Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blog #42: A Disturbing Thought

Any of you out there on the lookout for a most disturbing thought for this week. Try this one on for size. The story is from the Huffington Post, and may be found at:
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/22/kristol-bush-iran/
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On Fox News last Sunday Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that President Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is going to be elected as the next president. However, “if the president thought John McCain was going to win the election, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision rather than do it on his way out,” Kristol said, reinforcing what most of us have known all of the time, the fact is that McCain is basically offering a third Bush term on Iraq and Iran. “I do wonder with Senator Obama, if President Bush thinks Senator Obama’s going to win, does he somehow think — does he worry that Obama won’t follow through on that policy,” Kristol added. Host Chris Wallace then asked if Kristol was suggesting that Bush might “launch a military strike” before or after the election:

WALLACE: So, you’re suggesting that he might in fact, if Obama’s going to win the election, either before or after the election, launch a military strike?
KRISTOL: I don’t know. I mean, I think he would worry about it. On the other hand, you can’t — it’s hard to make foreign policy based on guesses of election results. I think Israel is worried though. I mean, what is, what signal goes to Ahmadinejad if Obama wins on a platform of unconditional negotiations and with an obvious reluctance to even talk about using military force.

Kristol also suggested that Obama’s election would tempt Saudi Arabia and Egypt to think, “maybe we can use nuclear weapons.” The claim that Obama’s potential election could force Bush’s hand also isn’t new. Earlier this month, far-right pseudo scholar Daniel Pipes told the National Review Online that “President Bush will do something” if the Democratic nominee wins. “Should it be Mr. McCain that wins, he’ll punt,” said Pipes. Both Kristol and Pipes apparently agree with President Bush’s claim in March that McCain’s “not going to change” his foreign policy.

How high is your cynicsm threshold? Is the above story troubling because with George W.’s world famous cowboy mentality you have a pretty good idea as to the accuracy of its projections? It seems to me not at all far fetched to imagine George W. trying to broaden the war if an Obama victory seemed likely? To insure that President Obama is fully engaged in trying to undo his actions. What think you? Would Bush dare attempt to widen the conflict by bombing or otherwise attacking Iran? Leaving Obama three conflagrations to try and damp down instead of two? In spite of all of the post Watergate/Richard Nixon attempts on the part of Congress to limit presidential power, Bush’s invasion of Iraq proved beyond doubt that a president’s power remains supreme, and that by using a steady drumbeat of lies, distortions, and skewered information an administration can freely order an invasion of a country that has not lifted a finger to threaten us. In fact, under the quiet guidance of the president of vice, super dick Cheney, actual presidential power has already been substantially increased.

So imagine for a long moment that the Obama star burns brighter over the summer months and looms super-nova sized as November approaches. Would our first and only would be “cowboy” president cause an attack on yet another country which has done nothing to threaten us, other than some loud mouthings off by one of its leaders? And again, most of that leader’s ire was directed against Israel, not to us. And because of our long relationship in funding and backing Israel, the unspoken truth is that the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is what has so riled up the Arab world against us, and even though the Bushes and Saudi Arabian monarchy are as bosom buddies, the fact is that the majority of the hijackers who perpetrated 9-11 were from the Saudi kingdom.

So what might be the nature of a Bush attack on Iran? A bombing of what might or might not be a nuclear plant? An actual border incursion by our military? Other questions follow in lockstep: would the military go along with such an expansion of the war? Especially since our military is so severely stretched already, on two fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan? Would General Petraeus, in particular, go along with such a strike, finally earning himself that moniker "Betray Us" that Moveon.org laid on him with its cute little ad. And if Bush were to call for such a strike, what would the country do? Would there be protest marches? Riots? Would Congressional Democrats attempt to curb such presidential powers using the courts? Would tepid Democratic leaders finally be moved to bring impeachment proceedings in the house? And what would the Supreme Court do if faced with such a suit against the president? Would it side with Bush as it had in the 2000 election? It all makes for some horrid speculation, don’t it?
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This has not been the best of weeks. The primary factor bringing it down for me was the death of George Carlin, the original, one and only class clown. Carlin could make a funny routine out of just about anything, although he remained most famous for his “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television” routine. WBAI-FM, the Pacifica station in New York City played his Seven words at 4 o’clock one afternoon, and got taken to court because of it. Pacifica fought valiently for the right of free speech, but they ended up losing the case because of the time of the airing, it was broadcast at a time when children could hear it. When Nightsong was in its first incarnation, in the 12 to 3 am time slot on KPFT, I played the seven words without a single complaint. Of course, I didn’t break any laws, Pacifica lost its case in court because of the time it was played, no court would find if offensive to children in the wee hours of the morning. I remember the station manager expressing a bit of concern at the time, but I pointed out that the courts had restricted its playing during the daylight, child listening hours. If any children were listening, there world must have been pretty topsy turvy.

Carlin was a master at ridiculing just about every sacred cow you could name. Religion was one of his favorites topics. Below is a YouTube video of his rant on religion in case you might be interested. Enjoy.



Carlin was certainly one of a kind. Like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor he pioneered the use of forbidden language in public performances, although the pressure on him was never as great as it had been particularly on Bruce. Satirizing the ridiculousness of the situation towards the end Bruce used to get himself arrested in his nightclub routine simply by reading verbatim from the latest transcript of his court trial. Carlin was arrested one time for doing his seven words routine in a nightclub performance, but the judge dismissed the case rightly pointing out Carlin’s right to free speech.
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And from ars technica comes a report by Eric Bangeman:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080625-judge-upholds-107834-in-attorneys-fees-award-against-riaa.html
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A federal judge has awarded exonerated RIAA defendant Tanya Andersen $107,834 in attorneys' fees, a figure that isn't exactly what either party wanted. Andersen, a single mother in Oregon, was accused by the RIAA in 2005 of sharing music over KaZaA. Andersen denied the charges, filed a countersuit, and the RIAA finally dismissed the lawsuit last summer. Once the RIAA dismissed the case, she sought and won an attorneys' fees award as the prevailing party.

Judge James A. Redden agreed with a magistrate judge's calculations, rejecting both Andersen's argument for a significantly higher fee award and the RIAA's appeal for a much lower legal bill. Andersen's attorney, Lory Lybeck, had sought nearly $300,000—about $150,000 in fees and a multiplier of double the fee due to his "high-risk" and "successful" defense.

The RIAA countered that the $298,995 fee sought was "excessive" and that it should instead be in the neighborhood of one-tenth of that number. The labels said it was nothing more than a "straightforward" copyright infringement case, and that its independent experts thought the fees sought were excessive in many respects. In particular, the RIAA focused on the fact that Andersen occasionally had more than one attorney present at hearings, arguing that one attorney was sufficient. The problem with that reasoning is that the RIAA found it necessary to have as many as six attorneys present at a single hearing.

With the matter of attorneys' fees presumably settled (it's possible that the RIAA and/or Andersen might appeal — and the RIAA's record shows that it is willing to fight tooth-and-nail against fee awards), both parties can focus entirely on Andersen's malicious prosecution lawsuit. In it, Andersen accuses the RIAA of a whole host of misdeeds, including fraud, conspiracy, and abuse of the legal process. That case is moving ahead, with the parties submitting a joint status report and discovery plan earlier this month.

Let us give three cheers for the United States courts system which is finally turning from being handmaidens to the RIAA to beginning to cast a critical eye on the RIAA’s highly questionable tactics. Most recent court findings attest to the fact that just because a computer has copyrighted songs in a common folder is no proof that anyone has downloaded from it. From now on the RIAA is going to be forced to prove such material has actually been downloaded, and apparently doing so is beyond the abilities of their investigative companies at this time. It’s about goddamn time. The RIAA likes to tout that those who download music without paying for it are depriving the poor struggling artist of his money. But the reality is that the money which the RIAA’s legal team has been squeezing out of mostly college students using a technique that any reasonable person would call blackmail, that money never saw the light of an artist’s wallet. Such money was surely divided between the record company and the RIAA’s legal team. But let’s face it, college students have enough of a financial burden in these days of sky high tuitions and book prices, they don’t need to be helping finance a bankrupt and practically extinct recording industry and its vindictive legal team.
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Want a real treat? Highlight th URLs below and paste them into the address bar of your favorite web browser, and first read the N.Y.Times’ review of the latest Pixar movie, WALL-E. Then when you have finished the review watch the various previews of that movie by going the second URL. The movie is astonishing, to say the least. As the review of the movie by A. O. Scott says, “As the earth heats up, the vanishing of humanity has become something of a hot topic, a preoccupation shared by directors like Steven Spielberg (“A.I.”), Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”) and Werner Herzog.

In his recent documentary “Encounters at the End of the World” Mr. Herzog muses that “the human presence on this planet is not really sustainable,” a sentiment that is voiced, almost verbatim, in the second half of “Wall-E.” When the whimsical techies at Pixar and a moody German auteur are sending out the same message, it may be time to pay attention.” The complete review is at: http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/movies/27wall.html?8dpc
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It is well worth the read, and then once you finish reading copy the URL below to your clipboard, and paste it into the address bar of your browser:
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/379342/Wall-E/trailers
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I guarantee you an extraordinary experience, you will be happy that you did.
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This Friday, June 27, marked the last work day of Microsoft founder and chief guru, Bill Gates, who thus ends his day job at Microsoft trading it in for fulltime duties with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the charitable foundation which is out to improve the planet by helping immunize the world’s children against diseases, and other worthwhile projects. Gates was certainly able to live his dream of personal computers in every home and office, all running HIS software. He was late to discover the world wide web and his extreme competitiveness caused him to crush the first web browser, Netscape, by including Microsoft’s copy/cat browser Internet Explorer as a free part of the Windows operating system. This type of behavior eventually landed Microsoft in federal court where it was prosecuted for monopolist powers, and even though the incoming Bush administration subsequently smiled kindly on the behemoth from Redmond, the European Union is still fining the teeth out of Microsoft for continuing its self-serving, anticompetitive practices.

Once upon a time Microsoft stood at the pinnacle of power in the world of the personal computer. Back then 90% of the world’s computers used the Windows operating system, and Microsoft reigned supreme and Bill Gates was the world’s richest man. But that time has surely passed, we’re eight years into a brand new century. The world wide web, otherwise known as the internet, is the new destination for the world’s personal computers. And crusty old Microsoft can’t bear to be standing on the sidelines looking in on the brand new behemoth from the cloud. For the new ruler of the net is Google. And may the heavens rock, Google offers its search services, and its full portfolio of other services from email to office programs absolutely FREE!! How can Microsoft possibly compete with that?

And how logical, it was for Google to find its fortune, for the web is worth next to nothing without the ability to search for and subsequently find whatever it is you are interested in. It all goes back to the ancient saying, “build a better mousetrap.” Google developed algorithms which actually bring accurate search results nearly instantly, and as a consequnce it’s share of web searches ranks well above 60% and climbing. (Google has even slipped into the language, “to google” being used as a verb meaning to search.) Yahoo's share of the search pie stands at around 20%, which is why Microsoft recently professed an interest in buying it. Microsoft’s own share of search runs at around 8%. Microsoft still dominates the operating system and the business software market, but it has a bad case of Google-envy, as it covets the position of owning the web as it already feels it does the operating system, but as of yet as it has not found the means to do this. Poor Microsoft. And with Bill Gates retiring from day to day operations, what do you think Microsoft’s chances are of dominating search and the web like Google currently does?

For a comedic look at Bill Gates last day at Microsoft, check out the video clip below. George Carlin it is not. But it does feature guest appearances by Brian Williams, Jay Z, Bono, and George Clooney. And it does have an occasional amusing moment.


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Move your body – charge your phone. The website Crave has a story about using your body and its movements to recharge cell phones, ipods, et. al. It’s at: http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9979040-1.html

Music company Orange and GotWind, a firm specializing in renewable energy, have teamed up to create a device called the Dance Charge. Weighing 180 grams (about 6.3 ounces), you strap it around your arm. Dance Charge then uses the kinetic energy generated by your body’s motion to juice up your phone.

It also uses a system of weights and magnets to produce electric current to top off the storage battery, which can later be used to charge your handset. A prototype of the device will be shown and tested at this year's Glastonbury Festival.

(Source: Crave Asia)
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And then there’s the latest version of that time immemorial quest for the fountain of youth and eternal life. For the full story go to:
http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2008/06/methuselah
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Gandhi once said, describing his critics, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." After declaring, essentially out of nowhere, that he had a program to end the disease of aging, renegade biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey knows how the first three steps of Gandhi's progression feel. Now he's focused on the fourth.

"I've been at Gandhi stage three for maybe a couple of years," de Grey said. "If you're trying to make waves, certainly in science, there's a lot of people who are going to have insufficient vision to bother to understand what you're trying to say."

This weekend, his organization, The Methuselah Foundation, is sponsoring its first U.S. conference on the emerging interdisciplinary field that de Grey has helped kick start. (Its first day, Friday, will be free and open to the public.) The conference, Aging: The Disease - The Cure - The Implications, held at UCLA, is an indication of how far de Grey has come in mainstreaming his ideas.

Less than a decade ago, de Grey was a relatively unknown computer scientist doing his own research into aging. As recently as three years ago a cadre of scientists wrote in the Nature-sponsored journal EMBO Reports, that his research program, known as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, was "so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all within the informed scientific community." Also in 2005, MIT-sponsored magazine Technology Review went so far as to offer a $20,000 prize to anyone who could prove that de Grey's program was "so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate." (No one won.)

Now, though, some scientists are beginning to view his approach – looking at aging as a disease and bringing in more disciplines into gerontology – as worthwhile, even if they still look askance at his claims of permanent reversible aging within a lifespan. The Methuselah Foundation now has an annual research funding budget of several million dollars, de Grey says, and it's beginning to show lab results that he thinks will turn scientists' heads.

What a fascinating concept? Aging as a disease from which we can be immunized? Of course there is no way the basic life/death process can be short circuited. All living things are born, grow, mature, then finally die. Mankind included. But how kickass is the audacity of this fellow to use every bit of knowledge at his command to attempt to reverse the natural process. Incredible chutzpah. And if there’s one thing I am sure of it is this: that most all of the world’s people will be wishing him well and much success, with pleadings from those of us bogged down in excessive age to please speed up your project. It would be nice to see a working regime in place while some 11of us are still around the enjoy it.
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And finally, you will undoubtedly be happy to learn that the Texas Supreme Court has reversed a ruling against a North Texas Pentecostal church which would have required it to pay a $300,000 judgement to a teen age girl for emotional trauma the former parishioner suffered as a youth when church members physically restrained and touched her during two exorcism attempts in 1996. The court reversed a judgement that a jury ordered paid to Laura Shubert in 2002. Schubert was 17 at the time when fellow parishioners at the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God Church in Colleyville, in an attempt to rid her of evil spirits, held her down and "laid hands" on her body as she struggled to break free. The original jury award was later reduced to $178,000.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion, said the church's exorcism sessions were a matter of church doctrine and were thus subject to certain, though not absolute, First Amendment religious protections. "The laying of hands" and the presence of demons are part of the church's belief system and accepted as such by its adherents," the ruling said in part. "These practices are not normally dangerous or unusual and apparently arise in the church with some regularity. They are thus to be expected and are accepted by those in the church."

What do you want to bet that all of the so-called exorcism cases in that church involved teen age girls? After all, what would be the fun of extricating the devil from, say, a fat and formidable fifty year old. No fun in that, for sure. In fact that could be downright dangerous. But a nicely curvaceous, frisky frolicking fifteen year old, well, “Lord Please Help Us Uncover and Remove Every One of Her Demons! No Matter Where They Hide! Praise the Lord and Hold Her Down, Mort, I Think I’ve Got One On the Run! Ride ‘em Cowboy!!!” And afterwards, "hold your tongue, little lady. The Texas Supreme Court says this is all part of our religious beliefs and as a consequence is legal, moral, and most definitely not fattening.
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And so the sands of time have run out on yet another Little Eddy rant. We’re ever so glad you came, and do hope you can make it back again next week. In the meantime, bye bye, but whatever you do, be careful who you buy from, and remember not buy from Republicans peddling used wars.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blog #41: A Happy Father's Day Indeed!

On Father’s Day this year Little Eddy scored in a major way. Older son Daniel (who lives in Seattle, WA) evidently thought of the idea, and he and younger son Joel (Phoenix, AZ) shared the cost. The gift: Sennheiser earphones, wireless earphones. Sennheiser has always been the choice of those who record and need the most accurate reproduction of their voice and instrument sound. Needless to say, my first task was to listen once again to the 10 one-hour Nightsong Podcasts I've been doing lately, this time giving them the critical perspective that only earphones can give you. I got through NS seven and was well into #8 when the sound suddenly began to fade and after a few minutes it went silent. That got me worried, what if the phones had to be sent back to Amazon where Daniel ordered them from? There was one possibility short of having to send them back as defective. Two little AAA batteries that sit inside the left phone. On the next trip to the store I bought fresh batteries, and the minute I got home I replaced them. And VIOLA! The phones worked again every bit at good as new. But it did get me thinking, how foolish of Sennheiser to put such run down batteries into the box with the phones. I wonder how many have returned the phones because they seemed to stop working after only a couple of days of use? Weird.

And I also found that wireless is just as sweet for earphones as it is for a telephone. Freedom from wires, there’s nothing quite like it. You are no longer anchored to your device. And the small FM transmitter that supplies the phones its signal, works not only when you are near it, but also from a distance. For instance I can now listen to music while I am cooking in the kitchen, and the sound doesn’t really start breaking up until I go out the front door. And listening to the programs I have done really impressed me with the quality of their sound. The quality is at least the equal of the original Nightsong programs, the digital sound is so quiet and noise free that you can follow the reverberation of a guitar chord at a song’s end until it dies naturally. Then it’s on to the next song without missing a beat.
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Scott McCellan spent Friday testifying about the leaking of former CIA operative Vallerie Plame Wilson’s identity, and other tidbits of interest to the House Judiciary Committee. He told the committee that the White House is (surprise, surprise) still concealing its involvement in the Plame matter. Scooter Libby was convicted of lying to investigators and a grand jury about his involvement in the CIA leak case. Since he was obviously acting on W.H. instructions Bush quietly commuted his sentence. "I'm glad to share my views," McClellan said. "I think I've made them very clear in the book. ... Essentially everything I know on that leak episode is written in the book – what I was told by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.” The committee is also looking into the use of prewar intelligence, whether or not politics was behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.

"The administration has always called for different kinds of privileges to avoid their officials testifying, but because Mr. McClellan has put all this information in a book, these privileges, I do not believe, would be available to the administration, so we would have a free flow of information," Rep. Robert Wexler, a senior Democrat on the committee, said when he called for McClellan's testimony. As White House spokesman, McClellan defended Bush's policies during much of the war in Iraq, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the scandal that followed the leak of Plame Wilson's identity. He said that the latter episode was a "defining moment that caused me to become dismayed and disillusioned with the way things were going in Washington, D.C." In his memoir, McClellan says the administration became mired in "propaganda" and political spin and played loose with the truth at times.

In his book, McClellan also wrote that President Bush decided to go war with Iraq shortly after the September 11 attacks and then ordered his aides to make the arguments for it. "I think very early on, a few months after September 11, he made a decision that we're going to confront Saddam Hussein, and if Hussein doesn't come fully clean, then we're going to go to war. There was really no flexibility in his approach," McClellan said on NBC's "Today" show, referring to the former Iraqi dictator. "Then it was put on the advisers: How do we go about implementing this; how do we go about doing this?"

And so Scott McClellan has traveled full circle, from a rather colorless apologist for the Bush White House to chief informant as to the excesses of power. Of course, Bush and his followers will protest and question McClelland’s loyalties and motives, but I think history will look very favorably upon his unvarnished look into the goings on inside a White House bent on going to war in Iraq, and to the excesses it will go to to punish those who (like Joseph Wilson) dared oppose these excesses.
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Well, the papers this week are full of stories about the torture our good old Uncle Sam has been up to, and some of its repercussions which are coming back to haunt America’s formerly pristine image worldwide. All of this of course is thanks to guidance from the incomparable Bush-Cheney team, a band who evidently has never accepted the rule of law, but who had constantly preached its own unique interpretation of the Geneva accords. According to Joby Warrick, as published in the Washington Post: A senior CIA lawyer advised Pentagon officials about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay in a meeting in late 2002, defending waterboarding and other methods as permissible despite U.S. and international laws banning torture, according to documents released yesterday by congressional investigators. Torture "is basically subject to perception," CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials gathered at the U.S.-run detention camp in Cuba on Oct. 2, 2002, according to minutes of the meeting. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."

The document, one of two dozen released by a Senate panel investigating how Pentagon officials developed the controversial interrogation program introduced at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002, suggests a larger CIA role in advising Defense Department interrogators than was previously known. By the time of the meeting, the CIA already had used waterboarding, which simulates drowning, on at least one terrorism suspect and was holding high-level al-Qaeda detainees in secret prisons overseas – actions that Bush administration lawyers had approved.

And in a closely entwined story Pamela Hess of the Associated Press reports: Medical examinations of former terrorism suspects held by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders, according to a human rights group. For the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far, Physicians for Human Rights had doctors and mental health professionals examine 11 former prisoners. The group alleges finding evidence of U.S. torture and war crimes and accuses U.S. military health professionals of allowing the abuse of detainees, denying them medical care and providing confidential medical information to interrogators that they then exploited.

What a damning pair of stories. Why should such news of the torture of fellow human beings bother our consciences? I mean, they’re only Muslims, right? Well, obviously for those Americans of the Bush/Cheney stripe it doesn’t disturb their conscience, in their eyes terrorist suspects deserve everything we can give them. As satirist Harry Shearer points out in his Beach Boy parody, “Waterboarding U.S.A.”, “Well it may not be legal but it sure as heck makes me safer, and it may not yield useful intel, at least that's what they say, But it's a pleasure so rare, seeing captives gulp air, Let's go waterboardin' USA." The song ends with the plea, “Keep America Number One!”

However, for any of us who were awake in civics class and actually listened to what was being said about living in a free country under the rule of law, what rankles, besides the use of torture itself which has never before been done (at least officially) by our country, and which we pledged not to do when we signed on to the Geneva Conventions, what was wrong about using torture against those in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and those in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is that as yet not one of those men has been charged, much less convicted of anything. They are merely suspected terrorists. Suspected is a strong word, I grant you. And in some cases one or two of them might actually be guilty of what they are suspected of. However, under the rule of law being suspect is not enough, or at least it used to not be enough before B/C changed the rules. Traditionally suspects must first be tried and then convicted in order to be incarcerated. And even then the use of torture is against American law. And especially it was uncalled for in the case of Abu Ghraib for as it turned out many of those prisoners had been picked up simply because of the way they looked, or their attitude. They weren’t guilty of anything except of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What are the chances of Bush/Cheney being brought up before the World Court and tried for willfully breaking the Geneva Conventions? About as much of a chance as it is that they will be called up before the United States Congress and read the articles of impeachment. Although there is a hell of a lot more grounds for which to impeach Bush/Cheney than there ever was to impeach Bill Clinton, let’s face it, Democrats aren’t Republicans, they are wimps at heart, they would not have a strong enough stomach to bring impeachment proceedings against Bush/Cheney no matter how well deserved they might be. It just ain’t gonna happen. And as for the World Court, not a chance, even if hell freezes over tomorrow. For the United States is the World’s 500 Pound Gorilla. And no nation, or combination of nations, is about to bring us before the World Court. We’d probably close down the United Nations and kick the delegates out of the country first.

Dana Milbank, in his column in the Washington Post, reports on the amazing memory loss experienced by the man underlings reported as the true architect for the Abu Ghraib policy: William "Jim" Haynes II, the man who blessed the use of dogs, hoods and nudity to pry information out of recalcitrant detainees, proved to be a model of evasion himself as he resisted all attempts at inquiry by the Armed Services Committee. "My memory is not perfect." "I don't specifically remember when I saw this." "I don't remember doing something with this information." "I don't know precisely when, and I cannot discuss it further without getting into classified information."

According to Milbank, Haynes mixed his forgetfulness with a dash of insolence. He suggested to McCaskill that "it's important that you understand how the Defense Department works." He cut off Reed with a "Let me finish, Senator!" and disclosed that he had been too busy to give more attention to the Geneva Conventions: "I mean, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of decisions made every day. This was one."

Reed, a West Point graduate, was enraged. "You did a disservice to the soldiers of this nation," he said. "You empowered them to violate basic conditions which every soldier respects, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva Convention. . . . You degraded the integrity of the United States military."

"I don't recall seeing this memorandum before and I'm not even sure this is one I've seen before. . . . I don't recall seeing this memorandum and I don't recall specific objections of this nature. . . . Well, I don't recall seeing this document, either. . . . I don't recall specific concerns. . . . I don't recall these and I don't recall seeing these memoranda. . . . I can't even read this document, but I don't remember seeing it. . . . I don't recall that specifically. . . . I don't remember doing that. . . . I don't recall seeing these things."

Milbank concludes: It was the most public case of memory loss since Alberto Gonzales, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, forgot everything he ever knew about anything. And, like Gonzales, Haynes (who, denied a federal judgeship by the Senate, left the Pentagon in February for a job with Chevron) had good reason to plead temporary senility.
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/17/AR2008061702673_2.html

So what exactly can those of us who disagree with the Bush/Cheney policy do to express our opposition? The answer of course is to vote. There is such a clear cut choice come November. In spite of the fact that John McCain was himself a prisoner of war during Vietnam and has publicly come out against torture and for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, lately he has joined the B/C song and dance critical of the Supreme Court’s majority ruling that terrorist suspects have the same basic human rights as do every other human being in our society. Guantanamo Bay was thought by the Bush administration as a place where prisoners who belonged to no army could be held indefinitely, at the whim of Bush/Cheney. Now thanks to a Supreme Court majority there is no longer any place under American command where prisoners can be held indefinitely. It is either try them or release them. Bush/Cheney whined and sided with the minority which was ready to let the administration’s p0licy to go on forever.

However, you either believe in the rule of law, and act accordingly applying it to everybody, or you don’t. And in spite of Republican pissing and moaning to the contrary, Americans will be every bit as safe, and probably a whole lot safer under a true rule of law such as Obama will return to us, than under a Republican "do everything you can get away with" rule. For one thing, the world will begin to once again look up to America as a moral force in a largely immoral world, not like now when our country is the butt of derision around much of the world. Even our bitterest enemies will likely dim their hatred somewhat if once we again begin standing up for the rights of people, all people. Republicans will prattle on about security because they haven’t the chance of a snowball in hell if they try and run on the issues. And it’s high time, isn’t it, that we have a regime in power in Washington that listens to and respects the opinions of its citizens and which reflects our views, and assists us in our aspirations? Republicans scream loudly when Democrats want to come to the aid of people in trouble, but they quickly line up behind decisions which aid business when it is in trouble. It is certainly high time for a regime that is on our side, that is for damn sure!
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Well it’s beginning to come out why the authorities in Texas were taking such a violent and unprecedented actions against the parents of the FLDS, the polygamist sect whose Texas branch was raided by law enforcement, and all whose children were taken from their parents for two months, until two Texas high courts reviewed their case and ordered them returned to their families. It seems that law enforcement authorities in Utah had been supplying inaccurate information to Texas law enforcement.

An attorney for a polygamous sect is accusing Utah police and prosecutors of abusing their authority and slandering FLDS sect members by passing on bad information about them to Texas authorities. Authorities in Utah sent Texas officials dossiers that described 16 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as threatening religious fanatics who may be willing to die for their cause.

The home of the judge overseeing the case was placed under guard after Texas officials received the dossiers, but there was never any violence from church members. "These are not abstract claims. Your actions harm real people," church attorney Rod Parker wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith and Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap. "We believe it is incumbent upon you to immediately correct these abuses," Parker wrote.

Church dissidents have also played an active role in helping prosecutors, but Parker wrote that authorities have been manipulated by unreliable groups that want to destroy the church. "Time after time, the information those groups have provided you has turned out to be false," Parker wrote. "It is time that you step back from your sources and objectively evaluate the information they are providing you."

Even after being criticized by the Texas Appeals and Supreme Courts and ordered the return of the children, Judge Walther and the CPS put all kinds of restrictions on their return, including full anytime access to all of the children by the CPS agents, and no travel unless it is approved in advance. And what some of us feel was the final indignity was the manner in which the children were returned. Although the Court had originally ripped the children from their parents and bussed them to child care facilities all over the state at government expense, in order to pick up their children the parents were forced to drive themselves at their own expense to those far flung places. I guess Judge Walther felt the sect members were lucky to get the name and location of their children, much less their safe return. Can you spell SOUR GRAPES?
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Apple announced Thursday that its iTunes store has now sold more than 5 billion songs. Earlier this year, it leapfrogged into the No. 1 position as the nation's top music retailer, surpassing even Wal-mart, according to NPD. The iTunes store offers more than 8 million songs for sale online.

The Cupertino iPod and iPhone maker also said that it's renting or selling 50,000 movies a day. Andy Space in his 9t05Mac Blog, also reported that iTunes, Apple’s ubiquitous online music store, has sold over 5 billion songs and repeated its claim to have become the biggest US music retailer, citing data from NPD Group. The company added that its now seeing 50,000 movies purchased and/or rented each day, "making iTunes the world's most popular online movie store," the company added.

iTunes features movies from all of the major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Lionsgate and New Line Cinema. The iTunes Store now offers over eight million songs, over 20,000 TV episodes and over 2,000 films..
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Well, on that happy note (of Apple completely dominating the digital music market) we come to the end of yet another Little Eddy rant. We nurture our crop of rage during each week,
gathering it from our nation’s news services and after planting it in rich soil we carefully water it for maximum growth, and then each Saturday morning we harvest our week’s crop and send out to you thanks to our Google forefathers. Is this a wonderful world or what? Take care, and have a good week or the best kind.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blog #40: Apple's banner week

As you probably noticed, this was indeed a banner week for Apple, Inc. The former computer company turned gadget maker supreme's chief guru Steve Jobs announced a brand new iPhone that indeed threatens to blow the competition out of the water. According to Wall Street Journal technology reviewer Walter Mossberg, Apple has indeed covered most of the customer criticisms of the original iPhone. The speed on cellular networks, 3G service (where available) is almost that of the also offered WiFi speed, and the new phone, available on July 11, 2008, will be offered in many more countries as will be the service to travelers. There is still no editing of Word, etc. documents, and no copy/paste for editing. However, most predictions have the phone flying out of Apple and ATT stores, and estimates are that Apple, which has sold six million of the first incarnation, will easily have sold ten million by the end of the year.

Jobs made the announcement as he keynoted the Apple World Wide Developer’s meeting in San Francisco, and the keynote did indeed live up to it’s hype. Thanks to the Apple fan sites, many of it’s surprises had been leaked in advance, but Jobs gave his usual compelling presentation, and the new iPhone looks to be a vast improvement over the original in every way, 3G, GPS, push email, even the price: $199, down from $399 for the 8 gigabyte entry model, $299 for the 16 gigabyte. However, although Jobs’ gave his usual flawless performance, he does not look well. He looks thin, like skeleton thin. He has color, almost too much color, causing one to wonder about jaundice. I noticed this on my first viewing of the presentation on the small screen Quicktime version of the event, and my concern was echoed by the Wall Street Journal’s reporter who also took note of his condition, and who made inquiries. He was informed that Jobs is recovering from a recent bug, but he didn’t want to miss the presentation, and so unlike his traditional solo presentations much of Monday’s keynote was taken over by Scott Forrester who demoed the iPhone SDK and introduced a few of the people who have developed or ported their programs and games to the iPhone, and longtime Apple executive Phil Shiller who demoed Apple’s new push web service mobile.me. From the live coverage:

10:25: (Forrester) The tools have been out for three months, and thousands of developers are using them. We asked a few of them what they think.”

10:26: Infoworld: “I have coded fairly extensively with symbian, window mobile and blackberry. iPhone just blows them away.”

10:27: Disney: “After working with hundreds of other mobile devices, developing for the iPhone is a breath of fresh air.”

10:28: David Pogue: “You’re witnessing the birth of a third major computing platform. Windows, Mac OSX, and now the iPhone.”

Next Steve returned and introduced mobile.me, the new push and web hosting service that Apples original web server .mac has morphed into. Phil Shiller then came on stage to demonstrate the service.

The entire video of the address may be accessed from Apple’s website, and it may be seen in normal Quicktime or in HD. I viewed it for the second time around Thursday morning in HD, and was amazed at how good the picture was as it was spread the width of my 17” iMac. There a couple of times in which the demands of HD overworked the processor and the image froze and broke up for a minute or so, while it caught up. But overall the improvements of the QuickTime platform through the years have been significant.
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You would have thought that no less than a president had left us in viewing CNN’s coverage of the passing of Tim Russert. It began by showing Tom Brokaw announcing the death of Russert, NBC's Washington bureau chief and host of Sunday morning’s Meet the Press. Russert always seemed to me to be a little combative with his guests, although that was hailed as his doing his homework and bringing out sides of his guests that other interviewers were rarely able to get. I think there is no doubt he will be missed, but the flooding in the midwest hardly got the coverage it was due as show after CNN show Friday afternoon and evening devoted itself to Russert’s life.
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Where is Hillary Clinton Now That Barack Obama Needs Her? Have you noticed how flat Barack has sounded since Hillary dropped out of the race leaving him with only John McCain to run against. And what is really scarey to me is that the polls are showing those two as running practically neck to neck, within a statistical difference of only 3 or so points pushing Obama ahead. How could this be? Are we Americans really skating that close to the edge of the cliff by electing a third term for George W. Bush/John McCain? Can’t people see that the changes America really needs for its economic well-being as well as its philosophical health require a complete divergence from the political philosophies of the Republican Party and the Bush administration? What will happen to this country, financially not to mention spiritually if we subject ourselves to another four years of squandering our children’s children’s financial future down that Iraq rat hole?

But getting back to Mr. Obama, he is sounding flat as he challenges McCain on their various, and quite substantial, differences. He was a lot better when he was running against Hillary. And as of late he has not been able to add many substantive ideas to his wonderful sounding generalizations, leaving many of us to begin to wonder whether or not we are in grave danger of four more years of youknowwhat by youknowwho come November. In the bygone words of Walter Mondale, “where’s the beef?” Mr. Obama could put our fears to rest by ignoring whoever his vice-presidential search committee comes up with and selecting Hillary Clinton as his running mate. For one thing a year and a half of her running for the presidency has really allowed her to hone her campaign skills. Her concession speech ranks as the best I have ever heard her give, and in my book puts her right up there among her husband and Franklin D. Roosevelt as three of the more compelling Democratic speakers of our time.

And to further seal the deal her presence on the ticket would bring to the polling booth those constituencies with which Obama is weak with at present, including older women, white blue collar workers, rural democrats, hispanics, etc. Secondly, she would add an aura of experience to Obama's rather inexperienced background. And thirdly, in the background would be Bill Clinton, perhaps hated by Republicans, but who proved that a Democratic administration could operate the country for eight years of peace and prosperity, all the while bringing new jobs and whittling away at the national debt. Imagine an administration operating with a surplus? It has certainly been a condition not imagined (or attained) by any recent Republican administration. And for any who might think that Republicans don’t foster wars we would make the point of Richard Nixon extending the Vietnam for the life of his first term and into his second (after Lyndon Johnson had turned JFK’s peace keeping mission into a full scale conflagration), to Ronald Reagan who actively fostered rebellion in Nicaragua and El Salvador, to George Herbert Bush who oversaw the first Gulf War against Iraq but whose administration at least had the good sense to know when to stop, to of course, George W. Bush’s deliberate and uncalled for invasion of Iraq for the political purposes of bringing the country together to support him and his reelection.

John McCain, aside from serving in uniform himself, is from a family filled with admirals and other high military officers, a man who has spent his entire life involved the military. He is also a man who spent much of the Vietnam war in a North Vietnamese prison camp, where he did not see the devastating effect that war was having on our country, something that many of his fellow veterans, men like Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, did see, consequently McCain feels that the only reason we lost Vietnam was because we pulled out, quit, threw in the towel! Consequently he is hell bound for us to remain in Iraq for (in his words) “as long as it takes,” be that the hundred years he mistakenly mouthed that one time. Note that later his fantasy mind came up with total victory by 2013, at which time most of our troops could safely leave Iraq, so says he. But what is really shocking to this viewer is that McCain is an old, tired, wrinkled man shilling a bunch of old, tired. wrinkled ideas for America’s future. The fact that he has any standing at all in the polls, much less one statistically tied with Obama, is absolutely the scariest thing I have come across all year.

Newspapers in Texas report that the Texas GOP which conventioned yesterday in Houston came down on Barack Obama. Not surprising, what else can you expect? However, the question that all voters, Republican, Democrat, and Independent need to ask themselves is a very simple one. Republicans rant about Tax and Spend Democrats, but every Republican regime since Ronald Reagan’s has proven itself at least the spending equal of the Democrats. And the present administration has proven itself the biggest spender of all time. No, the question we need to ask ourselves is not which party will do the spending, they both do that quite well thank you, the question is who are they going to spend it on? Republicans are tightfisted with America’s needs, like disaster relief after Katrina, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. But they are happy to fund America’s military industrial complex, which is fed by the conflagration in Iraq. Democrats on the other hand tax and spend too, however they spend on programs which help our citizens, rather than kill citizens of other lands across the globe. It is our choice come November: fund the military industrial boys, or help your neighbor. It is so simple and logical a choice, but how often lately have we made the wrong choice. Here is Dwight Eisenhower with a reminder of what got us here:


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One of the reasons Hillary Clinton had given for her staying in the race so long was because of the lesson of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Her saying that opened a raw wound in the American psyche, for the truth is that whether we will admit it or not we truly do have a secret government operating behind the scenes in this country, an arm of the government responsible to no committee of Congress, nor to the president himself. A secret government which is not above using assassination as a tool in its political nation shaping, the slaying of Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were living and dying proofs of its existence and unfortunately its skill.

In 1968 there was a rabid peace movement swirling around Eugene McCarthy, a torch which Bobby Kennedy had taken and was running with, but his assassination in California after winning its primary ended all talk of peace, and of bringing the Vietnam war to a close. After Kennedy’s assassination Eugene McCarthy got the message and clammed up about peace. And four years later George McGovern’s peace message was also subdued and he got plowed under by the Nixon administration. We Americans don’t like to admit that at heart we are just another Banana Republic whose leaders when they cross some imaginary like can be freely eliminated, but the evidence of this string of assassinations doesn’t lie. And the idea that two of the four victims were from America’s premiere political family of the time just goes to show the lengths that they were willing to go to in the reshaping of America’s political scene. And if anything, this force is undoubtedly still lurking in the shadows, and if they see Obama as a serious threat to their war, well, take care Barack Obama. Watch your back. You have the Secret Service, but so did John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and a lot of good that did them. We plead with you Obama, have Hillary as your vice president waiting in the wings in case the unthinkable actually happens. The American people deserve no less.
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BAGHDAD — Iraq’s negotiations with the United States on a security agreement governing America’s long-term involvement in the country are at an impasse because America’s demands infringe upon Iraq’s sovereignty, that country’s prime minister said Friday. Those comments were the first by the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in which he explicitly detailed the main points of contention between the United States and the Iraqi government on the security agreement, which would authorize American forces and operations in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.

And so the truth begins to come out about the Bush administration’s attempts to work out a treaty with the Iraq government which would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the UN mandate runs out at the end of this year. The administration has attempted to keep the facts of the negotiations secret as any agreement allowing for long term presence of American troops would infringe upon the right of the next president to determine the future of the war. However, fierce opposition to the early drafts of the agreement have come not from American peace mongers (who have been left in the dark about them), but from the Iraq government itself. Mr. Maliki said there were four areas in which proposed versions of the agreement failed to give sufficient deference to Iraqi sovereignty.

“Iraq rejects Washington’s insistence on granting their forces immunity from Iraqi laws and courts,” he said. “We reject Washington’s demand to have a free hand in undertaking military operations without cooperation with the Iraqi government.”

He added: “We cannot give permission to the American forces independent right to arrest Iraqis or execute operations against terrorism. We cannot allow them to use the Iraqi skies and waters at all times.”

The question of immunity for American contractors accused of the unprovoked killing a number of Iraqi civilians is a particularly sensitive point with Iraqis who want to be able to bring the wrongdoers to trial in Iraqi courts, as we would certainly want to do if the situation was reversed and Iraq civilian contractors were riding shotgun with guns a-blazing through American streets. May we also suggest that the Iraqi’s object to the shape of the table, which worked for South Vietnam as it attempted to thwart LBJ’s attempt to establish an end of the Vietnam war in 1968. We have envisioned ourselves as saviors of the Iraq people, but after the cowboys from Blackwater who can really blame the people of Iraq from refusing to sign documents which would allow us to assume the status of Occupier, and they the status of Occupied. Ah, freedom, a truly potent opiate.
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Although the Guantánamo Bay detention center will not close today or any day soon, the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday stripped away the legal premise for the remote prison camp that officials opened six years ago in the belief that American law would not reach across the Caribbean to a United States naval station in Cuba.

“To the extent that Guantánamo exists to hold detainees beyond the reach of U.S. courts, this blows a hole in its reason for being,” said Matthew Waxman, a former detainee affairs official at the Defense Department. “And without that, much will change.” The decision granted detainees the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts, meaning that federal judges will now have the power to check the government’s claims that the 270 men still held there are dangerous terrorists. That will force officials to answer questions about evidence that they have long deflected despite criticism both internationally and locally and repeated expressions of support for closing the camp.
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Sega Toys today announced [JP, PDF] they will start selling a new humanoid robot in Japan, E.M.A., on September 26th. E.M.A. stands for “Eternal, Maiden, Actualization” (whatever that means). The robot is supposed to be female and stands 38 cm tall. Sega says E.M.A. is especially remarkable because of its “glamorous body” and high level of interactivity. The robot is able to hand out business cards, it can sing and dance and walk “like a lady.” The kiss function is especially interesting. If your head comes close to the robot, its love mode kicks in and your will receive a kiss.

The battery-powered robot is equipped with infrared sensors for obstacles, position and sound. Moveable parts include the elbow, shoulders, the waist and the knees. The Japan-only E.M.A. will set buyers back $175. Sega says they are targeting adults in particular with their robot and hopes to sell 10,000 units in 12 months. The article didn’t attest to the doll's anatomical correctness.
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http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/06/12/new-kissing-robot-from-japan/
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The following is also from Tech Crunch by Eric Shonfeld: Going to the mechanic is like going to the doctor. When something needs to be fixed, for most people there is no easy way to tell if they are being charged the going rate or are being ripped off. Enter RepairPal, a new site launching publicly today where you can get price estimates for different parts and repair jobs for your car. You enter your car year, model, and mileage, and it spits out price ranges for your zip code. For instance, replacing the front brake pads on a BMW in New York City should cost between $158 and $310.

Not sure where to take your car? There is also a directory of 287,000 local mechanics, with each shop placed onto a Google Map. Members can rate each mechanic. Once a repair is completed, you can keep an online service record at RepairPal. It is kind of like keeping your electronic medical record at Google Health, but it’s for your car.
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http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/06/12/repairpal-its-like-google-health-for-your-car/
http://repairpal.com/ (for beta signup) also another service is at:
http://www.driverside.com/
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And finally a website called mobilecommandos.com posted a blog by Simon in Cellularland in which he lists 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Cellphones. The article has some observations which are not surprising, like #1. There Are Lots of Them. Half as many cellphones on the planet as there are people . . . #2. And They Make a Mess. 125+ million are discarded each year (Koreans replace on average every eleven months) . . . #3. M-Voting in Estonia Estonia is letting mobile phones act as a convenient vote delivery platform, but also as a personal identity confirmation (as opposed to we in America where Republicans are forever trying to deprive voters of their right to vote, most especially all of those who don’t vote Republican.) #4. Koreans Love to Text Message. Korean teens between 15 and 19 send well over 20,000 text messages a year (60.1 texts per day.) #5 First Cell Phone Came Out in 1983. First with FCC acceptance was called the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. (stood for Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage--say what?) #6 Cell Phone . . . or Flashlight According to a Sprint survey, two thirds of cell phone users use the backlight as a flashlight. For the rest of these tidbits go to:
_________________________________________________ http://www.mobilecommandos.com/cell-phones/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-cell-phones/
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And so another week rides off into the sunset. Was it a good week? Well, in truth, any week that finds us still pecking away at our keyboard and freely moving about getting into what little mischief is left to one in his 80's is a good week. What next week will bring who the hell knows, but it can’t help but be interesting and different, and knowing me, I can’t help but write about it? So, to get a rundown of what next week brings, come back again then. And thanks for stopping in this week.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blog #39: Hillary leaves, and age is a drag

We have held up our Saturday morning posting which is usually done in the 7:30 to 9 am CDT time slot so as to cover the bowing out of Hillary Clinton from her campaign for the White House. Perhaps it is symbolic that Chelsea Clinton was the first to step out of the automobile and enter the building, then followed by the two Clintons. It was a happening. It did happen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the warmest and most enthusiastic speech I have heard her give on this day, June 7, 2008, as she announced the suspension of her own campaign for presidency. She thanked her backers for all they had done, but she minced no words in her support for the Barack Obama presidency. And she promised to work hard and do whatever it was going to take to lhelp make that dream a reality. In short, she went out with both fire and grace, and I’m pretty sure she made all of her supporters as happy as could be expected given the circumstances, and probably the Obama campaign was equally happy. Or should be. Cheers to all.
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There are not an awful lot of advantages to being old that I have found. It is very disconcerting to discover that certain of your faculties that you have grown accustomed too are on the verge of throwing in the towel. This has been known to send alarm bells careening around your psyche. Suddenly things that you have taken for granted all of your life have slowed, or in some cases have left you altogether. And you hasten to adapt to this new state of your being as best you can, all the while wondering what is going to strike you next. Believe me, sitting around wondering what the hell is going to befall you next is no damn fun.

However all is not completely negative in regards to getting old. One clear advantage to my being 82 is the amount of change I have gotten to witness throughout the span of my life. I was lucky. I grew up in the age of radio. I remember sitting in my family’s living room listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s booming tones as he reassured Americans that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” soothing words said to quiet the panic as during the depression many American’s rushed to their banks to withdraw their money only to find the banks closed tighter than a drum. I remember sitting in the living room and hearing the gravelly voice of King Edward of England tighten up as he announced that he was abdicating the throne of England “for the woman I love. ” And on another evening the voice of a radio announcer named Herbert Morrison was providing radio coverage of the landing of the dirigible Hindenberg at Lakehurst, N. J. when he became suddenly hysterical as the giant hydrogen filled craft suddenly burst into flames crashing to earth with its passengers. "Oh the humanity!" was the phrase that came from that coverage. (There is a fascinating video combining his broadcast with newsreel footage at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F54rqDh2mWA)

I got into radio for a time after World War II just in time to watch radio fade into irrelevance as a brand new medium was ushered in. A moving picture on a tiny little black and white, grainy screen had added an entirely new dimension to the sound signal that had been radio, and the new technology known as television was born in the wake of Word War II. However this birth was at the cost of no small loss, for our imagination was replaced by that compelling little image, the viewer was no longer free to picture in his/her mind whatever the sounds and words indicated. Television went through it’s own series of evolutionary stages, first to larger screen sizes and then in more sharply defined images, and finally the sixties ushered in color, and television as we know it today was born. Today’s television is taking another step forward, as it is on the verge of going digital, and large screen high definition sets are slated to gradually replace the picture tube television sets that began the era.

And during roughly the same period recorded sound experienced its own evolutionary span, as the 78 phonograph record was gradually replaced by the high fidelity longplaying record revolving at 33 1/3 rpm, and one speaker sending out a mono signal was replaced by two sending out a stereo signal, a signal which more closely mimicked how our ears hear sounds in real life. Each of these developments represented a distinct improvement over the listening experience that preceded it. 78 rpm records pressed into a shellac surface had had a constant hiss as the needle traversed the surface of the discs. Vinyl, on which lp records were pressed, was noticeably quieter, the hiss done away with almost entirely, although imperfections on the vinyl surface generated ocassional clicks and pops. But music didn’t stop there, it went digital which brought us t0 the era of the compact disc, a technology completely silent which digitally reproduced the audio sound produced at the time of recording. And compact discs are presently in the process of being replaced by both legal and illegal computer data downloads via the internet. And that rifles us ahead to the present day miracle in the area of communication, the personal computer and the world wide web.

This is indeed an era of miracles, and it is exciting to be a part of it. From the comfort of our home we now have instant access to more information than is to be found in the world’s libaries. We have access to a good part of the recorded music of the world. And the world’s art is being reproduced on computer screens. In short, this is indeed an age of miracles, and they are not static, they are continually happening seemingly at breakneck speed.
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Well, Barack Obama won the nomination for president of the Democratic party by a nose. Or you could say by a nose hair. Hillary Clinton has pointed out that she won a majority of the big states, and would thereby have been the stronger candidate, a line of reasoning that was listened to very carefully in the closing days of the campaign as she won one primary after another. But her late surge was a tad late, and Obama’s delegate count was too close to the magic number to be denied, and so his anointment as the candidate was inevitable.

What will Hillary do now? That, of course, is a question only she can answer, and the world expects her to make her intentions clear in just a few hours. There are some who say that very divisive race has damaged the party, but methinks that is just wishfantasizing on the part of Republicans. I think the race brought the best out of both of the candidates, and I think Hillary will do everything it takes to make sure the party comes together. We will learn later this morning, and I for one will be watching CNN to find out.

I mean, what else is our choice? A Republican candidate, formerly a maverick, who because he must run as a Republican is having to forgo many of his maverick ways to don the mantle of his party, and adopting the Bush White House’s stance on the war, the economy, and who if elected will stack to court with more conservatives who will “happily dance on the grave of Roe v. Wade” if the conservative balance is increased. As opposed to a Democrat who believes that the government should be run for the benefit of the middle class, not the wealthy. And who sees what the war is doing to our economy, and who will search untiringly for a way out of it. John McCain served his country well during the Vietnam war, but he spent much of it in a North Vietnamese prison, he didn’t see that terrible effect that war had on our population back home, as did other veterans like Chuck Hagel and John Kerry. McCain is from a military family, he thinks that if we had stayed in Vietnam we would have won that war, just as he thinks that we should stay in Iraq until we win, no matter how long that takes.

Even though I still feel that Hillary would be the stronger candidate, and would have done the best job after being elected, based on her prior experience as first lady and as the Senator from New York, I will concede that Obama is a skilled orator, perhaps the most skilled since Bill Clinton himself, and that he is attracting people other than traditional Democrats to the polling places. I can’t help but hope that Obama picks Hillary as his running mate, I feel that she well deserves the place she carved for herself on the ticket, and that she deserves a place in the Obama administration akin to Cheney’s in the Bush administration, only of course to devote her influence to doing good for the country in areas like health care, not turning over the nation’s purse strings to the military-industrial complex.

Tuesday’s night of politics gave an interesting glimpse into the future of the campaign. John McCain spoke first from New Orleans, as if to distance himself from the Bush Administration’s neglect of Louisiana after Katrina. He sounded old and tired and was obviously reading from a teleprompter. And his ideas were as old and tired as was his demeanor. And it was a stale script in which he sought to distance himself from Republican traditions while at the same time affirming as many of them as necessary so as to snooker the Republican conservative vote.

Hillary Clinton was next, rousing her crowd to peaks not seen before on TV, at least by me. If only Hillary had been able to project her personality so forcefully earlier on there’s no telling how the race might have come out. And finally, Barack Obama, cautiously claiming winnership, though careful not to tread too heavily on Hillary’s toes. Obama is smart, he realizes that if he is going to win the general election he is going to have to go after the voters Hillary has amassed. Together we will win, apart we will have four more years of Bush, McCain. Can the country stand another four years of this no citizen government? I very much doubt it.

Meantime the job for the rest of us is to vote in November, and not just for a Democratic presidency, a Democrat prez won’t mean a damn thing with such a closely drawn Congress. No, there needs to be a clean sweep of the halls of Congress, with as many Republicans replaced as possible. Thank the good Lord the framers of the Constitution ordained a complete change of the House of Representatives, and the cleansing of a third of the Senate every two years. The only way change our government for the better is for us to do a clean sweep of Congress. Turn the Republicans out to pasture. Period. Exclamation point! See you at the polls in November.
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John McCain has been obsessed these past weeks trying to talk Barack Obama into traveling to Iraq with him and talking with General Petraeus about the future of the war. Could it be that McCain is beginning to hear rumblings of American electorate disatisfaction, and is afraid that Obama and the Democrats will win by a landslide in November? McCain’s precious war will be in grave danger in that event. Obama coninues to resist the bait, saying he is likely to make such a trip after his position as a candidate is secure, but only in order to assess bringing the troops home. This elicited a fresh retort from the McCain campaign. "It is disappointing that Senator Obama would travel to Iraq for the first time in over two years, and instead of listening and learning from our troops, he would insist upon an immediate withdrawal," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

However such trips are heavily stage-managed by the Defense Department to control the message and the imagery, warned Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), who has visited four times. McCain's own heavily guarded visit to a Baghdad market last year was widely ridiculed when the truth about it came out. Democrats counseled Obama against taking the bait. "Frankly, his policy is about bringing our troops home sooner and safer, and that is a message that is resonating with the American people," Tauscher said. "I wouldn't do anything to validate Senator McCain's attempt to change the subject and create this red-herring debate."
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Isn’t it interesting how in this world we see what we want to see. Take pregnant girls under the age eighteen. How many of those did those CPS agents see, or claim to have seen, during that raid they made on the FLDS compound two months ago? And how many of those young ladies turned out to be 18 and older. In fact one they had classified as underage turned out to be 22. Which gets back to my point that often we see just what we want to see. I guess the raid and sudden taking away of all the children is just a memory now, although albeit a terrifying one for the younger children, since now they are all back with their parents. However, according to a news report not very many of them have returned to Yearning for Zion ranch.

In case you have forgotten in one unbelievable mass orgy of historic proportions a so-called family court judge ripped 460+ children from their parents and bussed them to foster homes all across the state of Texas. It took two months for the higher courts to react to this highly questionable deprivation of parental rights, but after careful deliberation both Texas high courts ruled that the initial seizure had been illegal, and the judge was ordered to vacate her original order turning over care of the children to the state, returning them to their parents. She and the CPS put various caveats on their order allowing the release of the children. But what really blows a skeptical mind is the fact that Judge Walther, who had originally ordered the children removed from the ranch and bussed to the four corners of the state at the behest of the CPS, had directed that if the parents wanted their children back they could jolly well go and get them themselves. The judge’s final ruling: “The state taketh away, but if you want ‘em back you can jolly well go and get ‘em yourself. And at your own expense.” Would that seem to indicate that the judge and the CPS are sore losers?

Now we are sure it wasn’t a case of vindictiveness or poor losership that caused the judge and the CPS to require that if the parents wanted their children back they could jolly well travel far and wide at their own expense and pick their children up themselves. I’m sure the judge did it taking pity on the poor taxpayers of the state of Texas who have been paying through the nose for the transportation and care of lo those many children for the two months or so since their illegal removal. And wasn’t it sweet and caring of Judge Walther to think of all of us taxpayers, albeit at this late date. However, if the judge was so concerned about the p0cketbooks of Texas taxpayers, why did she have the state rip them from their family situations and send them all over the state in foster care in the first place? What kind of family law did the judge study which teaches that a judge has the right to take children away from their parents in such numbers on hearsay evidence alone, make that no evidence at all, and without giving the parents any kind of legal redress at the time.

Only after the higher courts required her to vacate her order did she relent and return them to their parents, but if the parents wanted their children back they were required to travel to the various homes where the children were lodged. That certainly saved the state a bundle, I’m sure. And I’m equally sure that the parents are so grateful for the return of their children that they will not utter one word in protest. But it seems to me a cheap shot and yet another example of how completely unfeeling the court and CPS were as they attempted yet again to avoid responsibility for their original violent removal of the children. The court taketh away, why should not the court bringeth them back to the place of their removal? Another good question to tack onto a suit against the CPS if the FLDS decides to go that route, which I very much doubt they will.

Anyway, we can all thank our lucky stars that it’s over and done with. The children are reunited with the parents they were born to. And the judge and the CPS probably feel somewhat vindicated by being able to attach conditions on the return of the children which give the CPS agents access to them at all times, and of course we can’t forget the satisfaction they must have felt in devising the humiliation of requiring that the parents pick their children up themselves, no matter how far flung they might have been. That surely must have taken some of the sting out of that Appeals Court order. Ah well, that chapter is closed, and as the old saying goes, All’s Well that Ends . . .
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If there are any of you who are hooked into Nick Scipio’s work in progress, Summer Camp, Book 4, Christy, you will be happy to learn that he has posted chapter 12 this past week. Chapter 11 had been posted back on March 25. I have never read a work in progress before, and I can tell you it is a bit frustrating to get it one chapter at a time, and then to have to wait several months for the next chapter to arrive. However, I for one am cheerfully doing it, and am enjoying each chapter as it comes along. I am also reading Russell Hoisington’s Wynter and Brinkley in progress, part one of which has materialized, and am reading Wizard’s Trailer Park, the Fifth Year, the first part of which surfaced sometime late last year.

If you are not offended by erotic literature, and might actually prefer literature that doesn’t stop at the bedroom door, but attempts to explore the why’s and wherefore’s of this most basic of human experiences, then you should check out these authors. All of these fine novels are available at: http://storiesonline.net/home.php which after you arrive click on the author’s pages, they are listed by their first names, N for Nick Scipio, R for Russell Hoisington, W for Wizard. Thanks to the web this is where one branch of serious literature may be found. If you are not a member of the storiesonline site you might have to sign up to get complete access to each author’s content. However, membership is free, the stories come to you well formatted, and I have found the works of all three of these authors to be excellent reads, well worth the time and trouble.

Be sure to read their books in the proper order, as the stories are continous events in the lives of the characters. Nick Scipio’s Summer Camp series begins with Book One, Susan; Book Two, Gina; Book Three, Kendall; and the work in progress, Book Four, Christy. Russell Hoisington’s Wynter series begins with Wynter, Wynter & Jimmy, Wynter & Cinnamon, Wynter & Hailey, and the one in progress, Wynter & Brinkley. Wizard’s Trailer Park series begins with The Trailer Park, after which comes The Trailer Park, the Second Year, the Third Year, the Fourth Year, then The Trailer Park, the Road Trip, before the current, the Fifth Year, part one. Due to the quirks of the author’s alphabetical listings these stories do not necessarily appear in the proper order on their author’s site, which is why I have gone to the trouble to list their proper order here.

Plus, the storiesonline site is loaded with many other fine authors and when I have the time I plan to go trolling for other authors to go with my big three, there are aplenty there, even including Uncle Pan’s page, for those who like their fantasies young and exotic.
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One of the most memorable scenes from the movies was the fireplace scene in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Keep in mind, the movie did not give any hint of the significance of the sled, leaving it completely to the mind and imagination of the each moviegoer. This was monumental at the time, for movies traditionally held you by the hand and carefully explained every little thing of importance. I was an usher at the Tower Theater in Houston as the Citizen Kane made the rounds, and the crowds came a’plenty and as they walked out of the theater you can bet one and all they were discussing the meaning of that scene. Orson Welles, who had come to RKO fresh from scaring much of the country to death by way of radio and an adaption of H.G. Wells’ War of the World. As a result he was able to obtain a contract which gave him complete control over every aspect of the film. He studied films at the time, and incorporated many trailblazing features in it. Lighting was one important factor, Welles lighted each scene himself, much to the consternation of the electrician’s union, and characters were lit according to the emotional needs of the scene. In what was another innovative quality of the film was its use of “deep focus.” That is, everything from up close to far away was in sharp focus. Welles’ radio experience had him experimenting with the soundtrack. But the “hook” of the film, the thing that captured the imagination, was Kane’s last spoken word, “rosebud,” and the fireplace scene in which his childhood sled is burned. If our YouTube gods are smiling, it should appear here:


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And so we leave you for another week. If anything happens during it we will pop in telling of it. In the meantime, get involved in politics, and involve your friends. This is a unique point in the history of our republic, the breezes are blowing our way, Let us hope that we all respond as we should respond, and turn this country on its ear.

The Real Little Eddy