Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Our Advice for 2006: Enter Whining!

At left, Jose Bove, French farmer and eco warrior. Love him or hate him, he personfies this week's EuroQuest theme. Yes, this week's show is one major rant after another. From GMO food to the Nanny State to ad campaigns to make Germans more pleasant to one another (a thankless task), we advise you to enter the New Year scowling. Erm....Enjoy!

Segment 1 Mutant Maize

Jose Bove is the French cheese farmer who gained notoriety in 1999 when he and others destroyed a McDonald’s restaurant in France. Why? For him, McDonalds is a hated symbol of the industrialization of food production. Bove has also been arrested for destroying genetically modified, or GM, crops, has since become an international leader of the anti-corporate globalization movement. And he’s something of a folk hero in France where, nowhere in the world is there as much open resistance towards Genetically Modified food. And yet, and yet… Some farmers have started growing GMO corn on the quiet. This report from John Laurenson in the south of France in a segment called Mutant Maize.…

4:01 Segment 2 Where Have All The Protests Gone?

Remember the 60s? Remember the heady days of the anti-globalization protests that gave people like Jose Bove a platform? Just cast your mind back to the situation in Seattle six years ago, where riots made world headlines. The major international summits are still going on but the rioting protestors seem to more or less dissipate? So what has happened to all that emotion - that so recently mobilized tens of thousands of protestors? Where has, for example, the anti-globalization movement gone? Pieternel Gruppen investigates, speaking first with British economist and former protestor Noreena Hertz.

3:42 Segment 3 The “Nanny” State

They call Britain the Nanny State, but is that true? Maggie Ayre discusses…

4:13 Segment 4 Du Bist Deutschland

As we all know, national stereotypes abound. French are often seen as arrogant snobs, Americans as overweight bumpkins or grinning optimists. Germans, on the other hand, are often viewed as stiff, dour, and very serious. It’s a stereotype so pervasive that even many Germans believe they could use a change of attitude. An ad campaign has been running on German TV lately to get people to lighten up, stop complaining and to stop and smell the roses. And it may be working, as Kyle James reports from Berlin.

4:27 Segment 5 Norwegian Hypochondriacs

When you have a rumble in your stomach, do you conclude it must be stomach cancer? Or if your heart beats fast, you are suffering a heart attack? Then you could be a hypochondriac. It might be a much-ridiculed condition, but in Norway it is being taken very seriously indeed. There, perfectly healthy people who believe they are very ill, can be referred by their GP to what is believed to be the world’s only hypochondria clinic in the coastal city of Bergen. Lars Bevanger went along to find out how to be cured for what you haven’t got.

Click here for a high quality mp3 of this week's show.


At 3:57 AM, Anonymous Stefan said...

Dear Jonathan,

I usually really dig your show. In fact, I enjoyed this one just as much as most times. However, I am surprised by the association you make between José Bové and his courageous protesting to whining. It's simply not right and, in my humble opinion, a lapse of professional judgement on your part - or whoever is responsible for letting this happen. The matters and concerns taken on by the anti-GMO protesters is a deadly serious matter in case you hadn't really noticed. To associate their courage to whining is like associating Martin Luther-King's heartfelt protesting and rethoric against segregation during the 1960s as cry baby expatiations.

If anything, you might need to grow up yourself just a bit and avoid using the media which you have a privilege to handle to your own taste, in ways which leave lasting, negative impressions on the listeners. GMOs are bad. Science is far from being safe and full proof. Let's try and bring some accountability to scientists in our society, instead of glorifying their trade and letting them freely manipulate nature for the benefit of corporations and the men and women who profit from them.

Sorry, I just had to say it! Otherwise, keep up the great, great work. I love your show.

Stefan, from Montreal

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Hello Stefan,

First of all, thanks for your comments.
Now, the "whining" part isn't so much a value judgement about any of the show's comments as much as it was meant to be cheeky and pithy. As a regular listener, you know this to be my style. In fact, I actually appreciate what Bove is trying to do (although I can't really defend driving a tractor into a McDonalds). Also, did it ever occur to you that whining is a good thing?

As for applying my taste to the program contents, well, that's really unavoidable.

Hope you keep listening anyway.


At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Stefan said...

Hi Jonathan,

I'm grateful you answered. Thanks for the effort!

Sorry for coming across harshly; the issues of genetically modified foods just pull straight at my gut! The fact that we cannot keep effective control on the matter and on its proliferation, makes it that sometimes, I believe, you just have to be careful about how you approach the subject your dealing with. Let's not make jokes about the Spanish inquisition for example (pun). Even if not set out to be a value judgement, the association between José Bové and whining nonetheless can remain in people's minds.

I just feel many of us take matters too lighlty in such contemporary times as ours, where information is absorbed like slices of pepperoni pizza.

My rantings set aside, I want you to know that I am an admirer of your talent and the joyful energy of your show and will be one to listen for many, many months to come.

Again, nothing personal.

Lastly, whining: a good thing? Hmm... well I'm not sure I agree with you there! But then again, I don't have the answer to everything. I just speak my mind!


At 11:18 PM, Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

JG's style is a compelling one.

Stefan, while you're on it, perhaps you can tell us what you're doing to assist in the prevention of GMO foods' spread? I mean, if you feel that strongly about it...

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...


I came away from your posting with something bothering for me weeks.
I finally figured out what it was. You seemed very sure that your way of thinking is the right way of thinking.
I, on the other had, almost never have certainty about anything. But I am sure of one thing: people who are 100% sure that they are right are usually wrong.
They are wrong because they have closed themselves to other voices and ideas and, very often, have no sense of humor.
This blog is open to everyone and every opinion and shade of meaning. No one has the right shut someone else up. Everyone has the right to say what they think so long as it does not result in personal insult.
These are rules of this blog and I must insist that you abide by them.
I hope you keep listening. I hope you keep posting dissent. But never try to shut me or anyone else up and, for god's sake, lighten up!

At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Stefan said...

Good man Jonathan,

Good grief!

I'm sorry my posting has bothered you that much. I would like you to know that I was aware of the obvious potential backlash a direct opinion posted on your blog might return my way, but not to the point of already getting threatened with censorship! I rarely ever post comments on any blog whatsoever simply because of time constraints and reasons of personal interest.

I posted on yours because I sincerely believe that (yes Adam Daniel Mezei) your style is compelling, and yes, you treat subject matters with superbly enticing humor and from often genuinely interesting perspectives. Themes such as the ones you offer weekly round up great stories just as good sheepdogs carry their herds to greener pastures. They are fun, they are fresh, and they are worth it.

However, what is the use of a virtual public arena – the Euroblog - if you won’t allow someone to voice his heartfelt concern regarding an issue you may present or bring in a way that may sometimes (not always) have important consequences on other people’s views? I am one who believes that media is not a right, but a privilege. The role it plays in certain nations’ constitutional make up is actually essential to keeping their entire social-political structure in place. Responsibility comes with media. I could go on forever listing present media sources which recklessly use their privilege such as to alter public opinion in ways which are beneficial to themselves or their sponsors or other interested parties. The TV industry is in a mess. In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a film by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O. Briain on the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of elected Venezuelan Hugo Chavez and of his reinstatement by the people of Venezuela, media, still held in the old guards’ hand, is shown at its worst: the voice of a ruling elite in power and at the helm of national control, unwilling to accommodate the wish of the mass and downtrodden, and a complete farce in the name of objectivity.

Again, the point made here is that in my opinion, media is a privilege. You are light years away from any comparison to such media monstrosity as that of Venezuela’s privately owned Venevisión. Radio Netherlands is a bastion of fantastic quality reporting and of thoughtful programs. I actually listen to RNW more than I do any other radio news source – even my own country’s. It appears to understand and apply objectivity almost better than any other source I have come across.

What I am trying to say is this: I am sorry you feel I have overstepped my bounds. Knowing how positive and full of great energy you are (that, only though listening to your show!), you may consider my comments inappropriate for the Euroquest style; it is your show and you can weed me out as easy as 1-2-3!!! But my reaching out to you was authentic. However clumsily I may have done so, I only wanted to ask “please, do be careful about how you portray certain people who put their lives on the line to try and protect interests which are no laughing matters.” José Bové is putting himself completely at risk in order that we and our children may not end up discovering one day that they have irreparable biological damage done to our bodies. He faces prison, public scorn, and surely financial strain on a permanent basis. This isn’t a joke. To have him called a whiner just offended me. Most people consider whining to be a fault – not a trait of quality. I may be wrong. You remain the judge of that.

I certainly admit that my comments made to the fact of your ‘growing up’ were too much. I had no right to say that, and I sometimes get hot headed to the point of pushing a little too hard. It will never happen again. I apologize. The other comments are my own, and yes it’s all my opinion. 100%. I can’t apologize for it, unless you can really help me see the ways in which I am so wrong. But I doubt you’ll have time for that :-)

Lastly, don’t worry about me posting lengthy comments. I won’t bog your blog! Unlike what you suggest, I am not always sure about everything I do or say and I, while I am sometimes wrong, I am also sometimes right. If you feel I’m wrong here, that’s your prerogative.

I was the victim of such humor on Sunday that I nearly fainted with laughter with friends and family. No need to misconstrue! I ain’t no Scrooge-like type or other kind of weirdo!

To Adam Daniel Mezei,

I do what I can. I eat fresh, organic foods. I buy bio. I’m a grain of sand. I do a grain of sand’s worth.

All the best to you for 2006!


At 7:11 PM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Stefan, if you thought my last posting was meant to shut you up, then you really will never get it.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous stefan said...


Thanks for the opportunity to freely state my mind on Euroblog. Again, continued success with the show!

At 1:05 AM, Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

I'm going to play the third part mediator on this one, seeing as there are three of us here participating on this one.

Hats off to Stefan for his penultimate riposte. I think it was masterfully crafted, and the points were saliently delivered.

I would, however, caution that you first employ these methods, as opposed to making quasi ad hominem attacks on Mr. Groubert's credentials -- think about how much more amenable the situation may have been had you posed your views about Mr. Bove's activism in a somewhat less adversarial style. Again, this is merely an idea, but one which I think (I guess b/c I'm stating it?) valid.

One more thing...are you of the school of thought that confrontation necessarily brings some sort of response? I mean, if you wanted to get a response from the moderator, perhaps you could have asked him. Just a suggestion, and merely adding my $0.02.

Forgive me...I've been busy researching my family history, and haven't listened, methinks, at least to the past couple of shows...which I hope to resolve as soon as I get on a jetplane back for North America. I'll have my trusty mp3 player with me then -- too much info, I know.

JG, I don't know if the aspect of 'shutting up' or 'shutteed up' is really of critical import here. Personally, I feel concentrating on that as opposed to the issues is counterproductive to good argumentation/debate.

Seconded on your idea about people who consider themselves 100% right are generally wrong...

Stefan -- I'd have to agree with JG here...it's only a blog, brother. Not something to get so worked up over...though I do admire your verve and your activism on an issue most of us are asleep at the wheel over.

And -- la piece de la resistance -- I haven't even heard the show as yet. How 'bout them apples?

From Prague, ADM

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Hana said...

What a debate here!

As I don't like to take sides, I will only say this much to the :

Sometimes, it is needed to demonstrate one's opinion with a little more force, so that this opinion is noticed - like the part with the live aid - this was one big effort from all the participants and the people. I am proud I could have added my name on the list as well. When people accuse each other or hit for the forbidden parts of the bodies in the fight, it always leads to improper reactions.

However, there are other things I wanted to talk about here:

First of all, I find the piece about the new law in Britain interesting. I think that maybe it is too much in certain aspects though. Yet, on the other hand, prevention is better then cure.

Also, I thought that the point mentioned with the Norwegian Hypochondriacs resulting from a rich economy, thus people creating problems for themselves and non-existent health problems, is really a true one.

The mankind is just never can't be pleased.

Thank you for the show again Jonathan, I always enjoy listening to it!

And Happy New Year to you too!

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous stefan said...


It's soothing that you've opted for clemency in your appreciation of my bog in the blog. Thanks for a well calibrated opinion.

If you’ll allow, there is something of substantial importance to be highlighted once again at this point. I have repeatedly mentioned how much I admire JG’s style and ability. I wasn’t kidding when writing it, so I’m still hoping that it will somehow stick for good in spite of the ad hominem reference made in your comment. If your younger sister, in a fit of anger, tells you that you should “grow up for God’s sake” or that you are having some serious lapse of reason, ‘cause you felt like making jokes about the neighborhood demonstration on GMOs, it might get you cranky for dinner, and you may want to stay on the phone and block it on purpose for an hour or two when she wants to make a call just to tick her off for being so 'ad hominemy'. However, if all is well with you, you could very well wake up the following day and ask your sis to help you out get a present for your good ol’ mom, with yesterday’s itchy frictions well evaporated into thin air. Why? Because we’re allowed to feel strongly about certain things. There's really no need for admonishing someone's sincere concerns. Of course, it's everyone's choice to do so.

We are a very sensitive bunch, us guys and gals of the contemporary world. We’re all for stimulation, apparently, with the thousands of varied, zesty neighborhood restaurants to choose from, but we hardly speak to the people surrounding us on our 3rd floor condo, except for the occasional hello or good day.

We need to be more like family. If I say something that rubs against the grain of someone’s mettle, that person should be able to evaluate what I am trying to say, and take it as a given that I’m not by default some hollow detractor out for some useless trouble. We’re so afraid of speaking in ways contrary to the manners of those in the Elysian, against their opinions and decisions, that we end up having a press room at the White House that embodies a sense of submissiveness that is a real insult to the intellect.

This having been said, I do understand what you are saying to me. I was blunt, direct, and arrogant; the kind of stuff that would get me a permanent, one way ticket outside of the White House press rooms. I also apologised for my personal attack (no more chances of ever getting on JG's good side - ever). But I did act out of genuine concern. I can’t lighten up when it comes to Frankenstein food, even if this is ‘just a blog’ as both you and JG stress. I am utterly concerned about it, and I don’t see it as just a light subject matter to juggle around, especially when those who have sacrificed their safety for its stoppage are shown as being arbitrary. You wanna make jokes? Let’s go for a beer and race the streets at 3AM, anywhere you want, for some belly wrenching laughs on how I look on all fours when I’m drunk. Okay, maybe that’s an easy laugh and I won’t deserve the accolades of Harvard Porcillians for it. But at least I’ll be glad I stated my mind when someone called José Bové a cry baby.

JG has power. He represents the media, and I dear say not any kind of media, but in fact the one I trust; the one that is good and which tries to deliver thought provoking information. I cherish the existence of Euroquest, as part of the RNW gamut. I think I’ve made that point. But let us not forget that media is serious business even when it is meant to be funny or light hearted.

In 1898, William Randall Hearst, the illustrious media magnate, through his New York Journal , as well as Joseph Pulitzer in his New York World magazine published a front page headlining that the Maine , a US Navy warship, had been the target of Spanish attacks when its flanks exploded and it sunk off the coast of Cuba. Let me tell you, there was certainly nothing funny about that. The call led instantly to the Spanish-American War. In 1950, the army commission assigned to study the event officially declared that the explosion of the Maine had been due to a boiler malfunction inside the ship.

Yes, media has mind boggling power. Unfortunately for our present day society, it does not seem to be subject to the more or less effective system of ‘Checks and Balances’ exercised on the Judicial, Executive and Legislative branches of government instated by the Americans over three centuries ago. It grew as an offshoot of the great project for society, quickly recognized as a behemoth in terms of effect and influence, but ultimately escaping the security breaker system.

I try not to wander off the main subject, but it’s hard as I’d have so much I like to share. But I have to quit the rambling and answer to you: I do think that yes, it is sometimes important to challenge people with a dull hit. It wakes them. But I am not an advocate of hurting people’s feelings unnecessarily or disproportionately. I do believe that it is sometimes necessary to hit for attention. Political correctness, or even soft spoken dissent, appears to be a time bomb. Before we’ll know it, those in political and financial/business power will have hurt the world for good, and there’ll be no turning back. After that, if people want to judge me for the hit, its their thing. I like JG very much, even if he now thinks me an irrecoverable goon, but I am ready to take his hit if it means a possible instilment of concern regarding the very ghastly world of GMOs. Did I say ghastly? You bet I did.

If you haven’t listened to the show yet, well let me tell you, it’s super, as always. And Bové is not particularly portrayed as some overtly silly man in the segment. All I’m concerned with is the headline.

Have a pleasant return home!


At 10:15 PM, Anonymous stefan said...

For the record, that was 'William Randolph Hearst', not Randall. Apologies.


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