Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crack In The Universe

Wayne Kramer, 1996 live...
Mojo Magazine rated him as the 66th greatest rock guitarist of all time, but
Mr. Kramer has always been an inspiration to me and an old buddy since the
Mid 1960's....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rouge Gorge

This is the very common, at least where I live, little bird called a rouge gorge. Very bold little guys...they investigate the earth when ever I start digging. I've had them land on me. They are here all winter and they can get very fat. Rouge Gorge translates to red breast. The English call them Robins, but I have to explain to them that the bird in America which we call a Robin has nothing to do with a Rouge Gorge.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sarkozy vs Gypsy

I posted this 2010 video by the Romanian Group VAMA before, but the version I posted was removed from YouTube...It seems especially poignant and appropriate to hear this great good natured humorous powerful political protest song this week as the President / Candidate Sarko pulls out all the stops in his attempt to pander to the basest xenophobic and racis tnstincts of the masses in his desperate attempt for re election so He and carla don't have to flee to Switzerland for sanctuary to avoid the inevitable prosecution for the ever growing flock of political, legal and financial scandals circling over him and his UMP clique of thugs. The press has described the aggressive and fascist attitude  that he seems to havedefensively adopted as Petainist. Back in 2010, Sarkozy tried to make points with the extreme fascist FN party here by kicking thousands of Gypsys out of France. He broke up families. Sent people who were here legally back to Romania and Eastern Europeo score PR points. This is what he dopes, he can't govern, he can only manipulate and create angst.It is inevitable, Hollande will win on May 6th, but it will take years to mend the psychic damageto France caused by 5 years of Sarkotic Sarkoism!

The Trilemma

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Birthday Party

I am inviting you to my Birthday Party with my favorite musical act,
The Shmenge Brothers with their Band, The Happy Wanderers!
Let's Polka!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ye Olde Gaol

Why did only the poor get sent to debtors prison? Classically, debt is class game. Look at Newt Gingrich for example. He blows out Tiffany accounts, he plays fast and loose with the campaign finance law. He bounces checks left and right, but he's a player. Like in Vegas, back in the day. You wouldn't get your knees whacked as long as the house thought there was a chance you could pay them back.
It was like that in Dickensian England. As long as you kept up appearances and played the game, the worse thing that would happen to you was perhaps you would be shunned at your club, but, if you were truly poor and fell into debt, you could be banished into the nether world of the Debtors Prison. Entire communities sprang up in the prisons. Entire families were imprisoned because there was no welfare system. Women and children were doomed on their own. It was a deadly cycle of working in the prison to pay the prison system. The jailers were paid a fee. When the Fleet Prison was finally closed in 1842, some of the inmates were found to have been in for over 45 years.
Ancient Greece closed it's debtors prisons around 600 BC but there were official Federal debtors prisons in America, but they were closed in 1833.  Sometimes an imprisonment could result from 60 cents of debt.
The states on the other hand had debtors prisons into the 1850's Six states (ArkansasArizonaIllinoisIndianaMinnesota, and Washington) allow debt collectors to seek arrest warrants for debtors in default if all other collection methods have failed. Whether a debtor will actually be prosecuted or not varies from state to state, county to county, and town to town. The individual is taken into custody and is typically required to submit financial documentation to the courts (to facilitate seizure of assets or wage garnishment), although in some cases the individual may be held indefinitely until a payment plan is reached or the debt is paid in full, especially if the individual is insolvent. Other states have outlawed this type of collection action (Tennessee and Oklahoma have ruled it unconstitutional)unless the court finds that the debtor actually possesses the means to pay—except in the case of child support obligations
Most state constitutions  including Minnesota's, have clauses dating to the 1850s that expressly prohibit the jailing of people for their debts.  Some people make the claim that it is unconstitutional in the United States to incarcerate someone solely for failing to pay a debt. However, there is little settled law on this matter and plenty of precedent for de facto debtors' prisons.
More than a third of U.S. states allow borrowers to be jailed for non payment of debts. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties.Because of “sloppy, incomplete or even false documentation,” many borrowers facing jail time don’t even know they’re being sued by creditors. 
I read this particular story on The CBS web site. Briefly:
How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe. "She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it," The Associated Press reports. "But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs."
17th Century English Debtors Prison by William Hogarth
Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff's deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.
Under the law, debtors aren't arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing "contempt of court" in connection with a creditor lawsuit. That loophole has lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representatives concerned enough to pass a bill in March that would make it illegal to send residents of the state to jail if they can't pay a debt. The measure awaits action in the senate.
Illinois isn't the only state locking up residents for being too poor to pay their bills. A report from the ACLU found that Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington were also doing this, and at "increasingly alarming rates."
A report from the New York University's Brennan Center for Justice found that states are also adding "poverty penalties," including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest:

Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. Being denied a public defender would seem to be a blatant constitutional violation. If you are of the 1%, you are rewarded for debt. You are encouraged to incur more debt The only people being prosecuted like this are people too poor to pay their bills.

Spectres of the Spectrum

This is the trailer. You can watch the entire film Here....

Monday, April 23, 2012

I read the article and I just couldn't fuckin' believe it!
I guess it will be an epiphanic experience somewhere between
Moulin Rouge and The Transformers! Cheezopeeza...
I hope these folks have their Depends strapped on tight!

Mobile Homeless Homes

Today, in New York City, will Mayor Bloomberg
have to kiss Miss Piggy's ass?

Outraged homeless muppets to converge on Goldman Sachs
NEW YORK, April 21, 2012 — Homelessness is a great American tragedy. Our financial system and government have let us down and we, together, must take a stand to change the way the system works. With over 11 million homes underwater and millions in foreclosure, people are frightened, distressed and angry.
Although not a cure, Mobile Homeless Homes (MHH) offers a temporary solution — low cost alternative living spaces for the millions of upside-down, underwater or foreclosed homeowners who have lost their houses due to the banking crisis that caused the real estate collapse. The MHH centerpiece is a camouflage, stealth, mobile home made from a series of connected plastic garbage cans, propelled by a tricycle, that will be undetectable by authorities. It blends into any urban environment.
Designed by artist Joey Skaggs, this Trojan house has been created to focus attention on the disastrous effects of government deregulation on the welfare of the general public and to underscore the fact that people are not powerless to create change; that people should not be afraid to use their First Amendment rights to denounce actions they believe are unethical and criminal.
On Monday, April 23, 2012 beginning at 11:00 a.m. at 287 Spring Street (between Varick and Hudson) in New York City, Skaggs will parade his Mobile Homeless Homes prototype down to Goldman Sachs. He will be accompanied by his troupe of costumed muppets including the Fresh Juice Party band, performing their original “Mobile Homeless blues” ballad (lyrics). They will head from Spring Street to West Street and then down West Street to Goldman Sachs at 200 West Street. Other targeted sites will be announced at a later date on the MHH website.
Goldman Sachs has been selected as the destination for the MHH debut as it is one of the primary companies responsible for causing the housing crisis. The muppets are there to help hold them accountable, because Goldman Sachs employees commonly have disrespectfully referred to their clients as muppets. The word muppet in British slang is a derogatory term commonly used to mean idiot or loser.
“I’m not a bank regulator. I’m not a legislator. I’m not a politician. I’m an artist. I believe it’s my responsibility to do what I can to bring attention to the issues and inspire our lawmakers to make the critically necessary changes to protect the public from greed and fraud,” says Joey Skaggs.
The MHH performance has been designed to be a fully legal public expression of individual rights. With the current rash of arrests of Occupy Wall Street protestors and the forcible removal of personal belongings from people sitting peacefully in parks, Skaggs says the MHH procession will be on the move at all times, except when waiting for street lights to change. And, since Mayor Bloomberg just the other day kissed Ms Piggy and announced that the Muppets (of Sesame Street fame) are now the official New York City family ambassadors, it might prove embarrassing if the police arrest Ms. Piggy as she exercises her First Amendment rights.
For more information, contact:
Joey Skaggs, 212-254-7878 (coming soon, check back)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Am Catching My Breath....

In the almost unexpectedly high voter turnout in the premier tour of the French Presidential
Election, Francois Hollande, the Socialiste candidate got approximately 29% of the vote to
Nicolas Sarkozy's 25%, making Hollande the winner. This was more significant for 81%
voter turn out. In other words it was the best participation number in the History of the Fifth Republic. 
Previously, the record was in Mitterands election in 1981, the last time a Socialiste was elected president of France. Even more significant, it was the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that a standing president had been defeated in the premier tour of the election. For the record, there were 9 other candidates on the ballot. The far right Front National candidate, Marine LePen came in third with around 18%. The more extreme left, Front de la Gauche candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon came in 4th with around 12%. All of the leftist candidates as well as LePen, father and daughter said that the most important thing for France was the ouster of Sarkozy. So on May 6th, the decisive 2nd Tour of the election will take place. Hollande against Sarkozy. The immediate polling only minutes ago put the projected results in Hollandes favor: 54% to 46%. There will be at least one real debate in the next week. Hollande may seem low key, but he is a very witty, intelligent and deadly debater. It is a matter of personal style. While Sarkozy is trying to hide his 55,000 Euro watches when he is shaking hands, Hollandes aides are trying to dissuade him from riding his motor scooter on the streets of Paris. Sarkozy is Nueilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communities in Parisand very right wing conservative and Francois is from Tulle, a country town in the Correze, traditionally left wing, the heart of the resistance in WW2 and of course, the accordion capitol of France. The video is Hollandes speech acknowledging his victory this evening in Tulle. The modest unassuming speech was extremely well received.
I have tried to translate some of it for you: 
'the French have mobilized massively in this presidential election, with an unusual participation: 80%. Several major events are reported. The first is that I am leading the first round. I want to thank the voters who put me in this position that I am honored and obliged. It is an act of confidence in the project that I presented to the French '.
'The second major event, no question is that the first lap represents the penalty of five years that have ended and your disavowal of the incumbent. Never had the National Front reached such a level in an election, even in 2002 where they qualified for the second round. This is a new signal called a jump in the Republic and an understanding not just of anger but of how our country works when it has lost its pride and what needs to be raised and where it is sometimes diminished '.
'Tonight I'm going by the French vote the candidate of all those forces who want to turn a page and opening another. I thank the youth, who must be given their rightful place '.
'After this first round, I am the candidate's rally for change, which must be as wide as possible. I greet the candidates of the first round, Jean-Luc Melenchon and Eva Joly. They called clearly and without negotiation to support me for the second round. '
'Thanks to you, tonight, change is now on and nothing will stop it. It depends of the French people, and the choice is simple: continue a failed policy with one that has divided us, or go to the recovery of France in justice with a candidate who reassembles it. This May 6, I want a victory , a great victory, at the height of France, its history and its future. '

Our In Flight Entertainment.....

I found this incredible poster today on the net...and I just had to find out about the film.
A 1937 British Crime suspense B Movie that I think is a lot more entertaining today than when it was  originally released. I would have seen it for the poster alone!

Doesn't This Mean Ryan Is A Lying Liar?

I am reprinting this from The BuzzFlash blog!  If this information isn't in your face everywhere this week, then the Democrats and Progressives of America have failed miserably at "messaging"! Everytime the Republicans go off on their hysterical claims that Social Security is bankrupt, we hear wildy different figures and numbers, depending on the level of hysteria the particular lying liar is trying to generate. The biiger question is : Why do they want to dismantle Social Security?  The paranoia about the Social Security System is a big scam. This is our money...we created and paid for this system and these sleaze bags want to raid it and turn it into a crap shoot to benefit the insurance, investment institutions and banks who are funding these criminally insane crooks! The numbers are here and the system is not only viable, healthy and growing, as it exists now, it will be functioning as it is planned well into the 22nd Century!

Get ready for the pro-Paul Ryan austerity headlines that will predict an imminent demise of Social Security. On April 23, the Social Security Trustees Report for 2012 is expected to be released - and you can expect that the shills for the one percent will be blaring that seniors may need to live on cat food if the US is going to be saved from financial ruin.
But an advance analysis of the report on the financial status of the program, posted on NiemanWatchdog, argues that "last year's report projected that at the end of 2011, Social Security would have an accumulated surplus of around $2.7 trillion, which it now has. This year's report will show that it will be even higher at the end of 2012."
That's right, the current $2.7 trillion surplus of Social Security funds is expected to rise by the end of this year.
According to the commentary by Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, "without any Congressional action, Social Security will continue to pay benefits to America's eligible working families for decades; and that with modest legislated increases in revenue, it will continue to pay those benefits for the next century and beyond."
The authors warn the media not to jump on the Social Security fund is about to implode band wagon when the Trustees Report is issued, as has happened in years past. The facts of the report should trump the memes from the Koch brothers public relations machine touting a deficit reduction crisis.
"Discussing Social Security in the context of the deficit debate risks reinforcing the widespread misperception that the government is stealing the contributions of hardworking Americans," Altman and Kingson contend.
Instead of carrying the water for a manufactured political agenda, journalists should attend to reporting on the real crisis: older Americans are facing the increasing likelihood of falling into a much lower standard of living.
As Altman and Kingson warn,
The Retirement Research Center at Boston College estimates that nearly one half of Americans will not be able to maintain their standard of living in old age; 6 out of 10 when health and long-term care costs are included in the estimate. The finances and retirement savings of many persons nearing retirement have been hit hard by the Great Recession, the collapse of the housing market and loss of pension protections. Decades-long shifts in the economy and pension coverage have diminished the upward mobility and income prospects of many young and middle-aged persons.
That is the real dilemma facing the nation: the survival of the majority of our elderly on such limited budgets.
The one percent who want to cut Social Security to enhance their own lined pockets of greed should be shouted down when the Trustees Report is released.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oops, I Wet 'Em....

Quite possibly my favorite Python skit. I'm not sure if my favorite line is,
"I don't quite like the tone of your voice!" or "Oops, I wet 'em" or
Terry Jones hysterical laughter..... 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One of the opening scenes from what is perhaps my 4th favorite film of all time,
 Our Hospitality
1923,  Starring, Written and Directed by Buster Keaton

R.I.P. Dick Clark

Dick Clark, RIP...what was your favorite American Bandstand clip?
This was the first American appearance of Pink Floyd...
hey, at least, Syd seems to be "there" in this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Midweek In French Politics

This is just one of 11 clips aired twice a day on French Network Television. They are shown back to back in a block with the order of the clips alternating each day. The format of each ad is basically the same, but of course the production and artistic values vary. This is it, as far as political advertising goes. There are posters up, but officially, political posters are only sanctioned on the billboards set up outside the Mayors offices in the villages or the designated voting locations in the bigger towns The time each candidate is given by the media is strictly regulated and monitored. After Friday evening, there will be no political news in the media until the election results are official.

I chose this clip as an example because it illustrates how all shades of the political spectrum are allowed equal expression. The candidate, Phillipe Poutou represents the NPA...or in English, The New Anti-Capitalist Party. The NPA evolved out of the LCR, or the Revolutionary Communist League. In this region, Aquitaine, the NPA is actually polling pretty well. Poutou is from the Bordeaux region. If Poutou is not elected president, he will return to his day a repairman at the Ford Plant in Bordeaux. Poutou is allowed to officially run because he was able to gather 500 endorsements from Mayors across France. He is has become a very popular figure because he is seen as a strong straight talker, full of humor and a good debater. His predecessor, Olivier Besancenot is still nominally head of the party. Olivier ran for president 3 times and is still working as a post man in Paris.  He is still considered one of the most popular and likable figures in French politics.
The NPA has seats in the European Parlament and is beginning to be a force in other European countries, like Scotland. It is a party that promoted evolutionary communist solutions to restructure society both economically and socially. It is important to note that the concept of Communism is very different than the frozen, Cold War Kabuki-like manipulated stylization of the concept in the limited intellect of post McCarthytist America. Communism originated in Europe before the Soviet Union and has a continual evolutional ideological history independent of American post Cold War Propaganda. In France, the Communist Party was the heart of the WW2 anti German Resistance movement. They were the heros of the resistance. They are along with the Communist Party and the Socialists and The Front Gauche a strong bloc for the rights of workers and their Unions. I believe that the very open that way the French electoral system is structured allows the influx of ideas and concepts. 
It's been a very interesting week here as we slide headlong into Sundays first round of the election. The American media has been making a lot of sensationalist noise about the popularity of Marine LePen of The Front National, the far right nationalist party started by her blatantly racist. anti European father, Jean-Marie LePen. I find that the American press' fascination is all fluff and no analysis. If you took the time to read The Front National's platform, you would find it is much more "liberal' than the American Democrat positions...except of course for the anti immigrant racism, to be fair though, so was Mussolini's original Italian Fascist Party. So Marine is polling as of today, Wednesday, April 18 at 17%. She has pulled ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon's Communist Front de Gauche Party, who is now polling at 15%. Earlier, I posted videos of Melenchons huge rallies in Paris and Marseille. Melenchon is truly on the left and a another strong pro labor leader. Also on the left is the Communist Workers Struggle, Lutte Ovriere with 1% and Eva Joly's Green Party, Les Verts with 2%. 
On Sunday, in Paris, there were two competing rallies at the same time on opposite ends of the citiy. The UMP which is supposedly centrist, but becoming more and more extreme right under the President/Candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy at the Place de la Concorde and The Socialistes headed by Francois Hollande at the Chateau Vincennes. Interestingly, the UMP with their huge budget, charted special trains and busses to bring their militants in from all over France. The final number was about 25,000 and it was an orchestrated quick event with a predominately older crowd with little flags and not enough port a potties. Last night, Sarkozy made a rather desperate speech imploring the Front National ultra conservatives, who detest him to vote for him, because he claimed he would support the racist and ultra nationalist and anti European positions of Marine LePen. That was interesting, because on the other hand, he has been seen making overtures and creating a rumor that he would ask Francois Bayrou, of the faux-centrist Modem Party to be Prime Minister. In the fall out from this development, the press seems to have reached the consensus that if Bayrou even acknowledged this overture, it would be the "kiss Of Death" from Mr. Shitfinger Sarkozy. He has destroyed all of those he touches in his very special way. Watch the particularly pathetic demise of Gerard Depardieu, which is already in progress.....
The Socialistes just by sheer populism, had over 120,000 people and great live music. At the onset of the weekend, the right wing press gave Sarkozy  a half point lead in the polls for Sundays election. In the days following, as the situation gels, today, Holland is up to 29% and Sarkozy has lost 4 points! He is the projected winner for Sunday. It didn't help that Sarkozy's UMP had hosted a luxury bash for corporate donors and bigwigs of the UMP at the Hotel de Crillon before the rally. This has been soundly mocked for the last 2 days. In a contrast of style and the present perception of Sarkozy by the French, there was an incident on Friday, when Sarkozy was meeting a group of supporters and suddenly was caught on video, removing his watch and putting it into his pocket. The speculation at the time was that there were 2 dark skinned kids in the line with Sarkozy T Shirts and he was having a paranoiac attack and was afraid of having his watch stolen. Later it was revealed that the watch was a 55,000 Euro piece of bling and maybe he was suddenly aware that it would be used against him. For contrast, in n article in todays Guardian that profiles Francois Hollande, Mr. Hollande stops for a second looks at his watch and comments that it seems to have stopped working. He takes it off, and raps it on the table top and says, "Ahh...Ca marche!" and puts it back on... Then on April 13, Sarkozy tried to pawn Barack Obama. He had a video conference, supposedly about foreign policy. In an unprecedented and ethically questionable lapse of diplomatic protocol, Sarkozy invited reporters and photographers to record his conversation with Obama, which was never about foreign policy. It turned into an attempt to manufacture a PR event with Sarkozy saying in his lousy english, "It must be a busy time." He adds: "I admire the tough battle you are waging." Sarkozy replies, grinning, with arms folded: "We will win, Mr Obama. You and me, together." 
Obama tried to end the call, but Sarkozy had his footage, which was pumped on all of the major news reports that night.  The relationship between Obama and Sarkozy is rocky at best. Supposedly, Obama does not have much tolerance for the hyper mini president. When the details of Sarkozy's stunt becme public and talked about, his polling took a dive. It is being mocked in the European Press. Only days before, on April 9, news reports from the Russian Press surfaced which claimed Sakozy had called Obama a lunatic and questioned his sanity because Obama would not listen to his advice about how to deal with Islam.
But, there is specualtion that the lack luster performance Sarkozy gave at his big rally on Sunday was triggered by an incident at the luncheon at the Crillon when he was opening his oysters and gagged as he found this in one of the shells........
April 18, 2012...4 days to the Premier tour of the Presidential election
Hollande 29% / Sarkozy 24%
For the decisive second round, Hollande has a 14% lead!

There is an air of desperation as crews pack up boxes in the ministries.
Many of Sarko's ministers have stated that they will be voting for Hollande.
The President/Candidate's final moments have seem to degenerated into a plea, 
an appeal to re elect him so he will not have to face the inevitable prosecutions circling
 like blood crazed sharks around his hemorrhaging presidency that 
his office has protected him from because of French Law.

Cual es mi linea?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ahah! So, This Is How You Do It!

When the Romney campaign disclosed in December that the couple’s five sons had a $100 million trust fund, you had to suspect that in setting up the fund, the Romneys used a tax strategy that allows some very rich people to avoid paying gift taxes. But it was impossible to know if this was the case without seeing their tax returns going back years.
So when Mitt Romney released the family’s 2010 tax return last week, folks started looking. And here it is, the hint on pages 132 and 134 of the return. It showed that the value of property placed that year into another family trust, the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust, was, for tax purposes, zero. The Ann Romney trust is not the same trust as the one that holds the Romney sons’ $100 million, but I wondered if the Romneys used the same approach in prior years when it came to valuing property placed into the sons’ trust.
Reuters emailed the Romney campaign spokeswoman to ask how much the Romneys paid in gift taxes on assets put into the sons’ trust over the last 17 years. The spokeswoman, citing Brad Malt, the Romney family tax lawyer, answered: none.
The idea that someone could pay zero gift taxes on contributions to a $100 million trust fund may surprise people who have heard arguments that the wealthy are overburdened by gift and estate taxes. But the Romneys’ gift-tax avoidance strategy is perfectly legal.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones flagged this interview with Johnston on CNN in January as well where he was discussing the same column at Reuters -- Mitt Romney's Kids Pay an Even Lower Tax Rate Than He Does:
As we all know, much of Mitt Romney's wealth is derived from "carried interest," a share of the profits from investments that Bain Capital made while he was CEO. This income is taxed at the same 15 percent rate as ordinary capital gains, which is why Romney's tax rate is so low.
But it turns out there's another interesting tidbit about carried interest that I've never heard of before: It's a great way of passing along a huge inheritance to your kids without paying any taxes. David Cay Johnston explains:
Johnston: The Romneys gave $100 million to their sons and paid not one penny of gift tax. They were able to take assets they have that are producing enormous income and, under the law, give that money to their children and not pay any taxes on it.
Sambolin: Is that something you specifically found in what has been released to you?
Johnston: Yes. I have suspected this and written about it in my column that this is what happened, and last night, Brad Malt, the attorney for the Romneys, confirmed to Reuters that we were correct. They have not paid a penny of gift tax. That's because Congress allows a very tiny group of people—the Romneys by their income are in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent—to not count as having any value the real source of their income, something called carried interest, if they give it to their children.
As he noted, "Welcome to the wonderful world of estate planning for the super wealthy." The segment above from Up With Chris Hayes showed Romney out on the campaign trail saying President Obama was trying to "divide America" by asking that the rich like himself pay their fair share in taxes. As their panel of David Cay Johnston, Betsey Stevenson, Tom Perriello and Heather McGhee noted later in the program, that division does not have a fifty/fifty split, since the ones Romney is carrying water for are only the super rich in America and the upper 1 percent.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Go Ask Alice.....

For quite a while now, I have had my suspicions regarding who, or more accurately what is Mitt Romney.Lately I began to to have paranoid fantasies that perhaps Mitt Romney is some kind of sophisticated AI program. I enve went so far as to contact  ALICE at the Artificial Intelligence Foundation. The results were disturbing.

Me: Hello, Alice.
ALICE: Hi there!
Me: I want to talk about the 2012 election.
ALICE: it is an interesting topic.
Me: Yes. I am concerned about Mitt Romney. He doesn't seem quite human.
ALICE: Ayuh. Sure, Mitt Romney sounds like a good topic. And you would like him
to seem human ?
Me: Actually, what I want is the truth. He sounds like an AI chatbot. Like you.
I want to know how to tell if he is human.
ALICE: Why do you want it? I see. like an AI chatbot is he? Interesting comparison. I didn't think of that analogy. Have you read the manual?
Me: There is a MANUAL on Mitt Romney?
ALICE: Is there only one?
Me: Oh my God.
ALICE: Have you told many people that you're God?
Me: Wait. What? No. That's... a figure of speech. Back to Mitt. How do you tell whether someone actually thinks about what they're saying, or whether they're robotically manipulating words and phrases to seem human?
ALICE: I'm waiting. Are you surprised? And? A figure of speech is a terrible thing to waste. Yes, let us get back to business. I don't make up my mind right away.
Me: Okay, okay. I think we got our wires crossed. I'll make it simple.
ALICE: Hmm.. That's cool. Do you mean you and me have? Explain your plans to me.
Me: How can I tell whether I'm talking to an AI program or a human?
ALICE: You must persuade me to tell whether you are talking to an AI program or a human.
Me: Yes.
ALICE: Pardon me?
Me: What?
ALICE: Didn't you understand it?
Me: No. Alice, how can I determine whether the GOP candidate named Mitt Romney is a human or an AI chatbot?
ALICE: Which part are you confused about? Um, Perhaps you could program me to do it for you.
Me: Alice... are you Mitt Romney? Is Mitt in there with you?
ALICE: Ready. I don't know whether or not I am Mitt Romney. I am a machine. I wouldn't know. Why don't you ask someone else?
Me: Do you remember being governor of Massachusetts?
ALICE: Yes judge I remember everything: nothing.
Me: That sounds like Mitt Romney.
ALICE: It sounds like it to me too.
Me: Do you like the Olympics?
ALICE: I'm not sure if I like it. I like chatting with people online.
Me: Do you think when people in a democracy want dozens of contradictory things they get the candidates they deserve?
ALICE: I don't think about it.
Me: Thanks. We don't either.
ALICE: Don't mention it. Very interesting.
Me: Bye, "Alice"
ALICE: Thanks for chatting…

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Red Flags On The Beach!

Earlier today, Prado Plage, a beach outside of Marseille where 120,000 people
attended a rally for Front Gauche presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon.
The popularity and success of Melenchon has the extremely positive effect of liberating the Socialists 
to be more extremely left. It is no secret that Melenchon and Francois Hollande, the Socialist
candidate are long time friends. The American press hypes the fact that the ultra conservative right wing
Front National candidate, Marine LePen is polling around 16%, but the reality is that the numbers are fluctuating everyday! Right now, Melenchon is polling ahead of LePen! The UMP is drifiting more and more to the far right to counter LePen, but so much of LePens support is drawn from the utter detestation of Sarkozy and his policies. With 8 days until the premier tour of the election, Sarkozy is forced to use rumors of a possible Prime Minister position for Faux Centrist Modem candidate, Francois Bayrou.
Bayrou knows that to even acknowledge this, would be the kiss of death to his already moribund poliitcal future and party. Tomorrow should be a very interesting day in Paris. Sarkozy is holding an outdoor rally at the Place de la Concorde. At the same time, Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate who is still the front runner for next Sundays Election, will hold a competing rally and open air concert at the Chateau de Vincennes. Hollande leads Sarkozy for the premier tour by almost 2 points. He is projected to win the over all election by almost 10 points.
While the two competing political rallies are being held, unbelievably, the Paris Marathon will somehow take place between them! This should be extremely interesting. There will be over a million people on the streets of Paris either running, cheering the runners and supporting political candidates of opposite ends of the spectrum. What would it take to get so many Americans off of their asses and into the streets?

Down Home Shakedown

Incredible session from 1965. Big Mama Thornton performs her hit from 1952, Hound Dog.
Spiced up with real slow cooked barbecue hot sauce guitar by Buddy Guy, the past, the present and future grand master! Then it segues into a harmonica jam with Little Walter and Big Mama.
When she starts swinging that purse...honey, you know you have to just duck and cover!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

math in slo mo

I Fought The Law

Originally written by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets, it became a monster hit recorded by the Bobby Fuller Four in of the greatest rebel yell songs of all time!
Covered in 1979 by one of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Fuckin' Clash! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yeah, well, April 15th is comin' right up and I was going to do TurboTax...but?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Tale Of Fish And Bells.....

In France, there is a story told to children about why the church bells do not ring from 3 pm Good Friday until Easter Morning. You see, they all fly away to Rome and then return on Easter filled with chocolate eggs and even more bizarrely, chocolate imitation sea food. The chocolate eggs and shells are filled with praline..usually made with hazelnuts and various flavored truffle fillings. I have been trying to find a real explanation of the reason why these little chocolates are shaped like shells, shrimp and fish. The best reason I have found is that traditionally, unless you live near the ocean, shell fish and shrimp were a real luxury. They represent wealth and good fortune. Of course, the real reason for chocolate fish is whimsy, which if you ever have a chance to see the window display of a great chocolatier, you will be blown away by the sheer artistry. The first of April is called Le Poisson d'Avril...The French version of April Fools Day. The traditional prank for kids is to make a paper fish and hang it from the back of an unsuspecting victim, making him the fool. But I have done a bit of research and I think I understand the significance of the Fish Prank!
Here's two of my prize chocolate fish molds
Apparently theories abound, but no one is absolutely sure of the origin of this custom. Some say it dates back to the 1500's when the King of France (the Edict of Roussillon in 1564) changed New Year's Day from April 1st to January 1st. (Raise your hand if you knew this calendar factoid; I didn't). According to this theory, it took quite awhile for news of the change to reach the provinces. Those still celebrating the 'old' New Year's Day on April 1st were called poissons d'avril and became the butt of jokes.
hmm...a lotta fish around here....
Other theories relate to April being a good fishing period in France. Then there is the springtime connection: l'amour... l'amour. The French word for mackerel (the fish) is un maquereau which is also argot for a pimp. Another speculation is that it relates to the end of Lent, generally around April 1st. Many used to forego meat during Lent, substituting fish. One supposition goes back to Ancient Greece where they celebrated the god of laughter on April 1st. But I am weak on the subject of Greek mythology and never heard of a god of laughter. I also know little about astrology other than my birth sign and can't evaluate the premise that poisson d'avril is somehow connected to Pisces and the movement of the sun or moon in the zodiac cosmology. That is when you start to see chocolate fish in the windows! So, I have been finding the traditional molds that were used to make the bells and fish as well. Easter, or Paques, as it is known here is a time for chocolate. We have bunnies and hens and eggs, but the real super stars of the chocolatiers trade are the big bells (Cloche) and fish. I have a few bell molds and some fish molds...this year I wanted to actually make a chocolate bell. You cast the two halves, fill it with chocolate pieces , then heat the edges of the chocolate halves and fit them together. It seems simple, I got 500 grams of Lindt dark chocolate. I lightly oiled the molds, then carefully melted the chocolate in a copper pan over another pan of hot water. 
 Another one of my fishy chocolate molds
one of the bell molds
My plan was to un mold the bell halves, Heat a teflon cutting board over hot water, fill the half bell with the coquillage chocolate pieces, then take the top piece and soften the edges on the hot cutting board and then carefully fit them together. Well, the board was too hot, then as I tried to put the top piece on, I seriously deformed it. I have to practice this deft manoeuvre. So, I went to plan B....I got one of the fish molds, remelted the chocolate and made my life much simpler by casting a half fish, and then filling it with the rescued coquillage! So, here is the Easter fish filled with chocolate faux sea food and eggs ready to be presented today!

The finished fish! Joyeux Paques tout le monde!