Monday, November 30, 2009

4 Minarets

There are 4 mosques with minarets in Switzerland. On Sunday, a referendum vote, forced by the right wing nationalist Swiss Peoples Party, won a surprising 57% majority to oppose the buikding of any new minarets in Switzerland.

The poster above is just one of the threatening, Islamaphobic images that were used to maipulate the electorate. The Swiss Peoples Party argued that the minaret is not a religious symbol, but a political symbol that was a harbinger of Muslims demanding Sharia law in Switzerland.

There are about 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland representing about 5% of the population. Most of the Muslims are of Eastern European, Balkan origin and are assimilated but the Swiss Peoples party which has gained steadily in elections in the last few years has played on the racist fears of the population. They say NO to immigrants in general. There has even been pieces in the French media lately referring to anti French prejudice thaqt is beginning to surface over the thousands of frech who live in France and work in Switzerland.
The Swiss government opposed the ban. They felt it was scapegoating a portion of the population and creating problems where none existed. Many Swiss have expressed fears that a public ban like this would only draw the wrath of the Islamic Fundamentalists...

Actions, like this always have unintended results. In France, the law banning headscarves on women in school and the attempt at banning the burkha, has only radicalized a segment of the population. The number of women in France wearing burkhas was less than 200.
The most interesting detail regarding the women wearing burkhas was that they are all second or third generation French citizens, who have taken up the practice in a sort of fundamentalist rebellion against the prejudice and racism in French society.

Now, the Front National, the far right nationalist party here in france and the Far right party in Holland have both been empowered by the Swiss vote and are making noises that they would like to see minarets banned here and in Holland.
Again, a group of power hungry opportunists exploit an issue and persecute a group for their immediate gain...are they ready to accept the blame for the unintended consequences?

Bohemian Rhapsody

I have a very dear friend in NYC who I recently saw. Her name is Polly and she has worked with Jim Henson Productions for many years designing costumes. She has been Miss Piggies personal designer for many years and I recently saw some of her work on French Television...there is a heavy metal muppet rock band...this is some of her work from some years ago and a really great example of the silliness and the sophistication of Muppet style and humor.....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We Have Met The Enemy And They Is Us....part 2

I was in the United States hooked into network news when the Fort Hood massacre occurred. The massive, non stop coverage that included the minute by minute speculation by the various talking heads of the entire spectral range of opinion was over whelming.

The spin from this event is still dominating the right wing nut thought patterns. The backlash threatens to affect the lives of any middle eastern member of the American Military Services and the paranoiac reation will further poison the lives of any American citizen or legal resident of Middle eastern Origin.

This is the manipulation of paranoia in America. This is how the events are used to control you! To influence your opinions....This is the effect of dollar driven political sensationalistic pseudo journalism.

The picture above is of an American Citizen named Mark Campano who resides in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Last week, Mr. Campano accidentally injured himself in one of his  frequent explosions in his apartment in Cuyahoga Falls, which is a suburb of Cleveland. Did you hear of this in your newpapress or on the network news? Why wasn't this story of any interest? Mr. Campano is a white, right wing extremist, like The Neo Nazi in Belfast, Maine, James Cummings who I wrote about in a Post from march of this year, We Have met The Enemy And They Is Us. Mr Cummings was actively engaged in constructing a dirty nuclear device to  to bring down the Obama Administration. Luckily, Cummings, an eccentric, secretive millionaire was shot by his abused wife. The ensuing investigation uncovered the real danger which Cummings was about to unleash on America.
Here's the story from the local Cuyahoga Falls newspaper:

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – Following a pipe bomb explosion Monday night, police and federal law enforcement officials are trying to figure why a Center Avenue man turned his apartment into a bomb factory.
Police said no charges have been filed against Mark Campano, 56. Police found 30 completed pipe bombs in his apartment along with components to make more, plus 17 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Campano is in an Akron hospital with injuries received when one of the bombs exploded.
As police and federal authorities puzzle over Campano's past and what he planned to do with the bombs, a former neighbor said Campano often railed against the government.
Barbara Vachon lived next door to Campano at the Center Park Place Apartments for several years and said he was a big reason she moved.
"He was always trying to get me and another neighbor to listen to anti-government tapes and watch anti-government videos," said Vachon. "I would never watch them. He was some kind of radical, and he didn't believe in the government."
She said there were other warnings.
"There were a few times I heard minor explosions from outside the apartment building, and he would scream that he had hurt himself," she said. "I never knew what he was up to."
Vachon said Campano seemed to be most active at night.
"There was a steady stream of creepy visitors going in and out of his apartment," she said.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is also investigating the case.
Of course, if this had been a Muslim extremist caught with such an arsenal, we'd be getting talk-show panels on Hannity featuring Michelle Malkin ranting at length about the threat of Islamic jihad, blah blah blah. Not to mention chatty discussion on Fox and Friends and Morning Joe.
But instead, because he's just a white anti-government extremist, hey, let's just give it a big shrug.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


There have been quite a few times when I have been humbled by my own sheer negligence...quite a few of those occurences have involved the mysterious fores of electricity. Getting thrown across a room by a 30,000 volt shock because i didn’t check to see if the neon work station I was disassembling was first diconnected....

All I got for that near death experience was a hearty round of applause and a “Welcome to the thirty thousand volt club!” cheer from the other employees/victims of the Neon Compay I was working for.

Years ago, I worked on an old railroad drawbridge that was powered by an ancient electric motor hooked into the old DC current lines from Toledo Edison. The switch that controled the speed of the motor was a big cranked series of curved copper slider plates that elegantly controlled the amount of current going to the motor.
The plates had to be perfectly smooth and were regularly serviced by the railroad  electricians who would coat them with vaseline to insure the smooth operation.

I worked the night shift, from 11pm to 7am and the bridge got a lot of use during those hours. When things went wrong, they usually picked those wee night hours...
A little burr of copper was all it took for the DC current to arc and the entire bridge house would light up flashing in the night like Frankensteins Lab...the bridge would get stuck in an awkward position and I would have to get the electricians out or there woud be no trains  or boats moving over or under the bridge.

The only electric shocks I have gotten lately have been from inadvertently touching the cow  lines around my property...once, I was picking up some debris and I didn’t realize they were on and I touched the line with my forehead...I believe I experienced a self administered blast of electro shock...I forgot what I had eaten for lunch a few hours before....

Today, it was a PER plastic water line popping a seal and spraying high pressure up in the ceiling of the basement, into a electrical connection box...
Everything shorted out...I turned off the water and fixed the seal...better than before, I hope, It had heald for the last 5 years...
 But I had to dry out the box and check it out good before I dared to turn on the current again. Luckily, I could get the circuits on the first floor going and I used a hair dryer to speed up the drying process......
Here is a video of a real nice electrical event, a Jacobs Ladder created by a 550 kv Switch opening...if you are interested, here is an explanation of what is going on...

    During normal operation, the switcher will first open the SF6 interrupters which disconnects the HV circuit so that the air break switches can open with no current flowing. Once the air break switches completely rotate to the "open" position, the SF6 interrupters then reclose. Normally, this sequence insures that the air break switches operate de-energized and arc free.

Instead, here, the air break switches opened while the current was still coming through.

    The arc stretches upward, driven by rising hot gases and writhing from small air currents and magnetic forces, until it easily exceeds 100 feet in length. As impressive as this huge arc may be, the air break switch was really NOT disconnecting a real load. This arc was "only" carrying the relatively low (about 100 amps) magnetizing current associated with the line reactor. The 94 mile long transmission line associated with the above circuit normally carries over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power between Boulder City, Nevada (from the massive generators at Hoover Dam) to the Lugo substation near Los Angeles, California. A break under regular load conditions (~2,000 amps) would have created a MUCH hotter and extremely destructive arc. Imagine a fat, blindingly blue-white, 100 foot long welding arc that vaporizes the contacts on the air break switch and then works its way back along the feeders, melting and vaporizing them along the way. Still, you've got to admit that this "little" 33 MVAR arc is certainly an awesome sight!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cocktails For Two

This was inspired by a conversation with my wife in which we both admitted that our favorite record when we were very young was Spike Jones Laughing record. The Laughing record is based on the The Flight of The Bumblebee, played on trumpet, but it never actually gets played.
I remember seeing Spike Jones in the 50's and started to look to see if there was any archival's someting for starters. A live performance of Cocktails for Two that just begins to show the visual and sonic mayhem of Spike Jones and His City Slickers....

Thursday, November 26, 2009


That's right, you residents of The USA are celebrating your quaint little feast, rushing around kitchens, opening cans of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie filling and desparately calling relatives in other parts of the country to give them the recipe for gravy, once again, please....
Be careful, don't rush and don't come running to me if a turkey gets stuck on your head. You can't say I didn't warn you....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Glacier Man

Who has time to discuss, to engage in pointless arguments with global warming deniars?
It's becoming more and more obvious to me that those who engage in the activity of denying the reality of human induced climate change are beyond the reach of logic. It's not about logic, or more exactly, it is all about the logic of furthering short sighted profit driven greed.
It's like talking to a creationist. The facts can be bent and distorted and ignored to create an alternate reality that supports their religious views. Climate change denial works the same way. To these agenda driven deniars of climate change and evolution, it is all about making the biggest noise possible to drown out facts.
So why waste time arguing with them? The only gratification from this activity is the attention they crave in this endless loop of wordplay.

This week we learned that the new Copebnhagen Diagnosis on climate change authored by 26 scientists from 8 countries states that we have even less time than we thought to effect change, to do something concrete and meaningful.

"Many indicators are currently tracking near or above the worst case projections." made three years ago by this group of scientists.
This reports includes sea level rise, ocean acidification and the rapid melting of massive ice sheets and assesses the impact of the emissions of heat trapping gasses that are causing the change.
Some headlines have suggested that warming has slowed or paused recently, but the report differs and the scientific group calculate that the emission of gasses must peak in less than 10 years and then dive quickly back to zero, if warming of another 2 degrees above the current annual global temperatures is to be prevented after 2050.

Any warming above the 2 degrees beyond current temperatures is considered dangerous, though exactly what is meant by dangerous is still being debated by governments around the world. The good news is that most governments around the world are beginning to take the threat very seriously and China, which is the worlds current leading producer of greenhouse gasses is beginning to take the lead in emission reduction.

The theories are turning into reality incrementally, day by day. That's why we don't have time to play nice with climate change deniars. It's time for action and to support those who are engaged in positive action.

One man who is doing something is a man known as Glacier Man in Ladakh, India. 74 year old Chewal Norphel is a retired government civil engineer who is designing and building high-altitude water conservation systems, or artificial glaciers to combat the lack of water from the rapidly disappearing Himalyan Glaciers.

Over 70% of the water in Ladakh, which is the northernmost part of India, the States of Jammu and Kashmir is sourced in spring from the melting snows of the glaciers and is the sole source for irrigation in the remote mountain communities.
In recent years, the rising temperatures have resulted in decreasing snowfall in the high altitude glacial zones has led to a reduction of water in the spring.

The changing temperatures have already begun impacting the region’s biodiversity and its communities, says the international organisation, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

"The breeding of the bar-headed goose and the black-necked crane is not on schedule in recent years," says Nisa Khatoon, project officer of WWF at Leh. "And migration routes of communities on the Tsokar lake [who weave the famous Pashmina shawls] have become more frequented as these pastoral communities migrate due to degrading pastures."

"I am the scientific data," quips Norphel. "I have seen, for instance, the size of the Khardung La glacier—a high mountain pass in the Ladakh region, with an elevation of 5,359 metres above sea level—since I was a child: it was solid ice then," he explains.

The Khardung La glacier is one example of Ladakh’s melting glaciers, barely recognisable now as a glacier.

"Four to five decades ago, there were so many glaciers you could see from Leh," Norphel tells IPS, responding to the ministry’s refutation of receding glaciers. "Now you can’t even see small ones anymore."

Norphel, a retired rural development engineer for Kashmir state, says the water problems faced by Ladakh’s impoverished villages bothered him as much as the "wasting" of water in winter, from taps that are left running to avoid pipes freezing and bursting.

"I noticed from my garden tap that the water would freeze where it flowed, so that’s where I got the idea of designing artificial glaciers that would freeze extra water in winter, melting just in time for sowing crops in April and May," says this unassuming, quiet man.

In November, trickling glacial streams are diverted and made to flow down nearby slopes through channels and outlets with 1.5-inch diametre pipes installed every five feet.

Stone embankments built at regular intervals impede the flow of this water, making shallow pools down the mountain slope, which fill up gradually and freeze almost instantly in winter, forming a thick glacier-like sheet of ice over the slope that Norphel calls "artificial glacier."

So far, Norphel has helped build 10 artificial glaciers, all near villages whose communities have helped construct and maintain them. In Stakna village, some 35 kilometres from Leh, 60-year-old Tashi Tundup is happy with the ‘Stakna glacier’.

Meetings are arranged in the village to discuss village history of water, its availability in their nearby stream during peak winter time and the location of shade along the stream’s course, where pools can be constructed to help freeze the water faster in the absence of direct winter sunlight.

Since the water is equally distributed to all in the village, sustainability of water-harvesting structures is ensured, says Norphel.

Norphel also dispels scientists’ criticism of his ‘artificial glaciers’ as not being glaciers. "What matters is that these artificial glaciers serve similar water conservation and harvesting techniques as glaciers," says Norphel.

Norphel hopes to build two more such glaciers at Stakna village, holding two million cubic feet of iced water for its 700 residents.

"We get water as early as April itself (instead of melting glacier water in June), and this has helped the wheat crop. Wheat production has gone up over the last five years because of the water from the artificial glacier, and I can now also grow potatoes and peas," says Tundup of Stakna.

Norphel lists several other benefits: groundwater and spring recharge, significant increase in cash-crop farming, fuel, livestock fodder and livelihood incomes, mitigation of climate change for humans and livestock and ecological benefits to soil conservation.

He says the benefits of simulated glaciers have been confirmed by village folk and responses gathered over the last ten years.

The artificial glacier system can be replicated, says Norphel, in similar geo- climatic zones in central Asian countries such as Kyrgyztan and Kazakhstan.

"The problem is, it is difficult to find labour for maintenance work in the severe winter," says Norphel. "And the remoteness of these high-altitude systems makes transportation of materials very expensive."

In 1987, the first artificial glacier built by Norphel cost 1,580 euros (2,347 U.S. dollars) in Phuktse Phu village in Ladakh district. The latest plan by Norphel and the Leh Nutrition Project, a Britain-based non-governmental organisation, to construct five more comes at a total cost of 47,216.50 U.S. dollars, which is still just a fourth of the cost of concrete cement constructions for water conservation reservoirs, despite Norphel’s claims of high costs.

"We use mostly locally available stones and material," says Norphel. The Indian Army—which has a heavy presence in Ladakh district due to its close proximity to China and Pakistan—and India’s scientific and technology department financed constructions of artificial glaciers in 2008 up to this year, but Norphel says he needs help from other sources too.

"I can do so much better if I have some more funds," he says.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Can Make That First Check Out To Me, Microdot!

Back in Europe, watching the USA from afar, I realize that you have to stand back to have the perspective to really see the absurdity, the peculiarly American bent that warps the politics and the morality.

I read a quote by an Australian who said, "The Australians got the convicts, but the Americans got the Puritans." Do you want to trade?
So it was with almost utter disbelief that I read that in the Washington Post it was reported that Senators John Kerry and  Orrin Hatch have proposed the utimate faith based Christo-Pork amendment to the Health Care Bill now being debated in the Senate. This is the kind of cynical stuff that is crafted only to please a certain segment of their constituents.

They have proposed to have Faith based therapy covered by the bill. Some of the language in the proposal states, "Each prayer is a cerebral search for the resolution to the patients problem. The answer often comes in the form of an idea of a feeling: God is here, or God is life, or We are created in Gods perfect image."

In other words, they want to cover this unproven remedy solely because it is practiced by a religion. They don't include other unproven remedies and I'm sure that alternate medicines like the centuries old discipline of Chinese Empirical Medicine wouldn't be covered.

Would this religious pork fest cover the prayers of other religions? Why should we we be talking of subsidizing religious belief at all? This is the state subsidizing religion!
If this is serious, then why would it stop with medicine? Why not subsidize praying for deficit reduction or the War In Afghanistan?

Well, I'm getting in on the bottom floor, I'm writing up my first bill to present if and when this amendment passes. I just prayed for every person on earth to "Feel Better". It worked, didn't it? I know I feel better just thinking about it. Let's see, there's what...? 6 billion people in the world and my going rate for a theraputic prayer is quite reasonable, say $30 a prayer....hmmmm......

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Virus Walks Into A Bar....

Science comedian Brian Malow jokes that a virus is "the ultimate David and Goliath" when compared with humans. He then rattles off a series of science-related jokes. "Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar, and doesn't....."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Close Encounter of The Pig Kind

About a month and a half ago, the new neighbor, who is a truck driver renting a house here in La Sechere came into possesion of a small Vietnamese pot bellied pig. The first we saw of it was a small black animal running down the lane towards the forest. Soon afterward, a girl came sauntering by with a plate with cut up vegetables on it.
I had never seen the girl before, or the pig. I thought she was "walking" her pet pig and thought, "That's strange."

Later that day, I was driving back from the market and the pig was in the road in front of my house. I stopped the car and the pig took off into the field. Later the pig came back and my dog, JJ got very interested and chased him into the valley. He had never met a pig before and I couldn't stop him. He came back quite satisfied.

The next day, I was walking JJ off the leash and the same girl was out with a plate of vegetables and calling the pig who was in the field. I put the leash on JJ and asked her if the pig was hers...
She said it was, but he was crazy and woudn't come home. Then she laughed nervously and went away. I found out later that girl was the new neighbors girlfriend and that he had gotten the pig as a gift and it took off as soon as he let it ouit of the truck.

After that, I saw the pig occasionally hanging out with the donkeys next door. JJ found the pig very interesting and a source of great fun...

I have another neighbor who rescues horses. She has at any time, 18 to 25 horses on various pieces of land around here. She rehabilitates them and finds new homes for them, but I suspect that more and more of them stay here. She has a very patient husband. She told me that the pig was living in one of her sheds down the hill and showed up every night when she fed her dog.

I went to the USA for 2 weeks and when I got back, we noticed the pig was almost twice as big and quite bold. He hangs out with the cows and the horses. JJ now is obsessed with the pig, who ignores him.

I am beginning to think we might have a problem here. The pig is going to get quite big.
The hunters seem to be wary of him because he is not "normal". In fact the pig is sort of immune because he is foreign. Nobody is going to want to eat him, so he is living a charmed existence. 

Here's a picture I took today of JJ and the pig. JJ was barking nonstop in the pigs face and the pig just ignored him. Of course a few seconds later, all hell broke loose as the pig bolted and JJ took off after him. Those little legs can sure go fast. He out ran JJ, who I don't think would know quite what to do if he caught the pig....The chase went on for about 15 minutes with breaks. The pig went home and JJ jumped in the creek.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thank You, Matt Groening

A clip from the November 15th episode of The Simpsons. Thank you, Mr. Groening for helping to show why the tiny hyper president is even more ridiculous than his idol, Silvio Berlusconi. Les Simpsons is the most popular animated series in France, would the little ego maniacal fascist ever try to censor this episode?

Sarkozy hates Obama now and is obsessed with him. He has tried to exploit Obama's popularity at every opportunity he can percieve, only to be ignored and rebuffed.
The sooner the rest of the world gets the number of this corrupt little opportunistic fascist and learns to ignore him and put him in his place, the sooner france can get rid of

The Other Side

There once was a man named Herbert Kaury who was more popularly known as Tiny Tim. At a time when it was not unusual to be unusual, Herbert was truly unusual.
He was born in 1932 and discovered a love for the music of another age. In fact he became an archivist, a one man repository of obscure knowlege of composers and performers.

Though he had a quite normal speaking voice, one day, singing along with his beloved 78 records, he discovered that he had another voice...

Tiny Tim became a fixture in Boston and New york in the early 60's, obsessively performing in coffee houses, or where ever he was allowed to be on a stage. He developed a cult following and released a few records as an Atlantic recording artist. He did have a major #1 single in 1968 with his falsetto rendition of Tiptoe Through The Tulips.

I’m reading the latest Thomas Pynchon book, Inherent Vice, and he makes reference to this song.

It’s like Tiny Tim is tripping on acid, entertaining children, and predicting global warming — all at once.

We'll never know what the children in the video were thinking at the time.....

Friday, November 20, 2009


Pray for Obama. On the surface, this seems like a noble, positive and uplifiting message.
I suppose that all Christian Americans and Christians around the world pray for divine guidance and assistance for their leaders. But, look closer at these items sold by Cafe Press...there is the by line, Psalm 109:8.
Can I get a witness? Can I hear an Amen in the back of the room? Can I read to you Pslam 109, verse 8?

   "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

Why not, brothers and sisters, Why not take the entire Psalm which this line is taken from and appreciate the context of the "Imprecatory Prayer" it represents:

 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
    Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
    Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
    Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
    Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
    Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
    Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
    Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Diana Butler Bass at Beliefnet explains that Psalm 109 is one of the “imprecatory” prayers, “a lament in the form of petition to destroy one’s enemies.” While perhaps intended to be a joke, she notes that the psalm actually “entreats God to destroy the president”:

    It is the personal prayer of an individual, someone who has been dealt an injustice by another–and usually more powerful–person. The words of Psalm 109 are those of deep agony, the longings of a victim for retribution and justice. This psalm is considered one of the most difficult of all the psalms–full of violent images of vengeance and death.

The marketers of the merchandise in the picture above claim that it is a joke and of course, they are hiding behind their freedom of speech as Americans to spread this open attempt to trawl for violence so to enable some brain damaged idiot to do the job they are too lame to even admit they are asking for.

Again, the use of religion, the manipulation of religious indoctrination to spread hatred and violent ideas. A Teddy Bear bearing the message to children. Again, we are seeing the right wing racist eliminationist rage against a "liberal black president" being presented and rationalized as religious teaching. Why, much too often is Freedom of Religion synonymous with FREEDOM TO HATE?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Richard Pryor 1964

Here's Richard Pryor on A Kraft Music Hall special in 1964. How old could he have been at the time? An early look at one of the most influential comedians of our time. I'm trying to find a good skit from his 4 episode Richard Pryor Show on ABC from 1977. The cast included a young Robin Williams and Sandra Bernhard. There is a piece on YouTube called The First Black President which I would have liked to post, but the embedding is disabled...
What incredible energy...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Magic Duck

I know I'm back home appetite is coming back to life and the regular clockwork of the day is marked by meal time...

Yesterday, we were at the local Intermarche in Hautefort where the annual Foire au Gras is being celebrated! That's right folks! Now is the time to stock up on all of your favorite waterfowl products! This is the time of Fois Gras production, when the fat ducks and geese are at their plumpest!

The Dordogne is one of the worlds biggest producers of Fois Gras. There are duck and geese being raised everywhere. Much of the fois gras and pates are produced artisanally on the farms. There are many products and by products that are specialities here and are rarely if ever seen in the USA.

One benefit is that the ducks are for sale in the market and are a real bargain now. The ducks are sold with their livers removed and they are the big Barbarry Ducks, the size of geese. I am not and will not discuss the "morality" of ducks and geese as live stock and farm animals for food. This is a way of life, part of the cultural soul of this area and the conditions that most farmers raise the animals in are much better and cannot be compared to the conditions under which chicken in America are raised. The best animals are totally free range until the feeding for the fois gras begins.

So, taking advantage of this bounty, we bought a big duck and I cut it up yesterday afternoon. I got 2 big magret de canard from the breast which we froze and nice tender aiguilettes from the sides. If you aren't familiar with Magret, the duck breast, it is tender red meat with a layer of fat, perfect for grilling or cooking in a pan at a high temperature quickly. To my taste, I would rather have magret than steak.

I then cut the legs and thighs off and the wings, which we used to make confits de canard.
Confit refers to the process of preservation that the people here used before refrigeration.
The duck yields an huge amount of duck fat, which I trim off. The fat is rendered in a pot and the pieces to be made into confits are cooked slowly in the fat. I season the pieces with salt, pepper and thyme overnight before cooking.

The cooking takes about an hour and the pieces are golden. If you are going to keep the confits, coat them with the fat. The fat is pure white and seals the meat in an airtight cover. Traditionally, the pieces were layered in an earthen ware pot in the fat. They kept in a cool place for months this way. Today, commercially prepared confit is canned with the fat. Artisanally prepared is put in glass containers with the fat.
To prepare the pieces, remove them from the fat...I usually put them in a oven dish and let them crisp up...meanwhile, use some of the duck fat they are conserved in to saute potatoes, the perfect accompaniment.

I have stated the difference between the fat of water fowl and chicken over and over again. Here in the Dordogne, recipes that usually call for browning in oil or butter almost always start with a good spoon of duck fat. Traditionally, duck and goose fat takes the place of butter or other fats. Paradoxically, this region has the lowest occurence of heart disease in Europe. The waterfowl fat is a trans fat! It is actually a good fat and doublely good because it imparts a delicious flavor to potatoes!

Finish the potatoes with a crushed fresh garlic clove and not cook the garlic!
This magic duck is not finished yet...when you make confit, you end up with bits and pieces in the fat that are the French equivalent of pork rinds, Grattons...which I guess are duck rinds...little crunchy bits of flavor which are exquisite in a garlicky green salad.
Then there is the carcass, when you've carved off the meat...Anyone for Duck Soup?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teabaggery, Teathuggery, Teapunkery.....

The "teabaggers" might have lost this round on the fight for healthcare reform, but once a wingnut.....this cheap brainless activity is addicting and to keep the masses amused and occupied, the next target of their teabaggery is immigration.
The "brains" of this operation are now collaborating with the nativist right wingers at ALIPAC and The National Policy Instititute to stage Tea Parties Against Amnesty.

However at an event on November 14th in Minneapolis, the teabaggers got punked royal. A fellow named "Robert Erikson" got up and whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his anti immigration rant...until the crowd realized he was speaking about "European Immigration".
Here's the speech:

Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I’m really excited to be here. Its people like all of you, and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!

I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country and I want to see America be the best place it can be.

Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that's tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!

In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. It's just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for Americans to find jobs. Well, I'm fed up, and it's time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we're not gonna take it any more!

We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that's sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.

It's no secret that with an invasion of immigrants comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren't new problems, though -- they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.

I say it's time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Let's send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don't care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! It's time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land!

I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep. I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.

Thank you very much, and we'll see you in the streets!

Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home!

Not surprisingly, the organizers were pissed. Sally Jo Sorensen at BlueStemPrairie was there to watch, and she reported that some of the nativists started getting violent:

Most of the MINN-SIR supporters were slow to catch the satire, and so the cheering from that side of the crowd took a while to subside. As they realized they'd been punked, they stood in a cold, stunned silence, while the 30 or so counter-protesters urged Columbus to go home.

Unfortunately, some of the pro-MINN-SIR audience made up for what they lacked in humor through the use of violence. Both Danielson and I saw middle-aged men attack young protesters, knocking one off a bike before he started throwing punches at the young man.

Just as shocking was the reaction of the state police working the rally, who pushed back those being attacked, rather than those attacking the counter protesters.

Neither of us have ever witnessed violence at rallies and events we've attended in the past. The attacks formed a sharp counterpoint to Hendrycks' shrieked claims from the podium that MINN-SIR "patriots" had "respect" while the young protesters were rude.

I've been warning for awhile that there is a violent element already involved in the immigration debate, and when they become empowered by the "tea party" types, it's going to get ugly. Looks like the debate hasn't even started yet, and it already is.

If you thought the town-hall teabaggers went nuts over health-care reform, just wait.


Where No Man Has Gone Before...

 Yes another Star Trek trivia post. You need to know this, right?
This alternative version of another the Star Trek pilot was only recently discovered of all places, in Germany. There is different theme music and the opening narration by Captain Kirk is different than the final series. Each scene of the episode opens with a caption.

Unlike the other pilot version, "The Cage" which was incorporated into a Star Trek plot line, this version as been forgetten and overlooked until recently. It will be included in the upcoming BlueRay compilation to be released next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nha Sentimento

The video is a live performance by the Cape Verdean Artist, Cesaria Evora. I fell in love with the amber voice of Madame Evora in the mid 90's when I heard her perform this song from her album of the same name.

Cape Verde is an archipellago of islands off the coast of Angola in Southwest Africa. It was a Portuguese colony and the musical legacy of Portugal remains in a lush cultural stew of language, rythmns and music. Like the flavors of Brazil and Portugal, Cape Verde shares a lot of the same musical traditions, the passionate vocals of Fado, the beat of the Samba and the influence of Arabic and African traditions. the Verdean tradition of bluesy ballads is called Mombas and Cesarias smoky voice suits the music perfectly.

Cesaria has had a real life, she was an orphan at an early age from a musical background. She was discovered as a teen and sang in Cape Verde and slowly aquired the reputaion that catapaulted her to the world stage. Much of her early radio work was recently compiled on a release called Radio Mindelo.

She has been releasing records and touring for the last 20 years. Her relaxed warmth comes through on stage as she stands barefoot with her band. She has been absent for the last 2 years due to a hear attack, but she is back now with a new release, Nha Sentimento,
available now as a digital download and soon to be released world wide in cd form.
Through the years, on her musical journey, she has been ale to meld the Verdean tradition with the traditions of other music. She has recorded records with Cuban, African ad Brazilian musicians. On Nha Sentimento, she collaborated with an admirer, Fathy Saloma, the former conductor of the Cairo Symphony. The rest of the musicians and tracks are Verdean friends who have played with her for years.

If you have never heard the music of Cape Verde, this is an excellent place to start. The island is a melting pot of cultures and traditions and Cesarias rich,  warm and welcoming voice is the perfect way to experience "morebeza" 

Perhaps this is the spirit of morabeza, the warm welcome Cape Verdeans are known to give to visitors of their homes and of their country. "We are a people who like to be sympathetic with other people," Cesaria explains. "It doesn't matter where you come from, who you are... dress doesn't matter, the color of your skin... what we like to do is to make you feel at home. That is morabeza ." As the lyrics of "Parceria E Irmandade say, "Morabeza is our essence//It's our lifeblood, it's not oil//It's our happiness smiling//It's a tear of sodade."


This might seem to be a little early, but I really want to get in on the ground floor and let everyone know that your host, microdot and thebrainpolice blog have officially given our whole hearted endorsement to Sarah Palin as the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate!
I am absolutely certain after what was leaked from her last few  totally censored speaking engagements that her candidacy will make the 2012 Republican Presidential Platform the longest suicide note on record!

You Go Girl!

Friday, November 13, 2009


In the last 2 weeks that I have been in America, I have heard one thing over and over again from many friends. You might say that I was under the impression that I was looking at America as if it were a big glass snow bubble...I sometimes had the feeling that I couldn't really accurately comment on America because I wasn't there!

The thing I heard over and over again was that I seemed to be more informed about American politics and news than most Americans. I have to concur after spending a week gleaming shards of the repetitive "fast news snacks" that are drummed into the American psyche by the endless repetition on CNN and the other News services. The major network news ignored the real stories and kept me titillated with their peep show of bites for the attention deficit plagued population. I did try to watch FOX, just for the sheer peversity, and  it only confirmed my worst fears about the mind rot infestation it feeds on.
FACTS? They decieve and you believe!

So, I got most of my news from the regular sources...reading it on line and magazines.
While I was there, the House passed the administrations much tampered with Health Care Reform Bill...that seemed to be a real positive step forward. It really bothered me to find out that the STUPAK amendment had been voted on, which refused coverage for abortion procedures. Just another case of fat middle aged MEN dictating womens health issues based on their warped moral lens...I didn't see anyone get too upset over the fact that these guys made sure their Viagra was covered...oh, right...a man's right to an erection because as Monty Python put it, "EVERY SPERM IS SACRED"!

Again, the Catholic Church raised its hoary, wrathful zombie corpse and continued its campaign to bring back the middle ages. This issue is galvanizing women in America! It would seem to me that again, the Catholic Church, by its blatant and intense lobbying has committed a fundamental violation of the line separating Church and State. Again, they have defined themselves as a political action committee as opposed to a religion thereby negating their tax free status. They inserted themselves into another political debate and used the threat of religious sanctions against Catholic lawmakers who opposed their will.
And again, today, they have thrown themselves into shameless blackmail against the District Of Columbia if the city of Washington refused to change a same sex marriage law.

The blackmail? They woud be compelled to end the social service programs they administer in the city. This woud affect tens of thousands of people who are homeless, needing of healthcare and adoption services.
Now my question is: WHERE IS THE IRS?

It's not only the Catholics who have crossed this line blatantly and very publicly!
Face it! If the law was being enforced, these political action groups masquerading as "religions" would lose their tax free status. If they were at least prosecuted and fined, it might go a long way to easing the deficit!

The Catholic Church is holding the needy inhabitants of Washington, DC hostage if there is same sex marriage.... excuse me...screw them!