Saturday, November 24, 2007

Little Eddy Blog #12 Happy Holidays

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Anne and son Joel went to Seattle to spend it with son Daniel, DeAnna, Cedar and Sol, and Anne’s sisters and offspring were evidently in the vicinity and spent turkey day with them also. It is a good thing Daniel is a chef, he cooked for a not so small army on Thanksgiving. All was quiet here in Houston, the usual succulent feast put together by my niece Susannah Nix, a friendly gathering with much conversation with David Nix, their beautiful daughter Emma, Susannah’s father Mack McCormick and a guest. Unfortunately I am a bit hard of hearing, and with the room acoustics being what they were I was only able to follow parts of the conversation. But I was content in the thoughts of Thanksgivings past, when the circle of our family was somewhat larger. What a nice time for family get-togethers Thanksgiving is.
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Here is our story to warm the heart of Lou Dobbs. (In case you don’t watch CNN Mr. Dobbs nightly paints illegal aliens as criminals and the scourge of modern day America. )

By TERRY TANG Associated Press PHOENIX — A 9-year-old boy looking for help after his mother crashed their van in the southern Arizona desert was rescued by a man entering the U.S. illegally, who stayed with him until help arrived the next day, an official said. The 45-year-old woman, who eventually died while awaiting help, had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote area just north of the Mexican border when she lost control of her van on a curve on Thanksgiving, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said.

The van vaulted into a canyon and landed 300 feet from the road, he said. The woman, from Rimrock, north of Phoenix, survived the impact but was pinned inside, Estrada said. Her son, unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.

“Unable to pull the mother out, he comforted the boy while they waited for help. He stayed with him, told him that everything was going to be all right," Estrada said. As temperatures dropped, he gave him a jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday, when hunters passed by and called authorities, Estrada said. The boy was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson as a precaution but appeared unhurt.

"We suspect that they communicated somehow, but we don't know if he knows Spanish or if the gentleman knew English," Estrada said of the boy. "For a 9-year-old it has to be completely traumatic, being out there alone with his mother dead," Estrada said. "Fortunately for the kid, (Cordova) was there. That was his angel."

Cordova was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, who were the first to respond to the call for help. He had been trying to walk into the U.S. when he came across the boy.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/5324846.html
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My late sister Mary McCormick loved a few special things in this world. Two of her favorites were the writings of the late Molly Ivins (it was she who coined the name Shrub for our illustrious leader) and the still percolating Dave Berry, the humorist newspaper columnist. I don’t know if they get the Washinton Post on whatever level Mary has ascended to, but if they do she will love Dave Berry’s suggestions for a Christmas giving list. You can access the list yourself copying the URL below and pasting it into your browser, but first I’ll give you a couple of reasons to go there. For the turkey hunter tired of prying the shotgun pellets out of his Thanksgiving kill come shotgun pellets made of seasoning. Just roast, baste and eat away. Also for that paranoid, insecure sleeper on your list there is pillow pal, a handy holster which hangs by your bed and can hold the weapon of your choice for a secure, restful night’s sleep. These are just two of the twelve delights, each charmingly illustrated, which await you after you paste in the URL below. And Dave notes they are all real and available for purchase.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/artsandliving/features/2007/holiday-guide/gifts/dave-barry/
gallery.html?hpid=features1&hpv=national
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The other day I stumbled upon an interesting website called StumbleUpon which says it has 3,921,031 members. The idea seems to be, connect, meet and share. Connect with friends and share your discoveries, meet people who have similar interests and check out what other people are discovering. It has several interesting features, one of which bills itself as a BBC Motion Gallery with a fascinating series of clips from around the world, some beautiful landscape photos, and a table called Milk designed with a Mac in mind, but they don’t tell you a price, and pictures of a lost city in India. There is also a collection 0f recent Stumblers, complete with pictures. And if you have IE version 3.005 or FireFox version 3.16 there is a free Toolbar you can download.
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When I was googling Wizard to see if the author mentioned below appeared in Google, I found the page which follows under Software Wizard. It is ex-Apple employee Andy Hertzfeld’s reminisces of the development of the Macintosh computer, one episode of which I reprint here:

I officially started on the Mac project on a Thursday afternoon, and Bud Tribble, my new manager and the only other software person on the project, was out of town. Bud was on leave of absence from an M.D.-Ph.D. program and he had to occasionally return to Seattle to keep up his standing in the program.

Bud usually didn't come into work until after lunch, so I met with him for the first time the following Monday afternoon. We started talking about all the work that had to be done, which was pretty overwhelming. He showed me the official schedule for developing the software that had us shipping in about ten months, in early January 1982.

"Bud, that's crazy!", I told him. "We've hardly even started yet. There's no way we can get it done by then."

"I know," he responded, in a low voice, almost a whisper.

"You know? If you know the schedule is off-base, why don't you correct it?"

"Well, it's Steve. Steve insists that we're shipping in early 1982, and won't accept answers to the contrary. The best way to describe the situation is a term from Star Trek. Steve has a reality distortion field."

"A what?"

"A reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules. And there's a couple of other things you should know about working with Steve."

"What else?"

"Well, just because he tells you that something is awful or great, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll feel that way tomorrow. You have to low-pass filter his input. And then, he's really funny about ideas. If you tell him a new idea, he'll usually tell you that he thinks it's stupid. But then, if he actually likes it, exactly one week later, he'll come back to you and propose your idea to you, as if he thought of it."

I thought Bud was surely exaggerating, until I observed Steve in action over the next few weeks. The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. If one line of argument failed to persuade, he would deftly switch to another. Sometimes, he would throw you off balance by suddenly adopting your position as his own, without acknowledging that he ever thought differently.

Amazingly, the reality distortion field seemed to be effective even if you were acutely aware of it, although the effects would fade after Steve departed. We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it (see Are You Gonna Do It?) , but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature.
http://www.folklore.org/ProjectView.py?name=Macintosh&topic=
Personality&sortOrder=Sort%20by%20Date
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For some strange reason (possibly because I hadn’t had enough sex play as a child) (( I wonder if it’s really possible to ever get enough sex play as a child?)) I have always been fascinated with stories concerning a child’s discovery of sex while growing up. When I was a teenager popular novelists of the time like John O’Hara would include in their novels scenes of their character’s discovery of sex as a normal stage in their growth. However at some point the book publishing industry began accepting books for publication with an eye towards sales to the motion picture industry, and since American films were not allowed to even so much as hint at sex between one or more underaged individuals, as a result novels published that reflected a more complete and honest view of growing up were few to none. I believe it was not so much a deliberate censorship on the part of publishers, more to the order of censorship of the marketplace. Novels of commercial viabilities like “Jaws” began to supplant the growing up novels.

For a frequently expressed “free country” the right to write and publish erotic or even honest writing was and is an ongoing a struggle. The recent death of Norman Mailer reminded us of this. In World War II a typical soldier’s every other word was fuck, usually with an ing appendage, and as a prefix for most any noun or verb you could name. Most times there were multiple usages in the same sentence. But in books about World War II, books such as Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, the word had to be printed as fugg, or some other deliberate distortion. Post war book publishing just did not use language like that even though its use would have been a far more accurate reflection of the times. Battles for both the freeing up of words and the unairbrushing of human genitalia were fought in the courts in the 1950’s and beyond.

A nudist publication, Sunshine and Health was able to finally have the Supreme Court establish the right to show a nude human being as he or she genuinely was, with genitals in plain view, not airbrushed away. And the equivalent in the freeing up of language came as the American courts finally allowed publication of works like James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and “Finnegan’s Wake,” D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” and the novels of Henry Miller, including “Tropic of Capricorn,” and “Tropic of Cancer.” This sudden freedom led to the publication of a whole raft of erotica, including such previously banned classics as Giacomo Casanova’s “The History of My Life” and the erotic classic of Victorian England, “My Secret Life” among other things. This era established a certain principle, for although the landmark cases cited above were works which were certified to have literary merit, the way was also opened for books whose only purpose was to satisfy the reader’s prurient interest. Although publishing opened up new frontiers of sexual discover society managed to keep matters in their proper perspective by walling off erotic material from those who were under age. And it managed to keep most references to sex and the human body restricted from television and even films which began getting X ratings merely from the showing of an unclothed female body.

The publication of Nancy Friday’s two collections of women’s sexual fantasies, “My Secret Garden” 1973, and “Forbidden Flower” 1975, further added to the awakening as the world of literature admitted for the first time that women had sexual fantasies, which thereby unmasked a previously unspoken and well hidden female craving for sex.

In this day and age the internet has turned the world upside down, and certain erotica flourishes primarily on websites like www.asstr.org, mrdouble.com and stories online.net. mrdouble.com is a membership only site which because of its refusal to restrict its authors in certain areas has lost the processing power of Visa and Mastercard, which has resulted in a somewhat diminished, although an extremely loyal membership. www.asstr.org and storiesonline.net are free sites. www.asstr.org is a repository for alt.sex.stories a popular news group site, and storiesonline.net which while perhaps not having the wide scope of subject matter as mrdouble, has well crafted, well formatted stories, some of which are classics in every sense of the world. For the purposes of these notes, I will concentrate on three currently active authors, and a few of their works.

In Uncle Pan’s profile on his stories online page, he says the following: I was attracted to storiesonline because it is the home of what I consider the father, the son, and the holy ghost of erotic literature. And the names I attach to that list are Hoisington, Scipio, and Wizard. That is very true in my opinion, however in retrospect I would amend that classification. Although the writings of all three of these authors do have their erotic moments, their primary purpose is not to titillate. The sex comes along sporadically, in a perfectly natural way in the furtherance of the plot. The purpose rather is to present life and the phenomonon of maturing with dead on honesty. And the result is the creation of real characters caught in the throes of all kinds of self discovery, including sex. And these three authors all write epics. Gargantuan stories with real life characters that do some of the same stupid things that we normal people do, only their characters are drawn sharper, and like all good literature, their lives are more colorful, and so make our lives better from the experience of having read them. They are like the continuing stories in the other media, except the other media cuts off when the characters enter the bedroom. These stories don’t, and thereby hangs the tale.

I got introduced to this totally new world of erotica when I discovered the works of Wizard. In his writing there are carefully drawn characters whose antics are told with humor and spirit. I originally found Wizard on mrdouble.com, though I later discovered he also had stories posted on www.asstr.org and finally on storiesonline.net. I was first attracted by his story Jenny’s Bath. It is a warm, touching tale of a man who has three girls over to his house to take baths, as the showers in the trailer park in which they lived had broken down. I went on to discover many another classic on his page, but it was when I found his Trailer Park series that the enormity of his talent began to be clear. Wizard’s Trailer Park series focuses on Tony Simms, and a small circle of his friends, his girlfriend Tami, his female football teammate Robbie, his sister Traci, her boyfriend Peter, and Peter’s sisters Mikee and Kelly among others. Tony is a kind of a very human super hero type, just slightly flawed, who also can’t keep himself from helping others when they are in a spot. Wizard’s stories sparkle with wit and imagination, and each improves on the one which came before, if that is at all possible.

The appearance of Trailer Park Six was the highpoint of my Thanksgiving week. There are presently six novel size tales in the series. They go in chronological order, and are best read in that order. Trailer Park Six was posted in early November, and it is what inspired this piece. It is available at: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Wizard , however, if you haven’t read the previous five I urge you to do so first. As Wizard himself says, he doesn’t give much of a damn about recapping. Besides the effect is cumulative if you begin at the beginning. Trailer Park one thru five are also available for members only at: http://www.mrdouble.com/htm/authors/wizard.htm. Also some of Wizard’s earlier works can be found at: http://www.asstr.org/files/Authors/Wizard/

It was through Wizard that I found another remarkable writer, Russell Hoisington. It seems Wizard co-opted several of Hoisington’s characters from his Wynter series, who appear in a chapter in Trailer Park, The Road Trip, and who are mentioned in Six. His insertions got my mouth watering and after failing to find Hoisington on asstr.org I googled him and found Wynter & Cinnamon, and from there his storiesonline page, from which I downloaded the entire Wynter series.

Russell Hoisington’s main character is a remarkable girl named Wynter King. In the first novel, Wynter is an extremely bright young twelve-year-old who switches from a desire to be a nurse to that of doctor, encouraged by several doctors of her acquaintance. Wynter is featured in four Hoisington created novels altogether; Wynter, Wynter & Jimmy, Wynter & Cinnamon, and Wynter & Hailey. The books are best read in the above order, as that is the order of their creation, although due to the alphabetical listings on the Hoisington author page, the stories appear there in a different order. Although when I first googled I began in the middle of Wynter and Cinnamon, I backtracked and read the entire series in the correct order. It reads much better chronologically. I have since read the series several times. http://storiesonline.net/auth/Russell_Hoisington

After reading Hoisington’s Wynter series and having reread Wizard’s Trailer Park series several times I began cruising storiesonline’s site trying to seek out other material of a like note. So far I have found one, on the author’s page of Nick Scipio, whose Summer Camp series denotes the life of Paul Hughes who grows up spending summers with his sister and his family in a nudist camp. There are presently three complete novel size episodes, each named for Paul’s girlfriend of the moment. Book 1 is named for Susan, the camp director who initiates Paul’s sexual experiences, book 2 is named for Gina, his first camp girlfriend, book 3 is named for Kendall, his girlfriend in college, and book 4 is named for Christy, who evidentally he marries but as yet other than a hint or two there has been no definite word. For book four is a work in progress, chapters one through eight have appeared thus far, but there is a month’s wait for each new chapter to appear, so if you begin it be prepared for a long wait between chapters. In addition to these four books there is a prequel to the series named Nereids, which is about Paul’s father David and his mother Beth and their friends Jack and Susan when they were young and their children were small. You can find all of Nick Scipio’s published work at: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Nick_Scipio.

If like John Lennon and Little Eddy, you like some uncompromising truth in your reading you will find time with Scipio as well as with Hoisington and Wizard to be time truly well spent. Happy reading. Happy Holidays!

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Little Eddie Blog #11, "I'm Back!"

Okay, so I goofed off last week. I let others write my blog. (Stole from others, you mean!) So sue me. I think it was really important to let Jammie Thomas tell her story in her own words. I’m not going to enter the Radiohead, comscore debate, I have never even heard the band Radiohead, my current musical tastes evolved from Bing Crosby and Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge to folk music which in turn and with age blossomed into The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and in spite of my sons’ earnest attempts to bring me up to date in the realm of music I pretty much cling to what I know and like. But the Radiohead move to offer their album online for whatever the user wanted to pay for it is perhaps one of the most ingenious moves by a band yet. It might have worked better if the user had been able to listen to the album before fixing on a price. Perhaps that was the way it was done, it certainly would make more sense to do it that way. At any rate, any attempt to do away with the established music industry whose RIAA is fighting its ongoing war on music lovers, is certainly a giant step in the right direction.
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I get up at six am each morning, and at the same time my iMac’s energy saver program wakes my computer up from sleep. I go about my business, emptying ye ole bladder, brushing what little is left of my hair, washing my face, turning on the coffeepot, getting dressed and finally cleaning off my glasses. By the time I have finished it is after 6:10 and a handy little program called iKey has opened my Mozilla Mac OS X web brower Camino and taken it to http://www.chron.com and I can sit down and read the morning’s news. There’s only one thing wrong with this. Every time I happen to glance to the top of the page I’m reminded that I am not logged in. Later when I go to the Washington Post and to the New York Times I am greeted with the phrase “welcome eddybad,” and it makes me feel right at home, but every day chron.com nags me to log in. Fellas, logging in is so Yesterday! So Twentieth Century! Chron.com if you’re curious about who I am please put a cookie in my web browser that tells you who I am just like the Post and Times do. Otherwise I’ll log in if and when I have a comment to leave, but otherwise, it’s early in the morning, I haven’t had my coffee yet, and logging in is Drag One. But you run a great online newspaper though, even if you do nag. I am especially enamored with your Tuesday technology section, and Dwight Silverman’s daily TechBlog. And especially I am hooked on his LinkPost columns. I also check out The Tech Chronicles from the San Francisco Chronicle and Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog from the Seattle Post Intelligencer both of which have links on the technology page. In his Friday 11-16 Tech Blog Dwight Silverman published the following:

I wanna rock 'n' roll all night, and litigate every day! Gene Simmons: You kids, get off my lawn!

Gene Simmons – the tongue-wagging bassist from the seminal, pseudo-metal hair band KISS – doesn't see much of a reason to release new music in the digital age. In an interview with Billboard by way of Reuters, Simmons blames college students for the downfall of the music business:

IT HAS BEEN NINE YEARS SINCE WE'VE SEEN A NEW KISS ALBUM. ANY PLANS TO GET BACK INTO THE STUDIO? The record industry is in such a mess. I called for what it was when college kids first started download music for free – that they were crooks. I told every record label I spoke with that they just lit the fuse to their own bomb that was going to explode from under them and put them on the street.

There is nothing in me that wants to go in there and do new music. How are you going to deliver it? How are you going to get paid for it if people can just get it for free? I will be putting out a Gene Simmons box set called "Monster" – a collection of 150 unreleased songs. KISS will have another box set of unreleased music in the next year.

The record industry doesn't have a [. . .] clue how to make money. It's only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there's no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid's face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They've got freckles. That's a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit's mask.

Simmons is right in one sense. The recording industry doesn't have a clue, but not for the reason he's suggesting. He was also asked in this interview about the experimental approach to pricing taken by Radiohead with its In Rainbows album, and Trent Reznor's plan to move to independent distribution.

That doesn't count. You can't pick on one person as an exception. And that's not a business model that works. I open a store and say "Come on in and pay whatever you want." Are you on [. . . ] crack? Do you really believe that's a business model that works?

Apparently, it has worked for Radiohead, which recently dismissed as inaccurate a comSense report that 62 percent of the folks who bought In Rainbows. However, Radiohead is not saying just how many people downloaded the album, nor what they actually paid. Still, in public statements, the band seems pleased.

And why shouldn't they be? Whatever buyers pay, a much larger cut is going to end up in the band's collective pockets. The only losers in this case are the record labels who are cut out of the deal.

It's hard to tell how many Neanderthal musicians such as Simmons are out there, but fortunately many of them do understand the new opportunities that lay before them. One is U2's Bono, who is offering an unreleased song from The Joshua Tree sessions via the iLike application on Facebook. U2 will probably sell more copies of the updated version of that classic CD as a result – and many will probably be snatched up the by the freckle-faced college kids Gene Simmons wants to sue.

Yeah. Somebody doesn't have a clue . . .

Good news: This fellow Sir Paul McSomebody, says, as reported by Billboard Magazine, that the full Beatles catalogue will be available online next year. "[I]t's all happening soon. Most of us are all sort of ready. The whole thing is primed, ready to go — there's just maybe one little sticking point left, and I think it's being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn't be too long," said sir Paul. "It's down to fine-tuning, but I'm pretty sure it'll be happening next year, 2008."
McCartney adds that any delays in bringing the Fabs' music to the Internet have been due to "contractual" issues, as well as deliberate planning by all parties involved. "You've got to get these things right," he explained. "You don't want to do something that's as cool as that and in three years time you think, 'Oh God, why did we do that?!’"

“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make!”

“Sort of ready” is perhaps the understatement of the year. It should be pointed out that all of the Beatles’ individual post Beatles solo albums have been available on iTunes for some months now.

Meantime no less than Edgar Bronfman, chief honcho at Warner Music, now faults his industry in it’s ongoing battle with the lovers of its product. Bronfman is from a Canadian Distillery family (Seagrams) a man who loved music and entertainment, and who left the family liquor business to get into the music and entertainment some years ago. Interestingly, on his Wikipedia page Bronfman admits his children have downloaded music from the internet, but feels that their “punishment” should remain in the family, not in the legal system. It’s a shame he doesn’t promulgate that idea among his RIAA partners. What follows reports on a talk he made at a mobile phone convention and is from Mac User online.

The boss of Warner Music has made a rare public confession that the music industry has to take some of the blame for the rise of p2p file sharing. Speaking at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau, Edgar Bronfman told mobile operators that they must not make the same mistake that the music industry made. "We used to fool ourselves,' he said. "We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won."

Mobile operators risk the same, he said. Fewer than 10% of mobile owners buy music on their handset, the vast majority of which is ringtones. "The sad truth is that most of what consumers are being offered today on the mobile platform is boring, banal and basic," he said. "People want a more interesting form of mobile music content. They want it to be easy to buy with a single click - yes, a single click, not a dozen. And they want access to it, quickly and easily, wherever they are. 24/7. Any player in the mobile value chain who thinks they can provide less than a great experience for consumers and remain competitive is fooling themselves."

Bronfman suggested that mobile companies have much to learn from Apple, despite being critical of and iTunes in the past. "For years now, Warner Music has been offering a choice to consumers at Apple's iTunes store the option to purchase something more than just single tracks, which constitute the mainstay of that store's sales," he explained. "By packaging a full album into a bundle of music with ringtones, videos and other combinations and variations we found products that consumers demonstrably valued and were willing to purchase at premium prices. And guess what? We've sold tons of them. And with Apple's co-operation to make discovering, accessing and purchasing these products even more seamless and intuitive, we'll be offering many, many more of these products going forward."

And the iPhone and iPod touch shows that approach can be made to work on mobile platforms, he said, "You need to look no further than Apple's iPhone to see how fast brilliantly written software presented on a beautifully designed device with a spectacular user interface will throw all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window. And let me remind you, the genesis of the iPhone is the iPod and iTunes - a music device and music service that consumers love." Bronfman appears to be experiencing an epiphany when it comes to digital music. From threatening to withdraw from iTunes and suggesting that to drop DRM would be "without logic or merit", he is now heaping praise on Apple and recently opened a DRM-free section on Warner's own Classics and Jazz music store. – Simon Aughton Mac User

At least the man knows how to publicly admit he was wrong. Would that this malady would spread to his brethren in the recording and music industry. Meantime the artist who used to be a Prince after a past of being somewhat sympathetic with music downloading has turned full circle and has brought suit against Pirates Bay, a well known bit torrent search engine website. And Democratic lawmakers in the House have attached legislation to a spending bill that will force colleges and universities to turn in their downloading students, or else have all of their students, even those who don’t download, lose their government funding. What kind of an undemocratic idea is that? Can you say Democratic Corporate Lackeys?

The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest attempt to turn free music downloading into a money making business. It is a website called: Rcrd Lbl (pronounced: Record Label) -- will be a test case. The new venture will give away the music drm free and enlist advertisers to cover costs. It is a joint venture between Downtown Records, an independent label behind Gnarles Barkley and others, and Reter Rojas, a journalist and entrepreneur who founded the respected technology blogs Gizmodo and Endgadget. The company has signed up three sponsors so far: Richard Branson’s Virgin America Airline, Nikon Corp, and PPR SA’s Puma AG sneaker unit. The site will also include short articles, social-networking features and internet radio stations. More is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119508767828793513.html

And from chron.com’s TechBlog Linkpost 11-15-2007 comes the following comment from a reader: Of course RIAA isn't close to the same epiphany, they are acting as gatekeepers and a conduit for income streams. They are a bureaucracy whose very existence is threatened. They are dominated by bean counters and lawyers.

The main problem is that the RIAA profits from a dying business model. Anything that has the potential to bypass their services is income lost to them. They are running scared and the courts offer the only apparent safe refuge. Alas, they are chewing off their own foot to escape from the trap of change. They may get away for the moment, but they create their own ultimate demise.

Their impetus to change will come from their clients whose royalties they collect and distribute. Every new group or musician or writer that eschews RIAA's services and seeks to profit directly from their customers are the ultimate agents of change. Posted to Chron. com by: David at November 15, 2007 10:37 AM
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After a couple of weeks of sporting slightly ruffled feathers Hillary Clinton got her campaign back on track Thursday night in the CNN Democratic Presidential Candidates debate in Las Vegas. For one thing, it was chaired by Wolf Blitzer, a far more neutral chair than was Tim Russert who in the previous NBC sponsored debate managed to skewer Hillary equally along with Edwards and Obama. The crowd in Vegas reacted to Obama’s and Edwards’ barbs with boos and after about ten minutes of this kind of reaction they wisely began to temper their comments. And virtually every so-called pundit who was heard after the debate conceded that Hillary did herself proud.

And so although it is way to early to predict the outcome of the upcoming Democratic primaries it does begin to look as if there is a possible Clinton in our democratic future. And unlike the Republican take on the situation, real people with true democratic inclinations realize that the eight years of a Bill Clinton administration were truly golden years, eight years of a sound economy, of an admistration conscientiously shrinking the huge Republican deficits of the Reagan and Bush 1 years. It was eight years of no war, of improving, not trashing America’s image on the world stage. And eight years of Truth, not the falsehoods and fabrications of the current Republican Bush Administration. Bill Clinton successfully led the nation through it’s crises, handling things like the bombing of the Cole and African embassies, the burning of black churches in the south, and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City with skill and charisma. But best of all, unlike Republican presidents who despise the federal government and staff it with incompetents at best and poachers at worst, Clinton had the smarts to put effective people running his government. Under Clinton the government was rolling and was an institution you could be proud of.

The fact was that Bill Clinton was able to lead the country so effectively in spite of the best efforts of a full time Republican Trashing Industry, which poked their highly partisan noses into every part of Clinton’s past, and finally could only settle on his relationship with a young lady who was of age and we presume of sound mind, and who had proudly announced to friends before leaving for her Washington interneship that she was going there to earn her Presidential Kneepads. Come on, how many real men out there would resist a young lady who wanted only to give him oral pleasure. For shame, you Republican hypocrites who chase after Washington’s young male interns and who tap your feet seductively in airport mens’ rooms, also you “lying swiftboater” sleazeballs who wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and hit you full in the face. You assholes think you’re going to have a field day with Hilary, but you just might find that the worm turns, and maggots have been known to feed on the the flesh of Republican liars just fine. All in all, from the perspective of the middle of November, 2008 looks like one hell of an interesting political year.
– • –
Speaking of interesting, ever notice how everything in our educational institutions stresses the necessity for using authority for all extrapolations. This implies that all ideas not reinforced with the citing of authority are somehow suspect and/or invalid. But this flies in the face of logic. It has made the academic community lazy and devious. And it has propagated many false ideas among the populace. It is also an impediment to true progress in areas where there is no prior authority to cite. And as a side effect what it has done is propagate a way of thinking that leaves the drawing of conclusions to others. Thus the popularity of pundits in politics, and so-called experts in legal fields and the military. This voluntary deference of judgement hereby absolves us of the possibility of our having to make a mistake ourselves by inferring that our individual observation is of no consquence in the first place. And it has led us to the position of being led by experts who in all too many cases are not really qualified to lead anyone anywhere.

But the problem with turning our judgement over to the so-called expert echoes the problem the military faces every time it tries to fight the next war in the same way it had successfully conducted the previous one. The fact is each enemy is different. And each army must exchange what is known and what is comfortable for what is new and untested. Generals and war planners must use their imaginations, and that is a subject that is not taught in military college. In fact imagination is a gift which is very suspect in the minds of the military, as it can’t be quantified or verified by past actions. And the same is generally true that each political campaign as well as each legal campaign is different.

What this has meant is that from grade school through wherever our education has taken us, we have been very subtly taught to distrust our own senses, to not value our own perceptions. Instead we have been encouraged to rely on the perceptions of so-called experts. And yet, if we realize and recognize it, each of us is an expert on our own body and our own situation and our own perceptions. We are the master of our own particular piece of the universe. It takes a certain amount of courage to look at a situation and form an opinion of it, but the effort is one that is always well worthwhile.

One needs to resist having opinions force fed into us but instead use our powers of observation and reason to determine for ourselves what is what. If the general population had been encouraged to do this we would never have swallowed the pack of half-truths and out and out lies which were used to ensnare us into that completely futile campaign in Iraq. It is a shame but selling that skewed data to the United Nations has ruined Colin Powell from any further meaningful public service; honorable man as he is, who would buy a used war from the likes of him? I would like to think that Mr. Bush has so poisoned the environment for wars that in the future Republican or Democrat alike will have no success short of an out and out Pearl Harbor type attack on the country. Which of course is as it should be, for with but a few exceptions America has no history of arbitrarily starting wars as we did in Iraq, and before that in Viet Nam and Korea, and which Bush and Cheney seem to be trying to lay the groundwork for in Iran.

And it is high time that we Americans ceased allowing our presidents and the State Department and CIA and armed forces to back every tin horn dictatorship in the world in the interest of “protecting us from the evils of communism.” The primary evil of communism is that it takes the power and resources from the rich, and gives it to those it considers politically relevant. This is not a good thing, granted, but it’s no more unfair than the typical South American type dictatorship in which only the wealthy have all the power as well as the money and which our military helps prop up by giving their military special training. Jimmie Carter is right, we should only back true democracies, even those tilted to the left, but only those whose political structure reflects the aspirations of its people.

And while we’re on the topic as a father and a grandfather, it is a disconcerting to see BushtheFather’s now and again in public agony over the public skewering of his son, but the man needs to face the facts. BushtheSon by shunning in practice the very “bringing together” he professed in running for office and having gone about doing what he pleased with no input from the majority of Americans, has earned every invective a weary, grossed out public can come up with. We would suggest W. try some of the following on for size: dogged, hard, hardened, hardheaded, hardhearted, headstrong, immovable, implacable, inflexible, mulish, obdurate, opinionated, ossified, pat, peevish, pertinacious, perverse, pigheaded, rigid, self-willed, stubborn, unbending, uncompromising, unrelenting, unyielding, willful (or wilful); or if you would prefer, hidebound, narrow-minded; resistant, wayward, wrongheaded; persistent, tenacious; iron, relentless; grim, severe, stern, strict; determined, firm, inexorable, resolved, single-minded, steadfast, sure, unflinching; contrary, disobedient, froward (habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition), insubordinate, intractable, recalcitrant, refractory, uncooperative, ungovernable, unmanageable, unruly; defiant, insurgent, mutinous; indomitable; confirmed, inveterate, unregenerate.

Most of BushtheFather’s advisors in the past have wisely advised BushtheSon against the path he ultimately chose, and he owes his 2000 election victory to James Baker, his father’s Secretary of State who successfully pleaded W.’s case before the Supreme Court, but obviously W. preferred to listen to the Cheney’s and Wolfowitz’s of the world rather than listen to the voices of sanity and reason. I grant you BushtheFather, it’s a damned shame, but it’s no one’s fault but his own. BushtheSon obviously slept through Civics and Government classes, and people elected him because they thought, like father like son, and they were so terribly wrong. – • –
Occasionally I mention the 81 years I have been observing this world, and I do it to point out how our country and its people have changed during all of these years. It has changed in many, many ways, but certainly one way as been our public attitude towards sex. And most particularly sex among children. When I was growing up the really bright and inquisitive children I knew discovered sex frequently at an early age. When I was in elementary school a classmate of mine was regularly having sex with a female classmate. They seemed to really love and care for one another and were going at it so hot and heavy that when her parents found out the father changed jobs and the girl’s family moved to a faraway city so as to break up their tryst. The young man whose name I won’t mention here grew up to become a psychologist and there’s no telling how many young ladies he was able to lead down the path to fulfillment during the many years that followed.

Since the beginning of time children have experimented with other children, and in some cases with sympathetic adults to learn the whys and wherefores of their body and the pleasures they could obtain therein. When I was a child there was nothing particularly wrong with this. Adults never want their children to indulge in sex simply because it can be a force so powerful they are afraid children will be so absorbed they might neglect and let falter other aspects of their lives like their schoolwork. However, it was not the sin and the abuse that today’s society labels it. Bright, inquisitive kids indulged in it to the extent they could find the time and place, and no particular harm was done. After all, when we grow up we will have to live with and have sex with a member of the opposite sex so we that we can procreate and carry on the human race. And how could it be that obtaining prior experience would actually hurt one? Surely you would not want to be flown by a pilot with no training or experience. Nor be cut open by a surgeon who opted out of anatomy classes in medical school. Why embark on a life with a partner with neither knowing what the hell they are doing? However nowadays society is in such a sorry state that a five year old boy who kisses a five year old girl in kindergarten gets himself prosecuted and labeled as a sex offender. Absurd but it happened. And what is even more frightening boys bring automatic weapons to schools to eliminate classmates and teachers. Teenagers have always had problems with suicide, even way back in my time. But teenagers did not use automatic weapons to end the lives of others until recently. Once would be one time too many, but it has happened more than once. And several more cases were nipped in the bud before they happened.

I would like to propose a cause of the problem. It may or may not be correct, what the hell do I know? But it is this. Children grow up these day entangled in a web of lies and unspoken truths by the adults in this world. As I was growing up, it was possible to read about sex in novels. Particularly sexual discovery while growing up. But that changed when publishers began publishing novels with the idea of selling them for films. Films do not deal in sexual discovery when growing up. And of course, the popular media, television, ignores that aspect of life altogether. And so begins what I call the great disconnect. Parents, teachers, etc. pretend that what feels good, sex, is bad, is not done, even doesn’t exist. Abstinence is promulgated as the way to go. Purity (ie ignorance) is worshiped. Now this works with some children, but others are obviously festering in their frustration. And in some, with strong undercurrents of destruction and suicide running through their veins, disaster is just waiting to happen.

I could be full of it. But something in the fabric of our society is frayed, devastatingly frayed. And the solution won’t be in reinforcing the values of our society as they are being taught and practiced these days, for obviously it isn’t working. My solution is to apply some John Lennon to society’s mix: Give me a little truth. See things as they really are for a change, don’t mistake idealism for realism. See life not through some experts or pundits eyes, see life through your own eyes. And convey what you see as honestly as you are able to your child.

I write erotic stories, I’ve explained why before, I’ll not go there again today. To me its neat to use words to bring pleasure to others. And I think bringing sexual pleasure is among the most immediate forms of pleasure words can bring our fellow human beings. Not that erotica pleases all. But we do the best we can, and we write for those who enjoy it.

Uncle Pan’s latest story is called Polly’s Confession for Dr. Throckmorton and is available on his page: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Uncle_Pan It is written in the words of a little girl who discovers how to pleasure herself at age three, at age five discovers how boys are built bathing her two month old cousin, and at age six discovers sex games like doctor with a seven year old neighbor boy. At age nine, her neighbor boy having moved out of town the year before, she begins to seduce another neighbor, this one full grown. When at the age eleven her mother discovers her relations with the neighbor she sends her to a therapist to try and save the child.

Two other previously published stories were also added to Uncle Pan’s page. One, Roxanne and the Artist Next Door dates from 2005 and is a story suggested when my exwife told me of her friend growing up who at 12 learned about sex by seducing the artist who lived next door to her. The other story, Timothy’s Joy, is what I call it a feel good fantasy, which perhaps does not go as far as it might have, but then again how far should a fantasy go anyway. Cheers.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Little Eddy Blog #10 The R.I.A.A. and the Rico Racketeering Law

This week’s blog is devoted to p2p, Jammie Thomas, and to all past, present, and future victims of a so-called music industry out of control. Every fall the R.I.A.A. sends out a round of letters to American universities complaining that certain of their students had illegally downloaded copyrighted material using their (the college’s) network. The R.I.A.A. demands that the University identify the students attached to the illegal activities, and when the information is offered it threatens the students with expensive lawsuits unless the students pay outrageous amounts of money to the R.I.A.A. By any stretch of imagination this is pure unadulterated extortion. However, because of vague wording in the Digital Copyright act and the fact that the R.I.A.A. is acting on behalf of the legal copyright owners, the record companies, this out and out arrogant and to my mind highly illegal behavior works in most cases. Only a handful of people are resisting this arrogant example of legal blackmail.
– • –
There follows a p2pnet news special: “RIAA News:- Through their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) and all the other so-called trade organisations strategically sited in major cities around the world, the members of the Big 4 organised music cartel are running a hugely expensive international disinformation campaign (a charitable description) designed to show they’re being “devastated” (their word) by their own customers, whom they’re calling criminals and thieves, even though no crime has been committed and nothing has been stolen.

These people are massive online illegal distributors of copyrighted music causing record industry support workers to be thrown onto the streets, out of work, and who are costing the labels billions of dollars in lost profits, say Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany), EMI (Britain), and Warner Music (US).

In America, an estimated 30,000 people, some of them very young children, had been subpoenaed by the RIAA, accused of being file sharing criminals. It’s, “no secret that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has responded to the growth of online file sharing with a wave of copyright infringement litigation,” wrote James Alonso, Marc Friedenberg, Michael Nguyen, Shawn Oakley and Sarah Calvert from The Columbia Science & Technology Law Review. “Often, the individuals targeted by the RIAA fear the overwhelming costs of defending themselves in court, and many have agreed to pay large settlements.”

Often, but not always. Now, inspired by the examples of people such as the five very reluctant heroines mentioned below, increasing numbers of victims are deciding not to let themselves be terrorised into settling. The five, courageous in every sense of the word, are:
* Patti Santangelo, a New York mother of five children, two of whom have now become RIAA targets
* Rae-Jay Schwartz, another mother, bound to a wheelchair by multiple sclerosis, the terrible central nervous system disease
* Marie Lindor, a 57-year-old home health aid whose knowledge of computers and computer systems is zero
* Tanya Andersen, a disabled mother living off a disability pension
* Jammie Thomas, a young mother of two from Minnesota

But it’s Thomas, the first of the American RIAA victims to actually appear in court, who’s caught the attention of the international mainstream media for more than just a day or two. Horrified by the negative (for them) PR the case has been generating, using their connections, political power and influence, the labels are doing their best to distort facts and spin Thomas as a cold schemer whose depredations forced the RIAA to take her to court.

Cary Sherman, the organisation’s chief spin doctor, said he was “surprised it took this long for one of the industry lawsuits to go to trial” when in fact, the organisation has done everything it can to stop any of these cases actually reaching a judge and jury.

Thomas has also achieved two other firsts: As far as I know, she’s the first to launch her own forum, and for the first time since she was forced into the limelight, she’s telling her own story, in her own words.” Jon Newton - p2pnet http://www.p2pnet.net/story/13882

– • –
My Story By Jammie Thomas

A lot of misinformation has been printed concerning my case, my family, my living situation, and me personally. I welcome this opportunity to set the record straight. As most already know, I was sued by RIAA (actually by some of the individual recording labels that make up the RIAA) and I lost.

First, I want to tell you all about me before we dissect my case and what went wrong.

‘I never wanted this much notoriety, ever’

I am a single mother of 2 beautiful boys; Tyler who is 13 and Triston, who is 11. These two are my life and they’re the reason why I do anything. It is also because of these two I decided to fight back against the RIAA. After I received the various letters from both my ISP and the RIAA, I made up my mind I was not going to be bullied into paying for something I didn’t do. My father always taught me to stand up and fight for what I believe in and I figured what better way to teach my boys this same lesson but through example.

My family have been my most staunch supporters through this entire situation. My parents even helped me secure a loan for the retainer money for my attorney when this first started. All of my family wanted to be at the courthouse during the trial, but after I saw the news articles that happened the day before the trial started, I asked them to stay away, to try and shield them from what I was about to go through.

After I was contacted by the RIAA, I started researching these cases hoping to find answers to why this was happening and what I could do to stop it. I came across websites that would become one some of the biggest assistant in my own case. These sites are Recording Industry vs. The People, a blog written by an attorney, Mr. Ray Beckerman, who handles similar cases in New York, and p2pnet.net. It is also because of Mr. Beckerman I was able to find Mr. Brian Toder, my attorney in Minnesota.

Mr. Beckerman’s site chronicles cases of everyday people being sued by the RIAA and a lot of these cases are very similar to mine. The first case I read about was Patty Santangelo. She is also a single mother who decided to fight back. Recently, she had her case dismissed with prejudice, granting her the victor and now eligible for her attorney’s fees and court costs.

I’m very excited for her.

Another case I learned of was Tanya Anderson. Ms. Anderson is also a single mother who decided she was not going to be bullied into paying for something she didn’t do. And Ms. Anderson recently won her case against the RIAA just as Ms. Santangelo did. I would love to suggest a pattern is emerging - 3 cases of single moms refusing to pay the RIAA. But considering over 26,000 people received what the RIAA calls ‘pre-suit settlement letters’, I find it highly unlikely all of those are single parents.

After reading about these cases and others more dire than mine, including the suit against a woman with multiple sclerosis who has never even used a computer, many cases against teens and pre-teens, even a case against a deceased elderly woman, I became rather enraged. My initial reaction was how dare they? I also thought how could they get away with this type of extortion here, in America? The more I read, the more sick and disgusted I became. I knew after this I would not ever settle, no matter how bad my situation became.

I never dreamt my case would actually make it to court. I figured the RIAA had run from every case that was even close to going before a jury and they would do the same thing with my case. Yeah, I was wrong. My attorney kept warning me all along I might be the first case to ever go to court, but I was na├»ve and didn’t want to see the bigger picture. A cold splash of reality wakes anyone up and the judgment against me was that splash I seemed to need.

I also never dreamt how large of a story my case would become. Before I went to court, no one except those close to me knew of this situation I was dealing with. Now, I can Google my name and read articles about me. A very odd and surreal feeling for me as I never wanted this much notoriety, ever. Unfortunately, a lot of the articles I’ve read are full of half-truths, conjectures, and right out lies. I can understand media outlets having a deadline to meet, but I cannot understand media outlets filling the holes in their stories with incorrect information.

‘Best Buy made the decision to replace the hard drive’

I would like to now talk about some of that incorrect information which has plagued news articles and comments. First, I will finally set straight the issue with my computer hard drive, when it was replaced, why it was replaced, who replaced it and what might have happened to the old drive. I have read many comments and articles that I had my hard drive replaced after I learned of my suit. This could not be further from the truth. What most people don’t know, if I did have my hard drive replaced after I was served the initial complaint to this suit, that would be considered spoliation of evidence, which is a criminally prosecutable offense. All the following dates, keep in mind so you can see the timeline yourself.

The day MediaSentry (the RIAAs ‘investigative’ company) said I was caught illegally sharing songs over KaZaa was February 21, 2005. My computer crashed approximately 2 weeks later. The only reason I know why it crashed is this: my boys were playing a video game and in the middle of some epic battle on their game, the computer froze up, then the screen went black, and in my child’s frustration, the side of the computer was smacked. After that, the computer would not load and I would receive error messages.

I brought my computer into Best Buy for repairs on March 7, 2005. Remember, I brought it in for repairs under the extended warranty, not to have the hard drive replaced. And if anyone who has used a large chain electronic store to repair their electrical equipment knows, these companies do not replace hard drives on the whim of the customer if they have to pay for the hard drive replacement covered under warranty. They try to do whatever is cheaper for the company, which normally means fixing the issues with the hard drive. With my hard drive, the issues couldn’t be fixed so Best Buy, not me but Best Buy, made the decision to replace the hard drive.

The RIAA didn’t subpoena my personal information from Charter until late April 2005, almost 2 months AFTER my hard drive was replaced. As with all RIAA subpoenas to ISPs, I was not notified of the court date when the subpoena was issued. I was only notified after Charter Communications was served with the subpoena. This letter came late April 2005, again 2 months AFTER my hard drive was replaced. I didn’t officially hear from the RIAA until late August 2005, almost 6 months AFTER my hard drive was replaced. The lawsuit itself wasn’t officially started until April 2006, over 1 year AFTER my hard drive was replaced.

As you can see, I did not replace my hard drive to hide any evidence of anything. The replacement wasn’t my choice and I would have to be psychic to know 2 months in advance my personal information was going to be subpoenaed and a year later, I would be sued.

Yes, all this information was given to the jury during the trial. The main problem that arose concerning my hard drive was the date I gave my attorney for when the hard drive was replaced. I didn’t check the records for Best Buy before I gave my hard drive to Mr. Toder, so when I told him the hard drive had been replaced, the date I gave was January or February of 2004. Obviously, after we received all the information from Best Buy, we saw that the hard drive was replaced in March 2005. We also found out I didn’t even own the computer until March 2004, one month after the date I told my attorney.

This wouldn’t be the first time I was off by a year on my dates.

During my deposition, I was off by one year on the date I purchased my computer (I said early spring 2003 when it was early spring 2004), the date my hard drive was replaced (I said 2004 when it was 2005) and when I finished ripping all the music to my computer (I said the fall of 2005 when it was the fall of 2006) to only name a few. I was basing everything off my memory, without taking into consideration as stressed as I was, my memory wasn’t what I thought it was. I have learned a hard lesson as the jury was not able to see my deposition transcript. I now know to check and double check everything and if I haven’t, my answer will be ‘I don’t know.’

Another rumor I would like to put to rest is the question why didn’t I buy the music since it is offered for less than a dollar per song on sites like I-tunes? To be completely honest with you, I already own those songs they accused me of ‘making available’ on KaZaa. I own over 240 CDs I have purchased throughout my life, most while I worked at Best Buy when I was in college. Their employee discount is amazing!

Anyway, on these CDs are almost 3,000 songs, which in turn are on my computer right now. I have purchased additional songs from Walmart.com. So in total, I own roughly 3,000 individual songs, all legally purchased.

‘I can look back now and see many things I could have or should have done differently’

Now on to my defense during the trial. A lot of people have said I should not have used a ’spoofing’ defense, especially without an expert to testify and give the details.

First, I did not use a ’spoofing’ defense. That term was not even mentioned during my trial until after the judge himself asked one of the witnesses what spoofing was. I never presented a defense someone spoofed my information. My defense was based around the facts an IP address does not identify a person, there was no trace of KaZaa or any peer to peer software on any computer I owned, not a single witness could testify they could identify who was online making song files available, there was no witness who could testify they ever saw me use or talk about any peer to peer software, and there was not a single person who could identify me as the person caught on February 21, 2005 sharing files through KaZaa. Yes, my attorney mentioned certain computer terms during the trial, but I have no idea what any of those terms are.

Second, I did have an expert. This expert did inspect my computer and was going to testify for me at trial. That was originally the plan, until I couldn’t come up with the money for my expert during the trial. Another thing most people don’t know is the defendant is responsible for paying expert witnesses their hourly rate during the trial and providing for their food and board while at the trial. My attorney was able to secure that expert witness at a very reasonable rate, but I wasn’t able to afford this rate during the entire trial.

As for what’s next, my attorney filed a motion to have the verdict thrown out or to have the judgment reduced based on the constitutionality of the judgment. This is not an appeal, this is a post trial motion. We are currently waiting for the plaintiffs to file their response to our motion. The judge will not make a decision on that motion until after the plaintiffs have filed. The timeline for appeals is we have 30 days after the judge decides all post trial motions before we file any appeals. The legal aspects of this case are questions for my attorney and I will always refer those kinds of questions to him. I do know personally I cannot allow my case to end this way, with this judgment. My case will be used as a sledgehammer by the RIAA to force other people caught in the RIAA’s driftnets to settle, even if they are or are not guilty of illegally sharing music online.

Considering hindsight is always 20/20, I can look back now and see many things I could have or should have done differently. I could have settled before I was even sued. I could have settled many times before the case went to trial. I could have worked harder to find a way to afford the things I needed at trial. But I refuse to live life regretting could haves or would have or should haves.

The one piece of advice I can give to anyone who finds themselves being sued or threatened to be sued by the RIAA is to fight back.

The more people fight back against these cases, the more expensive it will be for the RIAA to bring these suits and the less resources the RIAA will have to use against others.

I was found liable of copyright infringement without the plaintiffs having to prove I downloaded anything, without having to prove I was aware of any file sharing taking place on my computer or within my home, without having to prove I owned a copy of KaZaa, without having to prove any files were shared with anyone from my computer and without having to prove who was on the computer the night of February 21, 2005.

This doesn’t seem fair and it’s what keeps me going in my fight.

Jammie Thomas
http://freejammie.freeforums.org/
– • –
You can visit the above URL to read reactions of Ms. Thomas’ statement, and if you like, make a contribution to her cause. In the meantime you can bet your bippies that the entire music community as well as the recording industry is keeping their eyes peeled on the British band Radiohead’s recent release of their latest album “In Rainbows.”

www.comscore.com vs. Radiohead

RESTON, VA, November 5, 2007 – comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released a study of online sales of “In Rainbows,” a new record album from the band Radiohead. The album’s release has challenged the music industry’s traditional distribution and sales model by allowing consumers to determine the price they are willing to pay for the album, which consumers are able to download at the band’s official site for the album (http://www.inrainbows.com). Consumers could also choose to purchase the Discbox, which includes a vinyl album, bonus CD, and assortment of other trinkets, at the site for a set price of approximately $80 U.S. The results of the study are based on data obtained from comScore’s worldwide database of 2 million people who have provided comScore with explicit permission to monitor their online behavior.

Approximately 2 out of 5 Downloaders Willing to Pay

During the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the “In Rainbows” site, with a significant percentage of visitors ultimately downloading the album. The study showed that 38 percent of global downloaders of the album willingly paid to do so, with the remaining 62 percent choosing to pay nothing. The percent downloading for free in the U.S. (60 percent) is only marginally lower than in the rest of the world (64 percent).

“The high percentage of users actually paying more than a few dollars for this download is actually pretty impressive,” said Jim Larrison, general manager of corporate development at Adify, a provider of online ad network services. “I expected the vast majority of users to download the album for free or at most a few dollars. With 40 percent of consumers willing to pony up real money, this is a true win for the music industry as it shows there is still perceived value in the digital form of entertainment. Of course it does suggest that the marketplace is continuing to migrate and the music industry needs to shift with consumer behavior. There are numerous methods to monetize the music, via shows and concerts, merchandising and box sets, commercial licensing, and even advertising; which is where the industry needs to progress towards, as the 40 percent paying for music might not be sustainable.”

“It is important to note that Radiohead has single-handedly accomplished a milestone that the recording industry has failed to achieve – they’ve eliminated much of the profit attrition related to piracy or illegal copying,” said Edward Hunter, comScore analyst and part-time songwriter. “Moreover, they have garnered good faith with the music consumer at a time when it’s all the rage to bash the industry and the artists who ally themselves with it. And then you have the reduction in cost of sale, cost of promotion and production. I’d call this a resounding success for Radiohead and music fans everywhere – and a fantastic artistic effort as well.”

Radiohead stuck up for its fans on Friday. The rock band denied that 62 percent of those who downloaded the group's new album paid nothing for the music.

Last month, Radiohead announced that it was releasing a digital version of the album for whatever fans wanted to pay. Internet research group, ComScore, on Monday released a report that said only 38 percent paid anything for In Rainbows. In a statement, Radiohead's representatives called ComScore's report "wholly inaccurate."

Radiohead's pay-what-you-want offer is groundbreaking and is being watched closely by fans, music labels and other bands. How it fares could influence whether other acts try and sell their own music via the Web – without the support of the labels.

Andrew Lipsman, a ComScore senior analyst, didn't back down. In a blog posted to the company's site on Thursday, Lipsman said that he was "very confident" in the data. ComScore derived its numbers by watching the Internet behavior of nearly 1,000 people. Several hundred among this group downloaded Radiohead's album. In the blog, Lipsman said that when it comes to statistics, this is considered a large sample. "We observed the actual online spending behavior from a robust sample of hundreds of individuals in order to produce an accurate estimate," Lipsman said in his post. "If we didn't have a reasonable sample from which to extrapolate, we wouldn't have released the data."

But in their statement, Radiohead's handlers said that ComScore's study "in no way reflected definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project."

Radiohead has declined to reveal any sales figures.
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9814155-7.html
– • –
Sometimes it is more important to listen to other voices than to expound yourself, and for that reason I have turned this week’s blog over to Jammie Thomas and www.p2pnet.net and to www.comscore.com/blog vs. Radiohead. Something needs to happen to change the course of the so-called music industry before they make criminals out of us all. The real criminal here is an R.I.A.A. whose only success has been in blackmailing p2p users threatening them with legal action and this has not curbed p2p downloading one iota. Somehow the R.I.A.A. needs to be stopped. A resounding kick in the ass for its spokesman Cary Sherman would make a good start. Any volunteers? Good luck, world.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Little Eddy #9: Ghosts & Goblins past, plus natural phenomenon

Halloween has come and gone. Wednesday evening children of all shapes and sizes, and dressed in all manner of horrific costumes trundled hither and yon, braving the terrors of the night to collect whatever candy they could muscle out of friends and neighbors. To tell the truth, I don’t think the children of today have a clue as to what Halloween night traditionally meant in my day. Three nights ago the eleven year old boy who lives in my house asked me if when I was a kid whether we went from house to house collecting candy. With a smile I told him, no, that pastime hadn’t been invented yet. I explained that it wasn’t that we lived in caves back then, we lived in houses and apartments just like people these days do.

And as to what we did in lieu of collecting candy, well, what we did was to commit mischief with a capital M. When I was a kid Halloween was the one night in the year when you could be at your worst and get away with it. In our neighborhood we would cast rocks up at a streetlight to try and put it out. We would place a large rock strategically on the street car tracks in hopes of derailing a trolley car at Fairview St. and Mandell St., where the car had to make a turn. (Many times we tried, but only once did we succeed in derailing the car. And afterwards we had the pleasure of watching from a secure hiding place as a truck arrived to lift the car back onto the tracks.) And we would decorate our neighbors’ houses and car windows with soap. And in general we would try and make malicious asses out of ourselves without getting caught on this one night a year, this night of witches and mayhem, this night where we could safely unleash our hostile destructive side.

I don’t remember exactly when that genius came up the idea of diverting children from committing mischief to dressing up in costumes and knocking on doors begging for candy, but it was certainly a master stroke and generation after generation of home dwellers should be eternally grateful to whoever it was that dreamed that up. It has saved homeowners countless amounts of window scrubbing by changing the concept of Halloween night from one of malicious mischief to one of having fun while practicing the harmless age old art of begging.
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One of my early infatuations was with an English professor I had at the University of Houston after I returned after getting out of the army. She was young, a very outgoing person for a college professor, she had associated with a group of performers in the Broadway company of Ethel Merman, and she was missing Broadway and the good and exciting life of the theater. Her name was Edwina Sprague. She had many truisms she introduced to us, but none more important or more true than this one: “All generalities are false, including this one.” Like the old, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” this one leaves you with feeling of knowing everything – and then suddenly realizing you don’t know a damned thing. And yet you cannot argue the phrase’s inherent truth.

I later worked with the lady’s husband who was a radio announcer at KPRC in Houston. It was a station which back then was owned one of Houston’s newspapers. Bill was nervous on air, he could not for the life of him say anything that wasn’t first written out on a sheet of paper. And so when he would read the signoff at 12 midnight every night, which went, “You have been listening to KPRC, the radio service of your morning newspaper, the Houston Post in Houston, Texas. KPRC is owned and operated by the Houston Post publishing company, and operates at an assigned frequency of 690 mghz under license from the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. This is __________ ____________ wishing you good night and good morning.” Before reading the announcement each night Bill would pencil in his name, Bill Sprague, over the dotted line. Imagine, someone so nervous at being on the air he couldn’t trust himself to say his own name?

This reminds me of my first attempt at public speaking in Mr. Morgan’s English Class at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas. It had been my ambition to be a radio announcer since I was a kid, and so I volunteered for a speaking assignment in the class. I prepared my talk well, or so I thought, but when the time came to deliver, I went up to the front of that classroom and looked at all those faces of my peers, and I froze. Not one word was forthcoming. It was embarrassing as hell, not only to me, but to the whole class and Mr. Morgan, the teacher. Finally after what seemed like at least an hour but was probably no more than a couple of minutes, Mr. Morgan made some lame joke about freezing up in public and excused me. I sat down gratefully. World War II came on during my junior year at Lamar, and the school newspaper suddenly went from being printed to being read over the school’s pa system, and I became one of the gatherers and readers of the school news.

Along about this same period I was an usher at the Tower Theatre and on several Saturday morning Popeye Clubs I played game host, giving an overly excited audience a demonstration of radio sound effects, and then playing a game show type game with them. A far cry from that kid who froze up in English class and couldn’t say a word. I think it had been the formality of the classroom situation which had frozen me.
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You might remember that the late Andy Warhol predicted that each of us will have our own special fifteen minutes of fame. Well, I want you to know he was right. At least he was in my case. I did have my fifteen minutes. It was back in 1965-66 when folk music, or the commercialized version of it, was sweeping the American pop music scene. Groups like the Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul and Mary were sounding new notes in popular music, and suddenly you didn’t have to have studied music since you were a kid to perform. We were all folk, and a few years of strumming a guitar made us musicians, and with imagination you could write and sing your own songs. After all if Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs could do it, why not you and I?

In 1965 I got a job as managing editor of Sing Out! The Folksong Magazine. We burst forth on newstands around the country, with mostly songs and articles about traditional folk musicians, not the slicked up night club and record selling bunch. Our little magazine was pocket sized and we published topical and protest songs as well as traditional folk songs and many a college student or other young person would fly with guitar in hand and Sing Out! in his or her back pocket to protest demonstrations all across this far flung land of ours. That is until the Nixon administration began encouraging the airlines to ban or restrict the hand carrying of guitars on planes in an attempt to cut back on the amount of protest.

My 15 minutes came during the period now known as the Great Folksong Revival when as managing editor of Sing Out! (the managing editor does the work, the editor expounds and makes policy) the music reporters for both Time and Newsweek would come around weekly to try and pick our brains to find out to what the next trend in music was going to be. Not that we knew a damn bit more than they did, but they didn’t know that, here we were, so-called “experts” in this burgeoning field that for no good reason was suddenly exploding with popular hits. I remember being taken to a fancy lunch one day by a well known psychiatrist and amateur song writer who wanted to try out his songs on me, and wanted advice as to what he should do with them. It is very hard to predict what will or will not work in music, but for all the man’s expertise in the vagaries of the human mind, his songs just didn’t seem to me to have that certain quality they would need to flower as music. However, how to say that? You can’t disparage your gift lunch to his face, at least not before he pays the check, so diplomatically I suggested that he send his songs to a singer he admires to see how he or she responds.

Of course the carousel of popular music kept right on turning and the acoustic folk music of Bob Dylan, the Kingstons and P.P.M. morphed into the electric sounds of the Byrds, the Doors, and the Band, and then the British rock revolution migrated to the United States led by The Beatles, and following them the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, et. al. And in the uncertainties and uproar of an ever changing musical terrain Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber and I got overthrown in an honest to god coup, and the editorial reins of the magazine were taken over by a pair who put out one issue in four months, before they too lost control of the reins. I put out my final two issues of Sing Out! commuting two days a week to our printer’s office in Brooklyn, N.Y from Patterson, N. Y. where we had moved. I later spent a several years in Brooklyn working for that printing company both selling school yearbooks and literary magazines and working on their preparation for publication.
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As you know if you’ve read this blog before, it began with the idea of my writing down some of my experiences for my two grandsons to read and to perhaps thereby give them a sense of the continuity of life. However writing a blog, like the world outside of the blog, offers way too many temptations. And so I have ranted endlessly about the not so mighty shrub, about the R.I.A.A. in it’s endless wars against people who love music, and a host of other topics I felt were pertinent to the moment or might be of interest. However, in today’s edition, I plan to try and stay away from those temptations and mine my memories of yesteryear. Good luck to me.
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One of my most useless accomplishments was to have field-stripped the 50 caliber machine guns from the Sperry Ball turret of a B-24 bomber while the plane was in flight. One of our gunnery instructors back at the Harlingen Army Air Corps Base had told us that while it was not impossible to field strip the guns while airborne, it was extremely difficult and nearly impossible. Field stripping was exactly what it sounds like. You took apart the machine guns to clean the barrel and other detachable parts and soak them in a solution of oil so as to prevent rust and deterioration. Having to field strip our weap0ns after a flight added an extra forty minutes to our after flight chores.

One night, many months later, when returning to from a training mission in the evening I decided to test that instructor’s theory and field-strip the weapons in the turret so that when we landed all I would have to do would be toss the parts in the oil and take off. In the Sperry Ball turret you were in really cramped quarters . It took all the ingenuity and patience I possessed to be able to take those guns apart in that highly restricted area. And it also took a fair amount of time, but somehow I managed to do it. But there was one problem. I had to have the barrels removed from the guns by someone outside of the turret before I could park and exit the turret. And I had made no arrangements for anyone to be there for me. I was desperate, I didn’t want to have to give up at this stage of the game, and so I knocked repeatedly on the turret’s window. Our Navigator happened to be making his way back into the waist of the airplane when he noticed my panicked knocking on the turret window, and being very bright after a moment he figured out what I wanted, and proceeded to lift the barrels out, one barrel at a time.

I exited the turret, gathered up my barrels and prepared for the landing. I had done it. Done what few if anyone else had been able to do. I had saved maybe forty minutes of my post flight time. But so what? I was as exhausted as if I had done an extra day’s work. And where was I going to go with all of that extra time I saved? To the PX? (Post Exchange, our army general store) Anyway, for whatever it was worth, and believe me it was worth little or nothing, I had done it. Done what no Sperry Ball Turret gunner had done before.
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There are natural phenomonon to be seen and experienced in this life, and I have been lucky enough to have experienced several of them. As for the human experience, I was able to witness and photograph the births of both of my sons. My oldest son, Daniel Martin, was born in Houston on September 9th, 1964. In preparation for the event I accompanied my wife to Lamaze classes and was present at his birth. Since I was going to be in the room for the birth I was told to scrub up and put on an appr0priate gown. While I was conscientiously going through my scrubbing routine a doctor came in, eyed me strangely, and asked me in a most sarcastic tone, “are you assisting in a birth this morning?” As meekly as I could I explained that I had helped prepare my wife for the birth and we had arranged for me to be on hand for the occasion. The doctor sneered, but since it wasn’t his patient he couldn’t so anything but act outraged. This was my wife’s first child and she ended up having it induced, and when the time finally came, I was not in position to see our son actually come out. But I saw him moments later, and he was a large and robust baby and weighed in at 8 pounds, 12 ounces. My first photographs of him were when he was in the incubator.

Our second child, Joel Alan, was born at Flower and Fifth Ave. Hospital in N.Y.C. while I was the editor of Sing Out! and we were living in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Joel was a blizzard baby. Anne got the telltale signs the morning a huge blizzard was rolling in. We didn’t know a soul in the building, which was a three family house, and everybody but us spoke Italian. I took Daniel who was two and a half, upstairs and left him with the couple up there explaining our second baby was on the way and we had to leave for the hospital. We crossed the George Washington bridge in our VW Camper just a half hour before the bridge would be closed to bus traffic like ours. We made it to the hospital at nine a.m. and I checked Anne in while she was rushed to the delivery room. Joel emerged at nine twenty five sharp. This time I had free rein to be anywhere I wanted in the room to take pictures of the birth.

I left Anne at about eleven thirty a.m. to return to Ft. Lee and liberate Daniel from the strangers we had been forced to leave him with. Since the George Washington Bridge was closed I had to go under the Hudson River by way of the 34th St. tunnel, and then I tried making my way north to Ft. Lee. The blizzard had dumped fifteen inches of snow, and everywhere I turned, the Golden State Parkway and other highways north were were closed, blocked by stalled trucks. At four o’clock I stopped and had my first food of the day. I ended up having to drive north through the string of cities and villages that line the west side of the Hudson River. There were groups of teenagers out on that night, and when a vehicle like mine would get stuck they would converge around it and push it to freedom. It was a shockingly friendly thing for them to do, and they saved me a couple times on that trip. We had left Fort Lee a little before eight that morning. I got home that night at around ten thirty. I believe it was the longest day I ever experienced. Daniel was glad to see me when I finally arrived to pick him up. The lady upstairs who had been drafted to take care of him was equally glad.

A footnote: Daniel had not said a word during the two and a half years preceding Joel’s birth. Anne’s mother Marty Bowman came up to visit us and help Anne take care of Joel, and Daniel said his first words to his grandmother. And it was an entire sentence, according to Marty, with a subject, a predicate, and a verb. Evidently he had been saving up, and there’s nothing like a little competition to bring out your best.

I noticed a remarkable thing having been present at the births of both of my sons. Each child came out with a distinct personality. A personality which later grew and got fleshed out over time, but basically did not change from the very beginning. Daniel was the entertainer, the showman, the class clown. Joel was more studious, and was the cautious one. For instance every time we got into an automobile, Joel would carefully lock each person’s door.
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In looking back on things, I was lucky to have had a chance to experience two natural phenomenon which I had read about but being from Texas and the deep south, had never had a chance to see while growing up. One of these was the northern lights. The idea of the northern lights intrigued me, and I got to see them several times on camping trips in Maine. The most vivid recollection I have was of one night, a clear cool night, when I was listening to short wave radio on a tiny Sony device, while watching a display of shimmering white light in the northern sky.

The two phenomenon, radio signals from across the globe plus the activity of the sun’s radiation entering our atmosphere made for a lasting impression. And on the shortwave radio came a tale of a bear ripping open the tent of a camper somewhere in the West, and taking a bite out of a young man’s buttocks. Rather a disconcerting thought when you are camped out in the middle of nowhere, northern lights or not. In the small world department, talking with a group of parents at the end of that summer it turned out that the young man in that news account was the nephew of two of our parents, and the boy had been tented with a girl, which the parents didn’t know about. The boy was sore and couldn’t sit down comfortably for awhile, but they assured me he would be okay in the long run.

However the northern lights are not the Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are white, at least the ones I have seen were. The Aurora bears the colors of Christmas, shimmering red and green lights, lashing all over the sky. I never saw these lights in far northern Maine, but I saw them on several occasions when staying after camp at Pete Seeger’s house near Beacon, N.Y. Every time I saw it the display was impressive. It seemed to arc over the entire heavens, at least as far as my eyes could see, and there seemed to be a barely audible crackling sound accompanying the display.

In Mark Twain’s book “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court,” the book’s hero Hank Morgan wakes up after a severe head blow, to find himself transported back to England in AD 598, in King Arthur’s Court. Morgan, who had read of the total eclipse back in the 19th Century Conneticut from which he had come, saved his life after being sentenced to death, by predicting the eclipse of the sun just before it happened.

Although I had witnessed several eclipses of the moon I had never heard of an eclipse of the sun before reading that book. But during my first year working as a counselor at Blueberry Cove Camp in Tenants Harbor, Maine, a total eclipse of the sun was scheduled to happen later that summer. Intrigued by the account in the Twain story, and since Tenants Harbor was not in the line of totality, I approached the camp director, Henry Haskell, about the possibility of getting a day off on the day of the eclipse. I had a darkroom in camp for developing pictures, as well as a banjo to lead the camp in singing, and Henry Haskell, the camp director, made a deal with me. If I would develop exposed film which the children in camp could use to safely look at the sun, he would give me a day off on the day of the eclipse. I took on the job with relish and developed enough fully exposed negatives so that every camper could view the eclipse.

The line of totality was a ways up north, near Bangor Maine. On the day of the eclipse we drove to Bangor, but it quickly clouded over there. And so we began began racing to the east, hoping to outrun the clouds which seemed to also be coming from the west and racing east. We ended up on a beach near the ocean. There was a scattering of people, some of whom were there for the same reason we were, to experience the eclipse. There were several telescopes around, and a smattering of people with binoculars. There was a beach house near us, which had a loud television set playing cartoons. The air on the beach was still. Suddenly the sun began darkening and the birds began singing eerie songs, and crickets began singing their symphony. Both species had internal clocks that knew full well that night should not be happening at four in the afternoon. It got darker. The television set clattered on. I thought to myself, there’s a once in a lifetime natural phenomenon going on out here, and those children are inside watching cartoons they’ve probably seen time and time again.

Just then shadows of the moon’s mountains raced across the ground, and when they reached us the sun went out. You could look at it with your naked eye. A bright corona shone from the black disc that was blocking the sun. Totality lasted for 56 seconds. I was able to take four photographs during that time. In each one the corona was spectacularly different. Then the moon’s mountains raced the other way as the sun rapidly moved from behind its obstacle and began to light up mother earth again. And the birds and the crickets ended their neurotic songs and things slowly but surely came back to normal.
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Real success, like riches and fame, has been largely absent in this life of mine, which is why instead of writing and publishing an autobiography, I write a blog. Anybody can write a blog, and Google (or various other blogging entities) will publish you. And you get paid exactly what your musings are worth – nothing. But thanks probably to search engines, one or two readers may happen onto your page. If your musings are worth exactly nothing, why do it you might well ask? I do it for fun and the challenge, for the opportunity to discuss things I think are worth talking about, but which I could never do in a so-called “legitimate” forum.

It is also a forum in which I can hone my writing skills (such as they might be) as well as the saber of my humor, dull though that might be. And last but certainly not least it is a chance to rail against the absurdities of the current administration in Washington, which some of us blame for this nation being lied to and frightened into voting for it in 2004 after getting itself put in power in the year 2000 by Supreme Court fiat. That current merry band of marauders decorating our whitest of houses has since done more to whittle away the liberties our country was founded upon than any other administration in recent history. It is one that has managed to achieve the unthinkable, making the Richard Nixon’ presidency seem as squeaky clean as that of a Sunday School teacher. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic.

Not that we can do anything about it squawking in our hardly read blogs. As one respondent pointed out in the Cafferty Report on the CNN’s Situation Room, it’s time for Americans to once again get out the pitchforks and flaming torches (a la the mob scenes in the movie Frankenstein). Another wise ass pointed out that those very pitchforks would undoubtedly have been made in China, probably with a high lead content. Well, at least the fire could be 100% American.

You might also have noticed that from time to time I mention one or another of Uncle Pan’s erotic writings, which, wink, wink, I might even give you a link to in case you wish you might wish to experience it for yourself. How nice of me to keep you so well informed. Just know that on Wednesday, Oct. 31, Uncle Pan has posted one new story, Uncle Mort’s Excellent Adventure, and two previously published stories, Carrie’s Quest for Knowledge, and Peter’s peter Tale, to his storiesonline page at: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Uncle_Pan

I would have you know that in writing erotic fiction Uncle Pan is following in the lofty footsteps of none other than the afore mentioned Mark Twain, whom many consider the father of true American writing (other published writers of his day wrote in the fashion of European, primarily English writers whereas Twain captured the flavor and speech of the America in which he lived.) For among many other pieces of writing and essays, Samuel Langhorne Clemens had written what was very possibly the first bit of American erotica. Here is a mention of it, from the Wikipedia page on Twain. “[Date: 1601.] Conversation, as it was the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors”, or simply 1601 is the title of a humorous risque work by Mark Twain, first published anonymously in 1880, and finally acknowledged by the author in 1906.

“Written as an extract from the diary of one of Queen Elizabeth's servants, 1601 was, according to Edward Wagenknecht, "the most famous piece of pornography in American literature." It was more ribaldry than pornography, however; its content was more in the nature of irreverent and vulgar comedic shock than of "obscene" erotica. Nevertheless, in the United States, prior to the court decisions (1959-1966) that legalized the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill, the book continued to be considered unprintable, and circulated clandestinely in privately printed, limited editions. Its characterization as "pornography" was satirized by Franklin J. Meine in the introduction to the 1939 edition.”

In case you’re interested several editions of “1601” are available on Amazon.com for upwards of a hundred dollars, even though there are other editions available for under seventeen dollars. Online versions of 1601 are also available at 2 locations: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3190 and at: http://mark-twain.classic-literature.co.uk/1601/ Happy reading.

The Real Little Eddy