Heroines: The Ditty Bops

A new group on me as of today, actually within the last couple of hours – they are pretty unique – called the Ditty Bops. They are a musical group, consisting of two ladies named Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett. Their music is to be treasured, but probably only the odd few here and there will appreciate it, as the sound is about as unique as it gets. Imagine if you will a good bit of rag time, a healthy dose of swing, all rolled in with some good old fashion blue grass/traditional folk music, and blend with some lovely vocal harmonies. Add to that a quick witty set of vocals that are sometimes nonsensical and others just so right on (and maybe those that nonsensical my wit is not quick enough to catch up with yet) and you have the wonderful duet. Check out their website or do some searching on YouTube to get a feel for the music.

However, in the meantime while I am listing them as a couple of heroines? Simply put I am impressed by their wherewithal of putting their actions where their mouths are. Case in point, during their 2nd album release and tour that was to support that. They were big on a kick at the time that we need to help the world with a little less pollution. So, they did their tour from CA to NY via bicycle. It was, as you can imagine with a smaller lesser known group like this, not all completely planned. However, they did 40 performances along the route and it was measured a success. Their comments on the endeavor ran something like if we can do a tour this way across the country then everyone can make a small effort to reduce the usage of the automobile just a little bit.

They followed this up by being instrumental in the ban of plastic bags in the city of San Francisco. Now, I am personally not sure where I stand on this, but come to think of it paper bags are not nearly as apt to be found blowing around as the urban version of a tumble weed that I see a lot of plastic bags become. Further, while both are recyclable, I feel that the renewable aspect of paper over plastic (oil based) has a plus to it. Further, with such a ban maybe everyone would be more apt to lead to a much wider adoption of re-usable bags, such as canvas. This reminds me of something that I need to get in a better habit of doing myself.

Lastly, the one most near and dear to my own heart. They toured in America’s heartland in 2007, promoting the plight of the American farmer and the ideas of sustainable agriculture. I especially like the sustainable aspect of what they were doing with this and need to find some additional information on just what all that involved. That mini tour ended with a performance at, you guessed it, Farm Aid with Willie.

Vive la France!

My hats off to France! Long live the revolution! Okay, so I don’t even know what number of revolution we are on and I am most times more fond of the history of France in the 1st half of the Hundred Years War, when prior to Joan they were getting their butts kicked by the English armies under Edward, Edward of Woodstock, and Henry. Beyond that I admit a fondness for the romantic imagery and notions, and of course from military history one has to appreciate the years under Bonaparte. The modern France though, well suffice it to say I generally disagree with the leadership there at almost every turn.

However, this week France has surprised, much as Bush did this week too. You see, France was set to pass rules allowing a compromise on the importation, planting and usage of genetically modified corn. The compromise was supposed to be something along the lines of it would be allowed as long as any field having it was clearly marked and so many 100’s of meters away from any open pollinated varieties of corn. It was all but a done deal apparently, just requiring the stamp of approval a vote, if I understood things correctly.

In recent history though, France has been more than a little conservative toward the allowed usage of genetically modified seed of any sort. If I am correct, the only usage allowed is in scientific usage in very controlled environments.

Long story short, but the voted, despite the outcome being anticipated as a passage of and allowance of GM seed in the future under the strict regulations, ended in a tie. Which means it did NOT get enough support to pass. Which of course means that in this one case France can be held up as a bastion of what should be, compared to the United States where just about anything is allowed, including apparently based on testing, including plots close enough to allow cross pollination to have occurred.

Into the Wild

Note: I started writing this one about four weeks ago and finished it just lately.

A little more than a week ago, while over at a friend’s house, he popped in a new to DVD movie titled Into the Wild. It tells the story of Christopher McCandless, during the few short years between when he graduates college and his death a few short years later. During those few short years though McCandless lives a full life that few of us today are brave enough or otherwise willing to pursue, ultimately ending up in the Alaskan wild. A short synopsis is in order to begin.

We see McCandless at an abandoned bus in the Alaska wild that is called the magic bus. The rest of the movie flashes back from the time he graduates Emory college up through the time he is at the bus. Apparently he had issues with his materialistic motivated parents who apparently didn’t get along so well either. After college instead of heading to Harvard as was discussed, he instead cashes out his college fund, donates its, cuts up credit cards, and takes off across country. Enjoying his freedom he travels from one place to another doing simple jobs that include working at burger place, a long time with a grain farm/co-op, helping some hippies selling books, and leather work with an old man. He also enjoys during his travels lots of nature including kayaking down the Grand Canyon, ending up in Mexico, and the oceans and beeches of the coast. During all of this, he has one focus, which is to go to the last great frontier of Alaska and live completely on his own as self-sufficiently as possible. I will not spoil the movie any further – as I think it is well worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

The thing that attracted me to this movie is the sense of free spirit or just plain old freedom that comes from this. It is the kind of thing that I am often tempted to think about doing myself. I can see myself in my tempted thoughts riding off with two or three horses, a pack of stuff on one them, a dog in tow just because she would let me leave without her, and heading out to Montana or Wyoming across country… Tempted to think about – but then I have to admit in the end I am to attached to things to just up and let go of everything and move about surviving on occasion on little more than pure darned luck.

Bottom line is this – my hats off to McCandless for actually having had the gumption to have actually lived life to the fullest.

Roundup = poison?

News flash (maybe not so much)… Monsanto is increasing capacity in order to produce more Roundup.

Read that in a week old RSS feed relating to agriculture current events this morning. Kind of scary when you think about it. Genetically manipulated and modified crops that withstand the application of the herbicide (weed killer for those that think like me) to the crop without harming the crop itself. It has been going on for a while now which is scary in its own right. Now add to that the increased usage of such practices and it is even more scary. What is there to be scared about?

Continue reading “Roundup = poison?”