Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm Glad

I had to post this. The soundtrack is "I'm Glad" by Captain Beefheart and His Magic band from his 1965 record, Safe As Milk. The images are from the early German Expressionist Film, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.
Is this not perfection?

Now, That's Entertainment!

I have been a fan of South Park since it's birth in the 90's. Anyone who can manage to offend everyone in such an extremely entertaining way gets my vote! Now, That's Entertainment!  So I have been following the latest controversy over their recent episode that supposedly insulted Mohammed. Boy, censorship issues sure get confusing when American fans of the English-language version of South Park have to look to a Chinese broadcast of the episode to figure out what Cartman was saying in the closing speech of episode 201.  Comedy Central/Viacom bleeped out, against Matt and Trey's wishes, over threats from a small wacko wingnut group identified as "Muslim extremists" (but founded by a Jewish dude). Complicated! I can't wait till it is broadcast here translated into French....Leading me to my next posting... Live from Paris, Arizona!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Know You Know

Here is a clip of the Mahavishnu Orchestra performing You Know You Know in 1972.
In this clip, the drummer, Billy Cobham proves once again hat he was one of the greatest percussionists on the planet. The controlled dynamics and energy of his playing in an improvisatory format, the sympathetic communication, the pyrotechnic display without intruding on the other musicians is a supernatural phenomena.
I was a real fan of this band at this time. I followed them from concert to concert across the midwest that year and I cut my long hair off forever.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Death From Within....

"No need to go to war with America. Just let them eat" Mao Zedong

This Automatic Hot Biscuit, Sausage Patty and Gravy dispenser 
is available for your next Tea Party function
from Bob Evans for only $595!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Take A Right Turn At Crazy....

Here is a compilation by MediaMatters of the Tea Party Tax Day Protests on
April 19th, 2010.
I was a little disturbed by the Republicans Governors Association recently releasing an ad that tried to take some of the aura of the anti fascist fantasy movie V. They seemed to be embracing the mantle of 17th century British Terrorist, Guy Fawkes, who tried to assasinate the king of England and the Parliament by blowing it up.
I really believe that the Gun Lobby is involved in whipping up a lot of the frenzy.
The statement in the video by the woman in the video who informs us that Obama plans to ban fishing sort of took the cake....
The Republican Mainstream seems to have made a right turn at crazy and touched down smack dab on stark raving mad.....

The Orchestrion

This is actually a preview of Pat Metheny's latest album. If you go to YouTube, there are a few preview cuts up, but I found this presentation by Metheny, explaining his project utterly fascinating.

Metheny is another guitarist who's sound and approach is so personal that you can identifiy him with just a few notes. He has been performing his unique, lyrical jazz since the mid 1970's.

The Orchestrion is a one man jazz orchestra, controlled by solenoids that are triggered by Metheny's guitar. There are chiming guitars, a player piano, an xylophone, air powered pipes and percussion. This is technology that is pure Jules Verne Steam Punk on one hand and cutting edge futurism on the other. In Metheny's vision, it becomes extremely warm and human.

Re Elect John McCain

C'mon Big Boy, you man enough to roll with a pro? You wanna maverick? I'll give you a maverick! Too much maverick, hey, I'm a pro. Get tough on immigration? What ever you want big boy...I'm swing both ways.
Why don't we do a three way with my associate, Joe Joe Lieberman and Bomb Iran?
If you be payin, then I be playin!
Oh Yeah, you know you want it and it'll never get better than Johnny, babe....
Geezz, my achin' back....
You wanna tea party, baby I invented tea parties....
C'mon, big boy, it's gettin late and my truss is startin to chafe........

(please forgive me, it's my birthday...!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Do People Have To Fight?

Herve Villachaize helps me to help you make this day really, "Special".

No One Knows About Persian Cats

Here is a clip from the 2009 Documentary, No One Knows About Persian Cats, which won awardas at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was made by 40 year old Kurdish director, Bahman Gobadi and Iranian/American journalist, Roxanne Saberi, who recently spent 100 days in a Tehran prison for charges relating to her journalistic freedom.

The film deals with the life of 2 Iranian rock musicians, Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad and their attempt to play music in Tehran. The band rocks. This is real visceral Persian/Metal Hybrid. Rock music has been banned in Iran. All music must be approved by the Ministry of Culture and the rock musicians of Iran risk their lives and freedom to create. The film asks the question, should Iranian artist s stay at home or leave to be creative? Koshanejad answers the question saying, after his arrest18 months ago and three week jail sentence, "Everyone is going to leave some day."

The film was secretly shot over a period of 17 days in 2009 and was released in time for the Cannes Festival, which with their award, sent a powerful message to Iran regarding censorship.
The upshot? The two main characters have been forced to leave Iran and go into exile.

The Smile Of Your Shadow

A live performance by John Paul Jones of a piece from his cd, ZOOMA. Jones plays 12 string bass, mandola and finishes up with lap steel bass.
I played electric bass for many years and how often when I had to come up with a bass
part for a rock arrangement did I ask myself, "What would Jonesy do?"
A real multi instrumental tour-de-force!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Addicted To Speed

Yesterday was Earth Day. At the same time, airports across Europe are reopening for normal operations after the volcanic dust in the atmosphere from the Icelandic volcano has subsided somewhat. The silence here was noticeable. The noise of jets in a city is part of the normal background noise, but here often, it is the only artificial noise.
Yesterday, we noticed the resumption of flights over our house.

I read that the CO2 levels had dropped dramatically in the last week. The effect was more dramatic than after 9/11 because more flights were affected. 
You have to stop and think about how addicted we have become to the instant gratification of speed. We take it for granted that we can hop on a plane and be any where on the planet in a matter of theory.

I have to admit that I fly a few times a year but, I am always searching for the cheapest flights and the idea of instant travel, unless you can afford it is never as easy as it seems.
The stress of making connections, layovers and waiting, flight cancellations and other variables can turn a normal flight into an ordeal. The experience of travellers this week put it into perspective for many. You surrender your reality to the airlines, stress, security and waiting. You enter a twilight world of aeroports, the milling crowds of massive travellers herding from one fast food counter to another trying to fill the time betyween flights.

Why can't we do something else? Three words: Bring Back Blimps.
This article was in yesterdays New York Times with a great photo essay on modern lighter than air vessels. The technology has advanced very far since the Hindenberg. Low environmental impact, passive energy and silence could make for a very enjoyable trip.

The Person Sitting In Darkness

Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again, and explain them to him. We should say to him:
"They look doubtful, but in reality they are not. There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety per cent. of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty State Legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right."
Now then, that will convince the Person. You will see. It will restore the Business. Also, it will elect the Master of the Game to the vacant place in the Trinity of our national gods; and there on their high thrones the Three will sit, age after age, in the people's sight, each bearing the Emblem of his service: Washington, the Sword of the Liberator; Lincoln, the Slave's Broken Chains; the Master, the Chains Repaired.
It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see.
Mark Twain, 1901. The Person Sitting in Darkness, the conclusion of a piece about the American Occupation of The Phillipines.......

Sooper Dooper Dick

Once in a while, we find ourselves in the embarrassing position of  actually agreeing with Dick Cheney. 

In 2004, then-Vice President Dick Cheney had a “frank exchange of views” with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the Senate floor over Cheney’s ties to Halliburton and President Bush’s judicial nominees. Cheney ended the argument by telling Leahy, “Fuck yourself.” Since then, Cheney has joked about the incident and claimed the Leahy “merited” it because he was “close” to kissing him. On Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Cheney suggested that his Leahy f-bomb was “the best thing” he had ever done.

Yeah Dick, that was probably not only the best thing, but possibly the classiest...You stay classy, babe! 


With this brilliant image, The Liberal Democrats have defined Mediacracy. Murdoch has pulled out all the stops in his efforts to have the Conservatives win in the upcoming British Elections. Murdoch owns FOX. Why do Americans let an Australian billionaire make their decisions?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paris 1919

A friend reminded me to listen to the original recording of this song. John Cale released a record in 1973 and this was the title track. I believe this is a 1995 performance, live in Paris.
Cale is a great modern musician. A classically trained Welsh pianist and cellist who came to New York in the early 60's and immersed himself in the world of experimental and avant garde music. He worked with Lamont Young and Terry Riley. He recorded a record with Terry Riley called Church Of Anthrax after the Velvet Underground disbanded. Yes, he did play cello in the Velvet Underground. An interesting fact, as a child in Wales, he was raised speaking only Welsh. English was a second language learned  when he was an adolescent.

I was very much influenced by Cale as I drifted into Punk and New Wave music. One of the first songs I ever performed in public was Cale's, Fear Is A Man's Best Friend from his 1977 recording Animal Justice. Cale produced the Stooges, Nico, Devo, Jonathon Richman, the first Patti Smith record, Horses,worked with Brian Eno and reunited briefly with Lou Reed for their song cycle memorial for Andy Warhol, Songs For Drella.

There even was a brief VU reunion early in the this decade....
An intensely interesting career, his talents easily straddle violent anti social punk rock (CHICKEN SHIT!) experimental noise and pure classicly orchestrated surreal pleasure.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thai Tea, Anyone?

I have wanted to write about the political situation in Thailand for a little while. Last year I wrote about the Yellow Shirts and their demonstrations to oust the corrupt Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Now, Bangkok has been virtually shut down for weeks by the Red Shirts, the supporters of Thaksin. They want the present elected Prime Minister to step down, go into exile and Thaksin to be reinstated.
The Yellow shirts are urban and educated and from the upwardly mobile middle class. The Red Shirts are predominantly poor and rural. The Red Shirts see Thaksin as their hero and his power base is in the poor, anti intellectual rural North.
Thaksin was ousted by the Thai legal system because of massive corruption. Why you might ask, would the Thais want to bring back a corrupt criminal government after recently electing a reformist administration?
The situation in Thailand is easily understood and actually is a microcosm of what is happening all over SouthEast Asia and in a more complicated sense in the United States.
Why would Americans want to get rid of a recently elected adminsitration that is dealing with the massive problems caused by the last 8 years of massisve mismanagement and fraud of the Bush Administration?
The Red Shirt movement is fueled by an oppositionist media. The movement is abnormally violent for an outwardly seemingly peaceful nation like Thailand. The violence is ignited by Thaksins thugs. Most of the deaths in the Red Shirt demonstrtions were shown to have come from violence inside the crowd. There are armed demonstrators firing at the Army and into the crowds. One of the recent victims was a Japanese Reuters Photographer, who was shot by bullets coming from inside the demonstration. Indeed, the violence of last weeks demonstrations caused the Army to retreat and stop trying to break up the crowds.
The Red Shirt movement has degenerated into an all purpose manifestation of class struggle. Maoists, Islamic Rebels and The Urban Poor, who were Yellow Shirts last year have now been caught up in the fervor of the "revolution".
It is now seen by many in the Red Shirt movement as the poor against the rich. The uneducated against the intellectual city population. This is inspite of the fact that the leader they are trying to bring back is the wealthiest individual in Thailand, a man who made his wealth through corruption and is responsible for preserving the corrupt system that keeps the rural Northerners in their "place". The success of Thaksin in creating this chaos that he can profit from is due to his use of media and propaganda.
Does this sound familiar?
A movement that is anti intellectual, anti government, not above using force to effect some kind of non specific change...just stay tuned to FOX and they'll let you know....


Springtime in La Sechere. This is a picture of my house, but it always seems to get lost in the foliage.

Knocked Down, Made Small

So, in 1983, the Was Brothers made a record called Born To Laugh At Tornados. An amazing conceptual band, Don and Dave were both producers. The core unit featured the amazing Sweet Pea Atkinson singing. They were stylistic acrobats. Born To Laugh At Tornados featured Mitch Ryder, Ozzy Osbourne and Mel Torme.
This piece, Knocked Down, Made Small is kind of heavy metal and it sticks in my head after all these years. I always wished I could sing like Mr. Atkinson.
So humor me, I'm singing along with the video while you are watching it.
I took a very long bike ride today...tomorrow I will post some pictures of springtime in 
La Sechere.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Geopolitical Vulcanism, or, How A Volcano Changed The World

In geological time, Iceland is a very young place. It is a continent being born as others are being eroded away. It sits astride the junction of the Eurasian plate and the North American plate at a particularly thin area of the crust called the Iceland Plume.
Iceland is being continually created by the volcanic activity. We saw the dramatic birth of an island, Surtsey in the 60's. Surtsey has proven to be a dramatic example of how volcanic activity creates land in the sea and then in short order, life fills the niches and in sci-fic terms, terraforms it.
The history of the islands of the South Pacific are geographic evidence of the movement of the plates over these hot spots. We are seeing the evidence now in the Hawaian Islands as new land is created as the plates advance over the hot spot.

In the North Atlantic, though, the junction of the plates remain fairly stationary, so the land mass of Iceland increases, steadily. The Atlantic is actually getting wider, and the Pacific is shrinking as the convection machine of the earth steadily does it work.
I am seeing the evidence of the Icelandic eruption of volcano under the Eyjafallajokull glacier this week in the dramatic sunsets caused by the volcanic ash in the atmosphere. Of course all of Northern Europe, including the local airports here are feeling the effects as most major air traffic has been suspended because of the effects of abrasive volcanic ash on jet turbines. I remember flying on Peoples Air from Orly to JFK in New York in the 90's and seeing the huge dramatic plume of steam and ash from an Icelandic Vocano then.
The weather was moving in a much more favorable direction and it didn't affect the air travel.
So, we see air travel affected for the time being. This eruption, though is not really that big in the scale of things. Volcanic eruptions have altered the course of life on this planet many times. They have caused mass extinctions and altered weather patterns for decades.
This hasn't been the first time Icelandic Vocanic activity has affected the rest of the planet in modern times.
From 1783 to 1784, the fissure from the southern Icelandic Volcano, Laki spewed ash and poisonous gases killing much of the islands livestock, destroying agriculture and killing as much as a quater of the population.
But the effects of Laki didn't stop there.

Then, as now, there were more wide-ranging impacts. In Norway, the Netherlands, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, in North America and even Egypt, the Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano was carried over much of the northern hemisphere.
Ships moored up in many ports, effectively fogbound. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer. A clergyman, the Rev Sir John Cullum, wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops "became brown and withered … as did the leaves of the oats; the rye had the appearance of being mildewed".
The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as "an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.
"The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun."
Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of "a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America".
The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.
The eruption is now thought to have disrupted the Asian monsoon cycle, prompting famine in Egypt. Environmental historians have also pointed to the disruption caused to the economies of northern Europe, where food poverty was a major factor in the build-up to the French revolution of 1789.
Volcanologists at the Open University's department of earth sciences say the impact of the Laki eruptions had profound consequences.
Dr John Murray said: "Volcanic eruptions can have significant effects on weather patterns for from two to four years, which in turn have social and economic consequences. We shouldn't discount their possible political impacts."


This graphic was created by a guy named Kai and was posted on BoingBoing. In a post on December 11, 2009, I wrote about the experience of Dr. Peter Watts, the Canadian science fiction writer who made the mistake of getting out of his car when being questioned by US Customs agents at the Blue Water Bridge Crossing between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario.
Dr. Watts was brutally beaten, gassed, charged with a felony and kept in an unheated cell over night without legal counsel. The next morning, he was released but his car was impounded and he had to wolak over the bridge in a snowstorm.
The charges should have been dropped, but instead, Peter made the mistake of challenging them and is now awaiting sentencing, though he is safe at home in Canada.
If yopu are crossing at The Blue water Bridge and a surly US Customs official wants to seize your laptop, USB Key, tear apart your luggage, for your own safety...Just shut up. pretend you just aren't there and it isn't happening to you. Just try to be a mindless
happy android but most of all.... 

Friday, April 16, 2010

No Application For Satire

I have been a user of Apple products for well over ten years and I can attest to the innovative design and the reliability of every thing I have ever bought from them.
I am using a 12 year old first generation imac, which, inspite of a few brain transplants, has never let me down. It is showing its age now and it may be retired to the museum...
Perhaps though, Apple has begun to to get too corporate for its own image and its own good. They have had problems with quality control on a level never seen before.
They seel their products all over Europe, but still lack the infrastructure to give simple assistance for us in the outback.
The politics of marketing seems to have taken its toll. In February, I posted a piece about how the iMussolini application was a big hit in Italy. You can have a virtual fascist in your pocket.
Now, the Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, Mark Fiore is grist for capitalist wheels of Apple. I have featured Fiores caroons here a few times and you can go to his website to see his current work.
Fiore just developed  an application for Apple for the iPhone, but the hitch is, Apple has a problem with satire. If he can get his application past the Apple Satire Police, he can reach a huge audience.
How's that for a benevolent dictatorship?

KIng Of The Gypsies

The sound and tradition of Django Reinhardt stills lives and inspires new generations of musicians. The tradition of Gypsy Jazz Swing Guitar is very much alive here in Europe. Perhaps the featured guitarist in this live performance, Joscho Stephan might be the best living Gypsy Jazz Guitarist. Some people say he might be better than the master, Django, himself. But that's not fair, Joscho has all of his fingers. Reinhardt only had three on his fretting hand.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Insignificant Earthlings

This is a picture of the solar flare that erupted from the surface of the sun late on April 13, 2010. The effects of the proton storm are just beginning to be felt here on earth. The effects of solar flares have influenced the course of life on this planet. The radiation released by a hearty flare could and has influenced the genetic activity of cells.
A nice big flare, like the one released on Tuesday and pictured here will just cause disruptions in radio transmissions and other electrical wave based technologies.
One thing that has already happened is a huge display of the Aurora Borealis.
To see an actual recording of the April 13th Solar flare, click here.

It's humbling to have to deal at the same time with the effects of the latest major Icelandic Volcanic Eruption. The volcano erupted from beneath a glacier. Glacial volcanic eruptions are always extremely messy. A mix of ash and steam that is amplified by the stopper effect of the ice cap. The Icelanders are ready for this kind of thing. 
But, the aviation industry all over the world is reeling from the effects of the cloud of ash as weather systems push it over northern Europe. All international flights to and from Britain and Scandanavia are suspended and no one can say for how long.
We are just insignificant earthlings. We pray to our gods, we sacrifice lambs, we fight wars over religion and then a solar flare, a volcano erupts, a meteor hits.....................

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cold Cold Heart

Hank Williams died at the age of 29 in 1953. In a few short years he became an American Myth. He created "modern" country music and at the same time became one of the most influential figures in modern music as well. He was a true American poet.
So, finally, 57 years after his death, Hank Williams was just honored with a special Pulitzer citation. He took his "Honky Tonk Confessionals" right to the working people with uncompromising honesty. His music is still being covered by contemporary artists and influencing their writing and art.
There is something timeless about him, this performance of Cold Cold Heart seems just as fresh today, inspite of the frazzled video, as it was almost 60 years ago.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Want To Place A Bet?

So, shall we take bets? How long do you give him?
I'm saying 6 months and then the firewall starts crumbling and Benny starts talking serious resignation.
The Vatican was in heavy denial mode and spent a lot of energy trying to pretend that the controversy over Benny's cover up and mishandling of the ongoing Catholic Church Sex Scandal was just malicious gossip.
We heard the controversy compared to the persecution of the Jews. That was a very bad move, it only caused more outrage.
Today, on the other hand, the emiritus Bishop of Grosseto, Italy claimed that the controversy was a "Zionist attack".
Bishop Babini, in a statement to the Catholic website, Pontifex was further quoted,  "They do not  want the church, they are it's natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, Jews are god-killers."
Of course, after this statement began to fester and boil, Babini claimed he never said it and it disappeared from the website. Thank God for screen saves!  You know, this is the last place that these guys should be going, because it's a little too easy to say, "And Benny, what were you doing during the War?" Yeah, I know he says he didn't have a choice in his membership in The Hitler Youth, but you have to admit, it could be an embarrassing question.

The ongoing controversy gets deeper and the evidence that Cardinal Ratzinger as the chief enforcer of the Vatican was deeply involved and the source of the pattern of suppression, denial and intimidation used to cover the sex abuse up.
The Vatican has begun to feel the heat and has issued statements regarding Benny's immunity from prosecution as a head of state. Yesterday, though, in the Sunday London Times, the author and science philosopher, Richard Dawkins announce that he has hired a team of lawyers to investigate whether Ratzinger can be charged. He has vowed to prosecute Benny for crimes against humanity.
Dawkins and writer Christopher Hitchens believe they can make a case to arrest Benny during his planned September trip to Britain.
Among the human rights lawyers they have hired is Australian-born barrister Geoffrey Robertson.
They do not believe the Pope will be able to claim diplomatic immunity because he is not recognised as a head of state by the United Nations.
"This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence," Professor Dawkins said.
Last year Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni was forced to cancel a planned trip to Britain after a British judge was persuaded by Palestinian activists to issue a warrant for her arrest over her role Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2008.
Try as they might, this is not going to go away. Over the week end in Malta, a number of billboards for a Catholic Organization with Pope Bennys image were defaced. Benny was given a mustache and the image of Pedibear was plastered on the image.
In case you are wondering, Pedibear is an avatar image that was created to tag pedophilic predators of chat sites for kids. Pedibear came to worldwide fame when the image of the Vancouver Winter Olympics mascots was pimped by cyber vandals and Pedibear was inserted into the group. The image went out on wire services and ended up on the front page of Warsaws biggest newspaper among other places as the official image....
So, who's betting? I say 6 months...

More Free Power For Every One!

I have always enjoyed visiting Toulouse, France. The picture above gives a pretty good feel of the ambience. A city of various shades of rose bricks. The space in the picture is the huge square of La Capitole. Central Toulouse is basically a pedestrian town, there is a  subway, small busses, rental and free bikes, but the narrow, pedestrian streets and huge open spaces give the city a human scale which is intimate and grand at the same time.

This weekend, Toulouse initiated an innovative new project which uses the natural energy of the thousands of pedestrians on the street to provide free power for street lights. 
In a two-week energy-saving trial, a group of paving slabs installed in the city center can generate 30 watts of electricity, enough to power overhead street lights.
"It is an experiment for now, but this system, unique in the world, allows us to anticipate a whole series of applications for the city," the deputy mayor in charge of sustainable development, Alexandre Marciel, told Reuters.
The paving slabs contain micro-sensors which capture the energy created by people walking on them, and store it in a battery.
This could enable the city to collect electricity during the day for use at night when there are fewer people on the streets.
The system is also being tested in Amsterdam and Shanghai, China. 
The pavement was invented by Dutch firm Jaap Van der Braak.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Pottery Barn Doctrine

In the April 9, 2010 London Times, there was an article by Tim Reid which reported that Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was a top aide to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of State, claimed in a declaration he made to support a lawsuit by a Guantanamo inmate that hundreds of innocent Afghani men were illegally detained in Guantanamo.
The declaration went on to state that Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Bush Jr. knowingly kept them there because to admit that the prisoners were being mistakenly held would prove to be politically embarrassing and harm the push for War in Iraq and cast doubt in the publics opinion of their broader "War On Terror".

It is not as if this had never been spoken of before. During the initiation of American actions in Afghanistan in 2002, it had been widely reported that hundreds of Afghans were detained because of the bounty offered by the Americans for terrorists. Many people were "turned in" because of the $5,000 bounty and it was a convenient way to settle feuds, eliminate rivals and seize the property of the victims. In Wilkersons declaration, he estimates that 742 prisoners were illegally transported and held at Guantanamo, some as young as 12 years old, some as old as 93.

The declaration is significant because it is the first time that the allegation has been made by someone from inside the administration. It reveals the true disorganization and confusion behind the propaganda push to promote the War On Terror and the build up to the Iraq Invasion.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Adel Hassan Hamed, a Sudanese man who was held from 2003 until 2007 and was tortured repeatedly. As of yet, representatives of George Bush Jr., Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney have bothered to repond to the allegations.
The article and the facts it reveals demonstrate the haste and sheer knee jerk reaction with which The United States initiated what is now its longest running conflict in its history.
The Bush Administration did a lot of insane things regarding its neocon directed foreign policy. The involvement of George Bush with the Taleban and his Arbusto Oil Company was documented in this blog 3 years ago in a post entitled,  But Cheney Was Right.
And how was Cheney right? Read the post and learn about the real Osama/Saddam Hussein connection and how it detours through Crawford, Texas. That is the sorry ass history. We have to deal with the aftermath now. One term that Colin Powell used when he talked about the Iraqi War was the "Pottery Barn" doctrine. Simply stated it was, "You Break It, You Pay For It."
Yes, we have to accept responsibility for the action of the Bush administration. There is no simple solution as Ron Paul would let us believe. You cannot disengage and walk away, because accepting responsibility means acting responsibly. 
We have created a uncharted new world of terrorism. We have inspired a few generations of residual hatred, no matter with what good intentions we start to use now. 
The world Bush left us with is the biggest Gordian Knot of all time. Let us hope that Barack Obama can begin to untie it instead of tying it tighter.

Wrong Is Right

Here's a piece called, Wrong Is Right, from the 1970 album, Spaces by the jazz/rock guitarist Larry Coryell.
I've always considered this to be a ground breaking work. Coryell, who was originally a rock player from Seattle, went on to become one of the most influentially innovative jazz virtuosos of our time.

The players he assembled for the Spaces project went on to form the great fusion rock bands of the 70's. The drummer is Billy Cobham and the second guitarist is John McGlaughlin. They formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra a few months later. This was McGlaughlins first American recording. The bassist is Miroslav Vitous, who became a memer of the original line up of Weather Report. Though he doesn't play on this cut, Chick Corea is on the record and shortly formed his seminal fusion group, Return To Forever.
Coryell is still playing better than ever. He is a national treasure.

The music on Spaces, though electric, is infused with lightness and really swings in the classic sense. One of my indispesible records.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If you are a fan of Jazz, Swing, Blues and Gospel, you will love La radio du Hot-Club de Limoges. In the FM range of Limoges, the frequency is 101.2, but it's available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all over the planet, through the internet,  just click HERE!
The station is the work of Jean-Marie Masse, who is referred to as Le Pape du Jazz de Limoges. There are no commercials, it exists solely through listeners donations and has been in existance since the end of WW2. I can get it on my FM, but I usually listen to it with my Quicktime player. The station seems to have rabid fans all over the world! Check it out!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Now, That's Entertainment!

So the self proclaimed Rodeo Clown, who managed to make 32 million dollars last year, managed to make the cover of the latest issue of Forbes Magazine.  The clown also explains that he sees himself much more as an entertainer than a political activist, saying that he doesn’t “give a flying crap about the political process”:
With a deadpan, The Clown insists that he is not political: “I could give a flying crap about the political process.” Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. “We’re an entertainment company,” The Clown says.
“I don’t necessarily believe that [what the Rodeo Clown says] is reflective of his own personal politics — I don’t even know if he has personal politics,” Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers magazine tells Forbes. “I see him as a performer.This isn’t the first time The Clown has suggested he isn’t as radically conservative as he seems. In February he told USA Weekend that you’d have to be an idiot” to “not notice the temperature change” caused by global warming, and that he thinks mankind may play a signficant role in the phenomenon. In describing himself as a Rodeo Clown he conceded “If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.
So, have we finally descended into the alternative FOX comic strip universe? Where politics are portrayed for a dumbed down populace as a sort of Saturday Morning Cartoon Calvacade and an angry Glenn Fudd is eternally pursuing the wily Obama Bunny? If FOX actually inspires mob violence, is this a ratings plus? Do violent acts committed by deranged viewers somehow equal a boost in advertising revenues? I don't know...we have entered uncharted waters here...and in the words of Porky Limbaugh....

New Tea, Same Old Bags

A group of "Teabaggers" from the 1950's....

Moving Pictures

This piece is by a French group named Keltic Tales. The lead instrument is a very evocative 17th century relative of the bagpipe known as a Uilieann Pipes. They are actually the national pipe of Ireland and are not blown, but powered by a bellows strapped at the waist. They have a sweeter, more flexible and expressive sound with much more rainge than a traditional bagpipe.

The group Keltic Tales has recorded 2 cds and I saw them perform in a live setting. The music is progressive jazz with some very interesting rythmnic interplay. The pipes are played by Gildas Bocle and his brother Jean-Baptiste is the keyboard artist who plays vibraphone as well. 

The Celtic music traditions are very much a part of the music of Northern France. Every year there is the worlds largest gathering of celtic traditions from throughout Europe in L'orient in Brittany, where the Freres Bocles come from.  Here, as well throughout the south, there is aa strong Celtic tradition in the traditional Occitanian Music still played. Here, the instrument is a Cornus, which is more like a small traditional bagpipe and the Veille, which is wooden instrument with wooden keys and a cranked disk which creates a drone. I will try to find some examples of Traditional Occitanian Music. I have some friends here who are Occitan scholars and musicians.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Long Story

So, I have this 200 year old stone barn. It came with the house and it's been in state of falling down for the last 45 years or more...ever since grandpa modernized it back in 1960. In 2000, there was a huge storm and it did a lot of damage to the property. It really tore up the roof of the barn. I had been planning repairs but things sort of got out of hand a year ago last Febuary, when another storm, Klaus further damaged the roof.
Luckily, I have a good insurance policy and a friend who worked for many years as head of the agency here. We were able to get a good settlement...but, then things went a little further...

The rear wall of the barn began to slump and within a few weeks, partially collapsed. Then it really collapsed. So back to the drawing board and system D....
My phone line was attached to the wall and somehow, it didn't get destroyed, but my service was never the same. A few weeks ago, my internet service really deteriorated and I was off line quite a bit. I won't go into my trials and tribulations with France Telecom and my internet server, Orange, but though the agents on the phone were polite, nothing seemed to really get done.

Meanwhile, we were able to work with the roofer and a mason to get the repairs done with the money from the settlement. The picture above is when work on the wall commenced.
The masons demolished what was left of over 1/2 of the wall. I had moved much of the stone myself over the course of a few weeks. With the machines, they did the rest in a few hours. Then they made a new foundation and in a few days, there was a new wall and the stone work from the road is nicer than the original.

The roof starts next week, I have the tiles on the lawn. Finally, today, I think, I hope, I truly believe my internet problems are solved. Techs came by and tested the lines and I got a new livebox and programmed it and it works....

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Nuclear War

More wisdom from the master. Sun Ra, 1982....
Nuclear War, It's A Motherfucker.....

Indoctrination Nation

I wrote last week about the Texas School Board and their re editing of history for Texas High School History Books. Here are some specific "changes" the conservatives would like to include in their revisionist vision of America. This isn't just laughable. This isn't just nuts. This is dangerous. This is what the Soviets did. 
The Right likes to throw terms like Socialist around to scare people away from progressive ideas. In their mind, Socialist means Soviet, anyway. They are doing what they do best, accusing the rest of the world of being what they already are.
Is American history being changed?

Here are five recent examples of new conservative versions of history:
Reaching for an example of how bad socialism can be, former House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said recently that the people who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607 were socialists and that their ideology doomed them.
"Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow," he said in a speech March 15 at the National Press Club.
It was a good, strong story, helping Armey, a former economics professor, illustrate the dangers of socialism, the same ideology that he and other conservatives say is at the core of Obama's agenda.
It was not, however, true.
The Jamestown settlement was a capitalist venture financed by the Virginia Company of London — a joint stock corporation — to make a profit. The colony nearly foundered owing to a harsh winter, brackish water and lack of food, but reinforcements enabled it to survive. It was never socialistic. In fact, in 1619, Jamestown planters imported the first African slaves to the 13 colonies that later formed the United States.
At the same event, Armey urged people to read the Federalist Papers as a guide to the sentiments of the tea party movement.
"The small-government conservative movement, which includes people who call themselves the tea party patriots and so forth, is about the principles of liberty as embodied in the Constitution, the understanding of which is fleshed out if you read things like the Federalist Papers," Armey said.
Others such as Democrats and the news media, "people here who do not cherish America the way we do," don't understand because "they did not read the Federalist Papers," he said.
A member of the audience asked Armey how the Federalist Papers could be such a tea party manifesto when they were written largely by Alexander Hamilton, who the questioner said "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government."
Armey ridiculed the very suggestion.
"Widely regarded by whom?" he asked. "Today's modern, ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case, in fact, about Hamilton."
Hamilton, however, was an unapologetic advocate of a strong central government, one that plays an active role in the economy and is led by a president named for life and thus beyond the emotions of the people. Hamilton also pushed for excise taxes and customs duties to pay down federal debt.
In fact, Ian Finseth said in a history written for the University of Virginia, others at the constitutional convention "thought his proposals went too far in strengthening the central government."
Theodore Roosevelt was long an icon of the Republican Party, a dynamic leader who ushered in the Progressive era, busting trusts, regulating robber barons, building the Panama Canal and sending the U.S. fleet around the world announcing ascendant American power.
Fox TV commentator Glenn Beck, however, says that Roosevelt was a socialist whose legacy is destroying America. It started, Beck said, with Roosevelt's admonition to the wealthy of his day to spend their riches for the good of society.
"We judge no man a fortune in civil life if it's honorably obtained and well spent," Roosevelt said, according to Beck. "It's not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it only to be gained so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."
Actually, Roosevelt said, "We GRUDGE no man a fortune ... if it's honorably obtained and well USED." But either way, Beck saw the threat.
"Oh? Well, thank you," Beck said with scorn during his keynote speech to the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. The presidential suggestion that the wealthy of the Gilded Age should contribute to the good of society was a clear danger that must be condemned, Beck said.
"Is this what the Republican Party stands for? Well, you should ask members of the Republican Party, because this is not our founders' idea of America. And this is the cancer that's eating at America. It is big government; it's a socialist utopia," Beck said.
"And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot coexist. ... You must eradicate it. It cannot coexist."
There's no doubt that Roosevelt was a domestic policy liberal by today's standards. In a 1910 speech in Kansas, he acknowledged that his "New Nationalism" meant "far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had."
The 26th president insisted, however, that he wanted the government to guarantee opportunity, not a handout.
"The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare," he said.
"Give him a chance, not push him up if he will not be pushed. ... Help any man who stumbles; if he lies down, it is a poor job to try to carry him; but if he is a worthy man, try your best to see that he gets a chance to show the worth that is in him."
In his autobiography three years later, Roosevelt went on to dismiss the tenets of socialism as taught by Karl Marx as "an exploded theory."
"Too many thoroughly well-meaning men and women in the America of today glibly repeat and accept," he wrote, "various assumptions and speculations by Marx and others which by the lapse of time and by actual experiment have been shown to possess not one shred of value."
In addition, Roosevelt didn't advocate government ownership of the means of production, the definition of socialism.
It's long been debated how well Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal government programs countered the Great Depression, but now a prominent conservative has introduced the idea that Roosevelt CAUSED the Depression.
"FDR took office in the midst of a recession," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. "He decided to choose massive government spending and the creation of monstrous bureaucracies. Do we detect a Democrat pattern here in all of this? He took what was a manageable recession and turned it into a 10-year depression."
A year before, Bachmann went to the House floor to blame FDR and what she called the "Hoot-Smalley" tariffs for creating the Depression.
"The recession that FDR had to deal with wasn't as bad as the recession (President Calvin) Coolidge had to deal with in the early '20s," she said.
Coolidge cut taxes and created the roaring '20s, Bachmann said.
"FDR applied just the opposite formula: the Hoot-Smalley act, which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions. And of course trade barriers and the regulatory burden and of course tax barriers.
"That's what we saw happen under FDR. That took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost 10 years under that kind of thinking."
The truth? Historians agree that tariffs hurt trade and worsened the depression.
However, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act — not Hoot-Smalley — was proposed by two Republicans, Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon. A Republican House and a Republican Senate approved it. President Herbert Hoover, a Republican, signed it into law.
The facts also show that the country was in something far worse than a "manageable recession" in March 1933 when Roosevelt took office.
Stocks had lost 90 percent of their value since the crash of 1929. Thousands of banks had failed. Unemployment reached an all-time high of 24.9 percent just before Roosevelt was inaugurated.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., burst onto the national stage in the early 1950s with accusations that he had a list of names of known Communists in the federal government. He didn't name them, was censured by the Senate eventually and his name became synonymous with witch hunts — McCarthyism.
Now, the end of the Cold War has opened up spy files and identified many Communist spies who operated inside the government during the era. Some conservatives argue that this proves not only that McCarthy was right, but also that he was a hero and that he was smeared by liberals, the news media and historians.
"Almost everything about McCarthy in current history books is a lie and will have to be revised," conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly said.
"Liberals had to destroy McCarthy because he exposed the entire liberal establishment as having sheltered Soviet spies," conservative commentator Ann Coulter said in one interview.
"The myth of 'McCarthyism' is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times," she said in another. "Liberals are fanatical liars, then as now. The portrayal of Senator Joe McCarthy as a wild-eyed demagogue destroying innocent lives is sheer liberal hobgoblinism. ... If the Internet, talk radio and Fox News had been around in McCarthy's day, my book wouldn't be the first time most people would be hearing the truth about 'McCarthyism.' "
Yet even some prominent conservatives say that McCarthy's defenders go too far, and that even from a conservative perspective, McCarthy was no hero and damaged the country.
"A dangerous movement has been growing among conservative writers to vindicate the late Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy and his campaign to expose Soviet spies in the U.S. government," Ronald Kessler wrote for the conservative Web site
"The FBI agents who were actually chasing those spies have told me that McCarthy hurt their efforts because he trumped up charges, unfairly besmirched honorable Americans and gave hunting spies a bad name."
Kessler said the release of secret Cold War files under the Venona Project confirmed that there were Soviet spies in the U.S. government.
"The problem was that the people McCarthy tarnished as Communists or Communist sympathizers were not the real spies," Kessler wrote.
"The cause of anti-communism, which united millions of Americans and which gained the support of Democrats, Republicans and independents, was undermined by Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin," wrote William Bennett, who was the conservative secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan.
"McCarthy addressed a real problem: disloyal elements within the U.S. government. But his approach to this real problem was to cause untold grief to the country he claimed to love," Bennett wrote in his book "America: The Last Best Hope."
"Worst of all, McCarthy besmirched the honorable cause of anti-communism. He discredited legitimate efforts to counter Soviet subversion of American institutions."

Easter In America/Joyeux Paque En France

I thought I'd share this great advertising image I found from the early 60's. 
Happy Easter!
Of course we do this here also in France.... 

Friday, April 02, 2010

Chamber Music

This is a piece by Sissiko Segal called simply, Chamber Music.
Victor Segal is French and plays cello and Ballake Sissiko is Malian ande a master of the Koura. The Western African Harp, which is made from a gourd. Between the microtonal tuning of the Koura and the expressive elastic scales of the cello, togather, Sissiko Segal achieve a musical improvisatory language that takes us to another place. This is truly world music which draws from the African traditions, Western Classical traditions and jazz and truly create something brilliant, new, noble and undeniably beautiful.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Papal African Pilgramage

This week, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict would be visiting Africa in a Good Will Post Easter Pilgramage to promote the Catholic Church. After a week of spin which has seriously undermined the Holy Week Observances, the Vatican seems to think that by reaching out to the African Catholics, it can appear to have rediscovered its humanitarian values and reinvigorate a church which has had serious public relation problems in the wake of the ever growing world wide child sex scandals.
Bill Donahue, the  head of the American Catholic League, in an interview, said, “Scandal? What scandal? You rabid hyenas in the press keep talking about pedophilia! What pedophilia? Most of those altar boys were over 13! I mean, who was molesting who here?”
Donahue then added, “ ummm,The Pope doesn’t plan to go to Uganda, does he?”

The Last Hand Gun On Earth

I still don't have fully functioning internet yet. Another day of waiting for the electrician, or somebody like him. Appropriately, here's a somehow timely piece by the Firesign Theater.