Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We Will Make You Normal And Destroy Your Soul....

When Anthony Burgess wrote the novel, A Clockwork Orange and fantasized about a world in which behaviour modification, chemical and physical was a tool to regulate society, to modify individuals to a percieved standard of a norm, he was warning us.
He was writing a paranoid fantasy version of a nightmare future, but his nightmare future has become our present reality.

 Because this is how the world works — at least a world where a leading religious institution would rather children suffer at the hands of priests than turn those priests over to authorities — Dr. Aubrey Levin, the psychiatrist who left South Africa for Canada in the 1990s amidst charges of chemically castrating gay men as part of their "therapy," was arrested on charges of molesting his male patients.

Having been identified by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission as committing "gross human rights abuses," he managed to escape much public criticism by "threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it," reports The Guardian.

But you might know Dr. Levin by his nickname: Dr. Shock. That's because Levin used electro-shock therapy to cure soldiers in South Africa's military of their gayness.
So how'd he finally land in so much trouble? "[A] patient secretly filmed the psychiatrist allegedly making sexual advances. Levin, who worked at the University of Calgary's medical school, has been suspended from practising and is free on bail of C$50,000 (£32,000) on charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting a 36-year-old man. The police say they are investigating similar claims by nearly 30 other patients. The Alberta justice department is reviewing scores of criminal convictions in which Levin was a prosecution witness. … Following the arrest, other male patients have contacted the authorities. One, who was not identified, told CTV in Canada that he had gone to Levin for help with a gambling addiction and alleged he had been questioned about his sex life and subject to sexual advances."

Oh, and then there's Levin's whole alleged history of helping hide South Africa's apartheid and human rights abuses. And being a general disgrace.

In the 1960s, he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the abolition of laws criminalising homosexuality saying that they should be left in place because he could "cure" gay people. His efforts to do just that in the army began in 1969 at the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria, which ostensibly catered for service personnel with psychological problems. Commanding officers and chaplains were encouraged to refer "deviants" for electroconvulsive aversion therapy.
The treatment consisted of strapping electrodes to the upper arm. Homosexual soldiers were shown pictures of a naked man and encouraged to fantasise, and then the power was ratcheted up. Trudie Grobler, an intern psychologist on ward 22, saw a lesbian subjected to severe shocks. "It was traumatic. I could not believe her body could handle it," she said later.
One gay soldier claimed to have been chemically castrated by Levin. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was told by investigators that he was not alone. It also heard that at least one patient had been driven to suicide. Levin refused to testify before the commission.

The Last Happy Meal

In a revealing study, researchers at Virginia Weslyan College, Brian and craig Wasniak compared 52 depictions of The Last Supper painted over the last 1000 years, from the year 1000 to 2000 and came to the conclusion that the size of the portions on the table had incrementally increased over the centuries by almost 70%.
The last three decades of the 20th century have been described as "the tipping point" by researcher, Lisa R. Young, who wrote the book, The Portion Teller. She writes of the dramatic increase of portion size and the corelative dramatic increase in obesity world wide.
The Wasniak study is an amusing background for the trend that we are seeing reap its harvest in obesity related disease in populations today. It also spotlights the dramatic difference between affluence and poverty. As industrial societies gain weight, the third world starves.
Read more in this article in the March 23 LA Times article, here....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Can Not Stand!

This was posted on crooksandliars today, March 30, 2009 and I really would like to share it and the links with everyone who is interested!
Al Snyder's son died in Iraq in May of 2006. Members of the rabidly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church picketed his son Matthew's funeral, causing immense personal, emotional pain for him, his family and their friends.
Snyder won a $5 million civil lawsuit against the church and the Phelps family, but it was recently tossed out of a federal court. To add insult to injury, the court has now ordered Snyder to pay all of the church's legal fees:
BALTIMORE — Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq say a court has ordered him to pay legal costs for the anti-gay protesters who picketed his son's funeral.
The protesters are led by Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. Albert Snyder of York, Pa., had won a $5 million verdict against Phelps, but it was thrown out on appeal.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to consider whether the protesters' provocative messages, which include phrases like "Thank God for dead soldiers," are protected by the First Amendment.
Lawyers say Snyder already is struggling to come up with the fees associated with filing the brief with the high court. Read on...
I really hate to waste Mr. Amato's bandwidth on these despicable people, but Mr. Snyder needs our moral support as well as help with legal costs. I hope he doesn't pay one thin dime to these people, but he'll need lawyers to help continue the fight. There is a legal fund set up for him, if you'd like to show him some love, you can do so by clicking here.


A little music by another new French Group, Gush. They are very low tech, acoustic guitars and simple keyboards. The drummer has a very primitive drum kit, but they all sing and this is almost in the tradition of barbershop harmony. A song called Jealousy.
I like the disarming lyrics, a kind of poetry that could only come from trying to qwrite in another language. I write in French and often when I reread or have someone read wat I have written, they suggest how I coud have said it more simply or elegantly, but never more sincerely.

I thought I would have internet service restored today. The technicians came and looked at the lines and said they had to get a different type of cable and they would come back tomorrow? I have a connection that asts for a few minutes at a time and then disappears for hours...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Can See The Reichstag From My Front Porch

In my last post, American Jihad, my friend Mudrake commented that some people are reticient to use language that compares the present violent rhetoric and actions of some on the Right to nazism. To some extent, I agree with him, because the lable is used in a broad inaccurate swath to dehumanize and make an opponent into a monster based on the psychic image of the horrors of nazi Germany.
But, we can look at the methods with which the Nazis intimidated and took control of the German soul and see the same techniques used through history as tools to use mob violence as a tool of political intimidation.
You only have to go back a little farther and see Mussolini's Italian Fascist destruction of the socialist and communist movements in Italy, or the prewar assasination attempt of the French Socialist President, Leon Blum by pro German French Nationalists.
I really admire Alan Grayson, the Democrat Represetative from Florida because he seems to have the historical depth to refer to real examples with out sinking to meaningless name calling. He has the guts to actually speak out and a sense of humor to do it in a way that appeals to the people.
In this exchange, Grayson talks about threats he received before the HCR Bill vote.
He refers to the attempts by conservatives to claim that the violence we are seeing now is coming from the right and the left.
He makes an interesting analogy in comparing the tactic to the Nazi ruse of burning the Reichstag in Berlin and then blaming it on their opponents to make themselves into martyrs:

In a Saturday interview on Sirius XM, a satellite radio company, the Florida congressman said a woman called his home last week and said on speakerphone that she would kill him if he voted for the health care bill.

Grayson alluded to an infamous event in the buildup to Nazi Germany when responding to the interviewer's statement about Republican claims that the abuse is "happening on both sides."

Republicans have condemned the abuse while simultaneously exploiting it. House Minority Leader John Boehner said the abuse was because “millions of Americans are scared to death."

MARK THOMPSON: How are your wife and kids? How’s your safety? ... With all of this stuff going on, have you been on the other end of any of this foolishness, these threats?
Story continues below...

REP. GRAYSON: Yeah, yeah, when I was in Washington, D.C., last week, a woman called my home. I’ve got five kids, and I have twins who are 5 years old. One of the 5-year-olds hit the speaker button on the phone when it was ringing, and she said, "If you vote for health care, I’ll kill you." And my son went over to my wife and said, "There’s a lady on the phone who said she’s going to kill me." He thought that she was talking about him.

MARK THOMPSON: Yeah, this is crazy. And they’re suggesting ... the Republicans are defending themselves by saying this is happening on both sides. This is not happening on both sides.

REP. GRAYSON: Well, I think that’s what they said about the burning of the Reichstag, if I recall correctly.

Of course, the biggest problem with actually dealing with historical facts is that most people are ignorant of details. Sarah Palin couldn't spell Reichstag, she probably thinks it is a hotel in Cleveland, but perhaps she can see it from her front porch....

An American Jihad

These clips were compiled by ThinkProgress of statements which could logically be shown that conservative political figures were in fact using rhetoric which might incite actual violence. The hyper exaggeration and dehumanization of ones opponent is one of the primeary tools of fascist violence. This is eliminationist rhetoric.
On the other hand, the incendiary statements are much the same as Islamic Fundamentalists use in inciting Jihad violence. Indeed, many extreme teabaggers when allowed to express their emotional irrational rage point to the insane acts of David Koresh in Waco, Texas and the Oklahoma City Bomber as the ultimate outcome of their rage if they do not have their way.
The politicians in the video, for the most part have denied that they ever made incendiary statements, but the video would suggest other wise.

It is racist, it is sectarian and it is irrational. It comes from a small portion of the American population who seem to believe they can enforce their fanatic beliefs through violent intimidation. This is how fascism operates.
Can the majority of Americans who seem to support the progressive social programs of the Obama administration resist and reject this rhetoric?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Skiddoo 2

I looked for some clips of Skiddoo on YouTube, there used to be some great clips of the hallucinatory dancing garbage cans with the Harry Nillson soundtrack and of course the brilliant acid dosed mashed potatoes sequence in the prison lunch room...You would have to see it to have believed it. But, most of it seems to have vanished.
Here is a trailer for the film featuring prominent Acid Heads of their time, Peter Lawford, Groucho Marx, Tomothy Leary and of course, Sammy Davis Jr.


Last week I published a few posts regarding the testing of LSD as a weapon by the CIA and the Special Forces on the US Army in a village in France and then the subsequent cover up which involved the Swiss Sandoz Laboratory. I then published a propaganda filom by the US Army from the 50's documenting their "research".
One point that was brought up in the subsequent discussion, was that once the US Government started to mess with research on psychedelic drugs and their possible miltary use, it was impossible to keep them out of the hands of the general public.
The leaks from the research was the main way that the entire "psychedelic 60's" experience  happened. For better or worse, and I happen to think it was for the better, the course of the social history of America was changed. It undeniably affected music and the arts.
I remember reading Cary Grants autobiography, where I picked up a great piece of advice which stood me well years later. "A man over 40 should let his his picture be taken before noon!"  In his autobiography, Grant freely talked about his use of LSD in an innocent way. This was before hippies, the late 50's. Even Groucho Marx was an acid head. Just read his collected letters in the National Library, The Groucho Papers.
If you ever want to get a glimpse of the effect LSD had on mainstream America, you should get ahold of the 1967 Otto Preminger musical comedy, Skiddoo. You wanna see Jackie Gleason tripping? Go ahead.
Groucho played a character in the movie who was both supremely good and evil...he lived on a sailboat with tie dyed sails in the middle of San Francisco Bay and was god. You do have to put up with Carol Channing singing and dancing.......
Cary Grant was the first mainstream celebrity to espouse the virtues of psychedelic drugs. Whereas novelist Aldous Huxley's famous 1954 treatise The Doors of Perception recounted his remarkable experiences with mescaline, Huxley was hardly mainstream - a darling of intellectual circles to be sure, but a far cry from a matinee idol. Grant was one of the biggest stars Hollywood had to offer when he jumped headlong into Huxley's Heaven and Hell. His endorsement of subconscious exploration, arguably, created more interest in LSD than Dr. Timothy Leary who was largely preaching to the converted. Grant on the other hand was the fantasy of countless Midwestern women. He convinced wholesome movie starlets like Esther Williams and Dyan Cannon to blow their minds. When Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping interviewed him, the topic of conversation wasn't Cary's favorite recipe or "the problem with youth today." Instead, Cary Grant was telling happy homemakers that LSD was the greatest thing in the world.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ben L'Oncle Soul

I won't have real internet usage back until next Tuesday, but let's not stop us from having a French Music Friday! I am very excited to have learned about this great artist who goes under the name of Ben L'Oncle Soul. A French kid who was raised on Wilson Pickett and has so much good natured spirit and natural charisma that he borders on heroic...the first video is a busking performance of Marvin Gayes' I Heard It Through The Grapevine performed acoustically on the Paris Metro. It's pretty cool.

The second is a collaboration with the American Rapper, Beat Assaillant with the official video for Spy. Beat Assaillant was a menber of the Outkast Posse and moved to Europe about 6 years ago and has taken the inspiration of Outkast and moved way beyond. I heard this piece last performed live and my mental imagery of the music suggested a mid 60's James Bond Movie that was never made.
Then I saw the video....too fuckin cool!

Bear with me for a few days...I will be back.....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No You Can't What?

I'm still having internet problems. Nothing is simple and passing the HCR Bill in America sure wasn't and getting rid of the Sarkozy effect in France isn't either.
The opposition is now referring to France as a Representative Monarchy. Well, we know what happens to unruky French Monarchs....
Meanwhile, here's a little taste of the mellow sounds of John Boehner as he tries to convince us "Hell No, You Can't"
Take it away Johnny Boy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Massive Internet Debacle

My posting will be spotty over the next few days. We are experiencing multiple rural internet problems. I think I have to get a new ADSL Box, and the lines are down from a wall collapse. The good news is that the mason finally arrived today to tell us that the work will begin.
More good news, the Sarkozy UMP  government suffered a historic defeat in the regional elections yesterday. Almost all of France went to the Left. Sarko issued a statement saying that he knew he had  been a bad boy and now he was going to be good. LIAR!
I am just lerning about the passage of the Helath Reform Bill in the House yesterday...more good news!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The First Day Of Spring

Suddenly, everything changed. There was no frost in the valley this morning. I see green buds on the raspberries. The willow tree is begining to look sappy yellowish green, it seems to be glowing and the biggest miracle was Dede coming by on his ancient Renault Tractor and asking of we were ready to have our potager turned over.
Even though this has been a very cold winter and we certainly have had enough rain, the ground, for the first time in years was ready this early in the season to be worked. In fact, everywhere I go here, farmers are turning over their ground.
I just planted another 30 strawberry plants and bought a bag of spunta potatoes. I will plant a row of my own potatoes from last year, We have onions and parsley, eternal celery and rhubarb coming up. I think the artichokes survived the big freeze, we shall see....
Now I have to go and tune up the lawn mower, I hear grass growing.....

Friday, March 19, 2010

What If They Gave A Tea Party And Nobody Showed Up?

On March 16th, the final protest of the Faux News Tea Party Rodeo Clown Promotional Movement against Health Care Reform took place in Washington. The pre protest estimates by Faux News claimed tens of thousands would be there. The day of the protest, only 300 or so could make it. Desole.
Unfortunately, the circus came to town the same day.
This video is incredible as it seems to be a very honest attempt to document the protestors and have them actually state their case. Does any of this make any sense to you? Honestly?
The film makers were a group of under graduate college journalism students who make docu-films under the name NEW LEFT MEDIA. They are Chase Whiteside, Eric Stoll and Zac Sleeth. They are totally self funded and this video alone proves that they deserve your support. Check out the YouTube page for more info!

La Difference

Salif Keita is one of the grand voices of our time. He is a Malian, descended from the royal family of Mali, but ostracized at an early age because of his albinism. Being an albino is considered bad luck in much of western Africa, even more so, albinos are in real danger of being killed for their "magic".

He was born in 1949 and started performing in 1973. He moved to Europe in the early 80's and has been writing, singing and composing songs ever since. He is a grand composer and unique virtuoso instrumentalist, but his voice is a gift to humanity.

Keita's latest album, La Différence, was produced around the year end of 2009. The work is dedicated to the struggle of the world albino community(victims of human sacrifice), for which Keita has been crusading all his life. In one of the album's tracks, the singer calls others to understand that "difference" does not mean "bad" and to show love and compassion towards albinos like everyone else:"I am black/ my skin is white/ so I am white and my blood is black [albino]/... I love that because it is a difference that's beautiful..", "some of us are beautiful some are not/some are black some are white/all that difference was on purpose.. for us to complete each other/let everyone gets his love and dignity/the world will be beautiful."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

This is a piece by Alex Chilton called Kangaroo. Alex died yesterday. He was 59 and had a career in pop music that spanned over 40 years, starting with the 60's hit, The Letter. He was a 18 year old kid who managed to cross over as a white soul artist.
He never had the big success of The Box Tops again, but he was a true American Independant artist and inspired generations with his power pop band of the 70's, Big Star and his work throught the 80's and the 90's. Check out Paul Westerberg's song entitled Alex Chilton from his great band, The Replacements, which they recorded in the early 80's. Earlier in this decade, he reformed Big Star and kept playing until last year.
Keep On Rocking, Alex!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Repeat after me:
I will not say the Fox rodeo clowns name...
I will not mention the Fox rodeo clowns name...
I will not utter the Fox rodeo clowns name...
Because, as we all know, everytime you say his name, he gets a dollar.

Regarding the Fox rodeo clown:
The Fox News hate-talk show host and practicing Mormon Rodeo Clown told his listeners to “run as fast as you can” if they find their church preaching “social justice,” claiming it is a “perversion of the Gospel.” In 1967, Michigan Gov. George Romney — father of Mitt — was the most prominent Mormon politician in the land, seeking the Republican nomination for president. Unlike The Fox Rodeo Clown, Romney considered social justice a core tenet of his faith. In 1967, Jet reported that Romney was willing to choose social justice over the Church of Latter-Day Saints, which then barred blacks from becoming priests:
Michigan Gov. George Romney said he would leave his church if it ever tried to prevent him from working for the elimination of social injustices and racial discrimination

The Irish Rover

I am sort of leaning across the floor to post this. I painted the floor in front of my computer this morning and spent the day outside in the glorious first real nice day of the year. The floor is still a little tacky, but, let me wish you a very happy Saint Patricks Day and I hope you enjoy this piece. The Irish Rover by the Pogues in all their glory, circa 1987 with the Dubliners....
If you know a little about me, you'll understand that this is my day in more ways than one! We are still trying to find the true spelling of my family name. The guys at Ellis Island in the 1860's never were able to figure out how to spell it and as far as we can figure out, it was O'huigch and pronounced like you were clearing your throat.

Jean Ferrat

La Commune
Lyrics: George Coulonges / Music: Jean Ferrat

One hundred years ago common policy, as hope begins
They rose to the Commune listening sing Potier
One hundred years ago common policy, as a star in the sky
They were living in the Commune listening sing Clement

They were ironworkers sensitive to signs
They were carpenters with a hundred strokes of planes

To defend Paris they became mobilized
They were blacksmiths who became militiamen

One hundred years ago common policy, as artisans and laborers
They fought for the Commune listening sing Potier
One hundred years ago common common as workers and craftsmen
They fought for the Commune listening sing Clement

Become soldiers with civilian minds
They were federated and planted a flag
Disputing the future paved in the cityThey were blacksmiths who became heroes
One hundred years ago common policy, as hope became charnel

They saw the Commune die, ah! Let me sing Potier
One hundred years ago common policy, as a star in the sky
They went out to the Commune, listen to sing Clement.

This is my terrible translation of La Commune, sung by Jean Ferrat, who composed the music and died Sunday at age 79. He was born ot a modest Jewish family in 1930. His father was deported to Auschwitz during WW2 and died there.

Ferrat dropped out of school to support his family and in the mid 50's started performing in Parisian cabaret and started to write songs.
He was always strongly political and many of his songs were controversial and even was banned from the radio because of their communist politics. He remained very popular and recieved many awards for his music. He was one of the last of a tradition of La Chanson Francais, French singers who wrote in the language and celebrated the language, like Brassens, Brel, or Barbara.

He stopped performing in the mid 70's, but he is still remembered and loved. The song, The Commune, commemorates the free Paris in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Paris held out, embattled and under seige. The people declared a revolutionary socialist commune which was brutally crushed by the French Army. Thousands were massacred for their dreams..

Monday, March 15, 2010

Creeps Or Consequences

You are listen! Really Big News On Republican Planet! Chief Brain write book make all progressive Earthlings crazy! You Buy Book Now! Creeps Or Consequences! Buy Now and Learn Stupid!
Karl say, "Terrorists like waterboard better than Sea World, plus no crazy whale bite head off!"
Karl say, "Bush Pay For Iraq War with Green Stamps, plus you get free bonus microwave oven!"
Karl say, "Gore big stupid internet liar full of hot air make global warming so he can discover Love Canal Story!"
Karl say this and more good smart you stupid! 
All hail chief brain of Rove World. Listen 27 hours everyday on Bizarro News Channel!

(to find out what Karl really said check out this link at mediamatters)

The First Big Step

In case you are wondering as to what happened in France today regarding the regional election, it was very good news.

The election process is two steps. There is a first tour which was today and that narrows the field down. There are perhaps 17 parties with candidates which represent the full political spectrum from far right to extreme left.
The ruling party presently is the center right UMP. The UMP has aggressively courted the far right by enacting oppressive immigration policies open racism.

What they managed to do was empower the far right. They also have managed to totally drive the rest of France to the left by their non negotiation with labor and manipulation of environmental issues. There has been an anti Sarkozy swell building and today it exhibited itself in a number of ways.
The first tour of the election is a way for voters to show their dissatisfaction and to cast symbolic votes. The Europe Green party did unexpectedly well as well as the lesser Left wing parties. The Socialists were the big winners and the left wing and green votes will probably all go to the socialists in next weeks final run off.

There was also a record abstention today, it was explained that so many UMP voters felt disappointment with their own party and didn't bother to cast a vote.
The most worrisome, but predictable result was the gain by the far right Front National.
Empowered by the Sarkozyist policies, they were able to take votes away from the UMP by saying that they didn't go far enough.

All in all, though, it was as if the air cleared here. It will be interesting to live through the next week of spin as the UMP tries to convince a country that has been lied to one too many times that they will be nicer. 
With all the news focusing on the brutal and illegal expulsions of immigrants, it is interesting that the big movie event here is a film about the brutal expulsions of the 13,000 Jews from Paris in 1942 by the collaborating French Police Force. La Rafle.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Now is the time. The pissenlits are just beginning to pop up all over your lawn, in the fields, everywhere. One of the most succesful weeds on the planet, the pissenlit, or dandelion is everywhere you don't want it to be. But in the early spring, this plant is a truly great treat and extremely healthy to eat,

Pissenlit is the common name in French and the literal translation is Wet the Bed...a very good description of the diuretic qualities of the greens. An older plant can produce a crown of greens like a head of frisse lettuce. The idea is to get them before they set buds then they become much more bitter. The young greens may be bitter, but very tasty and everyone in the Dordogne traditionally eats pissenlit as a spring tonic. You can buy them here commercially raised in the markets. You can collect them yourself if you take care to go where you can be sure they they haven't absorbed toxic emmisions from road ways...
Traditionally, the plant is used to treat viruses, jaundice, endema, gout and acne, but it is the powerful diuretic and laxative properties which give it is reputaion as a spring tonic and hence its name.

I, myself, love the bitter flavor and look forward to collecting them every year.  
The traditional salad is made by cleaning the leaves, like a lettuce, and making a vinagrette. I usually make a simple vinagrette of red wine vinegar, a little dijon mustard and oil. For a big salad that makes a meal, you could fry lardons...which are like bacon strips and stale bread croutons fried in the bacon fat. This is one of my all time favorite lunch salads.

I also use crushed walnuts and make the vinagrette with a little walnut oil added to the regular oil as walnut oil is very powerful. here in the Dordogne, the land of walnuts, we even have walnut flavored vinegar, which unlike walnut oil, does not get rancid. You could add roquefort cheese to the salad as another variation. 
I spentmost of  the day outside and saw the beginning of many salads unfolding in the fields around my house. Maybe spring is really here?

Meet Your New Evil Founding Step Father.....

The Texas Board of Education has been meeting this week to revise its social studies curriculum. During the past three days, “the board’s far-right faction wielded their power to shape lessons on the civil rights movement, the U.S. free enterprise system and hundreds of other topics”:
– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”
– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.” They are including a revisionist history rehabilitating Senator Joseph McCarthy and give him a more prominent postion than Jefferson in shaping American values.
– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”
– The Board struck the word “democratic from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”
As the nation’s second-largest textbook market, Texas has enormous leverage over publishers, who often “craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers.” Indeed, as The Washington Monthly has reported, “when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas.”

Update Following repeated failed attempts to add figures in Hispanic history to the textbooks, one board member, Mary Helen Berlanga, stormed "out of the meeting late Thursday night, saying, 'They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.'"
For more information and a better take on this than I could ever have written, please check out  THE ENGINEER OF KNOWLEDGE's take. Perhaps this is going to work against the Wingnut Conservative Texas Board of Education, I think that the school book publishers will be all too happy to recieve their order, print them up as fast as possible and give them the bill, only to find that the public will demand that the books be mulched ASAP! 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Death Letter

One of the most powerful songs by Son House, in my opinion along with John The Revelator. 
Son House was born in 1902 im Mississippi, in a share cropping family. He became a Baptist preacher at the age of 15, but then veered off and took up the ungodly profession of a blues musician. He was a big influence on Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. He recorded during the 30's and early 40's, then disappeared for many years and was "redicovered" in the early 60's working for the New York Central Railroad. He began to record and toured constantly, encouraged by the blues revival in the 60's. He moved to Detroit and died there in 1988. 

Here is a piece written about a performance by House in 1967 in England, It gives a hint of the power of the music and the mystery of the man.

"It is difficult to describe the transformation that took place as this smiling, friendly man hunched over his guitar and launched himself, bodily it seemed, into his music. The blues possessed him like a 'lowdown shaking chill' and the spellbound audience saw the very incarnation of the blues as, head thrown back, he hollered and groaned the disturbing lyrics and flailed the guitar, snapping the strings back against the fingerboard to accentuate the agonized rhythm. Son's music is the centre of the blues experience and when he performs it is a corporeal thing, audience and singer become as one."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flux Capacitor

Here is a live performance by the fusion power trio, PSP. Three incredible musicians who have individual histories as producers, arrangers, studio musicians for just about everyone on the planet. Simon Phillips the drummer began in Toto,
Pino Palladino has become one of my favorite bass players. He seems to be able to empathetically absorb and immerse himself in any style. I have seen him play straight jazz and all styles of pop.
The Keyboard artist is Phillipe Saisse, who has been plaing and producing since the early 80's. He works with David Bowie, produced and played with Tina Turner, and is an innovative plaer who takes advantage of the best of the old and new technologies.

Phillips and Palladino have been the rythmn section of the present version ofThe Who for the last 5 years.
PSP started to play together in Italy 2 years ago and this is music cemented by a personal friendship, common interests and sheer trust. I saw them perform this piece last night on the French/German Television show One Shot Not, hosted by the drummer Manu Katche.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I would have loved to have seen this car on the road and even more, to have been able to drive it. The style seems to borrow from Buckminster Fullers Dymaxion Car, but perhaps they both shared an art deco streamlined vision of the future.

The fascination car was the brainchild of Paul M. Lewis, of the Highway Aircraft Corporation. It was developed with a standard engine, but he wanted to power it with ANYTHING that didn't burn gasoline. He was in negotiations with Ed Gray for a while to use the EMA Engine, but that fell through. He then approached Joseph Papp for his plasma engine. Ultimately, neither the car or the engines were ever produced.

If you are interested in the Fascination Car and it's history and the very interesting and tragic story of Ed Gray, the inventor of the EMA engine and developer of causal positron energy check out this link. Another genius who seems to have been destroyed by the industries his inventions would have threatened.


In the last post, A Terrible Mistake? I referred to the US Military and CIA's experimentation with LSD in the early 50's as a potential weapon. The article is about the use of an aerosol LSD spray on a test on a village in Southern France, to see what would happen. 
I had a comment saying that this must have been part of bigger program. Well it was and it was documented at the time and fortunately, the documentation still exists.
Here is a short excerpt from a British documentary which has footage from an American propaganda newsreel film from the early 50's. The footage shows the "effects" on LSD on soldiers and then goes on to brag on the development of an aerosol for tactical use.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Terrible Mistake?

Today in the French News, was the startling announcement that the French Government is demanding explanations from the United States for a mysterious outbreak of mass insanity in the South Eastern Village of Pont-Saint-Esprit that occurred almost 60 years ago. 500 hundred people were affected and there were 5 deaths. The implications could have long range effects on Franco-American relations.

The incident occurred in 1951 and started with the hospitals being flooded with people in various stages of outward insanity. Children tried to murder their parents, victims screamed that "red flowers were growing from their heads", that their heads ahad turned to molten lead, their stomachs were filled with snakes. Others were enthralled and claimed they saw heavenly visons, heard cosmic music and were filled with the holy spirit.
At the time, scientists came up with various explanations ranging from mercury tainted wheat to a recurrence of ergotism, or St. Anthony's Fire, alegendary afflicion that vanished with the Middle Ages and was caused by rye grains infected with the ergot fungus, which among other substances, produced lysergic acid which is the active ingredient of LSD.

Mercury tainted wheat sold illegally by an Italian firm in the this decade in Iraq was responsible for an outbreak of seeming insanity in an Iraqi village, but the symptoms also were lethal in many cases, from the mercury.

The Pont-Saint-Esprit mystery was speculated about for years. Indeed a tantalizing clue was given by Albert Hoffman, the Swiss scientist who worked for Sandoz Laboratories who developed LSD and documented its effects. He wrote in his work, LSD, My Problem Child, about the connection with Sandoz and the American CIA and how Sandoz was able to interest the Americans in the possible use of an aerosol delivered LSD for military use.

Recently after the allegations of American involvement began to resurface in 2009 and were never successfully quashed, the Author, H.P. Albarelli Jr. just released a book in the USA called A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments.
He documents through the revelations of Ex CIA personel that the outbreak in 1951 in Pont-St-Esprit was the direct result of a covert CIA experiment with an aerosol LSD which was carried out by the Special Operations Division of Fort Detrick, MD.
He documents that the scientists who produced the explanations were experts working for Sandoz which was supplying the US Army and the CIA with LSD for experimental use.
He goes on to say, that at one point and this has been documented in many places, the CIA entertained the idea of using  LSD in a control in an American city by placing it in the water system, but the results of the French experience were so horrific that they reconsidered it.

Indeed, in documents that Alberelli obtained from Ft. Dertrick, the Special Operations Force had considered, in a 1950 memo, using the aerosol in the New York City Subway System in a test to study its effects.

The unfolding of this story took a few years of research and the results are so damning that we are on the verge of diplomatic and political scandal because of Albarellis work.
There are many documented articles and interviews with survivors of the Pont-Saint-Esprit tragedy if you are interested and many articles available with the evolution of the story over the last 60 years.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Haiti: A Family Among the Ruins

Photo © Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR: Nelvis Clerge sits on the rubble that was his family's home in Port-au-Prince. Nelvis, a 55-year old construction worker, built the house with his own hands 25 years ago. The Clerge family is one of many struggling to survive in post-emergency Haiti with little assistance.
This image is part of a larger slideshow on survivors of the Haiti quake, and the work of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Haiti. 
You can donate directly to Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres by clicking the widget at the side of the page. The American troops are leaving Haiti  and the job is just beginning. Doctors Without Borders were in Haiti operating their hospitals before the quake and were the first in with their portable surgical units hours after the quake hit. They will be there for a long time and need your help to deliver real, direct medical assistance. You can be assured that any donation to them for Haiti will be used in Haiti and they will not waste a penny on superfluous executives.

Thanks to!

Homeless Robot Aid

Another creative fundraising project from Detroit...
Nick from i3 Detroit hackerspace sez, "We all know that robot poverty is a major problem but no one is taking any steps to help combat it...until now. Help i3 Detroit, Detroit's Hackerspace, move to our bigger 8,000 sq/ft location and fight the causes of Robot Poverty. Most robots don't have the basic alcohol they need to survive or the tanks of pneumatic fluid to pressurize appendages. It's everyone's problem and you can help. Watch our informative video and support us via our Kickstarter program."

Slave To The Rythmn

An afterthought to La Journee de la Femme. One of the most powerful feminine icons of our time, a totally original self made work of art. She transcends and destroys any preconcieved notions of sexism, racism, stereotyping just by existing....
Ladies and Gentlemen, Grace Jones!

Monday, March 08, 2010

La Journée de la Femme

Today is the 101st International Womens Day, a day celebrating women world wide. Surprisngly enough, it started in the Unitied States in 1909 by the Socialist Party. The celebration grew with each year and became much more poignant after the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which killed over 140 women workers who were forced to work in a locked building and jumped from 8th story windows.
The clebration dwindled during the War Years and was celebrated like Mothers day in the Communist bloc countries, but has experienced a growing revival and support  since the 1960's in many countries all over the world.

Today in France, abortions became easier to get and more profitable for the doctors who perform them. The government pays for abortions and doubled the fee paid to doctors. This would seem to be the epitome of the Evangelical argument that abortion is racial suicide, but paradoxically, here, the French enjoy one of the highest per capita birthrates in the world as well as one of the lowest infant mortality rates on the planet. They are #7.
This contrasts with the shrinking birthrate of the United States and the almost third world infant mortality rate of 42 (from the CIA factbook).

The difference? Women are allowed control of their bodies. They are not property, breeding stock owned by men. A child is concieved and born when the parent wants to ave a child. The government takes responsibility for the welfare of the child with subsidies, free health care and allowances for the parenting process. A father gets paternity leave from his job.

So, on this day, I'd like to celebrate the life of a French woman, who you may have heard of, Florence Aubenas. She is a brave investigative reporter who made the news back in 2005 in Iraq when she and her translator/driver were kidnapped by Al Qaida. She was held for 157 days and was praised by her fellow hostages as being a beacon of hope. They were ransomed and released. 

Florence was interviewed and then disappeared for a while. She recently resurfaced with a new book, Le Quai de Ouistreham. A book in which she recounts the 6 months which she became Madame Aubenas, Femme de Menage. She entered the world of temporary unskilled employment. 

In many ways, it was the most unfamiliar world she had ever encountered. For her job, Florence Aubenas had traveled to many faraway places: it goes with the territory of being a reporter. In a 20-year career with different newspapers (first Libération and later Le Nouvel Observateur), she had visited lawless housing projects, war zones, police stations, courts and factories on strike.

But this time, there were no planes to catch for a destination that was almost on her own doorstep: Caen, a two-hour drive from Paris. Strangely enough, this town was to be the venue for the most psychologically demanding and difficult report she had ever undertaken. For nearly six months, Florence Aubenas became: "Madame Aubenas," age 48, no specific qualifications — an unemployed woman among others, dozens of others, none of whom recognized her. Day after day, she immersed herself in the formless mass of job seekers, who drift from one underpaid temporary job to another — the legions of the non-skilled unemployed who have no hope of finding real jobs, just odd hours here and there — that is if they are lucky.

She managed to survive and revealed her identity only to some of the women she worked with because she felt so strongly about compromising their dignity. The book is a real eye opener exposing the conditions and the attitudes of the employers and the exploitative agencies and the showing the stoic humor and acceptance of those who struggle every day just to keep from going under!
I hope it is translated into English because the realities are not culture specific, they are gender specific!

This is the #1 best selling book in France today.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

One Square Inch At A Time

Today, the reconquest of Detroit begins. In 1701, Cadillac established a fort on the the strait between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair as a strategic point to protect French trading interests in the Great Lakes region. The strait (de troit) remained a French possession until it was ceded to the British in 1760. 

The French legacy remained in the street names and the families and heritage of Detroit.
I may not be French, but today, I purchased one square foot of property in Detroit and we will erect a miniature Eiffel Tower if possible. But, this is just the beginning of the french reconquest of Detroit!

The purchase was made possible through the Loveland Project. You can buy a square inch of Detroit. With the purchase of a square foot, you recieve a deed and a magnifying glass to read it with. If you aprticipate in the project, you will be able to say, "I've got 12 inches in Detroit" with a straight face. Do not underestimate the value of this.
Check out TheMakeLoveland Project here and for a real time experience with the artists who are involved in it, check out their blog, 7billionfriends.....
If you have been reading this blog, you know of my attachment to Detroit and today, I can proudly say...."I've got 12 inches in Detroit!".I will keep you updated on this project as it progresses....

la reconquête de Detroit commence maintenant!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Jalalabad Fab Fi Network

More than 7 years ago, the World Bank funded what was supposed to be an 18 month long project to bring internet connectivity to Afghanistan. Finally, just this June, the hundred million dollar project made its first international link....and it very far from being complete or even remotely functional.

Meanwhile, an organization which calls itself the Jalalabad Fab Fi Network has created a functioning and fast growing international internet network out of recycled garbage from the World bank Project, on pennies for the dollar.....

The object in the picture above is a fuly functional makeshift satellite reflector. It was made out of pieces of board, wire, a plastic tub and ironically enough, USAID Vegetable oil cans.
If you understand this stuff, t the reflector links up just shy of -71dBm at about 1km, giving it a gain of somewhere between 5 and 6dBi. With a little tweaking and a true parabolic shape, it could easily be as powerful as the small FabFi pictured above (which is roughly 8-10dBi depending on materials)
These guys are self funded volunteers from all over the world and deserve reconition and perhaps funding if you are so inclined. They design the systems and make them work.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Picked Me Up

Another French Music Friday...okay, more of a European Music Friday, the singer, Tatiana Heinz is French, but the band, Okou, is based in Berlin. She is incredible and the band is really roots, blues acoustic grounded music. A real surprise. The guitarist/banjoist, Gilbert Trefzger is brilliant. They operate as a duo, but the expanded band which I saw last night is the real thing, with an acoustic bass, drums and a horn player who plays trombone on this song. On other pieces he plays tuba.
I substituted this piece for the original, To The Bone because Mudrake pointed out that there seemed to a copyright conflict for American viewers. This is a great piece, it shows of tattania and Gilbert is absolutely brilliant on steel...This stuff is timeless and impiossible to put into a neat category.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

What If You're Wrong

Great SouthPark Style animation of Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, 2007 among many other books, who said, among many other things....
By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.
Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.

59 Years Ago Today

This broadcast was from 1960 and Mr. Wizard had already been on the air since March 4, 1951. I guess I could have waited until 1961 and the 60th anniversary, but heck, I'm 59 and it's a very good year. I think this was pretty nifty episode. The little girl is full of personality and exhibits a real intellect which was a rare thing for little girsl to exhibit publically back in 1960. Usually they were sent back to the nuns for reprocessing. Mr. Wizard did a lot to advance the interest in science and the natural world in the 30 years he was on television. Generations of kids watched the show instead of the steady calvacade mindless cartoons and sit com reruns....

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Your Pure White Trash Moment

Here we are about 275 miles NE of Atlanta, in the town of Nahunta, GA on Feb 20, where the local Klan proves again that nobody can pull off the floppy hat and bad teeth look better than them!

And while we are on the subject of White Trash, what's going on in Utah? Utah Republican Legislator, Carl Wimmer, has sponsored a bill, which looks like it will become law, that makes a woman a potential criminal for having a miscarriage!

He appeared on CNN Monday to defend his bill, which he claims will only be usable in the worst of circumstances.

Right. He never does explain why it treats women as presumptive criminals, and expands the definition of "illegal abortion" to include miscarriages. Nor does he explain why 93 percent of the women in Utah don't have legal abortions available within their home counties.

But that's par for the course. You see, Carl Wimmer isn't just your run-of-the-mill Utah Republican (see, e.g., Orrin Hatch). He's a flaming Tea Party fan (as his Facebook testimonial makes clear: "I am involved in the Tea Party and 912 movements."

He's not just involved in Glenn Beck's "912" teabagging movement -- he made an appearance on Beck's special "town hall" show last May promoting not just the "912ers," but Beck's wholesale embrace of the "Tenther" theories from the militia movement of the '90s.

Ironically, here's what Wimmer ranted about back then:

Wimmer: The Patrick Henry Caucus, we formed it in Utah, and the way I look at it is, it brings teeth to what the 912ers are doing. I'm a 912er. And the citizens are frustrated. The citizens are sick and tired of liberties and freedoms being destroyed, all the time. And the government doing it.

So what I decided to do, I'm sick of it, I know some of my fellow legislators were sick of it, and I know there's other legislators around the country who are sick of it. So I decided to form the Patrick Henry Caucus, which is state legislators from throughout the country who are going to unify and join together to push forward the agenda that the 912 group supports, and we're gonna do this together. The citizens can't do it together -- they can write letters, and they can organize. But they need the lawmakers, who can help repeal some of these laws, and fight back against a tyrannical federal government.

I dunno about you, but "freedoms being destroyed" and "tyrannical" seem to me like pretty apt descriptions for laws that invade women's wombs. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой

Это лишь один из этих видов дней!
Эта замечательная песня говорит лучше, чем я мог себе представить!