Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blog #17 The Great Pre-Christmas Day Massacre

While I was posting my blog #16 last Saturday morning, Fake Steve Jobs was sending us a pre-Christmas Day present of sharp satire. A series of posts which evidently had many tech tongues wagging according to the listings on Blogrunner. Go to any one of the recent Secret Diary of the Fake Steve Jobs posts. At the bottom you’ll see the word LABELS and in orange, FSJ SHUTDOWN DRAMA. Click that orange legend, and when the complete thread appears, begin reading it from the bottom post, “I’m Weighing an Offer from Apple.” When you finish that one scoot up to the next one, “So Now Apple is all Pissed Off,” and so on up to the top, “Breakfast with an Apple Lawyer.” This gathers the entire thread, and before reading any further here you should start from the bottom post and read up.

The posts begin quite offhandedly with the cryptic line, “I’m weighing an offer from Apple.” This post is illustrated by a cartoon like drawing of an overweight racketeer-looking type flashing mucho greenbacks. This was posted at 4:28 pacific time, which would be 7:28 EST(since FSJ lives in the Boston area). The next post, time 7:40 am PST was titled “So Now Apple is All Pissed Off.” This post was in the Fake Steve persona. But the next post, Thanks for your Support, was disquieting. What was disarming about it was that it was delivered not in the persona of the fake Steve but in the voice of Dan Lyons. I think this is what snookered in people, who were used to the satire on fake Steve’s blog being in the voice of Fake Steve, not Dan. Particularly piercing was the supposed list of Lyon’s assets that Apple’s lawyers had purportedly sent him, implying that they might be in imminent danger of being appropriated. Scott Carp in Publishing 2.0 had one of the more perceptive of the early comments. He began it by saying, “I can’t be 100% certain, but I’ll wager that Dan Lyons, AKA Fake Steve Jobs, is staging what, if it does turn out to be fake, one of the most brilliant bits of satire since A Modest Proposal.”

Well, comparing it to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” may be stretching things a wee bit, but the series of posts did add layer upon layer of subterfuge. In Thanks for Your Support FSJ further engages our sympathies with that illustration lined in hospital green of a person on life support, and all of that bs about how he really loves Apple as a company, etc. Then he opened it up for comments, and as Carp pointed out, one comment gave the game away. “Alright commentards, you all are a huge bunch of idiots, fools, and hypocrites. This is so obviously fake. Don’t you get it??? Jesus people, everything on this blog has been a parody, a satire, a joke. What evidence do you have that this is real? None.”

The “I’m feeling a little bit better now” post, further heightened the drama by supposedly revealing what Apple was upset about. But it was the final post, Breakfast with an Apple lawyer, which brought the whole thing to a head. First he set the scene in Lyons voice, with the lawyer explaining that everyone at Apple really admired his blog, and they thought he should take the next step in his life, which was to discontinue the blog and move on to other things. And the Apple lawyer offered two hundred-and-fifty thousand dollars to shut down FSJ’s blog.

FSJ, “I'm like, Dude, do you realize that guys like Nick Ciarelli don't write their blogs because they want to hurt you, they write their blogs because they love Apple? And do you not also realize that you could put a lot of this stuff to rest simply by announcing product roadmaps instead of living under the cone of silence and locking yourselves down like some kind of weird Scientology cult and threatening to ruin people who write about you?” And so it went, Lyons giving a much needed dressing down to the Apple lawyer over their running Nick Ciarelli’s Think Secret out of business. I think most of us were nodding our heads in agreement every step of the way as we read that dressing down.

FSJ even got to the heart of Apple as a company, quoting the famous Think Different ad campaign. “But you guys put Martin Luther King Jr. in your ads. And John Lennon. You had Gandhi in your ads. Gandhi, dude. Think about that. Think about what Gandhi did in his life, what he stood for, the price he paid for freedom of expression. You drag out a symbol like that, it's a pretty loaded reference, isn't it? It's a pretty powerful metaphor. I mean Gandhi is not just some celebrity dipshit singer like John Mayer. He's not some guy you'd trot out just to flog a product. You drop the G-bomb and you're trying to say something about the kind of company you aspire to be. But now you're paying off reporters to stop writing about you? What the fuck has happened to you guys?”

The so-called Apple lawyer built up his offering until it reached half a million which was the straw incurring FSJ’s final wrath. Then the post ends with this paragraph, “By then he'd already put on his coat and picked up his briefcase and was on his way out the door. After he was gone I called Tony Clifton and told him what happened and he's like, Well, my friend, you really screwed the pooch on this one. A half million? And you turned it down? Well, good for you, you dumb prick. It's like I always say – some people deserve to be poor. Merry Christmas, moron.”

However, for a most complete, unblinking view of the man behind the FSJ curtain, you need wander no further than this URL:

Clicking on the above URL brings up a report written by Daniel Eran Dilger and published by RoughlyDrafted Magazine which takes a more sinister tone to the so-called attempted Apple FSJ legal shutdown. The piece was entitled Daniel Lyons Cries Wolf: The Real Bill Gates Behind the Fake Steve Jobs. It goes on to report that “When the New York Times fingered Lyon as the writer of FSJ, it was revealed that his wit wasn’t exactly splashed around equally. “Mr. Lyons clearly used the Fake Steve persona to further some of his own interests and positions,” the Times noted. “For example, articles in other business publications and their journalists were a frequent target of criticism from Fake Steve, while Forbes got off comparatively easy.” The subjects Lyons cast the most derision upon are targets of Bill Gates: Linux, Google, Apple, and particularly the personality of Steve Jobs. That’s no coincidence.”

And the article goes on to say, “The most obvious example was Lyons’ unwavering message about the dangers of Linux, the crackpots behind open source, and the safety of clinging to Microsoft. While Lyons now downplays the documented fact that he spent years ‘on message’ as a Linux detractor, he was actually one of the primary proponents of SCO in its insane legal circus threatening to sue any company that used Linux.”

“If you’re getting the impression FSJ is Bill Gates’ ventriloquist dummy, an attempt to counter the ‘frustrated businessman’ PC character played by John Hodgeman in Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ ads that Gates finds so irritating, a way to seed Microsoft-friendly ideas about the dangers of Linux in a post-SCO world, and a way to publicize Gates’ efforts to compare with Jobs at Apple, then perhaps it’s no coincidence that Gates had carefully prepared his opening line at All Things Digital to say “Well, first, I want to clarify: I’m not Fake Steve Jobs.” Was he trying to sound less uptight and wooden, or just calling attention to a blog carefully on-message with his talking points in an effort to extend FSJ’s fifteen minutes of fame so that he’d get his money’s worth?”

Prior to returning to Apple, Jobs actually described Microsoft by saying “they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their product […] I have no problem with their success, they’ve earned their success for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third rate products.” With straight talk like that the real Jobs makes FSJ sound like a emasculated ninny who confuses weak profanity for powerful phrasing. Is FSJ a parody of Jobs, or just a saccharine layer of frosting on top of the same old Microsoft-enamoured cake Lyons has long baked up at Forbes?

When asked about Lyons’ FSJ impersonation at All Things Digital earlier this year, Jobs said, “I have read a lot of the Fake Steve Jobs posts, and I think they’re funny. But I don’t know who it is.” In contrast, Gates’ parallel response to comments about the Get a Mac ads was bristled and irritated. The article further reported on the real Steve Jobs’ reaction to Apple’s legal team’s so-called crackdown on the FSJ blog. When asked about Lyons’ latest spoof series of being legally challenged by Apple, the real Steve Jobs responded directly to panicked users’ emails, “I think this is a joke, and I think you fell for it.”

Reading FSJ will never be quite the same again.
– • –
Postscript for Dan Lyons. LINDON, Utah, Dec. 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The SCO Group, Inc. ("SCO") (Nasdaq: SCOX - News), a leading provider of UNIX® software technology and mobile services, today announced that it received a Nasdaq Staff Determination letter on December 21, 2007 indicating that as a result of having filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel has determined to delist the company's securities from the Nasdaq Stock Market and will suspend trading of the securities effective at the open of business on Thursday, December 27, 2007.

Said Groklaw: Too bad they claimed so much more, because the end game isn't turning out to be so much fun for them. What is the moral of the story? I'd say it's that you can't stop Linux or FOSS with manufactured lawsuits. Oh. And don't sue IBM unless you actually have a case. I think we can all agree on that, after the lawyering we've been privileged to observe since 2003.
– • –
YouTube has released its 10 most memorable clips of 2007 according to the Technology Blog of the San Francisco Chronicle. One of the top videos was the pathetic “Leave Britney Alone” wail, made by Chris Crocker, and which has been played on television ad nauseum.

Then there was a video of a piano playing kitten. Nora, the piano playing cat captured more than ten million views and launched a CD. It also was the favorite of the S.F. Chronicle poster.

There was the Obama girl clip from a political parody group called Barely Political.

But in the opinion of Little Eddy the most remarkable video of the group is called the Battle at Kruger, and pits a pride of lions against a herd of water buffalo. Chasing the fleeing water buffalo the lions cut a young buffalo calf from the fleeing herd and ran him into the river. When a crocodile attempts to pull the water buffalo further into the river the lions manage to drag him back onto the shore and out of the crocodile’s reach. The herd of buffaloes returns to chase off the lions one by one and believe it or not, they manage to rescue the young calf, who rejoins the herd. It is one of the most dramatic videos I have ever seen. I guarantee if you have any interest in nature and in the drama of life itself, you will watch this video with utter fascination. A running commentary by the people in the car who were witnessing it as it happened helps explain parts of it.

Other videos include Chocolate Rain, an Original Song by Tay Zonday, The baby-faced 25-year-old with the low singing voice who became famous -- and featured on VH1.

A vide0 entitled “Me singing “what goes around” Justin Timberlake, by Esmee Denters, who recorded herself singing in her bedroom in Osterbeke, Netherlands, and who caught the attention of Justin Timberlake who signed her to a record deal, and appeared at the end of the video.

“Otters Holding Hands” is one video that is bound to stroke the hearts of both animal lovers and people lovers. You can view the scene for yourself at:

Others include “Paris in Jail: The Music Video, which is a parody of the famous heiress set to one of her songs:

Soulja Boy Tellem -How to Crank That - instructional video. The famous rapper teaches us clumsy fools how to dance like him.

And finally, UFO Haiti. Two flying saucers are captured flying over Haiti.
– • –
Okay you thought George Orwell was paranoid and a little creepy right? With his prophetic 1984. Well it didn’t happen in 1984, but its on the FBI’s agenda for 2007. What’s on the FBI’s agenda? you might ask. A biometric database of us all, that’s what.

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007; Page A01

CLARKSBURG, W. Va. -- The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.

"Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.

The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.

The use of biometric data is increasing throughout the government. For the past two years, the Defense Department has been storing in a database images of fingerprints, irises and faces of more than 1.5 million Iraqi and Afghan detainees, Iraqi citizens and foreigners who need access to U.S. military bases. The Pentagon also collects DNA samples from some Iraqi detainees, which are stored separately.

The Department of Homeland Security has been using iris scans at some airports to verify the identity of travelers who have passed background checks and who want to move through lines quickly. The department is also looking to apply iris-and face-recognition techniques to other programs. The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints.

"It's going to be an essential component of tracking," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society."

The full, scary story is at:
– • –
For any of you Mac users out there, and especially any of you who upgraded your system this Yuletide season, here is a list of add ons you might be interested in:

The list includes mostly free programs, Adium (multi-protocol chat client when iChat isn’t good enough, Caffeine (one-click sleep from the menubar); DiskInventoryX (see what files are taking up the most space on your harddrive); Firefox (when you need more than Safari, however Little Eddy prefers Mozilla’s OSX based Camino); Geek Tool (Desktop image overlay); Google Earth (mapping tools with built-in flight simulator); Growl (Universal system notifier); Hazel (not free: $22 license required – cleans up your stacks); InstantShot! (Screen capture utility with more features than Grab); iSquint (convert video files to an iPod -friendly format); KeePassX (Secure password database – not Leopard compatible but with a workaround); MagiCal (Menubar monthly calendar dropdown); Mozy (Online backup utilit, 2 GB space for free); Quicksilver (Application launcher and keyboard interface); TextExpander (not free: $30 license, free trial available – Global text substitution utility expands user-defined text snippets to phrases and form letters); TextWrangler (Full-featured text editor from Bare Bones that beats the pants off of TextEdit); Thunderbird (Mail Client); Transmit (Not free:$30 license, free trial available – The best FTP client you’ll find on any platform); The Unarchiver (when Stuffit Expander doesn’t know what that .TAR file is, the Unarchiver will); VLC media player (The Swiss Army knife of media players, VLC will play all the movie files QuickTime chokes on. It can also rip DVDs, too)

Going to the article referenced above will not only bring you all the text above, but it includes a download link following each item so that you can easily add the one of your choice to your collection. Plus it references you to two other lists of downloads you might be interested in. So this is the week of Christmas and New Years. Exchanging gifts is the order of the day.
– • –
And for another byte of the Apple, from the business pages of the New York Times comes the story, “Inside Apple Stores, a Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful.” By KATIE HAFNER Published: December 27, 2007

It was 2 o’clock in the morning but in the subterranean retailing mecca in Midtown Manhattan, otherwise known as the Apple store, it might as well have been mid afternoon. Even late at night, there are customers on the floor of the Apple store in Midtown Manhattan. Apple now makes about 20 percent of its revenue from its brick-and-mortar stores.

Late one night shortly before Christmas, parents pushed strollers and tourists straight off the plane mingled with nocturnal New Yorkers, clicking through iPod playlists, cruising the Internet on MacBooks, and touch-padding their way around iPhones. And through the night, cheerful sales staff stayed busy, ringing up customers at the main checkout counter and on hand-held devices in an uninterrupted stream of brick-and-mortar commerce.

The party inside that store and in 203 other Apple stores around the world is one reason the company’s stock is up nearly 135 percent for the year. By contrast, high-flying Google is up about 52 percent, while the tech-dominated Nasdaq index is up 12 percent.

The popularity of the iPhone and iPod and the intended halo effect those products have had on sales of Apple computers are behind Apple’s vigor. But the company’s success in retailing, as other competitors struggle to eke out sales growth, has been the bonus.

Apple now derives 20 percent of its revenue from its physical stores. And the number is growing. In the fourth quarter in 2007, which ended Sept. 30, Apple reported that the retail stores accounted for $1.25 billion of Apple’s $6.2 billion in revenues, a 42 percent increase over the fourth quarter in 2006. . . .

The close attention paid to detail in the stores’ designs, such as the maple veneer tables used for product displays, gives the impression that Steven P. Jobs himself, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, signed off on every square aesthetic inch of every store.

“Apple’s retail offering is very compelling,” said Andrew Neff, senior managing director at Bear Stearns, “but the other key is the product. The retail concept ties in very much to the product.”

But the secret formula may be the personal attention paid to customers by sales staff. Relentlessly smiling employees roam the floor, carrying hand-held terminals for instant credit-card swiping. Technicians work behind the so-called genius bar, ministering to customers’ ailing iPods, MacBooks and iPhones. Others, designated “personal trainers,” give one-on-one instruction and lead workshops.

The policy has given some stores, especially those in urban neighborhoods, the feel of a community center. Two years ago, Isobella Jade was down on her luck, living on a friend’s couch and struggling to make it as a fashion model when she had the idea of writing a book about her experience as a short woman trying to break into the modeling business.

Unable to afford a computer, Ms. Jade, 25, began cadging time on a laptop at the Apple store in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Ms. Jade spent hours at a stretch standing in a discreet corner of the store, typing. Within a few months, she had written nearly 300 pages.

Not only did store employees not mind, but at closing time they often made certain to shut Ms. Jade’s computer down last, to give her a little extra time. A few months later, the store invited her to give an in-store reading from her manuscript.

“Everyone is free to use the Internet and do anything they want — within reason,” said Paul Fradin, the general manager of the SoHo and 14th Street stores. Visitors spotted surfing pornographic Web sites are quietly asked to leave, and are escorted out.

Visitors can bring almost anything they like. Ms. Jade showed up nearly every day with her full set of notes, and enough food to see her through a few hours of writing.

“Whenever we ask consumers to cite a great retail experience, the Apple store is the first store they mention,” said Jane Buckingham, president of the Intelligence Group, a market research firm in Los Angeles. “Basically, everything about it works. The people who work there are cool and knowledgeable. They have the answers you want, and can sell you what you need. Customers appreciate that. Even the fact that they’ll e-mail you a receipt makes you feel like you’re in a store just a little bit further ahead of everyone else.”

This could be part of the reason that Jack Graham, 16, visiting for the holidays from Worcester, England, spent at least an hour each day of his visit at one of the three New York Apple stores, his parents sitting by patiently, happy to watch the crowd.

“These stores are going to become iconic places that people go to see when they come to New York,” said Mr. Gartenberg, the analyst. “Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and Apple’s great glass cube on Fifth Avenue.”

As for Ms. Jade, whose modeling career is advancing, she has yet to buy a computer from the Apple store. But she is still welcome to check her e-mail — and stay as long as she likes.
Full story:
– • –
And now, dear reader, as we leave 2007 have a very Safe and Happy New Year!

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Real Little Eddy #16: Global Warming Yucks, etc

WANT TO GIVE YOURSELF A CHRISTMAS TREAT? Go to any one of the recent Secret Diary of the Fake Steve Jobs posts. At the bottom you’ll see the word LABELS and in orange, FSJ SHUTDOWN DRAMA. Click that orange legend, and when the complete thread appears, begin reading it from the bottom post, “I’m Weighing an Offer from Apple.” When you finish that one scoot up to the next one, “So Now Apple is all Pissed Off,” and so on up to the top, “Breakfast with an Apple Lawyer.” Ponder this while you drink your Christmas morning coffee and open your mountain of presents. We’ll meet again Saturday morning to discuss this. RLE.

This week’s first item is a story which appeared in the New York Times’ Technology Section, and reported on a bunch of cartoons making fun of global warming.

It seems that just in time for the holiday shopping season comes a book “101 Funny Things About Global Warming” (Bloomsbury USA, January 2008), the first book of climate cartoons (the first one Andrew V. Revkin of the NYTimes knows of, anyway). It is assembled by Sidney Harris and 20 other masters of the scribbled line. Word descriptions of a few of it’s gems follow: In one, a couple is settled in front of the TV and the announcer notes: “Tonight’s weather report contains some alarming material. Viewer discretion advised.” In another, Atlas shrugs under the weight of the Earth, which he holds tenderly overhead using oven mitts. Don Quixote and his sidekick confront a line of wind turbines. A nervous job seeker faces a human-resources interviewer, who asks: “… And most important, how large is your carbon footprint?” Two drunks slouch on a doorstep. One describes the source of his angst: “I can’t stop worrying about anthropogenic influence on nature.” Enough said.
– • –
(RLE-the Question) And what are your thoughts about politics, oh wise one? (said the shrill voice ringing in my ears.) (RLE-the Answer) I try not to think about it too deeply. After all, what kind of a democracy is it when a person can become president while losing the popular vote, and being pushed over the top in Electoral College voting only because Democratic votes in a critical state (Florida) were thrown out, and although a recount was going on the so-called Supreme Court cancelled the recount before it could be completed? And all the while the governor of said state, who just happened to be the brother of the candidate who benefited from the cancellation of the recount, had publicly announced he would personally guarantee that his brother won the state. (AND BY GOLLY SO HE DID!) And four years later this disaster-in-the-making of a president who himself had sat out the Vietnam War by doing a stint in the Texas Air National Guard (during much of which he was evidently AWOL), then got himself reelected running against a real live Vietnam war veteran partially on the strength of a bunch of lies told by boatloads full of Swift Boat Liars.

(RLE-Q) Yeah? (said that oh-so-consistent ringing in my head) So who do you favor in this years race? (RLE-A) What was it John Lennon said about our presidential elections? “All this bit about electing a President. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies."

(RLE-Q) Alright, so through some weird twist of fate Iowa and New Hampshire get to be the early deciders. So, Oh Lofty One, tell us who you hope they will select? (RLE-A) I could only support a Democrat, of course. Republicans have no sense of the well being of community. They only think in terms of the individual, and the richer he is the more attentive they become. And they invariably turn the federal government into a shill for big business, and in the process staff so fill the federal government with incompetents that they end up weakening it’s very structure. However, although I think any of the Democrats would be alright in a pinch, whoever gets the nomination and wins the general election is going to have a helluva job on their hands, undoing all of the whopping debt and unvarnished mischief achieved by eight years of Republican Bush/Cheney misrule. I don’t think Richardson nor Dodd nor Biden nor any of the lower tiered candidates have the chance of a snowball in hell of getting either the nomination or if they did, winning the election.

I admire John Edwards, but I can’t find myself supporting someone who claims to be a populist and pays $400 for a haircut. And although Obama sounds good, and by his very newness seems to be free from bad political habits, to me he is just too new and untested to be trusted in so challenging a time. And that, of course, leaves Hillary. I have to say I join basketball’s Magic Johnson in comfortably supporting Hillary Clinton because I know waiting in the wings to contribute what he can will be William Jefferson Clinton. And to my mind, that is the combination that is going to be needed if this country has any chance of successful resuscitation from the eight disastrous years of Republican misrule we have suffered through. It took a Clinton to get the country solvent again cleaning up the economy after Reagan and Bush the father ran up their huge debts, lord knows what it will take to clean after Cheney and Bush the son whose excesses have dwarfed the debts left by the father and the Teflon One.
– • –
As again reported by the N.Y. Times ‘tis a weird world we live in, as a proof we offer the latest web star. He is a 71 year old physics professor named Walter H. G. Lewin and he has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And now he has emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace. Professor Lewin’s videotaped physics lectures, free online on the OpenCourseWare of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have won him devotees across the country and beyond who stuff his e-mail in-box with praise. “Through your inspiring video lectures i have managed to see just how BEAUTIFUL Physics is, both astounding and simple,” a 17-year-old from India e-mailed recently. Steve Boigon, 62, a florist from San Diego, wrote, “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes.”

Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple’s iTunes Store. You can read the complete article here:

And you can find a sample lesson plan for Professor Lewin’s lecture on pendulums and download either an 80k or a 399k video of the lecture at:
We especially recommend the 300k version, and think Professor Lewin’s riding of the swinging pendulum to be a priceless example of teaching by visual example.
– • –
Wired Science, a blog magazine, reports on a new class of anti-aging drugs:

A new class of drugs aimed at age-related physical and mental deterioration could change not only the nature of life, but of death. The drugs target mitochondria, the cellular power generators that provide our bodies with chemical energy. Over time, mitochondria accumulate damage, causing cells and eventually tissues to malfunction and break down. Some scientists believe that such seemingly disparate diseases as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and heart disease – all of which become more common with age – share a mitochondrial root. Fix the mitochondria, and you might fix aging itself.

Preliminary research suggests that mitochondria-rejuvenating drugs are capable, at least in lab animals, of halting these diseases and extending longevity. The research also suggests that, once they've reached the end of their traditional lifespans, these animals tend to die quickly and inexplicably, without any indication of disease or systemic breakdown. If the pattern holds in people, death would not be preceded by months or years of suffering. It would also come without warning, forever catching family and loved ones by surprise. Although at 81 the Real Little Eddy knows that the possible breakthrough will be too late for the likes of him, but he nevertheless hopes for the success of the endeavor. Since we all have to go sometime, it would be so much nicer to simply expire one night, especially in one’s own bed, rather than being taken down by debilitating, bankroll depleting diseases filled with pain and suffering.
– • –
At this point we tell you a sad story with a happy ending. It is all ab0ut a very funny video by an a cappella singing group called the Richter Scales which was called, Here Comes Another Bubble. The music was based on We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel. It was posted on YouTube, but it was taken down after photographer Lane Hartwell complained that a photo of hers which appeared on screen for less than a second was used with neither credit nor compensation. The original, subsequently pulled version, can be viewed at:

This taking down of the video started a running web argument, BlogRunner on Wednesday had more than thirty listings of articles and/or blogs taking sides on the issue. I first read about the conflict in the TechCrunch post by Michael Arrington (see URL above). Arrington took his ideas to a copyright attorney, and gleaned the following. “Copyright is a structure around prohibitions, not permissions, he says. That means it lays out rules for things people cannot do with your work - it does not give you the right to demand permission before any use is made. The Richter Scale video was almost certainly fair use of the photo.

“A court would look at a variety of factors in making the determination. Among those factors, a court would decide if the use is likely to adversely affect the incentives of others to create copyrighted works, and whether their decision one way or another would tend promote the progress of science and the useful arts. In this case, the inclusion of the photo in a parody work would almost certainly be held by a court to be fair use, the attorney said.

“The real issue here is that Hartwell’s feelings were hurt. She wanted attribution in the video, and the creators ignored her. Attribution and people’s feelings are not things copyright law considers; rather, it sets forth the rules under which copyrighted works may be or may not be used by others. In this case, a court would likely side with Richter Scales. But to avoid the risk, they decided to simply take down the video. I hope they remake it without Hartwell’s images and repost it soon. It’s too good to not be republished.”

Well, the tech world will be happy to note that a new version, which removes the offending Hartwell photograph inserting one of tech writer Kara Swisher (of All Things Digital) in its place. It also boasts a complete (if too brief to read) list of photographic credits, and refers you to its website for the complete readable list of credits.

– • –
A few additional BYTES OF THE APPLE: Among other things the new Bubble video retains it’s photo of Apple’s Steve Jobs and to the left of him a slightly smaller photo of Dan Lyons, the Forbes Magazine technology writer who was recently unmasked as the man who writes the Fake Steve Jobs blog. Most interesting is an article from Forbes magazine flagged on the F.S.J. blog, where we learn: “Since his identity was revealed in August, Lyons hasn't given up that mouthpiece. In October, he published a novel based on the blog, and he is currently in talks with Fox to create a television show – something Lyons says would be like The Office in Silicon Valley. And despite the lack of anonymity, an unmasked Fake Steve Jobs spews more vitriol than ever before. In recent posts, he's railed against Mark Zuckerberg's "non-apology apology" for Facebook's privacy blowup, mocked tech blog Valleywag for shoddy reporting and even accused an eWeek reporter of plagiarism. Like a digital Stephen Colbert, Lyons says he uses his satirical megaphone to speak his mind in ways he never could as a magazine writer. "I've realized I can actually tell the truth with this blog," Lyons says. "I can be real in a way that I really couldn't within the constraints of the mainstream media."

December 20, 2007 - PRESS RELEASE: Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret's publisher, said, "I'm pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits." We find it sad to read of the demise of ThinkSecret website, however we suspect that regarding the tone of Ciarelli’s statement, he was adequately compensated for the demise of his baby which he began at the tender age of 13. He according to news scources he is presently a senior at Harvard and an editor of The Harvard Crimson. For John Moltz of the Crazy Apple Rumors site’s viewpoint: And the N.Y. Time’s Bits column reported Ciarelli as saying, “This is a site I’ve been working on since I was 13, I have been ready to move on for some time, and now I can.”

While we’re talking bytes of the Apple, a recent C/Net blog called One More Thing by Tom Krazit discusses some of the possible reasons while those usually referred to derisively as Apple Fanboys are so virulent in their reactions against those who they feel have maligned their favorite company. Krazit writes:

“The question inevitably comes up when I meet people and they learn I write about Apple for a living: "So, what's that like?" I usually answer, "It's crazy." There perhaps has never been a more interesting time to write about Apple and its growing impact on the computer, telecommunications, and music worlds. . . . But there is no question that Macintosh users are by far the most passionate advocates for their products in the technology industry. “I think the roots of this zealotry go back to a time when Apple was on the ropes financially and someone who worked on a Mac was ridiculed by other computer users. Ten years ago, Mac users in the corporate world were viewed as rubes playing with "toys" not suitable for getting real work done, and there were plenty of people ready to remind the Mac community in not-so-subtle ways that the revolution promised in the 1980’s by the original Macintosh was being fulfilled by Microsoft software.

Apple's response was to change the tone of the conversation, and it deliberately chose a spiritual motif for its message with the work started by Guy Kawasaki in the mid-1990s. Kawasaki originally worked at Apple in the mid-1980s in marketing, and was part of the team that introduced the Macintosh to the world before leaving in 1987. “When Kawasaki rejoined Apple in 1995, the company was probably at its lowest point. On his Web site, Kawasaki describes his role at Apple in the mid-1990s by saying, "My job on this tour of duty was to maintain and rejuvenate the Macintosh cult." There was a dedicated group out there who still believed in the Mac and its promise as an alternative to Windows, but they weren't organized, and their morale was low. In an interview this week, Kawasaki recalled signing up 44,000 hardcore Mac users in 1995 on a listserv named, quite appropriately, "EvangeList." "All I would do is disseminate good news," Kawasaki said. He wanted his listserv to be a counterpoint to the torrents of bad news about the Mac, exemplified by a 1996 BusinessWeek cover story about Apple titled, "The Fall of an American Icon." For its cover art, the magazine placed an Apple icon in front of a black, funereal background.

“Kawasaki's idea was to give Mac users hope, that they were not alone, and that they were on the right side of history. Hope is a powerful thing to someone at the end of their rope, and while that's perhaps overstating it a bit, that's how many Mac users felt in those years. "It's almost like a religious experience in that you feel like you have to tell everyone you know in an effort to 'save them.' It's crazy, and I never understood those people but now I am one," said Doug Otto, a reader, vice president of systems engineering for Govstar and a Sacramento, Calif., resident.

"Like anything people are passionate about – sports, politics, religion – there are going to be some people who are goofy about it and don't have that thing in their brain that tells them they've stepped over the edge from 'fan' to 'fanatic'," said John Moltz, the editor of Crazy Apple Rumors Site and perhaps the best source of comic relief in the Apple universe. Since it's a two-party world, however, many of those evangelists combined their love for the Mac with their hatred of Microsoft, much like Republicans attack Democrats when Democrats are in charge, only to find themselves on the defensive when the sides switch. Windows users, who had almost forgotten about the Mac, initially laughed at Mac users and their intense love for a plastic cube of electronics. But then, as Apple starting gaining market share and increasing respect for its design chops, they started to fight back.

“Last year, Moltz created the "Artie MacStrawman" character as a symbol of those counterattacks on Mac users, as an allegory for the "strawman" theory of debate that intentionally exaggerates an opponent's position to make it look more ridiculous. Many of those who criticize Mac users often come back to the whole "those crazy Apple cult people" thing, in that just because one Apple fan "mindlessly worships Steve Jobs" and "blindly buys anything Apple releases no matter how dumb and stupid and dumb it is," they all do. But let's be honest: we've all seen that person in action in discussion forums on this site and many others. "Windows users aren't put off by the 'depth of passion' that Mac users have. They are put off by the sheer futility of trying to make a rational argument with someone devoid of rational thought," said Ken Webber, another reader.

“This "debate" has been polluting the Internet for more than a decade, but Apple is no longer a company to be laughed at. It's selling more and more Macs to first-time Mac users. College campuses and hipster coffee shops are bastions of backlit Apple logos. Even businesses, long the last line of defense against the encroachment of the Mac, are changing their mind as programs like Boot Camp give Mac users a way to gain access to corporate applications developed for Windows. (PC Magazine’s testers announced recently that the fastest machine they had found running Microsoft’s new OS Vista, was an Intel Apple Mac Pro running it under Boot Camp.) And as we start doing more and more work over the Internet, rather than on our desktop software, the compatibility issue becomes less and less relevant.

“The responses were similar. Mac users feel an affinity to both their machines and their fellow users that the rest of the world simply doesn't share. For some, it's the emphasis on design, both in hardware and software. For others, it's the way Apple focuses on applications that make it easier for them to be creative. "It's hard to put my own feelings into words on this, but that's just it: I have feelings for my Apple computer. Not in the creepy obsessive way or anything, but I genuinely love my iBook," said Ryan Spilken, a reader.

“Many see Apple's devotion to quality as a symbol of a bygone era for American business, and believe they have to support that kind of thinking. At some point, according to several readers, American industry became so bottom-line obsessed that it gambled that people would probably buy their products anyway if, little by little, they stripped out the costs, which would lower prices but in a fashion that also guaranteed more profit. We've seen this happen time after time in the automobile, consumer electronics, and computer industries, just to name a few, and while it works in the short-term, it doesn't end well. “Computers are no longer a novelty. Style and usefulness count for so much more these days, since people have had a computer and know what they like and what they hate. And no company does style better than Apple. Now that Apple has momentum on its side, does this finally mean we're nearing a day when we can have a coherent discussion of the pros and cons of Apple's approach to the computing world? Probably not. After all, the Mac community has all the momentum on its side, and is unlikely to lift its foot off the gas now that more people are starting to come around to its point of view. And Apple hasn't stopped making Mac vs. PC ads.

“But here's a challenge: if Mac users care about quality and excellent design, and Windows users are adamant about openness and ubiquity, let's apply those same standards to the discussion of the computer industry. There are going to be Macs, and there are going to be PCs. This religious argument is very 1995; it's time to move on. – Tom Krazit

And listen up Steven Anthony Ballmer, you who claims to be president and chief oracle and guiding light of Thou Most Holy Microsoft Empire, eat thine words. (In April 2007, Ballmer predicted Apple's iPhone would have no chance of gaining any market share: "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance," said Ballmer. "It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get." Read on, oh mighty Microsoft sage:

AP – Apple's iPhone is already the second best selling smartphone platform in North America, trailing only RIM's BlackBerry, according to a report from Canalys. apparently got a hold of the study from Canalys commissioned by Symbian, the operating system owned jointly by Nokia, Ericsson and others. The study looked at third quarter sales of smartphones and found that in its first full quarter, the iPhone has already outsold all of the Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm phones and now holds a 27 percent market share in North America. This despite being on the market only since late June and on only one carrier AT&T, which doesn't sell throughout North America and doesn't have solid coverage in several states.

NPD, the research firm, reported much the same thing last week, with the iPhone selling 1.12 million of the 4.2 million smartphones sold in Q3, giving it 27 percent of the market. NPD said the iPhone has clearly helped grow the smartphone market, which expanded by 180 percent since it launched. RIM is still in first place, though it's now facing serious competition from the surging iPhone. But for Microsoft, Symbian and Palm, the numbers could be cause for concern. Business users are still favoring the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. But there is more pressure on IT departments to try to do something for the iPhone. And perhaps more importantly, there are just a lot of regular consumers that are moving into the smartphone market because of the iPhone. And they're clearly willing to spend money for quality. So that should be good news for the entire industry. People are looking to do more with their phones and they'll shell out the cash to whoever can do it in an elegant and intuitive way.

And from 9-t0-5Mac: Insiders tell us that Apple expects to announce sales of roughly five million iPhones at Macworld 2008 in January. Of these, around one million are expected to come from Europe. Apple is seeing very strong Christmas sales despite AT&T's announcement that a 3G iPhone will be hitting in 2008 (May-June is our best guess at this point) that could've hampered demand. Apple sold 1 million iPhones in 74 days around the same time it dropped the price to $399 from $599. Also, Apple opened in Europe's three biggest markets in November - just in time for the holidays.

Other past Ballmerisms include these : In 2004, Ballmer made headlines by claiming that the most common format of music on iPods is "stolen". During an interview with Fortune magazine, he was asked whether he used an iPod, and replied, "No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children — in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod."

In 2005, Mark Lucovsky alleged in a sworn statement to a Washington state court that Ballmer became highly enraged upon hearing that Lucovsky was about to leave Microsoft for Google, picked up his chair and threw it across his office. Referring to Google CEO Eric Schmidt (who previously worked for competitors Sun and Novell), Ballmer allegedly said "I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google." Shortly after, he resumed trying to persuade Lucovsky to stay at Microsoft. Ballmer has described Lucovsky's account of the incident as a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place." To see Ballmer’s legendary Dance Monkeyboy go to:
– • –
And from Wired Magazine, in an interview with Thom Yorke of Radiohead, David Byrne asked the big question: Are you making any money with the digital downloads of In Rainbow?

Yorke: In terms of digital income, we've made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever — in terms of anything on the Net. And that's nuts. It's partly due to the fact that EMI wasn't giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.
– • –
And as we plod our way to the end of dear old 2007, we’d like to send you off with visit those fellows at JibJab for the kind of sum up that the year 2007 really deserves. (And the small world being what it is they just happened to use the same Billy Joel tune that those Bubble guys used. See above.) And the amazing thing about it is you can put yourself and your friends in the video, just extract their heads and send them to the address below. And by the way, enjoy the video.

And by the way too, have a very Merry Christmas !!!! And by the way three, have a positively scrumptiously, deliriously Happy New Year!!!!

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Blog 15: A Day in the Life

This week’s blog is a celebration of the life of John Ono Lennon featuring material gathered from various websites plus a section by Little Eddy. We begin with Wikipedia:

“John Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon), MBE (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980), was an English songwriter, singer, musician, graphic artist, author and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founders of The Beatles. Lennon and Paul McCartney formed a critically acclaimed and commercially successful partnership writing songs for The Beatles and other artists. [1] Lennon, with his cynical edge and knack for introspection, and McCartney, with his storytelling optimism and gift for melody, complemented each other. [2] In his solo career, Lennon wrote and recorded songs such as "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine."

“Lennon revealed his rebellious nature and irreverent wit on television, in films such as A Hard Day's Night (1964), in books such as In His Own Write, and in press conferences and interviews. He channelled his fame and penchant for controversy into his work as a peace activist, artist, and author.

“He had two sons, Julian, with his first wife Cynthia, and Sean, with his second wife, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman in New York City on 8 December 1980 as he and Ono returned home from a recording session.

“Lennon was considered the leader of The Beatles, as he founded the original group. McCartney said, "We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader – he was the quickest wit and the smartest and all that kind of thing.

“In 2002, respondents to a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted Lennon into eighth place. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Lennon number 38 on their list of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time" and ranked The Beatles at number 1.”
– • – From Lennon’s page:
“John Lennon didn’t invent rock and roll, nor did he embody it as toweringly as figures like Elvis Presley and Little Richard, but he did more than anyone else to shake it up, move it forward and instill it with a conscience. As the most daring and outspoken of the four Beatles, he helped shape the agenda of the Sixties – socially and politically, no less than musically. As a solo artist, he made music that alternately disturbed and soothed, provoked and sought community. As a human being, he served as an exemplar of honesty in his art and life.

“As Jann Wenner wrote in the foreword to a collection of writings entitled The Ballad of John and Yoko, “Of the many things that will be long remembered about John Lennon – his genius as a musician and singer, his wit and literary swiftness, his social intuition and leadership – among the most haunting was the stark, unembarrassed commitment of his life, his work and his undernourished frame to truth, to peace and to humanity.”

“Lennon was born in 1940 during the Nazi bombing of Britain and given the middle name Winston, after prime minister Churchill (he would later change his middle name to Ono). At age five, Lennon was sent to live with his “Aunt Mimi” after his parents separated. In 1956, Aunt Mimi bought Lennon a guitar. His incessant playing prompted her to remark, “The guitar’s all very well as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.” That same year, Lennon formed his first group, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles.

“Having experienced the horror of a world at war as a child and then living through the Vietnam era as a young man, Lennon came to embrace and embody pacifism. His was the voice and vision that powered such Beatles classics as “All You Need Is Love” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Yet Lennon also had a dark side that found expression in pained outcries dating as far back as “Help,” and his was the most naturally adventuresome musical spirit in the band, as evidenced by such outrĂ© tracks as “I Am the Walrus” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” The uncensored, self-lacerating aspect of the Lennon persona reached a fevered pitch with the drug-withdrawal blues of “Cold Turkey,” a 1969 single released under the name Plastic Ono Band.

“Although Lennon was a complicated man, he chose after the Beatles to simplify his art in order to figure out his life, erasing the boundaries between the two. As he explained it, he started trying “to shave off all imagery, pretensions of poetry, illusions of grandeur ... Just say what it is, simple English, make it rhyme and put a backbeat on it, and express yourself as simply [and] straightforwardly as possible.” His most fully realized statement as a solo artist was 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. It followed several collaborative sound collages recorded toward the end of the Beatles era with Yoko Ono, his wife and collaborator. The raw, confessional nature of Plastic Ono Band reflected the primal-scream therapy that Lennon and Ono had been undergoing with psychologist Arthur Janov. He dealt with such fundamental issues as “God” and “Mother” and the class system (“Working Class Hero”) on an album as full of naked candor as any in rock has ever been.”
– • –
Doing a Google search on John Lennon brings up a number of interesting pages, one of which is the Official John Lennon website: and another is it’s UK equivalent: Below are some of the quotations which will appear on the first site as if the hand of Lennon was printing it in swift real time. These quotations, many of them on both of the above sites, paint as vivid a picture of Lennon the artist and the man as you are likely to find and make fascinating reading:

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”. . . .“Part of me suspects I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”. . .“Possession isn’t nine-tenths of the law, it’s nine-tenths of the problem.”. . .“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

"I think the basic thing nobody asks is why do people take drugs of any sort? And that question has to be resolved before you can think, well, what can we do for the poor drug addict? Why do we have to have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that's making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it?". . ."When you're drowning, you don't say 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,' you just scream."

"But nobody's perfect, etc., etc. Whether it's Janov or Erhardt or Maharishi or a Beatle. That doesn't take away from their message. It's like learning how to swim. The swimming is fine. But forget about the teacher. If the Beatles had a message, it was that. With the Beatles, the records are the point, not the Beatles as individuals. You don't need the package, just as you don't need the Christian package or the Marxist package to get the message. People always got the image I was an anti-Christ or antireligion. I'm not. I'm a most religious fellow. I was brought up a Christian and I only now understand some of the things that Christ was saying in those parables. Because people got hooked on the teacher and missed the message. All this bit about electing a President. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies."

"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep on watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it." . . "You can't cheat kids. If you cheat them when they're children they'll make you pay when they're sixteen or seventeen by revolting against you or hating you or all those so-called teenage problems. I think that's finally when they're old enough to stand up to you and say, 'What a hypocrite you've been all this time. You've never given me what I really wanted, which is you."

“You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are.”. . .“If you tried to give Rock and Roll another name you might call it Chuck Berry.”. . . “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.”. . . “All art is pain expressing itself.”

“The thing that the sixties did was it showed us the possibilities, and the responsibilities we all had. It wasn’t the answer, it just gave us a glimpse of the possibilities.”. . .“There’s nothing you can know that’s not already known.”. . .“The more I see the less I know for sure.”. . . “You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.”

“It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don't stand back and judge – I do”. . . "It just was a gradual development over the years. I mean last year was 'all you need is love.' This year, it's 'all you need is love and peace, baby.' Give peace a chance, and remember Love. The only hope for us is peace. Violence begets violence. You can have peace as soon as you like if we all pull together. You're all geniuses, and you're all beautiful. You don't need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace, and you'll get it as soon as you like."

"I always was a rebel ... but on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted ... and not just be a loudmouth, lunatic, poet, musician. But I cannot be what I am not." . . . "I don't intend to be a performing flea any more. I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be around I don't intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don't want to die at 40."
– • –
And also from Wikipedia’s John Lennon page comes a most interesting item: In March 1974, during a jam session known as "The Jim Keltner Fan Club Hour," a most interesting lineup participated in what can be described as a "very loose" studio hour unfolded. The session, captured on tape and later released as a bootleg A Toot and a Snore in '74, featured Lennon on guitar and vocals, Harry Nilsson, Stevie Wonder, Jesse Ed Davis, Bobby Keys, Linda McCartney on keyboards and May Pang on tambourine. Paul McCartney played drums and the bass player was producer Ed Freeman. This was the one and only time Lennon and McCartney played together after the Beatles' split.
– • –
There’s a social website for Lennon fans, at http: // "Everybody's talking about Bagism..." – John Lennon – where many things, poetry, drawings, chat, etc. can be found, including the charcoal drawing of Lennon by Kristin Turberville which I used to illustrate this piece. Says Turberville, “I drew this in the November of 1998 with a very soft charcoal pencil. It's from the reverse cover of John's "Imagine"... so that's where the name came from. My inspiration was obviously, John Lennon. I have drawn many pictures of John and know his features like the back of my hand. I really liked drawing Imagine.” – Kristin Turberville
– • –
LONDON: Imagine that. A lock of John Lennon's hair sold for $48,000 Wednesday in an auction of Beatles' memorabilia collected by the band's hairdresser. The hair _ inside an autographed copy of Lennon's book "A Spaniard in the Works" _ sold to an unnamed telephone bidder. Gorringes auction house had estimated the hair would sell for $4,000 to $6,000.

Elvis Still the King. Elvis Presley, who earned an estimated $49 million in the past 12 months, has reclaimed the No. 1 spot on's list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities. He last topped the list in 2005. John Lennon ranks second with earnings of $44 million, followed by Charles M. Schulz ($35 million), George Harrison ($22 million), Albert Einstein ($18 million), Andy Warhol ($15 million)
– • –
And the URL for the John Lennon museum in Japan is, In its introductory words it says: “The John Lennon Museum opened to the public on October 9, 2000, the 60th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Approved formally by his partner Ms. Yoko Ono, it is the first museum of its kind anywhere in the world.

“As a major artist of the 20th century, John Lennon has influenced the world immensely, not only through his music, but also through other channels such as his art and peace campaigns. The Museum was designed in the hopes of accurately passing on his life and his works to the 21st century, and consists of 9 zones (where nearly 130 John Lennon memorabilia from Yoko’s treasured collection are on exhibit), the Museum Theater, and a space at the end - known as the Final Room where his messages are on display.

“Visitors will first watch a 7-minute film introducing the life of John Lennon at the Museum Theater, then go on to the Exhibit Zones, where they may appreciate the greatness of the man who died too early, through his beloved guitars, his costumes, the handwritten lyrics, and his film and music. On the pure white walls of the Final Room are John’s messages, taken from 28 of his compositions, and visitors can feel his spirit in a quiet environment, reflecting on their own lives through them.
– • –
Last week’s blog was posted on December 8th, 2007. The day before, December 7, 1980, was the 39th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, a day which then president Franklin Roosevelt declared “a day that will live in infamy.”

But the next night, December 8, 1980 brought terrible, alm0st unthinkable news. It was the 27th anniversary of a night which will live in my own personal infamy, for it was the night that brought the news of the senseless murder of John Lennon. A voice which had stood so courageously for beauty and love and truth was forever silenced on that night. By the hand of a fat, squat nonentity named Mark David Chapman. Was Chapman a deranged ex-fan as the media of the time attempted to portray him? Or was he an assassin recruited by the tentacles of the same secret government entity which conspiracy theorists the world over have credited with a string of assassinations which include Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John and Bobby Kennedy? Slayings which revealed to the rest of the world that the once high and mighty United States of America was after all was said and done just another “Banana Republic.” The establishment would undoubtedly prefer to buy the deranged ex-fan theory, for it is comforting to not have to attribute so senseless a murder to forces as sinister as the above would imply. But there are clues which to me speak otherwise in a message loud and clear.

For one, Chapman was working as a night watchman in Hawaii before he suddenly grabbed a plane enroute to New York where he would hang out for several months, even getting Lennon’s autograph on an album, before doing his dreadful deed. Something or someone had to have financed his trip and his stay in New York City, it’s not very likely that he could have done that on the savings from a night watchman’s gig. Nor would he have had the motive, living in so remote a place. Lennon had come out of a self-imposed five year retirement as house parent just months before, to announce his return to recording and performing with the album Double Fantasy. But Chapman should not have felt the immediateness or seen Lennon’s reemergence as a threat in far away Hawaii.

During the assassination Chapman assumed the stance of a trained professional assassin, dropping to one knee to steady his hand, and calling out to Lennon. He wanted Lennon to have his last look of this life into the face of his killer. And in some of his post assassination ravings Chapman read mutterings of the usual right wing literary bogey man, J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” as if the mouthing of Salinger’s words would somehow verify his mental derangement. (Countless other right wing assassins had mouthed off portions of “Catcher in the Rye,” it is a guide post indicating purveyors of right wing mischief.)

If the killing of John Lennon was indeed an ordered assassination why should the man risk receiving a life in incarceration for a chance to be the triggerman? Chapman was promised eventual freedom of course, and there was a plan to do no less. A public television documentary would seem to reinforce the crazed fan image for the populace at large, and semi government entities would quietly arrange for his transfer from the prison system to a mental health facility, from which after a suitable interval had passed he could be declared to be no longer a risk to society and released. This plan actually went forward to the point of his being transferred to a mental institution, at which point the uproar caused by so transparent a maneuver caused the plan’s cancellation and his reinstatement into the prison system.

Why would the so-called secret government have loathed John Lennon to the point of seeking his assassination? Lennon was a loose cannon who had proven he could not be bought or controlled. And he had a huge personal following. During the Vietnam War his song, “Give Peace a Chance” became an anthem for the anti war movement, and he and his wife Yoko Ono had had the audacity to take out a huge sign on Broadway saying, “War is Over, if you want it!” For a complete background on the establishment’s feelings about John Lennon put the following URL into your favorite Bit Torrent search engine and download and watch the result:

All in all, John Lennon was a symbol of true independent thinking, and the anathema of the secret government forces which just the month before with the election of Ronald Reagan had scored a victory in the 1980 presidential election. And the secret government’s (from this point forward it will be referred to as “sg” in small letters) next clandestine war, a guerilla skirmish against Daniel Ortega’s left wing regime of Nicaragua was already in the planning stages as was assistance in the supression of the leftist movement in El Salvador. The specter of Lennon throwing a musical and lyrical monkeywrench into their grandiose plans must have had them quaking in their newly fitted combat boots.

The nearest they came to giving away their secret was in a letter sent to Ed Asner, the actor who played Lou Grant on a popular tv series at the time. Asner was attempting to arouse sympathy for the Nicaraguan cause by raising money for medical supplies t0 be sent to the already financially strapped government in Nicaragua. One night Asner spoke to tv news cameras on the evening news programs, reading aloud a letter he had received from persons unknown, a letter which said in effect, “we have just killed John Lennon, and if you (Asner) aren’t careful you will be next.”

My son Joel Alan Badeaux, a doctor in residence near Phoenix, AZ, is one of the most devoted conspiracy theorist’s on the Kennedy assassination that I know and although John Kennedy’s assassination took place well before he was born he has diligently collected every book and movie he could find on the subject. He knows Dealey Plaza like the palm of his hand and can tell you who was seen where and when. However, he remains a skeptic of my theory of the Lennon assassination, telling me in his opinion I am whistling “Dixie.” I remind him of my folk roots, and tell him Dixie is not so bad as music, only as a state of mind.

At any rate, in my opinion this is what personal blogging is all about, to expound a person’s unique points of view and especially those views which depart from the mainstream. To give adventuresome readers ideas and information he or she can get nowhere else. And to alert the public of the possibility that sg forces will most surely try and free Mark Chapman again and yet again, and it is up to those of us who make up the humanity that John Lennon sang to and celebrated to make sure that his killer doesn’t get a free pass past Go, but instead perpetually continues to enjoy the opportunity to rot in his own personal and richly deserved hell for every last minute of his original sentence. No less should be the wages of one so arrogant as to deprive the truly free world of so melodious and canny a voice. And although in general I frown upon capital punishment (as the innocent can fall into its trap and once a person is executed exoneration for innocence is no longer possible), however, in some specific cases where there is no doubt as to guilt, an eye for an eye and a life for a life doesn’t seem all that archaic after all.
– • –
However Little Eddy is not alone in his attribution of Lennon’s slaying to an organized conspiracy. Illustrated with a photograph of Lennon and Ono’s famous WAR IS OVER If You Want It! sign which overlooked Broadway and sat next a U.S. Army recruiting headquarters, Mark R. Elsis on the fan website: seconds our evaluation in a piece entitled: Who Authorized the Assassination of John Lennon? Mr. Elsis describes the assassination itself in graphic terms (the squeamish might want to skip over the next four paragraphs.)

“Jose Perdomo, the front doorman, leaves his post to open the limousine door for John and Yoko. Yoko Ono stepped out of the limousine first and John Lennon who is carrying a tape recorder and some cassettes followed a few steps behind. As Yoko passes him the assassin, says "Hello." Just as John passes him, the man steps from the sidewalk and from his pocket he takes out a 5 shot .38 revolver armed with hollow tip bullets. He drops into a combat stance, knees flexed, with one arm supporting the other at the wrist. He says, Mr. Lennon?

“Just as John turns, about 15 feet through the large arch with iron gates of the Dakota, the assassin fires two shots into the left side of his back. There's a crash of shattering glass as the bullets that pass through John's body smash into the Dakota's glass frontage. These two shots spin him around. He is now facing his assassin.

“Blood is already pouring out from the first two bullets and the four wounds, as the assassin takes aim at John again. He fires three more shots. Two of the bullets smash into John's left shoulder. The other goes astray. The greatest singer songwriter and the most influential political artist of our time staggers up six steps to the room at the end of the entrance used by the concierge, said, "I'm shot," then fell down.

“I'm shot,” he moans lying on the floor. “John's been shot,” screams Yoko. Jay Hastings the security man reaches under his desk and presses the alarm button, notifying the police from the nearby 20th Precinct. He then rushes to John's side and removes his blood stained glasses. Then he takes off his uniform jacket to cover him. He wants to use his tie as a tourniquet, but can't decide where to apply it.”

I can practically guarantee your surprise at the person Mr. Elsis identifies as the one responsible for authorizing Lennon’s assassination. I won’t give it away here, you’ll have to go to the website and read the piece for yourself to find out. Unfortunately, as the nursery rhyme says, All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But we can each remember John Lennon’s life and art in our own unique fashion, and we can honor it by attempting to live as exemplary and creative a life as we are able. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing if our society as a whole began putting a few more restrictions on the purchase of weapons which can be used to so freely murder the innocent. We subject automobile drivers to a test of skills, why not apply an equal measure of care to gun purchasers?

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Little Eddy Blog #14 Tom De Lay, Karl Rove, Continuing Mailbox Drama

How many of you remember Tom De Lay’s occupation before he entered politics? I will be happy to remind you. He dealt in poisons, insect and pest control poisons to be specific. Perhaps that was why he so enthusiastically attempted t0 rid the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress of what he considered vermin of the Democratic variety. Until a Democratic District Attorney applied a bit of his own treatment back to him.

How generous it was of a now indigent Karl Rove to give Barack Obama his best advice in defeating Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. I’m sure Obama is properly grateful. However, since Rove’s interest in the Democratic candidates goes only as far as their capacity for defeat at Republican hands, the unspoken message of mister Rove’s piece of advice has to be that mister Obama would be an easier Republican mark than would be Ms. Clinton. And this is in the face of the often expressed Republican glee at again having a Clinton for a candidate.

For in truth Republicans dread facing another Clinton. Their dissing machine was in full time operational mode in the 90’s trying it’s damndest to hang something on hubby Bill, but nothing stuck until Monica, and in the end the attempt at impeachment ended in abject failure. And in spite of every imaginable roadblock, the Clinton Administration produced eight years of an efficient federal government with no foreign wars and a constant whittling down of the massive Republican debts incurred under Presidents Reagan and Bush one.

Republicans claim independents will be against Clinton, but methinks that is just more wishful thinking on their part. Independent voters are not stupid. They can remember the positives under the Democratic nineties, even after Clinton was faced with a Republican Congress. Alan Greenspan’s recent autobiography looks fondly on Democrat Bill Clinton’s eight year fixation on fiscal responsibility, all the while lamenting Republican George Bush’s complete lack thereof.

Voters, Independents and Democrats alike, need only to ask themselves the only slightly amended question Ronald Reagan proposed to voters in 1980: “Are you really better off under Republican rule?” Hopefully the answer will be expressed in loud negatives. And bring to an end eight pathetic years of Republican Rule.
– • –
( The late and charming ex-Texas governor Ann Richards summed up the father, George Herbert Walker Bush’s penchant for saying something incredibly inappropriate with the following comment unleashed to the nation at the 1988 Democratic Convention, "Poor George, he can't help it ... He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." ( The late journalist Molly Ivins dismissed Bush the son, sometimes referred to as “W,” by diminishing his last name from Bush to Shrub. And so I am sure you will be happy to note that in the current and complete NIA reversal of it’s opinion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities the mighty Shrub prattles on as if his every word was still relevant and/or important.

Even though the recently released NIE estimate concluded that Iran had decided to forego it’s nuclear weapons program in 2003, probably in the face of pressure put on it by United Nations member nations, our venerable leader who bless our lucky stars is never wrong (well, aside from Iraq and a few jillion other matters), is indeed insisting that intelligence change or not, he is still, and as always, is right, and Iran is still every bit the “menace” he had labeled them and this is hereby “proven” by the fact that they had engaged in attempting to develop nuclear weapons before 2003. Democratic presidential hopefuls to a man and woman point to W.’s pitiful record regarding the truth with shame and incredulity, while Republican presidential candidates are notable for their silence on the proclamations of their erstwhile leader. As well they might be as the Shrub’s every word measurably reduces their chances of getting elected in 2008. And may we dare hope for extensive Shrub verbiage between now and next year’s election, with both Shrub and kimosabe Cheney continuing to mouth off in their enthusiastic rush towards confrontation with Iran.
– • –
Straight out of the “Here We Go Again” department: Wednesday I got one of those: “You have chosen to live in an attractive and desirable community in which your Homeowner’s Association 0ffers various amenities.” This is followed closely by the sentence that reads, “In order to preserve this desired standard and home values, it is important that all residents work together to maintain their property at the highest possible level.” In other words your friendly Neighborhood Big Brother is not only watching you, he’s flatout NAILED you!

If this seems to have a familiar ring to it let me take you back to blog #5 where I reprinted the letter from my Homeowners Association complaining that my brick mailbox was in pieces and littering my property and bringing down neighborhood values with a thud. I replied, rather lightheartedly I’m afraid, that my mailbox was in pieces because the gentleman across the street had gotten out of his automobile with the motor running and the brakes off and with the car in neutral, and gravity had taken over and propelled his vehicle down his rather steep driveway and across the street until it met up with, and demolished, my formerly austere brick mailbox.

However, eventually all things come to an end, and hopefully end well. We had a brand new pristine white brick mailbox up within weeks. And the last of the rubbled remains of the former distructed box disappeared by the following week. However, shame is hereby heaped upon me, for in our haste to comply with the wishes of the Association I seemed to have failed to consult the Architectural Control Committee. Does your neighborhood have an Architectural Control Committee? Ours Does! And enclosed in Ms. Harriet Tunick’s latest missive was a form I evidently should have filled out and sent in before replacing the mailbox, even though it was at the urging of the Association we had replaced the box in all possible haste. My reply follows:

Dear Ms. Tunick, I most certainly will fill out the Request form for Home Improvement Approval and send it to one of the homeowners listed on the form this very day. Even if said improvement is a wee bit after the fact. I apologize for replacing the mailbox without seeking prior permission, I plead ignorance and the fact that the copy of the Home Owners manual I got with the purchase of my house was a carbon copy, unreadable by my then cactaract impaired vision. And the replacement copy I requested several years back never came. Not that I wish to spend what valuable time I have left in this life reading Homeowner’s Manuals, even one of such an attractive and desirable community as this. So it is just as well that it never came.

I assume the design is not the problem, as the design of the new box is quite similar to the one which got pulverized. Upon reading the Request for Home Improvement Form I suspect that the problem which triggered your comunication might be the fact that the new mailbox is made of white bricks.

WHITE, a color which pretty much universally imparts the feeling of purity and innocence, is according to the Improvement Form you sent along verboten as a color for the painting of a house. However the bricks on my new mailbox are white not through any intention of being arbitrary or going against architectural policy of the neighborhood, they are white because the bricks which were donated for the project happened to be white, and since your previous communication did express a desire for haste we complied as best we could.

If it really is the color that is the problem I suppose we can paint the brick structure to conform with proper neighborhood standards. We certainly wouldn’t want having the downgrading of neighborhood property values festering on our conscience. In any case I shall wait to hear from either you or the committee before taking any further action. And I promise not to lose sleep over this matter.

Again I thank you for your patience.
– • –
Few and far between were the television series which had me faithfully watching back in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact they can be counted on the fingers of one hand, with a thumb left over.

The first program I ever got really hopelessly hooked on was “Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann,” known in shorthand as MH2, the 1976-77, syndicated television series produced by Norman Lear and directed by Joan Darling. It was written by Gail Parent and soap writer Ann Marcus, who was best known for her work on Search for Tomorrow. The oh so human tabloid like story of a bored housewife, her husband, her child, her mother, her next door neighbors and her grandfather who became known as the “Fernwood flasher,” was taped five days a week, just like the true soaps it was mimicking. It covered the same subject matter as did the daytime soaps, except MH2 had a tendency to call things by their real names, not the euphemisms used by the daytimes.

Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann was extremely addictive, even drawing in the likes of Gore Vidal, who ended up appearing on the series near its end. According to Amazon the first 25 episodes are available on DVD. I have ordered them and will write more about the show after it arrives and I’ve had a chance to see them once again. I can hardly wait to see if the program was as compelling as I remember. More information awaits you at Wikipedia:,_Mary_Hartman

The next series to hook me in was “Hill Street Blues,” which looked at crime and the police officers who fight it in a totally unique and humanistic way. This was shortly followed by the remarkable “St. Elsewhere,” the first prime time television drama series which treated doctors and hospitals in an uncannily realistic way.

And finally, thirty years ago this fall, on the heels of Watergate and the film “All the President’s Men” came Lou Grant, an extremely honest and appreciative look at the newspaper industry of the times. A reporter who writes for the Associated Press recently published a tribute to the series, parts of which follow:

By FRAZIER MOORE Associated Press NEW YORK — “When everyone but idiotic anchorman Ted Baxter was fired from WJM News in 1977, Mary Richards and her fellow casualties were left reeling. It was a classically bittersweet finale for the beloved Mary Tyler Moore show after seven hit seasons. Then Mary's crusty boss, station news director Lou Grant, made a smooth transition. Within weeks, he had blown Minneapolis and snagged a good job in Los Angeles as city editor of The Tribune.

“Lou Grant arrived in the blazing afterglow of Watergate coverage by newspaper rock stars Woodward and Bernstein, and the 1976 movie version of their book, All the President's Men, where Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played them. The bracing message of that era: Two dogged reporters (and a newspaper that backed them up) could change the world — and earn the public's adoration.

“It was a big-hearted series with a humanistic streak (which, as the culture shifted, was sometimes blasted as "liberal"), a drama-comedy hybrid that emerged naturally from the series' creators: James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, writer-producers from "Mary Tyler Moore," and Gene Reynolds, a principal behind the TV incarnation of "M-A-S-H," itself an innovative half-hour blend of laughter and tears.

"Lou Grant" won 13 Emmys, two Humanitas Prizes and a Peabody Award, among many other honors. And although never a ratings smash, it drew an average audience of about 22 million viewers in those days of Big Three network dominance — routinely matching the viewership of "Dancing with the Stars," last week's top-rated show. Then, in May 1982, CBS announced "Lou Grant" would end. Did CBS make a business decision based on a ratings downturn (as the network always insisted)? Or did Asner, who had stirred up negative attention for his activism, spook network execs by bringing them increasing political headaches?

“Recently, the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television & Radio) in Los Angeles hosted a reunion of "Lou Grant" stars and producers. It didn't take long for the discussion to turn to why "Lou Grant" got axed. "There was a really concentrated effort on the part of the right-wing to torpedo this show," said Burns. Seated beside him, the 78-year-old Asner recounted one durable version of the show's demise. It dwells on then CBS magnate William Paley as the fall 1982 schedule was being nailed down. "They had `Lou Grant' on the (schedule) board," said Asner. "Mr. Paley came in and said, 'What's THAT doing up there? Get it off! Get it off!' And with that, `Lou Grant' was erased off the board."

“Whatever the circumstances, press reaction to its cancellation was harsh. There was some picketing. But there were no bloggers or e-mail crusades. "Lou Grant" was a lost cause, however immortal.” For the complete article travel to: or:

At the time I’ll never forget being impressed with seeing Ed Asner on the television news as he read aloud a warning he had received in the mail, a warning which said in effect that “we got John Lennon and if you’re not careful you will be next.” Conspiracy theory, anyone?
– • –
Is Montel Williams feeling a tinge of guilt over all those drug industry hyping commercials he has been filming lately. We know that Williams has become a patient advocate since being personally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and is personally reliant on medications, undoubtedly expensive ones, to keep the dreaded ms symptoms in check. We speculate on any possible guilt feelings after he abruptly terminated an interview with one Courtney Scott, a high school intern for the Savannah Morning News, when she asked him the question: “Do you think pharmaceutical companies would be discouraged from research and development if their profits were restricted?”

Perhaps terminating the interview wasn’t that big a deal but later that day Williams confronted the young lady and two other reporters after mistakenly believing they had followed him to the Westin Savannah Harbor, and that confrontation was a big deal. The three were there to cover an unrelated assignment but when he spied them Williams walked up to Scott and told her that, “I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up,” according to Joseph Cosey, a Web content producer for the newspaper. Scott said she filed a police report because of Williams’ behavior although she said it was unclear what Williams had meant during his confrontation.

Williams, who was in Savannah Friday to promote free prescriptions for poor people had already issued a statement of apology to Scott. Then on Saturday the intern received a letter from Williams sent from the email address of Melanie McLaughlin, president and executive producer of Mountain Movers, Inc., which produces Williams’ talk show.

"Regrettably I reacted childishly to the situation and for that I truly apologize to all concerned. I would like to invite Courtney and her family to appear on my show for a public apology," the e-mail said. Ms Scott appeared to be skeptical. "I'll accept, if he's really going to do it," Scott said Saturday. "I don't really think it's his statement. I think his people put it out."

Williams is featured in a series of ads for the pharmaceutical industry in which he touts an entity which furnishes drugs to people at low or no cost, and which ads are being used to assuage the public in thinking that the drug companies are doing good, consequently the current pricing structure which makes American purchased drugs as much as twice as expensive as the same drugs bought in Canada, Mexico, France, Britain, etc., should be left intact. From the amount of ad buys on CNN and similar channels, it would appear that the industry is getting nervous.
– • –
The online edition of a uk newspaper reports on one strange story for this approaching Christmas season. “Disturbing news has reached our Yuletide youthful innocence bunker that Microsoft's new artificial intelligence-powered Santa bot is subjecting the world's children to an unprecendented torrent of filth. Reg reader Iain blew the whistle on the foul-mouthed software after his nieces - just 11 and 13 years old - were drawn into a chat about oral sex.

“Redmond has added the seasonal ID to MSN messenger. Anyone can add the bot as a contact. During conversations it often suggests people play a child-friendly online game called Factory Frenzy where the player helps Santa's elves. It also has a shocking predeliction for casually dropping in that it likes to talk about a certain sex act.

“Iain told us that an unexpected profane outburst was triggered by his nieces offering the nasty St Nick a slice of digital pizza, using the string "(pi)". We immediately launched a full scale investigation and attempted to replicate the bad behaviour.
El Reg says: pizza (pi)
Santa says: Yum! What do you want for Christmas, El Reg?
El Reg says: Maybe you shouldn't eat so much! You are quite large!
Santa says: My elves will get right on that. And what else are you wishing for this year, El Reg?
El Reg says: Maybe you shouldn't eat it?
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: No thank you. I don't eat things!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else...
El Reg says: You dirty bastard!
Santa says: I think you're dirty bastard.
This coming from the service that banned the surname Woodcock as an ID.

The Register reported in a follow up story that MicroSoft has since killed the foul talking Santa Bot. “Microsoft has killed Santa Claus today, after an unsatisfactory attempt to restrain the North Pole-based jolly old elf from instant messaging children about oral sex. Although Redmond has been challenged by compassion in the past, this appears to be the first time on record it has out-and-out killed the very manifestation of goodwill.

“Father Christmas was subject to some controversy this year when given the seasonal ID on MSN messenger. While mostly sticking to an approved and traditional regimen of asking children what they want for Christmas, the mere mention of pizza would send him into a provocative froth about love-making of the mouth. Microsoft informed us about their troubling decision to destroy the spirit of Christmas this morning.

“Yesterday we received reports that the automated Santa Claus agent in Windows Live Messenger used inappropriate language. As soon as we were alerted, we took steps to mitigate the issue, including the removal of language from the agent’s automated script.

“We were not completely satisfied with the result of these actions, and have decided to discontinue the automated Santa Claus agent. We apologise for any offence or upset caused by this disturbing incident.” In life, Father Christmas was best known for delivering toys and goodies to children around the world — albeit with a somewhat controversial tendency of giving the best stuff to wealthier children whilst dispensing disappointments like oranges and sweets in the stockings of those in more dire financial situations. ®
– • –

And on Thursday we learned that in 2005 in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, the CIA destroyed at least two videotapes which documented the questioning of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, according to current and former government officials. The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. “They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy,” several officials said.

“The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

“This is a matter that should have been briefed to the full Intelligence Committee at the time,” an official with the House Intelligence Committee said. “This does not appear to have been done. There may be a very logical reason for destroying records that are no longer needed; however, this requires a more complete explanation. “

“Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005. “The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings,” he said.

“Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed. “If tapes were destroyed,” he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal, because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.”

So what else is new? Of course the CIA destroyed the tapes, it is a top secret spy agency, the bulk of its business is carried on behind closed doors, and much of it would be deemed criminal if known. And while it may be illegal to destroy evidence, who’s going to prosecute? The Shrub Justice Department, since the controversial interrogation techniques were ordered by this administration in the first place? The CIA destroyed the tapes to cover their ass. Whee! What a revelation? What a surprise? Let’s hear it for truth and the brotherhood of man. Little Eddy recommends washing the taste of the previous story out of your mind by renewing an acquaintance with Harry Shearer’s delightful “Waterboarding USA:USA Number One:

And while you’re about it treat yourself to Harry’s latest Silent Presidential Debate, this episode featuring hopefuls John Edwards, Mike Huckabee and the silent moderator Tim Russert.

You know what they always say, about silence being golden? Among presidential candidates silence is particularly golden.

The Real Little Eddy