Thursday, October 31, 2013


After a Texas appellate court threw out Tom DeLays corruption conviction last month, Tom DeLay has decided that he is on a Mission from God. Of course, he's taking this temporary vindication as far as he can as fast as he can to try to rehabilitate his image, but in reality, another Texan DA is reviewing the decision and preparing to launch a review of the decision and overturn it.  Maybe all parties involved, including god should take a moment and watch Mr. Wild Thing DeLay strut his stuff before coming to any decision...Trick or Treat?

Happy Day Of The Dead.....

Here's a picture I took of a marble inlay skull and crossbones in the floor of the almost hallucinogenic 17th century Baroque Chiesa del Gesu off of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Rome. The church contains some of the most incredible marble craftsmanship I have ever seen. I tried to count the varteties of marble used in the interior and gave up at 22.  As in all latin countries, the real feast is November 1st. Halloween is a Northern thing. Here in France, it is traditionally the biggest family holiday of the year.  Tomorrow, everything is closed except for the cemeteries and everyone is there decorating the family crypts with chrysanthemums.  In Italy, the last night I was in Perugia, after a fantastic meal with tagliatelle and white truffles, we had gelato and little cookies called Favi di Morti...literally, beans of the dead. They were being sold in all of the old style bakeries. I always liked Halloween, though. So, if you want to celebrate it me, here's an opportunity to see a very good version of Frank Zappa's Epic 1972 film, 200 Motels...worth it for the opening sequence alone, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Theodore Bikel, Ringo Starr as Larry The Flying Dwarf who is dressed up as Frank Zappa and forced to insert an Aladins Lamp into the reproductive orifice of a female harpist dressed as a nun played by Keith Moon. Here, just press the play button......
But then again, don't call this phone number if you know what's good for you:
Happy Halloween and an even happier Day Of The Dead!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

He's Back...........

Oui, bien sûr, je suis de retour ici à La Sechere .... Je vais écrire plus tôt, mais depuis c'est la Nuit du Diable à Detroit, je présente à votre entertainemnt une performance live de Ace of Spades par le légendaire Lemmy Kilmeister avec son groupe Motorhead avec une collection de Ace of Spades cartes.
Do you know the history of Lemmy Kilmeister, the bass player vocalist composer of the group Motorhead? He practically invented punk/metal...but as a teen he was a roadie for Hendrix, then somehow he became a fictional character in the Pop Sci Fi of one of my favorite authors, Michael Moorcock...this was because he was a roadie and performer with the legendary British sci fi performance band, Hawkwind. Moorcock was connected as a writer and performer with Hawkwind.  Look at the bass technique of this dude! This has nothing to do with anything you  could ever learn in books (He was a very bad influence on me, when I realized I could play chords on the bass if I so desired)....Lemmy evolved in an alternative reality and still exists in his own alternative reality and his reality changed your little world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Can Say Goodbye....

I am such a homebody. This is a picture of my house today as the leaves begin to turn red and my buddy, J Edgar in the drive. We have to take the dogs to a doggie hotel, Au Bois Dormant, a very nice place outside of Objat to stay for a week. JJ's been there twice before. Then early tomorrow morning, we drive up to Bordeaux for a plane trip to Rome. We stay there for 2 days, then go to our friend, Enzo's family home in the Etruscan Wall of Perugia. This should be quite an adventure! It's amazing what you can do for practically nothing when you put your mind to it! Then we come back on the 29th of October and pick up the doggies on the 30th. I'm looking forward to the trip, but I feel guilty about putting the dogs in the very nice kennel and am so reluctant to leave my home...I'll be back on line probably on the 30th...there is so much I am trying to write about. a bientot!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Joseph Stalin And The Birth Of The Tea Party

Frederick C. Koch Being Congratulated By Joseph Stalin In 1932
There is so much here, in this saga that could spawn a multitude of separate investigations. The saga of the Koch Brothers, the current love hate shark tank relationship of the 3 (yes there are three) Brothers today...but I think it is enough for now to go back to the birth of the brat......much of this information was published on Alternet in 2009 and researched by Racha Levine.
This is a real historical fact, one that the Kochs don’t like to repeat in public: the family’s initial wealth was not created by the harsh, creative forces of unfettered capitalism, but by the grace of the centrally-planned economy of the Soviet Union. This deserves repeating: The Koch family, America’s biggest pushers of the free-market Tea Party revolution, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the whim of one of Stalin’s comrades.
The story of how the Koch family amassed its socialist wealth starts at the turn of the 20th century with the birth of Fredrick C. Koch. Fred was born in a tiny town in north Texas town to a Dutch immigrant and newspaper publisher. The historical record is not clear about the family’s wealth, but it appears that great-granddaddy Koch was not hurting for cash, because Fred Koch turned out to be a smart kid and was able to study at MIT and graduate with chemical engineering degree. A few years later, in 1925, Fred started up the Winkler-Koch Engineering Company with a former classmate, quickly developing and patenting a novel process to refine gasoline from crude oil that had a higher-yield than anything on the market. It was shaping up to be an American success story, where anything was possible with a bit of elbow grease and good ol’ ingenuity.
The sky was the limit—until the free market rained on Fred’s parade.
See, Fred was living through the Roaring Twenties, a time of big business, heavy speculation and zero government regulation. Much like today, cartels were free to form and free to fix—and so they did. Sensing a threat to their royalty-revenue stream from Winkler-Koch’s superior refining technology, the reigning oil cartel moved in to teach the young Koch how the laissez-faire business model worked in the real world.
“[W]hen he tried to market his invention, the major oil companies sued him for patent infringement. Koch eventually won the lawsuits (after 15 years in court), but the controversy made it tough to attract many US customers,” according to Hoover’s Company Records service. Just like that, Winkler-Koch Engineering found itself squeezed out of the American market. They had a superior product at a cheaper price, but no one to sell it to.
Luckily, there was one market where opportunity beckoned—and innovation was rewarded: the Soviet Union.
Stalin’s first Five Year Plan was just kicking into action a nation-wide industrialization effort, and the Soviet planners needed smart, industrious college grads like Fred Koch. The Soviet Union was desperately trying to increase its oil refining capacity, so oil engineers were especially in high demand—and well paid, too.
“We are the world’s greatest market, and we are prepared to order a large amount of goods and pay for them,” Joseph Stalin told an American journalist in 1932. Stalin wasn’t kidding. From 1926 to 1929, the Soviet oil industry bought $20 million worth of equipment from America. And Koch was about to get in on the action.
In 1929, after hosting a delegation of Soviet planners in Wichita, Kansas, Winkler and Koch signed a $5 million contract to build 15 refineries in the Soviet Union. According to Oil of Russia, a Russian oil industry trade magazine, the deal made Winkler–Koch into Comrade Stalin’s Number One refinery builder. It provided equipment and oversaw construction:
The first Winkler–Koch plants were set up in Tuapse in 1930. The cracking unit operated commendably, and would in the future be the type preferred by the heads of the Soviet Union’s petroleum industry when purchasing new cracking equipment.
In 1931, two Winkler–Koch cracking units were launched in Baku, another two in Batumi, and six at once in Grozny; the last had a combined refining capacity of 900,000 tons per year. In 1932, a Winkler–Koch unit commenced operations in Yaroslavl.
At the time, the Soviet Union’s oil industry was a total mess. Equipment built by Western engineering firms was always breaking down or didn’t work at all. Western engineers were constantly being accused of espionage or sabotage, real or imagined, and booted out of the country. Soviet workers suspected of colluding with the foreigners were simply taken out back and shot. Winkler-Koch made sure they were running a tight, effective operation. Unlike their Western competitors, Koch pleased his Soviet clients by ensuring top quality and helping the cause of socialism.

Koch lived up to the slogan: “Work hard enough for Comrade Stalin to thank you!”
The Soviet oil planners were delighted with Koch’s refineries, which “operated commendably, and would in the future be the type preferred by the heads of the Soviet Union’s petroleum industry when purchasing new cracking equipment.” The Communists were so impressed they kept giving Winkler-Koch business and regularly sent Soviet engineers to train in Wichita. It was a sign of growing mutual trust.
By the time he got out in 1933, Koch earned $500,000, which was a ton of money for a kid fresh out of college. This nut of money served as the foundation for the family’s future wealth, which Koch no doubt started acquiring at rock-bottom prices. After all, 1933 was one of the two worst years of the Great Depression—all assets were priced to go at 90% off. In the end, the capitalist-hating socialists ended up treating Koch fairly, way better than the monopolistic thrashing he got from his native land. So you’d think he’d at least something good to say about the Soviet Union when he got home?
Nope, not at all. He hated the Commies real bad. But for some reason he kept it to himself until the late 1950s (possibly because he was still doing work for the Soviet Union). Then, after coming back from a trip to the Soviet Union in 1956, he flies off the handle. According to a 1956 AP article, Fred Koch was among eleven prominent residents of Wichita, Kansas, “left for Moscow by plane today in an effort to convince the Russian people that Soviet propaganda about capitalists is untrue.” Sounds like the perfect cover for a business trip.
It’s not clear what he was actually doing there. But whatever the outcome—maybe he didn’t get the contract he was expecting or maybe he got swindled out of some investment or maybe he plain ol’ hated the thaw of post-Stalin Russia—Fred Koch came back a pissed-off anti-Communist freak and joined up with the right-wing Bircher freak show. He bankrolled a John Birch Society chapter in Wichita and attempted to open a Bircher bookstore, which wasn’t too popular and had to close.
He warned of a massive Communist conspiracy to take control of America, saying that the Reds were eroding American universities, churches, political parties, the media and every branch of government. “Maybe you don’t want to be controversial by getting mixed up in this anti-communist battle,” Koch said in a speech to a Women’s Republican Club in 1961. “But you won’t be very controversial lying in a ditch with a bullet in your brain.” Strong words for a strong Stalin Queen—must’ve rocked the stockings off the Bircher groupies.
In 1961, Koch published a pamphlet called “A Businessman Looks At Communism,” in which he recounted his travels with a “hardcore Communist” named Jerome Livshitz. It was from him Fred Koch had first learned about the commie conspiracy to take over America:
The government detailed a little man by the name of Jerome Livshltz to go around to our various installations with me. Livshitz had taken part in the revolution of 1905, and had spent twelve years in the U.S.A. as a revolutionary, most of the time in jails….
In the months I traveled with him he gave me a liberal education in Communist techniques and methods. He told me how the Communists were going to infiltrate the U.S.A. in the schools, universities, armed forces and to use his words, “Make you rotten to the core.” I believe that due to his American experience he was one of the original architects of the Communist plan of subversion of the U.S.A.
My associate and I pulled him from under an overturned car in Tiflis, and he was amazed. “Why did you save my life?” he said. “We are enemies. I would not have saved you. Perhaps when the turn there, I will spare your lives.” He told me that if his own mother stood in the way of the revolution he would strangle her with his bare hands. This is the mark of a hard-core Communist. They will do anything—anything.
Fred Koch’s paranoia continued to spiral out of control until his thumper quit in 1967. But by that time his son, Charles G. Koch, had already taken over control of the family business. He appropriated his father’s Communist paranoia and made it the basis for the family’s free-market business philosophy.
“Once, my father ran a business in the ex-Soviet Union, and all engineers who worked with my father were imprisoned by Stalin later. My father, who had experienced this, became an anti-communist and thought the value of economical freedom and prosperity was more important than ever before,” Charles said during an interview with a Korean newspaper in 2008, leaving out the part how evil socialist cash is the foundation of the Koch family’s wealth.
Once he took over, it was clear that Charles had big plans for Koch Industries. He was going to push the limits of corporate growth by plowing 90% of the company’s profits back into till and diversifying to the max. It worked. The company expanded at an unreal rate: its revenues increased from $100 million in 1966 to $100 billion in 2008—that’s 1,000-fold growth!
Today, it operates thousands of miles of pipelines in the United States, refines 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily, it buys and sells the most asphalt in the nation, is among the top ten cattle producers, and is among the 50 largest landowners. Koch Industries also plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into right-wing organizations like Institute for Humane Studies, the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Bill of Rights Institute, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Federalist Society—all of them promoting the usual billionaire-friendly ideas of the free market, deregulation and smaller government.
If that expansion looks too fast to be legit, that’s because it was.
William Koch, the third brother who had a falling-out with Charles and David back in the ’80s over Charles’ sociopathic management style, appeared on “60 Minutes” in November 2000 to tell the world that Koch Industries was a criminal enterprise: “It was – was my family company. I was out of it,” he says. “But that’s what appalled me so much… I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime.”
Charles Koch’s racket was very simple, explained William. With its extensive oil pipe network, Koch Industries’ role as an oil middleman–it buys crude from someone’s well and sells it to a refinery–makes it easy to steal millions of dollars worth of oil by skimming just a little off the top of each transaction, or what they call “cheating measurements” in the oil trade. According to William, wells located on federal and Native American lands were the prime targets of the Koch scam.
“What Koch was doing was taking all these measurements and then falsifying them on the run sheets,” said Bill Koch. “If the dipstick measured five feet 10 inches and one half inch, they would write down five feet nine and one half inches.”
That may not sound like much, but Bill Koch said it added up. “Well, that was the beauty of the scheme. Because if they’re buying oil from 50,000 different people, and they’re stealing two barrels from each person. What does that add up to? One year, their data showed they stole a million and a half barrels of oil.”
In 1999, William decided to take his brothers down. He sued Koch Industries in civil court under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the federal government. William Koch accused the company of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in oil from federal lands.
The band of brothers settled the case two years later, with Charles agreeing to pay $25 million in penalties to the federal government to have the suit dismissed. It turned out to be a great deal for Charles and David, considering that in the 1980s their “adjustments” allowed Koch Industries to siphon off 300 million gallons of oil without paying. It was pure profit–free money–to the tune of $230 million.
At the trial, 50 former Koch gaugers testified against the company, some in video depositions. They said employees even had a term for cheating on the measurements.
“We in the company referred to it as the Koch Method because it was a system for cheating the producer out of oil,” said one of the gaugers, Mark Wilson.
Ah, finally! We’ve stumbled upon the secret to the family’s success! At the bottom of it all, the Koch Method that funds all the libertarians is nothing but good old-fashioned plunder. Or, as Koch hero Ludwig von Mises might say, “The Koch Method is just an unceasing sequence of single scams.”
Further reading

1. A People’s History of Koch Industries, Part II: Libertarian Billionaires Charles and David Koch Are Closetcase Subsidy Kings Who Milk Big Government Tyranny, But Want To Slash Spending On Anyone Else
2. The investigation that broke the Tea Party movement wide open:“Exposing the Rightwing PR Machine: Is CNBC’s Rick Santelli Sucking Koch”
3. CNBC Bitch-Slaps Santelli Into Line, FreedomWorks Admits It Organized “Grassroots” Tea Parties, Jon Stewart Cancels Santelli & Megan McArdle Queefs On Our Founding Fathers
4. How FreedomWorks Gave Teabaggers a Dirty Sanchez
5. AstroTurf Revolution Dispatch: Activists Teabag Media
6. Freemarket Failures: Investors Prefer Doing Business With Hugo Chavez Over Billionaire Koch Brothers

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Diavolo Rosso

Diavolo Rosso by the great Paolo Conte.
Probably the best song ever written about the sport of bicycle racing. I am in the midst of packing for a short vacation in Italy. A few nights in Rome and then off to Perugia to stay in my buddy's family home in the Etruscan wall...all is going nicely, except the packing thingy. Every time I put an article of clothing in my suitcase, my wife gives me a very alarmed look and says, "You aren't actually going to wear THAT?" 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The 2 Levels of Conservative Insanity

All they need to be real GOP Reps are cute little suicide bomber belts!
And what was it all for? What did the Tea Party zealots get in return? As far as I can tell, "Obamacare" emerges intact and spending remains as it would've been if none of this occurred. It's pretty much status quo, business as usual. On the surface, the Tea Party got nothing, but in actuality what they got was unprecedented media attention, the likes of which is worth many millions of dollars. Through Sen. Cruz, they held the country hostage, shutting down the government and risking national default, all so that they could garner some free publicity. Like cheap, two-bit shysters. These are U-S-A patriots? This is country first??
So things get pushed off till February, when we undoubtedly will have to go through this crap all over again. Will this become the norm for how government will operate in the future? Every six months, we'll go through this nonsense to see if the government (and national parks, etc.) will remain open and the country won't default on its debt? If so, then rating agencies should lower our credit rating! Talk about third world!
Assuming this unfortunately becomes the norm, I recommend ignoring the media and following the stock market when it comes to gleaning the most likely outcome. During this past ordeal, the market held up well through it all, indicating much of it was idiotic showboating and correctly looking past the inane shenanigans. In general, investors collectively are not stupid.
As for Republicans, they have only themselves to blame. Carve up a bunch of districts through gerrymandering to successfully elect a bunch of what would normally be unelectable candidates, i.e. lunatics -- you get what you deserve. Inmates are definitely running the asylum.
The much greater tragedy is we as a country get screwed in the process. At least Reagan was shrewd enough to just pretend to care, to throw the nutballs some symbolic morsels they could chew on yet never letting them gain enough voice to wield actual power. Somewhere the former president is shaking his head, saying "You idiots!" (and, "Enough with renaming so many post offices after me!!"). 
This ugly episode hasn't resolved the tensions within the GOP and the conservative movement—it has exacerbated them. Here is Post mortem diagnostic list of quotes from key players which illustrate the levels of severity of the mental condition infecting the Conservative Movement. This obviously is not going to end soon...
Level One: Jest A Half Bubble Off Center, or,THE WE-TOLD-YOU-SO ESTABLISHMENT

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "We're not going to go through the shutdown again. People have been too traumatized by it. There's too much damage…We're not going to shut down the government again. I guarantee it."

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.): "This party is going nuts."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): "For the party, this is a moment of self-evaluation, we are going to assess how we got here…If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long-term."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.): "On our side of the aisle, we've wasted two months focused on something that was never going to happen. I won't say that I did, but a number of folks did. What we could have been doing all this time is focused on those mandatory changes that all of us know our country needs, and we’ve blown that opportunity. I hate to say it.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.): Called Republicans advocating for the shutdown "lemmings with suicide vests…They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough."

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.): On his long-held belief that the government shutdown wouldn't work: "I was correct in my analysis, and I'd say a lot of those folks were not correct in theirs."

Karl Rove: "Barack Obama set the trap. Some congressional Republicans walked into it. As a result, the president is stronger, the GOP is weaker, and Obamacare is marginally more popular. The battles over spending, taxes, and debt have not been resolved, only postponed. It's time Republicans remembered that bad tactics produce bad outcomes."

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.): "All you need to do is look about 200 miles south of here to see the mess that Republicans and Democrats have made of our national government and we should haul all their rear-ends to Camden today to see how bipartisanship works and government works together."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "Heritage used to be the conservative organization helping Republicans and helping conservatives and helping us to be able to have the best intellectual conservative ideas…Right now, I think it's in danger of losing its clout and its power around Washington, DC."

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.): "The reality is there's a much larger population within our caucus that recognizes reality for what it is."
* * *
Level 2: As my Dear Aunt Ruthie would have said, "Is this funny, ha ha,  or is this funny, Boo Hoo?" or,THE WE-WILL-RISE-AGAIN REBELS

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.): Said that the agreement will "get us into Round 2. See, we're going to start this all over again.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho): "I'm more upset with my Republican conference, to be honest with you…If anybody should be kicked out, it's probably those Republicans—and not Speaker Boehner—who are unwilling to keep the promises they made to American people."

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.): "I would say the surrender caucus is the whiner caucus, and all they do is whine about the battle, as if they thought being elected to Washington was going to be an easy job."

Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState: "We must advance. Two Republicans in the Senate caused this fight that their colleagues would have surrendered on more quickly but for them. Imagine a Senate filled with more. We have an opportunity to replace Mitch McConnell in Kentucky with a better conservative. We should do that…as more Americans watch Obamacare fail them through the Republican primary season, conservatives will be able to put the focus on Republicans who funded Obamacare instead of fighting it. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress will find their names on ballots in 2014. They cannot hide or escape fate."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): "Absolutely, I think [the shutdown and debt ceiling fight were] worth it! It's been worth it because what we did is we fought the right fight."

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.): "My No Obamacare Exemption for Washington language has been blocked out by Harry Reid, Barrack Obama and others who want to keep their special subsidy. But it's not going away and neither am I."

Americans for Prosperity: "Our activists are more engaged than ever in this fight, and we intend to hold politicians accountable for their promise to stop overspending."

Michael Needham, Heritage Action for America president: "I admire what the House has done in the last couple weeks. It's unfortunate that the Senate hasn't been responsive to the American people…and really has undercut the House throughout the last two weeks."

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas): Called the agreement "a bad deal," and when asked whether Congress would be back in the same situation in a few months, he didn't hesitate: "Yes."

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah): "The media keeps asking, was it worth it? My answer is that it is always worth it to do the right thing. Fighting against an abusive government in defense of protecting our individual rights and freedoms is always the right thing…In Washington, victories are rarely immediate and very few are permanent. Obamacare wasn't enacted overnight and it won't be repealed overnight. We must remind the American people of the harmful effects of this law at every opportunity."

Matt Kibbe, FreedomWorks president and CEO: "Republican leadership has completely lost its way. Not only is this proposal a full surrender—it's a complete surrender with presents for the Democrats."

The Tea Party Patriots: "The Senate deal is a complete sellout. Speaker Boehner and the House should stand firm and reject this deal to reign [sic] in the Executive branch's power before it is too late…The House 'Leadership' must stop playing 'flinch' with themselves, and instead, play hardball with the White House, the Senate, and the House."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): "The American people rose up and spoke with an overwhelming voice and at least at this stage Washington isn't listening to them…But this battle will continue."

Maybe the real answer for the Level 2 Loonies would be to just take 'em out back of the barn and shoot 'em...but that's not nice. So sign this new Move On Petition, I did! Arrest and Try House Leadership for Sedition! Yeee Hah!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reality Cam...out side my kitchen window now! 4:35 pm CET!
Little green tree frogs like it here!

The Bottom Line Behind The Current Budget Crisis
....and you know it's true!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm ever so much fun at parties...

Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle

The Inflated Tear, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967, Prague.
Kirk was not one of us. He had powers and abilities beyond those of mere mortal men. A brilliant composer, an real musical innovator...he could be a one man horn section, play three saxophones, two flutes at the same time and he had mastered the Yogic technique of circular breathing. He could inhale and exhale at the same time which gave him the ability to record the longest sax solo ever made by a human with out pausing for a 25 minute+ side of the three record set, Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle. Here is a cut from that recording:


This has been in my head all morning!  I knew the bassist Richard McGuire and saw the dub/punk influenced duo Liquid Liquid many times in NYC....the 1981 track, Cavern was ripped off for the Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash hip hop rap hit, White Lines. The original label, 99 Records took SugarHill to court and finally won the unauthorized sampling use case which kind of put SugarHill out of business....The video from 1983 was groundbreaking. Bassist McGuire and Drummer, Scott Hartely are still performing today as Liquid Liquid. Truly timeless stuff!

A Grand Old American Tradition

A few of the flags at the October Vet Protest March which was turned into a photo op by Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin to protest the closing of the Veterans Memorial caused by their TeaBrained shutdown of the government. They tried to reap some kind of PR coup by using the manipulative tactic of the inherent racism of their base to deflect the reality of what they did. The planted themselves at the head of the protestors confronting the police to somehow take advantage of the blind anger over what they themselves created. Sarah, ever the publicity whore never turned down a photo op...the girls desperate for any press as a starving tiger shark in a tuna tank.  As Cruz dementedly stated, he was only doing god's work. That's the level of this debate. Please pay attention to the Confederate flags. Here's a video of the event...

So, Sarah and Ted had a Tea Party march on the White House to protest the GOP shutdown of the federal government (which Palin supported and the Tea Party orchestrated), several of the Palin Tea Partyers were carrying Confederate flags, while others yelled a racist slur at the White House cops, and a speaker at the event accused the President of being a Muslim. "Mr. Obama, put down your Koran and come out with your hands up" We're not racists...just keep repeating this mantra...HA HAHHHHH!

In the spirit of racist extremists storming Washington, I invite you to step into my Wayback Machine and experience the 1928 Ku Klux Klan march on Washington. Being naive and hateful and proud of it in spite of the illogic of going against your own best interests is truly a grand old American tradition.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Infernal Cauldron
George Melies

Now You Know You Got To Go!

I've read some fascinating articles on the brain and neurology. Some of these particular pieces sound more like science fiction rather than science:
Quasi mind control as signals from one man’s brain causing another man to move his finger.
Some amazing information, and all too true.  Even though they may sound far-fetched, most of us probably realized that, with current research techniques, they are possible. We will surely build on this research in the future. Whether those future outcomes are great (brain repair using cloned neural tissue) or horrific (motor or mind control) remains to be seen. However, when I read a few articles describing this next research proposal – head transplants – I thought it was pure science fantasy.
Injury to neural tissue is difficult to repair. Nerves can be fragile things. We’ve seen people who have had traumatic injuries, or neurologic diseases, of the spinal cord who have been paralyzed. An example of the former is the late Christopher Reeve, who sustained spinal cord damage as the result of a fall. The latter is exemplified by Stephen Hawking, who has Amyotophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease). Both were almost completely paralyzed as a result.
What happens when neurological tissue is damaged? Many things that are far beyond the scope of this article. But, briefly, a few of the mechanisms are: immediate damage to the neurons, that can be deadly to them either immediately or over time, swelling, decreased blood supply, bleeding into the damaged tissue, release of neurotransmitters, damage from free radicals and scarring. All of those make repair very difficult.
Treatment includes stabilizing the area to prevent additional movement, surgery to decompress the area, remove debris and blood from the area and other treatments. Speed is of the essence, some studies show better outcomes when the area is treated quickly after the injury.
Experiments have shown that if the spinal cord is severed surgically (i.e., very precisely and cleanly) it can be reunited and the cells are able to regenerate better, to a degree. Additional research has focused on preventing scarring and enhancing the neurons’ ability to repair themselves.
Some of the early spinal cord work was done in the 1970s and 1980s. But the techniques available didn’t produce very good results in experimental animals. However, there have been some major changes since then.
Reapproximating the cut areas of the cord precisely, using microsurgical and other techniques, and the use of medications and chemicals, have started to produce impressive results. So much so that a neurosurgeon did a paper on the possibility of human head transplantation.
Sounds like science fiction. But so were kidney transplants until the 1950s. So was most heart surgery till the heart-lung bypass pump was developed.
Animal head transplants have been done for over 40+ years
Many people do not realize that animal head transplants have been done for over 40 years. Sometimes the donor head is connected to the recipient’s body. Other times the recipient’s head is removed and the donor head implanted. The first produces a two-headed animal. Reportedly, a number of two-headed dogs were produced. Both heads could breathe and eat. But the dogs died in less than a month because of rejection issues with the transplanted head.
Similar experiments were done in monkeys, but the monkey’s own head was removed and the donor head attached, producing a one-headed animal. Again, these animals only lived a short time, but the heads did function. One of the transplanted monkey’s heads even tried to bite the researchers.
These experimental animals were sacrificed after a few days. If not, the animals would have probably died from rejection. Remember, though, that much more is now known about tissue compatibility matching, the phenomenon of rejection and snit-rejection drugs, than was available in the 1970s and 1980s.
The author of this article is neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero. He’s written in detail about just how the surgery would need to be carried out, and the details behind preparation of the patients, surgical teams, operating rooms, technology and other factors. The paper has been published in a peer-reviewed journal and is available, online, for free. It’s worth reading, however it is really technical and detailed at times.
I am an not a real doctor, but I play one on Television, I’m not a neurosurgeon, but I find this fascinating as a source of speculative material for my own projective fiction.  Quite often reality is light years ahead of your imagination and you have to research ideas to know where to go next.  I think that Canavero's article is very well thought out and the planning seems good. We may not ever know if it would work until it is attempted.
Aside from the technical issues, which are many, it raises a number of other interesting and difficult questions.
Is it even ethical to attempt a human head transplant? Some of the problems were highlighted in the Blaxploitation sci fi film with Rosie Greer and Ray Milland, The Thing With Two Heads....needless to say, this was Ray Millands final cinematic effort.
In reality, today, the cost of a surgical procedure like this would be millions of dollars (after the construction of special operating rooms, obtaining necessary equipment, training surgeons and staff, etc.). Would it ever be worth is to spend that much money to save one life? If “yes,” who would qualify? How would we prioritize?
Would this lead to black market surgery for those who could afford it to have a chance at quasi-immortality? A black market in “recipient” bodies who are procured because of histocompatibility to the oncoming head transplant?
Does the chimera produced have the identity of the “body,” the identity of the “head,” both, or is it an entirely new person? Would the two brains continue to function independently? What if they didn't get along?  Maybe the head of the donor body would have to be rendered unconscious during the transplant graft acceptance period. Maybe it would be be very interesting to record the conversations and the interaction between the two heads....Would they share dreams?
Does its new family consist of both of the previous beings’ families? If it has children, are they legally part of the biologic parent (i.e., from his reproductive cells) or the cerebral parent (who directed the procreative act), both, or is it the child of a new person? (Genetically, they’d be the children of the body-parent, not the head-parent. But what about legally?)
I don’t know the answers. Perhaps they aren’t answerable, no transplant like this has ever been attempted. But as with any untried,  seemingly perfect futuristic solution to a problem...Hey what could go wrong?
Do you have any thoughts about these issues? Are there even other problems that must be addressed?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

La Belle et La Bete

I just saw this film again after almost 45 years. It's been totally restored. Absolutely amazing!

Scorpion And Frog Part #2 The Wrong Brain

In my last post about the budget fiasco, I cited the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog...but it's much uglier, The Republican Party has unwittingly created and unleashed an idiot Frankenstein Monster that they cannot control. The monster exists only to create short term profits for the corporate elite and long term misery and class warfare for the rest of the world. Let me try to explain:
In business “bad profits” are short-term gains at the expense of a business’ long-term viability. For example, soaking your loyal customers might bring you some increase in short-term profits but the customers won’t remain loyal, and your future market share will decrease. Cutbacks in service, quality, and overall value drive future customers away.
Bad profits are what you get when you use tricks to bring a quick boost to quarterly profits, paid back with trouble later. With a bad-profit approach a company might get a short-term gain, but loses the future. *
For the Republican Party, this is that future. For the giant corporations that funded the worst elements of the right, this is that future.
Many businesses have been gaining bad financial and political profits by funding the conservative movement and its corruption machine. They put money into right-wing “think tanks” and the other anti-government, anti-law, anti-democracy outfits. They did this because it purchased a Party that gave them tax breaks, favors of various kinds and monopolistic deregulation, boosting their profits. But these were bad profits.
To keep the votes coming they encouraged the worst kind of ignorant, racist, superstitious, reactionary thinking. It worked, it got them the votes that got them the tax cuts and the capital gains breaks and the deregulation and the rest. But it also “dumbed down” their constituents — now too many actually believe that tax cuts increase revenues, cutting government helps the economy, and other nonsense. (Never mind climate denial and the coming consequences.)
Now the consequences of this “dumbing down” of the Republican base are coming home to roost. By financing the right these companies ate the seed corn of democracy that enabled their prosperity in the first place. Now the Frankenstein’s monster they created opposes funding infrastructure and R&D and courts even economic statistics. (And immigration, health care, disaster relief…)
They have shut down the whole damn thing. They have shut down the prosperity engine. They have killed the golden goose. And they are on the edge of shutting down the whole world’s economy.

* Actually the “they” who make bad profits get big bonuses or big stock payouts and move on, but the company suffers. It is very important to see the difference between the people who do the bad things and make fortunes doing so, and the company that suffers from those things. A company is not a sentient being that makes decisions, people do that. And particular people do that. Bob in Accounts Receivable and Bev in Sales didn’t make the decisions or get the bonus but it is their job that goes away when the bad profit scheme catches up to the company. Just like how the citizens haven’t been making the decisions for the country but it is their economy and democracy that has been wrecked while the billionaires can fly away in their jets to their private islands.

The Mantra

Every Tea Brain in America feels they can enunciate each bigoted turd that floats to the top of the tea filled septic tank sitting on top of their shoulders, as long as they preface or qualify the statement with some sort of simpy version of "I'm not a racist, but...." or for example:
Joe Wurzelbacher, the phony everyman fake plumber and full time scam artist used by John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, has a new post on his website, "America needs a white Republican president."
"Admit it. You want a white Republican president again. Now before you start feeling like you're a racist, understand you are not. Wanting a white Republican president doesn't make you racist, it just makes you American."

Well, If I have to listen to that stupid mantra, they can listen to mine! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

If you will kindly just step into the Wayback machine, Sherman.....

Chateau Vieux Chevrol

I haven't had much time to post this week. A lot of catch up but, little by little, I am getting more material from the Vendange 2013 at Chateau Vieux Chevrol. I ran across this video made about 3 years ago about Chateau Vieux Chevrol, in Neac, France where I have worked since 2002. It is located in the Lalande de Pomerol region, situated about 8 kilometers east of Libourne, between the Pomerol and the St. Emilion regions. Yes, it is in French, but that's the language we speak here. It is an interview with the owner, Jean-Pierre Champseix, who passionately explains the art, technique and tradition of the way wine is made at Vieux Chevrol. I am very grateful for Jean-Pierre's patience in explaining and attempting to educate me in the tradition and letting me be a part of it. This is a place where traditional methods rule. There is no flavor but the grapes themselves and the natural aging in oak casks. To have the appellation, Lalande de Pomerol, the vines are not fertilized, or irrigated. It is the conditions of each year that dictate the nature of the grapes. It is the variations in the  of the earth itself in the various parcels of land of the Chateau that create the flavor. The two grape varieties used are Merlot and Cabernet. I participate in l'empamprage, the spring trimming and cleanup of the vines and remove all the excess buds. Later in the mid summer I work for a few weeks on what is called, Le Vendange Vert, where we remove the excess foliage and bunches of grapes so each plant has the optimal conditions to produce healthy fruit. Other Chateaux have compromised and modernized.  In fact Vieux Chevrol has made a major investment in it's future with a new state of the art "cave" with a temperature regulation system to maintain perfect conditions for the initial fermentation, but the cultivation and harvesting is all by hand. It is, as Jean-Pierre says in the video, his revenge! I really enjoy the Vendange, the harvest. I always make new friends. We are a group of 25 people, French, Dutch, Moroccan, occasionally English and always one sole American, me. I am the best damn American porter in France! I am so happy to be able to easily do this work. The best thing is after I finish, I always feel so much healthier than when I started! I love being outside all the time. Here's a few pictures and videos of the Vendange 2013, good friends, good food, good times and pride in our hard work!
The dawn view facing North of the Vieux Chevrol vines
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go at 8 am.....
Grape Pickers In Action
A very interesting place, the highest hill in the area, a place called La Montagne
Where there are medieval windmills which have been restored using the original
7 varieties of wood for the different parts of the machinery.
The perfect place for an apero on an early autumn night.
That's me, microdot, Stef, the other blues brother and Celine.
The last day, after a torrential storm. I christened that particular puddle,
Lake Stanley....don't ask...we worked 10 hours in the mud that day.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and can't wait to do it again!
Here's a little video of the inside of the new cave. The pressed grapes are emptied into the stainless steel fermentation tanks for the initial fermentation. The tanks are kept at a steady temperature by a monitored system which controls the temperature with pipes of hot or cold water. The water is drawn from a well over 30 meters deep under the cave. When the wine reaches the proper alcohol and sugar level, it is then put into oak casks and aged for almost a year before it is bottled. The young man working in the video is Michel Champseix who I have known since he was 7 years old. I hope I am able to continue to do this for many years to come!
One more video, my friend Mohamed who is one of the full time employees at Vieux Chevrol. He is a master of all he surveys!

Frog and Scorpion

We've all heard the fable of Frog and the Scorpion where both animals need to cross the river, and the scorpion suggests it catch a ride on the frog’s back. The frog, understandably, says “no way, you’re going to sting me halfway through and I’m going to drown.” The scorpion responds, reassuringly, “don’t be silly, if I sting you halfway through, then we both drown.”
So, won over by the incontrovertible scorpion logic, the frog carries his deadly adversary across the river, and midway through – what happens? – the scorpion stings the frog.

As they both start to drown, the frog asks the scorpion, “why did you sting me?”
The scorpion replies, “I had no choice, it’s in my nature.
There are scorpions among us. They sit in Congress, committed not to solving problems, but blocking solutions.
They would take the food out of the mouths of children. They would put the insurance companies back in charge of health care. They would shut the government down, refuse to pay the nation’s bills, destroy the trust that other countries place in us when they buy our bonds, they would do all this rather than give President Obama the slimmest of political victories.

Why? It is their nature.
I am not talking about the entire Republican Party. I actually have friends who I respect who claim to still be Republicans and try to deal with clearing their pond of the scum, but more and more, it is a Herculean task, like cleaning the Augean Stables. In the myth, Hercules had to divert a river to flush out the stables to clean out the filth.... No, I am talking about a faction of far-right, tea party-driven congressmen who do not care who drowns.
They don’t have real alternate plans to help people. They weren’t, they believe, elected to help people. They were elected, they believe, to keep the other side from helping people.
The thing is, Newt Gingrich didn’t care who drowned either. Republicans all the way back to the early 1990s didn’t care who drowned. And the scorpions go all the way back to the advent of the modern religious right, and the early 1980s. The Tea Party is only the latest scorpion of indifference to visit the GOP.
Now, that doesn’t mean that things haven’t gotten particularly worse the last few years. I think they have. In addition to being indifferent – and I’d argue antagonistic – to the suffering of others, the fringe controlling the GOP has now gotten a bit crazy to boot.
The Republican party is a coalition built on hate, intolerance, indifference, and lies. It not only doesn’t exist to compromise, but as Simon notes, the GOP doesn’t exist to help people period – Simon says he’s talking about the Tea Party fringe, and not the entire GOP, but what’s the difference? The extremist tail is wagging the political dog, and it has been for thirty years.
What’s worse, as the GOP is not a party built on truth, or even reality –
the age of the earth being 6,000 years, and climate change being a lie worthy of Hitler, come to mind – they see no cost to their lack of cooperation. If they default on the national debt, cut food stamps $40 billion, repeal Obamacare, none of it will make any difference because to them none of it is real.
We’re dealing with people who hate government, in all its forms. They infect their base with their hate and use racism, the fear of a black president to enable the hate. How many of the Gomerts, The Trumps  The Palins etc. etc...really believe their birther nonsense?

And they don’t particularly like people either.
So not only do they not believe that the world is going to come crashing down if they default on the national debt or cut programs for seniors. But they also don’t particularly care if it does.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Aucun commentaire....

Repeat This 10,000 Times!

Here it is, the microdot workout program for 2013! It's simple, just carry 40 pounds of grapes on your back for at least 8 hours a day and walk about 25 kilometers a day, then perform this simple easy motion! I can do it right or left handed...and then you don't have to even think about dieting, in fact the more you eat, the better! 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Don't Worry About The Government

Well, I'm back, earlier than I thought, but let's just say, yesterday is now just a bad dream that ended very nicely. Almost 10 hours of carrying literally tons of grapes on my skinny little back through the very special clay that turns into boot sucking mud after the torrential downpour the Libourne region experienced Friday evening. I love it. I will post some photos and a video in the next few days so we can all share my masochistic ecstasy. 
I got back here this morning and am slowly catching up with reality...And perhaps this is the perfect song...The Talking Heads. 1978? Don't Worry About The Government, and don't you worry about meeeeeeeee!