cells to inspire calls to action for the destruction of the Republic he "pretended" to support?
There is no time to wait, get the Pentagons Arab Translation team to work now if they are not being held already in Guantanamo because of the Satanic Knowlege they possess, or could possess.......

Mr. Microdot
A True Patriot!