Saturday, December 22, 2007

Real Little Eddy #16: Global Warming Yucks, etc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Little Eddy

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