The Story of the Weeping Camel

The Story of the Weeping CamelWe stumbled across this gem last night on the Documentary Channel, and I've got to say it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. Here are the Wikipedia and IMDB pages.

Maybe it's because we're shepherds ourselves, and heathen shepherds at that, that we identified with these folks. In fact, I had to think about how to categorize this post - it could just as easily have been placed in my Asatru category as in Agriculture.

The story is simple: it's spring, and the sheep, goats and camels are giving birth. One first time camel mom has a terrible labor, and ends up rejecting her calf, a white male. We've has this happen with our sheep, and we usually end up with a bottle baby like Little Mac. But yurts are smaller than farmhouses, and camels, even newborns, are way too big to bring inside. So the family has a dilemma. Losing the colt is an unappealing economic loss, but despite their best efforts, momma camel is having nothing to do with it.

They get a hold of the local lamas, who come out and do a ritual trying to get the land spirits to help calm the momma camel. It doesn't work. So they send their two boys to the nearest town to get out the "big guns" - a musician who will do a "hoos" ritual to bond mother and calf.

In the Washington Post review, the film makers recounted the run up:

Falorni and Davaa admitted that they asked the family whether they were absolutely sure the ritual would work. "They said, 'Yeah, it always works,'" Falorni recalled with a smile. "'It might take half an hour, it might take two days, but it always works.'"

And it worked - the momma camel is so moved by the music that she weeps, and accepts her baby. Within minutes, mind you. I have never seen a camelid cry - Hel, I'd never seen a sheep or a cow or a goat cry! Now I have.

We've worked with ewes who rejected their newborn lambs for weeks to no avail. Other shepherds around here have mostly the same experience - it's often easier to get another ewe to adopt a rejected lamb than it is to get it's mother to accept it. But this musical ritual did it in 30 minutes. Amazing.

You gotta see this film - good for the whole family.

20:18 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Newspapers, GOP call for congressman to resign

This adds a whole new, realistic dimension to the term "Congress critters" ...

A photo of Rep. David Wu wearing a tiger costume and other unusual revelations about his mental health are increasing pressure on the seven-term Oregon Democrat to step down.

(link) [Yahoo!News]

22:48 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Farm living could arm kids against asthma

This confirms something everybody who lives out here has known for a long time. Personally, I think the study probably underestimates the benefits to everyone, not just kids, of exposure to the natural world.

Kids who grow up on traditional farms are 30% to 50% less likely than other children to develop asthma, a new study shows. But it's not the fresh country air.

(link) [USA Today]

07:53 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

The Power of Free Association

A left libertarian analysis of unions and the labor movement.

The right of workers to band together to improve their bargaining position relative to employers is a straightforward implication of freedom of association, and the sort of voluntary association that results is the beating heart of the classical liberal vision of civil society. I unreservedly endorse what I'll call the "unionism of free association". My difficulty in coming out wholeheartedly for private-sector unions as they now exist is that they are, by and large, creatures of objectionable statutes which have badly warped the labour-capital power dynamic that would exist under the unionism of free association.

(link) [The Economist]

07:49 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

How Rahm Emanuel Made $18.5 Million In Investment Banking Without Any Experience

We have the best government money can buy - and it has.

Before Rahm Emanuel left the Clinton White House and joined a Chicago investment banking firm in 1999, his work experience had been limited to politics, primarily as a fundraiser and strategizer. He had zero business experience or training. Yet after a 2 1/2-year stint as an investment banker, he made $18.5 million, putting him as one of the top earners in the industry.

(link) [Advance Indiana]

22:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Monopoly, Milton Friedman’s Way

Life imitates game ...

Monopoly was taken seriously in Shorey House at the University of Chicago in the late 1970s. A room was set aside as “The Monopoly Room.” But in that post-Vietnam, pre-Reagan era, all assumptions were questioned and a game our parents played was no exception. Rules were meant to be altered. The house even convened a “constitution convention” to change the official rules of the game to allow a person to build a hotel on a property without first having to own four houses.

(link) [New York Times]

13:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

MGM Grand No Longer Charging To Get A Non-Smoking Room

This one really deserved an irony meter graphic, but it exploded when I tried to attach it. It was beyond pegged by a country mile. Why? Here's how the MGM Grand explained their change in policy:

Some have accused our Company of encouraging unhealthy behavior through this policy. That was not our intent. We regret if this policy sent the wrong message to anyone. MGM Resorts International encourages healthy living practices for its guests and employees.

Mind you, this is in "Sin City" - prostitution is legal, gambling and drinking are encouraged, if not required. Banquets are laid out 24 hours a day, and food is served in portions practically guaranteed to turn an anorexic morbidly obese. Any manner of vice ever invented by humanity is available here, if not within the hotel itself then certainly a within a short walk. If the MGM Grand really wanted to encourage "healthy living practices" they'd have to tear themselves down and revert to desert, where no sane human wants to live in any case...

A couple weeks ago, we told you about how the MGM Grand Las Vegas had begun charging $20 per night to guarantee non-smoking rooms to guests. That didn't go over well with the general public and now the resort tells Consumerist that it's rescinded the policy.

(link) [The Consumerist]

12:57 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Sheep in the News: Sheep as smart as humans

Don't believe it? Come on over at feeding time ...

A Cambridge Uni prof has provocatively suggested that sheep aren't actually as thick as a Fair Isle woollen sweater, and can match humans in the tricky task of identifying food amid a confusion of buckets.

(link) [The Register]

12:45 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

India Faces a Linguistic Truth: English Spoken Here

While my interest in language and linguistics attracted me to this article, what astonished me was the description of the sprouting of a new religious motif:

Chandra Bhan Prasad has built a temple to the Goddess English in an impoverished village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
In Mr. Prasad’s temple, there is an idol in robes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Very soon, Mr. Prasad said, he would encourage young Dalit couples to include a ritual in their wedding ceremony in which they would sign the letters A, B, C and D on a piece of a paper. “That would be a promise they make that they will teach their children English,” he said.

I get the distinct impression that Mr. Prasad is not doing this because he believes (in a religious sense) in the "Goddess English" - he's doing it more for nationalistic and cultural reasons:

He also plans to adopt an Islamic tradition and fix a loudspeaker in the temple from which a recorded voice would chant the English alphabet, from A to Z , every day at 5 a.m. All these are just symbolic gestures, he said, and the best he can do in the absence of genuine political support for making English the national language.

I think he may be surprised: over time, in a country like India, with a strong polytheistic tradition, if Mr. Prasad's plan works, and Goddess English worshipers have fulfilled their vows, taught their children the English language and improved their socioeconomic status as a result, she, and not Prasad, will get the credit. The Goddess English will have taken her place alongside Krishna and Shiva in the local pantheon. And will be no less real than they are.

Heathen theology can be a bit muddled at times by things like this, but if you step back and and take a long look, you'll realize that the Goddess English exists now, and has always existed. It's a new name, granted, but the power of language (and writing) has always been a spiritual power - Prasad did not so much create a goddess as he recognized one and gave her an new name and new rituals, to empower his folk.

And that distills the essence of heathenry about as well as anything I've run across.

English is the de facto national language of India. It is a bitter truth. Many Indians would say that India’s national language is Hindi. They would say it with pride if they are from the north and with a good-natured grouse if they are from the south. But this is a misconception. The fact is that, according to the Indian Constitution, the country does not have a national language.

(link) [New York Times]

23:12 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Good question ...

Financial crooks brought down the world's economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them

(link) [Rolling Stone]

22:40 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

What's Blocking Innovation in America?

Hail! Amen! And any other shout of affirmation I can send out! This is the most spot on analysis of our "intellectual property" law problems that I've read in ages - but enough from here. Go to Groklaw and read the whole thing.

The White House is asking us to give them ideas on what is blocking innovation in America. I thought I'd give them an honest answer. Here it is: Current intellectual property laws are blocking innovation.

(link) [Groklaw]

20:27 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Feeding TNT to sheep

Less bang for the baa ...

Stateside boffins are diligently getting a small number of laboratory sheep to eat as much TNT as possible. One should point out straight away that this will not - or ought not to, anyway - involve any sheep then exploding in a sequence of fearful fleecy detonations and spattering the landscape with woolly fluff and raw mutton. This is not some kind of crazed attempt to create instant-self-barbecuing lamb or similar. In fact it seems that the guts of a sheep, capable of digesting various things which would prove fatal to lesser species such as cows or humans, can break down trinitrotoluenes - TNT - into harmless residues without any ill effects on the animal.

(link) [The Register]

20:21 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

One-Eyed Gods and One-Armed Gods

Archetypes, like gods, never really die... but which is which? And does it matter?

True Grit, the surprise hit from the Coen brothers, has captivated audiences and the Academy with its perfect balance of earnestness, humor, and Wild West derring-do. There is a dimension to the film that has not yet been pointed out, however. True Grit's main characters, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) closely parallel two ancient Indo-European conceptions of justice represented by the one-eyed sovereign (wild, unreliable, ruling through bravado) and the one-handed sovereign (solemn, proper, ruling by the letter of the law).

(link) [Slate]

21:00 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Rumsfeld To Get 'Defender Of The Constitution' Award At CPAC

irony meter

Here's something Left and Right can agree on: the irony meter's pegged!

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will receive the "Defender of the Constitution" award at CPAC this year.

(link) [Talking Points Memo]

20:55 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Catholic Church approves confession app

iConfess... from a long line of tat sold by the most materialistic religion on Midgard.

As the Washington Post's On Faith blog reported yesterday, an iPhone app designed to walk users through the sacrament of confession has received an official nod from a Catholic bishop in Indiana.

(link) [Washington Post]

22:11 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link