Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blog #22 A Select Petition, Vaporware, and Needles of Health

Let’s start this week’s blog on a high note. Have the rugged individualists of Brattleboro, Vermont finally lost it? Has the recent extremely cold weather up there sapped both their energy and their ability to reason? Some of us out here in the wilds of Texas say no, the good folks of Brattleboro are simply on the cutting edge of a new reality, seeing through the many layers of our current national political doublespeak, and in the process showing us the way to a higher plane of pure reason and true independence of thought. You might well ask why we would say that? Hear Ye This! The Selectmen of the town of Brattleboro, Vt. have submitted a petition to the voters of the township making President Bush and Vice President Cheney, should they dare show their faces in Brattleboro, subject to arrest for Crimes against the Constitution.

The petition, originally submitted by one Kurt Daims, has garnered more than 436 signatures, or at least the 5 percent of the votes necessary for it to be considered, and it was submitted Thursday and the town Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to place it on the ballot. It goes to a town-wide vote on March 4.

The petition reads: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?"

The measure has triggered a barrage of criticism in e-mail messages, voicemail messages and telephone calls. Outraged people are calling the measure the equivalent of treason and are vowing to never set foot or hoof in Vermont again. However, one e-mail message was intriguing. It read, "I would like to know how I could get some water from your town. It's obvious that there is something special in it."

Picture for a moment what might happen after the Township enacts the resolution. On Mar. 5th the president visits Brattleboro to stoke support for his Iraq surge among the local chapter of the Grandsons of the Green Mountain Brigade. The Township’s Police Chief arrives at Air Force One to serve a subpoena for the president’s arrest. Would the Secret Service allow the town’s police chief to serve it’s subpoena? Would the grandsons of the Green Mountain Brigade enter the fray supporting the town’s Selectmen? Or being descendants of the military, would they instead enter on the side of the president? What cell in the Brattleboro Jail would be deemed fit to hold the president of the United States? And if vice president Cheney happened to be along, would he have to be housed in separate facilities due to long standing rules calling for the separation of the powers that be? Tune in next week, same blog, for the next suspenseful episode of Selectmen from Mars, A Fantasy for Reality TV.
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All systems seemed go as Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton held their pre super Tuesday debate turned lovefest Thursday evening in the Kodak Theater, site of the Academy Awards ceremony in the heart of Hollywood. Each of the two Democratic hopefuls gave a performance which would have made past award recipients proud. The storied theater, which served as the venue for Thursday's forum, and the pre-debate spectacle on the streets outside rivaled Oscar night. Hollywood stars scrambled to get what was considered one of the hottest tickets in town, and while the audience was filled with luminaries of television and movies, according to reports many others came up empty-handed.

Both candidates were civil, bordering 0n being warm to one another, and instead of nibbling at each other, both turned their ire where it belonged, on Republicans, and especially president Bush and John McCain, the apparent GOP front runner. When moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the two about the possibility of a dream lineup, a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket, Stevie Wonder was seen to jump to his feet applauding wildly. Obama handled the question with aplomb as he noted it was “far too early to think about a running mate,” but he was sure Hillary would be high on any Democratic candidate’s list.

Both candidates delivered memorable lines during the debate. Obama directed his at likely Republican opponent John McCain when he praised McCain’s first two rejections of Bush’s tax cut for the wealthy as being unnecessary and not extending tax relief to those who need it most, the middle class and the poor, and then he noted McCain’s present support for extending the tax cuts. "Somewhere along the line, the Straight Talk Express lost some wheels," the Illinois senator said, referring to the name of McCain's campaign bus. Hillary scored points when Jeanne Cummings of Politico quoted a 38 year old female questioner who said she had had nothing but Bushes and Clintons to vote for since she has been old enough to vote, and why in the world would she want to vote for another Clinton? With a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye Hillary replied, "It did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush." The audience roared their approval.

Our assessment is the Democratic party could not be in better hands. Either candidate would obviously be exactly what the nation needs. Republican pundit Bill Bennett, obviously upset over what he perceived as a Clinton win, complained that Obama had not been as strong as he needed to be, and he reluctantly gave Clinton a 60-40 edge in the contest, an assessment which sounded about right to me. However as we further contemplate the evening we can’t help but reflect Stevie Wonder’s enthusiasm for a dream team, no way it’s gonna happen of course, but a Clinton-Obama ticket would truly be a dream come true.
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Speaking your mind as both candidates were doing Thursday night, and while doing it speaking the truth conjures up memories of the Dixie Chicks, and lead singer Natalie Maine’s remarks at a London concert just after George Bush invaded Iraq, lamenting the fact that president Bush was from her home state of Texas. That remark caused a stir, not just for its criticism of the president, but because it was made in the capitol city of a foreign country, which fact ticked off many just plain folks types, and particularly those of a country music persuasion. The uproar resulted in the subsequent picketing of group’s concerts, and caused their music to be banned from much of commercial country radio. But the group has held its collective head high through it all, and evidently they’re most decidedly still rocking and rolling. Word comes from Nashville, Tennessee that Martie Maguire and her husband Gareth are expecting their third daughter.

She announced her pregnancy on the group’s website on Monday, noting that her 3 year old twin daughters, Eva and Katie, “are excited to have a new baby sister. "Three girls, what a magic number!" Maguire said. She said the baby is due in late summer. The report was confirmed by the Chicks' publicist.

Maguire plays fiddle and mandolin in the trio, which also includes Martie’s sister Emily Robison on guitar and banjo and the compelling voice and outspoken convictions of lead singer Natalie Maines. Hits by the Chicks include Wide Open Spaces, Without You and Landslide. We say, “way to go, Martie! Keep the young’ems coming!”
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Many years ago, in the formative adolescence of personal computing, the Microsoft corporation invented what was later to be termed by others as Vaporware. It happened this way. Each time word would get out that a new product from another software company was in the offing Microsoft would instantly circulate a rumor to the effect that it, the Mighty Microsoft, was itself developing just such a program and people who were smart would wait for the Microsoft program to come out rather than take a needless chance with the upstart program. Microsoft did this enough times for the word vaporware to be coined. Sometimes, as it was in the case of Internet Explorer over Netscape, Microsoft actually created the product, and by offering it for free and wedding it to their monopolistic operating system, it was able to drive the creator of the original internet browser out of business. But in many another case Microsoft’s rumored entry has to this day remained in the vaporshere.

Concurrent with the almost universal disdain for Windows Vista, which was delayed for I don’t know how many years, and which in the first year of its release is still lacking drivers for many devices, and has attributes many Windows’ users seem to hate, rumors abound about the next build for Windows, which is said to be called Windows 7. (Perhaps Microsoft in its infinite wisdom has named it so because it believes “7” is a lucky number.) Some rumors have the new operating system arriving as early as 2009 or as late as 2011 or beyond. And now devilish posters have put up supposed early preview versions of Windows 7 on bit torrent sites. However, in the grand tradition of Microsoft the disk images are bogus, pure unadulterated Vaporware. Said one techie who downloaded it, “I downloaded 10% of it and opened it with a hex editor, nothing but strings of zeros.” Take that, Mighty Microsoft. Thy new operating system is nothing but Vaporware. That’ll teach you to stifle competition. ___________________________________________________
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Many years ago I had a respiratory condition for which I had no name, but from which my father suffered mightily and nightly. In fact one night in disgust I coughed so vehemently I could feel a hernia pop up from near my left testicle, a hernia which some years later I had to have corrected with surgery.

For awhile during the 1970’s I living in N.Y.C. and was an avid reader of the N.Y. Times. It was on Monday, July 26, 1971, that I first read of the Chinese traditional healing technique called acupuncture. It was in a column by James Reston, a Times columnist who happened to be stricken with appendicitis while on a visit to China. Reston wrote of his experience in his column in the N.Y. Times. Being the first mention of acupuncture it can be found online
and we heartily recommend that you paste that URL into your web browser and take a few minutes to read the full, remarkable story. There follows a brief excerpt from James Reston’s experience:

“In brief summary, the facts are that with the assistance of 11 of the leading medical specialists in Peking, who were asked by Premier Chou En-lai to cooperate on the case, Prof. Wu Wei-jan of the Anti-Imperialist Hospital's surgical staff removed my appendix on July 17 after a normal injection of Xylocain and Bensocain, which anesthetized the middle of my body.

“There were no complications, nausea or vomiting. I was conscious throughout, followed the instructions of Professor Wu as translated to me by Ma Yu-chen of the Chinese Foreign Ministry during the operation, and was back in my bedroom in the hospital in two and a half hours.

“However, I was in considerable discomfort if not pain during the second night after the operation, and Li Chang-yuan, doctor of acupuncture at the hospital, with my approval, inserted three long thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees and manipulated them in order to stimulate the intestine and relieve the pressure and distention of the stomach. That sent ripples of pain racing through my limbs and, at least, had the effect of diverting my attention from the distress in my stomach. Meanwhile, Doctor Li lit two pieces of an herb called ai, which looked like the burning stumps of a broken cheap cigar, and held them close to my abdomen while occasionally twirling the needles into action. All this took about 20 minutes, during which I remember thinking that it was a rather complicated way to get rid of gas in the stomach, but there was noticeable relaxation of the pressure and distention within an hour and no recurrence of the problem thereafter.

“Dr. Li Chang-yuan, who used needle and herbal medicine on me, did not go to medical college. He is 36 years old and learned his craft as an apprentice to a veteran acupuncturist here at the hospital. Like most young apprentices in this field, thousands of whom are being trained, he practiced for years with the needles on his own body. "It is better to wound yourself a thousand times than to do a single harm to another person," he said solemnly.

The second occasion of my hearing about acupuncture came while listening to a radio interview with ex Beatle John Lennon, who told the interviewer that after several of his and Yoko’s attempts at having a child had ended in miscarriages, together they had gone to a combination acupuncturist and herbal dispenser and after several months of treatment Yoko got pregnant, came to full term and had their son Sean with no problems.

As I said, I had never heard of acupuncture until first reading the Reston article. And listening to the Lennon experience served to further make it real for me. With the profound frustration at my having this choking condition which my father suffered nightly from and for which I didn’t even have a name for yet, I decided try out acupuncture for myself.

It was in the early eighties that I had acupuncture in Houston from a middle aged oriental practitioner named Sophia, who charged $35 for an acupuncture session and used to spend at least twenty minutes with me inserting needles and hooking them to this battery operated device which caused the needles to sporadically vibrate. On several occasions she also administered cups, a traditional treatment where she heats the air inside the cups with the cigar-like herb Reston referred to above, after which she affixed the cups onto my chest and back where they provided suction. After each acupuncture session she also gave me herbs, but in pill form, not in the natural form dispensed by traditional oriental herbalists. The Sophia residence was always crowded with ill Houstonians desperately seeking improvement in their situation.

Considering I had no idea what my condition was (years later I found it had a name, “acid reflux” or Gerde’s disease) and although Sophia’s treatment didn’t cure me, her treatments both eased my condition and noticeably improved my morale. Later on when I was forced to drop acupuncture due to a shortage of money, I obtained a paperbound book by mail illustrating acupressure points, which is a kind of informal, do it yourself, offshoot of the needle regime, and I began administering the pressure points to myself daily. And to this day I continue to stimulate what the book refers to as bio-energy points, which I will describe as follows. One point is found in the fleshy crook of each folded arm, one a hand’s width below the naval and another one a thumb’s width below that, one squarely in the middle of the perineum, one on the pad behind each knee, and finally one on the outside of each leg a hand’s width below the knee bone, and one on the inside of each leg a hand’s width above the ankle bone. Although the book says you can use the fingers of a hand for pressure, I prefer to use a vibrator. I do the points once each day, at bedtime. I rotate the vibrator in a small circle for about twenty seconds at each point.

Who knows what help this treatment really is, if any? However, there was one day years ago when I felt deathly ill from some mysterious virus. I stimulated my pressure points and twenty minutes later all traces of my symptoms had vanished. Perhaps I would have gotten over them anyway without the pressure points being stimulated, although I honestly attribute the upturn in my health that day as having been kindled by the pressure points? Of course, the important thing is just believing in it. And I do keep it up to this day, kind of as you would keep up an insurance policy, just in case.
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Once upon a time finding a mate was deemed too important to be entrusted to people while under the influence of raging hormones. Their parents, sometimes with the assistance of astrologers or professional matchmakers, used to supervise courtship until customs changed in the West because of what was called the Romeo and Juliet revolution. Nowadays grown-ups leave the kids alone.

But these days there are some social scientists who have rediscovered the appeal of adult supervision — provided the adults have doctorates and vast caches of psychometric data. Online matchmaking has become a boom industry as rival scientists test their algorithms for finding love.

The leading yenta is, which pioneered the don’t-try-this-yourself approach eight years ago by refusing to let its online customers browse for their own dates. It requires them to answer a 258-question personality test and then picks potential partners. The company estimates, based on a national Harris survey it commissioned, that its matchmaking was responsible for about 2 percent of the marriages in America last year, nearly 120 weddings a day.

Another company,, is using an algorithm designed by Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington at Seattle. And, which became the largest online dating service by letting people find their own partners, set up a brand new matchmaking service,, using an algorithm created by Helen E. Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers who has studied the neural chemistry of people in love.

These days as these potential matchmakers are competing for customers — and are denigrating each other’s methodology — the battle has intrigued academic researchers who study the mating game. On the one hand, they are skeptical, because the algorithms and the results have not been published for peer review. But they also realize that these online companies give scientists a remarkable opportunity to gather enormous amounts of data and test their theories in the field. EHarmony says more than 19 million people have filled out its questionnaire.

Its algorithm was developed a decade ago by Galen Buckwalter, a psychologist who had previously been a research professor at the University of Southern California. Drawing on previous evidence that personality similarities predict happiness in a relationship, he administered hundreds of personality questions to 5,000 married couples and correlated the answers with the couples’ marital happiness, as measured by an existing instrument called the dyadic adjustment scale.

The result was an algorithm that is supposed to match people on 29 “core traits,” like social style or emotional temperament, and “vital attributes” like relationship skills.
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And from halfway around the world, from the land of downunder, comes the story that after lo these many years when the parliament convenes next month under new prime minister Kevin Rudd the Australian government intends to apologize for the past mistreatment of its Aboriginal minority, addressing an issue which has blighted race relations in Australia for months. In a measure of the importance Mr. Rudd attaches to the issue, the apology will be the first item of business for the new government when Parliament first convenes on Feb. 13, Jenny Macklin, the federal minister for indigenous affairs, said Wednesday.

Ms. Macklin said she had consulted widely with Aboriginal leaders, but it was still not clear what form the apology would take. However, she said the government would not bow to long standing demands for a fund to compensate those damaged by the policies of past governments.

The history of relations between Australia’s Aboriginal population and the broader population is one of brutality and neglect. Tens of thousands of Aboriginals died from disease, warfare and dispossession in the years after European settlement, and it was not until 1962 that they were able to vote in national elections. But the most lasting damage was done by the policy of removing Aboriginal children and placing them either with white families or in state institutions as part of a drive to assimilate them with the white population.

A comprehensive 1997 report estimates that between one in three and one in 10 Aboriginal children, the so-called stolen generations, were taken from their homes and families in the last century until the policy was formally abandoned in 1969. “A national apology to the stolen generations and their families is a first, necessary step to move forward from the past,” Ms. Macklin said. “The apology will be made on behalf of the Australian government and does not attribute guilt to the current generation of Australian people,” she said.

What a welcome step indeed. One wonders when our land of the free and home of the brave will apologize for the slavery inflicted upon our African population from shortly after our nation’s inception until our own Civil War brought slavery to an end. Perhaps Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama can put such an overdue apology on their agenda when the dust settles and the victor is in our sights.
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If you have an internet connection and live in Houston, Texas the chances are you have a Comcast internet connection. And if you do any bit torrent downloading, we suspect you’ll be very interested in this report. We have Dwight Silverman’s tech column at to thank for the following note of Comcastic interest:

“Ever since the Associated Press confirmed that Comcast is getting in the way of BitTorrent traffic – sending what amounts to a "this conversation is over" message between sender and receiver – users of the popular peer-to-peer client have been expressing outrage. And now, they have a chance to tell the U.S. Government all about it. The Federal Communications Commission has opened a public comment period on Comcast's behavior. A fascinating piece at Ars Technica shows just how angry some Comcast customers are. The complainers are not all pimply kiddies trying to download free movies or share hacked software. Many are professionals who have legitimate uses for P2P clients:

"On numerous occasions, my access to legal BitTorrent files was cut off by Comcast," a systems administrator based in Indianapolis wrote to the FCC shortly after the proceeding began. "During this period, I managed to troubleshoot all other possible causes of this issue, and it was my conclusion (speaking as a competent IT administrator) that this could only be occurring due to direct action at the ISP (Comcast) level."

Ars Technica writer Matthew Lasar says the FCC is accepting comments through Feb. 28. A "reply to comments" period begins on Feb. 14, and that's when Comcast is expected to make its case – if it chooses to at all.”
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And so we hereby wind down this week’s edition of Little Eddy’s blog. There will be no teasers on what will be in next week’s blog, for who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Republicans, or what we’ll be talking about in the coming week? In the meantime I continue to read up on and explore Peak and GarageBand as I continue to dream of the regeneration of Nightsong, my KPFT radio program of old, as a podcast. Wednesday in Garageband I managed to have an ocean full of Humpback whales singing along with The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Can Chief Seattle’s Oration be far behind? On Friday I managed to splice the music for the opening theme song, Tama, which is from the album Tonto’s Expanding Headband. See you next week.

The Real Little Eddy

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