“Mother Nature’s Herbal” is One Bad Mother!

Those of you who know me, know that nature and I do not get along.  I am allergic to just about anything that grows: trees, flowers, grass, and hair on all the cuddliest of pets.  This may cause you to ask, why in the world would I ask to review “Mother Nature’s Herbal” by Judith Griffin.  Easy, I never developed any food allergies and this girl loves to eat!  I was excited to learn what things I ate and drank that may already be beneficial and if there were any other yummy options out there to try.
Well “Mother Nature’s Herbal” met, and exceeded, my expectations.  After being out of print for nearly ten years, I can understand why it has been brought back.  Firstly, the book is a visual dream.  The cover has a beautiful aged Victorian appearance, and there are delightful vintage illustrations throughout.  Enough about the visuals though, because books are to be read!
This book is insanely thorough.  I’ve read my fair share of “herbals” before, and the amount of information here buries all of them combined.  Section one is entitled “A Cultural Herbal” and man she isn’t kidding around!  Native American, Mayan, colonial America, medieval era, Indian, Oriental, Mediterranean, and other cultures are all represented here.  Unlike other books, Griffin doesn’t just give you a list and move on.  Each chapter gives you a lesson in the culture and history of herbal use of the region, along with the author’s personal experiences of learning and working with the herbs.  In addition, the big pay off for me…recipes!  For instance, want to know how to make a colonial Thanksgiving turkey, pesto genovese, or paneer?  Then buy this book!  Now, not only can I justify my love of Indian food because of its herbal health benefits, I can try making some of my favorite dishes!
The second section of “Mother Nature’s Herbal” is “Grow and Use Your Own Herbs”.  Not being the hands in the earth kind of gal, this part wasn’t nearly as exciting.  That said, it was detailed, but written plainly enough, that even a indoors gal like myself could clearly understand how to grow a garden.  Griffin covers just about anything you may want to know: how to grow your herbs organically, landscape plans for themed herb gardens, using old roses, and so much more.
After that, she advises you on what to do with your herbal harvests, such as herb vinegars, no salt herbal blends, teas, and again, much more.  There is also a section devoted to the use of essential oils and flower essences that you may make out of your harvest.  There’s even a growing guide, nutrient guide, and purchasing guide in the appendices.
“Mother Nature’s Herbal” is a fabulous resource, whether you’re a gardener, or just someone who likes to learn more about the food you eat.

Konichiwa Bitches

One of my all time favorite things is a musician with nothing to lose. That’s when things get interesting. Are they going to fade into obscurity? Will they sell out, perhaps more than they already had? Or, when no one seems to give a crap about what they do, will they let loose? The first two appeal to my catty nature, but the third is my favorite. The third brought us the Rick Rubin produced Johnny Cash, LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”, and the topic of this blog, the latest Robyn cd.

For those of you unfamiliar with Robyn, she’s the bleached out Swedish chick who had moderate success in the 90s with the song “Show Me Love”, and then, she was gone. Now I don’t know the details, but her new album is on an independent label, that she started, which says to me, no one would touch her. I hope this album has her laughing all the way to the bank. So, you’re a failed Swedish dance star, how to you open up your new album? Please view the video below, it’s only about a minute long and it is exactly how this album begins.

Oh yeah, Robyn brings it, as the kids say. What does the new album sound like? Imagine the very best of 80s synth pop, with the edge of hip hop, performed by a petite Swedish woman. It’s that messed up awesome and more! On the 80s edge, she takes all the 80s pop clichés and makes them classic. Complete with 80s style music videos, several songs have a very Cyndi Lauperish vibe to them, and yes, even a spoken word break down in the middle of the love song. It’s all there, but done with a sense of intelligence that doesn’t make them corny, just really good.

How does that get a hip hop edge, you ask? Well, first she’s got her patented 80s “white girl rap” called “Konichiwa Bitches”. This out JJ Fads JJ Fad! It buries “Fergilious”. You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Also, she takes techo pop and laces it with aggressive lyrics, my favorite example is the song “Handle Me”. Imagine a delicate female vocal in a pop song use the phrase “But you’re a selfish narcissistic psycho freaking bootlicking nazi creep.” Now you begin to understand the glory that is Robyn.

Here is one of my favorite songs “Be Mine”. It sounds a little like Cyndi Lauper, has the total 80s style video, and yes, the patented spoken word section. Enjoy!

Malaysia is Back Baby!

Yep, I’m sidelining the “me agreeing with Billy Graham” blog again!  That’s because there is some tentatively exciting news out of Malaysia!  Yes, it’s back to Malaysia!  Those of you who haven’t been reading my blog for very long may not realize that almost a year ago I wrote a lengthy blog, called “The Malaysian Conundrum”, which detailed how Lina Joy, a Malay Muslim wasn’t allowed to officially convert from Islam to Christianity.  Take a minute to read it and refresh yourself on the topic.  I’ll wait.
Back?  Good!  Hold onto your hats folks because on May 8, 2008 a Malaysian religious court granted a woman’s wish to formally renounce Islam!  So, how did Siti Fatimah get so lucky?  It might have helped that she wasn’t originally a Muslim.  She converted to Islam so she could marry her Muslim boyfriend, because in Malaysia non-Muslims must convert to Islam before they are allowed to legally marry a Muslim.  Their marriage ended in 2006, and she requested to have her conversion annulled saying that she had only converted for marriage and had never been an actual practicing Muslim.
And it worked!  “It’s a landmark case”, the attorney who represented Fatimah is quoted telling Reuters.UK.  Unfortunately, Reuters explains that Islamic affairs are governed at state level, so the ruling does not necessarily set a precedent for sharia courts in Malaysia’s other states.  The Penang religious council has already signaled that it is likely to appeal the ruling.
That’s why I had to write about this so quickly…the victory may be short lived.

The Not So Big News Out of Turkey

I was planning on posting a wonderful blog about me and Rev. Billy Graham actually agreeing on something, but that will have to wait because BIG NEWS is coming out of Turkey.  At least it seemed like big news when I got the under one minute sum up on BBC World News yesterday morning.  Then I made the mistake of looking into it a little more and I have to say…I’m unimpressed.
The big news is that Turkey’s parliament has approved a proposal to amend Article 301 of the Turkish penal code.  This was been lauded as a huge step to free speech reform, and that’s what Turkey wants us all to think.  Unfortunately for them, some of us will actually take the time to read about it on websites such as Aljazeera.Net.  Curse us pesky news readers.  Let’s break it down, shall we?
Article 301, according to the folks at Wikipedia.Org, covers:
A person who publicly denigrates Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.
A person who publicly denigrates the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security organizations shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.
In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.
Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.
(For those of you like me that were going, what the heck does denigrates mean, it’s like defaming, bashing, bad mouthing, etc.)
Now it’s nice that “Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime”, but who decides the difference between criticism and bashing?  Obviously many scholars and journalists have been hauled into court thanks to Article 301.  Many people have been critical of Article 301, including the folks at the European Union.
Yes, Turkey would love to reap the benefits of EU membership and has been doing the dance to become a full member since 2005.  One of the things that would prove a commitment to political reform would be easing restrictions on free speech.  So, the heavens opened up and an amendment was born.  This is sure to have a huge impact on things, right?  I mean, the EU isn’t going to be impressed by some half-assed gesture, are they?  Apparently Turkey thinks they will because the amendment changes very little.
After everything is said and done it will be a crime to insult the Turkish nation, rather than Turkishness (again, what’s an insult and what’s criticism, and for that matter, what is Turkishness verses the Turkish nation) and the maximum sentence will drop from three years to two.  And let’s not forget that the amendment has to be approved by the president before it can go into effect.
Suddenly the landmark amendment for free speech reform in Turkey seems pretty much like business as usual.